Strong-Arming Standard – Budget Decks in RNA Standard

This is the cheapest Standard has been in a long time, with many decks being under $200. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the options you can play Standard competitively for relatively cheap.

Mono-Blue Tempo

Mono-Blue Tempo won the first Mythic Championship with a list that came in at just under $100, which is absurdly cheap for a tier one deck.  This deck relies on getting down an early threat and suiting it up with Curious Obsession before your opponent can play anything significant, then follow up with counterspells. By drawing 2 cards a turn, you can out-card your opponents and churn through your deck quickly to find relevant interaction.  Tempest Djinn allows you to have a heavy hitter in the late game to finish out the game once your opponent manages to force multiple spells through in a turn or run you out of counterspells.

Main Deck:

4 Siren Stormtamer

4 Pteramander

1 Mist-Cloaked Herald

4 Merfolk Trickster

4 Tempest Djinn

1 Chart a Course

1 Entrancing Melody

4 Opt

4 Dive Down

3 Spell Pierce

2 Essence Capture

1 Negate

4 Wizard’s Retort

4 Curious Obsession

19 Island



1 Essence Capture

3 Negate

3 Entrancing Melody

1 Island

1 Disdainful Stroke

3 Surge Mare

2 Deep Freeze

1 Jace, Cunning Castaway


Mono-White Aggro

The next deck I’d consider on a budget is Mono-White Aggro.  The following list comes in at just under $150 and went 8-2 at the Mythic Championship.  This deck is good at beating the Mono-Blue deck, which has become one of the most popular decks in the format, because of its ability to play multiple spells in a turn. With 17 one mana spells, it is difficult for Mono-Blue to both counter and deal with all their threats—making the race in Mono-White’s favor.  There is a version of this deck that splashes blue, mostly for sideboard cards like Negate. This will add about $50 to the deck price, but will improve your matchup versus Nexus of Fate and other control Decks significantly, which play sweepers that can end the game if they are allowed to resolve.


Main Deck:

4 Tithe Taker

1 Healer’s Hawk

4 Snubhorn Sentry

4 Benalish Marshal

4 Venerated Loxodon

4 Dauntless Bodyguard

4 Skymarcher Aspirant

3 Unbreakable Formation

4 Legion’s Landing

4 Conclave Tribunal

4 History of Benalia

20 Plains



4 Baffling End

4 Tocatli Honor Guard

2 Demystify

3 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants

2 Adanto Vanguard


Mono-Red Aggro

The next budget option is a Mono-Red Aggro deck. I have provided a list that went 6-4 at the Mythic Championship.  If you play Arena, you know Mono-Red is everywhere in Best-of-1 on there because it has a great game one match up against the field. In a best of 3 format, like you’ll find at FNM (and other paper tournaments), it is harder to run Mono-Red, since post-board games can be tough.  On Arena you can get away with playing less lands as well, because the algorithm used for opening hands helps you draw a better balance of lands and spells. This allows you to be more aggressive than you can be in paper without losing too much consistency.  Despite that, this is still a reasonable option for $111, and should have a decent match up versus Mono-Blue thanks to Goblin Chainwhirler, which kills a lot of their threats, alongside the large amount of cheap removal spells that keep Mono-Blue’s threats in check.  There are versions splashing green for Cindervines and Collision // Colossus out of the sideboard, but this adds about $50 to the price tag to support the mana base.


Main Deck:

2 Fanatical Firebrand

4 Ghitu Lavarunner

4 Goblin Chainwhirler

4 Runaway Steam-Kin

4 Viashino Pyromancer

4 Light Up the Stage

2 Skewer the Critics

4 Shock

4 Lightning Strike

4 Wizard’s Lightning

3 Experimental Frenzy

21 Mountain



1 Fiery Cannonade

4 Lava Coil

4 Treasure Map

2 Dire Fleet Daredevil

2 Fight with Fire

2 Legion Warboss


Izzet Drakes

Next up is Izzet Drakes, which is about $175, with room to upgrade to the Izzet-Phoenix deck if you want to invest more.  This deck is another deck that has a decent Mono-Blue matchup.  Access to cheap removal spells and flying creatures that are bigger than those in Mono-Blue makes for a good combination to beat them, but it struggles with decks like Sultai, which can out-card them in the mid to late game.


Main Deck:

4 Crackling Drake

4 Enigma Drake

4 Pteramander

3 Dive Down

4 Opt

4 Shock

3 Spell Pierce

1 Beacon Bolt

4 Chart a Course

4 Discovery // Dispersal

4 Lava Coil

7 Island

4 Mountain

1 Blood Crypt

1 Dragonskull Summit

4 Steam Vents

4 Sulfur Falls



3 Raptor Hatchling

2 Disdainful Stroke

4 Negate

2 Shivan Fire

2 Niv-Mizzet, Parun

1 Ral, Izzet Viceroy

1 Entrancing Melody


4 Color Gates

Lastly, we have 4 color Gates.  This is another deck with a lot of room for upgrades if you want to spend more money.  The more standardized list plays Hydroid Krasis and Nexus of Fate as a win condition instead of the creatures in this list.  Despite that, this deck will still get some wins, and sports the lowest price on this list at just $45.


Main Deck:

1 Archway Angel

2 District Guide

4 Gatebreaker Ram

4 Gate Colossus

4 Guild Summit

4 Circuitous Route

4 Gates Ablaze

4 Growth Spiral

4 Lava Coil

4 Shimmer of Possibility

2 Forest

4 Gateway Plaza

3 Gruul Guildgate

2 Island

1 Azorius Guildgate

2 Izzet Guildgate

2 Mountain

4 Plaza of Harmony

3 Simic Guildgate

2 Selesnya Guildgate



4 Negate

2 Fiery Cannonade

1 Shivan Fire

2 Crushing Canopy

2 Ixalan’s Binding

1 Archway Angel

3 Centaur Peacemaker



There are plenty of other budget decks out there that you can build if you wanted to go with a theme.  Merfolk, Vampires and even Elves are all solid options, but I think the above decks are the best options available if you are trying to win on a budget in the current Standard format.


~ Sean Armstrong