FABLES FROM KITCHEN TABLES – THE TOP SOLDIERS OF – AZORIUS

Greetings, readers! Today I thought I’d introduce a series of lists of my picks for the best 10 non-legends and best 3 legends in EDH for each color combination. This will be a series I’ll finish in time, as I’ll still be doing my monthly Let’s Build segment, and I’ll take breaks to cover new content being released, but for now, I’m starting this series off with the first color combination according to the color wheel – Azorius.

Azorius is all about controlling the board through well-placed tempo spells, sweepers, life gain and card draw. The ten cards are what I feel are the most powerful cards in the color combination, so without further ado, let’s jump right into it:

#10 – Meddling Mage

Meddling Mage may be a bit outclassed by its enchantment cousin Nevermore these days, but there’s no denying the power of Chris Pikula’s invitational creation. Being able to outright ban a card from being played is extremely powerful, and in certain matchups, downright backbreaking. There are certain linear strategies that rely on key power players to win them the game, and denying them access to a specific one can really ruin your opponents’ attempts to subdue you.

Having a 2/2 body makes the card cost-efficient, and it lends itself to the colors of flicker and blink effects, allowing you to reset a specific card you Cyclonic Rifted away, allowing you to more accurately prevent shenanigans from your opponents.

#9 – Augury Adept

As restrictive as a card like Augury Adept is, I’m not going to lie and say I’m not a fan of what it does. Being an Ophidian that gains you life is huge game, and it lends itself to both Rogue’s Passage and Sensei’s Divining Top strategies.

There are certain strategies that will take advantage of the life you can gain from it and literally throw top-heavy players like Tidespout Tyrant or Enter the Infinite to try and cheese some insane lifegain triggers, but for the most part, just being able to gain 2-4 life every time it hits is pretty absurd value on its own. It’s obviously restricted by lacking evasion, but once you get past that, the card is pretty damn efficient. It’s also quite easy to enable.

#8 – Drogskol Reaver

Drogskol Reaver’s power is extremely obvious, and the card would be significantly more powerful if more power were thrown into it. Obviously, Standard would have been all over it in that case, but I feel like a 3/5 for 7, despite having double strike and evasion, at the end of the day just gets beaten in combat. Many fliers at this spot in the curve have enough power to strike the Reaver down and enough toughness to survive it as well. The notable exception is Consecrated Sphinx…which this card stacks extremely poorly against, anyway.

The power of the card is undeniable, however. Soul Warden and this just make music together, Sun Droplet means opponents will just never attack you again, and in an Oloro, Ageless Ascetic list, it serves as a fine finisher that generates you huge card advantage without having to do anything, really.

#7 – Detention Sphere

An Oblivion Ring is still an Oblivion Ring at the end of the day, and while vulnerable to spot removal and rewarding your opponents for casting sweepers. What Sphere does that one-ups its cousin is its ability to completely derf token strategies. This is by far one of the premium counters to Avenger of Zendikar out there, and seriously puts a hurtin’ on any Rhys the Redeemed list.

What I love most about the Sphere, like its cousin Oblivion Ring, is how great it is with a flicker effect. Being able to consistently zap armies of tokens at a time is pretty big game, and at worst, its flexibility to nab any problem permanent on the board is unignorable. If opponents stack Rhystic Study(ies) against you, feel free to punish them hard by offering your turn 3 rebuttal!

#6 – Render Silent

Render Silent does something I really enjoy in a counterspell – it does something other than simply countering a spell. While color-intensive, lategame, it’s one of the better counterspells in the game, as it stops combo in its tracks, Time Walks certain matchups, and prevents opponents from firing all salvos from a freshly-drawn hand due to something like Windfall, Rhystic Study or Wheel of Fortune.

In spite of its awkward casting cost, I’ve run it to decent success. It’s the counterspell that either stops a bonkers turn, therefore countering their entire turn, or in a counter war, it’s a must-answer counterspell. You can actually bait a decent amount of responses with this, which is something I really enjoy – making your opponents think.

#5 – Mistmeadow Witch

Mistmeadow Witch is by far one of my favorite creatures ever printed, and while it’s not the most outright powerful, it’s one of the better engines in a blink deck if only because of how inconspicuous it is. Opponents will never want to remove this out of it being threatening or overly powerful, but despite its low-key presence in any given board state, the things it enables make spot removing it perfectly fine.

I love that it’s also great fodder for both Sun Titan and Reveillark, the prominent engines of recursion for EDH, while at the same time enabling both of them.

#4 – Sphinx’s Revelation

Sphinx’s Revelation is a card equal parts extremely simple and extremely powerful. Obviously, Standard has taught us what an innocuous card this is, but honestly, it’s even more at home in EDH, when you have access to ridiculous levels of mana, and the lifegain is all the more relevant.

Obviously, the card is at home in control, but many control shells enjoy a draw X spell at instant speed, and Sphinx’s Revelation feels just better overall than Blue Sun’s Zenith. The lifegain is without a doubt more worth the reuse, and most decks that run Rev will also run either Mnemonic Wall or an effect akin to Elixir of Immortality.

#3 – Venser, the Sojourner

There is a bit of bias for me putting this above Sphinx’s Revelation. I’ve been on board with Venser since the moment he was spoiled at PAX the summer before Scars of Mirrodin was released. Obviously, those were the days of my flagrant abuse of Primeval Titan, and since moving on from then, I haven’t really utilized Venser, but that’s more about me hating UW than anything else.

Venser is incredible. For one, he blinks any permanent you own, meaning he’s great against Control Magic effects, and great the previously-mentioned Detention Sphere, among other ETB noncreatures (Halimar Depths is a great one). Making your army unblockable is great when you want to alpha-strike someone, and my favorite part about Venser’s emblem is that you can have more than one at once. It’s a scary, nigh-unbeatable effect to fight through, and if you have the right protection for him, not impossible to setup. With the advent of Dreadbore and Hero’s Downfall, it’s admittedly a little more difficult, but it’s by no means impossible to accomplish.

#2 – Azorius Guildmage

You might be a bit puzzled as to why a creature that’s not even remotely flashy or outright absurdly powerful ends up on this list as the second-best Azorius card ever printed. What most people don’t realize is just how absurdly unfair Stifle is to play against. Azorius Guildmage is Stifle on a stick. It’s mana-intensive, yes, but lategame, this card is an absolute monster. Good luck fetching. Good luck using that planeswalker ultimate. Good luck relying on your utility creatures.

That’s not to say tapping down opponents’ creatures doesn’t deserve merit. It deters aggro extremely well on its own, making sure key attackers can’t get through. Seriously, though, the Stifle on a stick thing is just absolutely ridiculous, and while it may seem weak in theory, in practice, the effect is just insane. Seriously, getting this thing online in the lategame makes it incredibly hard for your opponent to win. It can even fight through hexproof since activated abilities of permanents with hexproof don’t also have hexproof.

#1 – Supreme Verdict

Was there really any other option?

Supreme Verdict is literally the bee’s knees. Sure, it’s a little oversold because of its impact on Standard, being the only really relevant sweeper there, but in EDH, making your sweeper uncounterable is just stupid. Your opponent has no opportunity to protect their creatures. They’re just…dead.

Maybe it’s bias on my part. I know when the control player casts that Bribery, I sure as hell want to be destroying whatever they get. This is just so great at wrecking control’s marquis plan, when they just stuff their hands full of counters and sit on mana and a big dork to win the game with. Being able to dismantle their plans is just oh so satisfying, and while it may be a metagame thing, I feel the card’s the most powerful tool Azorius has at its disposal.

Now that we’ve gotten through the cards, I want to go over my picks for the top three legends in each color combination. Azorius is by far not my favorite combination, but I can’t just outright ignore how powerful some of its legends are.

#3 – Hanna, Ship’s Navigator

(I’m using this art because, let’s be real, a reprint with this Terese Nielsen beauty needs to be a thing yesterday.)

Hanna is in an awkward spot, in my opinion; while being an incredibly powerful creature, I feel that Hanna’s best use is in the 99, rather than being the general. That being said, using things like Wayfarer’s Bauble, Courier’s Capsule and Teferi’s Care to great effect is not to be ignored.

Lending herself to enchantress strategies is a given, I feel, but it really helps deter your opponents’ ability to dislodge your mass enchantment setup. Run alongside things like Luminarch Ascension, Sphere of Safety and Mystic Barrier, it’s possible to make a very powerful and very annoying Hanna deck.

#2 – Geist of Saint Traft

He’s one of the Hexproof Five. That alone might as well solidify his place as one of the game’s most powerful legends.

What I enjoy about Geist, however, are his applications in 1v1. He has done some pretty insane work being an efficient beater that can win the game completely on his own. Even at 7 mana, the Geist is worth it, and it’s insanely hard to kill if enabled by either a Sword or Rogue’s Passage.

One card I’ve always found hilarious to pair with the Geist, however, is Sundial of the Infinite. Make the Angel, and when it’s about to go away on your end step, turn the clock and keep your token!

#1 – Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

As much as I talk about the Hexproof Five being insanely powerful, reputable and feared, when talk of a powerful UW general comes up, there’s none more revered, more ubiquitous, more annoying than GA4.

There’s a lot of power in cheapening your spells. There’s that much more power in taxing your opponent’s spells. There’s an unignorable amount of value in tacking both of those abilities onto a 4-mana 3-toughness creature. The card will be worth its weight well into the late stages of the game, and is impossible to ignore.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of a GAIV list for myself, but there are some rather absurd Stax lists running around that disgust me. There’s playing GAIV as an insanely busted value general, and then there’s playing GAIV to lock your opponents out of the game. Never, ever cast a Trinisphere, or so help me, I will target you every single game I play against you out of sheer unwillingness to put up with those sorts of shenanigans.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

That’s my first Top Soldiers list! I hope I’ve generated some excitement for future installments, and perhaps given you ideas on filler spots for your multicolor decks!

Next I’ll be doing Dimir, the next combination on the color wheel, which will come next week provided a huge Magic announcement is made that I simply have to talk about. Until then!
~L

Check out my previous articles here:

Adapting to EDH Metagames:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1177
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1252
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1317
Part 4 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1370
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1454

Building on a Budget:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1522

Choose Your Champion:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1594
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1868
Part 3 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2539

Dragon’s Maze Prerelease Weekend:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1810

Guidance:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2548

Hits & Misses of:
Dragon’s Maze -http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1870
Innistrad - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2586

M14 –  http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2295
Theros - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2508

Legen-Wait for It-Dary:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2264

Let’s Build:
Part 1 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1606
Part 2 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=1595
Part 3 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2214
Part 4 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2278
Part 5 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2303
Part 6 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2310
Part 7 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2323
Part 8 – http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2336
Part 9 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2341
Part 10 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2525
Part 11 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2617

Let’s Talk M14:

http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2228

Let’s Talk Theros:
Part 1 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2362
Part 2 - http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2378

Painting a Target:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2631

Planeswalking and You:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2184 

Resource Management:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2200

Stacking Up Commander 2013:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2561

The Slippery Slope:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2440

Trial & Error:
http://thecgrealm.com/wordpress/?p=2089

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