I had an Abzan (Black, Green, White) deck that I built almost a year ago, helmed by Doran the Siege Tower. It was a janky wall deck with a $50 budget. It did… things. It was later upgraded into an Arcades deck, but would still be considered a budget build at just under $100. As such, I no longer have an Abzan deck but I think highly of the color pairing. The other day I ran across an article on EDHREC that was talking about Karador, Ghost Chieftain. Like that author, Halloween is one of my favorite times of year (really, the entire Fall) and I too think that Karador makes a fitting deck discussion for this time of year. Let’s take a look:
Karador is expensive at first glance. A 3/4 for 8 mana, are you kidding me? However, once you read his rules text, you’ll see that he costs 1 less for each creature card in your graveyard, meaning you should be able to hold off casting him until he costs just the three colored mana. He then benefits you further by allowing you to cast a creature from the graveyard once per turn. This is similar to cards like Gisa & Geralf, though they were limited to recalling Zombies. It’s also essentially an arguably better/worse card than Muldrotha, who is in arguably better/worse colors. Sultai (Green Blue Black) is supposed to be one of the more potent shards, but I feel like Abzan has some good tricks too. Muldrotha may be able to cast more permanents per turn, but we have ways to do the same with a little bit of setup. Reading the EDHREC article I mentioned above also pointed me to a forum discussion on MTGSalvation where an interesting combo was discussed. I took inspiration from both articles and found a happy medium between the two. Let’s start by looking at said combo:
That’s a lot of cards for a combo, but the most integral part here is Boonweaver Giant and Pattern of Rebirth. When you cast the giant, you’ll search your deck/hand/graveyard for the aura and attach it to him. You’ll also need a sac outlet, but I’ve included a few (including creatures that can be tutored easily) with which you’ll sacrifice the giant and the aura will trigger upon his death, allowing you to tutor out another creature to the battlefield. Here’s the full combo:
- When Boonweaver enters play, find Pattern of Rebirth and attach it to him.
- Sac Boonweaver to find Karmic Guide which returns Boonweaver and Pattern.
- Sac Boonweaver again to find Fiend Hunter, who exiles Karmic Guide.
- Sac Fiend Hunter to return Karmic Guide, who then returns Boonweaver and Pattern.
- Sac Boonweaver again to find Reveillark.
- Sac Karmic and then Reveillark to return both Karmic and Fiend Hunter.
- Use Karmic to return Boonweaver and Fiend Hunter to exile Karmic.
- Sac Boonweaver to go get anything.
- Sac Fiend Hunter to return Karmic, which returns Reveillark.
The win conditions being Altar of Dementia (will deck your opponents), Blood Artist/Zulaport Cutthroat (drain the table) and Acidic Slime (blow up all permanents, then swing for the win). The best part here is that this can all be done in one turn and you don’t even need your commander on the battlefield to win. However, if out combo gets countered or a key piece is exiled, or your graveyard gets exiled, we can still use Karador and all of our tools to eke out a win, particularly by using some of our bombs.
Since our gameplan consists of trying to get the above combo to go off, it was in our best interests to have a ton of ways to tutor. Besides the standard tutors like Demonic and Vampiric, we also have some graveyard tutors like Buried Alive and Entomb to dump creatures into our yard to not only make Karador cost less, but also so they can be recurred for use on the cheap. Fauna Shaman is another surefire way to tutor up a creature but will put you down a card. Make sure what you discard is going to benefit you by being in the yard. Survival of the Fittest would be included in this deck were it not for its $90 price tag, but a budget version in Evolutionary Leap was included. It’s not as good as Survival, but it doubles up on Hermit Druid’s effect, which essentially fills up the graveyard and also gets you a creature. If we have the creatures to sacrifice, Razaketh will also get us more cards we might need to finish things off on top of being a bomb himself.
Besides the creatures I listed up at the top in the combo section, these are further ways to bring things back from the dead. Since we’ll be dumping cards into our graveyard we want these cards to ensure we can bring useful pieces back, including lands. Each of these cards will allow us to do so, and even if we have our main game plan countered or otherwise ruined, we might be able to get another shot at it.
This deck isn’t by any means supposed to be a stax deck, and it doesn’t have a ton of these types of effects, but sometimes your gameplan is disrupted and you need some time to rebuild. These cards were included to help do that, but also to slow down the other decks that are trying to combo off faster than you. In this case you can stop people from searching their library, clear the board of 1/1 or 2/2 tokens, silence ETBs, or silence a whole color (I pity the mono colored player who witnesses an Iona resolve). These pieces should help you to get over the hump and finish strong.
The rest of these cards are all filling a role. We aren’t playing many instants or sorceries in this deck so creature based removal is key (and recurrable!). Many of these will destroy a creature, artifact or enchantment. We also have forced sacrifice in Plaguecrafter. Satyr Wayfinder and Stitcher’s Supplier selp mill a bit to help find cards we need. Underrealm Lich does the same, but is more like Taigam in that he makes you skip your draw step and look at the top four of your library, picking one card and then putting the rest in the graveyard. He can also be made indestructible for 4 life, so that’s nice. I’ve included some cards here that weren’t around when the originator of this combo deck built it, but I think they should serve a similar purpose.
This isn’t a budget deck by any means, as I’ve added my most expensive mana rocks and there are several other expensive cards in the build that are between $10-20, but I owned most. This should be a turn 3-4 deck given the right circumstances, and that should be right up there with my Zur and Estrid builds.