No matter your budget, you can do cool things using classic deck-building archetypes. One such popular archetype is Elves, which I discussed in my recent Rhys the Redeemed deck tech; others include White Weenie, which plays a lot of cheap white creatures and group buffs, and Burn, whose goal is to kill your opponent as quickly as possible with damage-dealing spells.
Another classic archetype that plays well on a budget is Aristocrats, a deck focused on gaining benefits from sacrificing your creatures. In this article, I’ll show how you can build an exciting Aristocrats Commander deck with Prossh, Skyraider of Kher for just $50.
Since Aristocrats is such an established deck archetype, we have a good idea of what roles cards need to play in this deck.
Spells that allow you to sacrifice creatures. These include one of the “Aristocrats” that gave this deck its name: Dark Ascension’s Falkenrath Aristocrat. There are a variety of other cards that can play this role – including Vampire Aristocrat, Fallen Angel, and even enchantments like Barrage of Expendables – and, in a singleton format like Commander, it’s good to have redundancy in your deck. When choosing sacrifice outlets, keep an eye out for sacrifice abilities with a cost of one mana or less.
Creatures that reward you when other creatures die. These are often called “Blood Artists” after the Avacyn Restored card. Blood Artist itself costs $3.50 at the time of this writing, but you can find additional cards – like Mayhem Devil and Judith, the Scourge Diva – that have similar effects and cost quite a bit less. You may want to include cards that give a variety of benefits; the most powerful Blood Artists drain your opponents’ life, but keep an eye out for creatures that get bigger when creatures die, in case you need to attack to win.
Creatures with abilities that trigger when they die. These abilities could deal damage, like Bloodfire Kavu; they could remove your opponents’ threats, like Caustic Caterpillar; they could even draw you cards, like Yavimaya Elder, or create more creatures to sacrifice later, like Grim Initiate.
More creatures to sacrifice. Goblins are a good place to start looking for cards that are inexpensive to cast and to buy from your game store. Don’t forget that you can also sacrifice your Aristocrats or Blood Artists if you need to.
Removal spells to protect your creatures. This can include targeted removal, like Bone Splinters and Fatal Push, burn spells like Blaze and Shock, and even board wipes like Deadly Tempest and Bontu’s Last Reckoning. Don’t be afraid to let your own creatures die when doing so might allow you to win.
Splash for Value
While Aristocrats is a well-explored archetype, there’s always room to branch out and explore new angles. There’s plenty of room for variation, and several different commanders can support this type of deck. Shattergang Brothers and Vaevictis Asmadi, the Dire let you expand the scope from sacrificing creatures to sacrificing other kinds of permanents. You could also narrow your focus by playing a two-color commander like Savra, Queen of the Golgari or Rakdos the Defiler and tuning the deck to better fit their abilities.
Let us know what classic archetypes you’re excited to play in Commander, and how you’re making them your own!