From Cheaper to Reaper – Building Your Competitive Deck on a Budget

cranial plating

There are many ways to play budget decks and not all of them are cheap.

I know, that sounds strange but hear me out.

Many months ago, I began collecting cards for a Modern Affinity deck for MTGO. This has been a very slow, ongoing process, one where I could play a version of the deck, learn it and progress into more competitive territory. But today, I can say I now am the proud owner of the typical competitive Affinity deck you would find at any serious competitive Magic: The Gathering event.

How did I do it?

I budgeted. I restrained my spending and saved money as time went on to purchase the cards as I needed. It sounds easy but with the amount of new products hitting the shelves and wanting to be involved in Modern Masters and Origins cards, it was more difficult than it seemed.

Why is Affinity a good deck to build in this way? Let’s take a look.

When I first began this process, I sought out the bare bones of the deck. This involved the commons and commons, which was not that difficult to get ahold of. Luckily, for this deck type there is a budget version that is very playable against most casual decks. I used this decklist as a skeleton for my deck.

Granted, this deck was not tourney ready. It was in desperate need of work. I played casually and learned the basics of the deck.

Each week, I hid a small amount of money away from myself. This sounds silly to most but if I don’t have money, I can’t spend it. Not being able to purchase packs or frivolously buy a new silly casual deck wasn’t easy but as the money I saved for my deck increased, I made smart purchases along the way to improve my Affinity deck.

First off, I was lucky enough to already have the Inkmoth Nexus playset from my Modern Mono Black Infect deck. These were purchased a years before the price spike months ago.

Next, I made my first purchase, a playset of Archbound Ravagers. These artifact creatures really give the deck a tremendous amount of versatility. It draws removal but still passes on it’s benefits after it’s gone.

Then, I picked up Ensoul Artifact. This enchantment isn’t found in many Affinity decks but I found being able to make an indestructible Darksteel Citidel a 5/5 creature on turn two a powerful play. Playing it on a Vault Skirge was also an amazing target as your 5/5 flying lifeling creature would be scoring big and gaining you life. In the end and even with the target finished deck, there were very few creatures I wouldn’t want it in so it stayed.

As if i had rubbed Aladdin’s Lamp, Modern Masters 2015 was released and I was bathed in reprinted Affinity deck cards. The price dropped on Etched Champion, Blinkmoth Nexus and other staples. I quickly picked them up before the price could raise.

My next savings went towards Steel Overseer. This little +1/+1 counter, little engine that could draws enemy hate almost instantly. If left unchecked he spells doom for the opponent.

The final push towards finishing was an expensive one. Mox Opals don’t come cheap. I saved for months for these, each one slowly making my deck faster. To truly play Affinity, you need these, there is no other substitutes for the power these mana artifacts can give you. They complete the best possible hand for the deck.

Within a few months, my deck went from a $3.50 deck of commons and uncommons, fighting in the just for fun rooms, to a $270 competitive contender.

Regardless of my results with this deck in any MTGO events, this is a success story. Budget Magic is not just playing cheap decks. It’s saving money and spending wisely.

Swing Last,


Like this article? You can contact Aiokii in the comments below or follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Aiokii can also be found on MTGO, hit him up for a game sometime. Also, take the time to check out Reddit Budgetdecks for cheap discussion and deck ideas.

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