Modern is a really good format at the moment. There are dozens of competitively viable strategies that span all traditional archetypes. Gameplay is complicated and interesting, and it feels like there’s a bottomless well of new ideas to play with. The biggest problem facing Modern, however, is how expensive it is to get into. While on Magic Online you have the option of using a rental service to mitigate price, the prices in paper are quite steep. While not a perfect solution to this problem, I’ve started to write these budget Modern deck guides as a way to help players get into the format and actually start playing games with archetypes they’re interested in. Another goal of these guides is to help players get the most value out of their money. These guides all have deck lists priced around $200, which while relatively inexpensive for a Modern deck is still a lot of money. I want to make sure the cards you’re buying will come with a clear upgrade path to other non-budget decks
Something else to keep in mind when looking for budget decks is that it’s often a good idea to find a deck or archetype that’s powerful but underplayed. Staples for these kinds of decks are usually in less demand and consequently less expensive. A great example of this is the subject of this guide: budget Modern Dimir Food.
Dimir Food is an archetype that gets to play a pile of powerful synergistic cards and play to the board better than most decks in the format. Food excels against most creature-based decks, but is weak to control and uninteractive decks like Tron, Belcher and Titan. In my experience, LGS metas are often more interactive and creature-heavy than MTGO which also makes food a great budget choice for FNM.
I’ve put together a few different versions of the deck at different price points. My goal for these budget decks is to be around $200, and in this list you get a lot of value for that price.
Budget Modern Dimir Food ($200) by Evart Moughon
What’s nice about a new player acquiring Sagas and Shadowspear is that it can give that player a nice basis for their collection to start building other decks like Affinity, Hardened Scales, Hammer or Amulet Titan.
Beyond the Sagas, I believe the budget is well spent acquiring powerful rares like Asmoranomardicadaistinaculdacar, Emry, Lurker of the Loch and Thought Monitor, which are really powerful payoffs that have the potential to spike in price in the future.
If Urza’s Saga isn’t a card you’re wanting to spend money on at the moment, I’ve also put together this version without it. While not as powerful, this version should still get you in the door or your LGS.
Budget Modern Dimir Food ($95) by Evart Moughon
The main difference is that this version is playing Nettlecyst over Urza’s Saga. Cyst is a really powerful card and attacks from some angles that Saga can’t (dodging cards like Alpine Moon and being recurred by Emry). This is still a weaker version, but you’ll feel great when your opponent casts Alpine Moon and names Urza’s Saga.
The biggest weakness of both of these lists is how vulnerable they are to graveyard hate. A more expensive three color mana base would allow for an easy green or white splash to deal with problematic artifacts and enchantments. This version is capable of playing Pithing Needle for cards like Relic of Progenitus and Nihil Spellbomb, and Feed the Swarm for Rest in Peace or Leyline of the Void. These are unfortunately not quite as efficient as Prismatic Ending or Nature’s Claim.
With these thoughts in mind let’s talk about how to pilot the deck.
- Your goal in any matchup with a Food deck is to build up an overwhelming board advantage with either The Underworld Cookbook plus Asmo or building a giant army with Feasting Troll Kings and Urza’s Saga. Identifying what plan you need to deploy in different matchups is key when making mulligan decisions. As a general rule of thumb, assembling Cookbook and Asmo is the most important thing versus creature decks, and making a bunch of big creatures is the most important thing against noncreature decks.
- Ovalchase Daredevil can be discarded repeatedly to Underworld Cookbook ensuring that you have a never ending Food supply.
- Remember that you can dig for a needed Ovalchase Daredevil or Feasting Troll King by casting Emry to mill four.
- Blood Fountain serves as a discard outlet for Asmo, a card advantage engine with Daredevil and Emry, and as an affinity enabler of Thought Monitor and Metallic Rebuke.
- One way you can try to beat graveyard hate is by boarding in Herald of Anguish and hoping it sticks.
For any budget decks it’s important to have an upgrade goal in mind. For this deck, I recommend this Food/Reanimator hybrid list I’ve been working on:
Non-Budget Modern Food/Reanimator by Evart Moughon
This list has been powerful and versatile, with lots of angles of attack.
I sincerely hope that these budget Modern lists get some of you in the door of playing Modern. I want the format to be as accessible as possible. Before you go, here’s a sideboard guide for the $200 list: