Nearly three years ago, Rich Stein started the Modern Hero article series. The premise of the project was to buy the Modern Event Deck (March of the Multitudes), at $75 MSRP, and improve it over the course of several months. Rich spent $10 per week on entry fees for tournaments, as well as $10 per week on new cards, and slowly developed the list from a bizarre budget brew to—well, a playable Modern deck. For reference, here is the before and after:

March of the Multitudes Event Deck

Creatures (5)
Soul Warden
Tidehollow Sculler

Spells (31)
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Honor of the Pure
Inquisition of Kozilek
Intangible Virtue
Lingering Souls
Path to Exile
Raise the Alarm
Shrine of Loyal Legions
Spectral Procession
Sword of Feast and Famine
Zealous Persecution
Lands (24)
Caves of Koilos
City of Brass
Isolated Chapel
Vault of the Archangel
Windbrisk Heights

Sideboard (15)
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Ghost Quarter
Kataki, War's Wage
Relic of Progenitus

Rich built that deck into this:

Modern Hero GP Worcester-Boston

Creatures (3)
Hero of Bladehold
Tidehollow Sculler

Spells (34)
Honor of the Pure
Inquisition of Kozilek
Intangible Virtue
Lingering Souls
Path to Exile
Raise the Alarm
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Spectral Procession
Zealous Persecution
Lands (23)
Caves of Koilos
Godless Shrine
Isolated Chapel
Windbrisk Heights

Sideboard (15)
Kor Firewalker
Rest in Peace
Stony Silence
Suppression Field

The final deck had a better mana base, disruption suite (thanks to Thoughtseize), and all around set of threats thanks to replacing stuff like Soul Warden and Shrine of Loyal Legions with Sorin, Lord of Innistrad and Hero of Bladehold. The series demonstrated that you could play Magic on a budget and over time improve both your play skill and the contents of the deck—with a little bit of effort and a little bit of cash.

After three years, I’ve decided to take up the mantle and start a new Modern Hero series. This time though, we don’t have a Modern Event deck, so we’ll have to start how most budget players start—by throwing together a list. Instead of making the executive decision about what deck to begin with, I’ve decided to take a vote. But before I unveil some budget lists to begin with, I want to go through some of the fine print.

  • We’re starting with a $150 investment. I’m aware that this is double the price of the Modern Event Deck but to put things in perspective, it’s still less than the cost of two Tarmogoyfs. Magic is an expensive game and though money doesn’t necessarily buy power, there is certainly a correlation. In order to compete with Death’s Shadow ($1500),  Bant Eldrazi ($800), and Eldrazi Tron ($700) we’re going to need a reasonable initial investment.
  • Though I’ll have a paper version of the deck and use the pricing on paper Magic cards, I’ll be recording some videos on MTGO. Even with all of it’s flaws, MTGO recordings are still the best way to witness a deck in action.
  • I will put $12 every week toward weekly events. Though this is a $2 increase from the previous Modern Hero iteration, it reflects the cost of entering a Modern League (12 Tix).
  • I will put $20 every week toward improving the deck, plus any winnings from weekly events.
  • I am ending Modern Hero with Grand Pris Las Vegas on June 17th, playing the final iteration of the deck then.

So help me start from a list:

What deck should I play for Modern Hero?

  • Elves (41%, 108 Votes)
  • Storm (23%, 61 Votes)
  • Skred Red (23%, 61 Votes)
  • Burn (14%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 266

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Budget Storm

Creatures (8)
Baral, Chief of Compliance
Goblin Electromancer

Spells (34)
Desperate Ritual
Empty the Warrens
Gifts Ungiven
Merchant Scroll
Past in Flames
Pyretic Ritual
Serum Visions
Sleight of Hand
Lands (18)
Shivan Reef
Spirebluff Canal
Steam Vents

Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Echoing Truth
Empty the Warrens
Lightning Bolt
Shattering Spree

Budget Elves

Creatures (35)
Dwynen’s Elite
Elvish Archdruid
Elvish Mystic
Elvish Visionary
Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Heritage Druid
Llanowar Elves
Nettle Sentinel
Reclamation Sage
Shaman of the Pack
Sylvan Messenger

Spells (7)
Chord of Calling
Collected Company
Lands (18)
Blooming Marsh
Llanowar Wastes
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx

Sideboard (15)
Essence Warden
Evolutionary Leap
Fracturing Gust
Krosan Grip
Lead the Stampede
Reclamation Sage
Scavenging Ooze

Budget Burn

Creatures (13)
Goblin Guide
Grim Lavamancer
Monastery Swiftspear
Spark Elemental

Spells (29)
Flames of the Blood Hand
Lava Spike
Lightning Bolt
Magma Jet
Rift Bolt
Searing Blaze
Shard Volley
Lands (18)
18 Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Searing Blood
Smash to Smithereens
Exquisite Firecraft
Flames of the Blood Hand
Leyline of Punishment

Budget Skred Red


4 Eternal Scourge
3 Stormbreath Dragon
2 Chandra, Pyromaster
4 Koth of the Hammer
3 Anger of the Gods
3 Blood Moon
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Magma Jet
4 Mind Stone
4 Relic of Progenitus
4 Skred
23 Snow-Covered Mountain
1 Anger of the Gods
4 Dragon’s Claw
3 Pithing Needle
2 Pyrite Spellbomb
3 Ratchet Bomb
2 Shatterstorm[/d]

So it’s up to you folks, though, seriously, please don’t make me play Burn. I’ll be back next week with a report on how week one goes.

In terms of Magic, Shawn Massak is a Modern enthusiast, with a penchant for tier two decks, counterspells, and pre Eighth Edition frames. In terms of life, Shawn lives in Brighton, MA where he works as an employment coordinator for people with disabilities, plays guitar in an indie-pop band, and spends his free time reading comics, complaining about pro-wrestling, and wishing his apartment allowed dogs as pets.

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