Hearthstone Budget Decks (Darkmoon Faire) – Cheap Decks for Laddering in Hearthstone! – December 2020

One of the big complaints about Hearthstone is the price to play when you first start. There are a ton of legendaries released, and if you are unlucky you may have not received much in the way of playable cards. This is unfortunate, so we’ve gone ahead and created some budget decks that should serve you well if you are in the Bronze or Silver divisions. Some of the stronger builds should be viable throughout Gold and possibly even Platinum if you master them. We don’t recommend those decks in Diamond or to attempt a Legend climb, unless you replace some of the budget cards and turn them into actual meta decks.

Luckily for new players, Blizzard has been giving out quite a lot of freebies recently – we’ve been getting free packs, Legendaries and other goodies during expansion releases and events. Plus, the game got cheaper when no duplicate rule was applied to other rarities besides Legendary. Still, it’s hard to deny that despite that, the game is quite expensive. F2P players should easily be able to build one or two full meta decks per expansion, but the issue is that they can’t play whatever they want. So once they commit to crafting some cards, if they want to switch to another class – tough luck! That’s why we think that those budget decks can come really handy. No matter if you want to do Daily Quests for another class, test a deck before crafting a full version or just play around with different options, they should be a good option for new and F2P players.

Budget Deck Rankings

In this section, I’ll try to organize the decks basing on their overall power level. However, keep in mind that decks aren’t played in the vacuum – how strong each one of them is heavily depends on the decks you face. Meta changes over time, as the expansion gets older, but also depending on the rank or even time in the ranked season. Use it as a rough guideline, but don’t be surprised if a lower ranked deck will perform better for you personally. We’re also ranking BUDGET versions, ranking would look different if we were talking about full, meta versions.

  1. Aggro Demon Hunter
  2. Evolve Shaman
  3. Face Hunter
  4. Zoo Warlock
  5. Libram Paladin
  6. Stealth Aggro Rogue
  7. Pirate Warrior
  8. Gibberling Token Druid
  9. Secret Mage
  10. Control Priest

Defining a Budget Deck

We’re trying our best to keep the budget decks as cheap as possible, while making it as strong as we can. Overall, builds should be roughly within 1.5-2.5k Arcane Dust range. However, their real cost is usually much lower, because players tend to own a lot of Commons / Rares used in them already.

When it comes to Commons & Rares – it’s simple, all of them are allowed. It’s very easy to get a full Common & Rare collection (especially with the no duplicate rule across all rarities), and even if you’re missing some of them, they’re cheap to craft.

As for the Epics, we try to keep as little of them as possible. If a deck can be built with no Epics at all, we don’t add them. However, if some Epics are key cards and you can’t make a deck without them, between building a different, much weaker deck and adding Epics, we’ve decided to go for the latter. We still try to keep a limit of two Epics (usually two copies of the same card) per deck to keep them cheap.

Legendaries are completely excluded, UNLESS it’s a Legendary that is available for free. For example, Galakrond cards from Descent of Dragon, free Legendaries given out before each expansion (Silas Darkmoon is the latest one) or Altruis the Outcast from Demon Hunter’s Initiate set.

Cheap Hearthstone Decks

Be sure to click on the deck name at the top of each deck for a full guide! It includes mulligan, strategy, as well as upgrade paths for each of the decks.


Deck Import

Demon Hunter class was introduced in Ashes of Outland expansion, and it quickly became a go-to budget class because of its powerful Common/Rare cards, as well as a Demon Hunter Initiate set players got for free. It’s an aggressive deck utilizing its 1 mana Hero Power as well as a plethora of cheap cards to kill the opponent as quickly as possible.

The deck has got a HUGE upgrade in Darkmoon Faire and is now – by far – the best cheap option available. Here’s the thing – Aggro Demon Hunter is pretty clearly a Tier 1 deck right now (unless it gets nerfed by the time you’re reading this), and full build is only 2-3 cards different from this one. The biggest upgrade to the deck was that it’s so easy to cycle through it right now. While Voracious Reader was already available, it wasn’t enough.

With the addition of Acrobatics (and Stiltstepper in the full build), you can now go all-in on the low curve strategy and run a deck full of 1 mana cards. They’re aggressive, and effective, but their biggest downside is that you run out of cards so quickly. Now, with multiple ways to refill your hand, it’s no longer that big of a deal, you can now. Besides that, the new, cheap weapon (Dreadlord's Bite) is a way better option in such a low curve deck, and the 1 AoE damage comes really handy in Aggro mirrors. Then, Wriggling Horror is just a generic, solid Aggro card. If you add all of that together, you’ve got yourself a strong, hyper-aggressive build that’s perfect on budget.


Deck Import

Sadly, Druid didn’t get much development in terms of budget builds in Darkmoon Faire. Not only all the new Druid cards fit into more expensive builds OR are quite expensive themselves, but we also didn’t get (almost) any cheap Neutrals that could fill some downsides of the build. Unlike Demon Hunter, which also plays a similar, all-in, low curve build, but got more tools to support it, Druid went in a completely different way in Darkmoon Faire (a way that is impossible to build on budget). The only new card in the deck compared to last expansion is Wriggling Horror which, to be fair, is a really good one, but not enough to make a significant difference.

And so, it’s still a very similar build based around flooding the board, preferably with Gibberling, and then AoE buffing it. After that, you can either go for a finisher with Savage Roar or try to refill your hand with Voracious Reader to stay in the game for longer. The biggest upside of the build is how cheap it is – it requires no Epics & Legendaries. The downside is that it’s not performing as well in the meta as I would like it to, but sadly it’s the only option.


Deck Import

At this point you’re probably seeing a pattern, but yeah, sadly budget decks are usually aggressive – most of the slower builds require at least a few Epics / Legendaries to work, while it’s much easier to build a faster deck without them. And frankly, Face Hunter has always been the go-to F2P-friendly build, both because it’s strong and because it’s easy to play, which is very helpful for new players.

Last expansion I’ve decided to go for a more Secret-heavy build and this time I could do it too (since Secret Hunter actually got some nice support), but there’s frankly no point. The regular, all-in Face build without any extra synergies is just the best. In fact, it’s so good that it doesn’t even run any new cards from Darkmoon Faire and it’s still one of the strongest budget builds. Like I’ve mentioned, if you want something a bit different, you could go for the new Secret synergies (e.g. Petting Zoo, Inconspicuous Rider) and if you’re interested I’ll link such a build on the bottom of the guide, but from my experience so far those builds are pefrorming slightly worse.


Deck Import

Blizzard did what Blizzard does very often – pushed an archetype right before lots of its key cards will rotate out. This time it’s the Secret Mage – a deck that has been one of the most popular Wild archetypes for years now, and one that hasn’t seen any competitive Standard play for nearly as much time. However, now that cards such as Ancient Mysteries, Arcane Flakmage or Cloud Prince will be gone in just a few months, we’ve got a bunch of new support cards. Two most notable ones are Inconspicuous Rider and Occult Conjurer. Oh, and Sayge, Seer of Darkmoon, but since we’re playing a budget build, I obviously couldn’t put it in. Similarly, with our budget limit of 2 Epics in total, I had to choose between Conjurer and Rigged Faire Game, but I do believe that Conjurer is the more important card.

As for the deck itself – full Secret Mage build is actually surprisingly good. It’s probably the best way to play Mage in the current, early expansion meta (can’t say how it will be a few weeks from now, but I don’t think that it should change much without some major balance updates). AS for the budget version… well, it lacks a few key cards, so it’s sadly not as good. In particular, card draw is the biggest issue, because both Rigged Faire Game and Sayge draw cards. But if you have those cards or you’re willing to spend some extra Dust on crafting them – well, it will be a quite solid deck.


Deck Import

Librams! Ever since Ashes of Outland, they’ve been real saviors of Paladin, the class that previously had no real direction and was all over the place for a long time (with an exception of Pure cards from Descent of Dragons). They’ve also been a real life saver for budget players, since the whole Libram package is rather cheap, mostly consisting of Commons & Rares, with a single Epic (Libram of Hope). And given that the deck is built around Librams, that’s the Epic we’ve decided to add – it’s really hard to play Paladin without any Epics right now, sadly.

While last expansion we’ve decided to go for Pure Paladin (and frankly the deck still holds up – you can check it out hereย – just throw in Yriel if you unpacked her and you’re set), this time we went in a slightly different direction. While both decks share the Libram package, Pure Paladin is more limiting, since you can only use class cards, limiting the already limited budget build even more. In case of Libram (also called Broom) Paladin, the entire core is rather cheap. While the deck misses a few Legendaries, I’ve decided to sub them with a small Dragon package. Missing Lady Liadrin in particular is a big hit to the late game staying power, but I think that the deck still holds up for a budget version.


Deck Import

I’ve decided to do something really difficult, but I think that it’s the only thing that gives Priest a fighting chance – budget Control build. Yes, it rarely happens – most of the time, Control decks simply require too many expensive cards to work well on budget. This one can work mostly because of all the value generation – yes, you can’t play expensive, Legendary finishers, but you can just play cards that will add them to your hand. While the deck still misses some Legendaries (Soul Mirror & Murozond the Infinite in particular), here’s the thing – alternatives are even worse. Tempo Priest is really bad, Highlander builds cost 15k Dust, and in Big build a bunch of Epics & Legendaries are key and you simply can’t play it without them. So we’re left with Control.

When it comes to new Priest tools in Darkmoon Faire, we’ve got some, but frankly they didn’t add much to the Priest’s gameplay. In this particular build, the most important new card is Palm Reading. Since the build is so spell heavy, Palm Reading often offens massive, hand-wide discounts – which later can be utilized with some synergy cards. One of them in Nazmani Bloodweaver, which offers okay-ish body and further discounts, this time ones that can also target minions. And finally, Insight is mostly a filler card, but it’s a good way to grab one of your key minions. Sadly, Priest is in a pretty poor spot in general, even full-fledged meta builds aren’t performing very well, so don’t expect wonders from this budget version.


Deck Import

Aggro Rogue used to be a really good deck last expansion, but it fell out of the meta a bit this time around. While the full build is not terrible, it’s probably somewhere in low Tier 2. That’s simply because there are better Aggro options – other fast decks work better both against Control and in Aggro mirrors.ย However, one of its main advantages is price. The deck is pretty cheap, with more expensive cards not being THAT important. Just like last time, the only Epic we run is Greyheart Sage. It’s between that or Secret Passage, but especially since the card’s nerf (from 5 to 4 cards), Greyheart sage is clearly the superior choice in this build.

For that reason, budget deck is quite solid – it’s not the best of the budget builds, but it’s definitely in the top half. When it comes to new expansion cards, we run the now auto-include combo of Foxy Fraud and Swindle, both of which are very strong new cards. I also decided to include Wriggling Horror, which is not as optimal as in some other decks, but it gains some extra edge because of the Stealth cards – to buff a minion it first needs to survive, and Stealth minions are more likely to survive.


Deck Import

Darkmoon Faire has been a big boost to Shaman – the class was near the bottom of the meta for the last year or so, and finally it made a grand comeback. The signs were already there last expansion when Totem Shaman, despite not being very popular, ended up somewhere in low T2 after all the balance updates. This time, however, it’s the Evolve build that’s been dominating. And luckily, it’s quite easy to build on budget, as the only more expensive card necessary is Boggspine Knuckles – which fits right within our budget.

The deck itself has received quite a lot of support in Darkmoon Faire (some cards don’t combo with it directly, but still work quite nicely when played here). The new cards include Revolve, Cagematch Custodian, Pit Master, Stormstrike and Derailed Coaster. With 2 copies of each, that’s 1/3 of the deck. And if you’re a budget player who likes Shaman, you’re really lucky, as it’s one of the better budget decks we have this time around and the best budget deck Shaman had in a long time. Enjoy!


Deck Import

Zoo Warlock is one of the oldest archetypes in Hearthstone, dating back to the early 2014, shortly after the game’s official release. Of course, it looked quite different back then, but the basic idea behind it remained similar throughout the years. Your goal is to play efficient, low cost minions that can trade well to gain tempo, and then refill your hand with Hero Power. The latest version of Zoo was created in Scholomance Academy, although a nerf to Darkglare has set it back by a bunch. Originally it was based heavily around self-damage and synergies, but right now it just plays a bunch of different things – some Discard synergies, some self-damage synergies and even a Demon synergy. Because it’s a budget version, we had to choose between Darkglare and Flesh Giant. Before the nerf, I would pick Darkglare each time, but now I feel like Flesh Giant is the better choice. However, if you own the other one (or even a 1/1 split), you can just sub it, since their overall power is similar.

When it comes to new Darkmoon Faire additions, the most important one by far is Wicked Whispers. Zoo Warlock LOVES AoE board buffs, since the deck is built around flooding the board with multiple efficient minions. Discarding the lowest cost card is not a big price to pay given how much the deck can draw. Then, we’ve got a small Demon package – Midway Maniac and Man'ari Mosher, as well as the new Aggro staple – Wriggling Horror. All in all, the deck is quite close to the full build, and it won’t cost you a lot of Dust to upgrade it. Zoo Warlock is in a weird position in the meta – the deck is not really bad, but it’s unpopular, so it’s hard to say where it will go later into the expansion.


Deck Import

Pirate Warrior used to be one of the most iconic builds for the class, but it hasn’t seen any competitive play in a while. It’s not like the deck is TERRIBLE right now, it actually has some solid synergies in Standard, it’s just not nearly good enough to see common meta play. However, unlike the Control Warrior builds which require multiple Epics & Legendaries, their main advantage is that they can be built on budget. And here we are.

When it comes to new, Darkmoon Faire cards used in this build – there’s exactly one. Sword Eater is actually really decent – the card is really powerful in general, but it gets some extra synergies here. Not only it’s a Pirate, but it also gives you a weapon, something you really like to have when playing this deck. But sadly – that’s it. No other cards that fit it were added in the expansion, making the full build… quite weak, honestly. If you really like the gameplay, I guess that it’s good enough to hit Legend with if you try really hard, but I wouldn’t invest too much into it. If you like Aggro decks in general, there are better options (like Aggro Demon Hunter or Highlander Hunter), and if you want to play Warrior, you should probably invest in one of the Control versions instead.

Stonekeep

A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over that time, he has achieved many high Legend climbs and infinite Arena runs. He's the current admin of Hearthstone Top Decks.

Check out Stonekeep on Twitter!

Leave a Reply

248 Comments

  1. Caimael
    April 7, 2021 at 6:00 am

    I’m very excited to see what the Year of the Gryphon will bring for F2P Hearthstone players. Do you think that the new core set will be better for this expansion’s budget decks, or do budget players now lack some good cards from the basic set? I’m hoping to see a couple of viable budget control decks using some of the new core set dragons, hopefully this could be a possibility this year!

  2. Placebo
    August 30, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Do you think that I can toss in my Edwin into the aggro rogue list? And if I can, what card do I replace?

  3. Nerose
    August 25, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Some of the best budget decks ever.

  4. Sunsmith
    August 16, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    I love the budget decks, they always help me decide where to spend my very limited dust. I would however, caution against dumping your dust into one and expecting to climb much higher than gold 5. The guide makes the claim that the agro Demon Hunter can climb to Legend rank, but unless you’re a far better player than I am, it can’t. So far I’ve found that it gets effectively walled by Druids, Paladins, and Priests that flood the board, clear the board, and use super cheap buffs. Unless you’re lucky to draw very specific cards in a very timely manner, there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about this.

    Mage also has a very tricky deck that can give them infinite, free spells that exponentially climb in spell power around turn 5-6, and I have not found a way to deal enough damage by then to prevent being burned by *20* damage fireballs.

    • Sunsmith
      August 18, 2020 at 8:06 pm

      Does anyone have advice? I’m still walled at gold 5-4, warriors and paladins especially, but not only them.

      • Sotospeak
        September 16, 2020 at 4:50 pm

        I first time climbed last month to legend with face hunter, and in this season Pirate Warrior is giving good success too (at Diamond 4 right now). I have Dragon Bane too and essentially am using VKLiooon’s list for Hunter, and Krastinov 2 Steeldancers and Green Skin in Pirate, so the latter is not actually budget, but is serving well with much damage coming from weapons (Scythe, Ganarg and Ancharr) countering board clears. With Demon Hunter Aggro I have been suffering more, so I would definitely recommend Face Hunter to climb.

      • Isaaccp
        November 30, 2020 at 6:38 pm

        I am using the Demon Hunter deck (with one Stiltstepper) and I got so far to Gold 2, but likely can make it a bit further.

        Take into account that as long as you are winning 51% of your games you’ll eventually climb up ๐Ÿ™‚

        For Demon Hunter a thing that helps a lot is knowing the mana cost of the opponent’s early removal and trying to play Mana Burn or Cult Neophyte at the right time to push them one turn further.

        It is definitely game over if a Priest gets to 8 mana though ๐Ÿ˜€

        • Isaaccp
          November 30, 2020 at 7:34 pm

          Platinum 8 now. FWIW, the Stiltstepper really helps push it in the end if it’s close. Get them if you can afford them ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Tungizzi
        December 9, 2020 at 1:52 am

        If u played DH, I would suggest the Altruis variant of the Aggro build. Of course, u have to craft Pokelt; however, Pokelt is a neutral that is quite flexible and is used in Face Hunter, Highlander Hunter, Galakrond Rogue. Most of the aggro DH I encountered in Legend run this variant over the budget build anyways.

    • Gibilan
      December 8, 2020 at 8:52 pm

      You can hit legend with any deck

  5. Bombasticbob
    August 13, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Could you maybe add some cards that you can add if you want to make them better?

    • Stonekeep - Site Admin
      August 25, 2020 at 7:18 am

      Each deck has a full guide which includes upgrade path – basically cards that you want to add to make the deck better or full deck lists you should be aiming for once you find more Dust ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. MajklE63
    April 24, 2020 at 1:17 am

    Your deck guide for Spel Druid inspired me to play and push for the legend for the first time. I reached 24k legend, I used slightly edited version with Rising Winds (minus Treenforcements and minus one Soul of the Forest) on Rank 5 diamond to legend with winrate 28wins and 13 loss. Deck si powerful you can create unkillable boards or just to trade and wait for the right moment to buff, you can reach legend with it quickly.