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Commander Focus — Azor, the Lawbringer
It is thus proclaimed on this day that Azor, the Lawbringer is a Legendary Creature Sphinx with 6/6 and Flying.
When Azor comes into play, thou shalt get a free Sphinx’s Decree.
When Azor attacks, thou can cast Sphinx’s Revelation.
And thus it is proclaimed as law. The law has been brought. By Azor.
To get more value from his Decree, we will use repeatable effects to Flicker Azor out of play and back in once during each of our turns to reactivate his enter the battlefield trigger. Hopefully, our opponents will never be able to cast another instant or sorcery ever again. I hear those are useful, so let’s pass an injunction to stop all that nonsense. Since he has to attack to trigger his other ability, it would be optimal to wait until after combat to flicker him.
To boost his Revelation, let’s add Thought Vessel and Reliquary Tower up front so that we don’t have to worry about overdrawing and discarding our lovely cards and then we can really cut loose with the mana. As long as we are planning to gain life and draw cards, let’s really sphinx up the place with Alhammarret’s Archive so we can do both of those things twice as hard. As I learned from Damia, Sage of Stone, it is deceptively strong to have a Terrain Generator to get the basic lands out of your hand and onto the board after drawing a fistful of cards.
Blue/white sphinx tribal is probably better as Isperia the Inscrutable with Telepathy, to tutor a new sphinx after each successful combat. Many sphinges have their own enter the battlefield trigger, but not many do something when another sphinx enters play, such as a repeatedly flickering Azor. Unesh, Criosphinx Sovereign stands out, as he helps cast Azor and will get a pseudo-Fact or Fiction trigger whenever Azor comes back into play.
If we load the deck with ways to flicker our commander, we could also load the deck with other things that have enter the battlefield triggers so we can flicker those as well. However, what makes this strategy with Azor different from (and better than) making Brago, King Eternal the commander with Azor in the 99? Brago seems a better tactical fit to head up that approach (if not as flavorful), even with a bunch of ETB sphinges in the 99.
To get to the mechanics of making the deck work, here is a list of repeatable ways to flicker Azor. This does not include one-shot instants and sorceries, not even the two-shot Momentary Blink. This list was made by searching for both “exile” and “return” and then reading each card to see if their effect was applicable and repeatable without extreme shenanigans. All search lists in this article are restricted to those cards playable in blue and/or white (or more accurately from a technical search perspective, not black, not red, and not green).
As far as Astral Slide goes, there are nine lands playable in blue/white with some kind of cycling on them. Seven of those enter the battlefield tapped if you want to use it as a land, so consider whether that is an acceptable trade off for you. Skybind seems a safe bet as long as we use several other enchantments in blue/white. You know the ones I mean… (Hint: “can’t attack you”). Voidwalk can work as long as we have another creature on the board to take the cipher, preferably something unblockable.
Azor has Sphinx’s Revelation as a triggered ability during the attack step of combat. At first glance, it might resemble an activated ability since it generally requires tapping Azor and paying mana, but it is indeed a triggered ability that requires a condition to be met before it can be used (namely, Azor attacking in combat). Thus Training Grounds and Heartstone do not work with Azor.
Let’s look at cards that do something whenever you gain life or draw cards, so that we get more value from Azor’s mighty powers. This might be one of the very few commanders where Felidar Sovereign and Laboratory Maniac are both legitimate win conditions.
Whenever you draw a card
Chasm Skulker and Psychosis Crawler are regular characters for any commander that has “draw a card” in their rules text. Jace’s Erasure and Sphinx’s Tutelage suggest that an Azor mill deck might actually be able to work, if we lean on more blue mill cards. Hoofprints of the Stag in this deck might be almost as effective as Luminarch Ascension for a possible flying token swarm.
Whenever you gain life
Spending mana into Well of Lost Dreams is not as efficient as putting more mana into Azor’s Revelation, unless you just don’t want to gain as much life for some reason. Archangel of Thune seems nice and those enchantments are tempting, but if we are going to flicker Azor out of play and back in, then +1/+1 counters will fall off of him and disappear. Drogskol Reaver seems like a great card with amazing spooky art hands, but the casting cost is scarier than the hands.
Your Opponents Can’t
To make the deck’s flavor more in line with Azor’s abilities, let’s look at other ways to stop our opponents from doing things we don’t want them to do, such as… anything at all. If we search cards for the text “each opponent can’t” within blue/white, then we get just Azor and Sphinx’s Decree. This isn’t helpful. Let’s rephrase that to “your opponents can’t” and see what we get.
Your opponents can’t
Ah yes, these cards look familiar.
If we really plan on blinking only one creature in particular, is it really blinking? It seems more like winking. Anyway, here is perhaps the most accurately named deck I’ve ever put in these articles.