Hello planeswalkers, I am The MTG Hero. Standard has become a delightful landscape of midrange decks. Mono White and Runes have fallen to tier 2 and the only aggro deck left standing in top tier is Boros Aggro. This isn’t really a shocker as there hasn’t been a good aggressive red-based deck in a while. This means that white is also the premier aggro color!
Outside of the Boros deck and Mono White itself, no one has really tried to explore the spectrum of aggro. So today, we will look at a cool aggressive deck that could possibly flip the meta on its head. Today we will look at my Azorius Aggro deck.
Now, I am sure I am not the first to notice the synergy these two cards have. It seems obvious to me to at least try them, and I am very glad I did. The combination led to a fun tempo deck that was extremely effective. As much as I would love to say that I began brewing this early on, that would be a lie as I discovered how powerful Ledger Shredder was when it began to appear in Murktide Regent and Death's Shadow decks in Modern and Arclight Phoenix in Pioneer. After realizing the power of the bird man, I began testing it with Monk of the Open Hand and Clarion Spirit.
Anyone who tried Mono White with Monk of the Open Hand and Clarion Spirit will already be aware of the issue of the strategy floundering when it starts to run low on cards and is unable to cast two spells a turn for maximum power and only able to cast underpowered threats late in the game one at a time.
Ledger Shredder does help but does not completely negate the issue and can be bit exacerbated in some scenarios since we must discard a nonland card to get the maximize its effectiveness.
The work around I found for this was the inclusion of Stormchaser Drake which draws us a card whenever it is targeted by a spell. This means that when we cast Guiding Voice or Homestead Courage targeting it, we get to draw cards and effectively keep our string of cards alive, getting triggers and not losing any advantage.
Playing the Deck
Standard Azorius Aggro is a perfect example of an aggressive tempo deck. The big thing to remember is to plan your turns out in advance to maximize your advantage and triggers. The worst thing you can do is slam an early Monk of the Open Hand, blow all your one mana plays just to power it up and get it removed, leaving yourself open with two or three mana and a hand full of two drops that are lackluster alone. I see a lot of players do this with the Mono White Aggro deck featuring the Monk and Spirit.
Keeping this in mind, there are some lines that can be made on auto pilot. Early game we want to get on the board with Monk of the Open Hand or Usher of the Fallen prioritizing Monk if I don’t have a 2-drop since we are likely to cast two spells the next turn. If I have a 2-drop, then Usher is the optimal choice since it can get in for the most damage alone.
Even if our only 1-drop is Monk we should still play a 2-drop on turn two. The reason for this is because even if we are an aggro tempo deck, we still prioritize value since we will eventually run out of steam. Getting an additional threat online is always better than putting all our eggs in one basket.
When choosing between casting casting Homestead Courage or Guiding Voice I will always cast Voice first in most situations as it replaces itself with a lesson spell, so we don’t lose any card advantage. This also means we can hold Courage to pitch to Shredder’s connive and still have access to it through flashback. Casting Voice really shines when we have a Stormchaser Drake since it is fantastic value to target, draw a card, and get a lesson spell, effectively drawing two cards for 1 mana.
When it comes to picking our lesson spells there are a few safe options to get if you have no clue which one to grab.
Expanded Anatomy is a super Homestead Courage as it gives three counters and gives vigilance. It really increases our clock. This is very important for breaking through blockers and racing so it can also wall other attackers and finish the opponent off.
Environmental Sciences fixes mana, thins the deck and gains us life. It just checks all the boxes and I will grab it if I can’t cast or need anything else.
The other lesson cards are a bit more niche when it comes to their uses, but still extremely powerful.
Teachings of the Archaics was a card I was highly criticized about using in my Pest combo video and article last year but has since become a must have lesson if you can play it, which I am very happy to see.
The reason it is niche is that it requires your opponent to have more cards that you to be useful. Opponents can play around it by emptying their hand. It is more useful in situations where the opponent can’t dump their hand and you basically get a free Divination effect.
Academic Probation is great to grab when you expect a sweeper or want to break through a blocker or stop an attacker in racing situations. I love this card and have used it a lot. I would never not play a copy if I can.
Mascot Exhibition is very powerful but requires a lot of mana. I will only grab it if I have the mana to cast it as it will sit dead in your hand until you have seven mana which is a lot for this deck, however I would rather have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
I also HIGHLY recommend dividing up what creatures get counters unless we control a Stormchaser Drake to make us less venerable to removal. This is so we don’t get blown out by a single removal spell. The only time other time you should do this is if you are attempting to play around The Meathook Massacre. Stormchaser is generally fine to overextend on to with the spells since we can just draw more cards while building our threat with relative safety.
Once our board is set up and we know our lines I will look to tempo out my opponent with Fading Hope. The meta is currently full of 2-drops, 3-drops and tokens which are prime targets depending on our opponent’s land situation. If we can bounce a creature that our opponent tapped out for or can’t recast, unless they have a cheaper creature, they are forced to pass the turn and we effectively Time Walked them. Even if they do have a cheaper spell, we can get a free loot in with Ledger Shredder. The scry effect is also valuable since we can clear lands off the top to keep our stream of double casting going.
I don’t recommend casting Consider unless you have no other play, as in a pinch we can use it to get another spell of the top for our second spell of the turn to trigger our creatures. I know this goes against the general idea of if you have a mana open you should use the spell, but if there is nothing I need, then there is no point in digging. this is especially if we end up in a bad situation such as after a sweeper and need a creature.
Matchups and Sideboard Guide
This matchup can be tough as they have a ton of removal. You may be tempted to bring in Paladin Class and Spell Pierce to help take care of it but it doesn’t help as much as you think. Their spells are so cheap paying 1 or 2 extra won’t really bother them and they can cast removal at sorcery speed if they need to. Just keep up with the main gameplan, and we will beat any hand that isn’t just loaded with removal.
Azorius / Mono Black Control
Be aggressive but be mindful of sweepers. I will always hold up a counterspell if I can in preparation of one. Try to not overextend and apply pressure with whatever is on the field. Stormchaser Drake really shines here since we can load it up with counters and draw cards to replace our spells and therefore, not get punished.
Izzet Dragons / Jeskai Combo
|+2 Paladin Class||-4 Fading Hope|
|+2 Spell Pierce||-4 Usher of the Fallen|
|+2 Borrowed Time|
|+2 Archon of Emeria|
They operate largely at Instant speed, so Paladin Class helps a bit more. Borrowed Time is the best removal spell for their bigger threats. Fading Hope is mediocre here. You might be thinking “but it buys us a turn” but the treasure they get is just too much value to let them have especially when they can just recast a haste threat like Goldspan Dragon. Archon is our best tool since it stops them from comboing until it is removed so I will generally protect it if I can.
This is the type of deck that this deck is made to combat. We can tempo them out with relative ease. They do get a bit more powerful if they drag us out into the deeper water, but generally unless they can stop our fliers it is an easy game.
|+2 Paladin Class||-4 Fading Hope|
|+2 Spell Pierce||-4 Usher of the Fallen|
|+2 Borrowed Time|
|+2 Circle of Confinement|
This matchup is favorable in my opinion. The trick is to not get blown out by The Meathook Massacre we have Spell Pierce, and I would always save it for that and be ready for it at any point they have the mana to destroy our board.
We bring in Paladin Class to tax their removal to make them choose between it and playing their threats. Borrowed Time and Circle handle basically all their creatures and we can tempo them easily with Faded Hope.
Tips and Tricks
- You can double spell on your turn and your opponents to trigger your creatures as well. Also, your opponent can trigger Ledger Shredder when they also double spell in a single turn.
- Remember that you can loot with learn cards. You don’t always have to grab a lesson spell.
- You can bounce a Stormchaser Drake with Fading Hope in response to a sweeper or removal and save it while drawing a card and getting a free scry.
- If you don’t have anything you want to discard to Ledger Shredder, you can generally safely pitch Homestead Courage since it has flashback.
- Hold Consider. I will never waste it just to dig as it can find ways out of sticky situations and can lead to double spell turns to get the second spell triggers in a pinch.
I really like this deck and think of it as a mix between Boros Aggro and Mono Blue Tempo. While probably not being as good as Boros as a “pure” aggro deck, the tempo element gives it a style all its own to stand out above its red counterpart. I also think it is a better tempo deck than Mono Blue because of its more aggressive element that the blue deck lacks.
If you are an aggro player or a Mono Blue player, then I highly recommend this deck as an unique twist on two of Standard’s mainstays. Also, be sure to check out my YouTube and Twitch for more decks and content. All those are listed below with more clickable links!
Until next time Planeswalkers, Hero out!