Thursday, December 3, 2015

Azorius Against Izzet

So for the last week or so I've been looking at the success of the Izzet Control / Prowess deck in the current Standard Pauper metagame and discussing possible avenues of attack against it. During this week's MPDC, several of the players were discussing the possibility of using an Azorius archetype to try to combat the Izzet menace. It turns out that Izzet is particularly vulnerable to a combination of removal, bounce, and discard, and while that last one may be out of reach, Azorius has some excellent tools for the other two, and furthermore has the ability to generate some great early pressure to help keep the game from going long (which generally works in Izzet's favor). So what cards would be good in such a build?
  1. First, White has some excellent targeted removal right now. Cards like Gideon's Reproach, Kill Shot, or even Sheer Drop are certainly worth consideration. Even better, between White and Blue you have three enchantment based removal spells in Claustrophobia, Pacifism, and Tightening Coils, which also keep the affected creatures from filling up the graveyard for Delve.
  2. Second, Blue gives you access to all manner of good bounce spells. While Disperse may have been the card of choice at one point, Clutch of Currents has also proven to be quite strong, despite being only Sorcery speed. Another popular choice right now is Whisk Away, which denies your opponent their next draw while getting the creature out of play for a round. Alternatively, locking down a creature with something like Crippling Chill can play a similar role fairly effectively.
  3. Third, White has some excellent two and three drop creatures that can generate a lot of pressure in the early game to help keep Izzet off its game plan. Obvious examples include Cleric of the Forward Order, Mardu Hordechief, Sandsteppe Outcast, and Topan Freeblade. Cards such as Alabaster Kirin, Lotus Path Djinn, Separatist Voidmage, or even Student of Ojutai might also warrant inclusion.
  4. Finally, Blue also gives you the ability to stretch the game out into the midgame. You can take a play out of Izzet's own strategy with spells like Anticipate and the excellent Treasure Cruise, or even bring in a little bit of countermagic such as Negate or Dispel post board to help shore up any weaknesses. 
I've played around with a few Azorius builds, but I don't feel like I've found the right combination of cards yet. If you've got some ideas or experience with such a build, I'd love to hear them in the comments below. Thanks for reading!


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