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Much Abrew: Abzan Braids (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. This week, we're heading to Modern to see if we can lock our opponents out of the game with Braids, Cabal Minion in an Abzan Braids deck that's partly midrange, partly prison, and partly land destruction. The goal is to mess with our opponent's mana early in the game with cards like Smallpox and Vindicate; then stick Braids along with something that gives us sacrifice fodder each turn, like Bloodghast or Grist, the Hunger Tide; and hopefully use Braids, Cabal Minion to essentially lock our opponent out of the game by eating away all of their permanents! Is it time for Braids to shine in Modern?  Let's get to the video and find out on today's Much Abrew About Nothing!

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Much Abrew: Abzan Braids

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  • Record-wise, Abzan Braids was surprisingly strong. We went 4-1 in a Modern league, with our only loss coming to Calibrated Blast, a deck that works in such a weird, unique way that you need really specific answers to have a chance, which we didn't have. On the other hand, we took down Hammer Time twice along with Tron and Yawgmoth Combo. While Abzan Braids might be weak against odd fringe archetypes, it felt great against the top decks in the meta.
  • In a weird way, Abzan Braids is almost a land-destruction deck. Alongside Braids, Cabal Minion itself, we also have Smallpox and Vindicate to eat away our opponent's mana, which was how we won most of our games. Braids, Cabal Minion by itself on Turn 4 is fine, but Braids coming down on Turn 4 after we've already blown up a land or two in other ways is really hard for most decks to beat. 
  • As far as Braids, Cabal Minion itself, our deck has a bunch of ways to break the symmetry of its upkeep sacrifice ability. Grist, the Hunger Tide is the most obvious. We can +1 Grist each turn to make an Insect and then sacrifice the Insect to Braids, which lets us keep Braids going forever without losing any real permanents. Bloodghast is another great way to feed Braids, especially with the help of fetch lands and Flagstones of Trokair to keep it coming back from the graveyard, while Lingering Souls' ability to add four bodies to the battlefield, while not infinite, is often enough to have Braids eat away most of our opponent's permanents. 
  • The other key part of the deck is Smallpox. Here again, the goal is to break the symmetry of its sacrifice and discard effects. The most impactful part of Smallpox is that it forces each player to sacrifice a land, which we can get around with the help of Flagstones of Trokair tutoring up a replacement when we sacrifice it. We can also get around the discard aspect of Smallpox by discarding things like Bloodghast and Lingering Souls, which we can play from the graveyard.
  • Speaking of Smallpox, its main drawback is that it costs double black mana, which makes it tricky to play it on Turn 2 while also sacrificing Flagstones of Trokair. But it is possible to Turn 2 Smallpox without losing a land with the help of Fetid Heath or Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. If you have a Smallpox in your opening hand, make sure to think through which lands to play over the first two turns. While it's often best to lead with a shock land or fetch land, we won't have the option to Smallpox on Turn 2 if we do.
  • As far as actually winning the game, I'd argue the real win condition is Braids, Cabal Minion eating away our opponent's permanents. If we actually need to get our opponent's life total to zero, we can use Lingering Souls or Bloodghast. But in reality, we win most of the time by locking our opponent out of the game, by Braidsing away most (or all) of their lands.
  • So, should you play Abzan Braids in Modern? I think the answer is an easy yes, assuming you like making opponents miserable by messing with their mana. The deck felt surprisingly strong against the top decks in the meta. The combination of good removal, interaction, and the Braids lock is apparently difficult for most decks to deal with. If you're a fan of Braids or just like blowing up lands, Abzan Braids feels more than good enough to 5-0 with, considering we came one bad matchup against Calibrated Blast away from doing it ourselves!


Anyway, that's all for today. 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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