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Modern Abzan Aristocrats

Sometimes WotC designs cards that are almost certainly designed for Modern, to boost a deck that can use some help or to weaken a deck that is a bit too powerful. Recent examples of this are Collected Company, which gave former Birthing Pod players a way to use their cards, and Goblin Piledriver, which unfortunately wasn’t enough to make the Goblins deck competitive, but perhaps more will come.

Another such card, from Battle for Zendikar, is Zulaport Cutthroat. Although Standard definitely has the tools to build some kind of sacrifice-based deck, where this card really shines is in Modern, alongside Blood Artist. Kevin has already made a video sharing his excitement when this card was spoiled, and I share this enthusiasm. That’s why it was the first card I bought a playset of on Magic Online this weekend, and immediately started building a deck to test them.

The deck that I ended up with is largely based on a deck that Steve Rubin played at GP Oklahoma about a month ago, to reach top-16. The primary difference is that I added some BFZ cards, 4x Zulaport Cutthroat and 4x Blisterpod, and took out some cards to make space of them. I have seen many similar decks the last year, and built a few myself, but Rubin’s stroke of genius was the inclusion of Abzan Ascendancy as another way to convert creatures into tokens.

The deck is called Aristocrats because it follows the same game plan as the Standard Aristocrats deck that won Pro Tour Return to Ravnica about 3 years ago, and shares a number of cards with it: Doomed Traveler, Blood Artist and Cartel Aristocrat.

The game plan is simple: Flood the board with some creatures, deal some combat damage, and kill the opponent by sacrificing creatures and tokens into Cartel Aristocrat or Viscera Seer, to trigger Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat. Once I run out of cards and creatures I play Collected Company and/or Return to the Ranks to put even more creatures in play.

The deck is excellent against non-evasive aggro because of the many chump-blockers and the lifegain. It is also solid against midrange/control because of the value provided by Company and Return. However, it is weak to combo decks that do not need creatures (e.g. Scapeshift, RG Tron), and probably also to aggro decks with evasion (e.g. Merfolk).

Most of all, it is a fun deck to play. It is not exactly cheap, but apart from the Verdant Catacombs there aren’t any really expensive cards in the deck. It is possible that Voice of Resurgence should be in the deck, which is another expensive card; I left it out because I don’t have them on MTGO, but I think that was a mistake.



EDIT: I have some difficulty showing the deck list; I’ll have to check with Kevin what I’m doing wrong.

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