Azor’s Gateway went into a BG shell that went 5-0 in an MTGO competitive league. This caught Eric Froehlich’s attention and he wrote about it in Channel Fireball.
In my local meta, I also found RB players and Mono-Black players trying this artifact out thanks to Reddit and Saffron Olive who made a deck that used Torment of Hailfire as a wincon to dump all that mana and cast a huge Hailfire.
After brewing so many different builds that can abuse the mana, I ended up with a deck that used Azor’s Gateways primary skill which is to loot and go through the deck for built-in answers, and capitalize on the large amount of mana turn after turn instead of just dumping it on a couple of spells.
It’s quite ironic for Azor Gateway user not to use Azor, the Lawbringer himsellf. First of all, he’s a super awesome late game win condition that self-protects itself from non-Chupacabra and non-Noxious Gearhulk removal.
He is also a great mana sink that gains you life and draws your cards which is I think the best synergy with Sanctum of the Sun. The more life you gain, the more mana you produce to play the cards you just drew.
Approach of the Second Sun is also a great alternate win condition depending on the match-up. Some decks just don’t have answers to a pre-board Approach and we want to take game 1 as much as we can. Let’s now look a the support cards that we can tuck underneath Azor’s Gateway.
For our 1-drop, we have Opt and Reason. Opt is a no brainer – it helps us make our land drops and it helps us tuck cards we can’t cast yet or don’t need for a particular situation at instant speed.
Reason on the other hand is a great top deck because it helps fix our draws for the next 3 turns. Even better is that it counts as a 6-drop when we tuck it underneath Azor’s Gateway which is great because our curve won’t go that high apart from Azor and Approach.
For our two–drops, we have early game counter magic. Essence Scatter is becoming a hard counter spell in a creature-heavy like ours. With Grixis playing Gifted Aetherborn and Glint-sleeve Siphoner, to BG playing Winding Constrictor and RDW playing Kari Zev, Earthshaker Khenra and Hazoret, Essence Scatter will surely hit something whatever deck we play against.
I prefer Revolutionary Rebuff over Censor because it remains relevant after turn 3 or 4. With Vehicles going down in popularity, Rebuff can make your opponent miscalculates and run their Chandra, Hazoret, Scarab God, GPG, Anointed Procession into a Rebuff thinking that one extra mana should do the trick.
Search for Azcanta is our 5th & 6th copy of Azor’s Gateway which later can help us dig for Approach or other relevant answers like counter magic of a sweeper.
Azor’s Gateway closes the 2-drop slot since we can also tuck it under each other because it’s Legendary.
We add a couple more counter magic on the 3-drop slot with Supreme Will and Disallow. Disallow not only counter spells but its ability to counter activated or triggered ability is actually useful now. It can stop Field of Ruin from destroying your Azcanta, it can stop Vraska’s ultimate, it can stop Rekindling Pheonix’s token from triggering, and so much more.
Supreme Will is also a good counter spell but I like it for its Impulse ability which is great when you need to find answers quickly.
Last is Farm//Market which is good if you’re up against highly aggressive decks and is a good follow-up to Essence Scatter or Rebuff the turn before. Market gives us good card filtering late in the game but the card itself also tucks a 6-drop under Azor’s Gateway which is good.
For the 4-drops we have more card draw thanks to Glimmer of Genius and Hieroglyphic Illumination. These are great recovery spells to refill our hand with more answers or get to our win conditions.
Settle the Wreckage is our go-to sweeper since we are expecting the opponent to send all their creatures at us before we get to our late game. Apart from RG monsters, BG Snake and UB control, most decks run very few basic lands so don’t be surprised that after your 1st Settle, the opponent may not have so much basics to fetch turning your Settle the Wreckage into non-conditional wrath of gods.
Our last card is Fumigate because we want to have at least 1 way to reset the board without the need for creatures to attack. I am not running a whole play set because it also hits Azor which is sad.
So here’s my Azor’s Gateway UW control deck:
3 Azor’s Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun
2 Search of Azcanta
2 Azor, the Lawbringer
1 Reason // Believe
3 Essence Scatter
2 Revolutionary Rebuff
2 Farm // Market
3 Supreme Will
3 Glimmer of Genius
1 Hieroglyphic Illumination
3 Settle the Wreckage
2 Approach of the Second Sun
4 Glacial Fortress
4 Irrigated Farmland
2 Meandering River
2 Field of Ruin
4 Ipnu Rivulet
1 Shefet Dunes
1 Scavenger Ground
3 Authority of the Consuls
3 Ixalan’s Binding
4 Regal Caracal
The sideboard leans towards having a better match-up against aggro decks like mono black, RB and mono Red.
Authority of the Consuls hoses these decks down really well while giving you more time to find answers. It’s also a great sideboard card against Vehicles to stop them from crewing their Heart of Kirans on turn 3.
We can’t counter everything and sometimes its better to let the spell get through and just Ixalan’s Binding it and never have to worry about it. UB control decks that get their Scarab God binded is almost permanent apart from their Consign which you can just counter. This is also great against Red decks to keep them off of Hazoret and Chandra forever.
A single copy of Fragmentize helps us keep Anointed Procession, Hidden Stockpile, opposing Cast Out, Ixalan’s Binding, Azor’s Gateway or vehicles at bay for 1 mana. Not bad.
Regal Caracal might be narrow against red decks but it’s actually good against Merfolks, Vampires, Dinosaurs especially in multiples. Having 2 copies on the battlefield is 20 power altogether with lifelink. If the opponent didn’t assume we’ll be siding in creatures and they take out their removal for Duress or Negates then they have another thing coming. The single copy of Shefet Dunes in the mainboard can help us swing in for lethal if we keep throwing our Ipnu Rivulets to it and pump our cats.
Negate comes in against counter-wars and midrange decks. If we suspect the opponent to be Planeswalker heavy or will go heavy on card disruption or counter spells, Negate will help protect our game plan and win these spell exchanges.
That’s it for now – it’s been a while since I wrote stuff but work has been demanding and I try to spend most of my free time playing the decks that I brew. Happy to have my Bant Lands/Approach get 3rd place in a PPTQ over the weekend.
Went 3rd place on a 4-1 record in a 16-man PPTQ in swiss and conceded to my friend in the semis: List here.
- 1-2 vs Grixis Midrange
- 2-0 vs. UB control
- 2-0 vs. BW tokens
- 2-0 vs. Sultai Scarab God
- 2-0 vs. Sultai Scarab God
- Semi – conceded to RB Agro
Hope you like my UW shell, I’m sure this will evolve once I test it out and work on the numbers! Hope to see you back here soon!
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