Well there is a new set out so presumably it’s time for Azorius to shine. As for me, I always assume that Azorius is the best deck in any given format and wait to be proven wrong. Those are my words to live by and Kaldheim doesn’t give me any reason to think differently.
Kaldheim gave us a new UW Planeswalker and a new mechanic that seems like it should fit nicely into a Azorius control strategy. Foretell has UW written all over it. Paying mana early for an advantage later on is exactly the sort of thing you want when you are planning for the late game.
The Foretell cards don’t really play well with 《Yorion, Sky Nomad》 since the ones that I’m most interested in are not permanents. So, maybe it’s time for a more traditional 60 card Azorius control deck to shine.
4 《Hengegate Pathway》
4 《Temple of Enlightenment》
2 《Castle Ardenvale》
2 《Castle Vantress》
1 《Field of Ruin》
-Land (23)- 4 《Skyclave Apparition》
2 《Brazen Borrower》
1 《Jwari Disruption》
4 《Saw It Coming》
4 《Behold the Multiverse》
1 《Emeria’s Call》
2 《The Birth of Meletis》
3 《Elspeth Conquers Death》
3 《Shark Typhoon》
4 《Glass Casket》
4 《Niko Aris》
The New Cards
《Niko Aris》 is a pretty odd Planeswalker. They have an enters the battlefield trigger which makes me sad everytime they get Eliminated before I get the opportunity to use any of the abilities. Paying X mana for Clues or Shards isn’t a great rate when you compare 《Niko Aris》 to draw spells like 《Sphinx’s Revelation》 or 《Gadwick, the Wizened》.
But maybe they are more like a three mana planeswalker with Kicker. If the base spell is pretty good then the Kicker is just a nice bonus to have. I think in many cases 《Niko Aris》 is going to be pretty nice on turn three. 《Niko Aris》 can sometimes kill a creature and can always draw a card as long as you find the time to spend two mana on that card at a later point. Also being able to pick up a 《Brazen Borrower》 or 《Skyclave Apparition》 can be pretty nice.
《Doomskar》 has got to be one of the best 《Wrath of God》 printed in some time. Being able to cast a 《Wrath of God》 on turn three is a pretty big deal. I have certainly played plenty of games where casting your wrath on turn four just isn’t fast enough. Also, if you Foretell it early you can wrath and cast another spell in the same turn later. You could cast a wrath and a counterspell on turn five or six for example.
But what I really like about 《Behold the Multiverse》 is how it plays with 《Doomskar》. If you Foretell a card on turn two your opponent has to really consider what you might have. If they play more creatures, they could just get wrathed. But if they don’t play a creature, they might give you extra time to draw some cards.
《Saw It Coming》 seems pretty reasonable as far as 《Cancel》 go. Though it is my least favorite of the three Foretell cards since I imagine that you will just cast it for three mana most of the time. I’m not sure if it is as good as 《Neutralize》 for example. But what I do like is the surprise factor.
The more Foretell cards you have in your deck the harder it will be for your opponent to guess which one you have. Since a nice UW deck generally plays some sort of 《Cancel》 anyway why not play this one.
《Starnheim Unleashed》 doesn’t seem like a super nice Foretell card to me. If I wanted to make angels, I would much rather play more copies of 《Emeria’s Call》. Split card Land/Angels is way more flexible than split card Angel/Angels. Also, if you want to make two angels they both cost you exactly seven mana.
The Foretell time walk has a bit more potential. If you have the mana to take an extra turn at least you always get two free birds even if you don’t have a good way of taking advantage of the extra turn. But if you are going to put an expensive card in your deck I’d probably want to play something with a bit more flexibility like 《Shark Typhoon》 so you are less likely to just die without being able to cast it.
《Memorial to Genius》 was a card that saw some play in its standard format and 《Gates of Istfell》 is just a better version of that card as far as UW is concerned. The problem is that the value lands it has to compete with are just better these days.
As a white tapped land it has to compete with 《Castle Ardenvale》 and 《Emeria’s Call》, which can both come into play untapped and have some powerful abilities. Also, if you want 《The Birth of Meletis》 and some basic plains there just doesn’t seem like there is any room left for the 《Gates of Istfell》.
Hey look, it’s my preview card! I think that the 《The Raven’s Warning》 is a cool card with some potential. Like 《Niko Aris》 it has a lot of weird features and it is not super clear if they all add up to be a card that’s powerful enough for constructed these days. If you make good use out of all the stages it is probably not bad but even then it is not super exciting. And I would be pretty sad if I didn’t get to draw a card with the second stage.
It does have some potential upside in that you can blink it with Yorion but I’m not sure that it’s better than 《Omen of the Sun》 for that purpose since the 《Omen of the Sun》 will stick around forever just waiting for the opportunity to be blinked.
I do like a nice 《Jace’s Ingenuity》 but they are rarely good enough for constructed. Five mana is a lot of mana these days and I find it hard to believe this can compete with cards like 《Behold the Multiverse》 and 《Shark Typhoon》 which can take advantage of a wide variety of extra unused mana. Even 《Mazemind Tome》 is probably a better draw spell since it does something when you don’t have time to put a bunch of mana into it.
This seems like a really sweet thing to discard to 《Kroxa, Titan of Death’s Hunger》 on turn two, but it is really hard to do anything cool with this if you plan on actually casting it in your Azorius control deck.
Overall, the cards that are available to UW are pretty good right now. You have all the ingredients necessary for a good UW deck. There are some reasonable removal spells such as 《Glass Casket》, 《Skyclave Apparition》 and 《Brazen Borrower》.
《Behold the Multiverse》 seems like a pretty good draw spell. There are some uniquely powerful threats to turn the game in your favor such as 《Shark Typhoon》, 《Elspeth Conquers Death》, and now 《Niko Aris》. The real trick is to get them all in the right quantity to best stack up to the rest of the format going forward.
Gregory Orange (Twitter)