In my search for a second EDH deck I have tried a plethora of generals (Zur, Brion, Uril, Geth, Riku, Grand Arbiter...) but found that I lost interest in them quick because they were not as explosive and powerful as my first EDH deck, Azusa (the list is in my sig). About a month and a half ago however, I tested an amalgamation of several lists online for Azami and found that what I had was incredibly disruptive and resilient. Here is the list, organized by card type and mana cost for easy reading.
Disclaimer: This deck is cutthroat competitive intended to win as fast and consistently as possible, no excuses. This is intended for EDH tournaments and side events at Grand Prix events and the like, not for the kitchen table.
As Sam Black said in the article I posted at the bottom of the thread, Azami is very much Azusa's mirror. Azusa accelerates your mana, so you have to run lots of card advantage to abuse it; inversely Azami provides lots of card advantage so in order to abuse it you need to run lots of mana acceleration.
This decks overall gameplan varies greatly based on what is in hand, but generally it will be to try and cast azami by turns 3/4 and from their control the game until you can loop extra turns and win. This deck will win in one of two ways:
#2. Cast and copy Bribery to overwhelm the board with the groups best creatures.
One thing I noticed is that most lists will run 1 or more methods of creating infinite mana, which I have come not to agree with. The most common methods were Power Artifact/Grim Monolith, Palinchron/High Tide or Gauntlet, and Turnabout/Sigil Tracer. Now these combos are all powerful on their own, but I found that Power Artifact/Palinchron/Turnabout/etc... were all awful when drawn on their own and they ate up a good amount of slots that I found were better served by increasing the redundancy of the control and draw.
By focusing solely on control (counter/bounce) and combo (extra turns/MoM) the deck has a pretty linear gameplan. Every creature in the deck falls into the category of Ramp, target control, or mass CA. What this does is allow me to chain into creatures and protect myself from virtually any disruption early game so that I can beat the table by turn 5/6.
very few decks can drop Mind over Matter with safety and win with certainty on turn 5... I'd like to remind you that you are an awful person.
As for the deck itself, why do you run Gauntlet of Might instead of Caged Sun? does the 1 mana it takes make that much more difference? Gauntlet conflicts with Azami's mana cost i would think Caged sun would be superior and disrupt your tempo less.
Everflowing Chalice been a thought? Even just chaining Sol Ring for 1 seems good. mana ramp thats powerful early mid and late game.
PS: the 5 time walk effects that aren't Lighthouse and Mystical Tutor make you an awful person.
Intruder Alarm... I play this deck whenever I play EDH, but always get bored... Missdirection, Timespiral... I cannot be bothered thinking of more cards... Although a bit of general advice... I find the higher CMC creatures (5 of more) to be not very good and I think you're running too many counterspells that don't do enough.
@Gauntlet/Caged Sun: Even though Gauntlet looks symmetrical, it rarely ever is because it only effects basic lands, which unless Im playing against another mono blue, usually equates to giving them 1-3 mana, which is an acceptable loss. The one mana difference between these two cards is actually huge, as that one mana becomes two when you have to tap an extra island to play caged sun which makes it easier to chain wizards the turn you play it, which is what usually happens.
@Everflowing: Eh, I need my ramp to create blue mana, or often it will go to waste... especially with medallion or stonybrook out.
@Shaggy420: Arcanis is too expensive to just draw me cards, and capsize costs too much to be effective.
@Intruder Alarm: I initially dismissed it when building my list, but I could see testing it again.
@Misdirection/Time Spiral: Both seem good.
@Wizards and Cspells: I agree with you on the wizards. I still think teferi is too powerful and synergistic with this deck to cut, but I have already cut magus for aphetto grifter. Im not really sure where you're coming from on the countermagic though.
So yeah, I nixed the counterspells that cost 3 mana. I had yet to examine them critically, but when I did, I realized that they often will sit in hand and do nothing or they are unviable before Azami comes online, which means they are not fulfilling the role they're supposed to.
Anyways here are the latest changes I have made to this deck.
Hinder -> Spell Pierce:
Being able to protect yourself by leaving one mana open as opposed to three makes a huge difference early game and allows you to play other spells without slowing yourself down. The two mana clause is less of an issue early game, but still not negligible. Though has been very promising in testing.
Spell Crumple -> Midirection:
A free way to deal with countermagic and targeted removal spells and can randomly redirect and steal crucial spells. This is more situational however, and is still being tested.
Forbid -> Vendilion Clique:
I was hesitant at first to cut Forbid because of the fact that it is a recurring counterspell in this deck, but even then I still would rarely want to leave three mana open at the expense of playing a wizard which can draw me cards, plus once Azami gets online I should generally have multiple counterspells in hand or on the table anyways.
Riptide Laboratory -> Island:
Because the curve for this deck is so low and this deck is so fast, I often found myself not being able to take advantage of my mana ramp because I did not have enough blue mana with the additional colorless. I determined this to be the least crucial of my utility lands and decided to swap.
Brainstorm -> Deranged Assistant:
I was still looking for more ways to ramp mana in this deck, and brainstorm as a cantrip had been under performing because in a singleton format like this there is too much variance for the top 3 cards of this deck to turn out bad and not enough shuffle effects to put them away.
Overall I'm very happy with the direction this deck is taking.
3. If you're focusing on only the cheapest counters, Arcane Denial is worth a spot. I like it more than Mana Leak, at least.
4. I see you already tested and cut Riptide Laboratory. This surprises me. I've found this card to be fantastic. My Azami deck is a bit slower than yours, though, and this card excels in the later game. I'd suggest giving it another shot.
I think that it looks fine by its self, It probably was a good idea that you cut riptide seeing as how your deck is so fast paced.
I was wondering if you had any suggestions for my I have a Venser EDH deck and it plays well, it works even better if I get Azami out, because of (expiditionmap+acadamy ruins) which helps we out but it locks me into having land all the time in my hand anyways I will quit rambling and just post the link. http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=381340
It's been a while since I've updated this thread, and in that time I have made many changes that have all been noted on the OP and I have have brought this deck to two major events (last SCG Boston and GP Worcester). In both of those I swept until I grew tired of playing this deck, and I even earned a shout out in Sean McKeown's Dear Azami article on SCG calling for Griselbrand's banning (http://www.starcitygames.com/magic/commander/24095_Dear_Azami_Breaking_Rules.html).
I'm not going to go through and explain each and every change I've made, but I will illuminate the direction that they have given to this deck. First of all, I focused on increasing the mana acceleration and decreasing the overall CMC of the creatures in this deck even further. This has provided for more consistent turn 3 Azami plays and allowed me to cast more wizards the turn before azami comes down so that I get more explosive starts and am able to more reliably protect Azami before I am able to untap with her without pushing past the threshold of having more mana than I can actually use. Also, I have also increased the counterspell suite and added personal tutor which has proven to give me the optimal number of time walk effects that I want for this deck.
I feel like I should state clearly the philosophy this deck uses for selecting its creature suite. What this is is that every creature in my deck must have a function beyond drawing cards, and that function should be as mana efficient as possible, most preferably costing nothing. All wizards above 5 have been cut, and many wizards costing 3-4 have been cut for 1-2cc wizards leaving only the truly stellar options left. The reason for this is that I need to be able to play wizards as efficiently as possible, allowing to play multiple and put myself ahead or leave mana open to protect myself, ensuring speed and consistency.
Also, this deck has no trouble actually winning the game once it begins to loop time walk effects, so putting in cards whose only purpose is to help win after azami has come out have no place here. like Laboratory Maniac or Intruder Alarm.
I am currently looking at adding in Cavern of Souls to insure azami hits the table and boomerang so that I have an answer to the plethora of cards that single handedly shut down the core of my deck and prevent me from digging for answers, IE Linvala, humility, etc...
90% of the problems you are going to encounter with Azami are going to be on the stack not on the ground, and with the drop before gain of card advantage ramping to and after Azami hits the table, Scent of Brine is never going to be better than Mana Leak, or even as good as. Negate seems more effective pre-post Azami.
I think you can still afford to run the 4fetches in your colors, 31 islands, if you get more then 2 instances where Retrace Image doesn't land because of the Fetch Lands than revert, but as cutthroat a deck as you want this to be any deck thinning is better than none, and your efficiency with Retrace Image (if that's the main reasons it's dropped) will not be lost.
You might notice that I am playing pretty land heavy for such an intense draw deck. As you were mentioning when talking about riptide laboratory, which belongs in the deck just because of its interaction with archaeomancer + turnabout/time stretch
Anyways, I have found after extensive play testing and games that this land heavy curve has been much more successful for me. Not only does it allow me to play another FREE counterspell (foil), it makes mox diamond easy to obtain and makes the turn 3 azami happen 50-60% of games with one other artifact accelerator. I find that being able to hit my engine SUPER reliably is worth the -2 or 3 card advantage I will endure through out the course of the games in unusable lands.
TEMPORAL CASCADE Most troll card ever freaking made. I am going to cast temporal cascade for 7 and make sure everybody has no graveyards or hands then draw 5 cards from tapping junky wizards... Nuff said?
well i will leave it at that for now, like the deck bro.
The Cavern of souls swap was one that seems very obvious to me now that I've made it. I want to protect my general in anyway that I can and cavern lets me do that in one aspect without repercussions.
I have recently come to reevaluate theft effects in my deck. While stealing utility cards like Oracle of Mul Daya is good or bombs like eldrazi is spectacular, the effects can never really be relied on and often times in the first few pre azami turns they never do much of anything because there is nothing good to steal. This whole change was based around the thought that I need more protection still in this deck if I am going to have as much hate thrown at me as I have had while playing it in larger events, and Glen Elendra, MisD, and abjure are all excellent cards for that.