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Magic: The Gathering – Standard Abzan Superfriends

War of the Spark, Magic: The Gathering’s 81st expansion set, has sent the current standard rotation into superhero mode! Planeswalkers dominate the metagame with loads of powerful options available in every color, making “Superfriends” decks a genuine possibility.

For those who don’t know, a Superfriends deck is a deck that relies heavily on the Planeswalkers card type, backed by support creatures and spells to ensure they survive and get the job done. Essentially, they are control decks that easily survive board wipes and creature removal.

As of right now, all five colors are well represented. Esper White/Blue/Black Control gained a few weapons in the form of Narset, Parter of Veils, Teferi, Time Raveler, and Liliana, Dreadhorde General, and on the flip side, Gruul Red/Green midrange decks have become overrun with Domri, Anarch of Bolas filling the role that Rhythm of the Wild failed at.

With all these Planeswalkers, you can make a deck that is easily based in your favorite color combination, which is exactly what we are going to do today! Abzan White/Black/Green decks have always been my favorite three-color combination decks. Lifegain, counters, tokens, all the tricks need to build a resilient deck that is built to weather storms and recover faster when the dust settles.

This is currently my favorite deck to use on Magic Arena, even if it isn’t ranked.

PLANESWALKERS

Obviously, we need Planeswalkers in a Planeswalkers themed deck. In Abzan, we run White, Black, and Green colors, so here are the options we have available to us.

My man Ajani, always sticking his neck out for others. I have a soft spot for a classic “do-gooder” and nobody in Magic The Gathering fills that role better. Here, Ajani helps keep you alive with lifegain, but more importantly, he sticks his neck out for other Planeswalkers by helping them recover their loyalty points and making their troops stronger. He hasn’t found a serious role in Standard yet, but I love this card.

In a vacuum, it’s no Ajani Steadfast or even Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants, but in this deck, it’s one of our most vital cards.

This Nissa is excellent, and she was crushing the early stages of Standard. The metagame finally caught up to her, and her ramp isn’t quite as impressive as it was two weeks ago. Still, she is excellent here. We use multiple mana sinks in our support cards, and being able to cast two Planeswalkers a turn later in the game can be back-breaking for our opponent.

As for her abilities, getting a 3/3 vigilance creature every turn is not that bad of a deal, especially if they become indestructible.

Our first Vraska comes down fast, acts as card draw, lifegain, and decent removal until she gives us the easiest win condition there is. Hopefully, you’ll have some tokens or even a Llanowar Elves around to chip in that last point of damage.

And our second Vraska is much slower than the first, but those menace Pirates are one of the best ways to close the game, especially if you are able to pull off an ultimate with either Vraska. Three menace creatures is just a pain in the butt to block.

Just one Vraska, Relic Seeker is all you need in the deck, but when she comes down, I rarely lose the game. She has put away more opponents than any other card in this deck.

Karn is perfect in our deck simply for pure card advantage. He basically draws you two extra cards a turn, even if you have to wait an extra turn to use one of those cards. Strangely enough, I believe he always manages to draw me my Ajani,the Greathearted, meaning they must still be getting along after all these years.

His “ultimate” is somewhat useless since we don’t use any other artifacts in this deck, but if you need more token creatures, it’s always an option.

Ugin is also great card advantage, but it’s done in a sense that is just so Abzan. Create creature tokens, lob them at the opponent, forcing them to either take 2 damage a pop or put a potentially valuable card into your hand. Decisions, decisions… oh yeah, Ugin can also blow up just about every relevant card in Standard. That’s always a good deal.

Creatures can be hard to come by in a Superfriends deck, even though we have multiple Planeswalkers that create creature tokens. That’s where Gideon comes into play. He’s just a solid beater that is stupidly hard to kill, and when his loyalty gets out of control, yup, he can kill just about anything… permanently.

While his abilities are nice, we use him (or at least I will if I can get another mythic wild card) just as a backup plan.

I like this card a lot, but in this deck, it’s not the most ideal inclusion. Maybe as a one-off since, if your Planeswalkers have made enough tokens, that +1 ability can be put to good use. The -2 is useless since we don’t want to waste loyalty points on a Llanowar Elves, the only creature we really run.

However, this cat’s ultimate ability is just so much fun. Three lifelink cats a turn?! When tag-teamed with Ajani, the Greathearted to pop it off sooner, this is a solid way to win the game. We only run one, but that’s all we need.

Just because… Liliana fits into just about any deck. I prefer Ugin or Vraska as my 6-drop Planeswalkers, but Liliana is also 110 percent viable as an option. Her removal hits two creatures, but the opponent gets to choose. Her 2/2 Zombies don’t have menace, and her ultimate can potentially leave a Creature, a Planeswalker, an Artifact, and an Enchantment on the board… meaning they can easily still get back into the game. Drawing a card is also powerful, but we have other card draw options.

The OTHER Planeswalkers

I wanted to see if any of the uncommon Planeswalkers had a place in the deck, but sadly, they are just not powerful enough. Not even Jiang Yanguu, the Wildcrafter, a card I love, has a spot in the deck. Vraska, Swarm’s Eminence is the closest to making the cut, but falls short.

However, I can see Ashiok, Dream Render or even Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage making a sideboard slot… if I ever make a sideboard.

Both Vivien Reid and Vivien, Champion of the Wilds are great Planewalkers, but they are just a little too creature-oriented for our deck. No point in playing them since we don’t want to dig through our deck to find… nothing. Vivien Reid does have a useful ultimate, but she’ll just sit there, doing nothing until she gets it. Maybe she’ll take down a flyer here and there, but we have enough removal to deal with those.

Karn, the Great Creator also is similarly too focused on artifacts, of which we don’t run any.

Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord also fails to make the cut since giving lifelink to our creatures really isn’t enough to get anything done. Maybe we can come back from a slow start, but he’s just not worth a slot. Kaya, Orzhov Usurper is a fine card, but better in the sideboard against aggressive decks.

SUPPORT CARDS

Though powerful, our Planeswalkers can’t win the game on their own. We’ll need a few spells to help back them up, whether it’s to help come down to the battlefield faster or to control the board while we wait to draw them.

We’re playing Green, we’re running a playset of Llanowar Elves. I mean, that’s just common sense. Bringing your Planeswalkers to the battlefield a turn early is about the most powerful ability you have. As one of the best and universally loved Magic cards of all time, we have no reason not to run it.

The Elderspell is a real threat to us, being able to wipe the board of all of our Planewalkers. Thankfully, it is not often played in Game 1, since it is a better sideboard card than anything. However, if we play against Black, you can bet we’ll bring in two or three copies of Shalai from the sideboard.

Shalai is also powerful enough to include in the maindeck though. Giving your Planeswalkers hexproof is a huge advantage against direct removal, and the +1/+1 counter ability ties nicely together with Nissa’s ramp abilities. Outside of Vraska and her pirates, I’ve won more games with Shalai than any other card in the deck.

You’re crazy if you think I’m going to let my dude sit on the sidelines in an Abzan deck. He’s not the most powerful, but man… he can pump out Saprolings like the best of them when Nissa is on the board.

This is the best spell for filtering our deck and finding what we need. Three deep means you’ll likely hit a Planeswalker or Shalai, and on top of that… you gain a nice three life as a bonus. Lifegain is important in this deck since we start off slow, and we use another fan-favorite card that has struggled to find a place in Standard.

Between Ajani, the Greathearted, Bond of Flourishing, Oath of Kaya, Kaya’s Wrath, and Gideon Blackblade… not to mention additional mana thanks to Nissa’s ramp, we have plenty of ways to gain life, tap extra mana for card draw, and even pump out a few extra soldiers every turn. This survives board wipes and gives us an easy way to rebuild our board afterwards, and it is just an all around fabulous card that does everything we want.

Underrated!

We need to keep our Planeswalkers alive, so this is one of the best ways to punish players for attacking them. The initial lifeswing is already worth including a single copy of this card for, but that damage really starts to pile up once they send armies of goblins or whatever they have at your Planewalkers. Two or maybe three might be too much for an opponent to handle.

Removal

With Black and White under our control, we have access to the best removal spells in Magic. Let’s see…

Takes care of big creatures and most Planeswalkers… permanently…

Similarly, this does the job as well and adds scry 1 onto the deal. I think the cheaper casting cost, the instant speed, and the permanent effect of Despark is better, but this can be sided in without regret.

An absolute MUST for this deck. This kills an entire board of aggressive creatures, and it turns our token creatures into valuable life. Few cards allow us to get back into a game against aggressive decks, but this is one of them.

This misses Planeswalkers, but it easily deals with most threats we want to get rid of.

Too many Legendary creatures populate Magic at the moment for this to be a total bomb, but it is still important to include at least one to cheaply deal with big threats.

We have enough value from our Planeswalkers to ensure that ramping our opponent isn’t going to put them that far ahead. This is an important part of the deck since it deals with absolutely any permanent on the board.

Almost the pure value of a Planeswalker in an enchantment. This wrecks control decks to pieces, especially those that depend on Planeswalkers. I only have one, but this is one of our most powerful non-Planeswalker cards.

CONCLUSION

As for lands, you can easily mix and match all of the Green, Black, and White dual lands to meet your curve. Whatever color you include the most of, go and head build around it. We have three colors, so we don’t want to go too crazy with utility lands messing up the mana base, however, we have two we need to consider.

Sometimes, you just need an extra creature, and this will provide one cheaply. Most likely, you’ll get this for one or two mana, but when it’s free… it’s FREE. The value is there to throw your mana base off a little.

Another fine colorless land, this one ensures that we can use up extra mana if we get flooded toward the end of the game. This pumps our entire team of Planeswalkers by a single loyalty point, possibly pushing us over the edge and getting a few ultimates along the way.

To play this deck, simply rush out your Planeswalkers as quickly as possible to get the most value out of them. Shalai, Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants, and Vraska, Relic Seeker are your best win conditions, so be sure to keep them alive.

THE DECK

Creatures (6)

  • 4x Llanowar Elves
  • 1x Slimefoot, the Stowaway (for funsies. I’m not playing Abzan without this fun guy………….. *cough*
  • 1x Shalai, Voice of Plenty

Planeswalkers (13)

  • 1x Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants
  • 2x Vraska, Golgari Queen
  • 2x Ajani, the Greathearted
  • 2x Karn, Scion of Urza
  • 3x Nissa, Who Shakes the World
  • 2x Vraska, Relic Seeker
  • 1x Ugin, the Ineffable

Spells (11)

  • 1x Cast Down
  • 3x Bond of Flourishing
  • 2x Despark
  • 1x Assassin’s Trophy
  • 3x Mortify
  • 1x Kaya’s Wrath

Enchantments (6)

  • 2x Dawn of Hope
  • 1x Oath of Kaya
  • 1x Ixalan’s Binding
  • 1x The Eldest Reborn

Lands (24)

  • 3x Plains
  • 5x Forest
  • 4x Godless Shrine
  • 4x Isolated Chapel
  • 4x Overgrown Tomb
  • 1x Woodland Cemetary
  • 1x Sunpetal Grove
  • 2x Temple Garden

All hail Abzan!


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