Ashes of Outland is coming to a close and it was a wild ride. With five balance patches during the expansion, budget decks needed to be rebuilt and retested several times.
As a result, this became the only expansion so far where I have climbed to Legend with budget decks every month – that’s right, I played only budget decks to Legend in April, May, June, and July on NA server, which is my secondary server as I mainly play on EU. I did all of the climbing on stream, which you can find at https://www.twitch.tv/old_guardian and made guide videos for all the decks on my Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/OldGuardian/
Here is the end of my final climb after the fifth balance patch:
Demon Hunter has been a blessing and a curse for budget players: after all the balance patches, it is now by far the strongest budget deck, so there is a really cheap and powerful option to climb with, but it also means that playing other classes can feel weak in comparison.
That said, there are viable budget decks for multiple classes right now, and there are probably still a couple of others that I have not tested. In particular, Murloc Paladin with just the four Epic cards (two copies of Underlight Angling Rod and Murloc Warleader) should also be viable, although I do not think it can get the job done without those Epics.
As for the decks that I have tested, here are the seven best budget decks to climb to Legend with!
#7 Budget Spell Druid
Deck code: AAECAZICBP0CmgjkCNOcAw3+AfcD5gXEBrmUA+KfA9yiA9ulA+W6A+i6A+y6A+66A++6AwA=
Before the nerf to Fungal Fortunes that was part of the final balance patch, Spell Druid was a contender for the strongest budget deck. It was close to the level of Demon Hunter and vastly easier to play.
However, the Fungal Fortunes nerf has hit Druid quite hard, and even the full-cost Druid lists are struggling to break above 50% win rate.
I still had good success with the budget list, but it was far harder to play now, often requiring setting up Glowfly Swarm + Soul of the Forest turns in order to close out games.
I attempted to build the deck in other ways as well, including a Dragon variant, but those attempts failed and for a budget option, a pure Spell Druid is still as good as Druid gets.
There are two Epic cards in Budget Spell Druid because the archetype cannot be played without those Glowfly Swarms.
#6: Budget Face Hunter
Deck code: AAECAR8AD6gCyQSIBZIF7QaXCNsJ/gzzpwP5rgP7rwP8rwOiuQP5ugP/ugMA
Hunter is currently perhaps the best class in the game, but its success does not extend to budget decks. In fact, budget Hunter decks are doing worse now than they were before the final balance patch.
Midrange Hunter and Dragon Hunter used to be viable options on a budget earlier in Ashes of Outland, but in the current meta, only Face Hunter can succeed without expensive cards.
Face Hunter does its thing, it goes face. It is the fastest Hunter deck, but also the most one-dimensional, so when you run out of steam, the game is just over. The deck is all about optimizing your damage and making key strategic trades when needed. When in doubt, go face.
In aggro mirrors, the game often becomes an interesting board battle even with Face Hunter, and some strategically placed Explosive Traps can win such games for you.
#5 Budget Galakrond Rogue
Deck code: AAECAaIHAs0Dy8ADDrQBlwaIB90Ij5cD9acDua4D/q4Dqq8Dzq8DgrEDubgDu7gD1r4DAA==
Galakrond rogue was not hurt too bad by the Galakrond nerf in the end. Many other decks lost a step or two, so a slower Galakrond is acceptable and the deck can still win games.
I went back to the SI:7 Agent roots of the class to better contest the likes of Murloc Paladin, and the deck keeps performing at a high level.
I also experimented with the Secret package, but without Shadowjeweler Hanar, it is not worth it. Stealth package is also out of reach without Greyheart Sage. But hey, pure vanilla Galakrond Rogue is still good.
#4 Budget Burn Shaman
Deck code: AAECAaoIAA/5A5YG4AbGmQP9pwOsrQO1rQO2rQO7rQOBsQPbuAOYuQPXvgPevgPDzAMA
The only completely new entrant to the race after the fifth balance patch is Burn Shaman. With other decks weakened and Transfer Student added to the game (for free even though it looks like an Epic card!), it was finally possible to build a strong Budget Shaman deck.
Burn Shaman starts with aggressive minions and depending on the number of buffs you can find, it may even end up controlling the board all the way through the game.
Even if it loses the board, there are multiple direct damage spells and some Squallhunters to find that last bit of damage needed to close things out.
#3 Budget Galakrond Priest
Deck code: AAECAa0GBNwBigfyrAPIwAMNHskG0wqZqQOfqQParAP+rgPNrwOTugObugOvugP0uwPcvgMA
Budget Galakrond Priest is the only control deck that can be played on a budget. Even so, the deck requires four Epic cards to function: two copies of Sethekk Veilweaver and two copies of Plague of Death. If you have some good Legendary cards, such as Soul Mirror, you do not need the Plagues, at least in two copies.
The increasing number of Hunters can make Priest’s life difficult and I have chosen to add Shadow Madness back to the deck to grab some Zixors for better use. Acidic Swamp Ooze can also relieve some of the pressure on your life total.
As a Priest, you remove the opponent’s threats, maybe steal some of them for yourself, and ultimately win with the value from Galakrond if the opponent does not concede.
#2 Budget Dragon Zoo Warlock (makee2)
Deck code: AAECAf0GAA8w4QTCCP2kA/2nA+WsA+ysA/+wA4exA7W5A7a5A8e5A9a+A9e+A96+AwA=
I came upon this deck as a deck request from makee2, and after extensive testing, I’ve concluded that it is the best way to build a Zoo deck on a budget. You can do Galakrond Zoo or non-Dragon Scrap Imp Zoo, and those are OK, but this is simply superior to them at a similar cost level.
The deck combines Imprisoned Scrap Imp and Hand of Gul’dan with the most powerful Warlock dragon synergy cards. Without a Magic Carpet, Scalerider, Nether Breath, and Crazed Netherwing provide means to wrestle control of the board back should it be lost and also serve as additional reach from hand.
#1 Budget Tempo Demon Hunter
Deck code: AAECAea5AwKBsQPMugMOlgb9pwP5rgOLugPXuwPgvAPWvgPXvgPevgPHxgPZxgP3yAP5yAP+yAMA
Tempo Demon Hunter is just really, really good. I have opted to add Cobalt Spellkin to the budget list as well for some additional reach, but I’ve kept Eye Beams in the deck to better contest other aggressive decks. Should you find yourself in a more control meta, you can add a second Cobalt Spellkin over an Eye Beam.
This is the deck that I finalized my Legend climb in July with and it is extremely strong. I am 17-6 with the deck after the fifth balance patch, and throughout Ashes of Outland, my Budget Demon Hunter score is 109-37 (75% winrate). This is with x10 multiplier and Diamond 5 – Diamond 1 games only, so no newbie farming there.
The berserker package of Bonechewer Brawler, Amani Berserker, Guardian Augmerchant and Beaming Sidekick provides major threats right from the start, Cobalt Spellkin gives some more reach, and ultimately there is always Skull of Gul’dan and Altruis the Outcast to come back to a difficult game.
Playing all the way to Legend on a budget has been possible throughout Ashes of Outland. Furthermore, there are multiple decks you can play to get there right now.
If you’re coming back to Hearthstone for Scholomance Academy or are a free-to-play player, these are some competitive options you can play without investing too much dust right before a new expansion.