Khans of Tarkir is probably the most exciting set to be spoiled in a long, long time. I can’t remember being so excited for a set since… Innistrad, actually. In the time I’ve been away, I’ve brewed up several lists. The first is an aggressive Abzan deck that I don’t think anyone has really picked up on yet, but I’m of the opinion that it has a ton of potential.

Abzan Aggro

Spells (37)
Soldier of the Pantheon
High Sentinels of Arashin
Preeminent Captain
Fleecemane Lion
Abzan Charm
Anafenza, the Foremost
Raise the Alarm
Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Bloodsoaked Champion
Spear of Heliod
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Utter End

Land (23)
Caves of Koilos
Windswept Heath
Bloodstained Mire
Wooded Foothills
Llanowar Wastes
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Sideboard (15)
Siege Rhino
Utter End
Sorin, Solemn Visitor
Reclamation Sage
Devouring Light
Bow of Nylea

This deck is aggressive, plain and simple. Its goal is to have an efficient curve and force damage through to your opponent as quickly as possible. One of the core ways of doing this is with Preeminent Captain. Preeminent Captain, in my eyes, is one of the sleeper cards from Magic 2015, especially with all the good Soldiers that have been printed in Khans of Tarkir. We’re looking at you, High Sentinels of Arashin.

High Sentinels of Arashin is for the most part the primary win condition for this deck. It flies, it gets bigger when you cast spells like Abzan Charm and when you monstrous Fleecemane Lion or attack with Anafenza, and the most important part? You can play it for free with Preeminent Captain. Ideally, you will play Preeminent Captain on turn three, and then when attacking on turn four put him into play for free, and follow up with an Abzan Charm to buff him like crazy. Or to remove whatever might block him. If you’re noticing that Abzan Charm is pretty good in this sort of deck, you’re correct.

Abzan Charm is a utility knife that does so many things for this deck. The majority of your creatures are small, and get eaten by creatures such as Polukranos. Abzan Charm lets you deal with those threats. Played everything in your hand? Abzan Charm can fix that too. Putting Sign In Blood on an instant-speed card is just amazing, especially when you’re behind as an aggressive deck. The third mode of Abzan Charm, while arguably the weakest, is one of the most versatile. It can save your creatures from dying, and it can put two or more extra damage on the board, especially when combined with High Sentinels of Arashin.
Behind it is limited to

Other honorable mentions for this deck go to Anafenza, the Foremost, Sorin, Solemn Visitor, and Spear of Heliod. Anafenza is simply a powerhouse, with the added bonus of being able to enter for free off of Preeminent Captain. Not to mention her synergy with High Sentinels of Arashin. Sorin, Solemn Visitor is another powerhouse card at a healthy two-of in the main deck, with a third in the sideboard. His plus one ability is insane in a deck like this, allowing us to put more damage on the board and gain a bunch of life back from our various lands. Spear of Heliod fills a similar role, pushing more damage through and just making our already efficient threats even more efficient.

The next build I’d like to look at should look familiar, but also not. Starring Ornithopter and Ensoul Artifact, the blue and red menace returns in a new incarnation.

UR Artifacts

Spells (36)
Ensoul Artifact
Chief Engineer
Illusory Angel
Clever Impersonator
Shrapnel Blast
Ugin's Nexus
Generator Servant
Soul of New Phyrexia

Land (24)
Shivan Reef
Flooded Strand
Bloodstained Mire
Darksteel Citadel
Sideboard (15)
Anger of the Gods
Lightning Strike

There are a ton of weird things going on in this deck now. Let’s start with Chief Engineer. Chief Engineer lets us get to cards such as Ugin’s Nexus and Soul of New Phyrexia super-fast, especially when we have Ornithopter and Generator Servant to help us out. Speaking of Ugin’s Nexus – stop looking at me in that tone of voice – the card is sweet in this deck. There are so many ways to make Ugin’s Nexus go to our graveyard, let’s just look at the list: Shrapnel Blast, Clever Impersonator, and other Ugin’s Nexuses. Nexus’s? Nexi? Something like that. We can easily get Ugin’s Nexus out on turn three and then immediately turn around and get an extra turn off of it.

The key here is to already have a major threat, such as an Ornithopter or Darksteel Citadel with Ensoul Artifact on it. Shrapnel Blast just lets us turn our Ugin’s Nexus into pure value, dealing 5 damage to our opponent’s face and getting an extra turn, in which we can play another Ugin’s Nexus. Or bash with Ornithopter. Or cast a Soul of New Phyrexia while our opponent is tapped out. The card is excellent.


Clever Impersonator is an all-star in this deck and really is what makes most of these shenanigans possible. It can copy Ensoul Artifact, it can copy our opponent’s biggest threat, and it can copy Ugin’s Nexus for a free turn. In the absolute worst case scenario it can copy an Illusory Angel without the restriction the original had. Making a 4/4 flyer for four mana isn’t the worst deal in the world, after all.

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the new brew and re-vamp both, and I look forward to playing with the new Khans of Tarkir cards in the coming months. Don’t like my card choices, or have ideas on how to improve these lists? Let me know! I welcome feedback.

Thanks for reading!

Nathan M.