The “Azorius Ascendant” deck can come out of the gates in two different ways. You might spend the early part of the game setting up your defense. Once you’re safe from harm, you’ll draw extra cards in clever ways and finally play out a fleet of fliers for the win. Alternatively, you can start by playing lots of cheap, aggressive fliers, such as Azorius First-Wing and Mistral Charger. Bombard your opponent while taking damage in return, and then tangle up the ground with your defenders. Your opponent’s creatures will face some serious blocking, while your creatures can hardly be blocked at all.
You’ll have access to cards that can tap creatures, such as Minister of Impediments, Plumes of Peace, and Azorius Guildmage. Not only are these effective, but they’ll also stifle your opponent’s strategy! If a creature is too big for you to block safely, tap it during your opponent’s turn. If a creature can block your fliers, tap it to prevent it from blocking.
While the deck’s tap effects are sneaky, its untap effects are downright devious, as seen on Beacon Hawk, Tidewater Minion, and Sky Hussar. Each time you untap one of your creatures enchanted by Ocular Halo, you can tap that creature to draw an extra card. Untap Minister of Impediments so you can tap troublesome opposing creatures, or untap your Benevolent Ancestor to prevent extra damage. You’ll be tapping and untapping so often, your opponent’s head will spin!
Once you’ve played the deck a few times, customize it. If you want more large fliers, try the Ninth Edition core set’s Serra Angel or Mahamoti Djinn. Puppeteer and Archivist, also from the core set, add even more tapping and untapping tricks. Cheap spells that keep your opponent off-balance, such as Remand from the Ravnica: City of Guilds set, work wonders for this deck’s aggressive air assault. Lay down the law!
|1||U||Prahv, Spires of Order|
|1||U||Paladin of Prahv|
|1||R||Isperia the Inscrutable|
|2||C||Minister of Impediments|
|2||C||Plumes of Peace|
* = from a previous set
You’ll empty your hand the way you would with any other deck—by playing all your spells. You can dump plenty of one- and two-mana creatures on the table in the first few turns. Rakdos Signet will help you play your expensive spells quickly. Normally, you’d save your removal spells, such as Cackling Flames, for choice targets. With this deck, play them quickly just to keep your hand empty. Seal of Fire is doubly good. You can play it immediately, but you don’t have to use it until the time is right.
If you have trouble getting rid of the last few land cards in your hand, Drekavac, Rakdos Guildmage, and Nihilistic Glee all give you ways to discard for fun and profit. Ignorant Bliss is a neat trick. It allows you to become hellbent at a moment’s notice without permanently losing any cards.
Once your hand is empty, the fun really begins. Your 2/2 Gobhobbler Rats become vicious 3/2 regenerators. The flying Demon’s Jesters become 4-power mega-threats. Slithering Shade wakes up and can go on the offensive. If your horde was wreaking havoc before they went hellbent, they’ll be unstoppable afterward.
Of course, having no cards in your hand doesn’t mean having no options. Several cards in the deck let you recoup cards as the game goes on, including Lyzolda, the Blood Witch; Ragamuffyn; and Nihilistic Glee. Each one packs a hefty cost, but that’s part of dealing with a guild populated by demons and devils!
When you’re ready to modify the deck, other Rakdos cards in the Dissension set are the first place to look. There you’ll find many hellbent goodies, from the high-risk, high-reward Jagged Poppet to the devastating Rakdos Pit Dragon. The set also has several cards that help you empty your hand and keep it empty, such as Skullmead Cauldron and Delirium Skeins. Bring the hurt!
|1||U||Rix Maadi, Dungeon Palace|
|1||R||Lyzolda, the Blood Witch|
|1||C||Douse in Gloom**|
|3||C||Seal of Fire|
|2||C||Taste for Mayhem|
* = from a previous set
In the early game, concentrate on playing lands. Get extra lands into play with Silkwing Scout (after it blocks) or Coiling Oracle. You might take some damage early on, but you’ll quickly have lots of mana. Your opponent will be in deep trouble when your fat creatures and chunky spells start showing up.
One of the best early plays is to get Vigean Hydropon on the table. Such a tactic may seem strange, since this creature can’t attack or block. However, its graft ability can make each of your next five creatures bigger! In fact, this deck is all about the graft ability. Your creatures with graft can give their +1/+1 counters to other creatures, and their abilities affect creatures that have +1/+1 counters on them. For example, Helium Squirter can give your pumped-up creatures flying for a massive aerial attack! Figure out which creatures and abilities are best against the deck you’re playing. Mutate accordingly.
The tricks don’t end there, though. Thrive and Experiment Kraj add more counters to your creatures, and Simic Guildmage moves those counters around at will. Want more wackiness? Simic Guildmage can move Shielding Plax onto whichever one of your creatures your opponent is trying to target. Experiment Kraj puts all kinds of abilities at your fingertips. Put a +1/+1 counter on one of your opponent’s creatures just to steal its ability! If Experiment Kraj is hiding out, you can sacrifice your Protean Hulk to Drowned Rusalka or Starved Rusalka to fetch Kraj out of your deck and put it directly into play.
Though the “Simic Mutology” deck is already full of graft creatures, why stop there? The Dissension set has many more great options, such as Novijen Sages, Cytoplast Manipulator, and Cytospawn Shambler. The Ravnica set’s Doubling Season is an especially potent weapon, allowing your graft creatures to show up at twice the size—and then the fun really begins! Experimentation is the Simic way, so don’t be afraid to do a little yourself. Unleash the true power of nature!
|2||C||Simic Growth Chamber|
|1||U||Novijen, Heart of Progress|
* = from a previous set