Bo1 Historic Azorius Auras Deck Guide: The Best Deck to Grind Ladder With
Hello everyone! First off, I hope everyone had a wonderful New Years! 2021 has likely been a very crazy year for everyone so here’s hoping that 2022 is better! I digress.
There are two types of decks that I think every Arena player should have in their arsenal. The first is a deck I’ve written about a few times, a grinding deck. A grinding deck is a deck you can fall back on if you aren’t at a rank you aren’t happy with. Since I have to try a lot of decks, my rank naturally plummets when I hit a string of mediocre creations which makes having a grinding deck extremely important for me.
The second type of deck though is something I don’t talk about as often, but can be just as important: the fast deck. What’s the fast deck? It’s a deck that can easily crank out wins, simple right? We’re all busy people, but Arena’s economy can be relatively punishing IF you don’t play daily. As I recognized from when I wrote my account maximizing guide back in the day, getting to 4 wins daily is really important to remaining f2p so having a deck that may not necessarily be the most consistent, but gets wins quickly, can be good for when you have a busy day. If you’re interested in reading more about making the most of your Arena account and how I’ve continued to remain f2p despite being a content creator, you can click the link below.
Generally speaking, those two decks are not only different, but at complete odds with each other. One deck has a super high win percentage as that’s what you need and one ends games super quickly, usually at the expense of consistency. Could you play a deck that’s both? You better believe it! A few days prior to the New Year I was extremely far from my top 1200 goal, 92% to be exact. Over the course of a few hours, I was able to grind up to rank 200.
How? Mostly off the back of Azorius Auras. Within a few recent sessions, I’ve been able to get to 4 wins in 10 minutes and will generally lose zero to one game in that interim. This deck is fast, punishing, and extremely good right now. Let’s see the list I’m currently working with.
Auras is far from an unknown archetype, but it’s an extremely underappreciated one. Despite it consistently being one of the most powerful strategies in Historic, it is unbelievably misunderstood and underestimated. Many people think that it’s a brainless, inconsistent strategy and while there are times it can feel that way, it’s very far from the truth. In reality, it’s this weird kind of aggressive deck that has an amazing ability to grind, but requires extremely precise sequencing to maximize your cards. Speaking of, let’s talk about those cards.
To start us off, we have the goodest boi around, Selfless Savior. Selfless Savior waxes and wanes in usefulness, but right now it feels better than ever. Not only is it just better in the Azorius build compared to the Orzhov, a lot of decks have cheap removal which this is perfect at countering. If you’re playing Azorius, make sure you’re packing 4 of these. Next we have the no brainers of the deck, the Aura creatures. In this build, we just run the classic 8 Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer. Not much to explain, but these let the deck work by supplying us with constant card advantage and huge creatures.
The final creature of the list is the innocuous Hushbringer which I have FOUR copies of main deck. This probably looks weird as Hushbringer is generally relegated as a sideboard card, but they’re here in full force. This is a big meta call, but I think that Hushbringer is absolutely excellent both right now and in Bo1. There’s a lot of Inquisitor Captain, Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo decks, and random other decks that care about getting their ETB or death triggers. Considering it’s Bo1, there’s a lot more proactive decks and a lot of proactive decks care about their ETBs, it’s not that uncommon that I play a Hushbringer on turn 2 and my opponent simply scoops! There’s another great option for this slot (more on this later), but I think Hushbringer gets the nod for now.
Beyond the creatures, the second half of the deck is the namesake, the Auras. I won’t go too much into detail, but will point out the important ones. To contrast Orzhov, Azorius gets a huge advantage in their Aura suite, they get card advantage and reach. Curious Obsession and Staggering Insight are both excellent and terrifying cards for the opponent. They will replace themselves 99% of the time and will much more often net at least one card and threaten more. Second, we have both Arcane Flight and Aether Tunnel as a means to circumvent blockers and have some reach. An issue with Auras is that you can brick wall them with enough creatures or something like a Cauldron Familiar / Witch's Oven loop, but with these enchantments, it’s substantially harder to do so as long as you play them at proper times. The rest of the Auras are the usual offenders most are familiar with that provide a reasonable effect for a cheap price!
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
Alseid used to be a mainstay in Auras, but recently hasn’t seen any play. I was never a big Alseid fan, and it does have it’s spots, but having to hold up a mana to use it can be pretty brutal considering how flimsy it is itself. If there were an excess of removal effects that didn’t look to kill creatures (think Portable Hole or Claim the Firstborn) then it would be a greater consideration, but that’s not currently the case.
I’ve seen some lists using this over Selfless Savior as a creature that isn’t embarrassing to put an Aura on. Definitely don’t hate it, don’t particularly love it either. It’s a good card, but I think this deck should always focus on it’s Aura creatures.
A lot of the logic from Alseid applies here as well, but I like Blessing a lot more. It isn’t an on board trick so playing around it is much harder, but it’s a bit unnecessary in Bo1 where there isn’t that much interaction to begin with.
I absolutely love Adanto Vanguard in general and it’s also excellent in Auras. Slap a Staggering Insight on an Adanto and you can ride that to victory! So why exclude it? Once again, there aren’t that many decks that are interactive in Bo1 so Hushbringer gets the nod. If that changes and yous tart seeing a bunch of interaction, feel free to put this killer back in.
For Bo1 I think running removal is mostly unnecessary as you can just be working towards your game plan more, but the exception is Serra's Emissary. This build literally can not beat an Emissary so if Creativity picks up, it may be worthwhile to play a few copies.
Great sideboard card, much less good in Bo1.
Auras that recycle themselves are pretty great, but this is mostly outclassed by Arcane Flight which is a mana cheaper.
The newest potential addition for Auras. Stormchaser is quite good as it can act as Aura creature 9-12 if you want more of that effect, plus it already has Flying! It is the weakest of the 3 since it requires you to target itself for the effect, but it can make the deck even more resilient than it currently is. As it stands, I don’t think resilience is the issue in Bo1 so right now it’s unnecessary, but it’s definitely a great consideration.
Pretty similar logic to Stormchaser Drake, but better than Sram barring you have to play Green. Since we have Stormchaser, this is definitely unnecessary, but it is a good idea for Orzhov.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- “Although the deck seems easy, it can be really unintuitive to play. Sometimes you’ll want to play out a spiritdancer just for it to die if you think they can’t cast a removal spell and another card in the same turn. Sometimes you’ll want to hold off because you could be afraid they can spend their mana too efficiently if you run it out.” It’s all contextual and the only way to get better at it is to play Auras more and really try to envision what’s in the opponent’s hand from how they play. This tip was from my friend Tristan who perfectly encapsulated what playing Auras is like.
- Generally speaking you mulligan to one of your Aura creatures, but that’s not as necessary in Azorius. If you have a hand of a few lands, Selfless Savior, Hushbringer, and a draw Aura like Staggering Insight or Curious Obsession, that’s more than good enough. Just always make sure you have a plan with your opener, if you don’t see a plan, don’t keep it.
- In general, if you believe your opponent may have removal, waiting until you can deploy an Aura creature and an Aura will net you some value immediately and play around removal a bit better.
- Sentinel's Eyes is one of the best Auras as it’s the only one you can naturally rebuy. If you feel like you need the ability to recast it down the line and the Vigilance doesn’t particularly matter, putting it on a creature that’s likely to die can give you plays in the future. Furthermore, when recasting it you want prioritize exiling duplicates of cards first if possible. If you’re unsure what to exile, try to gauge it on when you can reasonably get your Lurrus down and what you would want to recast on the same turn and avoid exiling that.
- Hushbringer stops all creature ETBs and death triggers. Many players are aware of the first clause, but not the second so play with that in mind.
- I tend to aggressively bring Lurrus to hand if the opponent is holding up mana on my turn and I feel that they have removal. Even if they don’t have removal and are holding up something like a counter spell, you can make them waste their turn and get a great resource!
- If you need to put cards in the graveyard for whatever reason, playing out another Sram when you have one out is a great way to do that. This is particularly important when you have a Lurrus out or you’re trying to rebuy Sentinel's Eyes.
- Try to save Arcane Flight for as long as possible as that can be the final push of damage you’ll need at some point. By the same token, I wouldn’t not spend a mana and lose out on a card/damage if you have it in hand and can’t use the mana for anything else.
- It’s on the card, but don’t play Curious Obsession out without attacking as you’ll lose it at the end step. However, if you need cards to rebuy Sentinel's Eyes or the cycle is more important than the enchantment, definitely consider it as a line.
Thank you for reading!