Playing Casually on a Budget- You should be playing these cards!

You should be playing these cards!

If you are a casual player then you have far more in mind than just what deck you want to put together next.  You obviously want to build a deck that can help you get an edge on your friends, but while you’re dreaming up new decks you also have to keep your bottom line in mind.  You likely don’t have limitless funds to build whatever you want and you need to prioritize what you want to pick up or look for bargains.  Today I’m going to share my list of cards in this current standard that you can pick up on the cheap and use them to get good value in your next game.  

I’m choosing to focus on the current standard environment in order to limit the scope of the cards I am looking at and to maximize your chance to pick them up because they are readily available.  I should also make you all aware that since I live in Canada and the exchange rate hamstrings me significantly, I will be opting to use Puca points as a form of universal currency.  Typically 1 Puca point is worth about 1 cent US ( not quite if you look at the economics, but pretty close) and can represent the respective value of each card in a way that people from around the world can understand.

Ainok Survivalist (20 pts):  ainok survivalistWhen Reclamation Sage rotated out of standard players were looking for a creature to blow up artifacts and enchantments. Ainok Survivalist is the perfect replacement because it can offer the same ability, but is a slight upgrade.  The upgrade comes in the form of you being able to control WHEN you blow it up by Morphing the Ainok Survivalist face up at Instant speed.  That important versatility is big, but when you Morph Ainok Survivalist he now becomes a much more threatening attacker as a 3/2 instead of the 2/1 that Reclamation Sage was packing.  Now, you might say that people can see this one coming because you need to play him face down as a Morph prior to cashing him in for value.  However, you can disguise this guy if you play him surrounded by any other Morph cards.  If you wanted to go “Big Game” you could go for the Deathmist Raptor/ Den Protector combo, but Sagu Mauler and Hooded Hydra are both fun partners to pair this guy with.

Brood MonitorBrood Monitor (21 pts): This little uncommon from Battle For Zendikar is a pretty nice bridge card in ramp decks.  For starters, once you get to six mana you get to play this and guy and you can immediately plug up the ground with a pile of tokens.  You get 6 power and toughness across four bodies and those tokens are very valuable.  You can Inspired Charge or Joraga Invocation when you attack to wreck your opponent,  or you can sac all those tokens and ramp into something enormous and take over the game that way.  Either way, your buddies will be a little surprised at the versatility of this card and how it can advance your game.

Blood-Chin RagerBlood-Chin Rager (26 pts): This is the engine that makes the Warrior Tribal deck go by attacking and giving the rest of your team menace.  Sure, there are some very flashy warriors, but this guy is the meat and potato card that will make even slightly nerfed Warrior decks something to be reckoned with.  I like this guy a ton and if you are into tribal decks this guy is the guy for you.


Bounding KrasisBounding Krasis (30 pts) This is a blowout on a stick.  As a surprise blocker this is just a beating because you get to untap your biggest creature, presumably eat one of their things, block with a 3/3 Krasis, presumably eating another creature, and leaving your opponent in a really bad state.  Also, because the Krasis  untaps things  there is always the chance that you could engineer some sort of combo.  This is not an exciting creature but it is very versatile and just gets work done for you all at the low low price of 30 points.

Ire ShamanIre Shaman (44 pts.):  Another Morph creature worth taking another look at is this inexpensive pickup.  Everyone is all a buzz with Abbot of Keral Keep and the card draw offered, but instead of paying 700+ points you can pick up Ire Shaman much more inexpensively but still get the potential of the same card draw.  The nice thing with the Shaman is that after he Morphs into a 3/2 he becomes a very relevant attacker with a form of quasi evasion with Menace.  If you can’t quite afford the Abbot, Ire Shaman makes a reasonable substitute.

Archfiend of DepravityArchfiend of Depravity (52 pts): Any time you get a 5/4 flier for 5 mana you are getting a pretty solid return on your investment, but the fact that this can stone cold blank token strategies is pretty amazing. Forcing your opponent to sac their board save for two creatures is very powerful. This allows you to focus your remaining removal on their few remaining scary threats. One additional feature of this guy is that the double black in the casting cost still plays into Devotions strategies that you might still be playing around your kitchen table.

Citadel SiegeCitadel Siege (52 pts):  This is just a bomb.  You hit 4 mana, jam this and then reap the benefits as it combos with EVERY CREATURE you own.  How this is only 50+ points boggles my mind.  Cheap and just about as devastating as they come.



Flamewake PhoenixFlamewake Phoenix (60 pts):  For those of you with lots of 4 power creatures this is a can’t miss addition because buying this back for a single red mana is silly. Things that play well with this are things like Frost Walker, Alpine Grizzly or really any 4 power creature.  There really isn’t much you need to say or do because the value you can get back on any turn is kind of crazy.


Emeria ShepherdEmeria Shepherd (79 pts):  Ok, this is 7 mana, but once you get this online and can play a plains you start to get a pretty insane return.  I envision this in Angel-esque themed decks as a way to buy back any (or all really) of your sweet Angels that got removed.  If you don’t believe me, Patrick Chapin talked about this on his podcast.  While I question playing a 7 mana 4/4 in Constructed, Casually I see absolutely no issue and can see this being the ticket to value town.


Disciple of the RingDisciple of the Ring (117 pts):  This is my current pet card because it is just so powerful.  If this wasn’t in a set with the new Jace this card would be one of the chase rares of the set. As it stands, people would rather flashback their spells than exile them.   The stats on Disciple are good, but the abilities are crazy powerful. You can basically do anything you like just by exiling instants or sorceries.  It is just an insanely powerful card but you do need to build your deck around it in order to really reap the benefits. I’m in the midst of building a deck that features this guy and can’t wait to share it with all of you guys.

Thanks again for stopping by for a read.  I know that there are plenty of other cards out there that probably should be on this list so if you have some secret gem or favorite card that you think I missed go ahead and let me know! You can hit me up on Twitter at @bgray8791 or you can leave a comment here! It’s always great to hear what other players are doing and what they think is valuable when they play.

Take care and have yourself a great MTG day.

Bruce Gray


Leave a Comment