After coming off of the Grand Prix, my mind has been stuck in KTK Sealed Deck. Maybe it’s because I love the format, or maybe it’s just because I spent a few weeks cramming videos, practice pools, and reading the KTK spoiler book to get ready for Nashville. Either way, it’s hard to slip out of it.

The more I think about the format, the more I come up with two clear winners in terms of what I enjoy playing: grindy, long-game Abzan outlast, and grindy, long-game “four-color Sultai,” as I mentioned in my last article. The second deck is, in many ways, just an Abzan deck, but it splashes blue for a lot of the awesome cards in Sultai that reward the grindy games, such as Abomination of Gudul and the like.

In lieu of these decks being all I can think about right now (apart from how sweet my Freyalise, Llanowar’s Fury Commander deck is going to be), I figured I’d wing it at building a Standard version of my favorite Limited decks. I could start by building an Abzan midrange deck! That’s never been done before!

Oh, wait. Crud.

So, on to Four-Color Sultai, I suppose.

Immediately looking at the card pool, the Abzan cards are obviously insane. Everything from Siege Rhino to Wingmate Roc to Elspeth, Sun’s Champion seem righteous. Suprisingly enough, they’re already a deck. The tricky part is making the blue splash worth it. After a little exploring, there were some pretty sweet cards that fit the bill in Standard. My favorites include the Khan of the Sultai herself, Sidisi, Brood TyrantKiora, the Crashing Wave, and Prophet of Kruphix, the bane of my Commander life.

While there were sweet support cards, like the ever-powerful Negate, I figured I needed two real cards to justify the splash in the already-powerful Abzan deck that we all know and try not to love. As much as I tried with Sidisi, I didn’t want to add any other mill to the deck, and her ability alone, while powerful, really wants you to have ways to get more than one zombie a turn. Also, no amount of effort got Abomination of Gudul into the list, regardless of how sweet I think the card is. It can keep winning Limited games, though, until I figure out where it fits.

The rough draft of Four-Color Abzan came out as such:

Four-Color Abzan

Creatures (19)
Elvish Mystic
Sylvan Caryatid
Courser of Kruphix
Siege Rhino
Prophet of Kruphix
Wingmate Roc

Planeswalkers (6)
Kiora, the Crashing Wave
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Ajani, Mentor of Heroes

Spells (10)
Hero’s Downfall
Abzan Charm
Utter End
Murderous Cut

Land (25)
Sandsteppe Citadel
Opulent Palace
Temple of Malady
Temple of Silence
Temple of Deceit
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Llanowar Wastes
Yavimaya Coast
Windswept Heath

On a whole, this is a generic Abzan list. The splash is only for Kiora, the Crashing Wave and Prophet of Kruphix in the main, but they add a fair share of power. Kiora favors the longer game, which Abzan tends to force regardless, and being able to shut down one threat each turn is good enough to justify getting into Kraken range. Prophet of Kruphix is kind of bonkers, especially when the games are often decided by how many times you can cast Siege Rhino. Now you get to cast them twice as often! Also, being able to tap out for threats and still having your mana untap along with your opponent’s helps cards like Utter End. The only other “weird” card is Elvish Mystic, which I’ve included to offset the whopping 13 tap lands that I’m playing. Making sure that a four-drop comes down on turn three is worth playing the elves, seeing as how two tap lands and a Caryatid don’t give you any non-removal spell on turn three apart from Courser of Kruphix.

The other attractive part to me comes with the sideboard. While it’s not polished, I imagine it would look something like this:


Sidisi, Brood Tyrant
Whip of Erebos
Hornet Queen
Satyr Wayfinder

While I love playing mirror matches, cards like Duneblast get boring after a while. We all know that Hornet Queen is hard for Abzan to deal with, and I really wanted to play with Sidisi. It’s entirely possible that there needs to be some tweaking to the main to make some of the reanimator cards better, but that’ll come with more testing. Even if the sideboard ends up with Thoughtseize, Duneblast, and Drown in Sorrow, in order to have a more balanced plan against the whole field, Kiora still seems awesome, and I’ve played too many Commander games to argue with Prophet.

Hopefully this different spin on Abzan will liven up the archetype enough that people try playing some new lists. I’m a huge fan of what Khans of Tarkir has done to Standard, but I feel like there are plenty of avenues to take in this format that haven’t been tried yet. There are just too many good cards.

Duncan Martin is an artist/musician/writer/whatever from Jeffersonville, Indiana, who spends his days sorting cards, helping people brew decks, and petitioning to have Second Sunrise unbanned in Modern. He likes to draw cards, dredge cards, scry cards, and talk about old formats, Pro Tours, and awesome decks that have long since passed.

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