Abzan Midrange by Samuel Valentine
1st at SCG Indianapolis Standard Open on Sep 27th 2014
And so we have the winner from that other SCG Open happening in Indianapolis. As it wasn’t broadcasting live it would seem that some of the hype was lost in the shuffle, especially with the Jeskai Tempo deck causing financial ripples in the secondary market. But this is not a deck to dismiss as it placed 11 similar decks between both top 32, including the second place at this tournament, and Midrange strategies added another 7 to pull just over 28% of the field. This could be the dawning of the Age of Midrange, or just anomalous opening weekend numbers. Regardless you can be sure that this is a deck you’ll need to beat if you want to be victorious of the next few months at least.
Starting with a base of mana dorks there is both Elvish Mystic
and Sylvan Caryatid
to quickly advance the game quickly into the mid-game. We also find Satyr Wayfinder
which interestingly will help us dig for lands but also fills the graveyard for interactions with Delve and other reanimation effects. Nyx Weaver
is another interesting cog in the engine which provides little mills every turn that it can take advantage of by exiling itself to return any one card in your grave, as well it has reach so it can chump a huge attacker then use its ability to keep you churning. Another key piece of the puzzle is Siege Rhino
with its 3 point drain when it enters the battlefield that is just as amazing when he is whipped back, not to mention his 4/5 Trample body to boot. To ensure that you can control the air along with having blockers that are just great Hornet Queen
brings a squad with her representing 5 Deathtouch blockers and an additional 4 more when she rises back from the grave. We shore up the creatures with Necropolis Fiend
which can possibly drop for just two black using Delve for a 4/5 Flying not even taking into account his ability and a misers Ashen Rider
to absolutely rid yourself of any troubles you may encounter in your way. One of the key enablers for the deck is Commune with the Gods
which allows you to dig into your library for a creature which could be either another mana dork to continue ramping, a necessary offensive weapon, or even a Whip of Erebos
. There is additional upside with the remaining four cards being dropped into the graveyard to be either reanimated or delved away. Speaking of Delve our main source of removal lies with Murderous Cut
which can be as cheap as just a single Black mana to destroy any creature. There are two copies of the Whip of Erebos
that is used to reanimate any creatures that either died already or were communed away, and there’s also Lifelink tacked on to all of you creatures to ensure you last deep into the game. The final card is Empty the Pits
which looks to be an amazing top deck going into the late game where you can tap out and empty your graveyard to possibly add a horde of 5-8 Zombies which without a sweeper should definitely spell certain doom for any opponent.
This deck is definitely not to be dismissed. It will certainly be tried with a toolbox of creatures in every combination to see which best design rises to the top. I you are a fan of either Midrange or reanimator strategies then I would recommend this as a great launching pad into the new Standard. We will most certainly be seeing it continue to show these numbers so get your Siege Rhinos
now before they’re unreasonable. With its sheer power I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
Eric J Seltzer
@ejseltzer on Twitter