The Green Ponder

Oath of the Gatewatch is getting closer, so it’s time to brew with the few cards we have at our disposal! One of the cards that grabbed my attention most was Oath of Nissa.

oath of nissa

I love this card—and I think that it will be heavily played in Standard. Ponder is banned in Modern, and this isn’t that much different. You can’t get instants, sorceries, artifacts, or enchantments from it, but in Standard that’s not that big of a deal—you can build your deck in order to never miss, and that’s what we are going to do today.

Fixing mana for planeswalkers might seem like a joke, but it could be relevant if you are playing multiple planeswalkers with a double-colored mana cost like Gideon, Ob-Nixilis, and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.

The legendary line is totally irrelevant since you’ll just sacrifice the old one, which will just help fuel delve cards.

With the full set of creature-lands spoiled, we now know the new BG creature-land: Hissing Quagmire.


This land is interesting: it’s great versus Abzan, but weak versus Jeskai and Atarka Red. It is definitely worse than Shambling Vent, but it will see plenty of play in Standard—not much in Modern though.

So many taplands means that having a 1-drop in the deck is an incredible asset, since you can craft your game plan while developing your mana. That’s why I feel comfortable playing a deck with a high number of taplands, even in a format this fast, because I’ll be able to structure my game plan easily thanks to Oath of Nissa.

Today I have a deck for you that I worked on a lot for the World Magic Cup: Abzan Control.

Yes, Team Unified Constructed is a much different format, and my inclination to build Abzan Control over Abzan Aggro was almost entirely due to the fact that we didn’t have Flooded Strand and Wooded Foothills at our disposal—but Oath of the Gatewatch might see the rebirth of Abzan Control in conventional Standard.

Abzan Control

Card Choices

Nissa, Voice of Zendikar


This is another crucial part of the puzzle: a versatile, cheap planeswalker that defends itself. Double-green can be an issue on turn 3, but keep in mind Oath of Nissa’s second ability! 2 copies of Nissa, Vastwood Seer next to this might be a problem, but you can keep the young Nissa in creature form until the late game, and maybe kill your own Nissa, Voice of Zendikar with its -2 ability to make room for Nissa, Sage Animist.


Largely forgotten, Languish is still great because the metagame right now is composed of Abzan Aggro, Jeskai Mentor, Mardu, Esper Dragons, and Atarka Red. In particular, against Esper Dragons, it’s very important to have an answer to Dragonlord Ojutai without letting your opponent untap with it in play. It’s also great with multiple planeswalkers and creatures like Siege Rhino and Tasigur, the Golden Fang.

Hangarback Walker

This is another card that has fallen off the radar a little. It’s very powerful against Jeskai and Esper, especially if you are playing Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Languish.
And as with Oath of Nissa, a 1-mana effect is great when you have multiple taplands, since you can find lots of windows to level it up.

Mana Base

12/13 taplands might be too many, but I just threw down a mana base of 17-16-16 in order to cast all the double-cost cards without trimming creature-lands. You can’t play all these creature-lands if you want the fetchland-plus-battleland mana base, and I really wanted it. Of course, if this doesn’t work, you’ll be free to play the classic Abzan mana base and maybe just replace 1 Hissing Quagmire with 1 Shambling Vent, but I’m not sure on that.

Flaying Tendrils



Because I’m already playing 3 Languishes, I didn’t need to go big here. This card is great though, and when you aren’t playing red for Kozilek’s Return you’ll be forced to play this in order to keep Atarka Red, Pia and Kiran Nalaar, and any other aggro deck in check.

Kalitas, Traitor of Geth


I wanted to mention this card, just because it might be a good addition to the anti-Rally sideboard. I’m not sure if it’s better than Anafenza—it plays around Languish better, but it’s more expensive and that could be an issue against a combo deck.

I hope you liked this list and I’d like to discuss it together—don’t focus too much on the mana base, again, it’s just a first draft and it can easily be the traditional fetchland-plus-battleland mana base.

I’ll be here to answer your questions in the comments!


Scroll to Top