The Aristocracy of Swamps
Do aristocrats decks require black cards to work? Can any color outperform engines like EDHREC shows us that, well, all the most played aristocrats commanders run black. However! That just makes what we're about to do much cooler and makes me way more of a hipster. In this week's Sift Through Sands, we're going to be exploring building aristocrats without black with two off-color, underplayed legends: and .and ? Some would say that it isn't aristocrats without black, but I reject the notion that any strategy in Magic requires a certain color. That being said,
and are both balanced and aggressive commanders who, when built around, lead their decks to victory in unique ways. Asmira, a gorgeous card from a classic set, Mirage, scales on each end step as our creatures die. This turns sacrifice outlets into +1/+1 counters, letting our flying Angel swing through for commander damage. In a different vein, Yasova is an aggressive, low-mana-value creature whose ability we can exploit by sacrificing the creatures she temporarily steals. Together, these commanders can lean into sacrifice and create interesting aristocrats decks. First, let's look at our Asmira list!
Holy Aristocrats, Batman!
Our Asmira list is a weird one. Early game, we want to get our ramp pieces and cheap outlets in play using, , , and the like to get lands quickly. Our cheaper sac outlets, like , and our utility cards, like and , are all things we're happy to see early game, and all of them retain their usefulness later on after we play Asmira.
As we assemble our pieces, many of the creatures in the deck start to become incredible threats that help pump Asmira's power and toughness.recurs itself every turn cycle, and works well with our other Persist creatures and . The deck runs a lot of recursion, with the standouts and (one of the most underappreciated combo pieces in EDH) allowing us to do some ridiculous things. Defensive control cards , , and become unbelievably powerful combined with repeated recursion, ever increasing Asmira as a threat.
The core of this deck is in the general sacrifice outlets, self-recurring creatures, and recursion, all of which are more present in Selesnya colors than one may expect., , , and others all keep the deck running. Standalone threats, like and , make the deck difficult to contain, and synergistic cards, like , keep us in the game.
While Asmira takes aristocrats and focuses on repeating triggers with recursion, Yasova looks for one-off powerful effects or permanent theft. Let's look at our list.
Yasova comes down quickly and is hard to stop when she starts rolling, as our opponents' defensive or utility creatures become easy fodder. While we ramp, assembling our Voltron pieces, like, , and , give Yasova a boost that greatly expands her theft ability. Some of our Equipment, like , , and , can be attached to the creatures we steal as we find our sacrifice outlets. Later on, big boosts, like , , and , make Yasova extremely dangerous.
Yasova will be in our opponents' sights all game, so finding ways to work without her is important to the deck's success., , and are all excellent ways to gain control of our opponents' creatures. Utility pieces, like , , and have open-ended applications that make them strong inclusions.
Most important to the deck's success is the aristocrats pieces. We have plenty of sacrifice outlets in the deck, each with important synergy.can let us steal any creature after taking a mana dork with Yasova. filters our deck to cheat a creature into play, no matter how big they are. and turn temporary control into permanent tokens, all while keeping the creatures we steal out of opponents' control.
Although black offers a plethora of ways to benefit from sacrificing creatures, Asmira and Yasova both have ways to gain larger payoffs from various aristocrats pieces. In both decks, the presence of enchantments and other utility cards with sacrifice effects make them feasible. These cards are in both decks:
These cards are all green (apart from), but many of the blue, red, and white cards in the decks also work well in aristocrats decks. While black may be the mainstay of these strategies, plenty of cards can be added to the mix or focused upon to make effective decks. In particular, two of the Gods printed in Battle for Baldur's Gate, and , enjoy having a plethora of sacrifice effects.
Building off-color for Asmira and Yasova was a lot of fun, and I want to hear about your experiences doing the same! Do you have any decks whose archetypes are usually found in other colors? Do you think black is necessary to even call a deck an aristocrats deck? Isthe best mana-fixer ever? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Until next time.