Aristocrats

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“Aristocrats” is a Magic deck archetype that seeks to sacrifice its own creatures, especially many low-cost and/or token creatures, to accumulate game-winning benefits. Aristocrats decks use a combination of sacrifice outlets and cards that trigger when their creatures enter and/or leave the battlefield. The archetype derives its name from cards such as Cartel Aristocrat and Falkenrath Aristocrat, which reward a player for sacrificing their own creatures.

Aristocrats decks are commonly found in color combinations that include black.

Popular Cards & Commanders

Popular Aristocrats cards include:

Popular Aristocrats commanders include:

Strategy

Artistocrats decks commonly include the following components:

Sacrifice Outlets

Aristocrats players want their creatures to die, but not by natural causes, choosing instead to sacrifice their own creatures at will. They therefore make use of many sacrifice outlets, such as:

Death Triggers

Aristocrats players use cards that trigger when their creatures die or leave the battlefield to defeat their opponents. These cards may help them accumulate additional resources after their creatures perish, or help deal damage to opponents. Death trigger payoffs in Aristocrats decks are often found in the following four categories:
Life Loss:
This is the most common form of Aristocrats death trigger, either dealing damage or draining life from opponents for each creature that perishes. Common cards in this category include:
Card Draw:
Aristocrats may sacrifice their creatures to draw additional cards, helping to keep up their supply of sacrifice fodder. Cards often used for this purpose may include:
Mana:
Some cards help provide additional mana resources when creatures die:
Removal:
Sacrificing creatures can also be a useful form of removal for Aristocrats decks to use again unwanted permanents on an opponent’s battlefield. Cards that are popular examples of this include:

Tokens

Aristocrats decks often employ the use of cards that create many tokens, to help keep them supplied with a high number of creatures to sacrifice. This most commonly takes the form of other creature cards that generate tokens as part of their abilities, such as:
This may also include cards that create tokens after they die, such as:
These types of cards are especially useful to allow an Aristocrats player to continue sacrificing additional creatures each turn.

Recursion

Arisocrats decks are rarely satisfied with sacrificing creatures a single time, preferring instead to bring those creatures back from the graveyard with recursion, so they may be sacrificed again. This can take the form of spells such as:
Or creatures with triggered abilities that help return dead creatures to play, such as:

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths

  • Aristocrats decks gain benefit from their own creatures dying, which makes it difficult for opponents to remove pieces from an Arisocrats player’s battlefield without accidentally providing that player with additional resources or helpful death triggers.
  • Aristocrats strategies become highly interactive when they have sacrifice outlets on the battlefield, as those sacrifice outlets can frequently be activated at any time. This gives Aristocrats players the ability to avoid dangerous forms of exile-based removal, for instance, by sacrificing their creatures in response to unfriendly spells.
  • Aristocrats decks that make use of sacrifice-based removal (such as Grave Pact) can persistently control enemy battlefields by forcing enemies to sacrifice their valuable creatures. This can leave opponents, especially Commander-Centric and Voltron strategies, unable to enact their deck’s primary gameplan, or without enough creatures to block an offensive strike.

Weaknesses

  • Aristocrats decks are very vulnerable to ‘grave hate’ effects that exile graveyards, especially cards like Rest in Peace. Effects that prevent them from triggering any abilities when creatures leave the battlefield will wholly turn off an Aristocrats player’s strategy and negate the majority of benefits they would receive from sacrificing their creatures.
  • If an Aristocrats player is unable to find a death trigger payoff card (or if that card is swiftly removed by their opponents) they may not be able to assemble a meaningful advantage, and may wind up with many small, non-powerful creatures to sacrifice without making a significant impact on their enemies.
  • Without an appropriate balance of token-makers, card draw and/or recursion, Aristocrats decks can quickly run out of creatures to sacrifice and therefore cause the deck to stall out.

Compatible Sub-themes

Reanimator

When you gain benefits from sacrificing creatures it makes sense to consider bringing them back. Cards that exchange one creature for another can pull double duty as both recursion and sacrifice outlet, as well as allowing you to get back engine/value pieces that happen to get destroyed or need to block attacking creatures.
Example Cards:Hell's Caretaker, Whisper, Blood Liturgist, Coffin Queen

Tokens

Many Aristocrats decks already generate tokens as part of their sacrifice to keep a chain going and providing value, but additional tokens sources and buffs may provide an extra avenue to victory, while token payoffs may allow you to pivot your game plan if your graveyard is disabled or you fail to find sacrifice payoffs.
Example Cards:Doubling Season, Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest, Idol of Oblivion, Ogre Slumlord

Lifegain

Many Aristocrats payoff cards already cause you to incidentally gain life, while you have more recurrable black creature options once you care about life gain. In addition, Aristocrats decks normally want the game to go long as extra time to accumulate value goes in their favor and lifegain plays well into this.
Example Cards:Zulaport Cutthroat, Angelic Accord, Sanguine Bond, Oathsworn Vampire


Related EDHREC Resources