Breaking into Legacy – Super Budget (Decks for Less than $100)

The term “cheap” is a pretty relative term. Some people can’t afford to throw down $300 for a whole new 75, while others have no problem throwing down $300 for one card (Have you seen the price of beta Underground Seas?). Throughout this series, we’ve seen decks vary anywhere from $130 to $500. It’s quite the range, but in all honesty, a $500 deck is still pretty cheap compared to some of the decks out there like RUG Delver (~$1800), Maverick (~$1200), and UW Stoneblade (~$1700). But for some players, $300-500 is still a little too much for a deck.

This is what this article is for: the super budget Legacy players. The following decks cost less than $100. Building these decks is pretty fun considering the constraint, but as a word of warning: these decks are not a purchase-and-done deck. Usually, the reason why decks are budget is because they use cards that aren’t used in other decks and as a result, the cards are cheaper and thus, the deck is budget. However, with decks that are restricted by budget, you are going to have to reach for suboptimal, cheaper cards.

So, if you decide to pick up one of these decks, use these as a stepping stone into the non-budget Legacy version of these decks. Adding the more optimal cards to these decks would, well, make it more optimal and more likely to win games.

Let’s get to the decks.


Creatures (13)
Goblin Guide
Hellspark Elemental
Keldon Marauders
Spark Elemental

Spells (28)
Flame Rift
Lava Spike
Lightning Bolt
Magma Jet
Price of Progress
Rift Bolt

Lands (19)
Barbarian Ring
17 Mountain

Avg. Price on as of 3/4/12: $85.96

Ah, the obligatory burn deck. Can we really escape burn as a budget deck? The answer is no. With so many cheap burn spells (in terms of cost and mana), you’d be hard pressed to find a format where burn isn’t the budget option. Luckily the only expensive card is Chain Lightning, so Magma Jet takes its place. If you prefer Shard Volley, that could work as well, though at that point, we would remove the Barbarian Rings for Mountains since you need to make sure you have enough to maximize Fireblast.

Unfortunately, the Goblin Guides are pretty necessary, so be sure to spring for those. Those are the GP promo, so hopefully you would be able to pick it up at a local GP or the influx of those copies will keep the price of Goblin Guide down. If not, you could go the route of 100% burn spells. Negating Swords to Plowshares, black removal, etc. isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The thing is, Goblin Guide is just so good that it’s worth opening yourself up to removal to have it.


Creatures (41)
Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Champion
Elvish Visionary
Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Fauna Shaman
Fyndhorn Elves
Imperious Perfect
Llanowar Elves
Priest of Titania
Quirion Ranger
Sylvan Messenger

Spells (2)
Genesis Wave

Lands (17)
17 Forest

Avg. Price on as of 3/4/12: $92.22

Another expected budget deck. Green Sun’s Zenith are unfortunately the priciest cards, so in order to fit the $100 budget, they had to be replaced with Fauna Shamans. Green Sun’s Zenith is just so much better though, so if you can get your hands on them, be sure to do so. If you do, also add the 1 of Dryad Arbor just in case. Creating an infinite blocker with Quirion Dryad isn’t bad either.

Essentially, this deck plays like a more aggressive Merfolk list. With twelve lords (fourteen if you count Ezuri) and many ways to get them out on turn 2, you can be crashing in for a ton of damage in the early turns.

Genesis Wave is the big finisher in the deck, though if you aren’t into all-in type of cards, you can skip the Wave. We just love it so much (ever Genesis Wave for 20? Feels good man). With the number of mana you can make with this deck, it’s a great mana sink.

Once you get the Green Sun’s Zenith, look into Natural Order as the alternate win condition. Mass wipe like Volcanic Fallout or Engineered Plague can cause problems (though Plague is less so since you run so many lords), so Progenitus is a way avoid those. If you can Green Sun’s Zenith for Progenitus…that’s not so bad either.

White Weenie

Creatures (20)
Elite Vanguard
Jotun Grunt
Silver Knight
Squadron Hawk
Stoneforge Mystic
Student of Warfare

Spells (17)
Honor of the Pure
Midnight Haunting
Spectral Procession
Swords to Plowshares
Umezawa’s Jitte

Lands (23)
23 Plains

Avg. Price on as of 3/4/12: $99.04

This deck is a pretty straightforward build. The Anthem effects are great at turning your dorks into Wild Nacatls or Insectile Aberrations, and Umezawa’s Jitte solves the creature problem. Jotun Grunt is the large body of the deck, providing you a way to deal with creatures like Tarmogoyf, Knight of the Reliquary, and decks like Dredge, so don’t leave home without it. We would probably pack more in the sideboard too.

When you have the money, cards like Elite Vanguard have to go. AEther Vial is the obvious inclusion, as well as Mother of Runes. Both are the ideal one drops that cause headaches for control and aggro players alike. Once you have the Vials, you open up the possibility of Serra Avenger. Her vigilance and flying is perfect for equipment, so it would be smart to up the Stoneforge Mystics to 4 and add a toolbox equipment package with equipment like Sword of Fire and Ice. Finally, Dark Ascension offers Thalia, Guardian of Thraben to the White Weenie archetype. She plays well with the deck, holding equipment like a boss (don’t forget she has first strike) and stopping combo decks cold.


Creatures (28)
Coralhelm Commander
Lord of Atlantis
Merfolk Sovereign
Merrow Reejerey
Silvergill Adept
Adaptive Automaton

Spells (8)
Vapor Snag

Lands (24)
24 Island

Avg. Price on as of 3/4/12: $87.13

Like the Anthem effects from the White Weenie list? Well how about 20 of them? Yes, that’s right; this fish deck compensates for the lack of Force of Will and Vial by playing more lords, including the M12 Adaptive Automaton. While it won’t synergize with Merrow Reejerey, it does push your Lord count into the numbers where you’ll see multiple per game.

Unfortunately Force of Will and AEther Vial won’t be able to make it into the deck, so we need to find other ways to generate tempo. Overloading on lords seems like a great way to wreck your opponent. Cursecatcher provides a body and a small threat of disruption. Preordain filters your draws to make sure you draw only the relevant spells, and Vapor Snag provides the much needed tempo to win the game. If you find that this deck can’t deal with certain permanents or removal, try Spell Pierce in the slot of the Automaton.

While Merfolk isn’t really suited to do well in the larger Legacy metagame that includes StarCityGames Opens, Grand Prix, and other large events, it can certainly do well in your smaller Legacy event, depending on the metagame. To optimize this deck, look into AEther Vial, Mutavault, Daze, Wasteland, and Force of Will. Daze isn’t recommended if you aren’t running Vial as the setback can slow down your game. However, once you have Vial, running Daze seems almost required.

Infect Stompy

Creature (20)
Blight Mamba
Elvish Spirit Guide
Glistener Elf
Ichorclaw Myr

Spells (24)
Mutagenic Growth
Ranger’s Guile
Seal of Strength
Vines of Vastwood

Lands (16)
16 Forest

Avg. Price on as of 3/4/12: $36.36

Scars of Mirrodin block brought us new life into an old archetype. Infect makes pump spells just so much better. Luckily the infect creatures are cheap, and so is the pump, save for one – Berserk. With the deck clocking in at less than $50, perhaps you could spring for the Berserks. The deck still packs a punch without it though. Invigorate and Mutagenic Growth provide free pump and Seal of Strength provides free pump the turn after it comes into play. Ranger’s Guile and Vines of Vastwood give your creatures much needed protection, and Rancor is well, Rancor. Trample and +2/+0 is pretty nasty with your Infect creatures.

Apart from the Berserks, the deck just needs the Inkmoth Nexus. The ability to shut off sorcery speed removal is nuts. The good news is that with the launch of the Dark Ascension event decks, Inkmoth Nexus is within anybody’s grasp. From there, a splash for black for Plague Stinger or blue for Blighted Agent is within your reach – you can use cards like Lotus Petal or shocklands to reduce the need for ABU dual lands. It’s not like the life payments really matter when you kill them on turn 2, right?


Creatures (26)
Etched Champion
Master of Etherium
Myr Enforcer
Signal Pest
Vault Skirge

Spells (18)
Cranial Plating
Galvanic Blast
Lotus Petal
Springleaf Drum

Lands (16)
Darksteel Citadel
Great Furnace
Seat of the Synod
Vault of Whispers

Avg. Price on as of 3/4/12: $68.29

Affinity was a pretty decent budget option before the printing of Mox Opal. After the printing of Mox Opal, it still is a pretty decent budget option. Mox Opal does give Affinity a more explosive start as well as smoothing out the colored mana issues that the artifact lands occasionally produce. Luckily, slapping a Cranial Plating on your dudes can still be a budget option.

The deck does much better with Mox Opals, though Lotus Petal does a decent one-time imitation of it. Once you have the Mox Opals, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is probably the next step, as it provides you a way to win without the combat step – a good angle in an otherwise ultra-linear strategy. Luckily, since Tezzeret is dropping in price due to a lack of use in Standard, you can pick em up pretty cheap.

Mono Blue Tempo

Creatures (11)
Delver of Secrets
Invisible Stalker
Phantasmal Bear

Spells (30)
Echoing Truth
Gitaxian Probe
Runechanter’s Pike
Thought Scour
Vapor Snag

Lands (19)
19 Island

Avg. Price on as of 3/4/12: $37.52

Apparently blue is good enough to have decent creatures now. Modeled after the UW Tempo decks in Standard and RUG tempo decks in Legacy, this deck can still pack a beating. Vapor Snag is just as good as Swords to Plowshares in a deck that seeks to kill as fast as possible, if not better. Your opponent can recast his Knight of the Reliquary all he wants – you’re flying over him with Delver or going in unblocked with Invisible Stalker. Runechanter’s Pike provides much needed reach—with 26 instants or sorceries, not only is Delver going to be flipping often, but your Runechanter’s Pike is much like a Cranial Plating. Sure you can’t equip Phantasmal Bear (he’s just there as an extra, cheap body), but equipping an Invisible Stalker is still pretty darn good.

Snapcasters could find its way to this deck if you have any – the extra tempo boost and body will help. If you can afford the fetches and Volcanic Islands, UR Delver is the way to go, but that’s still quite a ways.

Super Budget to the Rescue

These decks may not be the deck to take to the next StarCityGames, but it provides a framework for you to work with while you look for the optimal cards. Which one is the right deck to build? Depends on your playstyle and what you like. With Maverick and RUG running around, Burn seems like the best positioned, but in all honesty, it can be anyone’s day. Find what you are most comfortable with and go from there, not what the overall metagame says.

Good luck!

Jason and Jeff