Azorius Aggro-Control deck

Modern Deck Help forum

Posted on Feb. 23, 2024, 8:54 a.m. by 9-lives


Modern 9-lives


Artifact-creature deck that is aggro-control. I am also running this deck for the art it has in it; it's some of my favorite!

I know that I'm basically sacrificing ability to cast creatures quickly with the couterspells taking up so much mana.

I do like the control with Ethersworn Canonist. This can work in my favor, especially that this is an aggro deck, so that I will be able to cast as many artifact-creature spells with no problem, and keeping the opponent from casting other spells that aren't artifacts except for one. This magic number of one is that which I can easily counter each turn.

Mana-counter Control with Mana Leak with Esper Sentinel and Oppressive Rays and No More Lies and Spell Pierce.

If they pay the mana, fine, that's good because I am tying up their mana usage. If they don't pay the mana, that's good too, because it will remove it. The fact that it works out for them later in the game isn't a probem; i'll still tie up the mana in usage if they ever want to use it.

Also, Assemble the Players and Sorcerous Spyglass and Mishra's Bauble is really useful in this deck, with that and Peek working optimally to give me the heads up before anything occurs so that I know what to do with my mana if I need to use a counterspell or not.

Is it really worth it to have this hand-awareness?

Also, Peek and Mishra's Bauble and Defiant Strike all give me card draw not to mention their other abilities.

Assemble the Players is just as good as not having it, except for taking up deck space. This card is good if I cast two or more creatures with it, which will most likely happen, and if it only stays on the field for one turn, it will have nothing gained and nothing lost if it casts one 2 CMC creature.

Arcbound Javelineers are to remove creatures with 1 toughness or less while I am starting the game with them.

Skrelv, Defector Mite is useful for its protection from color as well as granting toxic 1. This for a 1 mana card is crazy good.

Pairing toxic with creature power plus Defiant Strike makes for a strong creature.

wallisface says... #2

Some thoughts:

  • Last time you started a thread about a deck, it was described as you wanting to make a deck more competitive, but when those suggestions came through you decided you'd rather the deck be casual than strong. Is this the same scenario, or are you legitimately looking for advice on making a strong control deck.

  • Azorius Conrtol already exists as a well-defined meta archetype, consistently hovering between 1-5% of the meta. There is an established deck list here

  • The kind of deck your describing (being aggressive while also controlling the board state) is basically what the current Murktide Regent lists do - deck here. I think it is going to be very hard to justify playing white over red in such an archetype, because red brings most of the aggression, but it's probably still achievable with some concessions.

Some thoughts on your current list specifically:

  • For the deck to work, you need to be running the minimum amount of creatures possible - between 12-15. Running more than this makes it too hard to control the board, and running less than this puts you at risk of not being able to threaten damage.

  • All the creatures you run need to be able to quickly close-out the game on their own. If you check the Murktide list linked above, you'll notice all of those creatures are able to dish out extreme pressure. So far, NONE of your creatures are even remotely threatening. You want to be playing creatures that can end the game fast and can do everything they need to by-themselves. You should really be playing cards like Murktide Regent, Ledger Shredder, Tishana's Tidebinder and Solitude/Subtlety instead of these extremely weak creatures.

  • Any number of Academy Ruins is excessive when you have no real reason to want to recur any of these artifacts.

  • 3 mana countermagic is always bad - there's no reason to run Render Silent especially when you still have room to play another Counterspell instead.

  • Assemble the Players is a terrible card and shouldn't be here.

  • you need waay more wawys to powerfully interact with cards that the opponent resolves - Oppressive Rays is too weak for this. You need cards like Prismatic Ending and Leyline Binding.

  • You are severely lacking in efficient draw. I would expect Preordain instead of Peek at a bare minimum.

February 23, 2024 2:32 p.m.

9-lives says... #3

Well, those cards aren't exactly budget. I don't plan on spending a ton on one card. my deck is comparable to the aggro-control deck you mentioned, but yet it is somewhat different. I plan on locking my opponent in with Ethersworn Canonist with one spell they can cast per turn, which I can easily counter. Academy Ruins is useful for its ability if I need it. Assemble the Players is amazing: it allows you to basically cast a level 2 card for only 2 mana at first, and each subsequent turn I can do so. I also need it and Peek to know in advance what I'm getting so that I can plan my turns based on whatever is going on with the opponent. Oppressive Rays is really good as well. It has never failed me. This is an aggro-control deck, so I'm not running any cards that are high in mana cost and also are budget. You and some other people always recommend the most expensive and over-used cards for the archetype.

February 23, 2024 2:49 p.m.

9-lives says... #4

Your notion that it doesn't work if it doesn't fit some pre-established definition is always what I get from you and others.

February 23, 2024 2:51 p.m.

wallisface says... #5

I'm not saying it has to be established-meta to work. But knowing what does work is helpful for making a deck function well.

As far as deck budget, very strong things can be built for cheap (but what you have at the moment isn't it) - if you have a budget for what you're wanting to spend on the deck, it's good to post that upfront, so that people can suggest cards within your price-range. I'm able to give lots of better card suggestions for whatever price range you're aiming for, but I can't do that if I don't know what your price-point is!

My criticisms of the current cards are as follows:

  • You need to cast 2 creatures from the top of your deck with Assemble the Players to actually gain any benefit from the card (the first creature is just "breaking even"). With only 17 creatures in the deck this could take a lot of time - you can assume 5ish turns - which is excessively long for a magic game, particularly if you're wanting to be aggressive. But even more noteworthy, is that casting this card early means leaving your shields-down (as you're then missing mana to control the board), so it can only ever be realistically cast late-game, which makes it even more useless for any deck trying to be proactive/aggressive.

  • You say Academy Ruins is useful for its ability if you need it - but under what board state are you ever needing it? Normally this card is used to ensure lock pieces stay on-board indefinitely, but you're only sudo-lock piece is Ethersworn Canonist, which is too low a density of cards to warrant running 3 copies of a legendary land (making your manabase troublesome). Added to this, most of your spells require only-coloured-pips, so the colourless mana this provides is close-to useless.

  • You mention that with Ethersworn Canonist your opponent can only play a spell a turn "which you can easily counter". While this is a valid strategy, you only have 11 counterspells, so spells are going to get through - I don't think you can assume this is an automatic game-lock by any means.

  • Oppressive Rays is bad because it doesn't get rid of the creature, and that creature can still pose a massive problem. Especially as it doesn't stop triggered abilities, many, many creatures will be completely happy even with this attached. And, if the opponent really wants to attack or use an activated ability of the creature, they still have the option to later in the game. This is why completely removing the creature is always the better option - and you have a massive selection of actually-good spells for doing that in white, so i'm not sure why you're using this card.

  • There's a good reason nobody runs Peek.

February 23, 2024 3:16 p.m.

9-lives says... #6

The thing about Oppressive Rays is that I will also be casting Mana Leak and No More Lies. If they pay the mana, fine, that's good because I am tying up their mana usage. If they don't pay the mana, that's good too, because it will remove it. The fact that it works out for them later in the game isn't a probem; i'll still tie up the mana in usage if they ever want to use it.

Assemble the Players is useful because no matter what I'm going to keep it on the field for one turn. Any further turns and it's doing its job just fine. You think I'll only draw one creature card in 5 turns, even with Defiant Strike and Mishra's Bauble and Peek?

I could add like 2 more counterspells. Consider that I have enough that if I individually drew each counterspell, it would last around turn #6 for mana cost 2 spells to only cast each turn with the max mana spent, which would be around 7 or 8 spells, guesstimating. The probability of what I'm doing is 13/70, which is 19% chance of drawing one. Around 20% is just fine for my purposes.

February 23, 2024 3:37 p.m.

wallisface says... #7

To counter your points:

  • You've changed the list since first read as Defiant Strike wasn't initially there - but this should never be in any deck aside from maybe some super-janky prowess build. But my point on Assemble the Players is that you need at least 2 creatures to make it worthwhile (which was the 5 turn estimate, re-read my post because I think you've misunderstood). Furthermore, you can only cast this card reasonably once you also have the mana to control your opponents turn as-well, so it's a super late game tool which won't really give you the value you're wanting. Mishra's Bauble doesn't help Assemble the Players at all because you have no flash-creatures, so there's no interval where you can make use of Assemble the Players with it.

  • Your argument for keeping Oppressive Rays isn't a valid one, and shows a clear misunderstanding of how games typically play out. I feel like you're just digging-your-heels-in as opposed to taking-in actual advice and well-meaning criticism.

  • With 11 counterspells, 16% of your cards are countermagic, which is a low-enough density that you can't assume to be reliably countering magic for long.

I've just noticed you're at 68 cards. Get down to 60. I remember having this discussion before with you - but if you're even remotely trying to take deck-building seriously, this is the first thing you need to do.

I see you've added Miscast to the deck... this is just a worse Spell Pierce.

I think Sorcerous Spyglass was in the deck initially but I should call out this is a sideboard-card at best. The vast majority of decks won't care at all about this card - a lot of cards don't have activated abilities.

Urza's Saga can only grab Mishra's Bauble so seems unideal to have here, but it's no biggie either way.

You still haven't let anyone know what your budget is!!

February 23, 2024 4:04 p.m.

9-lives says... #8

What is so bad about Defiant Strike if it's simply a addition to having the ability to draw a card? It's no Opt or even Preordain, but it's good for my purposes.

And, no, I don't have to cast two creatures for it to be worthwhile, as whenever i cast it I would lose nothing if I didn't keep it for over 2 turns.

Oppressive Rays is far underrated for its power.

I have 13 counterspells out of around 70 cards. Miscast is not better nor worse than Spell Pierce. Spell Pierce is targeting other things, and also has a different mana cost to the opponent.

Urza's Saga and Mishra's Bauble are great. The latter lets me look at the opponent's hand. The former is good for artifacts, and can search for artifact creatures as well as Mishra's Bauble.

February 23, 2024 4:30 p.m.

9-lives says... #9

You're looking at each card individually, as though that really matters the most. Look at the deck as a holistic notion. Every card I have in the deck is useful in tempo as well as abilities, and i'm often doing two things or more at once with each card's interaction with the whole.

February 23, 2024 4:50 p.m.

wallisface says... #10


For Defiant Strike you yourself even admit that Opt and Preordain are better - and that's the exact reason why this card is bad.

I have no idea what you mean by "And, no, I don't have to cast two creatures for it to be worthwhile, as whenever i cast it I would lose nothing if I didn't keep it for over 2 turns.". Assemble the Players does effectively nothing on its own. You play it, and now you have 1-less resource in-hand, for no inherent board-state advantage. Once you play the first creature from the top of your deck with it, now you've at-least "broken even" - that is, the cards you've invested into it have equaled the gain in boardstate you have acquired (albeit, costing 2 additional mana and having to wait an undetermined number of turns, so still being more hassle-than-value). Only once you've cast your second creature from the topdeck, has the card made any kind of net-advantage. The problem is that the sheer amount of time it would take to achieve that is ridiculous.

You are saying "Oppressive Rays is far underrated" but this is just your unfounded opinion. There's good reason why it sees no play at all, even in budget decks or in Pauper (where you can only play commons... if it's not even seeing play there then alarm bells should be ringing!).

Spell Pierce is infinitely better than Miscast, simply because it hits a much, much wider berth of spells. The difference between an opponent paying or is far less-wide of a gap than the one between only being able to target instants and sorceries, versus being able to target instants, sorceries, planeswalkers, enchantments, artifacts, and battles.

Mishra's Bauble doesn't let you look at the opponents hand at all, just their topdeck (which may get shuffled away before they draw anyway). Urza's Saga can only specifically search for artifacts costing exactly or , which none of your artifact creatures are, so you cannot grab them with this card.

I am looking at the whole deck. Some of the cards I have said are bad here can conceivably work in different shells. Just not remotely this one.

I have asked you twice now already what your budget is for this deck, so that people giving you card suggestions can cater this for what you are wanting to spend. If you want people to be able to help you, you need to include this information!

The biggest problem holding your decks back at the moment, as far as I can see, is that their constructor is too stubborn and not-open enough to feedback. By getting super-combative with every suggestion/response people give you, these decks are not going to be able to improve, and instead cycle around in a rut indefinitely. The best thing you can do to help strengthen your deckbuilding is learning to be more open to healthy non-combative discussion, and being more open to listening to others ideas. Coming to a pre-determined decision that everything you've done is correct from the start only serves to leave you exactly where you began.

February 23, 2024 10:09 p.m.

9-lives says... #11

What I'm saying about Assemble the Players is that since it is automatically casting on my turn a creature spell of, say 2 mana, it is not a loss at all even if I only spend 1 turn with it on the field. Thus, it is no loss at all, and if it stays on the field for 2 turns, then it gives an advantage.

Ahh. I agree that Spell Pierce is better! Thank you for recommending it, because I'll be running it!

Oppressive Rays is good considering that I want to tie up as much mana as possible. 3 mana per creature is really nice, considering that oppressive rays is 1 mana cost. I have played this card whenever I was running my Azorius Defender-Damage deck, and it worked really well. Can you recommend any mana-tying up cards that are like Oppressive Rays but better?! I'm thinking Lawmage's Binding is nice, but I really want a mana-intensive card that ties up mana.

Ahh, you're right about Urza's Saga. I was thinking that it would allow me to search for 1 white mana cards, but yeah. So, I'll just use it to tutor out Mishra's Bauble, I guess.

Mishra's Bauble is amazing. I really don't know why you're arguing against it, considering that it is a staple in a lot of competitive decks. And, yes, they may shuffle, but I'm counting on that they don't, and looking at the top card is great for predicting what will happen. Do you think this hand-knowledge is good? I think it will give me the heads-up for using counterspells on the opponent's turn.

Defiant Strike is just a suboptimal draw card, and adds +1 power. Nothing too bad or too good about it. I don't mind running it, considering that I need to increase the power of my creatures as a support for my aggro-control archetype.

I have a question for you! What is a good card for granting haste in Azorius colors?? I don't even know if they have this type of card available.

February 24, 2024 11:05 a.m.

9-lives says... #12

And I'm not being 'combative'. I am simply discussing my choices with you, and justifying some of them. I really don't think you are getting the entirety of my deck in mind. Is there anything you can recommend positively without negating as much as possible? I'd love to have recommendations that make my deck better as it is, and as much as I appreciate your help with what cards don't fit, I'd like you to give me suggestions on what will make it better.

February 24, 2024 11:16 a.m.

wallisface says... #13


  • I feel like you are misunderstanding how Assemble the Players. You still need to pay for the mana cost of the creatures you cast with it. Also, you can only cast creatures with it from the top of your deck. With less than 23% of your deck being creatures, it's only going to be relevant at-all roughly 1-in-4 turns. The first time it's relevant, you're only breaking-even on the card (except that it has cost you additional time and mana). To be card positive will require having two creatures on your topdeck, which on average could take between 5-8 turns. The card is bad.

  • I don't get your obsession with "tying up mana" with Oppressive Rays when you could just remove the creature entirely! You're just giving your opponent the ability to keep using their creature if they want... but also, they're not forced to - you haven't gained anything by keeping it alive instead of just removing it. This is an entirely pointless endeavor when removal spells exist.

  • I never argued against Mishra's Bauble, it's a great card - I was only stating the rules text of it because your previous post seemed to indicate you didn't know how the card worked. I would also say, that while the card is awesome, it's often used competitively only because it either adds a cast trigger, and/or effectively gives you a 56 card deck. Your deck doesn't need cast-triggers as you're doing nothing with them, and your deck is already far too bloated with cards (being at 70), so it's not giving you the benefit of being able to "virtually play with a 56 card deck".

  • On Defiant Strike, as I stated at the beginning of this thread, your current creature selection is not remotely aggro at all - they're all far too passive and non-impactful... nothing applies pressure. The +1 damage from Defiant Strike doesn't change anything about that. You're always better off fixing your deck for a better draw, than drawing something entirely random for a poultry 1 extra-damage-dealt.

  • For your question of a "card for granting haste in Azorius colors" - for what purpose? Your creatures pose no threat, and haste isn't going to change that. You need to refine your decks scope to something feasible, not keep adding more cogs to an already difunctional machine.

  • I do "have the entirety of your deck in mind", and understand what is going on. It currently doesn't work and I'm trying to show you that, so it can be taken in a direction that does actually work. I have tried giving you suggestions but you still haven't told me what your budget is so you're making it really impossible to do that!!

February 24, 2024 7:09 p.m.

9-lives says... #14

wallisface Thanks for your advice and persistence!

Ohhh! Now I see where I went wrong in my thinking. I thought that Assemble the Players would give me a free cast for the card's presence. I literally read it as "Once each turn you can cast a creature spell with 2 mana or less" for free. Huge mistake on my part. Sorry. Nevertheless, I still would like to run it, considering how it will give me a heads up to what is next in the game.

Oppressive Rays I could get rid of for something else. Do you think Lawmage's Binding is much better? What card would you recommend?

I don't mind getting rid of Defiant Strike for something budget.

My budget is to just use cards that you know will be as low as below 3 dollars per card. Even if that is so, I don't want to spend 12 dollars for 4 cards.

I'm really trying to use budget cards for my deck, and I don't know what I should use for an aggro deck that is control. Do you think that I shouldn't run the artifact-creature stuff? I'm really putting my hope into Ethersworn Canonist, Esper Sentinel and Skrelv, Defector Mite. All of these cards are great for me.

February 24, 2024 8:02 p.m.

wallisface says... #15

9-lives Cool, i'll keep all my card suggestions to $3-or-less per card.

Being one card-down is not worth it for only really knowing what your topdeck is. If you are using Assemble the Players you are wasting resources for almost no gain. Added to this a point which hasn't been mentioned yet - drawing a second copy of this card is absolutely disastrous, as you can't do anything useful with it.

Lawmage's Binding is worse that Oppressive Rays because 3 mana for a card that's still not removing a creature is just really bad value. Far better spells to remove the opponents creatures are Skyclave Apparition, Stasis Snare, Oblivion Ring, Fateful Absence, Declaration in Stone, Prismatic Ending, and Path to Exile

Opt, Preordain, Serum Visions, and Consider are all cheap and are overwhelmingly better than Defiant Strike.

If you're trying to be aggressive with control, your current creatures are really lacking. The current creatures you're running would fit better in a tax-like build, where the aim is to mess with your opponents tempo but ultimately just slowly chip-through damage. If you're trying to play an aggressive-control deck (like the Murktide Regent list) in , then your best bet for creatures on a budget would probably be Tolarian Terror, Delver of Secrets  Flip, Spell Queller, Haughty Djinn, and maybe Lion Sash

February 24, 2024 10:01 p.m.

9-lives says... #16

Ahhh! Thank you so much for the recommendations!! This is what I'm talking about; getting positing feedback!

Stasis Snare is amazing! I love the art on it as well. This card is perfect!

Which one is better? Preordain or Serum Visions? I don't know in what order is better for scrying and drawing. I like the art for Preordain better.

If I'm running Ethersworn Canonist and stuff, Lion Sash would be good. I really want to play my artifact creatures, especially Ethersworn Canonist. Also, I have a newb question: would I be able to use Lion Sash's activated ability multiple times per turn?? If so, that would be sweet.

February 25, 2024 11:13 a.m.

9-lives says... #17

Delver of Secrets  Flip works perfectly for me, considering I want to see the topdeck, and it's cheap and useful. I just don't want to be casting it more than once per turn, esepcially if Ethersworn Canonist is worth it.

Haughty Djinn isn't too useful for me, since it's 3 CMC and depends on the instants/sorceries i've casted, which won't be too much for a lot of the game. Even if I cast as many 2-CMC counter spells each turn as much as possible. Same for Tolarian Terror.

February 25, 2024 11:24 a.m.

9-lives says... #18

Declaration in Stone might be worth it even more than Stasis Snare. I like how they'll be having to pay 2 mana to use a clue, which would be good for my purposes with how I want to tie up mana. It wouldn't be much lost if they drew a card for 2 mana, while I am paying 2 mana to exile that and all other cards with the same name.

February 25, 2024 11:37 a.m.

9-lives says... #19

How about Touch the Spirit Realm?! That's a card that I already have, and I love its art as well as its abilities.

February 25, 2024 12:20 p.m.

9-lives says... #20

How about Detention Sphere considering that most enchantment cards are sorcery speed, and Stasis Snare and Touch the Spirit Realm are 3 MV and Declaration in Stone is like this, but cheaper in MV and gives them the advantage of having card draw. Do you think players will be spending 2 mana per card draw for Declaration in Stone??

February 25, 2024 12:33 p.m.

wallisface says... #21

  • Preordain is miles better than Serum Visions

  • yes you can trigger Lion Sash multiple times. You’d presumably always do it in the opponents end step.

  • I should reiterate as I have been this whole thread that your artifact creatures aren’t very-well suited for a control or aggro shell at-all… this is why i’d suggested a bunch of creatures that would actually help you. I know you like Ethersworn Canonist but this is a really bad home for it - trying to force it into this deck is going to make it’s performance bad, and the deck worse.

  • Haughty Djinns 3-mana cost can be a little awkward, but i’ll note Murktide Regent is two mana and survives fine. The trick is to know the matchups well enough to gauge when to ”shields down” to cast it - or wait till you have 4-5 lands so you can also Spell Pierce or Counterspell.

  • Tolarian Terror is 1 mana and wins the game on its own. You’re in no massive rush to dump it down, but tempo-control builds could often get it down by turn 3-4 no problem.

  • Touch the Spirit Realm is fine, but not great. You’re unlikely to ever channel it, but it’ll still be decent-enough.

  • Detention Sphere is decent.

  • of course opponents will be paying 2 mana to crack clues, but only if its the best thing for them to be doing fir their turn. Them gaining clues is an advantage for them.

February 25, 2024 1:03 p.m.

9-lives says... #22

Alright! So, Detention Sphere is in! No offense, but I'm going to keep Ethersworn Canonist since I'm already having counterspells, and this card really makes my deck. I know I'm not running a total prison deck, which would be nice but a lot of the prison cards are impacting both sides of the battle, and I'm using the counterspells costing mana. Hmmm. Should I try to make a prison deck instead with these counterspells? Like Tithe Taker?

February 25, 2024 1:22 p.m.

wallisface says... #23

If I were building a deck with your colour and budget restraints, it’d be this. I’d suggest your list look very close to this, if you’re wanting to end up with an ”Azorius Aggro-Control deck”.

If you’re going down the route of specifically wanting to build around Ethersworn Canonist, it’s a completely different deck - neither aggro nor control, but instead some kind of artifact-based tempo build.

February 25, 2024 1:42 p.m.

9-lives says... #24

Hmmm. This is really difficult for me to give up Ethersworn Canonist. She plays such a huge role for me in my aggro-control deck. I'm trying out new ideas, but I'm not sold on them. I wouldn't have Spell Snare nor Stern Scolding; i'd rather pay 1 more mana per spell to have the openness of choosing whatever card I want to target with counterspells. The only difference in this and the current deck I currently have is Tolarian Terror and Haughty Djinn. So, it's not that big of a deal that I run Ethersworn Canonist and my current creatures.

February 25, 2024 6:28 p.m.

9-lives says... #25

And these cards are all really nice for their specific properties, but I'm looking for cards that impact my entire deck as much as possible. Choosing cards that are better by themselves may not be best for my entire deck.

February 25, 2024 6:32 p.m.

wallisface says... #26

9-lives there’s the old saying of ”you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” - I’ve provided you all my thoughts on this list multiple times, it’s up to you what you do with them.

Important final notes:

  • you might like Ethersworn Canonist, but this is not the right shell for her - it makes both her and the deck weaker. Importantly, she’s not useful at being “aggro” nor “control”.

  • in any deck aiming to implement control in any form, mana is super relevant - as any control player will tell you. Both Spell Snare and Stern Scolding find their way into numerous competitive lists because 1-mana is just soo efficient, and it helps prevent the opponent acquiring an insurmountable lead early.

  • Tolarian Terror and Haughty Djinn are both good because they can both easily win the game on their own, both very quickly. If the deck isn’t ”full control” then you can’t ever assume you’ll be able to perma-lock the opponent, so you need creatures that can apply pressure and end the game fast. Your collection of white-weenies don’t remotely do that.

In any case, good luck with your brew. I’ve said all I can to try and help make it playable - the rest is really up to you.

February 25, 2024 6:52 p.m.

9-lives says... #27

I'd like to run Ethersworn Canonist because it makes it generally one spell per turn for the opponent which is easy for me to counter. I have Arcbound Javelineer for 1 toughness cards, which I don't really count on that occurring, but it's still nice.

February 26, 2024 7:35 p.m.

Tsukimi says... #28

wallisface You are very kind and patient, this convo reminded me of trying to help my friends deckbuild when they started - I couldn't get them to see how stubborn they were being xD Thirsty horses indeed

March 6, 2024 12:13 p.m.

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