The best cards quality-price relation in Magic Old School

By Luis Eguizábal

As we all know Old School is the most expensive format of Magic… However, there are some really competitive Budget decks in the format: Monoblack, White / Pink Weenie, RG Aggro, Mono Red Burn / Goblins, Deadguy Ale… and all of them use some of the most extraordinarily cheap but very powerful cards in the format .

Next, I want to make to you a Top 5 of the best (for me) «low cost» cards of the format by colors, artifacts and lands, so people who have thought to introduce themselves in the format in a Budget option, could know what are those cheap and powerful cards for their decks.

To make the list I have been guided by the following criteria:

1- Cheap price: Putting as cheap less than 50€, and taking into account, that in the Madrid Old School League, we followed the Eternal Central rules that allows any reprint, we will put the cheapest price of any reprint allowed.

2- Low mana cost: There are very good and cheap cards whose mana costs are too high to enter into decks that hasn’t acceleration (Black Lotus, moxen …), therefore, some good cards have been left out of the list: Serra Angel, Shivan Dragon, Triskelion, Jayemdae Tome (requires 4 mana for cast, 8 to «replace itself», and 12 to start taking card advantage) … etc.

3- Great impact alone on the table and game: ​​there are some combinations of cards with others that do very powerful things: Howling Mine with Relic Barrier, Kird Ape with Taiga … but we look for cards that don’t need the help of another to be very powerful.

4- They are good in budget decks: for example, it is not the same the Mind Twist’s power in decks with Moxen and Lotus, that in a deck that only has four Dark Ritual.

(*The prices shown here are subject to variation from the time of writing these lines)

(** The images are in their original and prettier format, not the cheapest)

White:

5- Savannah Lions: from € 0.05 (IV Edition)

An aggro classic. They cost one mana and deals combat damage of two. You can’t ask more for less. His great disadvantage: he loses the battle against Kird Ape and Mishra’s Factory. But they are very powerful especially in turn 1.

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4- Land Tax: from € 7 (Reinassance)

It allows to empty the deck of lands, generates card advantage, and allows to make several strategies around it: Armageddon, Ivory Tower, Lands Edge …

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3- Swords to plowshares: from 0,5 € (Revised)

What can we say that has not already been said of the best (and cheapest) removal of the Magic’s history. For a single mana removes any creature from the game, at the reasonable price of increase a few live points to the rival … We are willing to pay that price without a doubt…

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2- Disenchant: from € 0.02 (Revised)

In relation to its quality and its price it may be the best of all. It is the destroyer wildcard of Old School, essencial play 4 in all the decks that play white. It destroys: Moxen, Mishras, Moat, Abyss … It’s  endless the list of cards so played in Old School that Disenchant can destroy. The other day, a friend who played Old School for the first time, and played The Deck told me: «I wish I could play 8 Disenchants in The Deck …». I think that says it all.

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1- Balance: from € 0.25 (IV Edition)

For many people the best card in Magic’s history. It is both an Wrath of God, an Armageddon and a Mindtwist for the price of two mana. No matter how bad have gone the things during the game, if you have two mana, the balance will reset the game.

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Green:

5- Llanowar Elves: from 0.01 € (IV Edition)

The cheapest and most accessible «substitute» for a Mox Emerald. Provides acceleration and also hits 1. What else can we ask for a Budget deck?

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4- Birds of Paradise: from € 3 (IV Edition)

Unlike the Llanowar Elves can’t attack (They can block flying creatures in case of emergency), but the possibility of giving us a mana of any color, makes them the best accelerator for Budget and / or unpowered decks of more than one color (Quick Silver, Zoo …). In the big Ilicitano Old School Tournament 2018, an unpowered Quick Silver was inside the Top 8 of 64 players using Birds of Paradise as acceleration.

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3- Erhnam Djinn: from € 0.02 (Chronicles)

Thanks to Chronicles we can enjoy this extraordinary creature at a very cheap cost. For 4 mana (only one green) we have a creature with strength of 4 and resistance of 5 (those who have played Old School know how annoying can be this 5 resistance, that doesn’t die VS Psionic Blast, Su-Chi, Serra Angel…), in exchange for giving a rival creature the forest walk ability. I think it compensates…

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2- Regrowth: from € 0.05 (Fwb)

Restricted to 1 in Old School for its possible combination with cards as powerful as Ancestrall Recall, however, by itself stills worthy to enter in any deck that plays green. It allows us to recover any card from the graveyard and return it to your hand … Not bad for 2 mana …

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1- Sylvan Library: from € 8 (V Edition)

The big star of the green color. The recurring «turns accelerator» of Old School, played both in aggro and in control. Probably the best green card of Old School, which in each draw phase allows us to advance three turns in time with respect to our rival.

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Black:

5- Demonic Tutor: from € 16 (Fwb)

Undoubtedly the best black card of the old school, and if it isn’t the first one on the list it’s because, in a buget deck, the possible cards to search aren’t as powerful as they can be in a deck with Power 9. However, it’s hard for me to imagine any Old School deck that plays black and does not play Demonic Tutor to find the answer we need in the moment.

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4- Mind Twist: from € 3 (Fwb)

If we have the advantage of Moxen and Lotus is without any doubt the best discarder of Old School and the Top 2 of best old-school black cards. In a budget deck is powerful but not as powerful as the three next cards.

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3- Hypnotic Specter: from € 0.1 (IV Edition)

If he enter on play quickly and you can’t kill him, you will have a big problem. The «discard at random» ability can become a real hell every turn if you can’t  destroy this small annoyance and also can make you lose the game.

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2- Dark ritual: from 0.02 (IV Edition)

The best mana accelerator for budget decks. We can play in turn 1 a 3 cost of the size of: Hypnotic Specter, Mindtwist, Hymto Tourach, Underworld Dreams … It’s only in black color is available for this kind of low cost decks.

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1- Hymn to Tourach: from € 0.1 (Falle Empires)

The black color superstar card. Undoubtedly the most powerful card in relation to its price, that allows to equalize the balance against decks with P9. Already in turn 2 it is powerful, but if it can enter turn 1, it can do «free wins» take away the two lands of our rivals, or his or her best two cards in hand. Nobody gives more for less!

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Red:

5- Chain Lightning: from € 3 (Legends in Italian)

Okay, they can return it to you, but the possibility of doing 3 damages for a single mana to a player or creature is only in the hands of its elder cousin, the Lightning Bolt.

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4- Red Elemental Blast: from € 0.01 (IV Edition)

With one red mana… Do you want to counter: Ancestral Recall, Timewalk, Time Twister, Counterspell, Mana Drain, Recall, Braingeyser …? Do you want to destroy the best creature of Old School with a mana: Serendib Efreet? Do you want to try to do a bit of fight against the rival’s Power Nine? For all of this: Red Elemental Blast

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3- Lightning Bolt: from € 0.75 (IV Edition)

This card of 1993 is still one of the best cards in 2018 in any format that is played. The thing is very simple: 3 damage by one mana at instant speed, put me four!

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2- Wheel of Fortune: from € 40 (Fwb)

We agree that it is not a Time Twister but … The possibility of re-filling your hand of cards, especially in Budget and Aggro decks when you have lose all of your hand is … simply brutal.

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1- Blood Moon: from € 17 (Chronicles)

The most powerful card of the red color in Old School and the best tool of budget decks to combat dual lands and the Library of Alexandria. In a format in wich every body abuse of the duals, Mishra’s, City of Brass and LoA, a well-made Blood Moon can often mean the game.

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Blue:

5- Braingeyser: from € 6 (Fwb)

A similar case to Mind Twist, without accelerators isn’t such a powerful card, but in a format in which you usually play with many lands is always a «nice top deck» with which you can to fill your hand of cards.

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4- Energy Flux: from € 0.01 (IV Edition)

The best card to «destroy» artifacts in a color that usually has problems to destroy permanents. Very cheap life insurance against decks with Mishra’s Workshop!

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3- Counterspell: from € 0.13 (IV Edition)

Another card that remains very powerful and very cheap 25 years later. For two mana we prevent our rival play what we want. The favorite card of control players.

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2- Psionic Blast: from € 0.25 (Time Spiral)

In a time when Magic’s colors weren’t very defined, they allowed themselves the luxury of taking out in blue a «spark» as powerful as this one. It’s true that it costs us two points of life but it’sperfect to finish off our rival, or destroy any annoying creatures that the Lightin Bolt can’t: Serendib Efreet, Angel de Serra, Su-Chi …

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1- Serendib Efreet: from € 6 (Revised)

The best creature in Old School and only for € 6 in its Revised edition! If you want it with the original ilustration for € 24 you have it in Fwb. Little can be said of the Serendib that has not been said, for 3 mana: power of 3, has evasion, and resistance 4 makes it a real nuisance when we want destroy it. Fast, cheap and effective!

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Artifacts:

5- Nevinyrral’s Disk: from € 0.25 (IV Edition)

The quintessential game resetter in the Magic’s history. By the same CMC of a Wrath of God, creatures are destroyed in addition to artifacts and enchantments. Its biggest advantage: you can play as a resource in any deck. Its biggest disadvantage: it comes into play tapped, and in a format plagued by Disenchants, Shatter, Dust to Dust, Divine Offering, Crumble … you will be extremely nervous praying for it to survive that turn!

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4- Black Vise: from € 0.05 (IV Edition)

The best weapon of budget aggro decks against control. When you have a Vise on play you don’t dislike it so much that your opponent uses the Library of Alexandria, or plays an Ancestral Recall. Hopefully three damages will be done per turn!

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3- Mana Vault: from € 9 (IV Edition)

The cheapest and most effective mana accelerator in Old School. Its cost 4 to be untap (or if not, all the turns, it will be doing a point of damage) makes it unviable in control decks without moxen or lotus, but for aggressive decks in which, in theory, you will run more than the rival, 1 mana to add 3 in exchange for one life per turn … it is quite tempting.

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2- Fellwar Stone: from € 0.02 (IV Edition)

Without a doubt the mox of the poor. It doesn’t give you two mana in turn 1 but if it gives you four mana in turn 3, which is not bad. Also, in a format plagued by City of Brass, be sure it will give you a mana of any color, although, beware, if your opponent only has moxes and colorless lands, it will not give you any mana!

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1- Sol Ring: from € 2 (Revised)

If it is restricted to one, it will be for something. Little can be said about the power of the Sol Ring and its value for money. Essential card in virtually all Old School decks.

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Lands:

5- Pendelhaven: from € 2 (Time Spiral)

In budget decks, many 1/1 creatures are usually played, and the possibility of turning them into a 2/3 with this land is always appealing. In addition to that, it gives us a green mana although, we can see it in decks that don’t play green (like mono-red goblins) to be able to fatten the creatures.

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4- Maze of Ith: from € 5 (The Dark Italian)

It is not a definitive solution against creatures, but when you play a budget deck and you can control a Juzam Djinn thanks to this land… is not bad. It is also worth to attack with small creatures and untap the creature that will be block and prevent the combat damage. A very useful land in Old School.

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3- City of Brass: from € 7 (Chronicles)

In a format without fetchlands, and when you need to play more than one color, even if you have Duals, the presence of the City of Brass is essential. In addition, you can play it in practically any deck that plays more than one color. Paying a life is a price that anyone would be willing to pay in exchange for having a mana of any color, especially for pay double costs.

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2- Mishra’s Factory: from € 0.05 (IV Edition)

If it weren’t for number one on the list, it would be the land par excellence of the format. He gives colorless mana, and becomes a 2/2 creature in attack and 3/3 in defense. In addition to increase their powers between them. Perfect in aggressive decks and in control decks to use as defense or win condition.

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1- Strip Mine: from € 3 (Renaissance)

Strip Mine is the star land for budget decks, and more in our Eternal Central rules that allow playing four. For the price of € 3 we destroy the rival’s Mishra’s, the land of the color he or she needs continue the game, and especially and above all, we destroy the disgusting Library of Alexandria. If you play aggressive do not hesitate to play four!

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Ends the list of the best quality-price charts for budget decks. I hope that it serves as a tool for new players who think that Old School is an inaccessible format, to know these cards and build decks around them.

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