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In posing this question, I realize that it may be out of scope for boardgames.SE; this question could be subjective and the monetary costs vary quite a bit between cheapest and most expensive decks. Having said that, I think this could have value if it falls within the Q&A format appropriately.

I've been a casual player for awhile, but I've rarely dabbled in tournament formats. I think I spent some time between Mirrodin and Ravnica playing Standard, but beyond that I have had very little exposure. I am realizing that I'd like to start participating in the more competitive tournament side of Magic, but I'm concerned about the cost.

I get the sense that it is a much larger initial investment to start in Vintage and Legacy because there is a solid base that most decks use in land and mana artifacts, and the upkeep may be minimal as new cards come out that fit a deck, whereas the initial cost in Modern and Standard is lower, but there are continual costs as new sets come out that consistently change the format. Beyond that, I don't have a great sense of how much these costs are, and the average costs of these would partially determine what style of tournaments I'm likely to be attracted to.

What is the average cost of a deck for each of the major tournament types? These would at least include Vintage, Legacy, Extended, Modern and Standard, plus any others I may be unaware of.

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I think your last paragraph has made this question too broad and hard to answer. The answer also depends on the market where you live. Also consider that much of the testing that's required for competitive play can be done with proxies, so that in the end you can just buy the specific cards you have decided fits the local metagame best. –  ghoppe Mar 1 '13 at 16:31
    
The broadness was my initial concern with posting this and I wouldn't be surprised if the community closed this because of it. Really I'm trying to figure out the cost differences between tournament formats, and if there's a better way to word this question, I'm open to suggestions. The idea of testing with proxies is good, but that doesn't really change the cost of the decks in the end. I like the suggestion though. –  SocioMatt Mar 1 '13 at 16:37
    
It makes a massive difference, since you asked about deck building also. Between buying 4 of every card in every new set so that you can do your deck building before deciding what to play, or just by the deck you ultimately decide on before the tournament? –  Affe Mar 1 '13 at 18:31
    
@Affe Wouldn't you decide what to put into a deck before buying it? I'm not asking how much it would cost to buy every card in every set so that I can potentially play with anything. I already know that would be expensive. I'm asking how much the average deck costs to build and maintain for tournament formats. I'll edit to make that clearer. –  SocioMatt Mar 1 '13 at 18:49
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The easiest way to compile the information you're looking for that I know of is with tcgPlayer's deck search:

http://magic.tcgplayer.com/db/deck_search.asp

Choose a "Format"

Choose "Places Finished" : 1st, 2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-8th

Choose "Deck Origination" : Event and Article Decks Only

Only took me a minute or two to compile that for the most recent star city games legacy open the top 8 decks had a min price of $1100, max of $2500 and median around $1600.

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Thanks. This is exactly what I was looking for. –  SocioMatt Mar 1 '13 at 19:46
    
@SocioMatt If you've gone off and done the same for other formats, perhaps you could come back here and contribute the information! –  Jefromi Mar 2 '13 at 1:14
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For tournaments lets elaborate the types available:

Draft: 3 pack boosters, usually 10-15 $ price range, and may last around 3-5 hours.

Standard: sets that are from previous year and including this year. The cost of playing a constant standard environment is usually very expensive as most of the packs rotate. There are cases for like the zendicar and scars block that it made every single deck into a single deck. Sometimes to win may cost more than just playing for fun. The current standard is good played a homebrew and it can still win.

Modern: Sets from 8th edition moving forward. The idea of this deck style is to enable all types of standard decks to be viable in modern to increase diversity. Wizard constantly nerf spells or ban them for being to fast. Cost depends on card choices mono red for example is usually is a 100-200 $. You don't need fetches, all you need is skill, and luck.

Legacy: The 2nd most expensive format ever, as it has 50-100+ lands, spells that have a price range of 20-110+ aka JTMS, and the most diverse decks you will ever see which is the plus side. Mono red hardly works in this format as turn 3 batterskull can cost you a card to pitch which would be 3 damage. Goblins also cost over 200 as the lands to interrupt lands played by opponents is needed.

Vintage: Moxes and everythign stated on top. Mostly combo decks that end in turn 1 with either 5 - 6 cards in hand of average.

What is your best investment as a competitive player?

Well, my recommendation would be draft as high priority, use the draft games to improve your card collection and play the most average win percent on standard(Percentage may mean its chance of winning), and then modern to use your remaining card pool and make something awesome.

My tips:

Do not invest on any Return to ravnica or gatecrash lands. Next set dragon maze will have a chance for a dual land on every pack. Making lands extremely cheap.

When building a deck make sure you don't destroy your deck after side boarding. Seriously this happens a lot, people get intimidated by decks and put so much counter that their decks are no longer viable. Put enough but don't destroy your deck.

Good luck

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Can't disagree more on getting the shock lands. If you want to be competitive you must play shock lands. That's not a should, that's a must. They're already very cheap considering their power, clocking in at about ten bucks per, but it's unlikely they'll drop much lower. The chances to get one in Dragon's Maze is going to be about the same as it is to get one now. When you compare shock lands to other utility lands, they're very affordable. –  corsiKa Mar 1 '13 at 19:59
    
The chances of obtaining shocklands are much higher actually as each booster pack doesn't have a normal land except a gate, a shock land, or a mythic land. –  wesdfgfgd Mar 1 '13 at 21:55
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Sorry wes, the chance of getting a shock land in dragon's maze will be about half the same as getting one in rtr or gatecrash. Citation: markrosewater.tumblr.com/post/41772272135/… Being so low of a chance, and seeing that Dragon's Maze is a small set that will not sell as many packs, the price is not going to drop significantly. –  corsiKa Mar 1 '13 at 22:38
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Vintage almost always runs power-9 and other "tenth power" cards such as Mishra's factory and Library of Alexandria.

Vintage decks tend to get into the ten thousands.

the major expense of Legacy decks is lands. Other cards can be fairly expensive, but not as much as the lands. Outliers include things like Jtms, FOW, Moat, Goyf, and candleabra. you can also run fetchlands, which tend to be a bit cheaper than straight-up duals

You can generally put together a decent legacy for around $600. Affinity, Elves, and Goblins can be as low as $200, depending on the build. Some of the more expensive legacy decks, which run playsets of jace or moats can get up to $2000.

Modern decks vary in price. I estimate the cost of a typical tron deck at $300 to $400, but you can definitely go cheaper with things like burn The cost of modern is kinda in flux at the moment, and with modern masters on the way, IT might be going down.

Standard decks should normally run you around $200 for all of the best stuff, but when one card dominates the format as much as say... Jace, the price can go way up. But you can go way lower than that, especially if you're running mono-red, mono-green, or something like that.

Before, RTR, I ran a $40 mono-green deck that could come in first place at the local FNM through tier-1 delver and wolf-run decks.

right now standard is a bit inflated with all the legacy and modern playability of the cards(like shocks) keeping the prices up.


If you're just looking to play at some of the local FNM tournaments, you should pick up an event deck, they retail for about $25, but sometimes they have more value than the MSRP so your Local Games Store might charge more than that. If they do, I'd recommend checking out nearby LGS's to see if they have the event deck at MSRP. Some LGS's do, and some don't.

an event deck is a simple deck that has about 7 rares, but is geared toward being a decently playable deck. It will generally run a bunch of good commons and uncommons, and it is expected to win about 25% of the time at a competitive tournament.

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vintage is a little weird though since it's almost never played as a sanctioned format and is usually a proxy tournament when played at all. –  Affe Mar 1 '13 at 20:11
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@Affe that's because each vintage game has three stages: shuffling, dice roll, and mulligans. –  corsiKa Mar 1 '13 at 20:48
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