With the Dust settling from Deadmines' release, as well as a couple of nerfs, it's time to take a step back and see how the newest mini-set has affected budget players. What new cards have created archetypes, and which ones have altered others? Most importantly, are any of them good enough to climb with? Let's look at how things stand in the budget meta as we approach a meta rediscovering itself in the wake of those nerfs.
Repeat After Me: "Yarr."
We hope you've brushed up on your sea shanties because the big winners of the Deadmines mini-set were Pirates. Edwin promised us "A Pirate in Every Class," and he delivered. Classes that haven't even thought about Pirates for six years got one, which may not mean a lot to, say, Priest, but we all know Paladin was desperately searching for a representative minion tribe that isn't Murlocs or Dragons.
Looking beyond our scurvy brethren, there's still plenty of opportunity for new decks and synergies thanks to the cards added by the mini-set. Some spells have given old standard decks new life, while completely new ways to play have been opened up by others. Budget players especially got a bevy of cheap spells and minions to play with in a wide variety of decks.
While you can probably climb the ladder with an old reliable deck like Aggro Shaman that doesn't require any new cards, our main focus today is to show off the newest versions of viable budget decks. That means that every deck we talk about will have at least one new card in it.
Budget Decks for Ladder
Our top three decks for ladder all share a similar theme, and it's definitely no mystery. In ancient of days, a prophecy spoke that a player would one day craft a Control deck using only Rare and Common cards. Well, that day is not today, and the best chance for budget players to climb the ladder is still by using aggro decks that can end the game before those pesky powerful legendaries can have their say.
Zoolock, Face Hunter, and Taunt Druid are all aggressive, cheap, and built around playing small minions then buffing them to finish off the opponent. How they go about this base strategy differs form deck to deck, and each list has a few tricks up its sleeves, as we will soon demonstrate.
Zoolock is back and, thanks to Wicked Shipment, ready to fill up the board with tiny demons to take advantage of power plays from Ritual of Doom and Shady Bartender. Shadowblade Slinger, another new card, also gives the deck more of an ability to control the board against other fast decks (and pairs very nicely with Raise Dead). Warlock's plenitude of card draw gives you protection against board wipes, with more tiny demons waiting to swarm your opponent.
It didn't look as though Face Hunter (especially budget versions) would have any reason to change their lists when Deadmines first came out, but Doggie Biscuit has provided enough of a shift to its strategy that the deck now runs Arcane Anomaly and Ramming Mount for a powerful early game curve to beat up slower decks (or other aggressive decks, it's not picky). This deck can push damage while giving its opponent few options to answer its board. Just don't ask if what happens after you feed dog food to an elemental (bring bring a plastic bag, just in case).
The more expensive version of the deck was powerful enough to warrant a nerf, but Razormane Battleguard (now with less Health!) is still a potent force in this budget deck. New Pirate Jerry draws two halves of Sow the Soil for extra bodies and a board buff, while Traveling Merchant (even though it's no Greybough) can be a solid finisher in the right situations.
A Quest for the Rest of Us
While the Quest itself isn't a budget card, the rest of this list plays well with the wallets of budget players. If you haven't been playing ladder recently, you might not know that Pirate Warrior is one of the more popular decks thanks to Defias Cannoneer packing in extra damage and making things even harder for any Warrior's opponents. If you have Raid the Docks, this is the cheapest way to play it.
Less Competitive Decks to Try
One of these decks is more proven than the other, but both are slow and prone to getting stranded if they don't draw the right cards. If you're looking to have some fun or just want to try out something different, we can recommend these decks even if we can't guarantee the results.
Big Demon Hunter
Big Demon Hunter is slowly proving that it's a viable strategy to play on the cheap, which was grounds enough for us to include it in this spotlight. The deck runs plenty of Big Rattlers (as well as Imprisoned Antaen) to summon from its deck and smash into each other, then into the opponent. This deck looks to survive early aggression with Aldrachi Warblades, Eye Beam, and Chaos Leech. If you can survive long enough to play Proving Grounds, you've got a chance to take it to the house.
You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't make Big Priest in Standard. Amulet of Undying looked at first as if it might resurrect the archetype, but without ways to cheat big minions into play it became obvious that it wasn't going to cut the mustard. What you can do with it instead is summon back some boars alongside Raise Dead and Rally! You probably won't win very often, but if you're willing to try then we're willing to let you.
We hope you found something to try, whether your goal is to climb or to meme. Are you planning to take any of these decks on the ladder? Share your thoughts in the comments!
If you have any of your own Budget decks to share, be sure to add them to our site via the deckbuilder and write up a guide to help others achieve your success.