Calvin Lai breaks down his 116-MAN Prerelease win!

How an Azorious Player Won the End Game Center’s Midnight Prerelease (and a Full Set of Dual Lands)

Of the five possible guilds you could pick at the midnight pre-release, Golgari (B/G) was the first guild to run out of packs. This demand aligned with the results of the tournament: a disproportionate number of players who ended up in the Top 16 played Golgari. With its unique SCAVENGE ability, Golgari could leverage dead creatures into +X/+X counters for creatures on the battlefield. Many players chose Selesnya (W/G) instead. Selesnya’s unique POPULATE ability allowed players to clone creature tokens. With cards like Grove of the Guardian and Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage, Selesyna players could quickly produce an army of 3/3 Centaurs or 8/8 Elementals. In a set that is low on removal, SCAVENGE and POPULATE’s impact on the sealed metagame was immense.

Why Azorious?

However, the winning of the pre-release (and the dual lands) was not Golgari. It was Azorious (U/W). Why is that? It’s because Azorious is well-situated for two of the biggest archetypes in the tournament: Golgari and Selesnya. Here’s why:

1.) Evasion Creatures.

Like with most sets, Blue and White have bigger and stronger flyers than other colors. Simply, more evasion = more damage. The power level of Golgari and Selesnya flyers are generally lower than Azorious flyers.

2.) Azorious abilities *counter* Golgari and Selesnya abilities.

A less-experienced player may look at the winning decklist and see the big bombs – Sphinx of the Chimes, Archon of the Triumvirate, and Righteous Authority. However, these bombs were less critical than the more mundane abilities that playing Azorious grants.

First, Azorious has BOUNCE. There are five cards (out of twenty-three spells) in the deck that BOUNCE: Voidwielder, 2x Dramatic Rescue, Azorious Charm, Cyclonic Rift. BOUNCE kills Selesnya tokens and removes scavenged counters off of pumped-up Golgari creatures. The single biggest bomb in the deck was not the Archon of the Triumvirate; it was Cyclonic Rift. For many decks, Cyclonic Rift was an effective blue Plague Wind for the other player. Second, Azorious has DETAIN. There are 4 cards (out of 23 spells) that DETAIN: 2x Azorious Arrester, 1 Soulsworn Spirit, and 1 Archon of the Triumvirate. DETAIN was effective for (a) stalling fast aggressive decks, and (b) stalling out large and pumped-up creatures.

However, there is a caveat: Azorious can’t do it alone. Playing White and Blue also means that creatures won’t be as large or as plentiful as other color combinations. That’s why this decklist splashed green for Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage and Courser’s Accord. Both cards help neutralize larger threats on the other side of the board, and give the deck the manpower needed to overpower andwin stalemated board states.


Azorious decks are effective because they (1) use evasion creatures, (2) counter some of the biggest threats (SCAVENGE and POPULATE) in the Return to Ravnica metagame. Their weakness is the lack of large creatures, but that can be compensated for with a Green or Green/White splash.


  • 2 Azorius Arrester
  • 1 Precinct Captain
  • 1 Vitu-Ghazi Guildmage
  • 1 Vassal Soul
  • 1 Tower Drake
  • 1 Sunspire Griffin
  • 1 Soulsworn Spirit
  • 1 Runewing
  • 1 Voidwielder
  • 1 Sphinx of the Chimes
  • 1 Archon of the Triumvirate


  • 1 Swift Justice
  • 2 Dramatic Rescue
  • 1 Azorius Charm
  • 1 Trostani’s Judgment
  • 1 Cyclonic Rift


  • 1 Courser’s Accord


  • 1 Azorius Keyrune
  • 1 Selesnya Keyrune


  • 1 Arrest
  • 1 Righteous Authority


  • 8 Plains
  • 6 Island
  • 1 Forest
  • 1 Azorius Guildgate
  • 1 Transguild Promenade


  • 1 Azorius Arrester
  • 1 Mizzium Skin
  • 1 Aerial Predation


– Calvin Lai

About EDD

EDD is a 31 year old Magic fan and part time blogger at The End Games.
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One Response to Calvin Lai breaks down his 116-MAN Prerelease win!

  1. Samfog says:

    Good insight

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