Tuesday, April 22, 2014


What the heck is AzAgCon?

Perhaps it's not the most evocative of names. But it is a simple abbreviation for Azorius Aggro Control. As I discussed last week, I have been trying to utilize Hidden Strings to its full potential by taking ChrisBaker's Crouching Cipher Hidden Strings decklist and transforming it into more of an Aggro-Control archetype, inspired by the successful Delver Blue list of the past.

Here's the build I ran in yesterday's MPDC 24.09:

For all my efforts, the deck didn't end up that different than the original Crouching Cipher Hidden Strings decklist (which ended up taking 2nd place in this same event). Let me explain why I changed what I did.
  • To achieve a more controlling build, I added 4x of Essence Scatter and 2x Negates. Essence Scatter is particularly good against MonoBlack Control, which I expected to face.
  • After testing, I felt like Loyal Pegasus wasn't a good fit. It typically can't attack until Turn 3 anyway, and is terrible when it's the only creature in play. So I swapped them out for 4x Vaporkin.
  • I swapped out 1x Wingsteed Rider and 1x Syndic of Tithes for 2x Wavecrash Triton. The Triton is quite the combination with Hidden Strings, allowing you at times to completely lock down an opposing creature. It is also easier to cast than the Rider.
  • I also ended up cutting both Hopeful Eidolons, despite their usefulness in the deck. This did have the slight advantage of sidestepping all Enchantment hate, which is quite prevalent in the metagame.
  • When I was done, the list was evenly split between Blue and White, and I was worried about having equal color demands with only 20 Lands. I ended up cutting 1x Hidden Strings to make room for a Traveler's Amulet. I'm still undecided whether 3 or 4 Hidden Strings is correct, as they can be a dead card at times.
Sadly, the deck did not perform well. In my defense, I thought my draws were pretty poor. I did manage to easily defeat MonoBlack control in Round 1, but then completely tossed away a game during Round 2 to lose 1-2, and then never got going against two above-average draws against White Weenie Auras. I ended up in 9th place even still, and I still think the deck is better than its mediocre performance.

So what do you think of my changes? Let me know in the comments below.

I am hard at work on my Standard Pauper review of Journey Into Nyx, and so Thursday I will be reviewing a card that I think will be perfect in this deck. See you then.


  1. I played the stock version & snuck into the top 8 and lost quickly to Adner's Boros: game 1 I mulliganed to 5 & game 2 again had to mull to 4. The shuffler seems to really hate 19 land decks, lol. I was thinking about the Vaporkin swap myself, I like the addition of more control, may try your tweaks myself....

  2. Boros and Azorius aggro are both so "Drawing a good starting hand" dependant ! You have to be lucky on lands, 19 or 20 is a low count split in two colors for aggro, and be lucky on combinations of spells as well. Of course with the right pieces Azorius has an edge on Boros with the combo, but why not build a straight aggro maindeck and side out those Essence Scatters and Negates, so you can go wether Aggro or Control depending on the matchup every round?

  3. Thanks for your comments. I think my next step is to tweak the manabase to try for a bit more consistency. I still like the Control elements in the list in the maindeck, but this would be another good thing to test.

  4. Very cool stuff, as always, but after giving it much thought, I think you've got your deck comparisons wrong. It seems to me that the best comparison between the AzAgCon deck of today and any Standard Pauper deck of the past would be not to Delver Blue but to the White-Blue Blinkdrifter deck from waaaaay back in Time Spiral/Lorwyn season.

    Delver Blue was an awesome deck, yes, but it doesn't really compare to a two-colored deck that sought to abuse two block-specific mechanics and repeatable effects the way Blinkdrifer and AzAgCon Do. Delver Blue was almost a "build around" deck in that the deck was built around increasing the odds of flipping an early Delver by running a plethora of instants and sorceries that were cheap, effective, and easy to cast in a mono colored list.

    By contrast, Blinkdrifter and AzAgCon both run two colors out of necessity in order to achieve maximum value from the interactions of synergistic block mechanics and reapeatable effects. In Blinkdrifter, players took advantage of Time Spiral's repeatable Flashback mechanic on [card]Momentary Blink[/card] in combination with various enters-the-battlefield triggers (most effectively with Lorwyn's evoke mechanic as features on [card]Mulldrifter[/card]) while today Azorius Aggro Control abuses the combination of Theros block's Heroic ability with a specific use of the repeatable effect of Cipher from RtR in [card]Hidden Strings[/cards].

    So I think a better analogy is that the current "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Strings" deck does not really resemble Delver Blue at all but does have shades remiscent of of Blinkdrifter...which was arguable even bigger than Delver!

  5. Addenudum: Apologies for typos and accidentally coding card names as if I were on the PDCMagic boards. Also, Blinkdrifter deck list for reference :-) http://pdcmagic.com/gatherling/deck.php?mode=view&id=250