Running the Gauntlet – Standard Abzan Aggro vs. GW Devotion

I once against played Andy Boswell’s list of Abzan Aggro, this week against the newly popular Green/White Devotion.

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The Matchup

The games were extremely interesting. Although my record in the matches doesn’t reflect it, the matchup felt pretty even to me. I experienced an interesting dynamic: I’d sideboard in certain cards, see them be good or relevant, and it would change the way Huey configured his deck.

At various points I had Glare of Heresy in my hand, which seemed like a slam-dunk sideboard card against Fleecemane Lion, Mastery of the Unseen, and Banishing Light. As the games went on though Huey was more liberal in sideboarding out his Mastery of the Unseen and Banishing Light, purely by coincidence since he had seen Back to Nature. Going into the final match after sideboard Huey had only 4 Fleecemane Lion in his deck as targets and he also was playing very conservatively with them and only casting them when he could monstrous in the same turn. I caught on and eventually had zero Glare of Heresy in my deck but only in the final match.

I tried adding Thoughtseize which is historically good against ramp decks since such a huge percentage of their deck is mana and they’re usually threat-light—so taking the best card from their opening hand makes them much weaker to removal. For some reason it didn’t work out that way. I suspect this is because my deck was built such that so many of my black sources come into play tapped so it’s hard for me to have a good fast hand where I can fire off a quick Thoughtseize. It’s also worth noting that losing 2 life was an issue for me, especially with Mana Confluence and or multiple copies.

I started by cutting Warden of the First Tree, and I do think he’s weak in the matchup but ultimately Brimaz is much worse. Boon Satyr quickly came out since it’s already nothing special in the matchup and I wanted to avoid an awkward situation where I would draw both Boon Satyr and Back to Nature. Brimaz is a more powerful card than Warden of the First Tree but I prefer the Warden here due to its cost, there are already tons of 3-casting-cost spells in the deck and the most likely way for Abzan Aggro to win is to get a quick board presence backed up by removal. It’s very hard to have a hand like that when your threat is Brimaz and your removal is Hero’s Downfall.

As I mentioned, I felt the games were interesting and interactive and generally went long. Maybe that rewards the devotion deck with the better top-end, but I got to make decisions throughout and even though I lost, a lot, I still won a game in a couple matches and some of the games I lost I was hugely advantaged in different spots.

It was fun to play and I’m convinced it will be fun to watch.

qazwsxedcrfvtgbyhnuj on Magic Online

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