Galakrond’s Awakening has been a rough time for budget decks. I have built Legend-capable budget decks for several expansions, and the current meta is the most difficult time budget decks have had.
It’s not that you cannot reach Legend on a full budget deck, without any adventure cards, Epics, or Legendaries: you definitely can with at least Rogue, Warlock, and Hunter. Rather, it is the variety that is missing because so many decks have absolute core Epics without which their performance plummets.
Therefore, I have relaxed my budget deck criteria for this meta to be able to provide a good selection of decks. Some of my budget decks now include Epic cards and there are even some adventure cards in the Shaman deck. I have started from fully budget builds and tried to fine-tune them, and then added some key expensive cards, if I have simply been unable to make the deck work without them.
As a result, I am able to present budget decks for seven classes. I could not make Paladin and Mage work even with some Epics, but every other class is playable in an inexpensive form. These budget decks also make use of every version of Galakrond in the game, so that you can put your free Legendary cards to good use.
You can find this post also on my Hearthstone blog:
The budget deck of choice for Druid is Token Druid, although Embiggen Druid is also quite affordable. Embiggen Druid is just more difficult to make really cheap because there are three core Legendaries in it: SN1P-SN4P, Zilliax, and Leeroy Jenkins. Furthermore, Embiggen Druid requires the first chapter of Galakrond’s Awakening.
Budget Token Druid (2620 dust): AAECAZICAv0CypwDDu0D9wPmBd/7Ar/9AtWDA8OUA86UA9OcA6+iA+2iA/ytA/6tA/+tAwA=
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-budget-token-druid/
Token Druid can be built with Mechs or with Treants, but the Treant approach is preferable for a couple of reasons: first, the Mech variant requires SN1P-SN4P to succeed, second, the Treant variant is closer to the current meta deck, and third, the Treant variant has more cards that are not rotating out of Standard this year.
It is still not a rotation-proof archetype because it will lose Dendrologist, Landscaping, and Mulchmuncher, and that might mean that there are not enough Treant synergies left to carry the deck. Even the current budget list has to include two copies of Force of Nature (Epic) to ensure sufficient Treant generation.
At 2620 dust, Token Druid is on the expensive side for a budget deck, but it is effective and also easy to upgrade. The full upgrade path can be found in the deck video here:
Hunter has often been a good class to play on a budget, and there are currently even two archetypes to choose from for a Budget Hunter. Curiously enough, the cheaper one (Dragon Hunter) is generally the stronger.
Dragon Hunter as we currently know it was built on the Galakrond’s Awakening adventure and especially Rotnest Drake. Can it be built without adventure cards? The answer is yes, it can, and it is still good without them. Furthermore, it can also be built without any Epic or Legendary cards.
Budget Dragon Hunter (1400 dust): AAECAR8AD7UDhwThBJcI/gzv8QKKrQP5rgP7rwP8rwP+rwPnsAP/sAOFsQOHsQMA
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-adventureless-budget-dragon-hunter/
Evasive Wyrm is a surprisingly good substitute for Rotnest Drake. The substitute has to be a Dragon for the synergies, but luckily one of the current dragons fits the bill.
Overall, this is one of the strongest current budget decks, if not the very strongest one, and it is also one of the cheapest. An excellent choice all around.
You can find full upgrade instructions in my deck video: https://youtu.be/1qeNHC-CbV4
If you wish to hit face even harder, Budget Face Hunter is also an option. It is a one-dimensional deck that can be countered more easily, but it can be extremely effective if the opponents are just a little bit too slow.
In the current meta, Face Hunter needs Toxic Reinforcements (Epic) to succeed, which makes the deck slightly more expensive.
Budget Face Hunter (2120 dust): AAECAR8CogLeBA6oArUDyQSSBe0GsQjbCf4M7/EC86cD+a4D+68D/K8DhbADAA==
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-budget-face-hunter/
A bit single-minded, sure, but the thrill of succeeding with Face Hunter is all about finding every last point of damage available to you. An aggro deck is happy if the opponent dies one turn before the game would be lost.
You can find upgrade instructions in my deck video: https://youtu.be/iQppP5xQKfc
I’m afraid Budget Mage might be impossible to build right now. The only Mage archetype that is successful at the moment is Highlander Mage, and that deck is full of Legendary cards, many of which cannot be cut. Even looking into alternatives such as Cyclone Mage or Freeze Mage cannot bring the cost down enough.
I tried to build a Secret Mage deck, but ultimately I could only win 40% of my games at best and the deck just did not feel competitive. It can defeat slow decks, such as Druid, but it just crumbles when facing Galakrond Warriors, and other aggressive matchups are also slightly unfavored.
Paladin is in dire straits, and I cannot find a budget solution for the class. Mech Paladin is not strong enough on a budget even with Micro Mummy, I tried. It is a heavily polarized archetype, which does not help when playing a budget deck because you are even worse in your bad matchups and lose some of your edge in your good ones.
I also tried Pure Paladin, but it’s no good without at least multiple Epic cards either.
Perhaps some kind of Aggro Paladin could stand a chance with sufficient tuning, but I think it is unlikely.
Combo Priest is relatively inexpensive, but it needs at least a pair of Psychopomps and High Priest Amet to succeed, perhaps even Bwonsamdi, the Dead.
However, Resurrect Priest can be built more easily because all it really needs to succeed are four Epic cards: two copies of Psychopomp and two copies of Plague of Death.
Budget Resurrect Priest (4960 dust, 3460 dust without Kronx): AAECAa0GBNYKmJsD47QDyMADDdMKl4cDgpQDmZsDoaEDr6UD0aUDmakDn6kD2awD8qwDza8D/bADAA==
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-budget-resurrect-priest/
I played this version of the deck that includes Kronx Dragonhoof because I built it based on a viewer request and Kronx was available. However, Kronx is not a core card and can easily be replaced with a second copy of Forbidden Words to bring the cost down.
Between resurrect effects, Albatrosses, and Galakrond, all Priest really needs to do is to remove stuff and stay alive. When in doubt, just pack in more removal tools and you’re fine.
You can find upgrade instructions in my deck video: https://youtu.be/f20dNrwkFPI
The power of Galakrond is undeniable. I tried to build Aggro Rogue and Tempo Rogue, but no other Rogue deck could come even close to Galakrond Rogue in performance, even on a budget.
Galakrond Rogue usually packs a ton of Legendary cards, but it is actually possible to cut them all away and still build a winning deck. The key card to do so is Questing Adventurer, which becomes your main win condition in the absence of powerful Legendary tools. Note that as a result, the deck plays differently than a full-cost Galakrond Rogue, but it is one of the cheapest Legend-capable budget decks in the game right now.
Budget Galakrond Rogue (1480 dust): AAECAaIHAr0Dy8ADDrQBzQOXBogH3Qjv8QKPlwP1pwO5rgO/rgP+rgOqrwPOrwOCsQMA
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-budget-galakrond-rogue/
You can find detailed upgrade instructions for the deck in my video:
Shaman on a budget, that’s crazy, right? Actually, it is not as bad as you would think. I have experimented a lot with different Shaman builds, such as Highlander, Quest Galakrond, and Galakrond, and found a way to build a relatively inexpensive Budget Lackey Galakrond Shaman. There is nothing similar to it on HSReplay, but I built both a budget and a full-cost version of the archetype, and it does fine in the current meta.
What’s the catch? OK, I cheated a little with Shaman and used an adventure card in the deck. You need Explosive Evolution to make it work, sorry.
Alternatively, you can play a regular Murloc Shaman, but its performance on ranks from Legend to five is not good at the moment.
Budget Lackey Galakrond Shaman (2400 dust + two Chapters of Galakrond’s Awakening): AAECAaoIAv8F08ADDrSRA7SXA8aZA9SlA9WlA/mlA7etA7mtA/muA/6uA6qvA9CvA4KxA6K2AwA=
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-budget-galakrond-shaman-2/
Here is a video of the deck:
The full-cost version of this deck is a fairly unexplored path for Shaman:
Lackey Galakrond Shaman (full cost): AAECAaoIBO/3AuO0A5+3A9PAAw20kQO0lwPGmQPUpQP5pQO3rQO5rQP5rgP+rgOqrwPQrwOCsQOitgMA
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-galakrond-shaman/
Here is a video of this version too:
OK, a budget Warlock has got to be a Zoo deck, right? Yes, that’s right, and here is my take on it:
Budget Galakrond Zoo (1400 dust): AAECAf0GAvIF8b8DDjCKB7EIwgjchgPEiQOInQP9pwPorAP5rgP+rgOqrwPTrwOCsQMA
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-budget-galakrond-zoo/
Galakrond is a flexible tool that you want to use in your budget decks, and Warlock is no exception.
You can find the upgrade path in my deck video: https://youtu.be/S4iC4Lsld3w
Galakrond Warrior is one of the most powerful decks in the game, but building it on a budget can be difficult. I made multiple attempts but was eventually forced to add four Epic cards to the deck (two copies of Town Crier and two copies of Scion of Ruin) to make it work.
Every budget deck needs some twist to separate them from the full-cost version. Without that, you are just playing a watered-down version of the meta deck and can expect limited success. Budget Rogue has Questing Adventurer as its twist, and Galakrond Warrior has Frothing Berserker.
Interestingly enough, Frothing Berserker did not work in the full budget lists that I tried, it just could not stay alive. Adding the Town Criers and Scions gave Frothing Berserker exactly the support it needs to shine.
Budget Galakrond Warrior (2920 dust): AAECAQcCkAPFwAMOFhzUBI4F+wyd8AKz/AL0pwPYrQParQP+rgOqrwPSrwOrtgMA
Hearthstone Top Decks: https://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/old-guardians-budget-galakrond-warrior/
You can find more details and the full upgrade path to the meta version from my deck video: https://youtu.be/HyUbSXZtaro
Good luck, have fun
The Standard rotation is fast approaching, and now is not the time to spend a lot of dust. I hope that these budget decks will provide you with some fun moments while waiting for the next expansion.
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