Today I will be wrapping up my Searching Standard Super Series by looking at a color combination that I have spent most of my magic career playing in; Abzan, formerly known as Junk. I was going to do up four articles, but the other deck I was brewing just didn’t stand up the way I was hoping it would, and I need to spend a lot more time that I don’t have on it. I chose to focus on Abzan not just because it is my favorite color combination, but because I believe it has the most power potential as of Khans of Tarkir. It has big efficient creatures and amazing control options; it is a very balanced combination that is poised to do well.
4 Siege Rhino
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Sylvan Caryatid
4 Rakshasa Deathdealer
2 Polukranos, World Eater
2 Anafenza, the Foremost
4 Abzan Charm
4 Hero’s Downfall
3 Banishing Light
|Lands (25) (25)|
4 Llanowar Wastes
4 Temple of Malady
4 Windswept Heath
2 Temple of Plenty
2 Sandsteppe Citadel
2 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
3 Bile Blight
2 Mistcutter Hydra
2 End Hostilities
It only takes a few moments of staring at this deck to realize exactly the kind of power that it contains. It utilizes perhaps the most powerful card in Standard with Courser of Kruphix, and then adds to with new very powerful creatures like Siege Rhino and Rakshasa Deathdealer. Move away from creatures and it utilizes the very powerful Abzan Charm and some of the best control magic available in the game giving the deck mainboard answers to almost any threats that you could imagine. This deck takes a smart player and a lot of practice to get used to, but the end result should be one of the strongest decks in the format.
Due to a slower manabase and the hope of a turn one Thoughtseize, this deck doesn’t utilize any one drop creatures. Instead it starts on turn two, ideally hoping to land a Sylvan Caryatid, which acts as an efficient defender and a great mana fix. Then we have what might be my new favorite card in standard Rakshasa Deathdealer, I seriously love everything on this card from the power, to the art, to the flavour text! But right now we are only focusing on the power a 2/2 for two mana is quite common, but the ability to pump him or regenerate him makes him a threat at all times in the game, and the manabase is configured in such a way to be able to utilize him.
Our three drops here should be obvious, Courser of Kruphix has had so much written about him I don’t even think there is a point in mentioning just how good he is. The new addition is Anafenza, the Foremost. Three mana for a 4/4 creature that can give +1/+1 counters to your other attacking creatures and really puts an end to Graveyard strategy decks. Efficient in every way! This is perfect because the top of the curve is shockingly low for a midrange deck at four, but these two creatures are the very well-known and powerful; Polukranos, Worldeater and Siege Rhino. The only comment you might have about the Worldeater is why I am running such a low number, and the simple fact is space and the overall ability to use his Monsterous limited him.
Siege Rhino is perhaps the reason that you run this deck though. If I told you that you could get a 4/5 Trampler for four mana you should be thinking that is a pretty good card. If I told you that you could get that same creature but also have it Lightning Helix your opponent, well at that point you should do a happy dance. That is what Siege Rhino is going to do for you, he is going to come in, steal your opponent’s life and boost yours while providing one of the biggest playable creatures in the format. Yes please I wish I could have a few more.
Notable Exclusions: Fleecemane Lion and Bloodsoaked Champion. These are personally the only two creatures that I feel are overlooked in this deck and if it was an Abzan aggro deck then they likely would have seen inclusion. However in this build the Champion doesn’t fit and the Deathdealer is the more efficient of the cats.
Let me start with everything else before I delve into the Abzan Charm. Thoughtseize is a pretty obvious inclusion for the deck, the card is just boss at picking out threats that you don’t want to deal with on the board, or stopping your opponent from having answers to yours. Hand control is rarely not a good option and Thoughtseize has proven to be one of the most powerful cards in the format. With that being said Hero’s Downfall and Banishing Light have proven to be very powerful removal spells and deal with every type of permanent an opponent can play that doesn’t have hexproof. This allows you to be the aggressor in the format.
Now onto Abzan Charm and these always take a bit to talk about due to their three abilities. Exile a creature with power 3 or greater, draw two cards lose two life, or distribute two +1/+1 counters. This is a card that is never dead in your deck and immediately warrants a four of like most of the charms. You can deal with an annoying creature an opponent controls, pump your own creatures for some instant speed combat tricks, or at worst, dig for cards that you need without actually losing cards. Courser of Kruphix and Siege Rhino are helping offset the potential loss of life you are going to be taking from this and Thoughtseize, making it even more playable.
Notable Exclusions: This is always the hardest part because again, everyone has a different play style. But after a lot of play testing and a lot of time I am quite confident in saying that I have no truly note-worthy exclusions that didn’t at least make the sideboard.
Midrange decks probably have the most difficult sideboard to create because they tend to have a strong overall matchup, and dedicate much of their sideboard to what the meta dictates is their weakest matchup. I don’t profess to know the weak matchups yet, and so I did my best to cover as many bases as possible and this time I will go through them one by one … ish.
Sorin, Solemn Visitor & Elspeth Suns Champion: Both of our planeswalkers are in the sideboard and are waiting for the control match up. Their main purpose is to create tokens and keep you in the game, the double white on Elspeth makes it hard for her to see more than a one of with our mainboard manabase.
Despise: As I said before, hand control is rarely a bad thing and with an option of so many different “Walker” decks and big creature Ramp decks this card can shine and could even be a life conserving replacement for Thoughtseize if you don’t need to hit noncreature spells.
Bileblight & End Hostilities: Both cards serve the same purposes, slowing down the aggressive match up where your single target removal spells can’t. Soliders, Knights, Goblins will make Bile Blight useful against the tokens, and you can be willing to trade one or two early creatures to wipe a board of hate against purely aggro matchups, or even big board ramp.
Erase: I like the cheaper cost this has over Decide, purely the reason here.
Mistcutter Hydra: In every deck I’ve built I have completely ignored blue, this deck has access to one of the best blue stomping creatures since Great Sable Stag (oh I miss you)! With so much mainboard power, dedicating two sideboard slots to this Hydra won’t hurt you in the long run.
At the end of the day I truly expect that aggro will take the prize home out of the gate while midrange and control take their time to develop and figure out the perfect board. With that being said I believe this is the best midrange option, and will be what is competing in the thick of aggro, RUG and BUG Ramp decks.
Hope you enjoyed the Super Series, I will be on a bit of a vacation as I go into some intense testing once Khan’s is out and an intense work period. But I be back in a few weeks, until then I’d love to hear your standard ideas, email your deck list to email@example.com and I will test it out with the group and give you my feedback.