Azorius Control Historic Deck Guide: March 2021 Update

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria (Dominaria) Art by Chris Rallis

Hello my friends! Now that Historic is back into the spotlight again due to Historic Anthology 4, it’s time to revisit one of my favorite archetypes – Azorius Control!

This might be the best time to revisit control, as the power level overall lowered down a bit (Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath is gone), but Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is staying, and it’s one of the best cards in the format.

Before we start…

If you read the last version of the Azorius Control guide, I mentioned that the matchup against Sultai was slightly positive – however, in the end of last season it actually wasn’t. How is that possible? Let me explain…

Sultai is (was) flexible.

In the beginning I said that the matchup was positive for Azorius Control. In the end I said that the matchup against Sultai was bad. I will explain why both of these arguments can be true at the same time:

It’s easy! Sultai was considered to be one of the best decks. What happened? Sultai changed the deck so it could beat mirror matches. It played less Aether Gust and Fatal Push and played multiple Narset, Parter of Veils and Tale's End instead. That, unfortunately, hit the matchup for Azorius Control as well! Suddenly they did not have as many dead cards in game 1 and were full on ready to combat the grindy games.

Okay, now why am I mentioning this?

Azorius Control is flexible in the same way

You can build Azorius Control a lot of ways, too! If you don’t like my ways, feel free to change some numbers to adapt for your meta that you expect. In the card choices below I will explain why certain cards are good – and which ones you could swap out depending on how the metagame changes. It’s incredibly important that you don’t get lazy with your deck and change it as the meta changes – this is my update for the current metagame!

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Planeswalker (5)
1
Narset, Parter of Veils
4
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Sorcery (4)
4
Wrath of God
Instant (10)
3
Absorb
4
Censor
1
Dovin's Veto
2
Saw It Coming
Artifact (1)
1
Grafdigger's Cage
Enchantment (14)
4
Baffling End
4
Cast Out
2
Search for Azcanta
4
Shark Typhoon
Land (26)
3
Castle Ardenvale
2
Castle Vantress
4
Glacial Fortress
4
Hallowed Fountain
4
Irrigated Farmland
5
Island
4
Plains
Cards 60
Sideboard (15)
2
Authority of the Consuls
1
Disallow
2
Doomskar
3
Dovin's Veto
1
Grafdigger's Cage
2
Narset, Parter of Veils
2
Rest in Peace
2
Tale's End

About the Deck

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria baby! All you want to do is survive until you can win with Teferi, Shark Typhoon, Castle Ardenvale or Search for Azcanta. The rest of your deck is filled with cards to buy you time. The configuration will change depending on the meta (as mentioned above). This configuration has been working quite well for me (Top 100 Mythic).

Card Choices: Main Deck

absorb-art-crop
Absorb

Grafdigger’s Cage

Uro is gone, but that doesn’t mean that Cage is useless now. In my opinion, Sacrifice or Angels are the best decks right now and Collected Company is an important part of their game plan. Having a dead card in the main deck in other matchups can be hurtful though – If there’s tons of Death’s Shadow or Control builds, shift this card to the sideboard.

Baffling End

I think this card is incredibly important right now and I wouldn’t play less than 4. Most decks right now are creature-centric and the fact that this can hit Death's Shadow or Kor Spiritdancer at any stage is just incredibly important and makes up for the lack of black mana for removal like Fatal Push.

Censor

Never less than 4. You probably noticed that this deck doesn’t play cards like Opt or other cheap card draw spells. This acts as a filler in the early game (if you need lands), and if it ever counters a spell, it feels better than winning against Dimir Rogues in Standard.

Search for Azcanta

Because the meta is so open right now, being a bit more proactive is important. Search for Azcanta is amazing, and while it’s not great in every matchup, it’s never bad either. Search for Azcanta is insane! If you never tried it, you should – you will fall in love, I guarantee it. If there are a lot of aggressive decks, cut down to 1, but never less than 1, and never more than 2 (legendary rule).

Dovin’s Veto

Every deck has its fair share of non-creature spells right now and it’s highly unlikely that you don’t find any targets for this.

Narset, Parter of Veils

I’ve played tons of this archetype now and I’ve gotten to the conclusion: Never play without at least 1 Narset. Even if she doesn’t actively shut down card draw from your opponent, she’s still a great form of card advantage. People say that she’s bad against aggro and while I agree that she’s not the absolute best, she’s also not the worst. She will still find you the Wrath of God or a Grafdigger’s Cage. It took me tons of games to get to this conclusion, but I am quite happy with it. Depending on the metagame, you want more copies of this – but never less than 1.

Saw It Coming

A Kaldheim addition! No, it’s not better than Absorb – but it’s still quite good and it has great play patterns with Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Absorb is crucial for surviving. No matter how many defensive mechanisms you have, you will take a lot of damage and fighting through Absorb is just incredibly tough for your aggressive opponents.

The problem with Saw It Coming is, that it’s not easy to tap out for 2 mana at basically any point of the game without impacting the board. Most of the time you need to keep it up to cycle, hold up your other countermagic and what not. I still like Saw It Coming and I think it’s a powerful addition for this deck – having this open on turn 5 with Teferi hitting the battlefield is just game over most of the time. Yes, this is the only Foretell card in your main deck. But that doesn’t really matter – what is your opponent going to do? Never play a spell again?

Absorb

I’ve already talked a bit about this, so I’ll keep it short. If you play against tons of aggressive decks, play 4 copies and cut one Saw It Coming.

Cast Out

This card is a bit like a backbone for this deck. It’s a flexible answer and it will make sure that we hit our early land drops, because it’s just so cheap to cycle away. There are not many cases where you should play less than 4, unless you really know what you want (which should be tough in an open meta right now).

Wrath of God

I’ve seen people cut some copies and I think that’s insane. It’s incredibly hard to win against creatures without a sweeper and it’s just crucial. Right now, I would not leave the house without 4 copies.

People are playing less copies because they play Doomskar instead. While I think that Doomskar is good, it’s not as good as Wrath of God and I don’t think it’s close. The only matchup where you need a sweeper on turn 3 is Gruul and that deck is nowhere near as popular to justify cutting Wrath of God in favor of Doomskar.

Teferi, Hero of Dominaria

Teferi is the primary win condition of this deck and the sole reason why we want to play this archetype. For the love of god, never cut this card.

Shark Typhoon

I haven’t seen any Sharknado movies, but I know that this card is a banger. Don’t leave the house without 4 copies, although you could board some of them out depending on the matchup.

No Snow? (Faceless Haven)

Castle Ardenvale is just better. It doesn’t die to one removal spell, which is otherwise pretty much dead against you.

No Doomskar

As already mentioned, I think Wrath of God is better. Doomskar is still good, so it’s in the sideboard.

No Behold the Multiverse

This deck didn’t need additional card draw, why should it need it now? You also never have mana to foretell this and it’s overall just a replaceable card.

Card Choices: Sideboard

2 Authority of the Consuls

This is great against Gruul and Goblins, so essentially any deck that plays a ton of haste creatures. Please don’t board it too much! Most creature decks can easily ignore this card and it’s really only worth it when it stops tons of plays.

1 Grafdigger’s Cage

Comes in against Sacrifice and Goblins. You probably never want more than 2.

2 Rest in Peace

This card is even better against Sacrifice, but it’s also insane against Arcanist decks. I think a good split of graveyard hate is nice, as Cage also stops Collected Company.

2 Tale’s End

I think a lot of people are trying out control decks right now, and this card hits the most important targets as well as dealing with Shark Typhoon, which is a nuisance otherwise.

3 Dovin’s Veto

Just to complete the playset. With this, you never have to worry about stuff like Mystical Dispute anymore (at least when it’s about your opponent’s spells)

1 Disallow

This is another hardcounter in the grindy matchups. I’ve found 1 copy to be a nice catch-all. 

2 Narset, Parter of Veils

One of your most important threats in the grindy matchups. 2-for-1 is already good and shutting down card draw is even better!

2 Doomskar

Against aggressive decks, this will be your sweeper 5 and 6. Doomskar is a million times better than Shatter the Sky.

Matchups and Sideboard Guide

3631-authority-of-the-consuls
Authority of the Consuls

Jund Sacrifice

InOut
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage-2 Search for Azcanta
+2 Rest in Peace-1 Dovin’s Veto
+1 Narset, Parter of Veils-1 Shark Typhoon

This matchup is good if you hit your graveyard hate. Playing Search for Azcanta with Rest in Peace is kind of a punt. We lose a bit of card advantage, so we’ll make up for that with another copy of Narset, who also shuts down Midnight Reaper as a bonus.

Don’t get overrun by Dreadhorde Butcher and play the turn 4 smart in anticipation of their Collected Company and you should be fine. 

Goblins

InOut
+1 Grafdigger’s Cage-2 Search for Azcanta
+2 Authority of the Consuls-1 Dovin’s Veto
+2 Doomskar-1 Narset, Parter of Veils
-1 Saw It Coming

If they resolve an early Herald's Horn it’s kind of bad, but focus on surviving on the board first. Yes, you can lose by getting out valued, but lowering your shields to carelessly use Cast Out will lose you the games more often than not. This matchup is usually a 50/50, if you play it well.

Angels

InOut
+2 Doomskar-1 Search for Azcanta
-1 Dovin’s Veto

This matchup should be good if you can stop the bleeding early. They don’t really have the tools to fight through so many sweepers and counterspells, and generally, their clock in the early turns isn’t high enough to pressure you.

Grixis Death’s Shadow

InOut
+2 Doomskar-1 Grafdigger’s Cage
-1 Dovin’s Veto

I haven’t played this matchup too much, but it should still be good. Sweepers are really good against them and so is Baffling End. The only problem could be Thoughtseize, so make sure to Foretell your Doomskar as much as you can so they can’t take it away.

Gruul Aggro

InOut
+2 Doomskar-1 Search for Azcanta
+2 Authority of the Consuls-1 Dovin’s Veto
-1 Saw it Coming
-1 Shark Typhoon

This matchup is incredibly close as all of their creatures have haste, while also having strong individual cards like Klothys, God of Destiny and Collected Company. It always depends on what kind of draw they have and it’s a fun, close matchup overall!

Control Mirror

InOut
+2 Tale’s End-4 Wrath of God
+3 Dovin’s Veto-1 Grafdigger’s Cage
+1 Disallow-3 Baffling End
+2 Narset, Parter of Veils

It looks weird to leave 1 Baffling End in, but in literally every game I want to have 1 of them because it’s a cheap answer to Baffling End. If this deck gets super popular, you could definitely try out Brazen Borrower.

Mono-Red Aggro

InOut
+1 Doomskar-1 Grafdigger’s Cage
+1 Dovin’s Veto-1 Search for Azcanta

Always a close matchup, and no, don’t bring in Authority. The impact is just too low. I like Veto because they have a lot of burn spells and also Chandra, Torch of Defiance post-board. I think having 6 sweepers is too many, as they don’t play too many creatures and have a good mix of non creatures and creatures. Counter Light Up the Stage aggressively.

Auras

InOut
+2 Doomskar-1 Search for Azcanta
+2 Narset, Parter of Veils-1 Dovin’s Veto
-2 Saw it Coming

This matchup is bad and if it gets too popular, bring in some Glass Caskets out of the board. Play Narset aggressively even if you can’t protect her. Usually they still need to use Auras to kill it in one sitting, which will save you some life points and deny some draws. Pro tip: Win the coinflip and be on the play and Censor their Kor Spiritdancer. You’re welcome.

End Step

Thank you everyone for reading again,

Historic is in a great spot right now and I truly enjoy writing about my favorite archetype. If you have any questions, let me know, as I love talking about Control and also about Magic in general.

May you Censor 4 spells every game,

~Sorq

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