Welcome in the Forest. Azusa's no longer lost, she's found multiple paths to victory. This deck is a result of over ten years of playing and testing different card configurations to make a distinct Commander archetype - Turboland Aggro-Control. While first two segments of the name are more or less self-explanatory - half of the deck are lands and it wins through massive combat damage as fast as possible - the control part is something you don't see so often in mono-green. But first - a decklist.
This archetype is a result of both land and nonland card choices based on five premises:
Green's best at three things: land management, creature tutoring and enchantment/artifact removal so card choices focus on these. As such enchantments, artifacts and planeswalkers are mostly avoided except for the most powerful and synergic ones as they die from inbound mass removals (Bane, Stone), are harder to recover and cannot be tutored for. Even cards like Planar Bridge or Planar Portal are ommited for that reason as well as any artifact ramp which is worse than lands at every stage of a game except for Turn 1. Deck also focuses on reaping most benefits from Azusa's multiple land drops which directly points to landfall ability and cards like Horn of Greed and Crucible of Worlds/Ramunap Excavator (with fetches).
Green's pretty bad at creature removal and interaction with stack but is not entirely helpless against them. Instant answers like Mouth of Ronom, Warping Wail, Beast Within or even Bind can easily catch opponents off guard while Oblivion Stone or Ugin can level a whole field of creatures if needed. Song of the Dryads makes great work at stopping commander-dependant decks and Glacial Chasm is priceless against any aggro or damage-based strategies and combos.
Having enough green search spells, redundancy in creature and land choices should avoided most of the time. Available creature tutors can find disruption (Thought-Knot Seer), removal (Bane of Progress), gravehate (Scavenging Ooze), recursion (Eternal Wintess) and more, not to mention tutoring for lands with equally diverse abilities. Redundant fatties like Avenger of Zendikar and Hornet Queen are not used both as they do basicaly the same thing at the same cost. On the other hand Avenger, Rampaging Baloths and Titania all produce tokens with the help of lands but each in a different way and at different mana cost which matters for cards like Birthing Pod or Eldritch Evolution. Exceptions to this rule are cheap cards that greatly support Azusa's gameplan of getting multiple land drops per turn along with multiple landfall triggers, that's why there is Oracle and Courser as well as Crucible and Ramunap along with playset of fetches.
Every deck needs means to recover from inevitable loses. It doesn't mean more threats are needed - it means there should be cards able to recover, reanimate or replay them using tools available for a green deck. Eternal Witness is classics and Artisan of Kozilek drops huge, annihilating body on the board along with reanimated creature. Temur Sabertooth protects stuff from removal and gives ability to reuse ETB triggers. When someone attacks deck's graveyard there is Kozilek to shuffle it back in with the help of Survival or sac outlet. Multiple draw effects allow to dig for more threats and answers and some of them use fatties as a draw fodder in response to enemy's removal.
Playing Azusa as a tempo deck is crucial. Tempo means there should be a selection of Turn 1 spells and lands that allow getting Turn 2 Azusa (eg. Crop Rotation, Elvish Spirit Guide) and T2 plays which support casting commander on T3 (eg. Sylvan Library, Lotus Cobra). Each of these T1 and T2 spells should also be able to work with no less efficiency in a mid-late game so any fast artifact ramp is not advisable here. The next turn or two should focus on further ramping (eg. Realms Uncharted, Oracle of Mul Daya) and the ones after should be dedicated to landing threats (eg. Avenger of Zendikar, Eldrazi titans). When game goes into late stage and earlier threats have been dealt with deck switches into a control mode until more wincons are drawn.
Detailed card explanation
Lands are most important in Azusa as they not only provide resources to cast spells but a lot of them have non-mana abilities of their own. There are lot of powerful lands from a whole history of MtG so their selection have to be carefully thought over. Azusa's deck should sport at least 45 lands total with 50 being the magic number from which there is only way up. Below is selection of best lands viable for Azusa withbolded ones being what I currently use.
Dryad Arbor - searchable by fetches if we need a creature and another boost for T2 Azusa with the help of Green Sun's Zenith. Useful as a bonus dork for Mosswort Bridge and Craterhoof counting, leaves 5/3 beater after death if Titania is around, ramps with Woodland Bellower, immortal chump-blocker with Crucible of Worlds etc.
Mouth of Ronom - one of two removal lands here. It deals with utility creatures mostly and is very efficient at keeping some combos at bay.
Arena - second removal land and the most dangerous one, especially when paired with Seedborn Muse. It also goes under hexproof (opponent gets to choose a target) and taps fighting creatures which means it can prevent them from attacking. In offense it can be used after attackers declaration step as it doesn't require creature to be untapped to fight. The best thing is it cannot be responded to with creating a token to chump as targets are chosen at ability's announcement.
Dust Bowl - many will say Strip Mine is much better, especially with Crucible or Ramunap and they will be right but Bowl gives opportunity to reuse important lands like Mosswort Bridge, Cavern of Souls or Hickory Woodlot. The second thing is Azusa should focus on ramping itself, not denying resources for opponents as it slows gameplan considerably. Dust Bowl allows to use spare lands to snipe most important mana sources (Cradle, Coffers) or deny one color for multicolored decks.
Boseiju, Who Shelters All - gets on the nerves of all the blue mages around. Uncounterable T&N or huge Genesis Wave is bad news for them.
Cavern of Souls - helps to force key creatures though countermagic. Mostly used for Azusa herself (human) or several elementals and beasts with powerful ETB effects.
Homeward Path - its mere presence prevents theft effects and stealing creatures from our graveyard. Must have when facing blue and black mages.
Miren, the Moaning Well - usable as response to theft and exile removal and also helps to stabilize life total as this deck tends to put heavy burden on health (Library, Pod, Tomb, Boseiju, Chasm).
Scavenger Grounds - excelent response to graveyard strategies. It exiles our own stuff too but preventing Yawgmoth's Will or Living Death from wrecking a board is priceless.
Mirrorpool - it can copy removal spell or ramp but it's mostly used to copy utility creatures in response to removal (Muse, Oracle) or powerful ETB sources (Avenger, Craterhoof) to finish off opponents quicker.
Winding Canyons - casting creatures at instant speed allows to implement higher level of control against a board especially for powerful ETB and on-cast effects like those of Bane of Progress, Eternal Witness or any of the Eldrazis. Godly with Seedborn Muse and Temur Sabertooth.
Mosswort Bridge - cheating expensive spells for almost free at instant speed is always a win regardless what spell is hidden under the Bridge. 10 power requirement is fairy easy to fulfil with Panglacial Wurm hiding in the library.
Eye of Ugin - repeatable tutor for most powerful creatures in multiverse which gives opponents' sense of inevitablility. Requires a lot of mana to work but can turn a tide of battle with a well placed Eldrazi titan. Again - great with Seedborn Muse.
Glacial Chasm - saves an a** in the most dangerous situations, like against lethal combat on infinite-damage combo. Its upkeep cost can be steep but Azusa with Crucible/Ramunap can mitigate it to almost nothing. Remember to fail to pay cumulative upkeep on a turn you want to attack.
Thespian's Stage - copies most important lands as well as threatens with a colossal beater if Dark Depths are around.
Dark Depths - trademark of "killing with lands" theme. 20/20 flying indestructible beater can be hard to deal with and cannot be countered by most spells.
Snow-covered Forests - snow-covering is only relevant for Mouth of Ronom which is too important to pass on so basic land base is little more expensive price-wise here. Deck should sport at least 20 basic Forests (23 currently) to be able to cast color-hungry spell without issues.
Gaea's Cradle - this land isn't here for price reasons mostly but this deck doesn't sport cheap mana dorks which are baseline for making Cradle good anyway. It doesn't allow Turn 2 Azusa and only Avenger of Zendikar / Embodiment of Insight make it worth including.
Rishadan Port, Blinkmoth Well - disruption lands allow to slow opponent down till a deck is ready to land a threat but direct land and artifact destruction is better in most cases. Port may work with Urborg to destroy lands using Spreading Algae though.
Throne of the High City - drawing one more card per turn is great but protecing Monarch status can be hard. Has obvious synergy with Glacial Chasm and may be supported by Regal Behemoth to reap more benefits with double mana.
There is one problem with picking creatures for Azusa - there is too many to choose from, especially for higher CMC slots. To mantain proper tempo of a deck, the higher CMC slot is, the less creatures should occupy it. Unless someone wants to focus on specific subtheme (like land-creatures, eldrazi invasion or focused hate), list below allows to covers most aspects of this archetype.
Lotus Cobra - this little snake can produce absurd amounts of mana with the help of Azusa's multiple land drops and playset of fetches. Landed Turn 2 can easily enable close to ten mana on Turn 3.
Scavenging Ooze - 99% competitive or semi-competitive decks use their graveyards to some extend and this little critter disrupts their plans. It can also grow to become serious threat. Lifegain portion is just icing on a cake.
Scryb Ranger - provides emergency land drops when short on mana which may be worth all or nothing. Its untapping ability goes to waste most of the time but flashy flying blocker with relevant protection can turn imminent death into a victory march.
Courser of Kruphix - direct support for Azusa's ability. Its only flaw is it dies from Bane of Progress.
Fierce Empath - tutor for beefy answers and threats. I'd wish it could find creatures starting from 5 CMC though.
Ramunap Excavator - broken with Azusa and fetchlands or any functional sac-lands. Easily tutorable.
Manglehorn - its main function is to slow down artifact ramp and prevent artifact combos from going off.
Reclamation Sage - hits more targets than Manglehorn and I would likely run both if I had enough slots.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer - she ramps before and draws after at the low cost of "tree" mana. There is nothing to not like in her.
Oracle of Mul Daya - another support for Azusa with bonus land drop attached. Optimal Turn 3-4 drop.
Temur Sabertooth - enables reusing ETB creatures and saves them from point and mass removal. Great with Seedborn Muse and any flash-giver.
Thought-Knot Seer - disruption on a stick, tutorable with Eye of Ugin. Priceless against combos and heavy control decks.
Yeva, Nature's Herald - flash enabler which turns aggro into control. Green creatures clause can be a hinderance sometimes (T-K Seer, Duplicant) but she's worth having a slot here.
Surrak, the Hunt Caller - a much needed haste-enabler. He covers most on the power requirements with his 5 power and sics Eldrazi on helpless opponents.
Bramblewood Paragon - while copying Eldrazi does not bring many benefits we have enough ETB creatures to varrant its incusion. It may even copy opponents' creatures if needed.
Seedborn Muse - most important utility creature in a desk, enables multiple land shenanigans and casting stuff at opponents' turns with the help of flash enablers.
Embodiment of Insight - currently tested in place of Stag (below). It strengthens aggro plan with hasty 3/3 lands which may be relevant for killing walkers and finishing wounded players. Interesting thing - it enables Turn 2 kill with a dream hand and a "bit" of luck but more of this later.
Somberwald Stag - walking removal for utility dorks. It's green which means being a target for Green Sun's Zenith and flashy answer with Yeva. It doesn't kill beefier threats and sometimes dies in a fight though.
Titania, Protector of Argoth - she has three roles here. First she revives fetch or utility land we need at the moment. Second, she makes tokens for aggro. Finally she protects/responds against mass land destruction strategies as blowing up lands leaves a horde of 5/3 elementals hungry for revenge.
Bane of Progress - eater of machines and auras, hungry for artifice. He's usually a first tutor target as artifacts are used commonly in large numbers. After it's done with eating it threatens players with a fat body.
Duplicant - unconditional removal on a stick, able to swallow Eldrazis and Gods. It's not green so no flash from Yeva but can be found with Eye of Ugin.
Rampaging Baloths - the good thing is tokens are big enough to threaten life totals. The bad thing - they usually come next turn after casting Baloths and have to wait for another one to attack.
Ulvenwald Hydra - with Primeval Titan gone it took its place as a land searcher with an even biger bulk. Reach gives an edge against many dangerous flyiers but lack of trample makes its huge body lackluster in many cases. Ideal Greater Good/Momentous Fall fodder though.
Woodland Bellower - doubles as body and tutor for utility creatures. It's often better to pay more for GSZ to get two bodies instead of one at the moment.
Avenger of Zendikar - landfall incarnated. A deck could have Azusa, 98 lands and this one to be able to win easily assuming no removal spells are cast. Anyway it's a first part of T&N "combo" to amass lethal damage using only utility dorks casted earlier.
Panglacial Wurm - my favourite creature in a deck. It pops out from under the ground like Shai-Hulud in Frank Herbert's Dune series and devours players with its 9 trampling power. All we need is to stir a sand (crack a fetch) with enough mana to cast it. It's also known of suprising less-vigilant blue mages as they often forget it can be countered like any other creature when cast that way.
Craterhoof Behemoth - this beast is what kills players most of the time. When brought along with Avenger of Zendikar (via T&N), opponents suddenly have to face several colossal trampling creatures coming their way.
Artisan of Kozilek - reanimating titan with a big body and annoying annihilator ability attached. Reanimation part cannot be easily countered so bringing something from graveyard is almost always guaranteed. It can be tutored for with Eye of Ugin.
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth - another EoU target with useful draw ability and big annihilator to boot. He also serves as a graveyard shuffler in respose to hate or steal and protects against occassional mill strategies and overdrawing the library which can happen on times.
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger - powerful, indestructible removal. Library exile on attack may look worse than annihilator but has its uses and can deny opponent's way to win.
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre - indestructible, annihilating body is a threat to be feared. In contrary to his newer incarnation destroys only one permanent but can be real nightmare if he hits field early.
Emrakul, the Promised End - Emmy is back after her earlier incarnation's ban and still wrecks players. Player has to decide which of Eldrazi titans fit local meta better as there is room for only 3-4 of them here though.
Non-permanent card list is as tight as it can be so there are only the most important and powerful/synergic tutors, removal and ramp/advantage spells.
Crop Rotation - causes card disadvantage but is too useful to pass. It enables T2 Azusa as well as tutors for any function land useful on current stage of game. Watch out for counterspells though.
Nature's Claim - standard cheap removal. One mana cost makes it good tempo card for slowing down opponent's fast ramp or respond to Winder Orb effects after tapping out.
Life from the Loam - it can be cast T2 into empty graveyard to mill next turn and retrieve lands to ramp with Azusa. With 50 lands it hits at least 1 land each turn and using fetches and cycle land only make it better.
Sylvan Scrying - cheap tutor for ANY land, great tempo card for T2 to plan onwards or search for appropriate tool at any stage of game.
Warping Wail - cheap, multipurpose card. It always finds a target at multiplayer table, removing utility dork, countering winning sorcery spell or even giving more mana for next turn.
Bind - can disrupt fetches, stationary tutors or even some infinite-mana combos. It also replaces itself so has a lot of benefits but doesn't fit every meta.
Eldritch Evolution - cheap tutor, good for changing Azusa into Muse or Titania (or anything cheaper). Natural Order allows to search deeper but EE finds colorless creatures (Seer, Duplicant) and is 1 mana cheaper which may matter a lot (Gaddock, Winter Orb etc.)
Realms Uncharted - the best land tutor currently available for Azusa. LAnd selection has to be carefully thought over to decline opponents' any good choice or to bait them with powerful lands we don't need at a given moment (like Eye of Ugin). Petrified Field should be one of the four lands selected in most cases.
Harmonize - classic draw spell. Nothing special but effective.
Momentous Fall - one-time instant draw useful as response to removal. Lifegain portion helps on occassion.
Selvala's Stampede - it always strengthens board presence and can be used to bait opponents for doing what they do not want. Proficiency in Jedi mind tricks is needed though and Azusa tends to play empty-handed too often.
Tooth and Nail - game-winning spell when cast for Avenger and Craterhoof with some creature count on a board. If not, it brings two most useful creatures at given moment.
Green Sun's Zenith - single-creature but kind of repeatable tutor. Crucial for T2 Azusa and becomes better and better the more mana is on a board.
Chord of Calling - instant speed and ability to discount makes in the best creature tutor for aggro-control decks.
There are artifacts and enchantments even most dedicated Azusa deck can't do without. Their selection is thin as they cannot be reliably searched for but they change a course of game when drawn into.
Carpet of Flowers - purely a meta call if there's a lot of UX decks around. Enables Turn 2 Azusa and ramps even more the later in a game. Thaumatic Compass - replacement for the above if blue decks are scarce in a meta. It's very solid card which both ramps and turns into a land itself pretty fast. Survival of the Fittest - cheap tutor and engine in one card, no suprise it's on the reserved list. Beside tutoring it enables cycling creature cards for graveyard shenanigans, even in mono-green. Most notable are using Artisan to reanimate dumped fatty or shuffle graveyard into library with Kozilek. Panglacial Wurm is also its close friend. Sylvan Library - draw 3 instead of 1? Count me in. Life loss may hurt but Azusa should be able to kill others long before killing itself especially when Library appears on Turn 2. Crucible of Worlds - enables playing lands from graveyard which is extremely powerful in Azusa. Getting 3+ more mana each turn is something other decks cannot keep up with. Horn of Greed - drawing cards for playing lands is even stronger than above as with 50 land count it draws into more lands anyway with non-land cards following. Having this and Crucible/Ramunap both on table is gamebreaking. Oblivion Stone - most reliable mass removal for green decks. 8 mana is easy to reach in Azusa and losing few creatures after using a Stone is nothing when our mana base remains intact. Song of the Dryads - turning dangerous commander or oppressive card into a Forest is priceless. Cannot be used at instant speed unless Mosswort Bridge helps but it's still a card that can change a game. Birthing Pod - it's often a good thing to prepare a deck in such way to benefit from this card as much as possible. Avenger into Craterhoof is the most explosive combination this deck can do with it but other are strong as well. Even Azusa can turn into four support creatures. Greater Good - best with Panglacial Wurm and any of eldrazi titans. With proper setup it can mill though entire library. Also doubles as anti-exile removal protection.
instant and sorcerys says 15 cards, but i count 12
Thanks for noting that, decklist doesn't like X signs apparently. Fixed.
I have to warn you, this Azusa can play like a control deck sometimes. Maybe not Blue draw-go style but has some instant answers and tricks. I will work more on deck's description when I have more time to explain it in details. I'm also testing two approaches to aggro strategy. One evolves around quantity (Avenger / Embodiment + Craterhoof) the other goes for fat (Surrak, the Hunt Caller + annihilating Eldrazi). There is also Regal Behemoth and Monarch shenanigans to try.
what's your opinion on Nissa, Vital Force? haven't tried it yet, it loses some tempo that's for sure, but early game it can quickly ultimate, unless opponent has a flyer of course, and late game can pseudo/witness for extra flexibility
Funny you ask, I've just replaced Horn of Greed with her. Didn't draw into Nissa yet but I've seen her in action and she surely has potential. Horn is faster but there is little difference in 3 and 5 mana except for cases I won't hit that 5 mana the turn after casting Azusa. Neither is a tempo card anyway. For Horn I can cast it and draw cards right away, with Nissa I have to wait a turn but the emblem works with landfall and she's more flexible in what I can do with her. Hasty 5/5 is nothing to sneeze at.
As for card links, try to put a number before cardname, that is if you ask aboutp reparing decklist. Anyway check resources on main page - there is everything you want to know about tagging.
Hi, very nice deck, what's your personal take on Selvala, Heart of the Wilds ?
She doesn't fit here. When I have 3 mana, I cast Azusa and ramp. I may cast Selvala next turns but she'll have sickness and need a fatty to generate mana which I may not have out yet. She's best suited to be Commander on her own, not one of the 99.
Did not update this thread for a while so it's time for some feedback. First about the previous changes:
Surrak + Ulamog duo has been a blast. I consider it Tooth and Nail's target equal to Avenger + Craterhoof now. While the latter kills at least one player if cast on fairy populated board the former cripples the most dangerous opponent, preventing him from winning when instant kill is not possible.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer is simply solid and the only thing I miss from her is possibility to be tutored by Woodland Bellower. On the other hand Nissa, Vital Force turned out to slow. I managed to ultimate her once or twice but she has no immediate board impact and hasted dork is already covered by Surrak.
Arch of Orazca is slow but still manages to draw a card or two a game which is enough for a land. It will occupy a slot until better replacement arrives. Sure, there is Gaea's Cradle but I'm not going to sell a kidney for it.
Now for the changes I made during last months: Scryb Ranger -> Bind - Ranger's usage is very limited and while it serves as a combat trick Bind can do much more. It already hindered few combo plans and "killed" some fetches. Quasali Slingers -> Somberwald Stag - Bane of Progress costs only one more mana and does much more than Slingers which also can stop only small flyers while Stag kills a lot of utility creatures. So Stag's back. Nissa, Vital Force -> Bramble Sovereign - while it's not direct functional replacement Sovereign can shine at times and has a solid body for a cost as well. I will take Nissa's place until a better creature arrives. Carpet of Flowers -> Thaumatic Compass - Compass is much more universal than Carpet and has already proven useful as attack deterrent. It serves as a ramp spell if nothing else. Selvala's Stampede -> Endless Atlas - Stampede turned out to be hit or miss most of times. Azusa tends to empty our hand pretty fast so opponents can vote Free without a second thought. It doesn't work well with on-cast abilities of Eldrazis as well. Atlas is cheap, tempo play ideal for mono-color decks. Mirrorpool -> Miren, the Moaning Well - I rarely find something to copy, either spell or creature and ETB tapped doesn't help Mirrorpool. Miren can save a day on occassions when I hit myself with Ancient Tomb or Sylvan Library too often.
Currently deck has four solid ways to kill opponents - Avenger + Craterhoof, Surrak + Ulamog, Emrakul and Dark Depths + Thespian's Stage "combo". I'm very happy about how it performs in both winning ratio and making games interesting.