SpartanNerd Review…MTG Starter Theme Deck “Abzan Siege.”

Ahhh…The promise of new cards, cards that you will surely need!  You buy a Theme deck, and you can count on having a few good cards.  Then you get the two booster packs…Those have tremendous potential.  So how is “Abzan Siege,” the new “Junk” style deck (White Black Green) from the most recent MTG set, “Khans of Tarkir”?  Read ahead for my review!

1 box front

Here is the front of the box.  The premium foils for Khans of Tarkir in these starter decks has exclusive art, something new!

2 box back

And the back of the box.

3 what's inside

Here’s what you get in the box.  The deck.  A paper that has some details and hype, as well as deck list for all of the starter decks released with this set, and two booster packs.  There is also the new quick guide to playing Magic, which I have already pointed out elsewhere that I think is an improvement for training new players!

I am going to review the contents in this order.

1. Insert/Decklist  2.  Deck.  3.  Thoughts on the deck  4.  BOOSTERS!

4 insert

The art here is pretty good, showcasing Sarkhan the Dragonspeaker.  You get a summary of the wedge color clans.  “Junk” isn’t supposed to be called “Junk” anymore.  It is supposed to be “Abzan” now.  But they can’t make me call it that!  Long live “Junk!”

The back lists the contents of the deck.  Here I will present that extra large so you can read it!  (It also lists the contents of the other decks in this series.  You also get supposed good advice for playing this deck!)

5 decklist

6 encouraging message

Now for the cards…Creatures first.

7 Ivorytusk FOrtress

Ivorytusk Fortress is a great new rare.  As mentioned, this is the only place to get this art officially from the Wizards!  His ability is akin to “Prophet of Kruphix.”  But only for creatures with counters.

8 High Sentenels

There is one other rare, and it is also pretty good!  A great “mana sink” that really enhances your other creatures and gets bigger!

9 commons

Here are the commons.  Really nothing remarkable.  But there IS one good card to open your game with…

10 1 drops


Two copies of this guy.  I am personally a fan of Child of the Night in draft more than constructed.  But disowned Ancestor is a big blocker who gets bigger early!

11 notable cards

These guys are uncommon, and pretty good.  Giving your guys with counters trample, or especially flying isn’t anything to sniff at.

12 more notable cards

But these commons feel similar, but each have problems.  Their power/toughness vs. converted mana cost, and what they ask of you.  I could take or leave them.

13 armament corps

One more uncommon.  I haven’t decided what I think about him yet.  I am leaning away from liking him in constructed.  It isn’t always easy to cast all three colors…much less find two other mana.  And so there are better ways to get counters on your creatures.

Now for the lands…

14 nonbasic lands

Besides regular lands, you also get these guys.  I’m not sure what I think about the Tri-Lands for constructed yet.  You are getting access to each color you need, with the only expense of speed.  If they were only two colors, like the Guildgates from Return to Ravnica, they would be completely out of the question.

But the other lands are “Gain Lands.”  They enter the battlefield tapped, but you gain one life when they enter.  I prefer scrying over gaining life.  So these guys will be the first thing I swap.

Besides these lands, you also get 8 Plains, 7 Swamps, and 6 Forests.

Finally, the other spells.

15 instants and sorceries


16 Abzan Charm

Abzan Charm is what sticks out the most.  This is now one of the best Magic cards!  You get to choose one of each quality that each color in its mana cost does best!

17 kill shot

Kill shot is conditional removal.  I think I like other options better.  It isn’t a bad card, but you know, you have to be being attacked in order to destroy something.  This is a downside for the mana-hungry format being presented in Kahns of Tarkir.

20 incremental growth

And if I’m not mistaken, this card is bad because it REQUIRES three targets.  What if you don’t have three?  Are you really going to put a counter on one of THEIR creatures?  There is a similarity here to Cone of Flame.  But getting stung for one damage isn’t so bad if you need to target yourself in order to Shock a creature and Searing Spear another.

Before I go into the boosters, I think I would like to pause and talk about what I think about this deck.

The mana is just too slow.  Khans of Tarkir is releasing “fetch lands” that allow you to get the land you need.  Fetch lands are good because they are “deck thinner.”  You are getting two cards out of your deck when you crack a fetch land.  And the mana is usable right away.

I haven’t got to play Standard with Kahns of Tarkir yet, but the fetch lands have a TREMENDOUS impact on Modern.  Everyone that is good at Modern plays them.  But they have been expensive, which is why I haven’t had any.  The Modern decks I attempt tend to be easy on the mana because of this.  But now that we are getting these lands, Standard is going to speed up significantly.  I already spoke about playing sealed with this set, how slow it was.  I drafted last night also…It is just slow.  But constructed is going to be a speedy thing of beauty.  Almost like two different games entirely.  I say forget all of the fixing, and pay out or trade for some fetches.

I went ahead and modified this deck, putting in the two copies of “Windswept Heath” that I have acquired.  I also swapped out the gain lands for the scry lands, and also added a couple of pain lands.

The next big change…This deck doesn’t have enough chumps!  Go back up and look at the commons…Go ahead.  I can wait.

Two copies of Disowned Ancestor are the only one drop creature.  Then you have six two drops, two of them Child of the Night, one Sungrace Pegasus, and the other three Ainok Bond Kin.  The Ainok and the Ancestor have Outlast, so that is asking EVEN MORE mana.

Outlast is weak sauce for combat.  It is good in the early game if you don’t have anything to play.  I’ll give it that.  But so far I don’t see it being an effective way of getting counters.  I feel better about incremental boosts from static abilities than using this activated ability, which requires a tap, so you can’t do it on the turn they come out, and requires a tap, which also keeps them out of combat.

I swapped in some good stuff.  Fleecemane Lion.  That is the kind of two-drop people need to play in Standard.  How about something like Favored Hoplite?  Then you hit him with a boost spell, and he gets counters.  Because he has counters, then he reaps benefits from say, Abzan Falconer.

So it is a synergistic deck as it is vanilla, with no modification.  But it isn’t strong enough.  At least not for the Metagame in Spartanburg.

So I rate this deck a 2/5.  I really appreciate the two rares…those were great!  I was glad to really learn a few new cards, and I wanted “Abzan Falconer” and another copy of “Abzan Charm.”  The art in the insert is average for what it is.  Sarkahn looks cool, but that is all it really has going for it.  But the deck just isn’t strong enough for a competitive metagame.  It is great for what it is…a deck for new players learning to play the game.  I see kids get ahold of a product like this, and they think they have something really really special with that foil rare.  It is shock and awe for them.  But it falls flat for expert purposes.

Now for the boosters!

I said before that I would open the boosters and photograph them live from sets like this!  So here goes!  What did I get in the first pack?

21 booster 1

Don’t know who this is on the package.  Don’t care either!

First my commons.

22 commons

First the commons…There is my sixth copy of “Jungle Hollow.”

Next the uncommons…

23 uncommons

Temur Charger just isn’t my thing.  I don’t play red either.  The vampire guy’s art really creeps me out.  What is that tongue hanging down below his chin?  (shudder)  This is the kind of card I like to use.  I just don’t know how I will use it yet.


24 rare and extrasMaster of Pearls

Let’s have a closer look,

25 master of pearls

This card is all over the place.  You can hard cast it as a 2/2 for CMC2.  If you do, he might as well be vanilla, I suppose.

But he has Morph…When he flips over from being morphed, all creatures you control get +2/+2, which is something!

The problem here will be what it asks of you.  It wants five mana, two of which have to be white.

In draft yesterday and sealed deck, I got a copy of this card.  Usually it gets removed before its ability can trigger.

Now for Booster pack number 2!

26 Booster two

The guy pictured here was BEAST in sealed deck…

27 commons

You gotta love that art for “Savage Punch!”

28 savage punch

Now for the uncommons…

29 uncommons


Chief of the Edge is my favorite here.  He goes with the other chief, and they boost each other.

And my rare was…

30 rare and extras


Mantis Rider.  Not bad.  He is the “America” creature that coincides with “Lightning Angel.”

31 mantis raider



So no planeswalkers.  No mythic rares.  No premium foils.  Just plain old boosters.

I rate the Abzan Siege deck at 2/5.  What would you rate it,   Let me know in the comments!



One thought on “SpartanNerd Review…MTG Starter Theme Deck “Abzan Siege.”

  1. Just bought this… I’d say a 3/5 only because I pulled a Foil Rare from one of the Boosters and it is a great way to build your Abzan cards to rebuild the deck into a bigger and better one.

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