Borrowed Time Art by Andreas Zafiratos

Standard Azorius Control Deck Guide

Fully updated for Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Standard.

Hello Planeswalkers, I am The MTG Hero, and I noticed a void in current standard. There isn’t really a true control deck. Sure, there is the usual Izzet deck or the new Jeskai Combo deck, but they aren’t really control decks in my eyes, they are more tempo with a controlling slant. I want a real attrition-based deck that grinds opponents into submission.

My go-to control deck for a long time has been Dimir, but I think Kamigawa has gave white enough tools to become the new top dog as far as control is concerned. So, let’s look at some of the new toys that gives white the edge.

New Cards of Note

This card needs no introduction. The Wandering Emperor IS the best planeswalker in standard currently and it is not close. It serves as an effective removal spell, token generator and gives our creatures the edge in combat ALL AT INSTANT SPEED. What else do you want? Sure, a game winning ultimate would be nice, but I can live with this.

Oh boy do I love this card. If you are unaware, this card is basically a ramp spell. It finds your next land drop, then you can pitch a land to bring back to the battlefield with chapter 2, and still play your land for turn. This is crucial since it allows us to play Farewell or cast multiple spells effectively on turn 5.

One play I see go criminally underused, is pitching Circle of Confinement or Portable Hole, bringing it back and exiling a creature FOR FREE while still holding mana up for another removal spell or counterspell. Not to mention it becomes a house against aggressive decks when it flips.

This is probably the most flexible removal spell since Assassin's Trophy or Abrupt Decay. It removes everything but lands or planeswalkers. What more could you ask for? Being able to pitch cards in your hands to reduce its cost is pretty nice in a pinch as well.

The Deck

So, without further ado, let’s look at my list:

UW Control
by The MTG Hero
best of 3
5 mythic
29 rare
16 uncommon
10 common
Planeswalkers (3)
Creatures (1)
Instants (12)
Saw It Coming
Memory Deluge
Sorceries (8)
Emeria’s Call
Enchantments (11)
Borrowed Time
60 Cards
Test of Talents
Sunset Revelry
Portable Hole
15 Cards

That’s what I am talking about! A full-on attrition-based machine. This deck checks all my boxes for what a control deck should look like, using the most effective cards available.

Cards Not Included

I hate this card. If you are playing Izzet Dragons which is more of a tempo deck, then fine, I get it, but I hate it as a control card. Mana Tithe is bad. Mana Tithe for two is worse. I chose to play more lands instead.

This card is great if you can capitalize fast and not be punished by the Clue token that can regain a card for your opponents. I don’t think it works here unless you want to specifically deal with planeswalkers. It is outstanding in an aggro deck where you can clock the opponent and punish them for using mana to activate the Clue token.

I would much rather play cards like Circle of Confinement to combo with The Restoration of Eiganjo or Borrowed Time and guarantee a 1-for-1 at least. While they can remove those enchantments and get their card back, we are at least guaranteeing a 1-for-1 trade as they have to use a card to remove it and buys us time to find an answer.

I don’t understand this planeswalker. It just doesn’t do anything. Maybe if shards had more support, it would be cool, but as it stands it is unimpressive.

This planeswalker would be better in a shell abusing the vehicle draw engine. We just don’t have enough artifacts and whatnot to make it worth playing. It would just be a bad draw engine for us that occasionally gained some life.

Playing the Deck

Doomskar Art by Piotr Dura
Doomskar Art by Piotr Dura

Firstly, this deck wants to trade. I mentioned how I disliked cards like Fateful Absence since it really isn’t a 1-for-1 and is a net negative once they pop the Clue token. With our removal suite being mostly enchantments, most decks will trade 1-for-1 with them to get their spells back. However, while they struggle to get to the point where they can trade 1-for-1, we already gain the upper hand and set up to begin grinding them into submission with superior card advantage.

Early game is pretty cut and dry, just make your land drops and set up. We control the board with Circle of Confinement. Always foretell a Doomskar if you can. Being able to sweep on turn three is crucial against the aggro decks. This makes up for our deck being a little slow. Also think ahead when it comes to foretelling Saw It Coming. If you literally have NOTHING else to do on turn 2, then foretell it. Generally, it will sit as a 3-drop in your hand until later in the game. Only foretell it after turn 2 if you can have the mana up to use it.

The Restoration of Eiganjo is the best card to get us ahead on board. It guarantees us our fourth land drop, but also ramps us ahead since we can pitch a land to chapter 2 and return it to the field. You can also pitch Circle of Confinement and get a free exile effect on a threat while holding up mana for a counterspell or another removal spell. When it flips, we have a great blocker and attacker against aggro and noninteractive decks that also makes tokens which is sweet.

The Wandering Emperor is a fantastic new card that gives us a lot of flexibility. We can flash it in as a removal spell, create a blocker, or boost up one of our creatures. Since it also gives a +1/+1 counter and first strike, any creature we buff will be hard to deal with. It is also a valuable removal spell which gains us back some life. If left unanswered it can take over a game on her own. So, when she comes down, we do play a bit of a mini game of protecting the emperor for max value.

Late game we have the ultimate trump card in Hullbreaker Horror. This card is amazing if we can stick it without a removal spell in response. Basically, once it is in play, every spell we play becomes a Remand or Unsummon as well as it’s regular effects. We don’t abuse Hullbreaker to the max like our Izzet counterparts, but it is a fine creature, and I would never leave home without one in my 75.

Sideboard Guide

Mono White / Selesnya

+2 Sunset Revelry-4 Memory Deluge
+4 Portable Hole-2 Behold the Multiverse

Orzhov Midrange

+2 Shadows' Verdict-4 Memory Deluge
+2 Disdainful Stroke-2 Behold the Multiverse
+2 Test of Talents

Note that this deck is very similar to its “control” counterpart. It is generally more creature based, using cards like Welcoming Vampire, Tainted Adversary, and so on.

Orzhov Control

+2 Negate-4 Doomskar
+2 Disdainful Stroke-2 Behold the Multiverse
+2 Test of Talents

Naya Enchantments

+2 Negate-4 Memory Deluge
+4 Portable Hole-2 Behold the Multiverse
+2 Test of Talents

Izzet / Jeskai Control

+2 Negate-4 Doomskar
+2 Disdainful Stroke-2 Farewell
+2 Test of Talents-3 The Restoration of Eiganjo
+3 Malevolent Hermit

Tips and Tricks

  • You can ramp yourself ahead with The Restoration of Eiganjo by discarding a land on chapter two. If possible, pitch a land that will come in tapped anyway.


While I am not known for my control decks, I think this one is as good as it gets in standard for blue mages who want something other than the Izzet deck. This deck is designed to go 1-for-1 then bust ahead with powerful draw spells and grind opponents into submission. If that sounds like that fits your playstyle and is a playstyle you want to explore, then I cannot recommend this deck more. If you enjoyed the article, please feel free to check out my links listed below! Until next time planeswalkers, Hero out!

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The MTG Hero

My name is The MTG Hero. I have played Magic for over 15 years. I am a consistent high Mythic ranked player. Follow me on Twitch and subscribe on YouTube!

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