In this overhauled Commander primer Leonard treats us to the beauty of blue shedding light onto the much feared general Azami, Lady of Scrolls.
Last Updated 12/02/2012
There is probably no other commander that can vie with the kind of late game Azami, Lady of Scrolls has to offer. Infinite mana engines, “stroking” your opponent out, or just locking up the entire board — these are just a couple of game-winning scenarios a competitive Azami deck can conjure up.
Pair that with the brutal consistency of her early game, a strong tribal theme (wizards), and an awful amount of built-in combos that can win you the game in a blitz and you will understand why Azami has rightfully gained a pedestal amongst the most dreaded competitive generals of all time.
Welcome, welcome to Azami’s world of ever drawing more!
Draw More, Combo More, Win More
If you have a look at the deck list below (click on the image to enlarge), you’ll notice that Azami is far from being straight forward. There is seriously a lot going on in this deck.
However difficult to dissect because of the sheer possibilities open to you as a player, the basic premise of this blue beauty still is, in stages:
- Ramp early through an extraordinary amount of artifact ramp and your sometimes infinite mana engines.
- Stall the opponent out by establishing board control with the help of your wizards, counters, and superior card advantage.
- Finally, close off the game by comboing off big time.
Oftentimes you won’t even need to get to stage 3, when, for instance, a little ramping plus an early Bribery, or a turn-3 Patron Wizard will already suffice to bring the game home. But as mentioned in the introduction, it’s the long game that really favors Azami, and that’s what you will usually be going for.
With such a huge emphasis on combos in the deck, you best make sure to familiarize yourself with each and every combo before entering battle.
First up, there are a couple of tutors in the deck which, aside from the infinite draw combos, should help you find exactly the cards you’re currently looking for.
Here is a list of all the tutors:
- Tolaria West: usually used for fetching the only ramp land in the deck, Ancient Tomb, some countermagic in the form of Pact of Negation, or, in rare cases, Cavern of Souls if you’re looking to resolve a wizard that badly
- Mystical Tutor: a format staple, best used for fishing one of your kill conditions (Brain Freeze, Blue Sun’s Zenith) or simply for getting the superior tutor Long-Term Plans (see below), combo piece High Tide, removal spells such as Spin into Myth or Cyclonic Rift, or just a surprising Bribery
- Long-Term Plans: due to so much card draw built into the deck, this is absolutely on par — in an Azami deck — with its black brother Demonic Tutor, and it usually gets you one of the last missing combo pieces or one of your combo kill cards. Further, an early LTP often goes for Extraplanar Lens for early blue-mana expanse
- Trinket Mage: gets Seat of the Synod for more blue mana, Sensei’s Divining Top, just some artifact ramp, combo piece Candelabra of Tawnos, or simply Meekstone to hold off pressure
- Tezzeret the Seeker: fetches any artifact in the deck, but usually first activated for tutoring the excellent Extraplanar Lens. Do note that with his 4 loyalty counters he can tutor for two of the three pieces of the Sensei’s Top combo already (see below)
- Planar Portal: reusable late-game tutor if you already have access to plenty of mana
Apart from the infinite mana engines listed below, there are a couple of others ways to generate a considerable amount of mana, such as:
- Voltaic Key and Fatestitcher for untapping your artifact ramp
- Extraplanar Lens
- Tezzeret the Seeker for untapping and artifact-tutoring
- Candelabra of Tawnos for producing even more blue mana especially in conjunction with Extraplanar Lens or High Tide, or your artifacts producing colorless mana
Keep these in mind when building your game as they already provide you with a massive board advantage.
Onto the infinite mana engines then!
Infinite Colorless Mana
Producing infinite amounts of mana is just a simple two-piece combo:
Tezzeret tutors well for either of the monoliths, whereas Long-Term Plan might just be the only way, besides heavy card draw or indeed infinite draw, to tutor for the other combo piece, Power Artifact, directly.
Infinite Blue Mana
You should always value colored mana highest, so this is where the real meat is: infinite blue mana. There are a couple of ways to go about this:
- Palinchron combo:
Note: If you combine High Tide and Extraplanar Lens together, you won’t even need that many islands for Palinchron to untap in order to effectively produce a surplus of mana each time you bounce and re-play it.
Other ways to produce near-infinite blue mana rely on the untapping of Candelabra through Mind Over Matter. For this to work, you need a hand readily filled with cards already:
- Grim Monolith + Power Artifact + Candelabra of Tawnos + Mind Over Matter
- Basalt Monolith + Power Artifact + Candelabra of Tawnos + Mind Over Matter
- Extraplanar Lens + 6 Snow-Covered Island + Candelabra of Tawnos + Mind Over Matter
- 6 Snow-Covered Island + High Tide + Candelabra of Tawnos + Mind Over Matter
I’m sure there are many more ways in the deck how you can produce infinite mana. Many of them overlap in certain ways, so that it all comes down to your creativity and how well you know every nook of the deck.
Card advantage is fundamental to your game plan and the main strength of the deck. Despite Azami’s ability to draw cards off fellow wizards, which is an extremely powerful, game-beating ability on its own, there are a couple of infinite card-draw engines buried deep within the deck with which you can find whatever missing combo piece you want.
Once you establish a card-draw engine, the deck switches to solitaire mode and you’l be usually very close to combo-killing your opponent.
Here are the infinite card-draw combos in the deck:
- Azami, Lady of Scrolls + Mind Over Matter lets you scour through your entire library, one at a time
- Arcanis the Omnipotent + Mind Over Matter lets you scour through your library even faster than with Azami
- The Sensei’s Top combo lets you draw your entire library. The trick — the infinite loop — is to draw a card with Sensei’s Divining Top just to replay Top from the top of your library (through Future Sight) at no cost thanks to Cloud Key. Here’s the combo recipe:
The Sensei’s Top combo is probably the strongest combo kill in the entire deck. You draw your entire library and can thus, through playing your cheap artifacts smartly, establish any of the infinite mana engines and go for any kill configuration you favor.
Here are a couple of important combo kills worth noting including the Top combo kill sorted by basic premise:
- Produce infinite mana + Blue Sun’s Zenith for x = the amount of cards in your opponent’s library + 1 card to kill the opponent on the spot. Can be used to defeat an entire multiplayer table because Blue Sun’s shuffles back into your library and can thus be redrawn (through e.g. Azami).
- Sensei’s Top combo (see above under Card-Draw Engines) to draw your entire library, then play out your artifact ramp to establish an infinite mana engine, then go for the Blue Sun’s Zenith kill (see directly above).
Bouncing the board
- Produce infinite mana + Capsize
- Tidespout Tyrant + Sensei’s Top combo
- Tidespout Tyrant + Palinchron combo
- Produce infinite mana + Memnarch to take over the enemy board
The “Tef” board lock
The “Tef” board lock remains one of the most annoying combos in Commander that is incredibly difficult to prepare against. Here’s the recipe:
The way this works is that whenever your opponent casts a spell, it gets exiled by the Pool and in response he or she can cast another spell previously exiled by the Pool, but which then will be suppressed by Teferi since he only allows sorcery-speed casting now. (You are still free to cast your stuff through the Pool though.) This works also with Omen Machine plus Teferi.
Other, Not-So-Obvious Combos
- Towards milling: Jace’s Archivist + Mind Over Matter
- Some wizard bounce action for good measure:
- Minamo untap action:
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still got questions concerning the deck, even after watching the 30-minute deck tech video below, let us know, and we’ll gladly put the answers to them up here for everyone to scavenge through.
- Play Jace, the Mind Sculptor over Beleren if you can afford it. The sheer power level and versatility of Big Jace is on a whole different plane.
- Scrying Sheets is not worth playing over Cavern of Souls by the way, because its ability, while sweet, is too mana intensive, and Cavern does produce colored mana for your wizards, which does matter.
Thanks for reading!