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Much Abrew About Nothing: Abzan Toughness (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the new and improved Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week, during our Instant Deck Tech voting, we once again had a clear winner: Abzan Toughness for Modern! Heading into the matches, I was a bit skeptical of the deck. It looked like an Abzan deck that didn't do anything without an Assault Formation or Doran, the Siege Tower but also had less removal than a typical Abzan deck because it was using those slots to play Assault Formation and Doran, the Siege Tower. Because of this weird catch-22, I expected the deck to be fun, but I wasn't sure it could actually compete with some of the more consistent, powerful strategies in Modern. How did the matches play out? Well, watch the videos to find out, and then I'll share a few of my thoughts on Abzan Toughness!

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Abzan Toughness: Instant Deck Tech

Abzan Toughness vs Affinity

Abzan Toughness vs. 8 Whack

Abzan Toughness vs. Death's Shadow

Abzan Toughness vs. Mono-U Control

Abzan Toughness vs. Naya Burn

Abzan Toughness Wrap Up


  • First off, we went 5-0 in matches, and it doesn't get any better than that!
  • That said, I think we were slightly aided by the matchups. If there's one thing to be said for our Abzan Toughness deck, which is full of one- and two-mana 0/4s, it's that it's really, really good at blocking. As a result, decks like 8 Whack, Naya Burn, and Death's Shadow Zoo simply had a hard time attacking our life total, even when we didn't have an Assault Formation or Doran, the Siege Tower to allow out creatures to deal damage. 
  • Speaking of Doran, the Siege Tower and Assault Formation, maybe the most surprising thing about the deck is just how consistently we were able to get a copy on the battlefield. Heading into the matches, my biggest concern was that we'd have a lot of games where we just played a bunch of Nyx-Fleece Rams and Spellskites, and never be able to attack. In practice, this was very rarely a problem. Apparently, having three copies of both Doran, the Siege Tower and Assault Formation, along with four Treefolk Harbingers and two Chord of Callings, is enough to consistently turn all of our zero-powered creatures into massive threats. 
  • By far the most impressive card in the deck was Tower Defense. While I didn't keep count, it felt like we won at least 75% of our games because of it. +5/+0 to our entire team for only two mana is absurd. There were so many times when we'd attack with a couple of Lingering Souls tokens and maybe a Birds of Paradise with a Doran, the Siege Tower on the battlefield, cast a Tower Defense, and just win the game on the spot. 
  • That said, part of the reason Tower Defense is so good is because no one expects it. I mean, who plays Tower Defense? As a result, our opponents are not afraid of dying when they should be. They see a few Lingering Souls tokens on the battlefield and then say, "Big deal. What are you going to do, hit me from 18 to 15?" when in reality, if they tap out, they will just die. However, if this deck ever becomes popular, people will start playing around Tower Defense and the card will go from being absolutely busted to merely good. 
  • As for cards I didn't like, we sided out Ajani, Caller of the Pride in just about every matchup and never actually cast a Siege Rhino. If I play the deck again, I'll likely fill these slots with more removal. Since the deck already plays 23 creatures, another option would be to drop the Siege Rhinos and Ajani, Caller of the Prides, up the creature count slightly, and throw in some copies of Collected Company. While not quite as guaranteed as Chord of Calling, with three Doran, the Siege Towers and four Treefolk Harbingers, the odds of hitting an Assault Formation from a Collected Company are actually pretty good; plus, there's a lot of value to be had post-Assault Formation, since we'll often be getting at least nine "power" (and by power, I of course mean toughness) worth of creatures for only four mana at instant speed. 
  • All in all, I was super impressed with the deck. It was quite fun to play, and it's competitive enough to be successful on the tournament scene. If your local meta is fairly aggressive, Abzan Toughness is a great choice, and I think the deck can be built to fight against control as well. On the other hand, if you're expecting a lot of unfair decks, things could get challenging, although being white helps, since we get access to some of the best and most hateful sideboard cards in Modern!


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive, or at

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