I live for defying expectations, but that doesn’t have to mean i’m doing something more effective or better than expected. For example, if I pulled out a Commander deck lead by Azor, the Lawbringer, would you immediately think I’m going to lay down my own interpretation of the law in the form of control spells and board wipes? Well, you’d only be half right.
As I explained in my article on Samut, Voice of Dissent, I used to avoid Voltron-style decks for a variety of reasons. Most notable among them was the “linear” or “uninteresting lines of play” arguments I had constantly heard thrown at Voltron decks. Essentially, who wants to play one creature and give it the same four pieces of equipment each game? Not this guy. But the great thing about Magic: the Gathering is that you can play the game however you want, and that means I can take an archetype and bend it to suit my style.
Some players enjoy building supreme redundancy into their deck. They want to ensure that their gameplan for their deck goes off without any issues. A simple example: they have one piece of equipment they really want to equip, so they run ten different cards that can find that equipment. This translates, roughly, into eleven copies of that equipment in their deck. Pretty good for a singleton format, eh?
As I was building Samut, Voice of Dissent, I specifically tried to avoid that style of deck building. Sure, I wanted tutors to find equipment, but I didn’t want that many. In fact, I basically had ten really good equipment for every one tutor in the deck. In my opinion, that’s what makes the deck so much fun to play: it becomes a game of “which equipment do I tutor for, based on what I drew this game?” Interesting choices make for interesting games of Magic, after all.
With all that in mind, how do we build Azor, the Lawbringer to work similarly? When building a Voltron-style deck, we’re limited to equipment and enchantments. Since I had already built an equipment-based deck with Samut, Voice of Dissent, enchantment seemed to be the way to go. Luckily for me, the Commander 2018 deck helmed by Estrid, the Masked had just been released! All I had to do was replace the green in the deck with more blue and white.
Let’s Lay Down the Law
The choice to play Azor, the Lawbringer as my blue-white Voltron Commander instead of Bruna, Light of Alabaster is really just one of preference. As stated previously, I enjoy subverting expectations, so when my choice for first impressions are “clearly a Voltron enchantment deck” or “pesky control deck”, I’m going to choose the option that leads people away from what I’m actually playing. I also love casting Spinx’s Revelation and will take any excuse to cast it multiple times. Bruna is in the list, and can act as a second commander for you if you so please, but Azor is the true Commander of this deck.
The strategy of this deck prior to casing Azor is pretty simple, but requires a little bit of good timing and threat assessment on occasion. Early on, the deck wants to prevent itself from being targeted. We have a Commander who costs six mana to cast, and while he isn’t absolutely crucial to our deck, he certainly is one of the best targets for our enchantments. Unless the board state requires it, we shouldn’t go suiting up Sram, Senior Edificer on turn three. Instead, we should take that time to set up deterrents, like Ghostly Prison, Propaganda, Sphere of Safety, and Dissipation Field. All of these cards discourage others from attacking us, which gives us time to build towards casting the Lawbringer himself.
What to Wear…
Once we’ve successfully deterred our opponents, the time for bureaucracy will have arrived. Azor, the Lawbringer has an enter-the-battlefield ability that is somewhat relevant. Most of the time it just stops our opponents from playing sorceries for a turn, which could prevent a Dreadbore from taking down our Commander or a World at War or Insurrection from stealing the game. Instants can still be cast out of turn so it isn’t foolproof. After that, it’s time to suit up!
1. slang To wear a formal suit for a social occasion
We have thirteen different auras that can enchant Azor, each having their own different benefits. Ethereal Armor can immediately turn Azor into a huge flying creature since it counts every enchantment we control. If we set up a heavy enchantment game early on with the likes of Ghostly Prison and company, Ethereal Armor is a sweet first pick. If we had less success in that realm, protecting Azor becomes our first priority. Spirit Mantle will give us a permanent blocker, while Shielded by Faith will prevent his destruction. Spectral Ward might feel like a smart call considering it gives him protection from all colors and doesn’t remove any auras from him, but this can be a double-edged sword considering we won’t be able to target him with any more enchantment spells since he has protection from all colors.
Righteous Authority is one of the big finishers in the deck. It draws us extra cards each turn, and if we pair it with Sphinx’s Revelation and Azor’s ability this aura can get out of hand fast. Adding Ethereal Armor into the fold is even more ridiculous, and Estrid’s Invocation can become whichever of the two is giving the biggest buff, making the ceiling for Azor’s power absurdly high.
Speaking of Estrid’s Invocation, it is without a doubt one of the best cards in the deck. It can double as any enchantment in the deck, and the ability to switch what it copies makes it extremely flexible. Early on it can copy Ghostly Prison, and later it can become any of the auras giving Azor a significant buff.
Obeying the Law Means Paying Utility Bills
On top of enchanting Azor with an assortment of dangerous enchantments, we also need to make sure we do our housekeeping. Slowing down our opponents early on is crucial, so we have to be able to reliably answer them if they’re able to shut down our suppressants. If a Krosan Grip is all they need to make a big attack into our life total, we need to have more security.
Outside of the usual suggestions for removal, Winds of Rath, Fractured Identity, and Teferi’s Protection make an appearance in the deck. Winds of Rath and Teferi’s Protection don’t need much explanation, but Fractured Identity needs some justification as it is more than a gimmicky removal spell in this deck. If keeping Azor on the battlefield has proven problematic, we can use this spell to give ourselves (and everyone else) a copy of an opponent’s largest creature. While doing this to someone’s Blightsteel Colossus might get you killed, imagine suiting up that colossus with the enchantments intended for Azor!
Mesa Enchantress and Sram, Senior Edificer are wonderful cards in this deck for very obvious reasons: card draw is good and Righteous Authority could always use extra fuel. Sun Titan is a good alternative enchantment target, allowing it to grab most of our enchantments out of the graveyard if they’ve somehow perished. Sovereigns of Lost Alara lets us tutor out an enchantment to put onto an attacking creature, which is easily breakable. Umbra Mystic makes any creature with more than one enchantment on it extremely resilient and can even protect our creatures from our own board wipes.
Don’t Forget Property Tax
Since we’re not in green, it’s rather difficult to ramp in the traditional sense. Mana rocks like Commander’s Sphere and Talisman of Progress are good cards and will help us have a quick start. Azorius Signet is a great include, but I didn’t have a spare one at time of building and for some reason haven’t bought one…
As far as lands go, Reliquary Tower is a must-include and is the land we’ll want to tutor out if we’re ever given the chance. Field of Ruin can remove a pesky land and be reused with Sun Titan. Hall of Heliod’s Generosity is another amazing way to get back our enchantments that end up in the graveyard. Aside from those, feel free to get creative!
Bring the Hammer Down
Azor, the Lawbringer seems like a Commander begging to be at the helm of an Azorious Senate-themed deck, but that’s only one use of his wide potential. Being able to essentially cast Sphinx’s Revelation every time we attack is no joke. It can (and should) be utilizedfor more than just filling a hand with counterspells. Suiting up a 6/6 flying sphinx is terrifying, so don’t miss out on the fun! Join me next time when I build an infinite Stangg token deck with Mirror Gallery.