With the new Bloodborn expansion most of the upgrade links are now outdated, however most of them still contain more natural transitions from their budget counterparts. For my up to date decks check here:
So most of the big name players have posted their own budget guide. I keep getting asked to help people with budget decks/help choosing a faction. So I am whipping together a short guide on it. Just figured it was time to compile the things I have been spreading around. I have made it to S rank every season I have had time to play and am always happy to share my experience.
Choosing your faction comes down to play-style and theme preference. You have your choice of control, aggro, midrange, or combos.
My summary of factions.
Lyonar: The archetypal holy Paladins with a lion theme. A tanky defensive faction that revolves around provoke, high health, good control spells, and their signature kill Divine Bond. Strong but predictable. Control and midrange.
Songhai: The fire ninjas: Would you rather play a magic the gathering Red deck instead of duelyst? They love to ignore the board with teleports, ranged, and high out of hand burst/burn damage. Very strong but a lot of solatire. Aggro and combo.
Vetruvian: The Egyptian Machines: Think necrons. A strong faction with a lot of value plays. They are known for having some of the most powerful midrange/high cost minions. They usualy play midrange decks and fall back on their strong value minions. The two unique things they have going for them are Obylsks the structures that summon dervishes a unit that has a lot of synergy in the faction, and alternatively they can go a dedicated artifact deck, they also have blast which is a neat take for a ranged+aoe unit. They have a lot of room for creativity but they all run the same couple power house cards, and are pretty much always mid range decks.
Abyssian: The necromancers: They summon hordes of wraithlings sacrifice them for power and love when they die with their factions signature death watch mechanic. Alternatively you have the creep which controls the board by spreading damaging tiles and has big finisher cards. Swarm has fallen out of favor since the meta has a lot of aoe, and creep while strong is very predictable. They are a versatile faction with many deck types.
Magmar: The big, fast, hard to kill dragons: Lots of control spells, the most access to rush and frenzy. They have the egg and growth mechanics which can make some some stuff hard to kill. They also have ramp. Possibly the most versatile faction.
Vanar: The Ice People? Now this faction is a little strange, it is very versatile with a lot of control and positioning stuff. Their signature mechanics revolve around which side of the board things are on. Sadly most of the time they get turned into either running face aggro with fae, or ignoring their faction and going for neutral stuff with Kara. But they can make all kinds of neat decks. Wall Vanar is the archetype that actually gets played and it’s cool, and to a lesser extent their faction unit vespers which have synergy with each other.
I am happy to help you out with anything but lions or ninjas. I have less experience with them and don’t really like them, so I will likely put in someone else’s list and give credit to them, or just point you in their direction. I have taken the other four factions to S rank multiple times so I know them quite well.
So first I will give a budget list, then a link to my real version of the deck. Most of the details and piloting advice will be in the upgraded threads link. A few staple neutrals you will want are ephemeral shroud, light bender, and saberspine tiger.
In order to get the sisters you need to craft 3x all of the core rare(blue) cards for your faction of choice. You can toggle off shimzar or search for core to make sure you don’t accidently craft shim rares instead, as you only need the core stuff. Once you have your sister you are free to disenchant the bad rares you don’t want.
Budget: 2100 spirit.
Windstorm Obelysk is fine in the budget so that you have enough structures to make Whisper and Wind Slicer viable. But you should fairly quickly look to replace it and slicer with Allomancer and something else from the upgraded list as windstorm can be
a trap since its health buffs prevents wind dervishes from suicideing, often making everything weaker by blocking paths and wasting turns.
Death Watch Abyssian
Budget: Deck costs 1620 (2,520 including the blues you have to craft to get sister, but you can dust them after if you like.)
Budget Death watch. Yes it has plenty of room to grow with legends, and yes swarm has fallen behind lately, but people seem to forget there is plenty of good budget swarm death watch stuff, and the archetype works just fine especially at lower ranks. I would start by upgrading into Spectral Revenant as it is supremely powerful and will be run in just about any abyssian deck you make. Crescendo is a higher priority then blade.
Budget: 1860 (Not including sister costs.)
This is a great Magmar starter deck for new players.
Now this one you may be better off running starhorn over vath since it has a low curve and no draw. But I have a tough time recommending starhorn to a new player. Vath is much more fun and way less weird. With vath you will run out of steam but you often should be able to win the game before that becomes to big of an issue.
First expensive thing you want to get is Makantor Warbeast. Then finish getting your Sisters, they are sort of free by crafting all rares for magmar and neutral, the neutral sister solves your card advantage issue and let’s you run Vath without running out of steam. You should already have egg morph from getting Earth sister and now it’s time to put it in. From there pick up a single bounded lifeforce.
Kujata is low priority, while it has great synergy with earth sister and Sunsteel an Ephermial Shroud is nearly as good, and better in situations where you need it. Between thumping and egg the shroud is not needed but it can hold Jutas Place for a long time.
Budget:1620 (1920 including Kinetic Equilibrium that you have to craft to get sister)
Now I don’t recommend this one for new players as it is a much harder play-style to master, but if control is your thing this is probably your best bet with this games aggressive meta.
(conveniently this deck runs almost every blue rarity card so getting your sister is easy.)
Just like midrange, Mankator is your first priority, followed by a single bounded life force, and then you can choose what to make from their based on which upgraded deck your going with. The neutral sister is a great placeholder while you work on acquiring other items.
Upgraded: Seriously, Face Fae is just actually cheap. There are ways to upgrade but it starts to become a little bit different, turning into either a wall deck, an overdrive deck, battle pets or vespyrs. Lots of things you can do but there is not really just a strait upgrade that I have on hand. Not something I play very much.
Budget Arcane: 2280
Kara used to be a great budget general, she has turned into quite the WALLet warrior (Her decks are very expensive due to running a bunch of legendary wall cards.)
While this list is certainly not top tier it is a lot of fun and it has a few powerful tools to help you get through lower ranks.
Upgraded: WALLet Warrior:
Kron is your first priority upgrade as it is a real powerhouse with Kara, followed by aether master. Gravity well is low priority because while it is very powerful with Kara, Spines or bone chill are great fillers
Maelrawns Midrange Lyonar: 1160 dust
My Midrange Lyonar
For upgrading holy immolation is probably your first priority, followed by Dioltas, the rest at your leisure.