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Budget Magic: $98 (57 tix) Standard WB Aristocats


ᑕᓂᓯ , Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! Heading into Amonkhet Standard, one of the decks I was most excited to play was Aristocrats, which seemed to get a lot of support, not just from the new God Bontu the Glorified, but in Anointed Procession as well. As I started to build the deck, I realized we had it all wrong—while Aristocrats was fine, there was a better option available: Aristocats. The basic idea of the deck is simple, we flood the board with tokens from Hidden Stockpile, Sacred Cat and Doomed Dissenter with the help of Anointed Procession and then win by sacrificing all of our tokens to things like Bontu the Glorified, Westvale Abbey, or Yahenni, Undying Partisan with a Zulaport Cutthroat on the battlefield. The end result is a deck that's super hard to deal with and generates a ton of grindy value, eventually attritioning the opponent out of the game, sometimes with a board full of Cats! Anyway, let's get to the videos, and then we'll break down the deck.

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WB Aristocats Deck Tech

WB Aristocats vs. GB Delirium

WB Aristocats vs. Mardu Vehicles

WB Aristocats vs. Mono-White Humans

WB Aristocats vs. Fling Colossus

WB Aristocats vs. Mono-Black Zombies

The Deck

When it comes right down to it, WB Aristocats is essentially WB Aristocrats with a fun name thanks to the presence of Sacred Cat. The basic idea is to flood the board with tokens and then sacrifice those tokens for value, hopefully using them to win the game. As for breaking down the deck, probably the easiest way is to first discuss the primary combo / synergy, then talk about how the other cards support this synergy, move on to how we actually win the game, and then discuss the random removal spells and other boring stuff that doesn't really work with the deck's theme but are necessary to have a functional deck. 

The Combo

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The foundation of WB Aristocats with the synergy between Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession, which looks a bit slow and not all that powerful at first glance but is actually a really good way to take over the game. In fact, we've seen this synergy pop up in competitive decks - Sam Black played an Abzan Tokens list at Pro Tour Amonkhet that actually does some of the same things our deck is trying to do. 

The basic plan here is to get one or more Hidden Stockpiles onto the battlefield with one or more Anointed Processions and then sacrifice something, which not only gives us a scry to improve our next draw but makes a Servo token at the end of our turn. With an Anointed Procession on the battlefield, we get two Servos instead of just one, which means we are making more and more tokens every turn while chump blocking with our Servos to buy us our time while we scry through our deck. Eventually, we'll find more Anointed Processions and Hidden Stockpiles, which means each turn, instead of getting one or two extra tokens (assuming we have to sacrifice a Servo to trigger Hidden Stockpile), we are getting four and then eventually eight. Once we get to this point, we're able to win the game in short order. 

The biggest benefit of the Hidden Stockpile / Anointed Procession combo is that it's amazingly hard to deal with. Most sideboard hate is focused on killing artifacts, not enchantments, which means relatively few decks have a good answer to what we are trying to do. It's super hard for our opponent to kill us because we have a steady stream of Servos on chump-blocking duty, and even if our opponent wraths our board, we can rebuild super quickly, since as soon as we trigger revolt a single time, we start the slow, grindy process of grinding out the game with Servos again.

Other Token Producers

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Sacred Cat and Doomed Dissenter are very similar in our deck. Both are inexpensive creatures that make a token when they die—Sacred Cat thanks to embalm and Doomed Dissenter by making a 2/2 Zombie. In the early game, these cards are important for gumming up the board while we are waiting to find our Hidden Stockpiles and Anointed Processions, and then in the late game, they help support our combo. With Hidden Stockpile, they give us two creatures to sacrifice, which means we should always have something to use to trigger revolt and start the Servo train going down the tracks, while with Anointed Procession, they become very above the curve, with Sacred Cat turning into a one-mana Raise the Alarm with the upside of lifelink and Doomed Dissenter putting four power and toughness on the battlefield when it dies (and this is with only a single Anointed Procession; with multiples, it gets even crazier). 

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On level one, Sram's Expertise is another great way to make a bunch of tokens; it's fine on its own and completely absurd with an Anointed Procession or two. More importantly, the ability to play something for free is actually very important to our deck. Being able to make a bunch of tokens and also play a sacrifice outlet like Yahenni, Undying Partisan or a sacrifice payoff like Zulaport Cutthroat often allows us to win the game on the spot with a sort of sacrifice combo finish.

Other Sacrifice Outlets

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Apart from Hidden Stockpile, we have some other sacrifice outlets as well. Bontu the Glorified is sort of a backup finisher, getting in for four damage a turn and being hard to chump thanks to menace, and since we are constantly sacrificing creatures anyway, it's pretty easy to turn Bontu the Glorified into a real attacking and blocking creature. The downside is that Bontu the Glorified is pretty expensive as a sacrifice outlet—while draining for one, costing two mana means we often avoid using Bontu the Glorified to sacrifice creatures until the late game in favor of playing other stuff instead. Meanwhile, Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim is just a one-of, but it can sacrifice things in a pinch, and having deathtouch means it does a good job of taking down large creatures in the late game when most two-drops become outclassed.

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Yahenni, Undying Partisan is our most important sacrifice outlet because it's our only free sacrifice outlet. While sacrificing a creature doesn't actually do all that much (just giving Yahenni, Undying Partisan indestructible until end of turn), being free means we can sacrifice an entire board full of tokens in the same turn without spending any mana, which is essential when we plan on winning the game with Zulaport Cutthroat. While we don't have a ton of removal, Yahenni, Undying Partisan does grow naturally during combat as opposing creatures attack and block, and it does well on defense, since we can always sacrifice something to make it indestructible in a pinch. 

Finishing the Game

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While we often finish the game by simply overwhelming our opponent with an ever-increasing board full of tokens, Zulaport Cutthroat gives us a way to close out the game without attacking. As we talked about earlier, in the late game, it's fairly common that we're making four or more tokens a turn, and cards like Sram's Expertise make a ton of tokens all at once. Eventually, we end up with 10 or even 20 creatures on the battlefield which means we can play a Zulaport Cutthroat, sacrifice our entire board to Yahenni, Undying Partisan, and win the game on the spot!

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When we aren't comboing off with Zulaport Cutthroat for the win, another option for closing out the game is upgrading our Servo tokens into an Ormendahl and taking over the game with the huge lifelinking, indestructible 9/7 flier. It's super easy to get enough tokens to transform Westvale Abbey in our deck, and even when we aren't quite ready to transform, Westvale Abbey is a good hedge against flooding out, since we can always use it to make a token, which gives us a creature to sacrifice to Hidden Stockpile to start our engine and can even be two or three tokens each activation, with the help of Anointed Processions. 

Other Stuff

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Ob Nixilis Reignited does a bit of everything, working like an expensive removal spell and occasionally winning the game with its ultimate, which is often pretty achievable since we have so many tokens for chump blocking. However, the main reason the planeswalker's in the deck is to act like a Phyrexian Arena, drawing us an extra card every turn to make sure we find all of our combo pieces, ample token makers, and finishers like Zulaport Cutthroat and Bontu the Glorified

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Finally, we have a bit or removal in Stasis Snare and Cast Out. While Cast Out is a better card in general, we're playing more copies of Stasis Snare because it's a bit cheaper and fits better on our curve. Plus, our deck is actually quite mana hungry because we want to be able to use extra mana to sacrifice tokens to Hidden Stockpile to make even more tokens, which means the one-mana discount is very important to our deck. Regardless, both are unconditional instant-speed answers that can hit everything up to and including Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, which makes them great in our deck.

Wrap-Up

All in all, we finished our matches 3-2, and we also lost one additional match against UR Control, where we mulliganed both games and got stuck on two lands. If you just look at the matches, it seems like aggro could be a problem, with both of our losses being to fast aggro decks in Mono-White Humans and Mono-Black Zombies, but I'm not sure that's the case. Based on our matches against GB Delirium and Mardu Vehicles, it felt like the deck was really, really good at gumming up the ground against aggressive lists, so I'm not sure those matches are as bad as they looked (although it is true that we can get run over if our opponent gets a really fast start and we have a clunky four-drop-heavy hand).

The bigger concern is Aetherworks Marvel decks. In game one, our odds of winning are pretty low—no matter how many tokens we make, our opponent can just Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger us and eat away our library for the win. Thankfully, we are overloaded on discard in the sideboard, which makes the post-board games passable, if not good. The other concern is control, which is a weird matchup. If we can stick our engine pieces (even just a Hidden Stockpile), it is very likely that we'll win because all of our opponent's removal is suddenly blanked. On the other hand, if our opponent can counter Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession, it's very possible that they will grind us out of the game with removal. Here again, having Pick the Brain, Lay Bare the Heart (which should be Transgress the Mind, but it was a bit too expensive for the budget), and Dispossess goes a long way in improving the matchup. 

Ultra-Budget Aristocats

The easiest way to get WB Aristocats into the ultra-budget range is to trim back on the mana base, by dropping Shambling Vent, Concealed Courtyard, and a couple of Westvale Abbeys, and replacing them with more basics and Evolving Wilds (which actually isn't horrible in our deck, since sacrificing it is a free way to trigger revolt on Hidden Stockpile). Otherwise, we double down on the cat theme, replacing Ob Nixilis Reignited in the five-drop slot with Regal Caracal, which can make a ton of Cats with the help of Anointed Procession, while also swapping in one more copy of Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim over the second Bontu the Glorified. All things told, these changes do weaken the deck a bit, especially the changes to the mana base, which will lead to a bit more clunkiness with tapped lands and more unkeepable hands when we draw all Plains or all Swamps, but for the most part, the deck looks fairly competitive and offers a great starting point.

Non-Budget WB Aristocats

The non-budget version of WB Aristocats gets a couple of big upgrades and then a bunch of small improvements. The two biggest additions are Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, which works well with both parts of our plan: it can make tokens, which double up with Anointed Procession and fuel Hidden Stockpile, and it can emblem to pump up our team and let us beat down with our random creatures. The other big change is in the removal; we get access to Fatal Push, which is amazing in a deck that's built to trigger revolt, and we also get Anguished Unmaking as part of our removal suite, which is important in a world full of Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hungers and Aetherworks Marvels. Otherwise, we update the sideboard with Transgress the Mind (and other discard) as well as additional copies of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Fatal Push. Taken as a whole, these changes are a massive improvement to the deck, mostly because Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is a busted Magic card that works really well with the theme of our deck. Also, if you're looking for a deck that's somewhat similar from this weekend's Pro Tour, make sure to check out Sam Black's Abzan Token list, which takes advantage of many of the same synergies.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. I had a blast playing WB Aristocats, and the engine of Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession is amazing—it's way better when you play with it than it looks on paper. If you're looking for a fun sacrifice-themed deck that's surprisingly competitive (or you just like Cats), give it a shot—I don't think you'll be disappointed! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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