Last updated on November 20, 2020

Sram Orzhov Azorius Auras Decks

Sram, Senior Edificer | Illustration by Chris Rahn

It’s finally here, and I am super excited: Kaladesh Remastered. With the power creep in recent years, surprisingly few cards are actually playable in Historic. That doesn’t stop us from glancing over the very top cards available, though.

One such card is Sram, Senior Edificer. Sram has racked up an amazing quantity of wins over in Pioneer. If you’re a fan of Azorius Auras in Historic, have dabbled with some Bogles in Modern, or like making huge buffed up creatures in general, this deck tech is for you.

Let’s jump right on in.

The Decks

Alseid of Life's Bounty | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

Alseid of Life’s Bounty | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve

There are two routes we can take here: Orzhov and Azorius. The former builds around Hateful Eidolon and focuses on removal auras. The latter focuses on card draw and lifegain auras. Whichever style you prefer, Sram has your back.

Both lists are very viable in BO1. I went from Platinum to Mythic recently using our upcoming Orzhov list, but Azorius is likely the stronger of the two, especially in BO3. Azorius has better sideboard options in the current meta. Regardless, I’m going to leave you with both decklists to play around with.

Orzhov BO1

Azorius BO3

The Strategy

This deck’s strategy is simple: stack as many aura enchantments on a creature as possible, draw a ton of cards from Sram, Senior Edificer or Kor Spiritdancer on the battlefield, and then attack for vast amounts of damage.

In some cases, you can win the game as early as turn 3 by making your creatures absolutely huge. All thanks to the fantastic synergy and engines built into this deck!

The Draw Engine

Kor Spiritdancer and Sram, Senior Edificer are the two stars of the deck. They both have significant effects. Namely, you get to draw a card whenever you cast an Aura spell.

This means that if you can land either one on the battlefield and start spamming your low mana auras on the board, every single one of those cards will be a cantrip. Even more so, you’ll net a massive amount of card advantage and will likely bury your opponent in the value you’re generating if you manage to get two of these on the board.

Kor Spiritdancer is technically a  better version of Sram, because you get +2/+2 for each aura attached to it on top of the card draw. One of the main issues with Azorius Auras used to be that you pretty much needed a Spiritdancer in hand to get your engine rolling. Still, you’re now effectively doubling this number in your deck with Sram. Statistically, it’s improbable to not find at least one of this duo in your opening hand or after a mulligan.

Stonecoil Serpent | Illustration by Mark Poole

Stonecoil Serpent | Illustration by Mark Poole

This leads us to a significant benefit of this deck: you draw cards. You draw a lot of cards. You draw so many cards that sometimes you won’t even know what to do with them. A mulligan to five is actually not bad with a deck like this. You can easily keep two lands in hand because the odds of not drawing a third land are abysmally small.

On top of all this, if you end up using the Orzhov version of the deck, you also have access to the monstrous Hateful Eidolon. It’s excellent because you have the option to run some removal auras like Dead Weight in Orzhov. Each time you put a -X/-X removal on your opponent’s creature and it dies, it counts to draw a card for each aura attached to it that you controlled.

This works particularly well if you have both the Eidolon and Lurrus of the Dream-Den on the field, because you get to re-use removal auras from the graveyard to draw. But unfortunately, this type of strategy doesn’t work that well in BO3. It’s better suited for the BO1 metagame where more decks are running smaller creatures like goblins and mono red aggro.

The Auras

All That Glitters

There are lots of auras in this deck. There’s no point going through all of them one by one since they all serve a similar function: giving your creature a +X/+X bonus and, sometimes, additional keywords like flying or vigilance. In Orzhov’s case, you’re also removing opponent creatures with auras. The main aura you want on the battlefield as soon as possible is All That Glitters.

This card tends to snowball out of control really quickly because we have so many artifacts and enchantment creatures like Stonecoil Serpent, Alseid of Life’s Bounty, and Orzhov’s Hateful Eidolon in the deck. You can sometimes win as early as turn 3 because of this powerhouse of a card if your opponent used shocklands. It’s an easy turn 4 win most of the time, though.

Arcane Flight | Illustration by Steve Prescott

Arcane Flight | Illustration by Steve Prescott

Let’s do a mental exercise just to show off how absolutely insane this card can be.

Turn 1: You play an artifact or enchantment creature.

Turn 2: You play All That Glitters on said creature. Let’s use Alseid of Life’s Bounty. Because Alseid is an enchantment itself, the aura gives it +2/+2, making it a solid 3/3 on turn 2, dealing three damage to the opponent.

Turn 3: You play your second copy of All That Glitters, plus a 1-mana aura. You now have four auras on the board, turning your Alseid into a 10+ attack power lifelink-er.

There are plenty of combinations, of course, and most of the time you won’t have two All That Glitters available right away. Still, even when stacking these on a creature like Kor Spiritdancer, which gets +2/+2 from each aura attached to it, having a 10+ power creature on turn 3 and a 15+ power creature on turn 4 is fairly easy to achieve.

Self-Protection and the Backup Plans

Since we capitalize on casting low mana cost auras to get as many on our creatures as possible, we obviously want to make sure we don’t get janked out by decks that just kill them. It’s usually relatively straightforward against mono red or green matchups because you just make sure your creature is so giant that they can’t deal enough damage to kill it.

Against white and black decks, though, targeted removal can be annoying. We run four copies each of Karametra’s Blessing, Alseid of Life’s Bounty, and Lurrus of the Dream-Den as back-up engines because of this to bring stuff back from the graveyard. The first two cards are especially fantastic.

The Blessing gives a creature +2/+2, which is excellent to counter a Shock but, on top of that, the targeted creature gains hexproof and indestructible if they’re an enchantment creature or have an enchantment attached to it.

Dead Weight | Illustration by Kev Walker

Dead Weight | Illustration by Kev Walker

Alseid, on the other hand, can sacrifice itself to give a target creature protection from a color of your choice. Be careful here, though, because if you choose white most of our auras will drop off the creature after activating this.

Both can also be used as combat tricks to block and destroy your opponent’s creature, sometimes even blocking something like a 5/5 with Embercleave. There are still going to be some situations where your opponent simply seems to have it all, though, removing all your creatures before you can set up proper protection. Lurrus of the Dream-Den is crucial in such cases. This card lets you bring your creatures as well as your enchantments back from the graveyard, even if it’s only one per turn.

If set up correctly, you can use things like Alseid of Life’s Bounty to protect Lurrus each turn. You won’t generally need it much, but it’s precious in games where you do get to cast it.

Azorius Vs. Orzhov Benefits

The great thing about the Azorius list is that it has access to Curious Obsession and Staggering Insight.

These both buff your creature and give them an ability to draw cards when you deal combat damage. This helps constantly refill your hand and make Sram and Spiritdancer’s draw engine even stronger.

Orzhov, on the other hand, has Hateful Eidolon and Dead Weight.

You’ll be able to draw cards whenever you remove a creature with one of your auras thanks to your Eidolon, but it can also serve as a fail-safe. You get to draw a new card for each aura you lose on a creature when it dies. You’ll usually be able to refill your hand and get your combo rolling again.

All That Glitters | Illustration by Iain McCaig

All That Glitters | Illustration by Iain McCaig

Both versions have their merits. Azorius seems to offer the most card draw potential overall. Staggering Insight’s lifelink plus access to flying thanks to Arcane Flight helps Azorius be more evasive. I like that Orzhov has a bit more flexibility, being able to play a tiny removal plan with the Dead Weight copies. This is a matter of taste, but Orzhov fits the aura theme much better than Azorius.

I used to play similar decks back in Origins Standard days, so my nostalgia hits me hard. That said, I think Orzhov can be made viable for BO3. With the Kaladesh release being quite recent, I’ll need to do some testing to build an optimal sideboard. After all, we have some great options like Gods Willing and different types of removal. Being both white- and black-aligned could also allow us to bring a bunch of leylines, like Leyline of the Void for graveyard decks and Leyline of Sanctity against burn decks.

Mulligans

The mulligan decision has only two rules, and they both start with “your hand”

  1. … has Sram, Senior Edificer or Kor Spiritdancer;
  2. … has a few cheap auras to cast to start your draw engine with Sram and Spiritdancer.

Obviously, you also need at least two lands to start casting stuff. In a perfect case scenario, you manage to get one of the above and also All That Glitters with some protection like Karametra’s Blessing.

Kor Spiritdancer | Illustration by Scott Chou

Kor Spiritdancer | Illustration by Scott Chou

The Sideboard

This deck doesn’t rely on sideboarding much since it’s extremely fast paced, but there are a couple of great options to strengthen our strategy. The sideboard falls into three categories:

  1. More creature removal
  2. Counterspells and self-protection
  3. Combo-stoppers

The hardest decks to face are those that continuously try to board wipe or remove your creatures from the board. Because of this, we have three copies of Spell Pierce. This excellent 1-mana spell can usually counter an on-curve board wipe, buying us a crucial turn to finish the game. Dive Down is another card that can be used as targeted protection of your creatures, giving it hexproof and extra toughness for a turn.

Lurrus of the Dream-Den | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Lurrus of the Dream-Den | Illustration by Slawomir Maniak

Hushbringer and Grafdigger’s Cage are both great tech against combo decks that either use enter the battlefield triggers or graveyard shenanigans. Sadly, because our aura engine is so compact, there isn’t much space to actually bring these in. They’ll usually take a Sentinel’s Eyes slot.

The rest of the sideboard is pretty situational, giving us various options like Aether Gust to stop red or green decks from combo-ing. Stern Dismissal as a cheap bounce spell for a creature or enchantment to attack in and close out the game. Giant Killer as a removal spell for big creatures doubling as a 1-drop to stack some auras onto. And finally, more copies of Heliod’s Punishment can temporarily shut off an opponent’s creature for a few turns.

Tips and Tricks

Aether Gust | Illustration by Tomasz Jedruszek

Aether Gust | Illustration by Tomasz Jedruszek

This deck is full of intricate tricks. I like to keep an Alseid of Life’s Bounty hidden in my hand when I have lethal for the following turn with one creature ready. I then let my opponent set up their board and blockers. When my turn rolls around, I cast Alseid and give my creature protection from a shared color among the opponent’s creature and attack in for lethal that way. Of course, this won’t work against white creatures since most of our auras are white, but I’ve beaten many goblin decks this way!

Also, suppose you’re up against red or black decks that are probably running targeted removal. In that case, it’s better to wait a turn before you cast Sram or Spiritdancer so that you can make sure you set up protection for them.

Keep in mind that Alseid of Life’s Bounty, Stonecoil Serpent, and Hateful Eidolon are enchantments and artifacts. This means they’ll make All That Glitters stronger just by being on the battlefield. Calculate these creatures as a +1/+1 if you control or are about to control an All That Glitters.

Auras Away

Hushbringer | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme

Hushbringer | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme

Orzhov Auras is very reminiscent of the Pioneer version. We may not have Gryff’s Boon or Ethereal Armor, but being able to double up on Sram, Senior Edificer thanks to Kor Spiritdancer makes this a very solid deck.

I’ve been grinding in the ranked ladder with this deck myself, and it has the potential to remain a top tier deck for a long time to come. I easily got to Mythic. It may have been even easier had I gone the Azorius path, but I believe that one should play the decks and colors they enjoy. That said, I was able to go from low Platinum to Mythic in as little as 8 hours using this deck.

I really like this deck because it can counter aggro relatively easily. We have big vigilance blockers and lifelink-ers, allowing the games to go beyond turn 4 if needed. There’s also some nice interactive back and forth action. This type of gameplay is the pinnacle of fun in MTG because it can be played casually and offers a lot of opportunities for choice-making if you’re an experienced player.

Either way, let me know what you think and, if you do play the deck, leave a comment down below. If you’re interested in seeing this deck in action, I have some footage on my YouTube channel, so feel free check it out. And I would be remiss not to encourage you to check out our awesome MTGA tracker, Arena Tutor.

Thanks for sticking around till the end, and see you all again soon for our next guide!

Curious Obsession | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

Curious Obsession | Illustration by Daniel Ljunggren

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