pie chart

Abzan Drift - Midrange

Modern BGW (Abzan, Junk)



Welcome to a Primer on Abzan Drift!

In this primer, Abzan Drift A.k.a. Drift is presented and described. Drift represents the weird cousin of the well known GBx deck; GBx essentially is any midrange deck having green and black as their main color. GBx decks are powerful and streamlined decks, which basically all have one property in common: They can beat any opponent if the deck is well built and well piloted. This midrange deck utilizes the flickering ability from Astral Drift (from modern horizons) to reuse and recycle the ETB triggers of our creatures to gain incremental value throughout the game. One key to the success of this deck is interaction. If you want to interact with your opponent, slow down their game-plan long enough for you to put a flicker engine online, and win the game with incremental advantage, then Drift is the right choice for you. Since you have to interact with your opponent in every single game, games tend to offer different experiences for the players. Drift is can be a deck which just works with itself and/or interact with the opponent. Decision making processes and skill are very crucial to be successful with playing this deck.

Subsequently, knowledge is key in this deck. The deck requires knowing when to cycle, what to cycle, and when not to cycle. It rewards every player who is willing to practice and accumulate more and more knowledge of the modern format and its decks.

What makes this deck different from The Rock? (and its variants)

The Rock represents one of the top performing GBx midrange decks in the format. This deck is designed to trade one for one with your opponents and gain small incremental advantages over the game. Dark Confidant , and Tireless Tracker provide the card advantage engine of the deck. Where The Rock gets its card advantage from two of its creatures, ours comes from the card selection that cycling provides, as well as flickering Wall of Omens. Abzan Drift mimics the early game strategy of hand disruption, but also gets to add Tidehollow Sculler .

The deck is characterized by so-called goodstuff cards, which are basically strong individual cards, not relying on other cards or any synergies. Each card can operate on its own and get you further ahead in the game. This is fundamentally different from the game-plan of Drift, as we substitute the standard good stuff cards for cards that synergize with Astral Drift. Having the potential to abuse the ETB triggers of cards like Siege Rhino , Knight of Autumn , Wall of Omens , and Tidehollow Sculler are why we play this deck.

What makes this deck different from Mardu Pyromancer?

Mardu Pyromancer represents another midrange deck in the format playing a slew of early interaction to disrupt the opponent. The namesake cards for the deck being: Young Pyromancer , Bedlam Reveler , and Lingering Souls . These cards represent efficient threats that the deck provides. This is probably the most successful variant of midrange utilizing the early discard strategy that doesn't include green.

What makes the deck stand out is its ability to gain maximal value from faithless looting. Ditching flashback spells to the yard, or discarding instants/sorceries for cheaper Bedlam Revelers. Drift's card "advantage" comes from cycling, so in theory, we have the option to dig further into our deck for answers or threats.

What makes this deck different from Living End?

Living End is the proven cycling deck in Modern, but cycling is the only thing the two decks have in common. Living End is a combo deck based around cycling an arbitrary number of creatures in the early turns, then cast one of its cascade spells. Then they flip the top of their deck until the deck's namesake Living End is found, which basically says 'Swap the battlefield for the graveyard'. Most of the time this will work in the Living End player's favor, as they spent the early game cycling large creatures.

Drift utilizes the same mechanic as Living End, but fundamentally our deck is midrange and not combo. We are looking to out value our opponents rather than looking for a big flashy combo win.


Astral Drift : The namesake of our deck. Astral Drift benefits from all of our cycling in the deck, essentially adding the effect: 'Flicker any creature on the board' to any card we cycle. Once it lands on the battlefield we can use it to: protect our own creatures, temporarily remove threats, repeat ETB effects, and abuse game interactions.

Street Wraith : Zero Cost cycler for the low cost of two life. This allows us to save our Siege Rhinos or Knight of Autumns from removal if Astral Drift is on the battlefield.

Edge of Autumn : Early-game mana fixing and ramp but most importantly acts as another zero mana cycler. Our deck runs smoothly at around 4-5 mana, so sacrificing a land to cycle is a great enabler for late game flickers.

Cast Out : One mana cycler which doubles up as a catch all removal spell.

Scarab Feast : One mana cycler that doubles up as main board graveyard hate. This allows us to have answers to Faithless Looting , Lingering Souls , and Arclight Phoenix out of the graveyard in the games where it matters. It can even shrink a Tarmogoyf in a pinch, or take GBx players off of Delirium. If it's bad in the matchup, you can always cycle it away.

Scattered Groves : Two mana cycler. Simple include.

Enters the Battlefield Triggers

Siege Rhino : If any card helps Astral Drift, it would be this one. Drains your opponent for three and is a very pushed 4/5 body. This is our four drop of choice and the reason to try to fit drift into the GBx shell.

Tidehollow Sculler : Creature that helps disrupt your opponent in the early game. There are two things that we have to remember when playing this card. First, it will likely die to removal. This means that we have to think of this as a tempo play to slow down your opponents game-plan and to bait out our opponent's removal. Second, and more importantly, the ETB and LTB triggers are separate. Suppose we have an Astral Drift on the battlefield, we can play this zombie and his ability ETB will go on the stack. With that ability on the stack, we can cycle a card from our hand triggering Drift and we can put the LTB trigger on the stack. The LTB trigger resolves first, failing to find any exiled card, then the ETB resolves exiling any nonland card in our opponent's hand. Finally, at end of turn our Sculler comes back and we get to take another card from our opponent's hand. This is one of our more technical plays in the deck, but allows us to prioritize Sculler over other forms of hand hate.

Wall of Omens : Great ETB trigger for Drift. Each time we cycle and target this with drift, we get to draw two cards instead of one. It also doubles up as an early blocker.

Knight of Autumn : Modular ETB triggers give us a lot of decisions to make. We can have it enter to destroy some impactful artifact or enchantment, then blick it later to become a 4/3 and help speed up our clock.

Eternal Witness : Gets back anything we need. Reusing the ETB to get back removal, threats, or cyclers all seem like valid targets.


Updates Add



100% Competitive

Top Ranked
  • Achieved #35 position overall 4 months ago
  • Achieved #4 position in Modern 4 months ago
Date added 4 months
Last updated 3 months

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.61
Folders cool modern, Modern, Modern, Decks I like
Ignored suggestions
Shared with