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The Dead Marshes - High Sodium Content

Modern* BGW (Abzan, Junk) Competitive Control Discard Midrange Rock




The Dead Marshes

The Dead Marshes [The Rock/Junk]

Inciting saltiness since circa 1999
"Dreary and wearisome. Cold, clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long forgotten summers." -- from Passage of the Marshes, The Two Towers

[Upvotes are VERY MUCH appreciated!!]

Abzan is the new jund. This is my current paper DL for modern. Doesn't deviate a lot from core abzan midrange primer, but for a few things that I consider stabilization plays or strategic plays for card advantage. There are quite a few synergies at play in this deck all outlined below.

Disruption and value is what this deck is all about, every once in a while it can even give you a bit of tempo. Take out any threats you may not be able to control with the main disruptors (Thoughtseize, Inquisition, Brutality) and handle any resolved threats with removal, then swing away with cheap monsters that get strong. Play into your synergies and stabilize quicker than your opponent and you'll quickly beat them down, or slow the game wayyyyy the hell down and swing with fatties, midrange straddles both worlds...

"Isn't that weird?"

Some synergies don't need a lot of explaining, since anything that dumps to the graveyard + anything that disrupts or removes permanents powers up things like Tarmogoyf, Grim Flayer, and possibly Scavenging Ooze. Other more fun synergies include the ones outlined below.

In competitive you really are should be playing to the top meta. Most people not playing the top tiers against this deck will more than likely rage quit (at least from my experience).
That being said, I'll go into the general feel of the deck and then explain specific meta matchups and key cards that play roles in them.

General matchups:
The typical style of play you want to take with this deck is clearing out the board early and using plenty of disruption against your opponent so you can fill your graveyard out early. Then resolving a Liliana of the Veil, Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf, Grim Flayer or Scavenging Ooze should give you plenty of attrition points and set up the right winning plays. Sooner or later drawing into a bigger threat (or more attrition/removal), or even something like Lingering Souls to keep chipping away at your opponents life. Man lands obviously help with this goal since when switching to a more aggressive strategy flooding the board shouldn't be hard to achieve (all in all this deck can produce well over 20 creatures).
In most G1s you shouldn't be casting creatures until about turn 3 unless you've already disrupted and established that you should follow an aggressive strategy. The reason for this is to respond to most of your opponents early threats, e.g. T1 IOK, T2, IoK/Seize/Brutality, T3: Goyf/Souls/Lili/Flayer/Scooze/Confidant.


  1. Grixis Death's Shadow: We have so much removal and discard hate, but so do they. Where we shine is that our aggro creatures can have more value than theirs without hurting ourselves as much. We also have a lot of token generation, they dont (Souls wrecks them). Play smart, game 1 could be a toss-up. More than likely a Nihil Spellbomb will be brought in after SB. We should bring in Runed Halo (Bye liliana) and handle scary threats with removal/discard + Surgical Extraction or Scavenging Ooze (Screw your snapcaster).
  2. Burn/Sligh: Well, we do gain quite a bit of life. Animation is also relevant. But their threats will generally be Monastery Swiftspear and Eidolon of the Great Revel, or something like Goblin Piledriver (destroy these fast), other threats may include (sometimes after sb) Blood Moon, if you see this in their hand remove it. After G1, bring in extra Abrupt Decay. We can get rid of their burning rage also with decay (such a good meta card). Here getting rid of bob is probably key. Making them discard, and gaining life while keeping some type of state will be the long play. Runed Halo can also help this matchup. Depends on what kind of burn they are running.
  3. Gift's Storm: Disruption, disruption, disruption. Grapeshot is their obvious wincon, so is Lightning Storm. Collective Brutality can give you a nice 2 for 1 if they have a Goblin Electromancer in play AND a Grapeshot in their hand. Remove that as soon as you see it. SB in Surgical Extraction, be wary of their counter spells. Scavenging Ooze their Grapeshot from their graveyard. Runed Halo works nicely here as well (Protection from grapeshot). These decks also like running Blood Moon so a nice play is to remove it using Surgical Extraction and just beating them down.
  4. Tron/Eldrazi Tron: This decks worst matchup. Once again, disruption plays key here. Realizing what threats will be resolved before you gain decent state is key. Karn Liberated, Wurmcoil Engine, Thought-Knot Seer and ESPECIALLY Walking Ballista are all good choices to target with disruption. Definitely bring in Stony Silence to prevent things like ballista. Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger can also spell trouble. Fortunately, their deck is also midrangey, but it doesn't play nearly as much removal as we do, you may be able to pull ahead. Maelstrom Pulse, and Sigarda, Host of Herons will be helpful. Recommended from SB: Fulminator Mage, Maelstrom Pulse, Stony Silence, Sigarda, Host of Herons Remove 2x Fatal Push, Collective Brutality, 1x Dark Confidant, 3x Inquisition of Kozilek (They aren't playing a whole lot of low casting stuff).
  5. Affinity: Game 1 is going to be tough, no way around that. Game two Stony Silence, Maelstrom Pulse. Cataclysmic Gearhulk is in SB partially due to this matchup, trying to essentially switch your opponents board advantage with your own. You want to remove Cranial Plating with your decays, and target things like Master of Etherium. Etched Champion and Steel Overseer with exile since they are going to be tough. This is a formidable aggro deck. Save your paths for Arcbound Ravager to prevent it from triggering.
  6. Abzan/GW/Naya Company: These are nice decks, but in my opinion not as effective as affinity is due to affinity's synergy. Removal and discards should do its job. Tag that along with Scavenging Ooze to prevent threats from coming back and you should be on your way. Gaining card advantage when top decking should really give you the edge (Thanks to bob). Perhaps bringing in Damnation or Cataclysmic Gearhulk if they are highly efficient. When they are running something like Counter Company, then it becomes a bit more interesting, so look out for those combo cards. Grafdigger's Cage can hamper this deck quite a bit.
  7. Dredge: Scavenging Ooze, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet are key here. Pick the right cards before they can start bringing them back. Their deck can feed your scooze nicely.
  8. Mirror: Here is where bob and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet shine. Card advantage can translate into tempo that the mirror generally does not have, the life gain should also ease things up a bit.
  9. U/W Control/Jeskai Control/Lantern Control: God I hate control. I really really do. It's so damn boring. But it wins. Here we need to turn the deck into something aggressive. Side boarding Sigarda, Host of Herons makes sense against these decks. Be careful not to overextend, Supreme Veredict is a PITA. Luckily we run 4 Lingering Souls and a healthy stack of creatures, not so luckily, their main threats are planeswalkers. SBing Maelstrom Pulse, and using disruption on those walkers when possible while resolving some threats is the ideal play, you should switch your smaller CMC removal for these (E.g. take out pushes). Bob should be able to give you something for your hand, though not as effectively as they are. Decays are relevant for their sideboard, as they will run things like Rest in Peace, Leyline of Sanctity, Runed Halo, etc. Liliana of the Veil can help against Geist of the Saint Traft. Against the jeskai variant, Stony Silence can help. Against lantern, Stony Silence with a healthy chunk of disruption AND decays are going to be the best play. That deck's mana curve is so low, it's crazy. Make sure to use Scavenging Ooze on any important artifacts/spells in their graveyard.
  10. Eldrazi & Taxes: I hate this matchup. It's very effective at slowing down midrange and it's early creatures are good enough that they really put a damper on things. Cataclysmic Gearhulk is going to be a friend. Play like control does, because you won't be able to flood the board as much as this deck can. Maelstrom Pulse can help against players that like resolving multiple Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Removing things like Dark Confidant and Aether Vial early game can slow them down a lot, since that's their ideal way of getting threats out early (and card advantage), but the real threats are Reality Smasher and Thought-Knot Seer, don't forget that. Their strategy is to disrupt using creatures with ETB effects and slow your deck out until they can resolve their big threats. Midrange can stall too, remember that.
  11. Ad Nauseam: Disruption and beat down. Decay their Phyrexian Unlife and winrar.
  12. Elves: I love these types of decks. Perhaps it's because when I first started to play magic back in the early 2000s, elves were my favorite thing in the world. Cards to look out for, Vizier of Remedies, Westvale Abbey  Flip (which you won't be able to target in hand). Path to exile Westvale Abbey  Flip obviously. Side-board in Damnation and Cataclysmic Gearhulk, you should be able to keep some decays in the deck, and perhaps bring in one or both pulses.

Gavony Township: Pump up your creatures at instant speed. Oh yes. Plays well with every creature in the deck.

Shambling Vent: When running bob, any source of lifegain is nice, plus manlands are always nice as they stick around longer than other creatures.

Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: Even though it can help mana fix your opponents playing grixis, the upside is too big. It makes push relevant late game, and gives you the ability to play with your lands a lot more, being able to fetch for basics that come in untapped without taking damage.

Liliana of the Veil: If you're playing black in modern, you're playing Liliana of the Veil. No way around that. It's so useful, it's almost never a dead draw. More than likely won't hit 6 counters, but it will clear the board for you AND disrupt opponents hand...

Liliana, the Last Hope: It's not as good at disruption as Veil, but it can still slow down your opponent (reducing offense, with possible removal), and often powers up goyf and flayer. Returning a fallen creature back to your hand is just salt on wounds.

Dark Confidant: Good ol' bob. LotV can empty your hand also, therefore card advantage is very VERY useful. He combos very nice with flayer.

Grim Flayer: Another obvious requirement. Clearing out clumps, or setting up the right draws... plus a possible 4/4 for 2, the trample is nice since it can be powered up by Township.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet: A great value card that is a nice counter balance to bob. He can remove cards MB which is relevant in meta, and plays nice with Hope. I like rhino, but Kalitas is a whole other kind of monster that most people don't want to see.

Scavenging Ooze: Graveyard removal with extra utilities (The life gain is nice, with the lands you might be paying life for). This goes great against things like Snapcaster Mage, Tarmogoyf, etc. If deck you're going against relies on graveyard play, this can throw a wrench into things.

Siege Rhino: Abzan big daddy, it's great to get your opponent to 3 life and then just cast him for the win.

Tarmogoyf: I shouldn't need to explain this card :)

Maelstrom Pulse: Too good removal. Handles tokens, enchantments, artifacts, creatures...oh yes.

Inquisition of Kozilek: A cheaper Thoughtseize that's versatile enough.

Lingering Souls: Oh, how useful this card is. 4 1/1s with flying are no joke. If you have Gavony Township out, your opponents will hate you.

Thoughtseize: Disruption at its best. Gives you the edge by letting you see what you're playing into, and removes a potential response to potentially a lot of early damage...

Abrupt Decay: Remove almost everything relevant in the meta for 2, not just creatures. Yeah, we want this.

Fatal Push: Most relevant removal black has to offer.

Path to Exile: Pretty much best removal in modern.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk: A different type of board wipe that is more situational than Damnation but gives you the ability to gain board advantage...Combo this guy with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and well...how does the saying go? "You should be able to taste the salt across the table" - KaiserChronic. It's even better if you have a planeswalker out (Both Lilianas are relevant here).

Damnation: Board wipe. Open only in case of emergencies.

Fulminator Mage: In case of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, or any other number of PITA non-basics.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar: Ok, i'm taking the plunge and jumping on the Gideon bandwagon. He should do well against things like angler.

Grafdigger's Cage: An easy way to prevent resurection and other graveyard shennanigans, it is most relevant against coco decks.

Collective Brutality: Disruption, removal, lifegain, all wrapped up in one. Too versatile to not sideboard at least . This card is broken against burn.

Pithing Needle: This + Halo = screw your deck. Things like, LotV, lightning storm, etc.

Runed Halo: This is got high utility. Valkut, Grapeshot, LotV, etc.

Sigarda, Host of Herons: Highly useful against removal heavy decks, or opponent's LotV, Or Tron, etc.

Stony Silence: You can sideboard in these for eldrazi decks, tron, affinity, etc...har har har.

Surgical Extraction: Thoughtseize / Inquisition into this, and bye bye combo (or any other threat...for good).

Already considered (If you have a good case to bring one of these back, go for it, but otherwise I probably will not really think about putting them back in)

  • Kitchen Finks: Used to be in original DL, took it out for confidants
  • 2nd Siege Rhino: Replaced 1 of them for Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and I have not looked back
  • Anafenza, the Foremost: Too slow, and not really a wincon type creature. Requires you to have more than one creature out for the pump which is very situational.
  • Dryad Militant: Not really looking for 1 drops in this type of deck since it's mid range. Pretty much all of the 2 drops in here either get really big, or provide card advantage / setup for me to win following their drop.
  • 2nd Gavony Township: The manabase for this deck is tight. So removing something that provides dual land, or a fetch (which feeds a lot of things in the deck) is a rough call. Besides that, the 4 + Tap is generally a slower play. Might be better in an aggro / ramp deck.
  • Mishra's Bauble: Originally played 4, then took it down to 2, then took them all out because it made the deck slow against aggro matchups. For card advantage, bob is better, for delirium or goyf, there's other ways of getting 4 types in (creature, sorcery, instant, land). Throw in a planeswalker and your goyf is still a 5/6.
  • Drown in Sorrow / Flaying Tendrils: This is a harder call, since it seems like it would be useful in some matchups. I'm currently trying the Cataclysmic Gearhulk and see how it goes. If it's poor, then I might bring one of those back in.
  • Dosan the Falling Leaf: We need to be able to play removal in their turn and creatures in our turn.
  • Dismember: This was another hard call. But I prefer the 3x Push / 3x Path / 1x Brutality split. It gives me a bit of versatility. If i played 2x Path and 4x Push i would probably play this in MB.

Suggestions welcome!


Updates Add

Good week for me in modern so far in cockatrice.


2-0 Modern Humans

We have way too many responses for them to maintain a successful board state. They sideboarded in some G/B hate on G2, but Path took care of that.


2-0 Jund Loam

  • G1 Traded card for card until I played a manland. Then I started topping better than them.
  • G2 He played a very early Leyline of the Void but it did not do him much good. Ultimately kalitas, scooze and runed halo took the game.


2-1 Thopter Combo

  • G1 Lost :(
  • G2 2 Stony Silences tend to make the deck a bit better.
  • G3 Stony silence!


2-1 8Rack

  • G1 Beat him fairly easily. Destroyed / Removed his racks and responses, and resolved quite a few Souls + a scooze.
  • G2 He locked down the board to the point where we were both topdecking and a single response would not have done anything.
  • G3 Kalitas + Sigarda Resolved, SBed in more non-creature specific responses.

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Date added 8 months
Last updated 4 months

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.11
Tokens 1/1 Soldier, 2/2 Zombie, 1/1 Spirit, Liliana, Elspeth
Folders For Playtesting, Modern Decks to Try, Modern Decks, Modern, Decks , Modern Inspirations, Modern Reference, Cool Modern Decks, bye bye, Uncategorized
Top rank #6 on 2017-10-12
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Revision 16 See all

4 months ago)

+3 Plains main
-6 Swamp main
+3 Forest main
+4 Siege Rhino main
+2 Ghost Quarter main
-4 Siege Rhino main
-3 Plains main
+6 Swamp main
-3 Forest main
-9 Fatal Push main
+1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant main
+9 Fatal Push main
+1 Pithing Needle side
-1 Grafdigger's Cage side
-1 Abrupt Decay side
+2 Leyline of Sanctity side
+1 Surgical Extraction side
-1 Runed Halo side
-1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant maybe