Hearthstone Budget Decks (Forged in the Barrens) – Cheap Decks for Laddering in Hearthstone! – April 2021

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. You CAN hit Legend with some of them, but you would really need to master them and play very well, and by that time you most likely will have enough resources to build a full version anyway.

The game is in a better state than it was a while ago. The new free Core Set, as well as the current rewards system, are both pretty generous (at least by the old Hearthstone Standard). We’re also commonly getting other free stuff like packs, Legendaries etc. during expansion releases, events and from outside of the game (e.g. Twitch drops). While things have gotten much better for new and F2p players, it’s hard to deny that the game is still 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 alike.

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 a vacuum – how strong each one of them 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 a bit different if we were talking about full, meta versions.

  1. Secret Paladin
  2. Beast Face Hunter
  3. Token Druid
  4. Midrange Demon Hunter
  5. Spell Mage
  6. Aggro Shaman
  7. Aggro Rogue
  8. Zoo Warlock
  9. Miracle Priest
  10. Midrange Warrior

Defining a Budget Deck

We’re trying our best to keep the budget decks as cheap as possible while making them as strong as we can. Overall, builds should be roughly within the 1-2k Arcane Dust range (don’t pay attention to Dust cost listed next to decks below, since it includes Core Set cards, which are free). 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 not include 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 have a hard limit of two Epics (usually two copies of the same card) per deck to keep them cheap.

Legendaries are completely excluded UNLESS they are available for free. For example, currently all of the Legendaries from Core Set are free, and Mankrik was given out for free to all players in the current rewards track, that’s why those are included.

Cheap Hearthstone Decks

We’ve decided to discontinue deck guides for budget decks. They took a lot of extra work (few hours for each, times ten), but weren’t popular enough. It also makes decks easier to upgrade mid-expansion after mini-set launches without having to go back and update all the guides too. The decision is not final and we might go back to deck guides in the future.


Deck Import

Midrange Demon Hunter is mostly about the late game burst potential. In the early/mid game, you try to stay in control of the board. Against Aggro decks, leverage your Hero Power, damage boosts and small removal to get rid of the board, against control you can try putting some early pressure. However, the deck really shines once you get to the late game. You can often burn your opponent down just like that over 2-3 turns while also putting some major threats onto the board. Your biggest source of damage are weapons / attack buffs – between Fury (Rank 2) (or even Rank 3), Chaos Strike, Relentless Pursuit, Gan'arg Glaivesmith, you’ve got tons of burst. If you buff your weapons enough, you can also drop a free Bladed Lady. But the real MVP has to be Illidari Inquisitor – you can drop it, Rush into a minion (or not if there’s nothing to kill) and hit your opponent in the face for instant 8 damage. It’s basically an 8/8 with Rush AND Charge at the same time. Even better if you play Raging Felscreamer early and then drop him on T6 right after Warglaives of Azzinoth.


Deck Import

This is basically your run-of-the-mill Token Druid. Sadly we had to run Epics – 2x Glowfly Swarm – since the deck is quite useless without those (they’re the main token generator and board flood).  The only other way would really be Gibberling shenanigans, which are amazing in the early game, but Swarm is just easier – it’s one card, you can’t discard it with Fungal Fortunes (which is still great at 3 mana) and so on. Token Druid got a big buff in Darkmoon Races after Arbor Up got printed. Sadly it also lost Savage Roar in the rotation, but frankly, Arbor Up itself is good enough to keep it alive. The new Pride's Fury is also not bad. Both are great Solar Eclipse targets – especially Arbor Up, which can turn a small board into deadly threat AND summon some powerful minions (it summons 2x 6/5 + 2x 4/3). Stick to the game plan of trying to flood the board, then buffing it and hopefully killing the opponent with Arbor Up.


Deck Import

Face Hunter is pretty good in the current meta. Sadly, a few of the good cards are out of or budget (such as Mankrik + Barak Kodobane combo), but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad. On the contrary – even the budget builds is quite strong. The only Epic it’s running is Kolkar Pack Runner, I really considered cutting it, but decided that it was just too strong to get rid of.

As it is with Face Hunter, your goal is quite simple. Kill your opponent. This time, instead of Secrets, you run some Beast synergies and even more direct damage than usual. Headhunter's Hatchet is your weapon of choice, a 2/3 weapon with Beast on the board (which is not hard) means 6 damage over 3 turns – and you can even use it for board control. Kolkar Pack Runner can easily flood the board. Arcane Shot, Wound Prey, Quick Shot, Piercing Shot and Scrap Shot provide more face damage or way to clear some minions (or both), while Knife Vendor is straight up face damage (yes, it attacks you too, but you’re playing the fastest deck on the ladder – hitting yourself is hardly a big deal). Scrap Shot in particular combos very well with some of your cards – Wolpertinger will be 2x 4/4 for 1 mana, while Trampling Rhino will be much easier to “overkill” something and the excess damage goes face. So if you run him into a regular 3 health minion after it gets buffed, you also deal 5 face damage! Between all of that, most of your games won’t go past Turn 6-7 – you either kill your opponent or they stabilize and you run out of ways to finish the game.


Deck Import

Wait, Spell Damage Mage? On budget? Yeah! It’s actually pretty doable. While you do have to make some odd card choices here and there, it’s actually not bad. Of course, you can’t run Deck of Lunacy, which is a Legendary, but the deck still functions pretty well, especially for a budget build.

When it comes to Epics, there were also a few candidates, but Apexis Blast is by far the best one. In a build without Lunacy, burn damage is your win condition, and Apexis is one of the best burn cards you have – not only it can deal face damage, but it’s also an amazing mid game board control tool. Remember that you often have to sneak some minion damage in too. Otherwise, you won’t have enough to close out the game.

Sadly, I had to cut a few cards – the biggest Epic losses are Devolving Missiles and Combustion. The first one is amazing at dealing with single threats (most of the time making them -3 mana makes them much weaker – e.g. turning a 5-drop into a 2-drop) or buffed minions. Combustion, on the other hand, was your main early-mid game AoE removal. I’ve switched it to Cone of Cold, which isn’t nearly as good as removal, but the Freeze part actually comes in handy in many situations. The deck relies heavily on bursting the opponent down, so sometimes throwing a Freeze while you Fireball the face and try to burn them down is not bad. Also, you can sometimes stall for a turn until you can play Flamestrike.

If you feel like it and own him, you can also throw in C'thun, the Shattered as an extra win condition in slower matchups (and notably, an actual, mid-game AoE). If you don’t run Lunacy, you can’t turn the C’Thun pieces into random spells, so you can actually get him in the late game, and 30 extra damage is definitely something.


Deck Import

Secret Paladin took ladder by the storm this expansion – Libram build was obviously better, and it still is even after the nerf, but the good old Secret version wasn’t far behind. Secret version is a board-focused aggressive build. Unlike likes of Face Hunter, which can deal a lot of damage from hand, Secret Paladin is all about building a strong board and killing the opponent that way. The deck runs efficient, often overstatted minions, ways to tutor and pull Secrets onto the board (Sword of the Fallen is still strong, even with 2 durability) and then cards that synergize with those (such as Crossroads Gossiper, which can grow out of control if not answered right away). Since budget build can’t run Kazakus, Golem Shaper, I’ve decided to add two copies of Rally!. The deck has a pretty nice set of 1, 2 and 3 mana minions to revive – e.g. getting a Righteous Protector, Sunreaver Spy and Goody Two-Shields, all for 4 mana, is a really good deal.

I didn’t want to add any Epics, but after playtesting deck without Hammer of the Naaru, I found myself in situations where my opponent was at low health and I had no way to close out games too often than I would like to admit. If you don’t have it, you can try to play without it, or maybe add Truesilver Champion instead, but Hammer of the Naaru gets an upside of adding a big threat to the board on top of just being a weapon.  The deck also lacks Oh My Yogg!, so if you have it, definitely throw it in.


Deck Import

Miracle Priest, also known as Rally Priest, is a pretty tricky deck to play. On the surface, it looks like you don’t have a way to actually win the game. However, that’s not exactly true. Sethekk Veilweaver + Nazmani Bloodweaver are your win condition. Your early / mid game is pretty slow, you mostly gather some cards, remove your opponent’s board and try to set up your combo. First you need to add both Sethekk and Nazmani to revival pool – don’t sweat about the first time you play them, you don’t need to get maximum value. However, then once you get to the late game, the goal is to either play them from your hand (preferably discounted by Insight), revive them with Rally or get them from Raise Dead and just drop them and take off with spells. The optimal setup is two Veilweavers + 2-3 Bloodweavers – you can get more simply by playing more from your hand or copying them with e.g. Gift of Luminance or Psyche Split. Those card seem quite expensive, but between Palm Reading and discounts from Bloodweaver, they will become really cheap really quickly. Then you basically play whatever you can from your hand – cards that add more value, remove board, heal you up or buff your minions. Rinse and repeat. Depending on your luck (like generating extra copies of Raise Dead / Rally), you could possibly take off like 10 times per game, but 4-5 is probably more realistic.

One thing to note is that I don’t really recommend this deck for mobile play – during your “takeoff” turns you’re casting tens of spells and high APM really makes a difference.


Deck Import

Aggro Rogue was one of the most dominating decks last expansion. And honestly, while it didn’t lose as much in rotation, it lost its edge a bit – maybe because of the meta. However, it still makes for a great budget Rogue build given that you don’t need many expensive cards to run it.

Well, or to be more precise, you could use SOME, but it’s not the end of the world. Epics in particular – I had to pick between second weapon (Swinetusk Shank) and more Poison focus, Secret Passage and Greyheart Sage. After doing some testing, I think that Secret Passage is the best one out of all of them – running 4 weapons in total got clunky at times, you don’t always have a Stealth minion to make Greyheart Sage work, and Secret Passage is just… good. Very good in fact. As an Aggro deck, you’re often getting your opponent down to a few health points and then you want to find lethal. You could draw a few duds in a row, but Secret Passage all but guarantees that you will get some extra damage with this deck.

Your goal is, obviously, very simple – kill the opponent. Just hit them in the face, preferably with a buffed weapon, and then finish things off with burn damage. Given that you run multiple minions in Stealth, they are quite hard to remove and should be able to hit at least once quite consistently. Between all of that, games, where your opponent can’t do anything as you just kill them, should be relatively common.


Deck Import

Yep, as you can see, this budget deck roundup is heavy on burn-based Aggro decks, but honestly each one of them comes with its own flavor and plays quite differently. In case of Shaman, you have a mixed source of burn damage. First – straight up burn spells. Lightning Bolt, Serpentshrine Portal and Dunk Tank can all deal face damage – even more if they’re buffed by spell damage minion like Novice Zapper. But then, we’re getting to an even more powerful part – Doomhammer. Luckily, weapon removal tech is not very common right now and Zephrys the Great is no longer a thing in Standard, so the card should give you lots of value. Or well, lots of damage. Even at the base level, it’s 16 damage – over 4 turns, yes, but you can speed up the killing process quite significantly thanks to attack buffs. Between Rockbiter Weapon and Stormstrike, your Doomhammer can burst opponent down very easily. Just imagine – you equip it on Turn 5 and deal 4 damage, then 2x Rockbiter it for 16 damage = 20 damage over two turns.

And that’s basically your game plan. Of course, against faster decks you will need to use some of that burn damage to clear the board. And in the slowest matchups, you can get even more by duplicating your weapon buffs / best removal cards with Diligent Notetaker or maybe discover some more through Marshspawn. The deck packs a lot of damage, so even if you don’t manage to sneak in any minion damage you can still steal some games.


Deck Import

And the budget option for Warlock is… Zoo Warlock. Who would have guessed? Well, Control Warlock is obviously way, way more popular right now, but it requires a dozen of different Epics & Legendaries to work, you can’t build it without them. And for Warlock? Well, you could technically do it without any Epics even, but I’ve decided to run 2x Flesh Giant to have some sort of win condition after all. You could play it without them, but the deck would be significantly weaker without the big minion to close out gmaes. You could also consider Darkglare, but I don’t think it’s AS good after the nerfs and Flesh Giant is probably a better pick… but you’re free to try it out instead (and if you own both, that’s even better).

There isn’t much innovation compared to the last expansion. I’ve decided to incorporate the old-school Nerubian Egg, with a few ways of activating it. While the good, old Power Overwhelming is not an option, between Wicked Whispers, Wriggling Horror and Kabal Outfitter, you have a plenty of options. And the truth is that in certain matchup it doesn’t even need to be activated – if you play against a slower deck that wants to clear your board, it’s often better to leave it alone to have some insurance against AoEs. Other than that, it’s your good, old Zoo Warlock – you run Nightshade Matron + Hand of Gul'dan combo, lots of small minions, Man'ari Mosher to trade up and regain some health when necessary, and – of course – Flesh Giants to drop for just a few mana points (or even free) in the mid game.


Deck Import

This might be the most interesting out of budget builds… I had hard time coming up with something good for Warrior. The truth is that Warrior isn’t even doing that well in terms of full builds, let alone budget versions. I thought about Pirate Warrior, but it doesn’t seem very good right now. So I came up with this amalgamation of a Midrange Warrior. Which actually costs a whooping 10k Dust… if you had to pay for it, haha. The goal here is mostly to stay on the curve and play good minions, weapons and just solid stuff that lets you win the game. Most of the cards are solid, standalone options, but they become even better with certain synergies. For example, Crabrider is okay, but it gets even better if you tutor it with Corrupted Stage Dive and it’s a 3/5. Mor'shan Elite is already good by itself – 2x 4/4 Taunt for 5 is not bad, and it’s quite easy to activate its condition with four 4-cost weapons (2x Outrider's Axe, 2x Sword Eater). But if you handbuff it with Overlord Runthak first, it’s even better. Same thing for Grommash Hellscream – without an activator, it’s often “deal 4 damage to a minion, leave a big body behind”, but with Guardian Augmerchant and/or Cruel Taskmaster, you can quite easily deal a lot of burst damage or use it as a big removal (Augmerchant comes really handy for that – giving it Divine Shield means that you can trade into anything without taking more than the 1 damage from Augmerchant).

Sadly, the deck is pretty clunky, and you would really need a bunch more Epics & Legendaries to really make it work… but even in this state, it’s pretty fun to play and it’s different than most of the budget builds. For one, it’s not some sort of Aggro, Tempo or weird Combo deck – it’s slower and has a much higher curve. And second – it runs multiple Legendaries, which are quite fun to play around with, and you can do it in this case because all of them are free.

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

250 Comments

  1. LuKeAA
    April 16, 2021 at 2:25 am

    Face Hunt”er”s again;

    hope you all prefer that to Watchtowers; this trend of “either the games last until T5 or it’s no fun” is so annoying; no adaptation on new expansions, always the same. Between all the nerfs, BOTH watchtowers was the one I was mostly against.

  2. 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!

    • Asperkraken
      April 15, 2021 at 7:16 pm

      It’s a better time than ever for budget players. Yeah there are some high power builds out there but all the free Legendaries (many of which are surprisingly decent) have made building budget decks, especially for classes you may not like, easier. I am very happy with the new Core Set. Honestly it was time for a refresh.

  3. 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?

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

    Some of the best budget decks ever.

  5. 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 🙂

        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 😀

        • 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 🙂

      • 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

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.