Last updated on May 26, 2023
Brago, King Eternal | Illustration by Karla Ortiz
Choosing your commander can be tough. There are so many options, so many colors, and so many themes to try. It can get overwhelming, which is why today I’m going to make it easy on you and showcase the Ravnica guild of Azorius (). Azorius is the control player’s dream color combination and one of my favorites in all of Magic.
To try and convince you that Azorius is the way to go I’m going to go over why Azorius is so strong, the best commanders and how to use them, and attempt to inspire you with an excellent Ephara, God of the Polis EDH deck.
Let’s get started!
Why Go with an Azorius Commander?
Millicent, Restless Revenant | Illustration by Denman Rooke
Azorius is all about tempo. Interaction is the most important part of any control deck and Azorius has some of the best. Having the right answer to combo, wiping the board and starting fresh, and filling your deck with great ETB creatures are all hallmarks of the guild.
If you’re like me and you love those long Commander games where anyone who can overcome the next board wipe wins then you’ll love Azorius.
#22. Medomai the Ageless
Starting us off is none other than Medomai the Ageless, a sphinx commander that gives you an extra turn when you do combat damage to a player. Blue loves taking extra turns and your commander can help you win with more turns than your opponents can handle in conjunction with a lot of other extra turn spells like Time Warp.
Medomai the Ageless has a clause that it can’t attack during extra turns (rightfully so), so you shouldn’t have more than one or two extra turns at a time. Luckily extra turns are so powerful in EDH that going three times in a row can often be enough to kill one (or all) players.
You don’t need much to win with these turns. A few big fliers like Sphinx of the Second Sun, Master of Predicaments, and Isperia, Supreme Judge should do the trick.
#21. Isperia, Supreme Judge
Speaking of Isperia, Supreme Judge, that’s what’s in the #21 spot today! Isperia is a sphinx commander that gives you the ability to draw a card whenever a creature attacks you or a planeswalker you control. This is a very defensive ability but works well as a way to discourage your opponents from attacking you while you tap out to attack them with your army of flying creatures.
Azorius has access to some incredible flying creatures with powerful abilities along with being massive bodies. Consecrated Sphinx practically draws you entire new hands if it survives a cycle around the table. Windreader Sphinx draws you as many cards as you have flying attackers, which makes sacrificing some smaller creatures to push damage even more worth it. Don’t forget about Gravitational Shift either. This makes your flying creatures practically unstoppable with a 4-power difference to any other creature.
#20. Tameshi, Reality Architect
In the #20 spot is a new commander from Neon Dynasty, Tameshi, Reality Architect. Tameshi loves returning permanents to people’s hands, so much so that it gives you a card whenever it happens.
It’s second ability is also wonderful. For and returning a land to your hand (which draws you a card!) you can return any artifact or enchantment with mana value X or less to the battlefield. This helps protect some of your more potent permanents, like Ghirapur Orrery, or return saga cards like Elspeth Conquers Death for more value.
#19. Dragonlord Ojutai
It wouldn’t be a proper list of Azorius commanders without an appearance from Dragonlord Ojutai. Ojutai was one of the more merciful authoritarian dragons from Tarkir, but that mercy won’t be present when dealing with your opponents as your commander.
Dragonlord Ojutai has hexproof when it’s untapped and practically lets you Brainstorm whenever it does combat damage to a player. Brainstorm is one of the best cards in Magic for a reason and you want to get in for damage as much as possible with Ojutai.
Since you’re already hellbent on swinging in the air with one flier it makes sense to build the deck around a general fliers theme. There are plenty of great fliers in the Azorius colors with the best being Consecrated Sphinx, Mulldrifter, and Medomai the Ageless. Just make sure to include Gravitational Shift or Always Watching to keep things up in the air.
#18. Sygg, River Guide
In the #18 spot is Sygg, River Guide, the only merfolk commander to appear on the list today. In addition to having islandwalk, a very great keyword given the prevalence of blue in Commander, Sygg gives any merfolk protection from a color for just . This is amazing since it works as a fantastic shield against any kind of removal, blocker, or attacker. Just don’t forget to leave mana up.
There are great tribal artifacts to run in any merfolk deck in Commander. I’d recommend running at least Door of Destinies and Vanquisher's Banner, but you can go heavier with things like Coat of Arms if you want. There are also plenty of merfolk lords to play, like Merfolk Sovereign, Master of the Pearl Trident, and Merrow Reejerey.
#17. Geist of Saint Traft
In the #17 spot is one of my all-time favorite cards in Magic, Geist of Saint Traft. The Geist has seen less and less play as time goes on. It’s natural for older cards, but it’s still kicking and a great aggressive commander.
Since Geist’s entire livelihood revolves around attacking and making a 4/4 token you’re best off building its deck with auras in mind. Not only will they protect your commander, they also make it much scarier for your opponents. Auras like Spirit Mantle and Hyena Umbra go a long way towards protecting your commander.
Losing Geist to some cheap removal is like getting kicked in the ribs. It really hurts.
#16. Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper
Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper is up next in the #16 spot. Don’t get too excited about that merfolk subtype. Noyan is actually a spellslinger commander. He has no synergy outside of being a merfolk and is completely devoted to animating your lands when you cast instant or sorceries.
There are some pretty sweet instants and sorceries to be played. Noyan helps an Azorius control deck apply more pressure and feel safe without a board wipe. Your lands don’t stop being creatures which means you’re never lacking in blockers. Spells with proliferate like Tezzeret's Gambit are going to be your strongest cards. You’re already distributing three +1/+1 counters per spell and proliferate starts carrying once a number of your lands have their respective counters.
#15. Taigam, Ojutai Master
Taigam, Ojutai Master gives your spells rebound as long as it attacked this turn. Rebound exiles spells when you cast them and lets you cast them again for free on your next upkeep. This is very powerful because you’re essentially doubling your best spells.
You might think about all the card draw or value spells you can duplicate, like Ponder, Preordain, or Dig Through Time. These are all fine and dandy, but you should set your sights higher. Extra turns are going to be the absolute best ones here. They essentially all give you twoextra turns, which is exponentially worse for your opponents.
#14. Azor, the Lawbringer
It wouldn’t be a list of Azorius cards without some kind of law- or cop-related card, and we have Azor, the Lawbringer in the #14 spot. Azor prevents your opponents from casting instants and sorceries when it enters the battlefield and basically lets you cast a Sphinx's Revelation whenever it attacks.
Revelation is one of the all-time greatest control cards in Magic. The hand refill combined with the lifegain prolongs any match, which falls into the Azorius player’s favor. I’d recommend building Azor as a control/sphinx tribal commander. Most sphinx have some kind of card draw or control-esque ability and present a great threat to beat your opponents down with.
#13. Kangee, Sky Warden
Kangee, Sky Warden is a 3/3 flying bird wizard that gives creatures that attack with it +2/+0, and creatures that block with it +0/+2. This is another one of those flying-tribal commanders that are pretty prevalent in Azorius.
The +2/+0 makes a pretty big difference when it comes to beating down your opponents. Unless they’re also playing a deck full of fliers then they’ll usually have one blocker at most. This power buff means it’ll almost certainly die and the other creatures you attack with hit hard. With a wide board of fliers and any kind of buff like the one Kangee, Sky Warden gives you can be confident that you’ll kill players in one or two swings depending on the stage of the game.
#12. Inniaz, the Gale Force
Inniaz, the Gale Force has the ability to buff all flying attackers for just three mana. This is a very threatening ability in the later stages of the game when you have plenty of fliers to attack with and plenty of mana to buff them.
While any flier-tribal deck has its fair share of sphinxes and angels, Inniaz encourages you to go wide, not tall. This means you want tokens, and a lot of them. I’ll make it easy on you and let you know that Skycat Sovereign, Watcher of the Spheres, and Emeria Angel are going to be some of your top performers. You don’t need to worry too much about having a flying lord like Empyrean Eagle in play thanks to your commander, which makes your list much more consistent.
#11. Vega, the Watcher
The cube-class bird spirit, Vega, the Watcher is up next in the #11 spot, which means we’re halfway through todays’ rankings! Vega is a nice and simple commander that loves it when you cast cards from places other than your hand. So much so that it actually gives you a card each time you do it.
Foretell is the only mechanic that can supply you with reasonable Vega triggers. The mechanic is pretty great in Commander because your opponents have much less info as to what the foretold cards can be while there are only three or four playable foretell cards in a format like Standard. You don’t have that problem in Commander, and it makes the strategy far better than you think.
#10. Kotori, Pilot Prodigy
Kotori, Pilot Prodigy is a new vehicles commander from Neon Dynasty Commander. It’s about time Azorius got an artifact commander, and what better way to start that off than with vehicles tribal.
Vehicles have been around for some time now which means there are enough pilot creatures, synergistic spells, and actual vehicles to fill up a Commander deck. The precon that its commander came out with has some pretty sweet vehicles you’d want to pick up, like Parhelion II and Weatherlight, but don’t miss out on some older classics like Heart of Kiran and Silent Submersible.
#9. Ephara, God of the Polis
In the #9 spot is a favorite of mine, Ephara, God of the Polis. Ephara is an O.G. god from original Theros block whose entire kit revolves around flickering your creatures to generate card advantage. Azorius loves bouncing creatures and returning them to the battlefield so you’ll always be able to get that extra card per turn.
There are more ways to bounce creatures than I can count so I want to focus on what you’ll actually be flickering. A lot of players new to the strategy get tunnel vision looking at creatures like Solitude, Reveillark, and Peregrine Drake and overlook the smaller ones that generate huge amounts of value in the long run. Charming Prince, Wall of Omens, and Elite Guardmage should all be included and flickered as much as possible.
#8. Bruna, Light of Alabaster
Up next comes Bruna, Light of Alabaster, a 5/5 angel with flying and vigilance that’s all about auras. Whenever Bruna attacks it becomes a magnet for any auras on the battlefield (even your opponents’!), the graveyard, and your hand. Not having to play the auras directly beforehand makes it incredible and incentivizes you to get it in play and attacking as early as possible.
There are tons of powerful auras in white and having just one or two of the best defensive ones can make your commander pods a shut case. Spirit Mantle is great for defending against creatures, Indestructibility is an obvious one, Curator's Ward defends from Path to Exile, and the totem armor from Hyena Umbra lets Bruna survive a board wipe.
#7. Kwain, Itinerant Meddler
Kwain, Itinerant Meddler, a 1/3 rabbit wizard that can tap and draw every player a card, is in the #7 spot today. Kwain is a great wheels commander, meaning it wants to be in a deck full of ways to draw cards and benefit from those draw triggers.
Blue has some great ways to win by just drawing cards. Triskaidekaphile, Laboratory Maniac, Thassa's Oracle, and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries all get the job done on their own. On the other hand, Narset, Parter of Veils can inadvertently win you the game when paired with a wheel effect from something like Windfall.
#6. Lavinia, Azorius Renegade
Lavinia, Azorius Renegade is a 2/2 human soldier for that restricts your opponents’ casting of noncreature spells to those with mana values less than or equal to the number of lands they control. In short it invalidates mana rocks while also countering free spells.
Lavinia is, as you can imagine, a stax and hatebear commander all the way. It’s practically asking for you to include Aven Mindcensor, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, and Grand Arbiter Augustin IV in your deck. Just don’t forget a win condition or two. Approach of the Second Sun works great if your opponents are as locked out as you’re hoping they’ll be.
#5. Yorion, Sky Nomad
Yorion, Sky Nomad luckily doesn’t dominate EDH to the extent of other formats, but it’s actually the greatest commander of all the companions. Yorion has an enter-the-battlefield effect that flickers any number of nonland permanents you control which becomes incredible if you build your deck correctly.
You’re basically throwing 30 creatures with ETB effects, some ways to flicker them, and some lands into a list and calling it a day. Teleportation Circle, Eerie Interlude, and Momentary Blink can help you get some value out of creatures before you slam Yorion, and there are plenty of creatures to choose from.
One thing I’ll mention is not to overlook playing your commander with only one or two creatures if you know you can play more and flicker it again. Yorion itself is the ultimate flicker target and is a strong one as long as you have two or three things to target with it.
#4. Ranar the Ever-Watchful
The #4 spot today belongs to Ranar the Ever-Watchful, a 2/3 spirit warrior that makes your first foretold card cost to foretell in addition to making 1/1 flying tokens whenever you exile a card from your hand. Foretell is strong in Commander because your opponents don’t have the same level of info as they would in Standard or Pioneer. In a singleton evergreen format like Commander, that foretold card can be literally anything.
Foretell decks play a hard control game that feels natural because you’re playing cards in advance to deal with future threats. This kind of strategy is perfect for Azorius because white and blue are great at playing the end game. Blue has excellent card draw, counterspells, and late-game bombs. White brings sweet board wipes, protection, and flying threats. Together they excel at late-game stalemates which you’ll get to often when playing foretell control.
#3. Millicent, Restless Revenant
Millicent, Restless Revenant is up next in the #3 spot. Millicent is by far the strongest spirit tribal commander. It supplies you with plenty of Spirit tokens to push more damage, overrun what blockers your opponents do have, and contribute towards triggers from cards like Mausoleum Wanderer.
Tribal decks are some of the strongest in Commander mostly because of how much support there is in the utility artifacts department. There are a lot of must-haves that take your deck’s power level to the next level regardless of what creature type your deck is built around. These cards are Coat of Arms, Vanquisher's Banner, Herald's Horn, and Urza's Incubator. The mana cost reductions and board-wide buffs are to die for. Don’t miss out.
#2. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
In the #2 spot is a favorite of mine and one of the all-time popular commanders in Azorius, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. Grand Arbiter is the grandfather of stax, a strategy that aims to lock players out of the game through stax pieces and other hatebears.
Most of your stax pieces will be in white regardless of how you build your deck. The best of the best that you can’t really skip out on are Vryn Wingmare, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Linvala, Keeper of Silence, Strict Proctor, and Wandering Archaic. These are by far the most powerful cards and lock your opponents out the hardest.
Blue makes up for not being great at stax by giving you great counterspells, card draw, and tutors. Mana Drain, Swan Song, and hyper-efficient counterspells like Force of Will and Force of Negation make sure that nothing slips through the cracks.
#1. Brago, King Eternal
Finally in first place we have Brago, King Eternal. Brago is another commander that loves to flicker any number of nonland permanents you control whenever it does combat damage to a player. You can imagine the strength here with having Yorion, Sky Nomad on a stick.
Having the ability to flicker everything you control is incredible and becomes unbeatable in the later stages of the game when you have plenty of permanents in play. Just imagine having Omen of the Sea, Peregrine Drake, Mulldrifter, Cloudblazer, and ten other ETB cards in play. That’s more value than your opponents can handle and I promise it’s as fun to play as it seems.
Decklist: Ephara, God of the Polis in EDH
Ephara, God of the Polis | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
Agent of Treachery
Brago, King Eternal
Deputy of Acquittals
Knight of the White Orchid
Niambi, Esteemed Speaker
Venser, Shaper Savant
Wall of Omens
Yorion, Sky Nomad
Path to Exile
Swords to Plowshares
Approach of the Second Sun
Vanquish the Horde
Leyline of Anticipation
Teferi's Ageless Insight
Talisman of Progress
Sea of Clouds
Temple of Enlightenment
Despite having come in towards the middle of the list at #9, I decided to showcase an Ephara, God of the Polis Commander deck. This is a midrange budget list that wins by grinding out opponents through the value generated by its commander.
Ephara generates card advantage by having creatures enter the battlefield, which means most of your creature base are creatures with ETB effects and ways to flicker them. You have some incredible creatures you love to flicker like Solitude, Yorion, Sky Nomad, and Restoration Angel.
As for ways to actually flicker them there are plenty of options in Azorius. Deadeye Navigator is a great way to get consistent triggers and has plenty of combo potential. Eldrazi Displacer flickers as long as you have a colorless land out to cast it. Last are plenty of creatures that flicker or return other creatures to your hand when they enter the battlefield, which means you can chain some abilities and really get things moving.
Get Better at Playing Control
If you are the controlling type of Azorius mage, I recommend checking out this course by Pro Tour expert Corey Burkhart. It goes incredibly in depth about every aspect of playing control decks – from card selection to in-game decision making.
Ranar the Ever-Watchful | Illustration by Kieran Yanner
That concludes everything I have for you today regarding Azorius commanders! I love Azorius and I’ve had so much fun playing around with Ephara, God of the Polis at my local game store. It’s an incredible deck that rewards timing and thinking through your turns in advance.
But what do you think of the rankings? Were they about what you expected or were you shocked by any of my placements? Feel free to let me know in the comments or over in the official Draftsim Discord.
Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy!
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