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 ranks around 50 – 20. They should also be viable between Rank 20 and 10, but as you get closer to 10 (and meet more competitive meta decks), the road road is going to be much more difficult and only a couple of them will manage to continue to climb steadily after that. Some of them, however, might work even up to R5 if you master them and make a few upgrades!
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. 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
When it comes to Descent of Dragons budget lists, some of them are clearly better than the others. If I had to rank the budget decks in terms of power, how close they are to full meta deck and how upgradeable they are, I’d say that they would look like that:
Defining a Budget Deck
Our rule for budget decks is to exclude any Epic or Legendary cards. This is meant to mimic the experience of new players or those who play casually and, therefore, have limited in-game resources. We’re making some exceptions here and there for cards that were awarded for free. In Descent of Dragons, there are two exceptions – Galakrond cards for all 5 classes, as well as Sathrovarr, which players can still get for free. However, the latter did not fit into any of those budget builds, and the former only found its place in a single budget deck.
We sometimes offer an alternative version that breaks some of those rules, e.g. this time it was a Deathrattle Rogue with Necrium Apothecary. But we only add it as an EXTRA deck list, not as the main one.
Budget Decks in Descent of Dragons
To be honest, I don’t think that Descent of Dragons was a good expansion for budget players. We don’t have that many strong Common / Rare cards. A notable one is – obviously – Faceless Corruptor, but it was nerfed quickly. The card is still solid after the nerfs, but no longer the powerhouse it was for the first few days. Blazing Battlemage is a solid 1-drop in aggressive builds (and most of budget builds are aggressive), and there are some okay class options. However, the biggest issue is not even the lack of amazing cheap cards, but the fact that overall power level has went up so much. Budget decks are already behind the meta, and if the meta gets even stronger, budget decks stay further behind.
One great thing about the expansion is that every player got all five Galakronds for free. The issue is, however, that while those are free, most of Galakrond builds REALLY need other Epics / Legendaries to work. I managed to build a budget Galakrond Zoo Warlock, but you do really want 2x Veiled Worshipper and Kronx Dragonhoof to upgrade it. Still, as long as you have Kronx and are willing to craft (or have opened) the Epic synergies for each class, then you have some pretty good options to build for quite cheap.
Another good news for budget players is that Face Hunter is back. While not everyone enjoys this playstyle, the deck is basically 2x Toxic Reinforcements away from a full meta version that can easily get you to Legend.
Whizbang the Wonderful
I’ve seen a lot of mention about Whizbang, and yes you can craft it as a budget option. There’s some disadvantages to the card, you don’t get to choose the deck you get to play and it will take longer for you to learn how to play any particular deck due to the random nature of the card. However, it is a good option if you like the variety and the fun of playing multiple different decks you wouldn’t normally have access to. Check out our Whizbang Deck Recipes List Guide to learn all about him!
Budget Player Goals
I encourage you not to make your goal to go to all the way to Legend. It’s a tough climb even if you have a meta deck, let alone if you are running a budget deck. There’s no real reason to do it, and it will likely make Hearthstone a far more grueling experience than it needs to be (there are no win-streaks which help immensely when climbing). Rank 5 is a fine goal if you are getting close to a meta version of any of these decks, and you get nearly the same rewards at rank 5 as Legend does at the end of the season.
Cheap Hearthstone Decks
Our rule is that we don’t include any Epic or Legendary cards in our budget decks (Galakrond cards are an exception, since they were given out for free to everyone – I would probably make another exception for Sathrovarr, but there’s no budget build you want to put it into). You might have opened up some, however, so we always have a potential upgrades for every deck (which means that you might be able to use your Epics/Legends too). There is a deck for EVERY class!
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.
Token Druid was always one of the better and cheaper options for Druid. While slower Druid decks often use a lot of Epics / Legendaries (especially if they are build around some sort of combo, like Malygos builds) which you can’t cut, Token version – even if it runs some expensive cards – can usually switch them out quite easily.
Token strategy in Druid is nearly as old as Hearthstone itself. The class could always take advantage of wide boards thanks to Power of the Wild and Savage Roar, and most of expansions feature some ways to flood it too (or even more buffs). The goal is to produce a solid board, have some minions survive to your turn, and then buff them or just drop Savage Roar and kill your opponent.
When it comes to Descent of Dragons, we’re giving up on the regular Token Druid and going towards Treant version instead. It’s an interesting archetype, which got a lot of support over the last two Standard years, but it was never good enough to be a standalone build. Instead, Token version has adopted some Treant cards or synergies here in there. This time around, however, Treant version is the best version – amount of synergies has finally reached critical level. Sadly for budget players, one of them is Goru the Mightree, which is really good in slower matchups. It’s not necessary to play the deck, but if you happen to have it, I would consider adding it!
After Mech/Bomb Hunter being the most popular and strongest aggressive Hunter build for the first two expansions of this year, Face Hunter has made a big comeback in Descent of Dragons. I don’t think that I need to introduce this deck to any oldschool player, but if you haven’t played Hearthstone back in its good ol’ days, then you should know that for a long time it was one of the most notorious Aggro builds in the entire game. Between being very cheap to build, pretty easy to play and quite powerful, it was common on the ladder, and everyone had to tech in healing or Taunts to play around Turn 5-6 lethal.
Face Hunter is, like the name suggests, a hyper-Aggro deck that aims to hit the opponent’s face as much as possible. While it won’t completely ignore board in every single scenario (which is common misconception), like in the aggressive mirrors, you COULD in theory just do nothing but hit face and still win a bunch of games with it.
One thing I have to mention is that one of the big reasons why the deck is so good on the ladder right now (at the time I’m writing this it’s one of the highest win rate builds) is Toxic Reinforcements. Since it’s an Epic, I obviously had to exclude it from this budget list. However, if you can spare some Dust and want to play Face Hunter, I really recommend crafting it!
Mage is one of the three main Secret classes in Hearthstone (while Rogue also got a few, it seemed like a one-time thing), and probably the best one historically. Mage had a viable tempo deck built around Secrets in many metas, thanks to multiple synergies the class got. It is an aggressive deck that relies on establishing early board tempo by cheating out Secrets / playing oversized minions / taking advantage of having Secrets on the board to activate your minions’ effects.
Sadly, while Secret Mage is the best budget deck you can build for Mage, it’s not really a very powerful deck. Most of the meta decks have gotten way stronger in Descent of Dragons, while (already mediocre) Secret Mage didn’t really get anything strong. It’s not like Mage did not get anything at all – both Highlander and Cyclone build got some nice new options. However, the issue is that those can’t be built on a budget – they run a lot of must-have Epics & Legendaries.
It doesn’t mean that the deck is completely useless – you can still snatch some wins.
Even though Aggro Paladin has took a big hit last rotation (both because of regular Standard rotation, but also because it lost Divine Favor to Hall of fame), it’s slowly getting back into action this year thanks to all of the new cards. Of course, if we look at the full meta decks, it’s still not a great choice. The problem is that current full meta Paladin decks are way too expensive to be called budget, and lots of the Epics / Legendaries are simply necessary. That’s why budget player still need to run an Aggro version.
Unlike last expansion, this time I’ve decided to go for a Mech version instead of a regular one. The reason is that the class, but not only, has got a few strong options here. There’s also a much easier upgrade patch with a few very popular Legendaries which will make it significantly better. At the same time, it’s still only a temporary option. You will slowly want to switch into other Paladin builds if you want to play the class in this set, but also in general, since lots of Mechs & Mech synergies rotate out pretty soon.
Combo Priest is one of the “original” combo decks. I remember builds playing Divine Spirit + Inner Fire combo as far as Classic Hearthstone, and while they didn’t work for very long time, once people got better at deck building and we’ve got more tools from different expansions, the deck became popular. Some kind of Combo Priest was present in nearly every meta and viable for the last 2-3 years. Of course, every expansion and especially every rotation, viable builds look differently, but the general idea remains the same: you stick a minion, buff its health, double it with Divine Spirit (or quadruple with two copies), then play Inner Fire (or Topsy Turvy). Ideally you want to kill the opponent immediately, but even if you don’t, creating a big minion (10/10+) early is often enough to close out the game quickly.
When it comes to Descent of Dragons, Priest class is in a terrible state. Galakrond Priest is by far the worst one, no other archetypes turned out to be viable. Combo Priest, on the other hand, didn’t really get much, while the entire meta around it evolved. It used to be one of the strongest decks in Saviors of Uldum, and right now it’s… still okay. It’s probably the best Priest deck right now. And luckily, budget version is still holding up quite well.
The only new card that Combo Priest runs is Hot Air Balloon. So why it’s not in this build? Because it doesn’t play Bwonsamdi, the Dead. I don’t think that you can put in another 1-drop without running Bwonsamdi – six of them is enough, and I don’t think that Balloon is better than Beaming Sidekick.
First things first – it’s hard to draw the line between Aggro and Tempo Rogue. One could even say that they’re two different names for the same archetype. However, the way I differentiate them is that Aggro build is more about hitting face no matter what and Tempo deck is more about controlling the board until they can hit face easily. In that way, this build is more of an Aggro one – it’s faster and you want to kill your opponent as quickly as possible. With the help of Pirates, of course. Rogue and Pirates were always going hand in hand, and while the class rarely has a full, dedicated Pirate build, it used some of them in nearly every meta.
Rogue is a very interesting class in Descent of Dragons. While players have tried many strategies, the most successful ones all depend on the Necrium Apothecary. Sadly, since it’s an Epic, Apothecary builds can’t be built within our budget deck rules. I will, however, propose a budget Deathrattle Rogue build with 2x Apothecary at the bottom – while its power level will be comparable to this one, it will have a much greater upgradeability.
Murlocs have been one of Hearthstone’s most prominent tribal synergy strategies since its introduction. Murlocs are typically designed to benefit from each other and begin to quickly snowball as each one is added to the board. This, along with the generally low mana-cost of the cards, pushes most Murloc strategies to be aggressive.
This build didn’t really change much compared to the last expansion. The reason is that no new Murlocs were introduced – or rather, no new Murlocs that would fit into this deck. I did some cosmetic changes based on experience, but that’s all. However, if you want to test something different, I’ve also built an Aggro Overload Shaman budget deck. Keep in mind that it’s WEAKER build as it is, but it offers a much greater upgradeability. If you own some of the Epics / Legends or you’re willing to spend some Dust on them, then it becomes a solid meta build. Find it at the bottom!
Zoo Warlock is an archetype that dates back to the early days of Hearthstone. The deck always revolved around low-cost minions (the deck can have a low curve because of Hero Power that lest Warlock draw more cards whenever they need) and various means of leveraging a favorable board state to trade up into opposing minions before making a lethal push. Because of its low-curve, Zoo Warlock has long been a favorite of budget-minded players sacrificing very little for the sake of keeping costs low. Additionally, the deck has long served as a powerful teaching tool for new players eager to learn about core Hearthstone concepts such as Tempo, trading up, and timing a push for lethal.
In Descent of Dragons, we’ll be trying a little different approach to the Zoo build. We’ll go for a Galakrond version! Since Galakrond cards were given out for free to everyone, we can build a deck around it that will still fit out budget restrictions. Right now, Galakrond Zoo Warlock is the highest win rate build for the class and it looks pretty solid even if you compare it to the best meta decks. Of course, the budget build will still be missing a few key cards, like Galakrond support, but it’s still a solid option and it has an amazing upgradeability path.
Back in the day, Pirate Warrior used to be one of the most scary and dominating builds in the meta, but between a few Pirate nerfs followed by a Fiery War Axe nerf, it finally disappeared from the ladder, and got relegated to a Wild-only build. At the time when it was in Standard, however, it was very powerful – amazing synergies between weapons and Pirates lead to some very, very fast starts and Turn 5-6 lethals. The deck packed so much damage that it was hard to stop even if you teched against it.
And now the build has made a comeback in Descent of Dragons. And while I don’t think that it’s as oppressive as it used to be, it’s a solid meta deck thanks to all of the new additions, such as Ancharrr or Skybarge. The good news for budget players is that the deck can be built cheap. Bad news is that possibly its most important card – Ancharrr – is Legendary. However, don’t worry, because a cheaper version is still doing just fine, and you’ve got a very easy upgrade path to the full meta build.