Skluby-Doo and the Abzan Crew (An FNM Journey)
This is the story of my great (not really) adventure at the Wizards Tower FNM on Friday November 14.
Abzan Midrange-Lukas Sklubal
4 Courser of Kruphix
4 Siege Rhino
4 Sylvan Caryatid
2 Wingmate Roc
2 Elvish Mystic
1 Sorin, Solemn Visitor
1 Bile Blight
4 Drown in Sorrow
2 End Hostilities
1 Whip of Erebos
2 Glare of Heresy
1 Ajani, Mentor of Heroes
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
1 Murderous Cut
The list I ran was very similar to the one I wrote about last time but I switched the board around a little due to some under-performing cards like Windstorm and Thoughtseize. I will be discussing at the very end of the article the things I want to change and what I see Abzan doing to progress in the meta. But, without further delay, let the rounds begin and the shenanigans ensue.
Round 1: R/W Midrange
This matchup is not too difficult for the Abzan player if you don’t sit around doing nothing in the first few turns. Fleecemane Lion is always a welcome sight in this match up as it absorbs some burn and is unanswerable when monstrous.
Game 1 I had an early start with an Elvish Mystic into a Courser to get me going. The Courser got Chained but I had a steady stream of threats that kept the pressure on and I closed out the game in a timely fashion.
Game 2 he mulled to 5 and I got a turn 3 Siege Rhino that quickly put the game away.
Glare and Cut are for more removal. Sorin is a faster threat than Elspeth and my opponent had Raise the Alarms and Hordeling Outbursts so I needed more ways to unclog the board without using more situational sorcery speed answers.
Round 2: Sultai Dredge
This is a really difficult matchup as they have a better end game than you, and ways to recur those threats with a Whip of Erebos. You really need to keep a more aggressive hand to beat these decks, as Hornet Queen is hard to answer.
Game 1 my opponent mulled to six and got stuck on lands early. My rhino and other threats were able to push through and take the game before he was able to stabilize with Sagu Mauler.
Game 2 I kept a more aggressive hand and played my removal to kill every threat he played. He cast a Whip on turn 4 and looked to be getting himself back against my aggressive start, but I was able to remove his blocker to get more damage through than what he could gain back from lifelinking creatures. I closed out the game quickly thereafter.
I brought in cards that would help me in the long game if I were unable to close the game out fast enough. I kept a Bile Blight in to hedge against a potential Empty the Pits that could end me in short order.
Round 3: U/W Control splash Green for Kiora, the Crashing Wave
Fleecemane Lion in the main deck really helps in game 1 against all the control decks, as it really strains their individual removal early in the game. The post board games become more difficult, however.
Game 1 I didn’t really do a whole other then resolve a Siege Rhino only to have it removed with a Banishing Light. I conceded quickly after Kiora’s Krakens started dropping down. Didn’t see any Hero’s Downfalls to help before she got out of control.
Game 2 I got going much faster and put enough threats on the board to have a chance. He was forced to wrath but I still had gas so I was able to pull through and finish him off.
I stayed in Game 3 for a lot of the early turns until I made an error that likely lost me the match. I had a Courser in play and he was ticking a Kiora up targeting my Courser every turn. I had the choice of playing a Siege Rhino or playing a Wingmate Roc. I chose Rhino thinking that he would let me kill Kiora and that it would end the game faster. Roc would have been the better play as it plays around targeted removal much more effectively. He killed me with Krakens soon after.
Duneblast and Bile Blight are terrible here so they are immediately gone. Abzan Charms are abit worse then Downfall, as I really need an answer to Kiora. It was here that I decided I really needed the Thoughtseizes back in my board. Shout out to Tom Kralik for adding a good threat to U/W control that makes the match up a lot harder.
Round 4: Mono Red
I heard a lot of mixed impressions of how bad this match up actually is for the Abzan player. I have tailored a lot of my choices to help me in this match up specifically.
Game 1 my opponent mulled to 6 and still had a pretty fast start. I was down to 10 in no time at all. Fortunately, I was able to get a bit tricky with Abzan Charm, a card that is usually atrocious in this matchup, and turn a Caryatid into a hexproof blocker that helped me contain his Frenzied Goblins. My opponent got me to 6 before I started fighting back with Siege Rhino’s and Sorin.
Game 2 went a lot better for me as he only got me to 14 before I started cracking back and taking control of the game. Fleecemane Lion was a huge help and double Rhino is always a welcome sight against red decks. I cast Drown in Sorrow to finish the remainder of his guys and I won a turn or 2 after.
As mentioned in game 1 Charm is terrible as it hits nothing in their deck unless they pump it and Elspeth is incredibly slow even if she provides great blockers. Drown and Blight are to mop up their wider game plans, and Sorin makes races very winnable for you.
Record: 3-1 and placed 3rd (TEDitors Note: Would’ve been 4-0 if it weren’t for Kiora and her meddling Krakens)
I see now that my Meta has shifted away from the agro decks and has landed on more midrange and control decks. With this in mind, I am going to be switching a few slots in my maindeck and board. I know that I don’t really want a Duneblast main anymore and Thoughtseize will have to return to my board in some number. I would love to hear your thoughts on possible cards you haven’t seen me use before that would help in some of the match ups shown above. As for the future, I’m liking Fleecemane Lion in the main deck more and more and I am wondering what had people not using it before. Sorin should definitely be at least a 2 of in the deck and the same is said for Elspeth but I can’t ever see her at 4 unless the meta switches to make her extremely useful. Please comment below with your thoughts and if you would like to read more of the adventures of Skluby-doo at local tournaments and maybe even larger events.