Throne of Eldraine
   Sign In
Create Account

How Does Azorius Win the Game?


In a perfect world? With Azor's Elecutors. Hi, my name's Jason, I write articles about Commander, and this year I was a good boy, so Santa Claus brought me a present called "Simic Ascendency" which says my favorite thing for a Magic card to say on it - "You win the game." Speaking of "The Game," I just lost the game, and so did some of you.

I'm clearly in a playful mood, which is good because I have assigned myself a fairly difficult task for today's article. I'm going to talk about the various ways that Azorius decks win the game, and instead of doing what I normally do in this series I'm still midway through creating, I'm going to make the deck I've already decided I'm going to make no matter what we glean from looking at other popular Azorius commanders. That's because of a card that was previewed last week.

So the three stages of evaluating this card are as follows.

  1. "Well, this seems insane. It's practically Gaddock Teeg, or Leovold, Emissary of Trest!" This level can last for a few hours for EDH players to practically forever for Vintage players who play a strange and unfamiliar format where this may actually be Leovold-tier because it's in less wonky colors. It also shuts down shops decks better than Leovold (not to mention the Paradoxical Outcome Storm deck I play in Vintage that only runs 7 lands).
  2. "I feel like half of the text on this card isn't going to be relevant in most games of Commander, and which half it is will depend on the match" This level lasts for a day or two. Once I realized that they can still cast creature spells, Green would just play a ton of lands and not be held back and free spells were uncommon in Commander, my opinion cooled a bit.
  3. "I don't want to be the person that builds the Dream Halls/Eye of the Storm/Well of Knowledge deck" and further soul searching reveals the crushing realization that you're basically punishing the non-Green decks for not being Green and helping the Green players. If you Armageddon, you're likely making the game take an extra hour unless you blowing up everyone's lands means the Green player surges ahead of everyone, including you, and wins faster than they would have if the game had involved some interaction.

I think most people went through those three stages, but NOT CHA BOY! BLAST THAT SUBSCRIBE BUTTON (sorry, I've been getting more into YouTube content lately, won't happen again.) I had all of those thoughts and then had a fourth thought that was "Yeah, but what if I went ahead and made the deck anyway?" which is not a particularly 75% way of thinking. In order to make the deck 75% and not violate, well, ALL of my own tenets, I was going to have to really understand Azorius as well as I understand 75% building and figure out if I can avoid making the game miserable. In a 75% deck we don't blow up everyone's lands because we don't want the game to take longer, but if I can somehow manage to keep the Green decks as disadvantaged as the rest of the table and use Ravages of War to hasten the end of the game, it may not be so bad. Before we build Lavinia, how DOES Azorius win the game?

Blink and You'll Miss It

Deadeye Navigator is a card with which a lot of people have a love-hate relationship and others have a hate-loathe relationship. Azorius has access to a lot of good value creatures like Cloudblazer that benefit from being "blinked" in and out of play, triggering their ETB abilities again. Brago, King Eternal is a good example of a deck that's built around getting value that way, but when the commander is the beneficiary of blinking like Rasputin, Dreamweaver, Ephara God of the Polis, or Lavinia of the Tenth, the decks are still very good. From Ghostway to Galepowder Mage, there are a lot of ways to win games by blinking cards and Azorius has a lot of them.

You Can't Spell "Value" Without Spell Value

One of the most emblematically Azorius commanders is Grand Arbiter Augustin IV which is an annoying commander to play against to say the least. With their spells more expensive and yours cheaper, you're bound to gain an advantage. If that's not your speed, use Azorius' Taigam, Ojutai Master to rebound powerful spells or even helpful cantrips. Want to really surprise them? Cast an artifact at instant speed with Raff Capashen, Ship's Mage or get back discarded Historic spells with Hanna, Ship's Navigator. Azorius, it seems, is a lot like Leann Rimes in that it's all about value.

Sphinx and You'll Miss It

Azorius has a lot of sphinxes. There probably isn't an entire paragraph worth of observations to make. Sphinxes sure are neat, whether you're going tribal or just getting value from the many sphinxes in Magic's history. There are 4 Legendary Sphinxes in the Top 20 Azorius commanders on EDHREC - lots of you love Sphinxes. I don't think this helps us build Lavinia, but it is remarkable.

Are there any 75% decks in this series' past that could serve as a good basis for a new Lavinia deck that focuses on doing Lavinia stuff to win the game? I think I found one because if I'm not going to Armageddon their lands, and I'm not sure I am, there are other ways to slow our opponents down so we can pull ahead

Before we launch into the deck, I want to do a very brief aside. Remember the Commander Heat index? Well I'm going to briefly rate all of the "Knowledge Pool" effects you could include with Lavinia to give you an idea of how "spicy" you want your deck to be.

Dream Halls
Eye of the Storm

Dream Halls - 2/10. They can't use Dream Halls to play free spells while Lavinia is out and you can which is a big advantage for you. However, while they're not exposed to the upside, they're not exposed to the downside, either. They won't be thrilled that you're getting free spells so this isn't a 0, but if you can keep Lavinia alive, they'll still be able to play Magic - that is unless you do more to mess them up (We're going to do more to mess them up.)

Eye of the Storm - 5/10. This doesn't shut them down as much as any other of the cards we list but it gives you insane value on your Instants and Sorceries. I don't know how many of those you'll play but if you're casting 5 Ponders a turn, you should be able to wrap it up. You keep them from playing Instants and Sorceries which eliminates a lot of the ways they have of dealing with Eye of the Storm, but 75% tenets say we should avoid letting them do "anything" not avoid letting them do specific things. There's a 50/50 chance they'll react to this in a reasonable manner.

Omen Machine
Knowledge Pool

Omen Machine - 7/10. This doesn't prevent them from playing spells but it does prevent them from drawing cards. Someone at the table is bound to have an answer to either Lavinia or machine in their hand at the time you set the combo in motion which means you need permission. You also can't draw cards either so you get the free Omen Machine spell per turn and that's all the new cards you get. This isn't quite as bad as other locks because they still have a grip to work with.

Knowledge Pool - 8/10. This is going to prevent them from playing Magic and they're not going to like it. Their spells all get exiled and they can't play new ones until either Lavinia or Pool leaves play. It doesn't help you unless you're using a bunch of cheap cantrips to play more expensive spells but there's no real reason this helps you if you build a decent deck and not some weird deck with cantrips as if Knowledge Pool were the commander and not Lavinia.

I think you can safely jam Dream Halls in a 75% build and maybe Eye of the Storm. I'm planning to jam both in my build today. I also found the perfect deck to use as a basis, as I eluded earlier, and if you haven't read that article in a while, do it, because it explains how we try to avoid Mass Land Destruction and why.

Using that Augustin IV deck as a basis for a Lavinia deck, we get a pretty strong brew that slows them down but never really stops them in their tracks which means we need to deal with stuff on the board. What's the best 75% way to deal with them being able to play creature spells? Stealing those creatures!

I am having a hard time finding another cut but then I remembered you're all likely to build the deck your own way so you'll figure out what you like least. As usual, there are a few ways to abandon 75% and really steer this deck into a different direction.

If you like the way Eye of the Storm interplays with Lavinia, you could really steer into it. Cut a lot of the prison effects like Ghostly Prison and Sphere of Safety. Concentrate on good board wipes instead and keep the board cluttered when they play what few creatures they can. Run Mystical Tutor to go get something like Expropriate and Enlightened Tutor to find Dream Halls or Eye of the Storm. Up your Instant and Sorcery count while lowering your Enchantment and Artifact count. You won't be 75% and at that point consider Omen Machine, but above all, have ways to win. I like the combination of Kismet and Overburden and Mana Breach really messing with them so they have to choose which spells they play carefully, so let them cast a big creature then Vedalken Shackles it and ride it to the win, or Bribery them with Eye of the Storm out so you can play Eldrazi before they can. This deck will be annoying, but it will be 10 times as annoying if you can't close the game out when you take control. Don't let that happen.

If you want to add Mass Land Destruction, do it but just know that the Green player will play something like Life From the Loam or Splendid Reclamation, so be careful. If you have to, run Sunder instead, they'll Burgeoning you hard, but Burgeoning is bad and everyone is cutting it. Have a plan for how to win within a few turns of playing Armageddon, so use it to make sure they can't stop your As Foretold or Dream Halls, not to just slow them down. Green will beat you in the game and everyone else will beat you physically.

If you want a 75% build that stays true to the spirit of these Lavinia shenanigans, this is pretty close. Add Ankh of Mishra if you think Green players will laugh at your Kismet and Frozen Aether. Add more way to steal creatures if they flood the board better than you'd anticipated. Add Luminarch Ascension back in and consider Dawn of Hope and Divine Visitation as ways to win the game quickly after you assume control. Just know that using Dream Halls and Eye of the Storm with Lavinia isn't quite as antisocial as using spells like Knowledge Pool which doesn't let them play any spells at all. Eye of the Storm stopping just Instants and Sorceries seems like a very 75% compromise and is an interaction I like a lot.

What do we think? Pushing the limits of what 75% should allow? Too strong? Underpowered without Omen Machine? Is Lavinia not the Azorius commander we want? Leave it in the comments section and if you REALLY want some good karma this time of year, share it on Facebook or Reddit. Thanks for reading, everyone. Until next time!