Magic on a Budget Hyperimage

The 2020 Magic Budget Project

As Magic has scaled up its release schedule, I’ve been scaling back the amount of new decks and cards I’m willing to invest in. Even for players like me, who don’t touch tabletop Standard, it’s been tough to keep up with the series of new releases, meta rotations, and formats that Wizards of the Coast is pumping out.

So, in 2020, I’m doing something I’ve hinted at here before, but never strictly stuck to: I’m keeping a Magic budget. And as I’m the type of nerd who plays Magic, there are rules attached.

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How to Handle So Many Magic Releases on Budget

How to Handle Magic’s Near-Constant Release Schedule on a Budget

Recently, it seems like a new Magic set releases each week. War of the Spark was quickly followed by Modern Horizons, which has already been shoved out of the spotlight by Magic 2020. And if you’re a Commander player, this summer’s releases aren’t done yet – Commander 2019 hits stores in just about four weeks.

If you’re tight on cash, managing all these new releases can be tough. Nobody NEEDS new Magic cards, but it feels good to upgrade decks or build new ones when new cards come out. No one likes feeling like they’ve been left behind (or are losing more) because of their budget.

I consider myself a fairly budget-conscious Magic player. In the face of so many recent releases, I’ve been working to define my strategy for playing Magic on a budget. This is how I handle playing Standard, Limited, Modern, and Commander (as well as a couple other formats) on a budget – hopefully, my strategies will help you manage your own purchases.

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Scalding Tarn Price Graph Magic Finance - Matt Plays Magic

Magic Finance Is a Hard Sell

I had originally titled this article “Why I Don’t Play Standard,” but I think the new title sums up my reasons pretty succinctly. In case you skipped the title, I’ll reiterate:

It’s the Magic economy, stupid.

Magic finance is itself a game, one with much higher stakes than a typical Friday Night Magic tournament. Your typical FNM costs $5 to attend and pays $20-30 worth of prizes to first place. FNMs are a casual, low-cost way to spend an evening. Buying and selling the cards you use to play at those tournaments, however, is often a hundreds-of-dollars affair.

Not everyone can handle that price point or manage the ups and downs of Magic’s secondary market. I’m invested enough to write a bi-weekly blog about the game, and even I’m thrown by Magic’s price point and the expense of cards. I am absolutely sure that Magic’s status as a “Collectible Trading” card game puts players off the game because, at a certain level, I am one of those players who is put off.

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