Brawling On A Budget: Six Brawl Decks Under $25

Looking to Brawl on the cheap? Dayv Doberne has a half-dozen budget Brawl brews for you to build for $25 or less in paper or only a handful of wildcards on Magic Arena!

Hey everyboThey announced the release of Brawl on Magic Arena!

Drooling Dayv

Whew, couldn’t even make it through two words without letting my excitement get the better of me. Yes, you heard correctly, we will be getting a Brawl queue on Magic Arena from October 24 – November 1, complete with deckbuilding capabilities. The queue will return each Wednesday starting November 6, but Brawl will only be permanently available as a direct challenge mode.

I understand that people are frustrated about only having Brawl one day a week – people just want to Brawl! – but I’m actually going to give whoever’s making this decision the benefit of the doubt here. The worst thing that could happen after spending so many resources on Brawl is for momentum behind the format to tank after a couple of weeks, leading to empty queues and the format going the way of Tiny Leaders*. And they really have committed a lot of resources to Brawl! Not only are there the Throne of Eldraine preconstructed decks and the cards that come with them, there’s also the functionality of the format in the client and the animations for all the new cards. Wizards of the Coast really wants to see Brawl succeed and they’re being cautious about it.

* I have much more faith in Brawl than Tiny Leaders — the biggest reason being that when you open a pack of the newest set most of the cards are already banned, while in Brawl they will all be legal (except Sorcerous Spyglass).

Plus, I have no doubt that plenty of streamers on Twitch (myself included!) will have streams open to challengers. Fight me!

Actual Original Content, Not Just Medium Takes on Recent Announcements

As the title of the article suggests, we’ll be taking a look at some budget decks today! For those of you out there with extensive collections and Magic as a part of your everyday life, this isn’t for you. But for those of you who maybe don’t draft a ton, or only occasionally play Arena, you’ve stumbled into the right place!

(An alternative option is to buy and modify a preconstructed deck.)

Speaking of the onboarding process, I’d like to take a second to point a spotlight at AdamAntMTG, who is all about taking new players and raising them to the next level. The most visible members of the Magic community have been around for a while and know the ins and outs of the game, but there are so many people out there who are just learning how to build their first deck, or don’t yet know the established decks or even restrictions of tournament formats. I had the pleasure of meeting Adam at TwitchCon, and we had a great conversation about strategies of helping players with limited resources and limited experience perform their best. If you or somebody you know is still learning the game, Adam’s Twitch stream is an invaluable resource!

For this project, I tried to keep the price of the entire deck (excluding basic lands) under $25 in paper. Each decklist will have the total cost of the deck as priced here on StarCityGames.com as of October 19, 2019, as well as the rare and mythic rare Wildcard cost for Magic Arena. I’ll also include a link to a list importable to Magic Arena for each deck.

Tracking down every card you need for a paper singleton deck is tricky, but StarCityGames.com makes it about as easy as possible. If you find a list you’re interested in, just follow these steps:

  • For the deck of interest, click the Magic Online logo in the top right, under the format (eg. “Brawl”)
  • Select the entire decklist with Ctrl/Cmd+A, then Ctrl/Cmd+C to copy
  • Click back on the browser, then to the right of the search bar click “Deck Builder” (or follow this link)
  • Paste the decklist in the field, fill the captcha, and you will be shown all the printings for the inputted decklist.

One of the big challenges for creating budget decks right now is that the fixing in Standard is not great, and the best lands are pretty gosh darn expensive. You really have to consider what aspect of your deck to invest in, and I’m not about to blow my entire budget on a Breeding Pool. Yes, the mana will suffer, but an easy solution to this exists in just building monocolored decks. I built a deck for each color, as well as one additional multicolor option.

A lot of these cards in these decks are… unexpected, but that just comes with the territory of budget decks. In order to make the most of the budget I allotted myself, all these decks have a heavy focus on the commander and try to leverage its power as best possible. That leads to some of these being gimmicky, but “do one thing and do it well,” right?

I was originally going to split this article into two parts, but with the recent Magic Arena announcement, I figure I’ll have plenty to talk about next week when everybody’s able to play Brawl. So brace yourselves, for I have six decklists to share with you! We’ll be going in reverse-WUBRG order.

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Total price: $24.09

Wildcard cost: 15 Rares

Magic Arena Importable Decklist

Green deck ramps? What’s new? Develop your mana early, cast expensive creatures with huge stats, and hope that’s enough. If Nissa survives, her ability to double your available mana is nothing short of insane. Let’s take a look at where the money is going:

The whole point of this deck is to get to huge spells ahead of curve, and Thorn Mammoth and God-Pharaoh’s Statue are among the best to get going earlier. If left unchecked, Thorn Mammoth will eat your opponent’s creatures alive, and God-Pharaoh’s Statue dramatically will slow down your opponents’ development.

Nissa and her Elemental lands both benefit from Karn’s Bastion, so it feels like pretty high upside from a deck that already has 23 green sources.

Even without Standard powerhouses such as Questing Beast or Voracious Hydra, you have plenty of great options of huge threats that would love to soak up your mana. Feasting Troll King and Gargos, Vicious Watcher are both capable of ending games on their own, and opponents will be hard-pressed to survive an End-Raze Forerunners attack.

Torbran, Thane of Red Fell

Total price: $22.73

Wildcard cost: 10 Rares

Magic Arena Importable Decklist

Another take on a classic archetype here: Face-is-the-Place-Red-is-Gonna-Lay-Waste-to-your-Silly-Jace aggro. Torbran, Thane of Red Fell wants to deal damage as often as possible, so interactions such as Cavalcade of Calamity and Scampering Scorcher are well-documented for anybody who pays attention to Standard. A couple other nice interactions we have with Torbran include:

So keep playing out Torbran with this one!

Again, these are cards that have done a ton of work in Standard, so they need little introduction. Fires of Invention is a card not associated with these types of decks, but I think it’s just fantastic in Brawl. If you curve out to a Turn 4 Fires in this deck, you can cast Torbran for free immediately. If Torbran is removed, you can easily recast him with Fires on the battlefield, though you have to pay the commander tax (an additional two per time cast). For example, if you’re casting Torbran from the command zone from the third time with Fires out, you only need to pay four mana. Considering Torbran’s potency in this deck, it’s well worth it. Plus, you can free up mana on your turn for more important causes, such as the aforementioned Glint-Horn Buccaneer activation.

God-Eternal Bontu

Total price: $22.95

Wildcard cost: 7 Rares, 2 Mythics

Magic Arena Importable Decklist

This one’s going to take a bit of explanation. The whole purpose of this deck is to lean on God-Eternal Bontu’s triggered ability to draw cards and fill up the graveyard. The game will start by deploying several low-impact cards that can get value with Bontu, such as Guild Globe, Burglar Rats, and Lazotep Reaver. Cast Bontu and reap the rewards of the permanents you have available to sacrifice. Black has a bunch of tools to trade one-for-one such as Murder, Price of Fame, and Duress, which will hopefully keep you alive until you get an opportunity to leverage some of the stronger cards in the deck.

Speaking of, these all work with the plans of “play lots of small creatures that are probably going to die.” There’s no hammer to end the game with in this deck, but it’s not too hard to envision grinding somebody out with The Cauldron of Eternity bringing back endless small creatures while clearing the way with removal spells.

Jace, Wielder of Mysteries

Haha, just kidding! This deck is legal, but please don’t bring this to the table. Using Persistent Petitioners’s rules text to get around the singleton restriction of the format really defeats the purpose of playing Brawl. So I’m sure nobody will be tempted to bring this! Yes, there’s definitely no need to try to win on Turn 6 with this.


Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer

Total price: $21.59

Wildcard cost: 5 Rares, 2 Mythics

Magic Arena Importable Decklist

The goal here is to protect Mu Yanling, Sky Dancer, by any means necessary. The gameplan is to cast a 1/4 with absolutely no synergy with the rest of the deck on Turn 2, and then on Turn 3 cast Mu Yanling and start ticking toward that huge ultimate ability. She can negate flying, causing whatever threat the opponent has deployed to run into her blockers, and after casting her you can leave up mana for the many, many counterspells in this deck (Convolute, Quench, Didn’t Say Please). If something does slip past your defenses, you have a couple of options to deal with it in So Tiny, Unsummon, or Frogify. The bottom line here is that we’re trying to buy time to get to Mu Yanling’s emblem, which should be an insurmountable advantage against any opponent.

The power we’re investing in for this deck is in card selection and replenishment, as Mu Yanling does not do that herself. All four of the above cards do a great job refilling our hands with defensive elements, and that’s exactly what we need to do.

Once Mu Yanling’s ultimate hits, you can cast her again and start making 4/4s, or you can try to draw your deck and win with Jace, Wielder of Mysteries when drawing with an empty deck. It’s super-easy with the emblem out; just cast Jace once you’re at an empty deck, and if they try to remove him in any way, just tap an Island in response to draw (which you should have plenty of by that point).

This deck auto-loses to the Torch Runner deck, but don’t sweat it.

Sephara, Sky’s Blade

Total price: $17.89

Wildcard cost: 12 Rares, 1 Mythic

Magic Arena Importable Decklist

Sephara, Sky’s Blade likes flyers a ton. Perhaps a bit too much – we’re playing cards like Concordia Pegasus and War Screecher to up our flyer count. The plan behind this deck is to cast as many cheap flyers as possible, get Sephara out, and attack, attack, attack.

I bet you haven’t seen a Constructed deck with these cards before! One huge advantage to playing Sephara is that her alternate cost will often allow you to keep mana up the turn that you cast her.

As with Fires of Invention, you do need to pay the commander tax for Sephara even if you’re casting her with her alternate cost.

There are only so many mono-white creatures with flying, and you have to play all of the cheap ones to enable your main strategy. You even have to dip into inferior altitude-challenged creatures such as Linden, the Steadfast Queen or Bounty Agent, though those can take to the air with a helpful Roc Charger or Angelic Gift.

Please note that Inspiring Commander, Confront the Assault, and Serra Angel are legal (to my knowledge) in the Arena version of Brawl, and they all fit in pretty well here! The last additions to this deck were Parhelion Patrol, Spirit of the Spires, and Venerated Loxodon, so feel free to replace those three.

Ral, Izzet Viceroy

Total price: $18.83

Wildcard cost: 5 Rares, 2 Mythics

Magic Arena Importable Decklist

Also known as “effective red and blue instants and sorceries that have been reprinted way too many times so that they are dirt cheap.” Much like the Mu Yanling deck, this build of Ral, Izzet Viceroy looks to protect the planeswalker and win with the ultimate ability. Unlike every other deck here, however, there are zero creatures in this list and essentially no other methods to achieve victory. Not to worry, however; this deck blanks opposing removal because of the complete lack of creatures. The deck has plenty of card draw to keep the cards flowing and will eventually be able to protect Ral the turns necessary to hit his ultimate. You even have access to Clear the Mind to recycle your deck if you need more runway to draw into!

I got to play this deck against ZedMagic this past weekend as we recorded some Brawl content on Magic Online, and it was a total blast. I’d definitely recommend Game 2, it came down to some considerations you don’t see often.

Expansion // Explosion and The Magic Mirror are two huge sources of card advantage and casting one or the other should be enough to turn the tide of battle.

On Deck

I’ll admit I have no idea what direction we’ll be headed in for next week’s article, but with the release of Brawl on Magic Arena I’m sure there will be no shortage of discussion topics. Submissions are always open for The Brawl Project; if you have a cool list, I’d love to see it!

See you on the battlefield come Thursday!