Abzan Control hasn’t seen much play since Elspeth, Sun’s Champion rotated out. The deck often struggled in game 1 while improving dramatically after sideboard. Solid creatures, removal, card draw, and a premium finisher form the recipe for a strong deck.
Siege Rhino is still the centerpiece to any Abzan deck. It plays offense and defense. Casting a Siege Rhino and untapping with it still in play is when the Abzan deck turns the corner.
The rest of the creatures are made up of spells that can be cast early, but have plenty of application late game. Sylvan Advocate is a solid early blocker that becomes a huge threat later in the game. Hangarback Walker can enter the battlefield turn 2 and begin to take over the game, presenting a potential future army. Den Protector is a mediocre early play, but it has that option. Later in the game, it’s pure card advantage and some potential evasion.
One card that has fallen out of favor in Standard is the extremely hyped Languish. This is a powerful sweeper that was heralded as the answer for Abzan Control, playing well with Siege Rhino and Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Sweepers don’t see much play in Standard, which is actually a huge benefit to playing one. When you have creatures in your deck, players are less likely to play around sweepers. When a card like Languish sees little play in a format, it’s poised for the perfect comeback.
The Abzan planeswalkers all work very well together to have a similar theme: creating a token army and pumping it up. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, and Sorin, Solemn Visitor can all make and grow an army. They play well together and are all excellent threats on a board that has been Languished. On an empty board, the planeswalkers can take over, but they all have the ability to help protect themselves by making their own creatures.
Abzan Control has the potential to catch overextended players off-guard. With so many powerful options, it may be the perfect time to break out this old friend!