There was at least one card in the Rivals of Ixalan spoiler that got my head to turn, my jaw to drop, and for me to say, “Wow!” When I go through spoilers, I’m looking for cards that make me say, “What can I do with that?!” These are the types of cards that inspire the deck builder in me to get out there and see what I can do, test my brain muscle, and see what years of playing Magic can lead me to. Azor’s Gateway // Sanctum of the Sun is one of those cards.
The first thing I noticed when I saw Azor’s Gateway was that if you can transform it to Sanctum of the Sun in Commander, you’re probably killing your opponent on the spot. Starting with an extra bump to your life total, as well as decks being singleton means that the “looting” front half of Azor’s Gateway is even more relevant at finding ways to protect it, potentially untap it (I’m looking at you, Tezzeret the Seeker and Ral Zarek), and hitting a spell that you can use say 30 or more mana on! I don’t play much Commander, but I have to assume that this card is the dreamer’s paradise there—there have to be countless ways to kill your opponents with this sweet one.
Looking at Standard, what can you do with this card? First off, if the number of Abrades goes down, I expect this card to shine, as there aren’t many other maindeckable cards that fight artifacts, and you don’t need more than one activation on the back side to really finish your opponents off.
Walking Ballista is the first outlet that comes to mind. It’s good enough to kill people in Modern when you have infinite mana—it’s certainly going to be good enough when you get 10 or more. Rhonas is another great piece with Sanctum of the Sun, as you’ll have enough mana to pump up smaller creatures on the battlefield, giving them all trample, and enabling Rhonas to attack. This one might not be optimal, as it’s building your own overrun, but it doesn’t require you to build a deck around Sanctum of the Sun completely. Rhonas the Indomitable is a great card on its own that asks a little of you in deckbuilding, and Azor’s Gateway isn’t asking anything too difficult in getting 5 cards with different mana costs exiled. You should be able to achieve that by building a deck with a normal curve. Thus, you can try Azor’s Gateway out in nearly any deck where you’re paid off for the mana.
The fact that Azor’s Gateway also gives you 5 additional life to play with enables some other cards you can utilize. Razaketh, the Foulblooded is incredibly powerful as it allows you to repeatedly Demonic Tutor. If you float mana with Sanctum of the Sun, and use some of that floating life from Azor’s Gateway, you can tutor up the card you need to kill your opponent with the mana in your pool. How about getting a Battle at the Bridge to gain even more life so you have even more mana to use the turn after with Sanctum of the Sun—that sounds great!
The cost with Azor’s Gateway is that you’re giving up a card and 7 mana (over 5 or more turns) to get a potent payoff. Thus, finding some ways to activate the Azor’s Gateway multiple times and not having to wait the five turns would be ideal. Janjeet Sentry, Mobile Garrison, Paradox Engine, Vizier of Tumbling Sands, and Hijack are the options I know of in Standard. The best of these is Vizier of Tumbling Sands, and if you’re already digging really deep, Paradox Engine also has some crazy combos to enable. These two cards offer you real ways to use Azor’s Gateway multiple times in a turn, and the Vizier lets you activate the Sanctum of the Sun twice in a turn!
I can’t wait to see what other combos people come up with for Azor’s Gateway and Sanctum of the Sun. The card is truly something I cannot wait to build around in some midrange and control style of decks, and I also want to see if there are things that can be done with it outside of Standard where the mana from Sanctum of the Sun is more likely to be lethal.