Guild Wars: The Azorius Senate
By. Dr. Chunk
So the Guild Wars are here and for some reason I elected to play the Azorius. The Azorius are the lawmakers and the intellectuals. They make the rules and try to make sure everyone sticks to them. They believe they are the reason that everything runs smoothly.
1) Forecast – An interesting ability that goes against the normal way I would play control. The prospect of tapping mana on your own turn is a very strange way for me to play control. But as Wizards plays down instant speed card draw in preference for cards like tidings we see less of the old “Draw/Go” control decks. Some cards with forecast stand out – such as Sky Hussar, Plumes of Peace, Pride of Clouds - where some are less useful – namely Writ of Passage.
2) Flying Bears and Weenie Rushes – White and Blue are best for flyers, with white rapidly developing a veritable harem of two power flyers for 2 mana. In block we have Mistral Charger and Azorius Firstwing as playables, with Drake Familiar require more hard work to make useful. The efficiency of the small white creatures plus the ability to “Grow” them is the basis of the ever popular white weenie decks.
3) Tapping Things – Minister of Impediments and Azorius Guildmage are both very good at this job with Sandsower being a house with enough creatures. Palliation accord takes this a step further and punishes your opponent even more!
4) Control – We get many counter spells (Overrule, Remand, Spell Snare, Convolute, Induce Paranoia, Frazzle, Swift Silence, Muddle The Mixture) for sure and a number of other “controlling” spells in Faiths Fetters, Govern The Guildpact and Dream Leash. The Problem is the lack of originality.
Weenie Weenie Everywhere!
White weenie seemed like a good place to start and is relatively easy to build. The plan was low casting cost and efficient creatures, cheap bounce or removal to clear the way and some mass pump for the win. So we get:
1) Cheap Creatures – Azorius Guildmage, Mistral Charger, Azorius Firstwing – Check!
2) Cheap Removal – Devour in Light, Repeal, Remand – Check!
3) Mass Pump – Steeling Stance – Not ideal, but Check!
Throw in some beef (Hunted Lammasu; Halcyon Glaze), some card draw (Sky Hussar; Telling Time) and some utility (Bathe in Light) and this left me with an early list of:
TO THE AIR!
2 Hunted Lammasu
2 Sky Hussar
4 Azorius Guildmage
2 Pride of the Clouds
4 Azorius First-Wing
4 Mistral Charger
3 Steeling Stance
3 Halcyon Glaze
2 Bathe in Light
3 Devouring Light
2 Telling Time
3 Azorius Chancery
Although this is a reasonable deck it lacked the originality I wanted. This entire challenge was about thinking outside of the box and so far I was just admiring cardboard and not moving on.
Looking back through the card pool available to me I remembered two cards in particular I had wanted to take advantage of previously:
The Aethermage has always looked like fun to me and I had been trying out the Tyrant as the finisher in my control decks. A bit more thinking and someone was kind enough to pop the idea of Cloudstone Curio into my head. Cogs started whirring and smoke began to spew forth from my ears as things slowly fell into place:
Into The Aether (Or Bennie Smith Ate My Hamster)
4 Azorius Guildmage
4 Azorius AEthermage
4 Court Hussar
4 Azorius Herald
2 Sky Hussar
3 Belfry Spirit
2 Vedalken Dismisser
2 Tidespout Tyrant
3 Peel from Reality
4 Cloudstone Curio
4 Azorius Chancery
I feel a bit cheap going for something as “simple” as a Curio deck, but I think the Azorius is best set up to abuse it with strong CIP creatures. My reasons for all the card choices are as follows:
Azorius Aethermage – This guy is the idea behind the deck. Whenever you bounce a creature you can draw cards and not forgetting just playing and returning the land with Azorius Chancery – You can even bounce the same Chancery and pay 1 to draw a card!
Azorius Guildmage – This guy is coverall for the deck. He is does so much it’s impossible not to include him. Both of his activated abilities are solid and he’s a 2/2 for 2 that we can always cast.
Court Hussar / Azorius Herald – Both great 187 creatures that only get better as you bounce them up and down.
Belfry Spirit – You can bounce this guy off of his own CIP trigger (the Bat tokens trigger the Curio!) to make hordes of little men.
Vedalken Dismisser – How annoying is this guy alone? How annoying is he when he keeps coming back for more? On a good day you can keep your opponent drawing the same creature over and over and over!
Sky Hussar – He also has a good CIP trigger but he is mainly here for the forecast card draw.
Tidespout Tyrant – As if the Dismisser wasn’t enough this guy bounces everything going every time you play a spell. On top of that he’s a 5/5 flyer that can be very difficult to kill.
Plaxmanta – I regard this man as a spell as we cannot pay the green to keep him around. He does a good job against any removal, but also plays a role as instant speed Curio fodder, thus allowing instant speed bounce if needed.
Peel From Reality – We have plenty of good CIP creatures, so let’s slow them down while replaying our Hussar/Herald again.
Repeal – This is a very versatile spell that is card draw, bounce and can also save a Curio in a tight spot.
Cloudstone Curio – No explanation needed here. This is central to the decks behaviour.
In theory the deck should aim to just draw as many cards as possible off of the Aethermage until you can get control with Dismisser or Tidespout. This is a slow deck and you have to be careful to use your bounce and life gain so that you don’t get pounded into the ground by the aggro team.
It is very difficult to design a sideboard for a casual deck. Sideboarding is something that is usually exclusive to the realm of competitive Magic and the large majority of my casual decks never have sideboards (exceptions being decks using the Judgment wish cycle). It is also very difficult to design a sideboard for an unknown metagame. For this reason we have the following sideboard:
4x Soulsworn Jury – He blocks weenies and counters fatties
4x Condemn – When you really need to survive to the late game
3x Leyline of Singularity – I already fear the Doubling Season decks and this will (hopefully) ruin their plans
2x Hour Of Reckoning – This is really against the aggro decks when we need a reset.
2x Bathe In Light – As spot removal is paramount in this format and also.
On the whole I am happy with the deck. I often find my casual decks are all about one card I want to make work and in this case it is the Aethermage. It is not an aggressive deck but I hope it can withstand the beats. The only thing I am really not happy with is the sideboard but that is so difficult to build properly at this stage.
I hope you guys get to have as much fun playing this as I did building it and we shall see how it plays when it comes to the ‘Wars themselves.
“I like bouncing; BOING BOING BOING!”
The U/W guild had been much anticipated prior to Dissension as it should be the control guild. But we did not get Absorb reprinted and nor did we get a more playable “Wrath”. Despite this we are left with many ways to build an Azorius deck whilst still having many different play strategies. I did not want to fall into the classic U/W control as that lacks originality and tried to look at what we have available that is kooky and original. (I will give some other example simple deck lists as we go, but the main plan is at the bottom.)
So what did we get and what can we base decks around?