It’s FINALLY time for Azorius Control

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“Netdecking … is cheating.” — Anonymous, circa 2016

It’s the week before the Mythic Championship in Barcelona, so it’s time to get serious about Azorius Control. By that, of course, I mean that it’s time to build my own version of the strategy for this weekend’s expected Modern metagame, not only because Cryptic Command is laughably bad, but also because my new ethos prevents me from netdecking.

I won a Chimera Games Open on a couple weeks back with a decklist only a couple cards different from what I registered for Barcelona, and I felt very happy with all of the macro deckbuilding decisions I made, despite being unsure of a couple of numbers, as I’m sure you can tell by the staggering numbers of twos and threes:


There are reasons for these strange splits and low numbers of cards: there are very few cards in Azorius that are so inherently powerful that they must be played as a play-set, you’re less likely to want play-sets of specific reactive cards in case you run into matchups where that kind of card is weak, and the most powerful linear cards in the deck are all legendary. Sure, multiple Narsets are fine, but it’s not like you want to jam your deck full of four copies of Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

I’m gonna go over some notable cards, as well as some notable omissions, before leaving you with the sideboard guide I’m using at the MC this weekend.

0 Cryptic Command

I mentioned this in my opening paragraph, but at this point, this card is just embarrassing in Modern. Paying four mana for a counterspell — a notably weak card type against the fast linear decks clogging up the format — just so you can draw a card, is certifiably bad. In the past, you could justify its inclusion by citing its versatility, its ability to turn around the pace of the game coupled with it being an answer to, say, Ensnaring Bridge or whatever. We have cards like Teferi now, and given that we’re playing next to no creatures, the tempo value is irrelevant. Cryptic’s time has passed, but I’m hopeful that it can one day return.

0 Snapcaster Mage

This is probably my most controversial decision. Put simply, Snapcaster Mage is bad in this deck. The 2/1 body is downright anemic these days, paying a lot of mana for counterspells is not a recipe for success, as I explained earlier, and flashing back an Opt is a worse way to generate advantage than Narset. I’ve noticed that it’s only really powerful when you’re flashing back a Path to Exile and then using the leftover body in some way. Sure, it’s great in the mirror, but wouldn’t you rather have maindeck Rest in Peace to shut out Hogaak, Dredge and Phoenix?

2 Rest in Peace

This card’s stock is at an all-time high. This MC is going to be full of Hogaak decks and Phoenix players trying to beat them. Not only is Rest in Peace gamebreaking in both of those matchups, it’s even good against Jund all of a sudden, as they replace Dark Confidant with Wrenn and Six.

3 Monastery Mentor

If you’re still waffling on this card, let me tell you something: it’s the truth. It’s a very potent sideboard pivot that lets you win games against even the most prepared opponents. As they water down their linear decks to include answers to your hate cards, you punch their face in with an army of Monks. It’s sick.

2 On Thin Ice

This one’s pretty simple: without Snapcaster Mage in the deck, we no longer have to play the embarrassing Oust, and can instead play this much more powerful card. I’ve been happy with it so far, as the ways to punish it just aren’t very popular in the format these days.

Sideboarding with Azorius Control

vs Phoenix
IN
1 Rest in Peace
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Celestial Purge
1 Force of Negation
OUT
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Wrath of God
2 Spreading Seas
2 Mana Leak

vs Eldrazi Tron
IN
1 Force of Negation
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Ceremonious Rejection
OUT
2 Rest in Peace
1 Wrath of God
1 Opt
2 Vendilion Clique

vs UW Control
IN
3 Monastery Mentor
1 Force of Negation
OUT
1 Wrath of God
2 On Thin Ice
1 Rest in Peace

vs Humans
IN
1 Day of Judgment
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Celestial Purge
1 Timely Reinforcements
OUT
2 Rest in Peace
3 Force of Negation
2 Mana Leak

vs Red Phoenix
IN
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Celestial Purge
1 Timely Reinforcements
OUT
2 Spreading Seas
1 Wrath of God
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

vs BGx
IN
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Celestial Purge
OUT
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Force of Negation
1 Wrath of God
1 Opt

vs Urza
IN
1 Rest in Peace
1 Day of Judgment
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Stony Silence
OUT
2 Spreading Seas
2 On Thin Ice
4 Path to Exile

vs Burn
IN
1 Force of Negation
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Celestial Purge
1 Timely Reinforcements
OUT
1 Wrath of God
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

vs Mono-Green Tron
IN
2 Ashiok, Dream Render
1 Force of Negation
3 Monastery Mentor
2 Ceremonious Rejection
1 Stony Silence
OUT
2 On Thin Ice
1 Wrath of God
2 Supreme Verdict
2 Rest in Peace
2 Path to Exile

vs Infect
IN
1 Force of Negation
1 Day of Judgment
3 Monastery Mentor
OUT
2 Rest in Peace
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor

vs Dredge
IN
2 Rest in Peace
2 Ashiok, Dream Render
1 Force of Negation
1 Day of Judgment
3 Monastery Mentor
OUT
4 Path to Exile
2 On Thin Ice
1 Spreading Seas
2 Vendilion Clique

vs Dredgevine
IN
2 Rest in Peace
2 Ashiok, Dream Render
1 Day of Judgment
3 Monastery Mentor
OUT
3 Force of Negation
2 Mana Leak
2 Vendilion Clique
1 Jace, the Mind Sculptor