Many people are fans of playing Abzan Control. But many, many people are NOT fans of playing Abzan Control. This article is for the latter group.
Your deck: Abzan Control.
Your Record: Too damn many to count. Congratulations, you just took down the World Championships on the back of an undercosted wildebeest.
Why is this deck so good again? Hmmm…oh yea.
Following your dreams is exactly what got us into this mess. You might think the picture is ridiculous, but I'm pretty sure if you filled the next space shuttle with enough Siege Rhinos instead of fuel you'd fire that sucker straight to Mars in under eleven minutes, completely on accident of course.
This deck most recently won Worlds with Seth Manfield playing it. For frame of reference, I once had to hold Seth's hand as we walked across a giant sheet of ice in Dallas/Fort Worth a few years back, and now he's gone and won the freaking World Championship. If that's not allegorical, I don't know what is.
I've never in my life wanted to have a physical manifestation of a deck exist so I could smash it in the mouth as hard as I can with an ultimate punch. Readers out there are probably like "man, I wish he'd quit complaining about this deck," but no one made you click this link. You knew what you were signing up for the minute you waltzed in here. If you're one of those people playing this deck, you should be ashamed of yourself.
There has never been a deck more generic and infuriating to play against. Abzan Control pilots are the worst, too. They switch one card out of the maindeck and act like they've completely revolutionized the format.
You mean you switched a removal spell for a removal spell? Did da Vinci come to you in a dream and help you create that masterpiece? Just kidding. You didn't dream, because how could you sleep at night hitching your buggy to this coma-inducing thing?
At the end of the day, this deck almost entirely hinges on a card that had no business being printed. "We play what's legal," the rabble in the comments are undoubtedly crying. Of course you do! Why wouldn't you play a Lightning Helix that happens to have a Chillwind Yeti strapped to it?
Full disclosure: I played Rhino the other night at an FNM. In two games against my aggro opponent I cast it six times. Six times. He won approximately zero of those games, and despite having pretty solid boardstates, he just sat there and stared at me. Staring at your opponent is a pretty exciting way to play Magic, isn't it kiddies? Everyone's having a great time!
The fact that portions of this deck are rotating in a month makes me want to do the Mail Dance from Blue's Clues. Wag my tail and such. For all that people say about how skill intensive the mirrors are, it's abysmal for people to have to watch on camera. You know what a great way to lose viewers is? Put this deck on stream enough and watch them lapse into slumber. We sure are gonna miss this, won't we?
Your Deck: Abzan Control is the Citizen Kane of Magic decks. Everyone automatically defaults to it as the best deck, but when you ask people to explain why they always shrug their shoulders and say "everyone says it is." That's some infallible logic right there. You can't even touch that with Casey Jones's cricket bat.
Oh boy! Strap yourselves in! We're going on an adventure!
The deck itself is just about the most boring contraption ever created. I've run out of pen ink just scribbling down the life changes, and that's only in game ones.
My biggest gripe with Abzan Control is it always tricks you into thinking that it's going to be the best deck, but every time you play it it's poorly positioned. It wins a tournament so it must kick ass, right? You bring it and then everyone else starts packing Abzan Rally or forty Mantis Riders with maindeck Disdainful Stroke and you're over here like "I wonder if I can beat this Bant Heroic deck" and then they make a 12/13 Favored Hoplite backed by Gods Willing and, in that moment, you truly know how it feels to get punched in the groin.
Even more maddening is the fact that one of the hard-counters to this deck is Abzan Aggro, which is Abzan Control with Anafenza and maindeck Fleecemane Lion instead of sideboarded ones. Let's just slap Aggro on every deck that attacks a player. Jeskai plays Mantis Rider and counterspells. Let's call it Jeskai Aggro! That Jace, Vryn's Prodigy is probably the most aggressive planeswalker ever printed. So is Dig Through Time. It's like reading a manga. Everything is aggressive. Tune in next week when Jeff Hoogland plays a U/G Thopter Assembly deck that wins with Nissa's Revelation, hereby dubbed U/G Aggro.
Your Best Cards: Secretly Abzan Charm is the best card in that deck, but you'll be damned if anyone talks about it that way. Courser of Kruphix, 2014's breakout Wormfang Turtle, is that card everyone wants to cut but no one will because Brad Nelson hasn't told you how yet. I love Courser because when I'm slightly behind or even it'll always reveal either an Elspeth or Atarka for my opponent, but when I have it in play it'll reveal eight lands. At least I didn't draw them all, right? This card is like my misery manifested.
Den Protector is ridiculous and can be attributed to most of the wins this deck manages to take. What's better than four Thoughtseize? How about six. Taste it nerd. You don't even get to play Magic. When I have a full grip and they return something other than Thoughtseize, I immediately want to knock their deck off the table because I know I'm dead. I'm just going through the motions at this point.
Everything else is interchangeable. The removal is already all there- only the numbers change. Congratulations, Abzan Control players. You have your pick of like twenty options that all say "kill creatures." The deck literally builds itself. Seriously. The cards grow legs, walk into the sleeves, shuffle themselves, and then I just sit there and watch the kids in the shop play Smash on the Wii U. They play something? Yeah, it dead. They play two somethings? Languish it. They play three somethings? Minus Elspeth. When I play Abzan Control I mostly just write "lol" down on the lifepad. When I Thoughtseize I act like I'm writing their hand when I'm really writing the lyrics to "Wanna Be A Baller." But there's got to be a better way.
What's New That Sucks: Remember when Languish was supposed to warp the format and ruin all those Mono-Red decks? Yeah, me too. Still waiting on that. Pretty sure if I had a magic meatball to shake it would say "all signs point to no." Instead of something that was going to tilt the odds forever in the favor of Abzan Control, we got a slightly more expensive Drown in Sorrow that doesn't let you scry. Sure, it's great sometimes. It's not the four-of people thought it was going to be, however. Hope y'all enjoyed those ten dollar preorders on them. I know I did. I love wasting money.
What Has Always Sucked: People act like Abzan Control is the alpha and the omega of Standard, when it's been proven time and time again that the right metagame can be very hostile towards it. Sure, keep it in your gauntlet and stupidly audible to it at a Pro Tour like I did, but don't act like playing it is somehow a surefire way to win games of Magic.
With the redundancy that it has, it's also prone to drawing the wrong portion of your deck a lot of the time. Imagine being a football team and sending out your punting unit on first and goal. That's Abzan Control in the clutch. The best deck ever at choking.
You're playing against Mono-Red? Hope you enjoy drawing all those Abzan Charms and Elspeths.
That's the irony of this deck! It has everything you could need and you'll only draw it fifty percent of the time. How many times have you said "I got crushed game one because I drew all the wrong cards." People love hearing you say that, by the way. It's like when the school bully trips down the stairs and cries when he skins his knee. Everyone knows he has it coming, and it's insanely satisfying when it does.
What Might Not Suck: When this deck operates on all cylinders in the hands of a competent pilot, it's pretty difficult to lose. Watching Matt Sperling or Danny Jessup play it is awesome. Whenever you play it well you always have a puncher's chance of beating your opponent, and it really rewards tight play and great sideboarding. You're always at least 50% against most decks in the format, and for some people, those are odds they can really get behind. This is the porridge that's just right, but in the end porridge is disgusting and you should feel bad for eating it.
Now let's hear it from our Abzan fans in the comments below.