Tag Archives: Abzan

Abzan Cards I Own (Standard, Take 2)

(Editor’s Note: As with many of my decks, you will notice an underlying theme.)

This deck is inspired by Gerrard Fabiano and his “Sultai Cards I Own Deck” from the first SCG.com Modern open that I watched. ‘Not being on his level as a player, I don’t have nearly the cards, so it is considerably more on the pauper end, but still strong. I went 1-1 in games against two different decks with it last night against Chris.

Main Deck ‘(60 Cards)

Creatures (23)

Abzan Battle Priest (2): Outlast and gives all other creatures with +1 counters lifelink. A bit of overkill depending on the board, but still helpful.
Abzan Falconer (2): Outlast and gives all other creatures with +1 counters flight. Good for all of the potential dragons if you don’t get the Longshot Squad.
Abzan Guide (3): Expensive, but the lifelink is nice and it can be a cool morph trick.
Abzan Skycaptain (2): I only have purchased one fat pack of Fate so far and got 2 of these guys. Bolster is stronger than Outlast and plays well with the other guys who buff +1 counters.
Ainok Bond Kin (3): First strike to dudes with +1 counters. If you can combo with one of the other guys, you can really trade well.
Disowned ancestor (3): Nice, cheap chump blocker that can become more with Outlast and combo players.
Longshot Squad (2): These guys might be the first to go because of the Falconers, but good right now just in case.
Voyaging Satyr (4): Underrated mana dorks, in my opinion.
Wardscale Dragon (2): Dragons finally made it into one of my decks. They are pretty powerful. Who knew?

Spells (10)

Dragonscale Boon (3): +1 counters and untap for unexpected up trade on your opponents turn.
Feat of Resistance (3): I can see why this card is so popular on the open and pro circuits. It also fits well with the theme.
Pacifism (2): My favorite Magic Card.
Murderous Cut (2): Strong Removal fed by the other spells and Evolving Wilds with Delve.

Artifacts (2)

Abzan Banner (2): Mana plus potential card draw. Sounds good to me.

Legendary Enchantment Artifact (1)

Bow of Nylea (1): I had one of these lying around and it seemed to fit pretty well.

Land (24)

Blossoming Sands (2)
Evolving Wilds (4)
Forest (4)
Jungle Hollow (2)
Plains (8)
Scoured Barrens (2)
Swamp (2)

Sideboard (8)

Drown in Sorrow – 3
Bile Blight – 3
Grim Contest – 2

I’m still working on the deck and the side board. ‘I might work in some End Hostilities, but I don’t know what else right now. ‘Picking up my Dragons of Tarkir cards next week, so the deck will most likely look very different. ‘Isn’t that what Standard is all about, though? ‘Finding the cards that work for you and your deck playing them. ‘Stay tuned as this one evolves. ‘Click the Outlast tag below to see former iterations and that evolution.

Do You Want to Build Some Standard?

(Editor’s Note: Chris asked this question a couple of weeks ago. Before you ask, yes he sang it just like the girl from Frozen. He has a beautiful singing voice.)

I was never interested in the various formats of Magic or what they meant until about a month ago. One of my favorite Magic streamers pointed me to the Vintage Super League on the Magic Twitch page as his stream ended. Left without any options, I followed the link. Boy, am I glad that I did. I have watched every episode, learned Magic from some of the best players, and even developed a rooting interest. I’m bummed that one of my new favorite players and commentators got bumped for being in last place. This is not about Vintage, though. My article on VSL is here and I might revisit it at the end of the season.

My voyage through the history of Magic continued with the StarCityGames.com Modern event (I know Chris said that we shouldn’t advertise them until they pay us, but click the link and tell ’em 2 Guys Gaming sent ya. Maybe that will lead to something.) in Baltimore. By this time, I knew more bout the archetypes and strategies of Vintage, but knew nothing about Modern. Once again, that was about to change. One player in the event captured my attention, admiration, and imagination with his deck. That story is told here.

Of these two formats, I liked Modern the most. While it can be fun to watch the turn one and two kills in Vintage and watch how some of the most powerful cards in the history of the game interact in the hands of the best players, at times it can be anticlimactic. Because those enablers aren’t available in Modern, the games are generally more interactive. Unfortunately, there aren’t many Modern events shown, so I just watched the Vintage Super League every week and hoped to find a random streamer playing Modern.

I avoided Standard for one main reason. I heard that Standard consisted of mainly the same decks with little to no variation. Having only watched Hearthstone in a competitive setting, this worried me. Because Hearthstone has such a limited pool of cards, the competitive scene is literally the same few decks played all the time. Because Hearthstone is free to play and online, I then see those decks from many of the players that I meet in game. It’s boring and tedious. Competitive Magic doesn’t suffer that problem. Since there are so many more cards, the same archetype will look diverse from player to player. Larger decks also increase variance and the same deck plays differently in each game.

I finally tuned in for Standard one weekend during a Star City Games broadcast. They advertised the event during the Modern one. I noticed that it was in Miami, winter still raged here in Massachusetts, and I wanted to live vicariously through all the lucky warm people in Florida. I never expected that I would experience the insanity depicted in the picture below.


I absolutely loved it. Sometimes it is fun to try to break this game that we love. It’s what I’m attempting to do with every deck that I build. I’m never this successful but that is why I’m where I am and they were all in Miami on that cold weekend.

Clearly, Standard is more than just a gimmicky life gain deck. It’s about the skill and the intrigue, the perceived heroes and villains, the wonder and promise of a new set. Dan Lebatard is fond of saying that sports are soap operas for men. I no longer care about sports the way that I once did, but video and card games have taken their place. Hell, watching streams are much more fun than watching sports because even if the game or match isn’t interesting, you can bet that chat will be.

From pointing out incorrect missed lethal to upholding the virtues of proper land placement and pace of play, Twitch chat rarely fails to entertain. The only thing that I don’t like and can’t understand is the persistent spam for no reason. I know that I sound like an old man. In this instance, I’m proud of my old man-ness and defend it against the unwashed spamming masses. I go to Twitch to learn (no kap) and the spam makes learning and conversation impossible. Wow, that digression…but watch me bring it all back. That’s one of the reason I only watch Magic streams now. The spam does not exist, questions can be answered, and intelligent discussions are the rule rather than the exception. The chat for Star City Games hovers just on the edge between spam and productive, but their coverage is top notch. Their announcers know a lot about Magic, are passionate about the game, and are entertaining. Since discovering their stream, I have not missed and event and I am even planning to go to Rhode Island to see one live.

So, when Chris suggested that we build a couple of decks that will conform to the standard rules, I agreed to the idea without hesitation. We normally play Legacy (a format that I mistakenly thought was just a different name for Vintage) and have all of the cards from the history of Magic at our disposal. We are obviously limited by cost and availability, but not much else. We have built some fun, and even powerful, decks that you can find by following the “decks lists” link in the menu on the left.

My most recent entry into that category is my first attempt at a standard deck. I am also working on a 4-color deck as my other deck. I doubt that I will be able to afford all the cards, but I have been playtesting it and it is fun, so I might proxy the cards to see how it plays in live competition. As we all know, that can often turn out counter to expectations.

Since I can’t build that deck now (or maybe ever) unless I use proxies, I tweaked my Abzan list to make it standard legal. In keeping with my love of sometimes overlooked mechanics and +1/+1 counters, I tried to make a deck with Outlast and a little bit of Bolster strategy. Chris went Jeskai Heroic, so I answered with Abzan Outlast. I can’t wait to see the match with all the counters flying around. Stay tuned to the page for the aftermath.

Well, that’s the story of how I’ve gone from resurrected Magic neophyte to building and practicing in all formats, even if only virtually in the case of modern and vintage…so far. I bet that many of you have a similar story to tell. Maybe you have the money to actually play in Modern. Who knows? Maybe if I get another summer class, then I will look into getting some cards to put together a starter Modern deck and join an event or two. Hope to see you. If not, tell me about your favorite format or deck in the comments.

Attempting Abzan on the Cheap

(Editor’s Note:

Chris came up with the idea a couple of weeks ago to delve (pun fully intended) into Standard with a couple of our decks to explore the strategy of having to update decks periodically as new sets are released and old sets rotate out. This doesn’t mean that we are going away from our traditional Legacy decks, but it is good to be able to experience all of the different aspects of the game. I knew immediately that one of my decks was going to be a RDW deck. That’s one of the first decks that almost everyone creates in any format because it is usually cheap and can be very effective even against more expensive decks.

I still don’t know what my other deck will be. I’m pretty sure that I want to go with some sort of blue/white or blue/black control, but I don’t want to limit myself without trying out as many of the deck archetypes as I can. I should also remind you that I’m not a singles buyer, I’m a bulk collector. I generally buy a box and a fat pack of each set and whatever cards I pull are the cards that I have to build my decks. Therefore, to test some decks, I built pretty cheap decks from pauper shells that I found online. One of those decks was a Temur morph deck because I really keep trying to make Temur work, but I just can’t figure out how. The other was Abzan and that one actually has the makings of a good deck. I don’t know if it will be part of my final list, but it is making me consider it as an option.

Abzan Outlast “Pauper”

Spells/Artifacts – 11

Abzan Banner – 2 (The banners are pretty slow, but any time you can get mana or card draw, go for it.)
Dragonscale Boon – 3 (+1 counters are good in the deck because they can grant reach, plus untapping for a surprise blocker is good)
Feat of Resistance – 4 (More +1 counters plus protection lets you block while avoiding damage.)
Grim Contest – 2 (To be honest, I’m not even sure if this card is good. I just picked it because it has the nickname of “Butt Fight”.)

Creatures – 25

Abzan Guide – 3 (This is expensive, but it is a morph, so can hit the board earlier than if hard cast. Once it is turned up, it has lifelink and is a pretty significant body at 4/4.)
Abzan Skycaptain – 2 (This is a bit overcosted, but it is flying and Chris likes his dragons. Also, bolster is okay for the +1s).
Ainok Bond-Kin – 4 (Not a great 2 drop with Outlast. Mainly because I needed some low cost bodies.)
Disowned Ancestor – 2 (0/4 is a good blocker with Outlast for only one black. Good for “Butt Fight”.)
Longshot Squad – 2 (Outlast, gives all other creatures with +1s reach. Did I mention how much Chris likes dragons?)
Midnight Guard – 4 (Okay, not standard, but a pretty good low cost minion. Will definitely have to replace this if I go Abzan as my other standard deck.)
Unyielding Krumar – 2 (Another okay, but not great minion. The first strike ability is nice and will trade favorably with many other minions.)
Voyaging Satyr – 4 (Having mana is always nice, but I think I might already have enough for this deck. These guys might be moved into my Temur deck if I decide to proceed with that one.)
Wardscale Dragon – 2 (I jokingly said, “History is made this day.” when I played this guy and then Chris promptly removed him. I knew there was a reason that I didn’t play these stupid dragons.)

Lands – 24

Blossoming Sands – 2
Forest – 6
Jungle Hollow – 2
Plains – 7
Scoured Barrens – 2
Swamp – 5

This was a fun deck to play and it is definitely something to consider expanding into an actual standard deck, but I’m still on the blue/white or blue/black, so I don’t think that I will use it as one of my standard spots. Still, it is the start of an interesting deck and something that I might continue to build into a regular deck during our games.