Azorius is back to take control of Standard

Counters, board wipes, and stealing your opponent's stuff is on the menu with UW Control.

Time Wipe Magic Throne of Eldraine
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

The presence of Oko, Thief of Crowns—and to a lesser extent, Veil of Summer—in Standard had all but pushed MTG control decks completely out of the format.

With those cards now banned, however, Azorius Control has become the go-to deck for control players. Here’s your UW gameplan.

Say no

First, stock up on counterspells. Dovin’s Veto and Absorb form the core here, combining to take down most spells you’ll face against. Mystical Dispute initially saw play as a potential answer to Oko in this deck but it’s blossomed into a situational rockstar that can crush an opponent that doesn’t play around it.

Mystical Dispute Magic Throne of Eldraine
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Even if you don’t manage to find the perfect counter, Azorius Control has several tricks up its sleeve to keep the game moving slowly.

Brazen Borrower, an addition from Throne of Eldraine (ELD), bounces just about anything back to your opponent’s hand. Agent of Treachery just outright steals things. Prison Realm is an enchantment-based removal that’s notoriously hard to interact with.

Prison Realm Magic War of the Spark
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

And, to top things off, Azorius has access to some of the most powerful spells in the format. Time Wipe, for example, is a powerful board wipe that can reset your Brazen Borrower if you’ve already gotten it onto the battlefield.

The most powerful card in this deck, however, is one that’s been plaguing Standard since its introduction: Teferi, Time Raveler. “3feri” reduces your opponent to only casting spells at sorcery speed and it almost always sets them back a turn with his -1 ability. With Oko gone, this planeswalker is arguably one of the strongest cards in Standard.

Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Card advantage matters

The basics of control are simple: Remove threats and get ahead with card advantage. For the latter, this deck runs a number of flexible spells.

The most straightforward is Chemister’s Insight, a simple “draw two” instant with a recursion ability. This feature means this card is especially punishing against other control decks that must either let the spell resolve (a two-for-one for you) or counter it with a full card (a one-for-zero for you). You can always just replay it by discarding a card you don’t think you’ll use.

Chemister's Insight Magic Guilds of Ravnica
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Two more cards join this list from ELD: Cantle Vantress and Gadwick, the Wizened. The former is a useful land that can give you serious late-game card advantage without opening yourself up to counters. The latter is a powerful draw spell tacked onto a creature that can absolutely devastate creature-based decks.

Gadwick the Wizened Magic Throne of Eldraine
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Close the game with a powerful finisher

There are two options for finishers in most Azorius Control decks. The first is Mass Manipulation, which opts for a “steal everything” gameplan that works wonders against aggro and midrange decks. But the second finisher is where this deck gets really spicy.

Finale of Glory Magic War of the Spark
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Finale of Glory has seen limited Standard play, mostly in combo decks with a lot of mana to spare. In control, however, it proves to be a quick finisher that can end the game if fired off at the right time.

Obviously, you want to cast this spell for X=10 or greater to give yourself a fleet of powerful angels. Remember, you can still win games with 2/2 Soldiers. Gadwick and Brazen Borrower can also provide some sneaky damage against certain decks.

Castle Ardenvale, another new card for this deck, can also help your army generation, albeit slowly.

Castle Ardenvale Magic Throne of Eldraine
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Don’t be afraid to use these tokens as chump blockers. Your gameplan is to go long, so plan accordingly. Here’s a recent decklist to get you started.

Ultimately, you’ll want to get to a place where you can attack freely, then use your control spells to deny your opponent the opportunity to stop you. Then, slam in for the win.