MTG Tactics Budget Deckbuilding Guide

Magic: The Gathering Tactics Budget Deckbuilding Guide by bludex

Many people who start this game are under the misconception that you have to spend hundreds of dollars to get the best deck and remain competitive in this game. This is simply not true and I want to help out the community in realizing there are many quality decks out there that don’t require you to break the bank. While I am not the best player in this game, I have still turned a ~$60 investment into an impressive collection and almost 6000 gold and I want to share my knowledge with some of the newer players to MTG:Tactics. I set up a simple FAQ here to get you started:

What is the minimum amount of money I have to invest in order to start a collection and build up gold?

This really depends on how quickly you’d like to get to this point. I’d say with a $20-$30 investment you could be on your way in roughly a month. With a $60 investment you could be on your way almost immediately.

What is the most efficient use of my SC cash?

#1 priority are the campaigns. The first 2000 SC cash should absolutely go to purchasing the first 4 campaigns. This will unlock the dailies and you will start bringing in 10 free gold every day. Theoretically, the campaigns pay for themselves in 20 days. You may realize that the campaigns will be extremely tough with the basic starter decks so any SC cash left over should go straight to booster packs. Some people who really want to maximize their money may have to wait until a SC promotion. So far there have been two, one in February where the campaigns were on sale for 999 sc cash instead of 2000, and a promotion just last weekend where gamestop cards got you 2500 station cash for the price of $15. I’m sure SOE will continue to do these promotions through the year, so you may want to keep checking up when the promotions are to get started.

I bought a few booster packs, now what?

The best thing you could do is draft, but assuming you are new to this game it may not be a good idea. But if you do extensive market research on the auction house, you can find out what cards are valued highly, and then drafting might be a good idea after all. The only difference between opening 3 packs and drafting is a 20 gold payment. That 20 gold easily pays for itself with one good common or uncommon. Even if you aren’t confident in your drafting skills, you could just pick the most valuable card in every pack you open.

OK now I got some cards, what should I do with them?

Whether you opened the cards in a draft or just ripped open a few boosters, you should have a small collection going. The first thing you want to make sure of is if your deck can complete the 5 campaigns and the 5 dailies. If you are having serious trouble, you may want to consider fine tuning your deck for that purpose first. If you are breezing through the dailies and are looking to start working on a competitive deck, then please read below!

Bludex’s School of Budget Deckbuilding

Now that we got the FAQ out of the way and you are successfully tackling the dailies every day, you’ll want to take that 10 gold per day and start putting it towards a constructed deck for tournaments. Since this is a budget school, I’ll mainly be covering commons and uncommons. Here I’m just going to cover the staple common/uncommons of every color. After going through the campaigns you should get a good idea of what colors best suit your playstyle. Most people would agree that two-color decks are probably the best. One-color decks, while always consistent, aren’t that great right now because of the small selection of quality cards. Still, one-color decks can be viable with the right cards and I’ve seen mono-black and mono-red perform well in tournaments. Three-colors is possible, but you will definitely risk getting screwed on mana from time to time.


Red is a very popular constructed color because it has lots of quick ways to damage your opponent and their creatures. The most notable cards in red are Lightning Bolt, Fireball, and Forceful Rending. Special props go to threatening lunge & the goblin suite, especially when combined with Goblin Chieftan and/or red spec.

Lightning Bolt
Very cheap removal and a cheap way to get in some extra damage on your opponent. Practically a 4-of in every red deck you’d consider playing.

This card can single-handedly blow out your opponent in drawn-out games, not to mention being very versatile removal for single or groups of creatures. Consider playing 2-4 in any red deck you make.

Forceful Rending
This is best used in conjunction with flank attacks, and is red’s most powerful tool for dealing lots of damage. Should be a 4-of in every creature based aggro deck.

Going to group together Raging Goblin, Goblin Piker, and Goblin Fodder. If you choose the red spec, there is a talent that gives your goblins a chance to come out with an extra 10 power. Raging goblin is excellent for setting up quick flank attacks. Goblin Piker has a very high initiative. Goblin Fodder isn’t that great, but deserves mentioning for the red talent and if you use Goblin Chieftan. Goblin Chieftan is a rare card, and can be over 100 gold on the auction house so it may be a little hard to put this type of deck together right away. Even without the chieftan, the goblins can do fine on their own.

Lava Axe
Only good in burn-down decks. It’s usually the first card you want to cut since it doesn’t interact with creatures and is basically only good as a finisher for planeswalkers.

Pyroclasm would be my #1 pick for a deck for dailies, but in constructed it seems to be lacking at times since it doesn’t deal well with defending creatures, it can’t damage planeswalkers, and only puts a dent in larger creatures. It still deserves worth mentioning though since in certain situations it can be devastating if you are surrounded by a bunch of weak creatures. It’s always nice to have additional answers to goblins, wind drakes, and daggerclaw imps.

Berserkers of Blood Ridge
40/40 that moves far and fast for 5 mana is actually pretty decent, not to mention he gets buffed up from damage received. He makes a great mid-game threat.

Seething Song
Really only good if you have some decent red 5-drops such as Magma Phoenix or Berserkers of Blood Ridge. Personally I don’t think this is a very good card and should be avoided.

Threatening Lunge
One red mana to move an additional 6 spaces in two turns is very nice both for running away or getting close to pin down your opponent. A great spell when Shadowstep/Teleport aren’t options.


Another extremely popular color, black has some very powerful cards both for aggression and control. Most notable cards in black are Daggerclaw Imp, Shadowstep, Doom Blade, Hymn to Tourach, Child of Night.

Daggerclaw Imp
Easily a 4-of in any deck with even a splash in black. Daggerclaw Imp, if unanswered, puts a major thorn in anybodies side. 30 damage on a 6-initiative flier for only 3 mana is a steal. Unfortunately his 10 life makes him susceptible to Weakness, Soul Crush, and other forms of direct damage.

This is THE best movement spell in MTG. 5 space teleportation for 2 mana is very affordable. This card single-handedly wins games both for control decks and aggro decks. Shadowstepping to somebodies feet, laying a mob on one-side of them and flanking them with forceful rending is powerful, and locks them in place if the creature you cast has haste. It’s also a phenomenal spell in getting away from being pinned down.

Doom Blade
In the first month of MTG:T this was actually not a very good card because vampires/bloodwitch combo was an extremely popular deck and this card is dead against them. While black continues to be popular, there is much more of a surgence of blue and red based creature decks where including a couple of these in your deck is a good idea. 2 mana removal is very hard to pass up.

Hymn to Tourach
While the requirements of having line of sight on your opponent and a harsh two-black mana cost make this card difficult to cast at times, it is one of the best 2-for-1 spells in the game. If you can get two Hymns off on an opponent early in the game, they are usually crippled severely. Excellent spell for black-heavy decks and goes good against everything.

Child of Night
CoN is a lot of good stuff crammed into a cheap package. 20 power, high move, high initiative, and lifesteal for the cheap cost of 1B is nothing to laugh at. You’ll be surprised how often that extra 20 life really plays a factor in games. If you are running an aggro deck, that extra life gives you a buffer versus other aggro decks and if you are control it helps survive an initial onslaught as well while you get your big-hitters out.

Soul Crush & Weakness
Soul Crush & Weakness don’t get much love for being very situational, but they can both be pretty powerful. Weakness is a one-mana answer to opposing child of nights and daggerclaw imp. The beautiful thing about the negative-toughness spells versus direct damage is you can cast them on a defending creature and it deals with them as soon as its their turn, whereas Lightning bolt has to wait until after their creatures get an active turn attacking you or killing one of your guys. These cards are often overlooked yet should usually be considered for your deck.

Ratcasting is a very powerful card backed up by the vermin plague talent in the black tree. Ratcasting is great for setting up a flank attack with forceful rending. It’s also great to stop a player in their tracks since you can zone-of-control lock them while you close in on them. With the talents, ratcasting becomes a 5-init 20/20 that can’t be counterattacked that exerts a zone of control immediately upon summoning and can be summoned anywhere in line of sight. Very powerful spell that should automatically be a 4-of in every black-spec black deck!


Blue is popular considering it has arguably the best spec to go with it. Not to mention Mind Control is probably one of the most powerful cards in the game and can turn the tides on almost any match. Most notable cards in blue I’d say are Mind Control, Teleport, Wind Drake, Thieving Magpie with special mention of Time Ebb.

Mind Control
This is quite possibly my favorite card to play, and least-favorite card to play against. Mind Control is a huge tempo switch if you steal something good. This card will be a staple in every blue deck for the foreseeable future. The only real answers to it are in white and green which are the least popular colors.

Wind Drake
While a basic 20/20 for 3 mana may not seem like much, fliers can be pretty annoying and this one exerts a zone of control unlike daggerclaw imp. With used in combination of other blue talents, Wind Drake is one of blue’s most efficient creatures.

Thieving Magpie
Card advantage is king as long as you’re not getting blown up. There is nothing more annoying than being locked down by this bird and watching your opponents hand fill up as it pecks away at you. Four mana for a 10 damage creature is a high price to pay, but the extra cards on wings that can lock your opponent down is worth it. Again a great card considering the blue talent tree.

Triple-blue is an extremely high cost but when you cast this spell it is so worth it. This gets you out of any immediate danger and keeps you out of it. While obviously only usable in blue-heavy decks, this card is so versatile and is control’s biggest savior (as well as a great card for blue-aggro decks which are becoming increasingly popular).

Time Ebb
When you first read this card, it just looks like an expensive unsummon, but really it is a very good removal spell. It is still a one-for-one since it’s practically an unsummon that skips their next draw step. Great tempo swing, especially if you use it on creatures that have been recently enchanted.

Personally I don’t think unsummon is that great of a card since it usually just delays the inevitable. Still, it is a great answer to Mind Control or to keep early pressure off of you. If you are drawing cards with Magpie or Mind Spring, it increases the value of this card a lot. Also good in combination with Black/Blue witch decks to recast your witches.

Ray of Command
This card was much better back in the day of evil ritual being popular and being able to counter-attack. It still deserves worth mentioning now though. It’s definitely not a card you’d want to play more than 1 or 2 of, since it is very situational. At times though it can steal games from your opponents and is a good way to finish them off with thier own creatures or to kill their own creatures while simultaneously putting them out of reach of you.


White isn’t that popular right now, and the versions that do play it usually rely on expensive rare cards (Beacon of Immortality, Silence, Avatar, etc.) Still, white has one of the best two-for-ones with Cloudchaser Eagle. Pacifism can also be a cheap versatile removal spell since enchantment-removal is still rare these days. I’ll expand on this section later.


Green isn’t that popular either, but has some notable cards. Plummet is a great removal spell for dealing with the black fliers that doom blade falls short on (Daggerclaw Imp, Malakir Bloodwitch). Oakenform and Giant Growth are great support cards. Pouncing Cheetah is also one of the scariest ground creatures to deal with. I’ll expand on this section later.

**Sample Decklists!**

The section everyone is waiting for, here are some decklists made up of entirely commons and uncommons that are absolutely tournament worthy:

Black/Red Aggro
Spec: Black
4x Daggerclaw Imp
4x Child of Night
4x Raging Goblin
1x Goblin Piker
4x Forceful Rending
4x Lightning Bolt
3x Fireball
3x Hymn to Tourach
2x Doom Blade
4x Shadow Step
3x Threatening Lunge
4x Ratcasting

This deck is made up of entirely commons except for 6 uncommon spells and even today can absolutely crush a constructed tournament with the right draws. 7 movement spells to put pressure on your opponent, with Ratcasting also able to lock them in place from afar. Cheap heavy-hitting creatures, burn, removal, hymns gives your opponent a run for their money. This deck takes advantage of the black talent tree for Evil Ritual (30 damage on your planeswalker) as well as the Rat buff. If you can’t piece together all of these cards, consider Weakness or Soul Crush since opposing daggerclaw imps could put a major thorn in your side.

Black/Blue Control
Spec: Blue
4x Child of Night
4x Wind Drake
3x Thieving Magpie
4x Daggerclaw Imp
1x Malakir Bloodwitch

4x Time Ebb
2x Doom Blade
4x Mind Control
4x Teleport
4x Shadowstep
3x Hymn to Tourach
3x Soul Crush

While this deck has a bit more uncommons than the previous version, they are usually pretty cheap in th AH. I know Thieving Magpie and Teleport are very commonly under 10 gold a piece. With the right skill level, this deck can be quite consistent in tournaments and I’ve been beaten by a deck exactly like this many times. If you have the 600 SC cash to spare, you might want to pick up 3 malakir blood witches and turn this into a vampire control deck. You can add in Aristocrats and unsummons to fuel the combo and when you really start coming into the money, Mind Spring is a great addition as well.

Blue/Green Sky Control
Spec: Blue
4x Wind Drake
4x Thieving Magpie
4x Phantom Scoundrel
3x Air Elemental

4x Teleport
4x Time Ebb
3x Plummet
4x Mind Control
4x Oakenform
2x Elvish Agility
2x Unsummon
2x Naturalize

Here’s another cheap effective deck that fairs very well in tournaments. The concept is basically to control the air. This deck first surfaced after the bloodwitch combo-control deck (also referred to as solitaire for its ability to never need to interact with the opponent) was the “Deck to Beat” near the beginning of the game. The current metagame has a lot of decks that are very dependant on fliers so the maindeck plummets are actually very good. Plummet and Mind Control, in my opinion, are the two best counters to Malakir Bloodwitch. An Air Elemental with an Oakenform on it tears them up pretty well too. Naturalize is a metagame call depending on what enchantments are out there. It’s always good for Mind Control, but forceful rending, deadly flank, courageous oath are getting pretty popular. There’s also Phantom Scoundrels which have become increasingly popular due to the popularity increase in goblins. The goblin decks don’t really have much of an answer to them outside of doom blade, and not every goblin deck plays doom blades. 3 mana for a 20/30 teleporter is great anyway!

Once you get some money going, some decent rares to add to this are Birds of Paradise, Might of Oaks, Mind Spring, and of course Lotus/Time Warp but it really doesn’t need those.

Blue/White Aggro Fliers
Spec: Blue
4x Wind Drake
4x Cloudchaser Eagle
4x Phantom Scoundrel
3x Air Elemental
4x Thieving Magpie

4x Mind Control
4x Courageos Oath
4x Time Ebb

2x Unsummon
3x Pacifism
4x Teleport

This deck has a lot of tempo in it. It’s a blue spec but very aggressive. It uses a lot of fliers and phantom scoundrels (spec into the rogue initiative talent instead of the go-first talent). When someone sees you spawning blue and white, they’ll usually assume you are playing a controllish deck and they’ll come running at you. You can run back your first couple turns, but you can turn the tides very quick. Drop a drake and unsummon their threat and then start going aggressive on them. Cloudchaser Eagle is the best non-rare white card there is. Don’t forget cloudchaser does not need line of sight to kill enchantments, and it ignores stuff like elvish agility. In a metagame where mind control and forceful rending are rampant, the eagle truly shines. The blue spec also works very well with Deadly flank since if they’re right up on you, you can summon on the other side of them. This deck is enhanced with some pricy cards like Silence, Beacon of Immortality, Time Warp, and Lotus.

Good luck and please post questions or comments below!

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