Mastering the Meta: Azorius Control in Pioneer/Explorer

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Locking Down the Competition

In today's video, I'm playing my favorite deck in the game: Azorius Control in Explorer/Pioneer. This is a deck that I'm currently 13-4 with. That includes this video, a weekly tournament, playing on Arena, and going 4-2 in a 66-player RCQ (good enough for tenth place). Let's get go through the deck and break down the card selections.

Spot Removal and Sweepers

The hallmark of any good control deck is its removal suite. Our only spot removal spell other than Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is March of Otherworldly Light an excellent way to deal with Tokens as well as a way to get Fable of the Mirror Breaker's that slip through the cracks.

Supreme Verdict is the gold standard of sweepers in any Pioneer/Explorer Azorius Control deck. It is the best Wrath of God in the format. Honestly, this is one of those kinds of cards that doesn't need much explanation.

Farewell is an amazing sweeper because it can exile all Creatures, Artifacts, Enchantments, and Graveyards. It's Excellent against Rakdos Midrange and Mono-Green Devotion—the two most popular decks in the format. It's the kind of card you want to top deck to slam the door and win the game.

On Temporary Lockdown

The newest inclusion in this deck is Temporary Lockdown. It's a sweeper that allows for so much flexibility. Against Rakdos Midrange, it hits a ton of permanents including Reckoner Bankbuster, Bloodtithe Harvester, Blood Tokens, Treasure Tokens, and Goblin Shaman Tokens created off of Fable of the Mirror Breaker. Needless to say, it's sensational against Rakdos but it's good in other matchups as well.

Against Rona Combo it hits almost every relevant permanent including Mox Amber, Rona, Herald of Invasion // Rona, Herald of Invasion, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy // Jace, Telepath Unbound, and Kinnan, Bonder Prodigy. In fact, in my RCQ I absolutely demolished my buddy Ben who was on Rona Combo. I cast Temporary Lockdown against him five times. Sorry, Ben... Additionally, it's incredible against Mono-White Humans. It hits nearly all of their creatures. It only misses Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and Brutal Cathar // Brutal Cathar.

Lastly, and possibly most importantly right now, it is a slam dunk against the newest hot deck in Pioneer, Boros Convoke. It legitimately gets rid of every permanent other than their two big payoffs, Knight-Errant of Eos and Venerated Loxodon. This is the whole reason I switched to this version of Azorius Control.

The Counterspells

Next up let's talk about the permission.

Absorb is a card frequently mocked and ridiculed by Pioneer players. Yes, it's a Cancel but gaining three life isn't nothing. Not to mention it's an actual hard counter, which late game is invaluable.

Dovin's Veto is great against all the blue decks including the mirror and Izzet Creativity. It also has game against the most popular decks hitting Fable of the Mirror Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki in Rakdos Midrange and the Storm the Festivals and Planeswalkers of Mono-Green Devotion.

Lastly, Make Disappear is a card that is excellent early game and has some great synergies with Shark Typhoon and The Wandering Emperor. Being able to use the Casualty ability can make this a 'better' Mana Leak, and give it more use in the late game. You trim these on the draw but they certainly serve their purpose.

The Draw Spells

Every Azorius Control Deck needs to have draw spells and typically card advantage spells. In this deck, we have four Memory Deluges this card is one of the best four mana 'draw' two cards we've seen in quite some time. It can catch us up when we're behind and it can slam the door if we're ahead. If you ever get to use the Flashback on it you get to look at the top seven cards. At that point, it almost always finds you what you need to stabilize or end the game. This is in my opinion the best option in the card advantage slot in the format.

Shark Typhoon is as good as it looks. Ever since this card was printed it has been a staple in not only Pioneer but also in Modern so you know this card is pushed. If you get to resolve it against a Rakdos Midrange opponent you are so far ahead...assuming you can cast a few non-creature spells that is. Typically though, this is a card that bridges you from the early to late game. Ultimately, it's a powerhouse and I could see the argument for adding another one to the main deck.

The Planeswalkers

The Wandering Emporer is a card that from the day it was previewed I was excited to play in Azorius Control. Turns out I was right because this card does everything you want a white planeswalker to do in Control. It pressures opposing Planeswalkers, protects our life total while gaining us life, and does it all at instant speed. Absolute perfection!

Last, but certainly not least, is the face that runs the place—the best five-mana planeswalker ever printed: Teferi, Hero of Dominaria! Simply put this card is the reason to play the deck. It is the one card that opponents don't want to see resolve more than any other. Pairing this with a two-mana counterspell on turn five is exactly where you want to be in most cases. If you ever get to untap with it on the Battlefield you feel as if the hypothetical advantage bar slams in your favor. It's great in every match-up and one of my favorite cards of all time.

The Decklist

Go Watch the Companion Video

If you're looking to play a deck that rewards tight gameplay, knowledge of the format, and has amazing upside if you practice and learn your deck I couldn't recommend this Azorius Control deck in Pioneer or Explorer more. If you tune your sideboard for the anticipated meta I think this deck is a contender for the best deck in the format! Check out the gameplay video and don't forget to Like and Subscribe to the Quiet Speculation YouTube Channel!

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LessAlex, AKA Alex Blackard, is a Magic: The Gathering content creator who is passionate about playing Control decks in Constructed, particularly in the Pioneer, Modern, Explorer, and Historic formats. He also enjoys experimenting with combo decks and brewing up new and exciting strategies to stay ahead of the competition. With a focus on in-depth strategy breakdowns and gameplay, LessAlex offers a unique perspective on the game that is both entertaining and informative. His competitive resume includes a Top 4 at an SCG Open in 2014, splitting an NRG Trial in 2017, as well as countless SCG IQ Top 8s and Game Day wins. He hosts The Control Freak Podcast where he discusses playing Control decks in Constructed, and brings on guests including prominent players and creators to share their expertise. You can catch him streaming on Twitch weekdays at 9 am, and on his YouTube Channel for even more content.

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Posted in Deck Building, Explorer, Free, Gameplay, PioneerTagged , , , , , ,

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