Magic: The Gathering is the best game in the world. If you are a Magic player reading this article, I know you'll agree. But, in addition to being the best game in the world, Magic: The Gathering is also one of the most expensive games for a person to play—once again, if you are a Magic player, I know you'll agree. Some will say you can't put a price on fun, happiness or love, and while Magic certainly makes me feel all three, being a grinder and a Spike, Tournament Grinder can be costly. 

Certain... world events mean most of us have a lot of spare time on our hands, ergo, more time to play Magic. More Magic is great, but the cost of being able to compete or even just play from home adds up, so I've decided to write about playing Magic on a budget. 

Instead of looking at the dollar value of cards, we're looking at the amount of wildcards it will take to build a Standard deck on MTG Arena. In this exercise, I've attempted to stay below 10 wildcards per deck and avoided as many mythic rares as possible. 

Most of the time, the majority of your wildcards will go into the manabase of whatever deck you are building. As you add more colors, the amount of rare wildcards required to build your manabase goes up. With that being said, lands are great to have on Arena, and once you have a reasonable amount of them a lot of decks become easier to build or make substitutions for. 

#1: Boros Cycling

Our first deck is the current obvious choice.




When first seeing this deck, I made the joke that I'd drafted it a couple of times since Ikoria's release, because it honestly just looked like a busted Draft deck. Busted Draft decks are great, but they typically don't really translate well to Constructed. I'm always happy to admit when I'm wrong, and that seems to be the case here. 

Boros Cycling is built around securing an early Flourishing Fox, and using the plethora of one-mana cyclers in your deck to make it as big as possible. Later in the game, when you have Lurrus of the Dream-Den in play, you will be able to cast cards like Footfall Crater from your graveyard to give your Flourishing Fox trample.


All the while, your cycled cards stay in your graveyard waiting for the deck's haymaker: Zenith Flare. Printed in Ikoria, Zenith Flare is what really brings the this list together. If your opponents are able to deal with Flourishing Fox and your other creatures, they will likely struggle to deal with a large Flare. It can deal copious amounts of damage to any target while gaining you that much life, enabling you to steal games your opponent thought they'd knocked you out of. 

Without much effort, we've turned a tier 1 Standard deck into a budget deck. 

Here's the wildcard break down of the maindeck:

This deck has the highest potential to lowest cost ratio, and is something I am enjoying playing on the ladder.

Here are some of the additions you can make if you wish to spend more wildcards:

#2: Mono-Red Aggro




The best part about mono-colored decks is that their manabase is often wildcard-cheap. In this version, we've removed the playset of Castle Embereth to reduce the wildcards required, but they would be the first addition to the deck I would make. 

You can't have a successful mono-red deck in Standard without Embercleave and Torbran, Thane of Red Fell. These two cards were the first inclusion into the decklist. From there, I decided that if we were to play only a few more rares, the slots would be awarded to Robber of the Rich and Bonecrusher Giant. The value, flexibility and aggression generated by these cards make them hard to pass up. While the rest of the deck is filled out by commons and uncommons, this deck will be a real contender on the ladder. Mono-Red is always going to be a powerful strategy to have in your back pocket, and having access to a cheaper build sounds great to me. 

Here's the wildcard break down of the maindeck:

Here are some of the additions you can make if you wish to spend more wildcards:

#3: Orzhov Aristocrats




This budget take on typical Lurrus of the Dream-Den decks has gone a little deeper on the aristocrat angle by playing four copies of Corpse Knight. One of the things I love about this deck is how easily it can rebuild after a board wipe. It can play a long game, and while this isn't your usual burn deck, every life point counts and it's important not to miss any damage.

Here's the wildcard break down of the main board:

Here are some of the additions you can make if you wish to spend more wildcards:

#4: Selesnya Auras




Similarly to Boros Cycling, this archetype falls into the budget category naturally. You can get away with using only four rare wildcards to make a set of Setessan Champion.


These are necessary for the deck to function. Without Setessan Champion, the deck loses a lot of its card advantage and synergy, so I wouldn't recommend playing without these. 

Aside from Setessan Champion, the cards that really bring this deck together are Alseid of Life's Bounty and Karametra's Blessing. Karametra's Blessing allows you to give any of your creatures +2/+2, however if they are an enchantment or enchanted creature, they also get hexproof and indestructible. Aside from your threats, Karametra's Blessing is one of the best cards in your deck.

Putting a Sentinel's Eyes on Paradise Druid is a nice "build your own Slippery Bogle" package. With vigilance from Sentinel's Eyes, Paradise Druid doesn't need to tap to attack, so it never loses hexproof.

Here's the wildcard break down of the main board:

Here are some of the additions you can make if you wish to spend more wildcards:

#5: Izzet Phoenix




Izzet Arclight Phoenix is a nice blast from the past. The deck is powerful and easy to build on a wildcard budget. 


Similarly to previous Arclight Phoenix decks, your main goal is to discard Arclight Phoenix to the graveyard and cast at least three instants or sorceries in your pre-combat main phase to bring them back and attack. 

The other plan is to play "Izzet Draw-Two." This strategy leverages Improbable Alliance and Irencrag Pyromancer to create tokens and deal damage whenever you draw your second card in a turn. If it is your turn, you just need to draw another card. However, in your opponent's turn you will need to be able to draw two cards to trigger these abilities. 

The deck then comes together with other draw spells, removal spells and threats. I've chosen to include Crackling Drake and Sprite Dragon as other ways to capitalize on all the instants and sorceries you'll be casting regardless of how the game goes.

The easiest way to reduce the cost of this deck would be to remove the Steam Vents and play more basic lands or Swiftwater Cliffs. I would be wary of playing too many lands that come into play tapped. 

Here's the wildcard break down of the maindeck:

Here are some of the additions you can make if you wish to spend more wildcards:

#6: Mono-Blue Flash




In a world full of decks trying to do very big things, countermagic is a nice way to punish your opponent. The goal of this deck is to land an early Brineborn Cutthroat and spend the rest of the game preventing your opponent from developing their board state and game plan while growing your own, literally.

Sea-Dasher Octopus and Neutralize were nice additions to the archetype from Ikoria and have found a home in this deck. If you are looking to reduce the wildcard cost of this deck further, you can look to replace some copies of Stonecoil Serpent

Here's the wildcard breakdown of the maindeck:

Here are some of the additions you can make if you wish to spend more wildcards:


#7: Gruul Colossification Herald



I built this as a nice fun way to take on the Standard best-of-one format. The idea is to discard a Colossification into your graveyard early on, and use Storm Herald to return it to the battlefield for free! The rest of your deck consists of ways to get cards into your graveyard or give your creatures trample or haste. We also have four copies of Fling just to make sure you're able to get enough damage through. 

The way I've built this deck is fairly combo-centric, but you can add as many threats as you like to make it a Gruul midrange strategy. 

Here's the wildcard break down of the main board:

Here are some of the additions you can make if you wish to spend more wildcards:

* * *

The takeaway from all of this is that being on a (wildcard) budget doesn't mean you can't have a lot of fun and compete with everyone else on Magic: The Gathering Arena. Hopefully these decks give you the tools to play Standard and experiment with more commons and uncommons. 

Stay safe, and have fun!