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Multicolor Mixup – Azorius

January 25, 2012

Hello again! We’re reaching the mid-point of my 10-part series on evaluating the multicolor cards in my cube. Today’s topic is the Azorius guild.

The Azorius guild is typically associated with control strategies in most cubes. To a large extent, this is also true of my cube. There are a lot of heavy-hitting control cards in white and blue alike, including creatures sweepers, card draw, and impressive finishers. However, I am of the opinion that blue has a lot of capabilities to play a tempo-oriented game. Creatures like Vexing Sphinx and Wake Thrasher enter the battlefield with more aggressive bodies than is typical of blue creatures, much like Serendib Efreet does in most traditional cubes. Others, like Pestermite and Spellstutter Sprite act as disruption tools. Spells such as Memory Lapse, Standstill, and Equilibrium contribute to this strategy as well. With enough cards like these in a cube, blue can fill a niche in aggressive archetypes that would not otherwise be found in a draft; this to me, is more interesting than every blue drafter at the table always vying for the control cards. Additionally, this strategy can be fairly potent in the modern Magic world, filled with Planeswalkers – permanents that are a bit harder for traditional control decks to interact with. Blue decks armed with creatures will be able to deal with these powerful cards more effectively.

So, ultimately, my Azorius multicolor section should contribute to these goals, right? Let’s find out if it does!

Here is my current lineup:

Hallowed Fountain
Celestial Colonnade
Seachrome Coast
Azorius Chancery

Azorius Signet
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

Venser, the Sojourner
Wall of Denial

This group of cards appears to be very control-oriented. Let’s break it down in detail.

Azorius Signet – Azorius Signet is a great way for control and midrange decks to reach 4 mana and beyond quickly. Great for powering out turn-3 Wrath of God or Elspeth, Knight Errant.

Grand Arbiter Augustin IV – Grand Arbiter wants to delay your opponent from playing their larger threats, and give your own spells breathing room. He’ll help enable you to threaten countermagic while simultaneously developing board position.

Venser, the Sojourner – Venser, the Planeswalker is a value-engine. Many powerful cards in the cube are creatures with “enters the battlefield” effects, and Venser is built to abuse those effects. If those effects disrupt your opponent enough, he threatens to make every one of your spells better than Vindicate. Similarly, those effects could generate enough card advantage that your spells can do the disruption. Venser is nearly an archetype-defining card on his own, and can bring a lot to the draft by being a build-around card that allows interesting board interactions and player decision making.

Wall of Denial – The ultimate protector. Wall of Denial blocks nearly every creature in the cube, and at a very efficient cost. In practice, it is similar to Maze of Ith, always blocking the best attacking creature. A traditional control deck’s best friend for surviving the early game.

Overall, these breakdowns confirm the initial impression; these are control cards. Grand Arbiter and Venser, the Sojourner both show up in mid-range strategies as well. Something’s missing, though. An aggressive card:

Who 'ya gonna call?

Geist of Saint Traft is aggressive; more so perhaps, than any other blue creature in my cube. Attacking for 6 damage on turn four is something to worry about. Adding a new card requires a cut, and this means that Grand Arbiter Augustin IV has to go. I chose Grand Arbiter over Wall of Denial for two reasons. The first, that Grand Arbiter does not have a very significant battlefield presence. He is also easily removed by traditional creature removal spells. I think that Wall of Denial is much better at the same job, is more efficient, and is very hard to remove from the battlefield. Geist of Saint Traft is not without his drawbacks, and is fragile in traditional combat. His upside, when combined with other tempo-oriented effects and equipment is also extremely high, and encourages drafting those sorts of effects, whereas Grand Arbiter does not (and instead is a “safer” draft pick, filling a slot in more traditional “goodstuff” decks.).

With this change, my resulting Azorius section will more closely resemble the intent I have for the guild in the cube draft as a whole. Plus, putting big angel tokens into play attacking is just plain fun.

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  1. Cube Design Philosophy – Multicolor « The Cube Miser

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