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The Ultimate Guide to Building Budget-Friendly yet Competitive Decks in Legends of Runeterra

Learn how to build budget-friendly decks in Runeterra and dominate the ranked ladder. This comprehensive guide covers deck construction principles, top budget archetypes, gameplay tips, and collection expansion strategies. From zero to hero, become a Runeterra legend without breaking the bank!

As an aspiring Legends of Runeterra player, one of the biggest hurdles is building a solid card collection. Constructing optimal competitive decks usually requires rare champions and epics. But fear not! You can absolutely create budget-friendly decks capable of climbing the ranked ladder and winning games.

In this comprehensive guide, we will provide everything you need to know about crafting low-cost Runeterra decks, analyzing the top budget archetypes, executing optimal gameplay, and incrementally improving your collection over time. Follow these budget deck construction principles and you will go from 0 to Hero in no time!

Chapter 1 - Budget Deck Building Principles and Philosophy

When evaluating which cards to include in an affordable yet optimized Runeterra deck, keep these key elements in mind:

Carefully Consider Total Crafting Cost

The number one factor is analyzing the total shard cost to craft a deck. For true budget builds, aim for ~5000 shards or less. Decks costing 5000-6000 shards reside in the "budget to midrange" tier. Above 6000 shards, and you might as well build refined meta decks. Tally costs during construction and make judicious cuts to hit your budget goals. Building multiple budget decks over time is preferable to blowing resources on one expensive deck upfront.

Maximize Inclusion of Low-Rarity Commons and Rares

Runeterra has a plethora of powerful common and rare cards. Construct the core framework of your budget deck around these, while minimizing use of scarce epic and champion wildcards until necessary. Regions like Demacia, Bilgewater, Noxus, and Ionia offer remarkably efficient commons and rares well-suited for the cost-conscious deck builder. Capitalize on their strength!

Carefully Evaluate Champion Choices

Champion cards require heavy resource investment. Therefore, choose flexible champions viable in multiple archetypes when budget building. Lucian, Ashe, Elise, Jinx, Darius, and Garen are great options usable across numerous strategies. Avoid niche champions like Lee Sin or Karma unless you can build fully around them.

Favor Straightforward, Synergy-Focused Gameplans

Budget decks thrive on simple, focused game plans centered around low-cost synergy, board control, and tempo advantages. Complex multi-step combo strategies generally demand expensive engines and support cards. Attack aggressively, control the board efficiently through combat, and play directly to your few important win conditions or payoffs. Resist greed!

Understand Upgrade Paths to Higher Tiers

View budget decks as starting points rather than finished products. As your collection grows, incrementally upgrade them into higher tier strategies. Evaluate current deck lists with an eye toward future improvements through dual regions, higher rarity cards, and secondary champion additions. Your budget creation today could become a tier one titan tomorrow!

Chapter 2 - Evaluating the Top Budget Deck Archetypes

Let's now analyze the proven, dominant budget deck archetypes competitive against all kinds of Runeterra opponents:

1. Classic Spider Swarm Aggro

Regions
Noxus
24 cards
Shadow Isles
16 cards
Rarities
15 100
champion
3
epic
0
rare
12
common
25
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
12
1
11
2
14
3
0
4
0
5
3
6
0
7+
Champions
3
2
Elise
3
Elise
Followers
24
1
Legion Rearguard
3
Legion Rearguard
1
Legion Saboteur
3
Legion Saboteur
1
Precious Pet
3
Precious Pet
1
Stygian Onlooker
3
Stygian Onlooker
2
Arachnoid Horror
3
Arachnoid Horror
2
House Spider
3
House Spider
2
Imperial Demolitionist
2
Imperial Demolitionist
3
Doombeast
1
Doombeast
3
Frenzied Skitterer
3
Frenzied Skitterer
Spells
13
3
Noxian Fervor
3
Noxian Fervor
3
Pirouette
3
Pirouette
3
Sigil of Malice
1
Sigil of Malice
3
Stalking Shadows
3
Stalking Shadows
6
Decimate
3
Decimate

Spider aggressive decks remain one of the strongest pure budget options due to their efficiency and synergies. The strategy capitalizes on hyper-aggressive early swarms of low-cost spider units, supported by Noxus reach and burn spells to finish opponents quickly.

Key spider cards like Elise, Precious Pet, and Arachnoid Horror form a critical mass of cheap units with high health totals, perfect for receiving buffs. Noxus additions like Legion Grenadier, Imperial Demolitionist and Boomcrew Rookie provide additional face damage. Mulligan aggressively for those precious 1-2 mana creatures!

When piloted well, spider aggro can run over control and midrange decks before they stabilize. Careful resource management and health calculation are critical though. Use your life total as a resource when racing!

2. Burn Aggro - Noxus Direct Damage

Regions
Runeterra
26 cards
Noxus
14 cards
Rarities
22 400
champion
6
epic
0
rare
5
common
29
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
11
1
15
2
8
3
3
4
0
5
3
6
0
7+
Champions
6
1
Annie
3
Annie
4
Jhin
3
Jhin
Followers
26
1
Crackshot Corsair
2
Crackshot Corsair
1
Legion Rearguard
3
Legion Rearguard
1
Legion Saboteur
3
Legion Saboteur
2
Boomcrew Rookie
3
Boomcrew Rookie
2
Imperial Demolitionist
3
Imperial Demolitionist
2
Solari Sunhawk
3
Solari Sunhawk
2
The Stagehand
3
The Stagehand
2
Tusk Speaker
3
Tusk Speaker
3
Doombeast
3
Doombeast
Spells
8
3
Noxian Fervor
3
Noxian Fervor
3
Pirouette
2
Pirouette
6
Decimate
3
Decimate

Ultra lean burn aggro decks overload on the copious cheap direct damage spells available to Noxus. Cards like Mystic Shot, Decimate, Noxian Fervor, and Get Excited form the core of pure face rush decks looking to kill opponents before turn 7.

Units like Imperial Demolitionist, Boomcrew Rookie, and Legion Grenadier serve as expendable blockers and additional burn sources when sacrificed. While one dimensional, this style preys on slow control and combo decks unprepared for relentless face damage turn after turn. Never stop attacking!

Burn aggro truly stretches the limits of budget construction, often dipping below 4000 total shards by skipping units for pure gas. Adjust carefully based on healing and lifegain in your local metagame.

3. Ashe Frostbite Midrange

Regions
Freljord
22 cards
Noxus
18 cards
Rarities
31 000
champion
6
epic
6
rare
15
common
13
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
5
1
9
2
11
3
9
4
3
5
0
6
3
7+
Champions
6
3
LeBlanc
3
LeBlanc
4
Ashe
3
Ashe
Landmarks
1
4
Trifarian Training Pits
1
Trifarian Training Pits
Followers
19
1
Omen Hawk
2
Omen Hawk
2
Icevale Archer
3
Icevale Archer
2
Trifarian Gloryseeker
3
Trifarian Gloryseeker
3
Avarosan Trapper
3
Avarosan Trapper
4
Trifarian Assessor
3
Trifarian Assessor
5
Avarosan Hearthguard
3
Avarosan Hearthguard
8
Captain Farron
1
Captain Farron
8
Incisive Tactician
1
Incisive Tactician
Spells
14
1
Brittle Steel
2
Brittle Steel
1
Three Sisters
1
Three Sisters
2
Troll Chant
3
Troll Chant
3
Culling Strike
3
Culling Strike
3
Flash Freeze
2
Flash Freeze
4
Whispered Words
2
Whispered Words
7
Reckoning
1
Reckoning

Ashe remains one of the most flexible champions viable in budget builds. Here she forms an excellent midrange attrition deck leveraging the Freljord frost package. Your army of challengers with Frostbite effects lets you control combat and push nexus damage once established.

Cards like Brittle Steel, Flash Freeze, Wyrding Stones and Avarosan Hearthguard provide efficient trading tools even at low rarity. Careful Avalanche usage clears outgo-wide swarm decks. Harsh Winds buys additional stall versus hyper aggro.

Mastering combat sequencing, freezes, and resource management reaps major rewards piloting Ashe decks. Knowing when to develop threats or hold back takes practice but pays off tremendously. Ashe delivers immense value at low cost!

4. Endure Spiders - Sacrifice/Aggro Hybrid

Regions
Freljord
7 cards
Shadow Isles
33 cards
Rarities
16 700
champion
3
epic
2
rare
9
common
26
eternal
Mana cost
0
0
6
1
12
2
5
3
2
4
4
5
7
6
4
7+
Champions
3
2
Elise
3
Elise
Followers
11
1
Hapless Aristocrat
3
Hapless Aristocrat
2
Avarosan Sentry
3
Avarosan Sentry
3
Frenzied Skitterer
3
Frenzied Skitterer
6
They Who Endure
1
They Who Endure
9
Commander Ledros
1
Commander Ledros
Spells
26
1
Crawling Sensation
3
Crawling Sensation
2
Glimpse Beyond
3
Glimpse Beyond
2
Vile Feast
3
Vile Feast
3
Black Spear
2
Black Spear
4
Withering Wail
2
Withering Wail
5
Grasp of the Undying
1
Grasp of the Undying
5
Iceborn Legacy
3
Iceborn Legacy
6
Brood Awakening
3
Brood Awakening
6
Vengeance
3
Vengeance
7
Atrocity
2
Atrocity
9
The Ruination
1
The Ruination

This unique aggro-sacrifice hybrid deck combines the early swarming aggression of Noxus spiders with a late game finisher combo. It builds an early board flood of cheap spiders and attackers, sustaining with tools like Glimpse Beyond until the pivotal The Ruination board clear.

After wiping on turn 7-8, you play marquee threat They Who Endure, following up with Atrocity for massive surprise burst damage capable of one-shotting unprepared opponents. Tricky to pilot, but the split focus catches many foes off guard. Get those early spiders online fast!

5. Lucian Scouts Rally - Demacia Midrange

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Lucian pairs up with the durable Demacia scouts package to form relentless midrange aggression. The persistent rally effect lets you double attack turns with combat tricks like Relentless Pursuit for great value. Use single combat to clear blockers!

Lucian pressures opponents early. Other scout units like Laurent Protege, Brightsteel Protector, and Grizzled Ranger control combat. Swarm the board before overwhelming foes with the For Demacia! finisher. Learning to balance going wide and holding back threats takes practice. But Demacia's combat tricks make this build formidable on a budget!

Chapter 3 - Pro Tips for Mastering Budget Deck Gameplay

With competitive budget decks assembled, excelling at piloting and decision making becomes paramount. Follow these proven play tips and strategies for defeating more expensive meta decks:

Mulligan Aggressively for Early Game Power

Having a streamlined start is critical for budget decks lacking comeback mechanics later. Always mull hard for those 1-3 mana minions and combat tricks that form initial tempo and board control. The first three turns set the tone - don't fall behind early!

Adopt a Relentlessly Aggressive Playstyle

Play faster and more aggressively than feels natural at first. Push nexus damage whenever possible rather than over-trading units. Budget decks rely on snowballing leads through constant attacking pressure. Don't give opponents time to draw their expensive late game bombs!

Sequence Plays and Turns Optimally to Maximize Value

Think deeply each turn to sequence your plays in the most mana and value efficient order. Understand combat keywords - strike first with challengers. Know when to develop threats or hold them back. Every single point of tempo and damage matters when racing pricier decks. It's a tightrope walk!

Play to Your Outs and Possible Draw Steps

With limited card pools, you live and die by the top of your deck. Always consider lines of play that could allow you to come back a turn or two down the road. Never surrender early! Hope lives on through the heart of the cards.

Master Your Bad Matchups and Sideboarding Plans

Learn which popular meta decks counter your strategy and tech options to improve those matchups. For instance, add anti-aggro tools against hyper fast decks killing you early. Sideboarding the right budget hate cards makes a world of difference when facing bad matchups.

Stay Focused in the Late Game Versus Control Decks

Playing as the aggressor versus control is challenging. Avoid overextending into mass board wipes like The Ruination. Stay threatening enough to force their reactions, without committing too much. And remember, there's always a Ruination at the bottom of their deck!

Adapt and Optimize Within Your Deck's Means

Don't just netdeck budget lists rigidly. Adjust flex spots based on the field you face daily. Work around what opponents are playing. Budget deck optimization and customization pays major dividends.

Chapter 4 - Expanding Your Collection Over Time as a Budget Player

Finally, let's explore smart collection growth for budget players:

Take Note of Archetypes that Fit Your Playstyle

Pay attention to which budget archetypes you naturally enjoy playing most. This informs where to allocate new resources rather than spreading yourself thin across regions and play styles. Do you prefer control, combo, aggro, or midrange? Know thyself, and build accordingly!

Research the Optimal Versions of Those Decks

Once identifying favorite archetypes, study refined meta versions of those decks. Understand the key epic and champion upgrades needed to get there. This research provides a guiding blueprint for your incremental crafting goals.

Work Toward Crafting Efficient Epic Upgrades

Resist crafting niche legends right away. First focus on broadly usable epics that slot easily into multiple budget decks. For instance, Mystic Shot improves many Noxus builds. Get the most value from scarce wildcards early on.

Take a "Two Steps Forward, One Step Back" Approach

Too often, new players blow up budget decks entirely after getting some resources. Instead, incrementally upgrade cards two-for-one to maintain consistency. Slowly tune and refine until your creation transforms into a higher tier beast.

With Patience, Tier One Decks Arrive Sooner Than Expected

By carefully investing into budget decks and upgrading them slowly, new Runeterra players can craft nearly any meta deck within their first 1-2 months of playing. Proper progression pathing speeds the process tremendously compared to spreading wildcards haphazardly.

So there you have it - a comprehensive guide to dominating the ladder with budget decks as a Runeterra newcomer. Master the fundamental principles detailed here, and you will quickly see your skills and collection bloom. Best of luck, and happy budget brewing!