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Playing Pauper: Abzan Existence

Welcome to more Playing Pauper action. This time it's with a deck brought to us primarily from user bjornarprytz on Magic Online with a few changes by me and some suggested by a few kind reddit users. Tortured Existence decks are incredibly varied so it was hard to decide on a version of this deck to run, and there are a ton of different lines of play that make the deck somewhat difficult to play as well. But I'm finally putting it off no longer and am presenting it here for your viewing pleasure. 

Check out the matches, then read the discussion below. If you enjoy Playing Pauper, subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube channel! It helps us draw more people to the channel, and it helps you to never miss any of our great video content.

Abzan Existence Intro

Abzan Existence vs Kuldotha Boros

Abzan Existence vs Izzet Control

Abzan Existence vs Vinestorm

Abzan Existence vs Mono Blue Delver

Abzan Existence vs Burn

The Deck

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Most Tortured Existence decks are built around the Golgari Brownscale engine of dredging two each turn and paying a black mana to exchange your dredge creature with another creature in your graveyard. Stinkweed Imp helps too but you can't dredge too many times with it before you risk running out of cards in your library.

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The creatures you can recur each turn are very useful and none are more useful than Spore Frog which can sometimes completely prevent your opponent from being able to win the game. For example, if you're playing against a version of Stompy with no removal spells, sacrificing a Spore Frog every turn will leave them completely unable to kill you while you set up lethal attackers in the air.

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Abundant Growth fixes the manabase in this three color deck and Kor Skyfisher uses Abundant Growth to get card advantage.

Vessel of Nascency and Satyr Wayfinder offer ways to fill the graveyard to help find a Golgari Brownscale to dredge back or a Tortured Existence to cast.

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The Carrion Feeder and Mesmeric Fiend combo is a nice maindeck way to strip a control deck's hand apart. With them both being one-ofs, it can be hard to find this combo though and these would be among the first cards I would cut if I was looking to refine the deck.

The Sideboard

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Hand disruption cards provide protection against control and combo decks, and recurring these creatures makes it almost impossible for an opponent to get card advantage.

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Anti-aggro and anti-artifact/enchantment cards help us not to lose to faster decks like Stompy or Affinity.


There are a million different ways to take this deck and probably 30+ unique cards that have been played maindeck in good Tortured Existence decks. There are also a ton of lines of play and the deck has a high skill cap. Our poor performance (one win) shouldn't discourage you from playing the deck, but you should be warned that this is a deck that is at its best when you constantly keep the pulse of the metagame and adjust your deck and sideboard accordingly. Additionally, the more graveyard hate cards are being played in sideboards, the worse Tortured Existence decks become.


Viewer submissions are open! I'll still be playing known decks occasionally, but I'll mostly be playing:

  • Decks submitted by viewers
  • Interesting decks published from the 5-0 league finishes
  • Decks created by Jake (especially ones comprised of cards from new sets such as Aether Revolt)

Email me at or Tweet to me @JakeStilesMTG with your decklist or challenge, and I'll give you a shout-out if I use your submission!

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