Hello everyone! Welcome to my very first article for Strictly Average. Before we begin I want to thank everyone at Strictly Average for bringing me on board, and I hope you all enjoy the content.
I play Modern, Legacy, Standard, and EDH. I’ve been playing since Revised so I have a ton of Magic to talk about. However, I will be writing mostly about Modern.
Today let’s talk about a sweet Modern Azorius Control deck. Yes. Azorius. Not Jeskai. Control decks have tried to maintain a foothold in Modern for quite some time now, and while one can argue that Azorius Control was better during Eldrazi Winter (crazy I know) they are able to maintain a solid playable status in the current Modern environment.
The big issue with Control decks is that the more focused the metagame the easier it is to prepare to battle each opponent you face (even the mirrors). This is why Azorius Control is doing so well in Standard even in the face of Goblin Chainwhirler, and will do well when aggro is heavily favored in a metagame. However that doesn’t explain it’s placement in Modern…or does it?
If you look at the current top portion of the Modern metagame there are 4 decks that don’t really play to the board: Tron, Storm, Titan Shift (as they can win without playing a Titan), and Jeskai Burn…errr…Control. Sure Jeskai may play planeswalkers, but the majority of their winning is done with Burn spells. That leaves 8 top tier decks ripe for the picking, and once you think of these other decks as simply “creature decks” you can construct a game plan to attack them.
Modern is a highly aggressive format. Combat breeds interaction, and when we have more of that the format can breathe a little. Spot removal, discard spells, and even counterspells become better when the format shifts this way. Sure there will be bad matchups, but that is something that unfortunately does happen. There are ways to prepare for those matchups though, and as long as you are properly prepared (and variance is on your side) you can do well even with a more traditional Control deck.
So with that in mind let’s take a look at this Azorius Control deck. The fact we can even play this is an absolute Miracle.
2 Snapcaster Mage
How the deck works
The deck operates by preventing your opponent from playing key spells until you can play a well timed Terminus for just one white mana. The Miracle mechanic (ha! PUN!) triggers if that card, in this case Terminus, is the first one drawn for the turn (not just your turn). This allows you to play cards with that mechanic even on your opponent’s turn. Cards like Entreat the Angels can also be played on your opponent’s turn as either surprise blockers, or your primary win condition. Along with Celestial Colonnade you can Alpha Strike for the win once the turn passes to you. What happens though when you have a Miracle card in hand? Jace, the Mind Sculptor is the answer. You can put Miracle cards back on top of your library, triggering the next time you draw a card. You’ll also get to see 3 new cards for your trouble, and if some are really good you can keep at least 2 of them. His abilities are all great, and if you get to live the dream of playing him after clearing the board you can take control of the game with either his first ability, or stocking up on answers with his second ability.
The primary way to draw cards on your opponent’s turn is through Opt. Control decks want to play at Instant speed as often as possible, and Miracles is no exception. Often times you may find cards you don’t need in a certain situation (Terminus vs Tron for example), and can tuck that card away for something that may help you. Sometimes it feels like drawing 2 cards at the start of your turn, which feels really powerful.
Speaking of drawing cards, holy cow is Teferi, Hero of Dominaria awesome. Not too long ago Control players felt like they were left behind after Return to Ravnica rotated out of Standard. This card has not only made waves in Standard, but has made an impact in all formats (even Vintage!). Being able to leave up a counterspell the turn he resolves, and having enough mana to activate Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin twice a turn with him in play is huge. I can not find any word short of “Awesome” to describe Teferi.
With your sideboard you want to gear towards most of the expected metagame. Cards like Timely Reinforcements, Dispel, and Negate can help versus decks like Burn, Collected Company decks, and aggro decks that may bring in some counterspells. Damping Sphere is a new card from Dominaria that is quite useful vs any deck running the Urza Tron lands, and can slow them down long enough for you to use Field of Ruin against them.
The only issue with this deck is the lack of a decent threat to end the game. This is not a new problem; Control has historically focused on countering the opponent’s strategies while winning the game at its own pace.
Why should you play this deck?
- You like Azorius as a guild.
- The Miracle mechanic is appealing to you.
- Playing Planeswalkers feels powerful to you.
Why you should not play this deck?
- You do not like Control decks.
- You want to spend as little of the 50 minutes allotted to you per round playing Magic.
- You think Island should be banned.
With all of that said, keep in mind that Modern is still an open format. What may be good one week may not be the next. The recent finishes of Modern archetype staple Jund is a primary example of that thought. However don’t let that discourage you from playing a deck like this. Control can thrive in Modern. Sometimes all it takes is a Miracle.
Until next time…
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.