Modern has been my favorite format for a long time now. Gameplay is interesting and deep, there are dozens and dozens of decks to learn, and most importantly, Modern is fun. One of Modern’s biggest issues however is it’s barrier to entry. Decks are expensive, and it takes hundreds of time-consuming hours to learn the format. There are some decks that are more budget friendly, but most players trying to get into budget Modern are often told to build some flavor of red-based aggro. These red-based aggro decks (usually Burn or Prowess) are totally valid and competitive ways to get into Modern, but there are two problems with introducing people to Modern this way.
- Red Aggro decks don’t appeal to every player: Playing the decks and archetypes you’re interested in is crucial to enjoying yourself when you play Magic.
- Budget Modern decks are still expensive, and most players would want that money to buy pieces of non-budget decks they can work towards: If a player is going to spend $200 on a budget deck it would be in their best interest if most of that money went into staples for an archetype that they’re interested in.
The goal of these budget deck guides that I write is to help with these problems. I’m trying to design decks that you can play to success at an FNM level, while also trying to give you a clear path to upgrade these decks over time into a more powerful non-budget version.
I’ve explored other archetypes in previous budget deck guides, but this article will cover a budget introduction to midrange decks in Modern: Mono-Black Lurrus. Here’s the list:
Budget Modern Mono-Black Lurrus by Evart Moughon
At the time of writing, this list is hovering around $200 USD. The goal of this list is to have a playable deck with most of your money spent towards archetype staples (Mishra’s Bauble and Thoughtseize being the main two here) that can be adapted into either RB and/or Jund Lurrus over time.
In a mono-black deck like this, you get access to some really powerful utility lands with Hive of the Eye Tyrant and Castle Locthwain. What’s great about both of these lands is that they enter untapped conditionally and allow you to be very grindy in the late game. A painless mana base is also always nice to give you extra percentage points versus aggro decks.
This is where the deck makes most of its budget concessions. Mono-black does have some access to solid creatures, but it’s hard to compete with Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer, Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Tarmogoyf.
Thieves’ Guild Enforcer is really the only playable one-mana creature for this deck, but it’s surprisingly good here. With so many discard and removal spells, the card will quickly become a one-mana 3/2 flash creature with deathtouch. Dauthi Voidwalker is also a Rogue, and Enforcer’s trigger can mill cards to cast with your Voidwalker. Gatekeeper of Malakir is a solid two-for-one against opposing creature strategies and is a good way to keep Murktide Regent in check. You’ll usually want to cast Tourach, Dread Cantor for four mana, and you’ll find that this card is a super solid late game threat that allows you to keep Lurrus as a companion.
The Removal Spells
It might seem odd to see Bloodchief’s Thirst over Fatal Push, but besides budget concerns, I believe Thirst is better in a deck without fetchlands. I would recommend picking up Fatal Pushes after your pick up fetchlands. Victim of Night answers almost every creature in the format. You don’t want too many two-mana one-for-ones in your Modern deck, but the first couple of copies are usually good.
The Card Advantage
Beyond Lurrus and the utility lands, this deck is playing Unearth, Cling to Dust and Sign in Blood as tools to out grind your opponent. Usually with Unearth you’ll want to save it to reanimate your Lurrus or a Voidwalker. If you don’t think that you can setup for that in a game, you’ll usually want to cycle it instead.
If you’re interested in upgrading the deck to a non budget version here are the steps I recommend taking:
- Identify the color combination that you want to upgrade to: Be it red/black, Mardu, Grixis or Jund, all variants of RBx midrange ebb and flow in viability, but for the most part, the variant you choose to play mostly boils down to personal preference. I recommend browsing deck lists, articles and videos to find the version that you like the most.
- Buy into the mana base for your intended upgrade path: The mana bases for all RBx midrange variants are expensive, but there’s no point splashing a color or two in this mono-black deck until you have a good mana base.
- Acquire the spells you need for your intended upgrade path: This might seem like an obvious step, but you’ll want to keep in mind that while this process can take some time you can still play a slightly budget version of your intended RBx deck while you acquire your more expensive spells. Cards like Lightning Bolt, Unholy Heat, Dragon’s Rage Channeler and Terminate are all inexpensive and are solid upgrades for the mono-black list. Here’s an example of what a RB midrange with a completed mana base, but not a fully upgraded spell suite (no Ragavan, no Kroxa, no Kolaghan’s Command) might look like.
Modern Rakdos Midrange by Evart Moughon
As always, thanks for reading. I hope this deck helps some of you get into Modern. The format is really fun at the moment and it’s a great time to get into it!
Here’s how I would sideboard with the mono-black deck: