Running the Gauntlet – Standard Abzan Aggro vs. Jeskai

This is the Abzan Aggro deck I played against Huey. I’ve written about how I liked Courser of Kruphix in this deck, but as is the case with any deck I playtest for a tournament I wanted to try some new cards. This time it was Warden of the First Tree. It was unimpressive, likely due to the amount of Lightning Strikes in my opponent’s list. I like it in this style of deck but as you’ll see it did very little to affect the outcome of the games.

I went 0-3 which isn’t exactly thrilling. Someone has to win, and in this set it just wasn’t going to be me. I’m not too upset about it, I had average to below average hands and he had great hands. Compound that with the fact that it felt like I was heavily disadvantaged in the deck matchup then you’ll see a recipe for disaster.

The only other change I made to the deck was adding a 26th land to the deck, this hurt me quite a bit in these games as the land I added was a Caves of Koilos, which was a bad land in and of iteself and I had many games decided by drawing too many lands and too few high-impact cards. Courser of Kruphix would surely have been better but not enough better that it would turn a bad matchup into a good one.

The real backbreaker here was the existence of Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time. There’s simply no card in my deck and no card I could conceivably put in my deck that can compete with that effect. When all his cards trade straight up for my cards and my final card is another threat or answer and his final card is a Treasure Cruise he’s just way ahead.

I did get beaten, badly, but I do feel this was educational. Abzan Aggro was a deck I was considering for a Grand Prix at some point but if you know that the Jeskai matchup is a total nightmare you can now classify the deck as a metagame choice. If nobody is playing Jeskai and it matches up well against the rest of the field you can consider it, and if Jeskai has been popular then you know to avoid it.

I feel the games I played weren’t a perfect representation of the matchup, as no matchup in Standard should end 0-3 0-6, but I do think Abzan Aggro is heavily disadvantaged and this result doesn’t shock me. If I wanted to change my deck to improve exactly this matchup I would move back to a build with more Wingmate Rocs, which are super powerful but also increase variance—which is exactly what you want to do in a bad matchup.


Owen Turtenwald

qazwsxedcrfvtgbyhnuj on Magic Online


Scroll to Top