Abzan Midrange by Zack Kanner

(You can find his stream here: twitch.tv/zkannermtg)

Creatures (12)
3 Grim Flayer
2 Scavenging Ooze
4 Tarmogoyf
2 Siege Rhino
1 Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Non-Creature Spells (24)
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Thoughtseize
1 Collective Brutality
4 Lingering Souls
1 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Fatal Push
3 Path to Exile
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Mishra’s Bauble

Lands (24)
1 Forest
1 Plains
1 Gavony Township
1 Godless Shrine
3 Marsh Flats
1 Overgrown Tomb
3 Blooming Marsh
3 Shambling Vent
2 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
1 Twilight Mire
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Windswept Heath

Sideboard (15)
1 Collective Brutality
2 Damnation
3 Fulminator Mage
1 Lost Legacy
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Painful Truths
1 Reclamation Sage
2 Stony Silence
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Thrun, the Last Troll

Summary

Midrange Tarmogoyf decks have always been popular in Modern due to their ability to morph strategies in certain matchups and seemingly always have a good chance of winning, no matter the opponent. These strategies have traditionally been Jund-colored, but in the last few months Abzan has emerged as the color combination of choice for ‘Goyf and friends.

The old joke in Standard is that “Grim Flayer never hits,” meaning that the opponent always kills it in any number of ways before it can get online. This isn’t quite as true in this deck, as its proactive turn 1 discard spells and Mishra’s Bauble enable some turn 2 copies of Grim Flayer to already be out of Lightning Bolt range by the time they come down. Once Grim Flayer hits once or twice, the card advantage it gains is seldom recovered by the opponent. Siege Rhino is another high-impact creature in this deck, as the life swing and aggressively-sized body allows the deck to continue to play proactively, which is where it shines.

The 2/1 split of Liliana of the Veil and Liliana, the Last Hope is becoming more and more common. Unfortunately, due to them both being the same planeswalker, the deck can’t afford to play any more, but both play well with the rest of the deck. Liliana of the Veil‘s symmetrical discard ability is frequently straight card advantage with 4 copies of Lingering Souls, and Liliana, the Last Hope‘s -2 ability helps turn on Grim Flayer and Tasigur, the Golden Fang.

The sideboard of the deck specifically targets Tron and Affinity, two decks that this strategy can struggle with. Fulminator Mage is extremely high-impact with Liliana, the Last Hope, while Stony Silence shuts off Affinity’s synergies. The 2 copies of Damnation are also high-impact against Affinity, but they have applications outside of that specific matchup, which makes it a valuable inclusion. The rest of the sideboard, in large part, is comprised of several high-impact 1-ofs that can turn games on their head. I do think that more graveyard hate is needed, so I’ll be adding another Surgical Extraction.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:

Mainboard

-1 Maelstrom Pulse

+1 Abrupt Decay

Sideboard

-1 Reclamation Sage

+1 Surgical Extraction

This is day 113 of Spellsnare.com’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 112 here, where we featured a Legacy deck which takes an interesting spin on a classic archetype.

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