I played Dredge at the RPTQ last weekend, but my second choice was to sleeve up my tried and true favorite Modern deck, Abzan Company. In retrospect, I really wish I had decided to go with Company, because my opponents were well prepared to Rest in Peace and Ravenous Trap me right out of the tournament.
The reason I moved off the deck in the first place was that I felt it had problems against Infect and Dredge. While this may be true, I also felt that going back to the drawing board and rebuilding the deck with these matchups in mind could make a difference.
I’ve also been getting a lot of requests for an up-to-date list from CFB readers via social media, which makes me think that now is the perfect time to talk about my new list.
The changes are pretty straightforward and I think they really push the deck forward in the current metagame.
Main Deck Adjustments
I’ve typically been very happy with the main deck of my Company list. The mana feels perfect and the addition of Tireless Tracker as a grindy, value, “good card” was a nice step.
In the last iteration of the deck, I was playing 2 copies of Path to Exile to interact with various decks, particularly Infect. It turns out that Blossoming Defense has gone a long way toward making Path to Exile feel really anemic. Path to Exile is also terrible against Dredge. I decided to remove these from the main deck in lieu of some silver bullet cards for these important matchups.
I’ve never been a huge fan of sideboarding Spellskite against Infect because they typically bring in a bunch of Twisted Images to kill it. What is the point of boarding a card that is playing right into their hands?
It also turns out that even without Spellskite in the deck, Twisted Image is great against you because it messes with your Birds, Hierarchs, and Wall of Roots. With so many tasty targets, perhaps by the time you draw and deploy your Spellskite they will have already used the Images.
Spellskite is a card that I have maindecked before and it feels like it has come full circle to earning its keep in the deck. It is also worth noting that Spellskite is also a great card against various Suicide Zoo and Suicide Blue decks, because when in play it takes pump spells and Temure Battle Rage out of the equation.
Anafenza, the Foremost
Anafenza, the Foremost has been in my sideboard since day 1. The card has always impressed me and came in more than half the time already.
It also happens to be a fantastic Dredge hate card and a reasonable and resilient clock in other matchups.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of using her to reset a Kitchen Finks!
I’ve essentially changed 2/3 of the sideboard to help me flip some difficult matchups around and so far I’ve been really happy with the results.
One thing that I slowly began to notice as I played more games was that Fulminator Mage + Path to Exile was a big nombo in grindy matchups. Instead, I wanted to have cards that didn’t generate card advantage for my opponent. Don’t get me wrong, Path is an awesome card but not exactly the droids I was looking for, as it turned out.
I initially started with Dismember to replace Path and really liked the fact that I didn’t have to telegraph white mana to signal removal to my Infect opponents. It turns out that you can really get people with Slaughter Pact when you tap out!
I’m not 100% on the Slaughter Pact, but I’ve been liking it so far. Either way, the slot is well served as removal against Infect that can come in against Jund.
Speaking of cards that are good against Infect—Pontiff is a real gem and will often net you a 2-for-1 even if they have pump spells. Imagine it comes down against a board of Noble Hierarch and Blighted Agent. Even if they pump to save the Agent, you still get the Hierarch and pump spell for a 2-for-1.
Another trend I’ve noticed is that many Infect pilots have moved toward playing Ravenous Trap in their sideboard instead of Grafdigger’s Cage. This shift is ideal, because Trap is unplayable against you and Cage is quite good. I feel more safe leaving in some number of Chord of Calling, which now has a fair amount of great targets between Spellskite, Orzhov Pontiff, and Melira.
Pontiff also shines in the mirror match where blowing up their mana dorks is amazing, and against Affinity where they have a lot of 1-toughness creatures. The card has earned its spot as a tutor target.
Surgical Extraction is pure hate against Dredge.
The matchup is closer than I thought and plays out across a couple of axes. They can have a fast nut draw and beat you down before you get set up, and they can Conflagrate away your team before you go off.
Outside of those two types of games, Collected Company has inevitability because infinite life is an insurmountable problem for Dredge. The key is that you need to survive long enough to execute order 66 and win the game.
Surgical Extraction is good because no matter what, it is going to slow them down considerably by taking away one of their important options. It is also pretty reasonable to take out Conflagrate on sight and force them to be a one-dimensional beatdown deck against you.
The graveyard hate that you can play is limited because you also use the 'yard a fair amount. Obviously, you can’t sideboard Grafdigger’s Cage or Rest in Peace because those cards are good against you!
Surgical Extraction has a few other neat applications, which is why I selected it to be my Dredge hate card.
Surgical is also a big game against Goryo’s Vengeance decks, which have enough raw speed to be problematic for CoCo.
Abzan Company is still a great deck even if it isn’t the most popular deck in Modern. It has a lot of great angles it can attack from, and gets to do things that are inherently powerful. The key to any Modern deck is to keep it updated and rise to the challenge of adapting to stay relevant as the metagame evolves. I think I’ve nailed it with the changes I’ve made to Abzan Company, and believe it will continue to be a contender moving forward.