During my streams, I’m often asked about budget options for getting into Modern. Modern has always been expensive to get into, so even budget options will usually set you back a couple hundred dollars. Budget options are also usually restrictive in the sense that you have limited choices when it comes to archetype. Most of the time, when players are looking for a cheaper deck to get into Modern, they’re told to buy into “Burn or Mono-Red Prowess.” While that’s fine for a lot of players, there are other players who wish there were cheap options for budget control, midrange or combo.
For most of Modern’s history, control decks have been some of the most expensive in the format, usually playing lots of fetchlands and planeswalkers like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Jace, the Mind Sculptor as win conditions. But recently there’s been some good news for players looking for cheaper options, Unholy Heat has largely pushed four and five-mana planeswalkers out of the format. I’ve been finding success with a few different control decks with varying win conditions, and one of my favorites recently has been this Dimir Thing in the Ice list using Dress Down.
Earlier this week, I also wrote about Dress Down and how it’s been overperforming for me in a Grixis Death’s Shadow deck. The card lines up well against a lot of hard to answer cards in Modern, like Urza’s Saga, Primeval Titan, Sanctifier en-Vec and most of the Elementals deck. It also powers up cards like Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger, Death’s Shadow, Lurrus of the Dream-Den and the focus of this control deck: Thing in the Ice.
Thing in the Ice plays quite nicely with Dress Down. Usually, you set up for a Thing in the Ice flip by casting Dress Down at the end of your opponent’s turn, so it’ll stick in play until the end of your next turn. Thing in the Ice will enter with no ice counters, then once Dress Down is sacrificed, it just takes one spell to transform Thing in the Ice into Awoken Horror.
I’ve also found Thing in the Ice to be a solid card by itself. There are very few copies of Fatal Push in Modern at the moment, and the card dodges Lightning Bolt, Fire // Ice and usually dodges Unholy Heat in the early game. Having an early blocker for Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer has also been quite nice. When deckbuilding, you always want to have individually powerful cards that work well together, like Thing in the Ice and Dress Down in this deck.
Here’s the list that I’ve been playing:
Modern Dimir Thing in the Ice by Evart Moughon
The above deck list isn’t particularly budget friendly, but I do think you can port it into a semi-competitive deck list that’ll be able to hold its own at FNM while not breaking the bank. I’ve put the following list together – it costs a little more than $200 at the time of writing. I’ve also designed this deck to be easily upgradable, if you’re interested in slowly buying or trading for the more expensive pieces.
Budget Modern Dimir Thing in the Ice by Evart Moughon
Let’s talk about a few of the deckbuilding choices.
Three-color mana bases are very difficult to build well without fetchlands. However, while most two-color mana bases will want fetchlands, it’s entirely possible to build a smooth and consistent mana base without fetches. In fact, you tend to gain some percentage points against Burn and Prowess opponents since you won’t be dealing yourself as much damage with your lands.
Recently, a new creatureland from the Adventures in the Forgotten Realms, Hall of Storm Giants, has given control players a powerful new (and Unholy Heat-proof) finisher. I’ve been really impressed by this card and expect to play it a lot in control decks going forward. Creaturelands that conditionally enter untapped and tap for a color of mana have never existed before. It’s currently quite budget-friendly and I recommend picking them up.
Blue/black control also has a great color-specific, budget-friendly option in River of Tears. Since River of Tears always taps for blue on your opponent’s turn, it usually functions as a better basic Island, since any blue spell you’d cast you’ll be casting on your opponent’s turn. So think of River of Tears like a basic island that will occasionally let you main phase cast a removal spell or Lurrus of the Dream-Den. Clearwater Pathway is another solid and budget-friendly mana fixer for this deck, but keep in mind that Pathways are a bit awkward with Archmage’s Charm. If you’re in the process of upgrading this deck, I recommend upgrading the mana base before including Archamge’s Charm.
It might seem odd to include Lurrus in a deck like this without Mishra’s Bauble, but you can still gain access to the same kind of recurring card advantage Bauble would provide by looping Dress Down. While I do believe the deck is better with Bauble, It’s definitely an easy card to cut for budget concerns in this deck. If you want to upgrade the deck and include Baubles, it’ll be an easy swap for the four copies of Opt.
When upgrading this deck, I recommend buying Snapcaster Mages last. The card is still a powerful and versatile spell in this deck, but gone are the days where every blue deck in Modern wants to play four copies of ol’ Snappy. The card is reliably replaceable and easily cuttable if you’re looking to build budget versions of decks.
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly control deck in Modern, I hope you enjoy playing this list. Being able to play games with your favorite archetype is hugely important to enjoying yourself when you play Magic, and I hope this article helps some players get their foot in the door.
As always, thanks for reading. Here’s how I would sideboard with the budget Dimir deck list.