Budgeting Magic: the Gathering is an important life skill. There’s a fine line between a passion for gaming and financial ruin.

Budget deckbuilding is also great for fun and winning. Spending $1,000 on the top deck is no guarantee of success, even at the premier level. At the local level there may be one player who has everything and the rest of us are in a budget deckbuilding contest. Squeezing the most power and surprise out of each dollar is a winning recipe at any level!

I have had a lot of fun and tournament success by making the most out of unpopular and overlooked cards. Living End is one example… decks like that began as ways to stay competitive as a broke student, and led to turning a profit from my favorite gaming hobby.

You definitely don’t have to spend big to be successful at Magic: the Gathering. Success may be the opposite, depending on how you define it.

Budget Ninja Bear

Ninja Bear Delver is a fun competitive deck that has a core of commons and uncommons. Basic lands for the win! The problem is Snapcaster Mage and Cryptic Command are big ticket items. I know some of you have been wondering how to work around this, so let’s see what can be done!

Snapcaster Mage is an amazing, versatile creature. It can be played for various costs to draw a card, counter a spell, bounce a creature, or chain Cryptic Commands. It is value with Ninja.

Cryptic Command is an amazing versatile spell. You might have heard of it. It has 4 modes. It pulls you ahead when you’re ahead, but in this deck it is very important for tapping down the opponent’s side to close out the game.

I don’t think there is an easy replacement for these cards. We may need to shift gears while retaining the “Ninja hits” theme.

If we want to replace Cryptic Command with something else that freezes the opponent’s board, these are some good budget options. None of these are as flexible as Cryptic, but each is viable.

If we want to control the board better, instead of using a spell we could use another Ninja in Mistblade Shinobi. If we’re able to hit with this multiple times we could stall many opponents long enough to win.

If we’re in the market for more creatures/Ninja enablers these are some good 1-mana options. Wingcrafter in particular is amazing as granting a Ninja flying for a 1-drop is a great combo.

Frost Walker is a new blue heavy-hitter that combos amazingly well with Wingcrafter. A 4-power evasive creature for only 2 mana is busted at any rarity.

Sage of Epityr has been great in the Vial Wizards deck and it’s a nice 1-drop for consistency. It doesn’t have evasion but it’s a nice pick-up for a Ninja.

WooBrews-BudgetNinjaBear1

Every time Sage trades up with a Snapcaster Mage or a Dark Confidant, it’s not just mana advantage, but serious $ advantage.

Spellstutter Sprite feels a bit random to play with, but when it’s good it’s amazing. At its worst it’s still a flyer, but the potential for combos with Ninja are huge.

Quickling is another tricky flyer that can be used to rebuy a Spellstutter, Ninja, Sage, or more. Great option.

Spire Golem doesn’t look too impressive, but this card did serious work in Standard and Pauper. It’s a great mid-game tempo boost to play a sturdy 2/4 flyer for 2 or less mana. Spire Golem is great.

Familiar’s Ruse and Deprive are some nice hard-counter alternatives to Remand with varying synergies. Both set us back, but Familiar’s Ruse has greater potential synergy with picking up a value creature.

Including Thought Scour + Runechanter’s Pike is an alternative direction we could take the deck. It doesn’t work well with Phantasmal Bear or Frost Walker, but it would be great in some builds.

Budget Ninja Bear

We’ve covered a lot of options and we can see that it all depends on budget, preference, and play style. There are a lot of ways to go.

For me, personally, I’m interested in a creature-heavy version that ditches Delver of Secrets entirely. Delver is fantastic, but once Snapcaster and Cryptic are out, working to flip Delver will hold the deck back.

Here’s a budget possibility that I like:

WooBrews-BudgetNinjaBear2

For an extreme budget deck this would give you a lot of bang for your buck in Modern. It has a tricky play style built around Ninja hits to accrue advantage long enough for our evasive blue team to finish the job.

I hope this helps you in your Magic: the Gathering journey by giving you a fun deck to play with, think about, or to just see the value in budgeting. It’s a true skill to evaluate trade-offs—or find excuses for why you don’t want to play with those bomb money cards anyway.

Let me know what you think of this build or what other options you are excited to explore. Happy brewing to all!