Now that Oko, Once Upon a Time, and Veil of Summer are gone for good from Standard, I was scavenging around old deck lists that could have potential in this new meta. The first lists I tried were my Esper Hero ones, but the preliminary results weren't very good - too much [[Doom Foretold]] and board wipes to make a value-oriented midrange list to shine, it seems, at least without some serious thinkering. But then I tried this Abzan Hero list and, lo and behold, it seemed to work pretty well against the current field. It has tools against aggro AND control, due to being able recurr high value cards from the graveyard. So, I'm sharing it with your good people.
The original list is not mine: it's an old list by Todd Stevens, which I altered slightly for the current meta.
We are a midrange deck revolving around playing 2 to 5 mana value threats, like [[Hero of Precint One]], [[Kethis, the Hidden Hand]], [[Rankle, Master of Pranks]], and [[Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves]], paired with efficient removal like [[Assassin's Trophy]], [[Murderous Rider]] and [[Moritfy]], and topped with some 6 mana bombs to close longer games. Unlike other Hero decks, we also have a minor theme of graveyward recursion, through [[Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord]] and Kethis - who can bring back not only value legendary creatures like [[Trostani Discordant]] and Tolsimir, but also our planeswalkers and even a fatal [[Oath of Kaya]] to push for those 3 final points of damage if needed.
Against aggro, we have efficient creatures to block ([[Hero of Precint One]] can generate lots of free blockers, Kethis is a decent 3/4 for 3 mana, [[Knight of Autumn]] can grow bigger or provide us with 4 life, etc.), cheap removal ([[Assassin's Trophy]], [[Legion's End]], [[Mortify]], [[Murderous Rider]]...) and surprisingly enough life gain to stabilize after establishing a decent board. If you can stick a Sorin on the board and profitably attack with your lifelinkers, you usually win the game on the spot.
Against midrange, we try to outvalue them using engines like [[Hero of Precint One]] + [[Vraska, Golgari Queen]] (to draw cards from the sacrificed tokens), [[Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves]] + [[Garruk, Cursed Huntsman]] to fight opposing creatures, and [[Kethis, the Hidden Hand]] recurring threats from the graveyard - we have enough "expendable" legends like Oath of Kaya and Kethis to be able to bring back powerful stuff like Garruk, [[Bolas Citadel]], and [[Trostani Discordant]]. Trostani is, of course, also pretty key if the opponent is playing those Simic Ramp lists with [[Mass Manipulation]] and [[Agent of Treachery]], so you can get back whatever creatures they steal (not your planeswalkers though - take care!).
Against control, the general plan is trying to pressure them early with our early game, and then after some board wipes and removal, outvalue them with cards like [[Bolas Citadel]] and [[Garruk, Cursed Huntsman]]. Most control decks right now seem to be banking on enchantments (maybe still consequence of Oko?) like [[Doom Foretold]] and [[Fires of Invention]], and our deck is surprisingly apt at handling both enchantments and artifacts even pre-sideboard, with [[Assassin's Trophy]] and [[Knight of Autumn]] and [[Mortify]].
A card that wasn't in the original list by Todd is [[Rankle, Master of Pranks]] - it used [[Doom Whisperer]] instead to fill the greveyard for Kethis and Sorin. I decided to try Rankle as a faster way to attack the opponent's hand and creatures (since we can potentially sacrifice Soldier tokens for his ability), and it has been a very good curve filler that sometimes can be played from a 3-lander hand (if you untap with Kethis in play). All and all, I'm really impressed with this card even if it is somewhat wonky to cast on a 3-color deck.
Most of our sideboard is either color or archetype-specific, so it doesn't need too much consideration. [[Duress]] against control, [[Devout Decree]] against BR aggro strategies, [[Noxious Grasp]] against WU aggro and midrange strategies...
I opted to still have [[Kaya, Orzhov Usurper]] as an alternative both against Esper Stax decks (you usually wanbt to plop her if you can remove two eggs or Doom Foretolds from the graveyward at once) and Adventure decks (because her -1 hits a lot of 1 mana threats on those decks).
The only outlier in the sideboard is [[Sorcerous Spyglass]], now that Oko is gone. However, the spyglass still stops planeswalkers from being activaed, and also [[Witch's Oven]] - it's usually easier to stop their Food-generating engine than trying to exile the [[Cauldron Familiar]] (although I suppose some [[Cry of the Carnarium]] could do the trick, if that deck increases in popularity).
I'm really interested in trying [[Underrealm Lich]] in this build, but can't really find the spot for it - Tolsimir is just too good on that 5 mana spot.
[[Doom Whisperer]] could be considered back in place of Rankle - keep in mind, Rankle seems to really tie the package together.
Now that Oko and his Elk-morphosis are gone, [[Seraph of Scales]] could be tried in place of [[Basilica Bell-Haunt]] since it's easier to cast AND it can generate non-ETB value.
|Instant, Sorcery, Enchantment, Artifact (11)|
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