Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Making Magic in the Arena - Azorius Control (Theros)

I have a confession to make. When it comes to Magic, I am a control player at heart. Nothing pleases me more than watching my opponent squirm as I strategically extract, counter, and destroy their key pieces long enough for me to overpower them in the late game.

And thanks to one special card, we're able to execute that strategy.

I'm dreeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaam, dreeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaammmm traaaaaaaawwwwlin'.

(Check out the decklist here.)

If you'll forgive the musical reference, Dream Trawler is just that kind of card. In most situations, seeing a Dream Trawler resolve signals the end of the game. The fact that it's a 3/5 flying creature with lifelink allows us to recover enough life to bring us out of the danger zone and make up for an otherwise poor early game.

But that also would not necessary be worth the 6 mana this card costs. Whenever we swing it, it draws us a card, which powers it up a little bit until end-of-turn. And if someone ever targets it with a removal spell, we can discard a card to grant it hexproof to protect it. That last clause is one of the most important, because it becomes nearly impossible to get rid of Dream Trawler through conventional means.

Until we're at a point where we can cast him though, we'll need to keep our opponents check so they don't overrun us. Fortunately, Azorius colors give us two of the best planeswalkers we could ever hope for in this field: Teferi, Time Raveler and Narset, Parter of Veils. Both of them deny our opponents tempo, Teferi by forcing them to work at sorcery speed and Narset by keep them from drawing more than one card per turn. Additionally, both of them can provide card advantage with their loyalty abilities.

But that's not the only way we draw through our deck for the pieces we need. The Birth of Meletis secures our land drops by fetching Plains while providing a solid blocker and a pinch of life. For instant speed card advantage, Omen of the Sea and Thirst for Meaning can be played during our opponent's turns.

And having those instant speed tricks is particularly important here, because we may need to save our mana for other forms of instant speed interactions like counter magic. Our 4 copies of Absorb can stop big plays in their tracks while also giving us that extra pinch of life to keep us in the game. Thassa's Intervention serves a similar purpose, and if we don't have use for its counterspell clause we can always use the other one to dig as deep as our current mana pool will allow.

Of course, no control deck would be complete without removal, and this deck packs a fair amount of it. Heliod's Intervention can be used for mass artifact and enchantment removal. And for whatever else comes our way, Banishing Light and Elspeth Conquers Death are invaluable. The latter is a particularly powerful because we can use it to permanently exile a powerful permanent, then make it difficult for them to cast non-creatures before resurrecting one of our planeswalkers or a Dream Trawler that (somehow) hit the graveyard.

It's a stack of powerful cards, and of course a that'll lead to wins.

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