I build budget decks because sometimes there is no other way. I understand wanting to play Magic and be somewhat competitive, and just not being able to afford it. Building budget is at times the difference between playing Magic and not playing Magic at all.
Not playing Magic is okay—life will go on. But playing Magic offers such a profound mental workout that can put otherwise time consuming segments of life into easy-mode. Magic grows the mind.
If it’s play budget Magic or not play at all, I choose play budget Magic.
Hopefully this article will be another small stepping stone in improving your (budget) deck-building processes, and at the least we will have another great budget option for breaking into Modern.
Modern Dirt Cheap Dirty Red
We’ve talked about this before, but for whatever reason red seems to make a killing in the cheap common/uncommon department.
Red gets the obvious burn components which make for viable budget competitive decks, but it doesn’t stop there.
Red also gets storm, tokens, and heroic-esque combo—throwing out a quick creature, pumping it, giving it double strike, and trampling over for victory.
Red heroic combo is today’s focus as we have combos for turn-2 kills with nothing but commons from a playstyle with a unique feel.
It starts with Mountains. That’s all you need for the mana base. You should be able to get these for free just by asking.
Once you have a Mountain in play you can play a heroic creature to start the game. Each of these creatures grows for each spell you play and can threaten an early-game kill.
Kiln Fiend is “expensive” as a 2-drop but provides the most punch by threatening an instant kill if you ever untap with it.
Akroan Crusader and Young Pyromancer are options for going wide with tokens. My version of the deck can’t take the best advantage of this, but you have options, especially to switch things up out of the sideboard.
A Titan’s Strength plus a Brute Strength puts your 1-drop to NINE POWER right away, and you’re only one double strike spell away from a kill.
Double strike is crucial to the equation of trying to add up to 20 damage by turn 2 or 3. 10 damage becomes 20 damage and that’s game. That’s an insane effect for only 1 or 2 mana.
Temur Battle Rage provides an extra nice bonus of trample. Doesn’t matter if the opponent starts the game with a blocker.
Another way to get through a blocker is Apostle’s Blessing. For only 1 mana you can protect a creature with a removal or send it through unblocked.
Gitaxian Probe and Gut Shot offer some more free effects. Gitaxian Probe checks if the coast is clear and replaces itself, and Gut Shot provides a decent damage output or clears a small blocker.
Red mages also get access to a variety of fast mana rituals at common, and we have options.
While Simian Spirit Guide for turn 1 Kiln Fiends provides super aggressive starts, I like that the mana rituals trigger and grow our creatures to set up a more explosive turn. But we have options.
Dirt Cheap Dirty Red
The plan for this deck is simple:
Play a Mountain or two, play a pump creature, pump that creature, give it double strike and send it through with trample or protection.
Ideally you do it on the second or third turn against an opponent who has a deck full of Tarmogoyfs and fetchlands.
There’s room for a lot of variation based on desire to experiment, preference, differing playstyle, and differing budget.
I’ve found this version to be serviceable—while at times it is vulnerable to removal or fizzles to itself, it is insanely fast and consistent enough to steal a game from even the most rare-laden tier 1 decks.
Dirty Red on a Budget
For those of us trying to get the maximum benefits out of Magic with minimum financial investment, we always have options. I hope you find this option useful in letting you play Magic.
For the rest of us, I hope this deckbuilding experiment improves your deckbuilding process in some way or inspires you to build something new.
Let me know what you think!