Brew For Your Buck - 2023 Review


(Pop Quiz | Art by Matt Stewart)

Brew For Your Buck - 2023 Stats

Hello fellow brewer and welcome back to Brew For Your Buck, where we swap out the top 10 most expensive cards in a deck with 10 budget cards that add a unique twist. This article will be my last for 2023, and I really wanted to share all of the data I've collected while writing the series, talk about big picture stuff, and get your feedback on the BFYB process so we can continue to improve into next year!

To recap the BFYB process: Our goal is to remove the top 10 most expensive nonland cards from a deck, add a package of cards that way less expensive than what we removed that also brings a twist to the deck that makes it a bit more unique. We also take a look at the mana base separately; removing lands that would have made our top ten list and replacing them with basics. This ensures we keep the original ratio of lands to nonlands. Through this process, we "value engineer" our decklist so that we keep 90 of the 100 cards from the original list, so we don't spend more money in the long run upgrading the deck anyways.

We've built 20 decks this year by using this process, so let's take a look at the numbers. I'm going to preface all of the data with the disclaimer that I am not a mathematician, statistician, or any other 'tician. I have a very simple Excel sheet that I use to keep track of this stuff, so for you data wizards out there, cut me some slack.


Savings Stats

Being a budget series, the first set of statistics we should examine are those related to savings:

Average $ saved $222.86
Average % of original price saved 66%
Total Savings $4,477.22


I think the most important number here is the second one. By removing the most expensive cards in the list, we tend to save two-thirds of the cost of that deck while keeping 90 of the original cards in it. If you had forced yourself onto a certain budget, then spent more money to get the cards anyway you will end up spending more in the long run. The total savings will be a fun number to keep in mind for next year so we can see the comparisons!


Largest Savings by $ Olivia and Edgar ($410.06)
Largest Savings by % Extus/Awaken the Blood Avatar (82%)
Smallest savings by $ Wort X Spells ($90.93)
Smallest savings by % Ratadrabik Part I (50%)


We see here the extremes of how much can be saved by doing this, which largely depends on the expensive cards that we are removing. It's interesting to note that the very first article of the series had the smallest savings percentage and one of the most recent had the largest. Something must be going right! This could be skewed however, as decks with three or more colors tend to lead to higher savings because we remove a larger portion of the mana base:


1-2 color Avg Savings by $ (13 decks)  $ 177.63
3+ color Avg Savings by $ (7 decks)  $ 276.52
1-2 color Avg Savings by % (13 decks) 61%
3+ color Avg Savings % (7 decks) 74%


While it makes sense that the decks with three or more colors see more savings because of the mana base, you are removing more cards. I don't have the data on hand, but for next year it would be interesting to look at the savings for only the ten nonland cards and see if these numbers are closer. I also wonder what happens as the sample sizes change over time. Good stuff to keep track of for next year!

These are all of the savings stats that I thought a) would be interesting and b) that I have the data for. I'm sure there are a hundred more ways to slice and dice the numbers, so let me know in the comments below about something you'd like to see for next year.


Magic Stats

The next grouping of stats are more related to the game itself. First, let's see how the colors are distributed across the articles:

I do go out of my way to try and keep things relatively balanced, but it's clear that my personal preference for the Mardu colors comes through in the data. Seems like 2024 might start off with a blue deck! For those that don't know, there is a "achievement unlocked" moment for EDHREC writers when we write articles featuring a deck from all 32 color combinations. Here's where I stand on my quest for 32, so expect some blanks to get filled in next year!

White Azorius (WU) X Orzhov (WB) X Bant (GWU) X Abzan (WBG) X Glint-Eye (non W) Five Color X
Blue Dimir (UB) Izzet (UR) X Esper (WUB) Jeskai (URW) Dune-Brood (non U) Colorless
Black Rakdos (BR) X Golgari (BG) X Grixis (UBR) Sultai (BUG) X Ink-Treader (non B)
Red X Gruul (RG) X Boros (RW) X Jund (BRG) Mardu (BRW) X Witch-Maw (non R)
Green Selesnya (GW) Simic (GU) X Naya (RGW) Temur (RUG) X Yore-Tiller (non G)

Now let's take a look at individual cards. First, here's the list of our most removed cards. These are in a lot of the decks we reviewed and tend to have the highest price tag. As is BFYB tradition, we'll look at the top ten:

Card Price Times Removed
Demonic Tutor $27.97 7
Smothering Tithe $16.92 6
Anointed Procession $44.72 5
Assassin's Trophy $6.71 5
Cyclonic Rift $27.40 5
Life from the Loam $6.50 3
Teferi's Protection $28.47 3
Mondrak, Glory Dominus $27.85 3
Jeska's Will $21.41 3
Esper Sentinel $25.50 3


Something I find intriguing about these cards is that they aren't necessarily the most expensive cards we end up removing. Throughout the series we've only removed Dockside Extortionist twice, but it's way more expensive than any of the cards on this list. It's in a color that we reviewed a lot (red) and is widely considered a "staple" by the community, so why isn't it in the list of most removed cards? I have two theories. One, tables are self-policing and not playing this absurdly powerful card. Two, and more fascinating, perhaps there is an inflection point around $30-$40 where most players decide a card that's over a certain price threshold is just too expensive to add to their decks. Some other cards that might fall into this category are Deflecting Swat, Fierce Guardianship, and Rhystic Study.

You'll notice that our most removed card is a tutor for one generic and one black mana. Well, our most added card has the same mana cost and function. If you follow the series regularly, you already know what's coming:

We've put one of my favorite cards into three different decks, and I don't see that stopping anytime soon. It's an instant speed Demonic Tutor! Other than Mausoleum Secrets, we haven't had many other repeat additions. Impulsive Pilferer and Unmarked Grave have been added twice but otherwise everything else was specific to a single article. I'm glad to have been able to showcase so many sweet budget options, even some I've added to my personal decks!


Next Year

I hope you liked this dive into the stats for Brew For Your Buck. If you don't mind taking the time, I have a couple of polls below for some generic feedback about the series to see what you like and don't like. Of course, you can also leave a comment with anything you'd like to see change for 2024.

When I come up with ideas for budget packages, they tend to fall into four main categories:

Writing this series has been an amazing privilege so far, and I know it will continue to be going into next year. I hope you have a great holiday season, and I'll see you next YEAR when we brew for your buck!

Follow me on Twitter @BrewForYourBuck

Please note: card prices listed in this article are accurate at the time of writing, but prices can vary over time and between locations.

Read more:

Brew For Your Buck - A Dedication To A Friend, Aristocrats And Spellslinger

From the Brim to the Trim - Burying Opponents and Reviving Budgets Alike

Brian played Magic intermittently between 2003 and 2017 when he fully embraced his love for Commander. Finding ways to maximize the value of each piece of cardboard in the deck is one of his favorite things to explore, especially if it involves putting lands in the graveyard! Outside of Magic, Brian works as a consultant in the marine industry, turning his passion for boats and ships into a career.

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