How to say “no” early and often.
Azorius Control is one of the few decks to roll right on through the release of Modern Horizons 2 and remain a fixture of Modern, with just a few key additions from that set. It keeps iterating its answer selection to slice through different Modern metagames, and the last couple months have featured some of its best results.
The Best Azorius Control List
Maindeck, 60 cards
Sortsort deckCreature (4)
- 2Jace, the Mind Sculptor
- 2Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
- 3Teferi, Time Raveler
- 1Narset, Parter of Veils
- 4Prismatic Ending
- 3Supreme Verdict
- 3Archmage’s Charm
- 2March of Otherworldly Light
- 2Fire // Ice//
- 1Force of Negation
- 2Chalice of the Void
- 1Dress Down
- 1Shark Typhoon
- 2Castle Vantress
- 2Hallowed Fountain
- 1Raugrin Triome
- 1Hall of Storm Giants
- 1Celestial Colonnade
- 3Mystic Gate
- 1Otawara, Soaring City
- 4Flooded Strand
- 1Steam Vents
- 1Spara’s Headquarters
- 2Polluted Delta
- 2Scalding Tarn
- 1Celestial Purge
- 2Dovin’s Veto
- 1Dress Down
- 2Mystical Dispute
- 2Rest in Peace
- 2Spreading Seas
- 1Stony Silence
- 1Kaheera, the Orphanguard
- 1Chalice of the Void
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but Azorius Control plays a similar metagame role to Rakdos Evoke. Load up on big plays that crush specific opponents that are also reasonable against the field.
Market Price: $52.42
Market Price: $11.41
The headliners here are Chalice of the Void, Teferi, Time Raveler, and Supreme Verdict. Chalice of the Void for zero, one, or two shuts off a variety of decks, Teferi, Time Raveler’s static ability does the same to many others, and Supreme Verdict sweeps away opponents trying to flood their way through spot answers.
Market Price: $37.95
A haymaker play will cut off most of an opponent’s options, and to handle the rest Azorius Control has some of the best interactive spells from Modern Horizons 2. There’s no concern about card types with Counterspell and Prismatic Ending, and Solitude is a removal spell and a path to victory at the same time.
Market Price: $20.69
Market Price: $22.97
The other way to crush a hamstrung opponent is with one of the big blue planeswalkers. If Jace, the Mind Sculptor or Teferi, Hero of Dominaria lands unopposed it is almost impossible for your opponent to dig out of that hole.
If you don’t have a planeswalker, your lands will clean up games for you. If you weren’t doing anything threatening enough to prevent Azorius from activating Castle Vantress, your odds certainly aren’t better after they select their next draw step.
Flex Slots and Alternatives
The big decision in building Azorius Control is whether you include the Day’s Undoing-plus-Narset, Parter of Veils combo. Azorius gets ground out by Four-Color Yorion, and Narset shuts off a lot of their chip shot card draw while Day’s Undoing eventually flips the card advantage script.
I have found Day’s Undoing unimpressive. This combo popped up at a time where Risen Reef was common and your opponent was likely to have a full hand to clear out. If your opponent doesn’t have a huge hand, any big blue card draw spell would refill your hand like Day’s Undoing without needing the Narset to combo with.
Of course, Narset herself is a fine big blue card draw spell for that flex slot. Most of the draw spells are interchangeable, but I like Narset’s lower cost and lockout upside.
Market Price: $32.43
You want more answers than the core trio I highlighted. Archmage’s Charm follows in the generically powerful footsteps of those other cards, but you feel the clunk of a three-cost answer with all your planeswalkers. March of Otherworldly Light is similarly clunky, but covers a key vulnerability to Urza’s Saga while being a bit more flexible than Spreading Seas.
To balance out the less efficient removal a bit, I’ve opted for a Force of Negation. You could also play a Subtlety as a free reactive spell, but I wanted the permanent answer to problem planeswalkers.
Market Price: $8.33
Market Price: $16.66
The rest of the list is rounded out with high-upside filler. Dress Down is the most common of these cards as yet another answer to Urza’s Saga. You were playing Raugrin Triome anyways to extend Prismatic Ending, so Fire//Ice is along for the ride as a way to answer Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer and Esper Sentinel. And if you find yourself trying to turn around a mid-game, dropping a giant Shark token in front of an attacking creature will make you glad Shark Typhoon is in your deck.
Dominaria United | Rare
You want to play all the land types for Prismatic Ending, but I’m skeptical that makes you also want Leyline Binding. Games with Azorius Control go long enough that an enchantment represents a real risk against any deck with Boseiju, Who Endures to kill it.
When to Play Azorius Control
Azorius Control is the inverse of Four-Color Yorion. When players are showing up with decks that can be stopped by fighting along a single axis, Azorius Control will do that. Even if it’s something weird like Dredge or Mono-Green Tron, Azorius Control can adjust by adding a couple Rest in Peace or Spreading Seas to your generic answers.
The anti-Azorius Control is Four-Color Yorion. The matchup isn’t unwinnable, but when Four-Color Yorion is popular I would not want to be playing Azorius Control against it. None of your haymaker spells are haymakers against them, so your games are a struggle to establish a planeswalker against a pile of two-for-one threats and ways to answer a planeswalker.
Double Masters | Rare
Market Price: $19.28r
Azorius Control can find itself in a bind answering early threats, often needing to throw a Solitude at the problem. Stoneforge Mystic highlights this issue, since games against Azorius go long enough that Kaldra Compleat is a threat you have to plan for. If Azorius can force the game to a bottleneck later you can usually undo the lost value, but if your opponent is forcing you to play card-for-card after that bad exchange you will be playing from behind.
How to Play Azorius Control
Be Proactive About Ending the Game
Azorius Control is an odd control deck. Unless you resolve a planeswalker, you don’t have strong inevitability. Your opponent could easily draw an Expressive Iteration and snowball their way out of parity. You are only in control as long as you have a spare Counterspell in hand, and that won’t last forever.
If you get to that parity situation, you should be taking your shots to close the game. The scary game states when playing against Azorius Control are when Azorius decides they are the beatdown. Don’t be recklessly aggressive with Azorius, but don’t play as if being passive ends the game in your favor. Fire up that Hall of Storm Giants and put your opponent into chump block mode.
When you do have one of those big planeswalkers, your game should build to one turn where you resolve it and are very likely to untap with it. Don’t fight over the low-impact nonsense that won’t be able to attack down your planeswalker before you untap, keep your opponent off their bigger threats. If you lose value along the way, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria will make it all back.
Conserve Your Answers
Market Price: $11.41
Market Price: $37.95
When moving from Four-Color Yorion to Azorius Control, an easy place to get tripped up is running out of resources. Your cards aren’t all two-for-ones, you have to build the game states where they do more. Timing on Supreme Verdict is key, so if it is just clearing up a couple of lesser threats see if you can wait to cast it with backup. Use Teferi, Time Raveler to pick up your Solitude so you can have another answer back to cancel another draw step from your opponent.
You also need to be more precise with your removal than when playing Four-Color Yorion. There are two competing forces: do I need to answer something specific with this card, and is there a risk I never get to use this card? You can’t throw away a Prismatic Ending if it is your only way to kill Wrenn and Six, and you might need to throw Counterspell at anything your opponent casts right now if you are going to tap out the next turn or two.
Chalice of the Void
Masters 25 | Mythic
Market Price: $52.42
You are allowed to overpay for Prismatic Ending and March of Otherworldly Light. If you have a Chalice of the Void on one and need to exile Urza’s Saga with March, pay extra for March so it doesn’t get Chalice-countered.
If you want to set Chalice of the Void at two in a matchup, see if you can sideboard out Fire//Ice and Dress Down. If those cards and Counterspell are good, you may just want to sideboard out Chalice instead.
Vs. Izzet Tempo
Modern Horizons 2 | Mythic
Market Price: $14.78
If your Izzet Tempo opponent is good, they are going to quickly switch from testing your hand for fast removal to playing their threats to extract value. Make sure you spend your removal in a way that leaves you an out to a dashed Ragavan, and use Supreme Verdict to cut through Counterspell protecting Murktide Regent. Teferi, Time Raveler’s +1 also lets you use Prismatic Ending to handle a dashed Ragavan.
Make sure your Teferi, Time Raveler survives when it resolves, since stranding your opponent with dead copies of Counterspell and Spell Pierce is a way to free wins. If Teferi lands early on, don’t fire off the -3 into nothing for a card. You would rather your opponent use a full Unholy Heat rather than a Lightning Bolt to clear it out of the way. A similar rule applies to your other planeswalkers, where it’s better if you force your opponent to have the Unholy Heat for all of them rather than letting your Jace die to Lightning Bolt.
|1 Chalice of the Void||1 Dress Down|
|1 Celestial Purge||1 Archmage’s Charm|
|2 Rest in Peace||1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
|1 Mystical Dispute||1 Narset, Parter of Veils|
|1 Force of Negation|
This sideboard plan is for the current lists of Izzet that are heavy on Dragon’s Rage Channeler. If your opponent looks light on that card and heavy on Ledger Shredder, you want the second Mystical Dispute, don’t want Rest in Peace, and the third copy of Chalice of the Void is negotiable.
Immediately fetch your basic lands, especially Plains, in this matchup. Your opponent’s biggest threat after sideboarding will be Blood Moon and you need to be prepared early in case it sneaks through. Also beware of Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Vs. Four-Color Yorion
Omnath, Locus of Creation
Zendikar Rising | Mythic
Market Price: $12.13
The Four-Color Yorion matchup is rough, but not unwinnable. You need to mitigate some of your opponent’s two-for-ones and save specific answers for the ones you can’t handle, then ride something big to victory.
I like to lean into Supreme Verdict and hardcast Solitude to handle most of their creatures. Save Counterspell for their actual ways to draw cards or for Teferi, Time Raveler, and save Prismatic Ending for a planeswalker. This does mean that you will have to weather some Omnath mana turns, which sounds scarier than it is.
Your planeswalkers are vulnerable to Prismatic Ending and Unholy Heat, don’t let them also be vulnerable to Fury damage or a flash Endurance attack. Start with the plus abilities if you can’t back them up in other ways.
Emrakul, the Promised End is a disaster, which makes Traverse the Ulvenwald a must-counter. There are small things you can do to minimize how much damage they can do with the Mindslaver ability, like cashing in Teferi, Time Raveler -3 abilities and holding up a Solitude to kill Emrakul before your Mindslaver turn, but often the best plan is try your hardest to end the game first.
Chalice of the Void is good against the delirium lists of Four-Color Yorion. Cutting off access to Unholy Heat and Traverse the Ulvenwald can give you a lot of breathing room, and randomly getting an Abundant Growth along the way isn’t bad either. If your opponent aims a Prismatic Ending at Chalice of the Void and is sitting on a bunch of cards, that’s worth stopping with Counterspell.
|2 Subtlety||2 March of Otherworldly Light|
|2 Dovin’s Veto||2 Fire//Ice|
|1 Chalice of the Void||1 Dress Down|
This sideboarding covers the delirium lists of Four-Color Yorion, where Chalice of the Void was already good before it shut off Veil of Summer. Against Four-Color Elementals, you can shuffle back in some Fire//Ice and Dress Down over other lower-impact cards to cover Risen Reef.
If it looks like your opponent is setting up for Veil of Summer, they probably have Veil of Summer. Teferi, Time Raveler becomes way more important to shut off Veil, and I would go out of your way to keep it on the table. They can still fire off Veil in advance of a spell to protect it, but that’s spending a card and keeping you closer to card parity.
Vs. Living End
Time Spiral: Remastered | Mythic
Market Price: $14.05
Living End is the easy matchup. Having six maindeck cascade hate cards and a bunch of other interaction is a problem for the cascade deck with no real backup plan.
Stick a Chalice of the Void or Teferi, Time Raveler and chill. They have Otawara, Soaring City to clear a permanent out of the way, and they have Force of Negation and Grief to answer your stuff, but all of that also slows them down. Use that time to get to a planeswalker and draw enough copies of Counterspell to stop them from doing anything. Even if they sneak Living End through, you have Supreme Verdict and Solitude to undo it.
|2 Dovin’s Veto||2 March of Otherworldly Light|
|2 Rest in Peace||4 Prismatic Ending|
|1 Chalice of the Void|
|1 Mystical Dispute|
They get some ways to answer your hate cards. You get even more hate cards and Dovin’s Veto. Nothing fundamentally changes, you just get more good things. You don’t even have to worry about them casting Curator of Mysteries because all of your planeswalkers and Solitude handle that.
Vs. Hammer Time
Commander: Adventures In The Forgotten Realms | Uncommon
The Hammer Time matchup is about handling their non-combo ways to win so you can fully pressure their combo with your answers. Save your answers to Urza’s Saga until it’s clear they don’t have it, work hard to keep Stoneforge Mystic from dropping Kaldra Compleat, and don’t let Esper Sentinel draw cards. From there you just stop their combo attempts, tank some small hits, and eventually clean up with your bigger answers.
Teferi, Time Raveler is important, despite it being clunky against Hammer Time out of other decks. It shuts off Blacksmith’s Skill, and making Supreme Verdict an instant is huge. Tick Teferi up to avoid losing it to smaller attacks, and save the bounce for something important.
If you can Chalice of the Void for one, their ways to land Colossus Hammer are limited to Stoneforge Mystic and Urza’s Saga and they have to play fair. In a similar anti-cheap card capacity, the steal mode on Archmage Charm is used a lot against Hammer Time.
|1 Stony Silence||1 Force of Negation|
|2 Spreading Seas||1 Narset, Parter of Veils|
|1 Chalice of the Void||1 Shark Typhoon|
|1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor|
If I had more sideboard cards for the matchup, Counterspell is the next thing I would trim, but unlike the other Counterspell decks Azorius can still maximize it in this matchup by taking a more passive stance and overloading on answers to Urza’s Saga.
Pithing Needle off Urza’s Saga can shut off a planeswalker, but that is after you got value out of an activation. Azorius Control is also loaded up with ways to answer an artifact, making Needle only a temporary answer.
Vs. Four-Color Creativity
Aether Revolt | Mythic
Market Price: $16.14
If a game against Four-Color Creativity drags out to both players sitting around, you should win. Even their best Dwarf token aggro can be managed. The scary games are when they get Wrenn and Six or Fable of the Mirror-Breaker to apply early pressure, then use Spell Pierce or a Treasure token mana advantage to outmaneuver Counterspell. Your answers to those faster threats are at a premium so you can slow down the game.
Don’t lose to Ice tapping your Counterspell mana. Between that card and Spell Pierce, you have reasons to play very cautiously against a Creativity player who isn’t doing anything.
You can run your opponent out of copies of Archon of Cruelty, especially if you draw Dress Down to pair with Supreme Verdict. Play as if they have four copies of Archon, even if some lists only have three.
|1 Celestial Purge||1 Narset, Parter of Veils|
|2 Dovin’s Veto||2 March of Otherworldly Light|
|1 Dress Down||1 Shark Typhoon|
Chalice of the Void cuts off Spell Pierce and Veil of Summer, reducing the game to just their sorcery-speed threats against your answers. It’s terrible Game 1, great against their sideboard, so it stays in even if it is a liability against Prismari Command.