The Great Heart of Azorius
My most Azorius deck is red. Sure, it’s primarily W/U. But it is red, and that extra color can turn Azorius from drab to fab with nothing but mustard. I’m speaking of the red brought by Zedruu the Greathearted, everybody’s favorite Minotaur (and possibly everybody’s favorite Monk. Presumably, she solves crimes by washing her hands a lot.)
The first published Zedruu builds fell into only two camps of things to give away: group hug (you’ll love having this!) and oppressive combo (you’ll hate having this!). I built the middle ground (you won’t mind having this!), a defensive deck that donates Auras and global enchantments for enough cards to raise a flying army. (Raise . . . flying . . . bahahah! Or don’t laugh. That too is an option.) It’s relatively straightforward while being more fun to me than the typical Zedruu build, so here it is, highlighting this week’s changes that make Return to Ravnica block the most represented apart from the Commander product. Queuing up my Azorius playlist1 since I already listed my R/W/U one here in a footnote.
"Give up the Monk (Tear the Roof off the Sucker)"
Discussing the sections in the listed order (how else would Azorius do it? Get with the program):
Captivating Glance is different depending on who controls it, and the available politics are strange. Normally, you put Captivating Glance on Opponent A’s creature, clash with Opponent B to make sure it’s either you or B keeping the creature, then give the Glance to anyone who’s willing to clash with you every time. If you need to take the creature off A’s board before your end step, give the Glance to an opponent whose end step will happen first.
Vedalken Plotter is my favorite inclusion from the preconstruct; it curves naturally into Zedruu, gives away a land, and is easy to give away (although it’s often a chump-blocker, so it doesn’t stick around long). Sunglasses of Urza, and especially Endless Horizons, fix your mana for a while and then become fine donations. Meddling Mage and Nevermore (and to a lesser extent Voidstone Gargoyle) always have commanders you can name, and if there aren’t any you find pernicious, you can name Sol Ring. I mean, I would.
Dovescape and Gravitational Shift are the Venn overlap of my major themes. Gravitational Shift pumps all flyers and reduces all ground creatures equally; I’m likely to have flyers already on the board to take advantage, and they’re encouraged to attack by my being less vulnerable to a ground-based counterstrike. With Gravitational Shift, Dovescape (also a global enchantment) makes 3/1 flyers for everybody; as long as I produce more of them—and I’m usually fine converting anything in my hand to the avian toothpaste shown in the art—I’ll have enough to swing somewhere.
This deck has no way to turn off Dovescape, but opponents don’t have to know that. While they’re calculating the odds of their bomb sorceries being better as Birds now or possibly the spell later, I’m fine with turning my X burn spells into X Bird spells. Board sweep makes Birds; casting Aura Shards makes Birds; every mode of Austere Command makes Birds. And I’m set up to use those Birds. It’s a load of fun.
Vows and Taxes
Admittedly, several of my other flyers were selected haphazardly; there’s no specific plan for them apart from being large and airborne. I have little to put on Bruna, Light of Alabaster, but I’m hoping somebody else does, and it was still an upgrade over the Serra Angel in that slot. Voidstone Gargoyle adds to the Meddling Mage/Nevermore plan while occasionally dealing damage. And if you haven’t tried Shattered Angel in Commander, give it a chance, as it’s just small enough to avoid targeting but gains far more life than it ought.
Last but not least, Druidic Satchel offers me several important things: a chance at ramp this deck sorely wants; some Saprolings to give away, chump block with, or add a lovely green color to my board; and the opportunity to say, “What’s in the bag?” every time I activate it.
Lazer Sheep Dip Monk
Zedruu can support a basic Azorius defense-and-flyers plan by drawing enough cards and adding red for damage to speed things up, easing the pressure on your defenses. You don’t have to build Zedruu toward oppression or friendliness. There’s a middle ground, and it’s a fun ground.
1 I have hour-long playlists for every color combination from zero to three colors based on color pie philosophy and how those ideas are expressed in music. My Azorius playlist is:
- “Tierra del Fuego” by Way Out West
- “One Perfect Sunrise” by Orbital
- “Mr. Tiddles” by Sasha
- “Magnetic North” by Sasha
- “Detention” by Gus Gus
- “Giving Up the Ghost” by BT
- “Rose of Jericho” by BT
- “Andromeda” by Chicane
- “Dream Universe (16B Still Waters Symphony Mix)” by C&M
- “Wavy Gravy” by Sasha