Given the recent shakeup in the banned list for Standard and the changes to companion, I thought I’d go over a deck list this time around. Folk are still unsure what’s good in the new standard and I for one love to brew. Similarly, I love Aristocrats style sacrifice decks. Also, I need something to play in Arena best of one. So without further ado:
4 Garrison Cat
4 Hunted Witness
4 Cauldron Familiar
4 Priest of the Forgotten Gods
3 Corpse Knight
4 Cruel Celebrant
4 Woe Strider
3 Lurrus of the Dream Den
4 Witch’s Oven
4 Call of the Death Dweller
4 Godless Shrine
4 Fabled Passage
Until now, the best Aristocrats decks have proved to be BR. However. That was before the release of Ikoria and a couple very important cards. One is Call of the Death Dweller. It allows these sorts of decks to succeed in the midgame, recurring resources rather than running out of steam. Another, honestly, is Lurrus. In the main deck rather than sideboard, it allows us to play another impactful three drop in the form of Woe Strider. Unlike Rakdos, our payoffs for sacrificing and playing a bevy of fodder are at the two mana slot rather than three. Cruel Celebrant, Corpse Knight and Priest of Forgotten Gods curve much better off a one drop into a devastatingly effective Woe Strider on three mana.
Moreover, this deck shores up some of the weaker BR matchups. Mono red was abysmal. The deck clocking faster than we could set up a value engine. With white instead, eight of our turn one plays can block an early attacker and replace themselves, curving into lifegain in the form of Cruel Celebrant, Lurrus or lifelinking Hunted Witness tokens. As well, the deck outlives board wipe effects quite well with the help of Cruel Celebrant or Woe Strider. Cruel Celebrant threatens to punish them with massive damage for a turn four wrath, while Woe Strider lets you pitch your creatures and scry to a recovery option like Call of the Death Dweller.
If this deck interests you, there are some things to remember. Thing one: Woe Strider is the most important card in your deck. Hands that don’t play it or Priest of Forgotten Gods will often fail while the opponent uses spot removal to disrupt your value engines. Another thing to remember. Unlike in some versions of BR, the mana off Priest of Forgotten Gods matters! You will often want to activate your priest against opponents with no creatures so you can accelerate into impactful three drops, escape a Woe Strider, or cast Call of the Death Dweller. Another is that this is not a deck that wins primarily with combat damage. My experience is that only 7-10 points of damage tends to come from creature combat. When successful, you will be closing out games by churning through your one mana creatures with one or more of your two mana payoff cards in play.
Keep in mind that I’ve only experimented with best of one. For a sideboard, consider that decks of this type have very little wiggle room. At most you’ll want to be swapping 4-6 cards. Another thing is at 22 lands, you have to be judicious with your sideboard choices. Nothing over three mana. Given the decks ability to recur cheap creatures, consider those sorts of enter the battlefield effect. As well, have a plan for Hushbringer. It is a really popular sideboard card that shuts down the entire deck. You’ll often want to sideboard into more removal spells once you have a better idea of the opponent’s deck.
Regardless, I hope this has been fun and helpful. I’m delighted to be playing my favourite archetype again and wish you all the best in your own pet decks. Hopefully the Standard shakeup and Core Set 2021 provide you the spark to build decks, spellsling and play in a way you enjoy. As always, good luck and good skill!