Pantheon Deck Tech – Standard Abzan Midrange

For Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir I am playing Abzan Midrange. The members of my team who are playing the same deck are Owen Turtenwald, William Jensen, and Patrick Chapin.

I enjoy the way that Abzan and similar midrange base-green/black decks play. Linear decks like mono-red or storm combo decks have the same game plan each game no matter the matchup. Abzan plays the most efficient or versatile spells in Standard. That versatility allows it to take different roles depending on the opponent’s deck and specific draw. A card like Utter End epitomizes this aspect of Abzan, you are often paying more mana than the permanent you remove. The reason that Utter End deserves its inclusion is to have an option to kill cards such as Jeskai Ascendancy or Mastery of the Unseen in game one when it is impractical to play Erase.

Popular Matchups

Abzan Aggro

The prevalence of Abzan Aggro is one of the motivating factors that lead me to play Abzan Midrange. The advantage midrange has against aggro is elementary: the majority of the cards in each deck overlap except that one deck plays a greater number of small creatures and one deck plays Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. A resolved Elspeth, Sun’s Champion is regularly enough to win the game even against an immediate Hero’s Downfall.

One Piece of Advice: The most common way to lose is to a raided Wingmate Roc. Do everything in your power to not let that happen.

Jeskai Tokens

Game one of this matchup is challenging. Token generators such as Hordeling Outburst line up well against removal spells, such as Hero’s Downfall. One appealing aspect of Abzan is that there are draws, often including multiple Siege Rhino, that can defeat any unfavorable matchup. After sideboarding Drown in Sorrow, Duress, and Erase will sway the advantage from Jeskai to Abzan.

One Piece of Advice: Take Jeskai Ascendancy with Thoughtseize nearly every time game one.

GB(u or w) Whip of Erebos

Whip of Erebos decks are built around attrition and inevitability, often going over the top of Abzan in game one. Prior to the printing of Ugin, the Spirit Dragon it was no easy feat to take down Whip decks. Ugin makes everything simpler. In sideboarded games I like to play aggressively while having Ugin in my deck as a bailout plan if I am not able to end the game quickly.

One Piece of Advice: In sideboarded games Whip players tend to sideboard in a way that makes them less dependent on their graveyard and Whip of Erebos.

GW Devotion

Gw Devotion is one deck that I believe we would all be better off if it ceased to exist. Game one will be nearly impossible to win unless the opponent has a terrible draw. In sideboarded games End Hostilities and Ugin make the games much easier to navigate and ultimately win.

One Piece of Advice: The games tend to go so long that Thoughtseize is a dead topdeck, consider removing two to four copies during sideboarding.

Abzan Midrange Mirror

This matchup was puzzling at first. Ultimately it became clear what was critical to winning: the most essential card is Read the Bones. In a game of attrition that includes discard spells from both sides, efficient card advantage and selection can help recover from being behind or cement an advantage. The games almost all last over ten turns and can be decided simply by the contents of your entire library eventually. Ugin, the Spirit Dragon is an incredible card to have access to. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes counts as a pseudo-second Ugin because of its ability to find planeswalkers.

One Piece of Advice: Do not mulligan unless in an extreme situation.

Abzan Midrange has proven itself time and time again as a force to be reckoned with in Standard. I hope that multiple Siege Rhinoceroses guide myself and my teammates to victory.

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