Cubism: Azorius…Control?

This week we’re moving onto a guild with an actual selection of card choices – Azorius!

  • Some of the best options available.
  • Classic colour pairing and strategy.
  • Both powerful and flexible!

Blue white control is the one of the best and most common colour pairings of all time and the first on our list of guilds that actually mesh very well together. Unlike Rakdos and Izzet,a good Azorius deck has a good amount of cards from each colour. Each colour fills holes and adds choices the other needs. White lays a great groundwork for control decks having a huge choice of premium removal spells, board sweepers and control finishers that pairs perfectly with blues counters spells, draw effects and other backbreaking cards. But, is control not the route you want to take? Don’t worry! Azorius can play many different roles from tokens to flash/blink to a more tempo-oriented deck, Azorius can do it all (and the gold spells do a great job showing that)! Let’s go over our options.

First I’m going to go over the more ‘generic’ choices:

*Disclaimer: When I’m looking for gold card, I like to find an effect I can’t typically find in either colour. I want to give someone a reason to play those colours.*

Pure. Plain. Simple. Azorius Charm is a great filler card but nothing new you can’t find in white or blue already. With only 1 impactful ability and the huge pool of options it’s hard to play card like this.

1.5/5

A great card but an even better example of something I don’t need taking up precious gold slots. White already has Oblivion Ring, Banishing Light, Council’s Judgment and even cards like Journey to Nowhere or Faith’s Fetters, take your pick. A great card but I’d rather pass for a more unique effect.

3/5

Our first Planeswalker, Dovin Baan is the definition example of a generic Planeswalker.

[+1]: Until your next turn, up to one target creature gets -3/-0 and it’s activated abilities can’t be activated.

It pseudo protects itself and maybe shuts down a mana elf. Nothing fantastic but it gets by. I’ve been a fan of this ability since Jace, Telepath Unbound.

[-1]: You gain 2 life and draw a card.

Well at least that’s better. Only -1 is a great price to pay for a card and 2 life, but if you only get 1 activation, you’re better off doing almost anything else. A good effect but maybe not worth the upfront cost.

[-7]: You get an emblem with “Your opponents can’t untap more then two permanents during their untap steps”.

…Not what we’re looking for and definitely not the reason to play this Vedalken Planeswalker.

Dovin‘s first 2 abilites take turns trading off fog-ing a guy and cashing in a card and some life. Almost acting like a bigger Jace Beleren, I like Dovin a little more then Jace for a couple reasons. He’s arguably easier to cast and has more then 1 ability. That being said Jace does only cost 3 mana. Dovin isn’t flashy, super powerful or exciting, but you know what your going to get every time.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m sure I have some bias for Dovin, but who doesn’t from time to time.

A very boring 3/5

Dragonlord Ojutai is a great example of a new age control finisher. With a fairly ‘low’ mana cost (compared to previous competition) that you can play confidently knowing he’ll live to see the next turn. Killing your opponent fairly quickly with reusable Anticipates to keep you in control. He blocks well while letting you start taking the offensive, Ojutai will rarely leave you wanting more. Can’t say enough good things about Ojutai.

5/5

Geist of Saint Traft is the best you should probably be playing it.

5/5

With that aside, I’ll tell you what I really think of this card. Geist of Saint Traft is without a doubt one of the most efficient creatures ever printed, but not my favourite Azorius card to play. While you can’t deny the power level he has, he doesn’t represent the Azroius guild very well in my opinion. Known for its heavy control roots, this very aggressive low to the ground creature is the opposite of what I’m looking for.

Obviously Geist can survive in a constructed world where you can design your deck to best fight to keep Geist alive and attacking (kinda similar to Delver of Secrets) but obviously limited is a different beast. Way harder to stick onto a favourable board, and even harder to keep attacking, Dragonlord Ojutai is a good example of the better limited and generic finisher control decks are looking for. Geist is definitely the more powerful card of the two, but as a straight up Azoirus card, the Dragonlord gets the nod over GeistAfter years of playing Geist, it ended up going later and later in drafts. Every now and then it would single-handedly take down a cube, but the frequency of decks it showed up in was less then I’d like for a card of Geist. I’m not saying there’s no room for for these kind of cards.

Something like Geist is a great example of a gold card I’d want to splash into an existing deck that doesn’t best fit its original colour. Very much like Olivia Voldaren or Assemble the Legion, they make for interesting multicoloured cards that spice up the draft from time to time. Am I saying not to run it? Hell no. Its a very good card and you don’t need to justify playing it. It is also great coming out of sideboards.

Still a 5/5

Narset came back with a vengeance after Sarkhan forever changed the history of TarkirInstead of getting helmsmashed (by the helmsmasher himself), Narset hit the books and came back as the much anticipated Planeswalker people heard rumors about. But was it worth the wait?

[+1]: Look at the top of your library, if it’s a noncreature, nonland card, you may reveal it and put it into your        hand.

Not the best ability. In a average deck, spells make up a third of any given control deck making her ability the mirror to Domri Rade. Neither of their odds are good enough to be even close to consistent, but it does scroll her up to an impresive 7 loyalty.

 [-2]: When you cast your next instant or sorcery spell from your hand this turn, it gains rebound.

So this is suppose to be the selling feature of Narset but unfortunately it leaves much to be desired. Obviously not interacting well with a lot of blue spells (with the exception of draw spells, but most of them are just cantrips), she relies on mostly white removal spells and wraths. Is the extra removal spell she buys you worth more then just playing another?

[-9]: You get an emblem with “Your opponents can’t cast noncreature spells.”

Not too bad. Depending on the matchup, this could just end the game on its own, but at the high price of 9 loyalty. It doesn’t take too many turns to get to it but without activating her -2 ability, she might just be doing nothing in the meantime. Overall Narset being a Planeswalker alone almost makes her good enough to play (Planeswalker is the best card type after all), but I don’t think she’s anything note worthy. 

Unlike Dovin, you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get with Narset, her ceiling is way higher, but she bottoms out really badly in the wrong deck of if you’re unlucky. With both as an option, just like Domri Rade vs Xenagos, the Reveler, I’ll take the ‘consistency’ of Dovin (or Xenagos) over the other.

2/5

Wow banned in standard. Reflector Mage is a super Man-o’-War letting you interact early remanding potential problems while blocking others. The unsummon effect is good against aggro decks and punishes control or reanimator decks. Obviously this card doesn’t need help convincing anyone of its power level, Reflector Mage is a great update on the dated Man-o’-War from long ago. Fitting well into the Azorius shell, it performs even better if you have any kind of blink interaction (what an amazing discovery!).

4/5

Spell Queller is another great card that falls close to the ‘Geist of Saint Traft‘ category unfortunately, similar to Geist, Spell Queller is a great card when you have the supporting cast around it. In standard with Collected Company or in the Blue/White flash deck, this card proved its worth, but it drops off a bit in limited (thankfully not as much as Geist). Spell Queller fits okay into standard Blue/White control decks but suffers from more problems than Geist. I hate using the argument ‘it dies to removal’, but depending on the spell, Spell Queller becomes a lightning rod for that and you probably don’t want to spend too many cards protecting. It’s still a great card and I’m probably being a little too critical about it. With enough cards like Geist, Reflector Mage and Spell Queller, your not too many cards away from being able to draft a Blue/White tempo deck. Blue/White attack decks are getting more and more cards as time goes on, but they all seem to cost 3……

4/5

Sphinx’s Revelation is a great example of a gold card worth splashing for. Who would of thought throwing in a free Stream of Life would make Stroke of Genius look so good. Letting control decks leverage their life total a little more, Sphinx’s Revelation gives the decks a mid-game boost to be able to make sure they end up in control of the game. Another card that doesn’t need much convincing, I think Sphinx’s Revelation is always the kind of card I want in any Azorius deck. In the future its mana cost might age poorly, but probably being pessimistic.

4.5/5

Similar to Detention Sphere, white already has options for the same effect, but the difference is that wraths are some of, if not the most important effects you need in almost any control deck. I do think that as important as it is, you can still end up playing too many of them. I recently cut Day of Judgment but still run Wrath of God, Fumigate and Terminus in white. Originally I was turned off by Supreme Verdict when it was spoiled (wow just a hard to cast Wrath of God), but as time went on and I eventually tried it out in cube, the fact that it was 1WWB made it table more often for the Azorius player. The appeal of Wrath and Day are that other White/X players can play it and hate drafters are obviously more likely to take the easier to cast one. As generic as it gets but still one of the more reliable cards in the pair.

4.5/5

The last (and most popular) Planeswalker on the list. Venser isthe most commonly found Azorius Planeswalker in cubes and it’s very easy to see why.

[+2]: Exile target permanent you own. Return it to the battlefield under your control at the beginning of the next end step.

Ah here we go. Blue/White is jam packed with juicy blink targets, from Wall of OmensMulldrifter and Sea Gate Oracle to Cloudgoat Ranger, Sun Titan and Venser, Shaper Savant (How does that work flavour wise?). It’s never hard to find something to blink (even resetting Oblivion Rings)!

[-1]: Creatures can’t be blocked this turn.

Odd fitting ability but not bad either way. The blink decks have way more creatures then your average Blue/White deck, so maybe it comes in handy every now and then. It doesn’t happen often, but its still a powerful effect.

[-8]: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast a spell, exile a permanent.”

Wow what an ability. Obviously Venser’s Ultimate is as powerful as it comes and a fantastic ultimate to race too. Thanks to scrolling up by 2 and honestly not many reasons to want to minus him, his ultimate doesn’t take too long to get to. Venser is an interesting and fun card, but is it worth it? Yes. Venser is a powerful card with a extremely high payoff with the right interactions or just given enough time. If you want to push or promote a more blink oriented package or just a fun deck in your cube (and it really doesn’t take much), Venser is the card you’re looking for. My dislike for Venser is his high mana cost with no guaranteed value. Yes you can save him for the right time, but 5 mana isn’t the easiest to sneak in along with another card, and even if you manage to blink something, how many blinks makes him worth his 5 mana investment? (probably not too many with Mulldrifter). Like I mentioned earlier, I want my guild cards to best represent what those colours do in my cube, and Venser isn’t the card for me. I know my approach isn’t for everyone (or maybe nobody lol), but I’ll take the standard Dovin Baan‘s boring consistency over the flashy zaniness of Venser any day. So that’s most of the standard Azorius cards we get to choose from, but here are some more honorable mentions:

Brago, King Eternal  – Another great blink payoff card. If you want to dedicate enough cards or convince people to play it, Brago helps turn heads real fast. Momentary Blink is another good role player in this deck. Cloudblazer is the second Mulldrifter everyone asked for. If you’re looking for more incentive. The list goes on…

Judge’s Familiar and Lyev Skynight – The knight is dated now but cards like these help promote a Blue/White tempo deck if you want to support it. Ojutai’s Command isn’t bad either. Turning its ‘worst’ effect of reanimating a creature into a good one in this deck.

Talisman of Progress and Azorius Signet – I never covered these in the last couple guilds but I’m a firm believer these should count towards gold slots. I’m not a fan of running either, but that’s a whole other article.

So that’s it! Azorius has a bunch of great options to chose from and you can build and support it however you want. Unlike Rakdos and Izzet, blue and white work very well together in tons of different ways. You can build the deck however you want and still want plenty from either colour. Azoius has been a great colour pairing for years and will be for years to come.

I currently play Dovin, Supreme Verdict, Sphinx’s Revelation and Dragonlord Ojutai as my Azorius spells and Dovin, Revelation and Ojutai are all great reason to splash the other colours (yes Dovin‘s modest, people just like Planeswalkers). Is almost everything I could ever ask for. Like I mentioned before, I do have some bias for Dovin and will probably replace him with Reflector Mage again in the near future, but I’ll enjoy him while I can. What do you think of all the options Azorius has to offer? Let me know in the comments!

Also be sure to check out my cube on Cubetutor:

http://www.cubetutor.com/viewcube/56212

 

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