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Mind Bend – Temur Aristocrats
A New Frontier
“There’s wisdom to be gained in death—whether it be one’s own or someone else’s.”
—Jarad, Golgari Lich-Lord
Ah, Orzhov. The white-black color pair most closely associated with organized crime, crooked churches, and death. Lots and lots of death. Sometimes some rebirth, too; probably for more death. But since Orzhov is crookeder than a box of snakes, you can bet that Orzhov decks are well-primed to capitalize on all that death. EDHREC’s number one Orzhov commander,, is a living testament to that, currently in 11th place overall in popularity and weighing in at over 2,300 decks.
What would happen if we were to extort a bit of Teysa’s spirit and place if firmly in the realm of Temur? You know: the blue, red, and green wedge known more forthan any of this death business. Welcome back to Mind Bend, the article series that breaks down the conventional notions of the color pie to forge new ground outside the confines of the already established. Let’s become the first aristocrats in Temur!
Death Becomes Her
1,800 decks on EDHREC specifically attached to the aristocrats theme. What makes a deck an “aristocrats” deck? Outside of being the punchline to a very famous joke setup, it’s also a deckbuilding archetype associated with sacrificing your own creatures for all sorts of reasons, but mostly profit. says to “lesser” creatures, “Lay down your lives so that I may prosper off the back of a .”boasts over
At the same time, our girlmakes it so that is extra lethal to our opponents, doubling up that trigger so that everyone else is sacrificing two creatures to our one. What a bargain! But wait, there’s more! If you act now, you get twice the number of tokens from creatures dying from our pals and . Not convinced? How about we throw in double the cards from or two times the treasure from ?
Yes, Teysa is truly the queen of death, death, and more death. If you look at EDHREC’s average decklist for her aristocrats theme, you’ll see nearly 25% of it is made up of cards that care about creatures dying in some way, and that’s not including sacrificial lambs like .
I’ve broken down the deck into the following death-tinged categories:
- A full suite of 10 creatures you want to hit the bin, like .
- The big three in forced sacrifice effects, like , , and .
- Mana production via death, including token-maker and stalwart .
- A few ways to revive creatures or make more tokens; Ikoria‘s own has a nice new home at the Teysa’s side.
- Six ways to draw cards from creatures hitting the bin, like the aforementioned and .
- And finally, a whole swath of damage or life loss triggers by way of your creatures dying, this section helmed by the recent .
Since Teysa’s whole shtick is death, traditional slots in Commander are overshadowed by the groups above. Straight, no-strings-attached card draw is minimal, and so is ramp. However, being the best two-color combination for removal means that you can answer just about anything withand .
To sum up the deck’s strategy – you live by your death triggers. You die by, well, the opposite of that.
I Choose You, Riku-chu!
wants to double all the nonsense that happens when creatures die. How can we do the same in Temur, a color combination that cares far less about things dying and more about how to make them die, especially when it comes to . Yes, I know that’s a different timeline, the point still stands.
How about we double up what’s coming in, so that we can double up what’s going out? I have just the man/men for the job:. Each creature we cast can become two, just as much as each spell we cast can be copied.
But what are some creatures that give immediate value by being copied, especially so that we can fuel our sacrifice dreams? It’s‘s and ‘s time to shine.
can go through three deaths, increasing in size from a lowly 0/1 to a mighty 9/9 token along the way. However, topping the death charts, works its way down, from a single 4/4 to two 2/2s to four 1/1s, giving us a whopping seven total death triggers to use at our discretion. Now, imagine doubling up the original creature with Riku in play. That’s a whole lot of death we can dole out.
Similarly, we also haveand that can both explode into an array of tokens. Walker might not be the best to copy with Riku, but even then it’s still a death trigger for an extra two mana.
Not to be outdone,gives us twice the fodder for each land we play.
All of this token sacrifice can fuel the greatest death trigger in the game, which is found on. Shadows can melt life totals in a heartbeat. Got a player that’s sitting with a comfy grip of seven? Make six creatures die and they’re likely out of the game.
Although we can’t hit each player a la, we still have a few other tricks up our sleeve. and make it so that any other aristocrats player can’t get ahead on life. Otherwise, we punish the random . We can also smack one opponent with our of creatures, then sacrifice them to kill someone else post-combat.
For even more death triggers,has a home here, giving us tokens for each non-token death. On a similar axis, and provide extra tokens after our creatures hit the bin.
We even have some death-tinged ramp for this deck.and both act as incremental ramp, key chump blockers, and free death triggers each turn. does extra duty and is almost never a dead card – even when we want it dead. Same is true with , and these are both creature that Riku loves to copy!
Traditional aristocrats decks love doubling their fodder, I mean tokens, with, but green gives us the OG version , and the even OG-er . : letting decks go from good to bonkers since 2005.
Obviously, we can also double up some of our sacrifices via bothand , each of which lets us rebound our board straight from the graveyard for further shenanigans.
Late Night Sac
As far as ways to actually sacrifice creatures,might need to change its name to Greatest Gooder. Since our creatures are more beefy than the typical aristocrats deck, each sacrifice will usually be for card quality, by way of 3-power creatures, if not for straight card advantage with anything larger. And since it’s a free sac outlet, we can use it as a final burst of death triggers. Don’t need cards in hand if the rest of the table is dead!
Other Commander staples find yet another home here:and provide some mana on the fly, and let us dig hard, and is always welcome!
The main thing we can’t replicate in Temur is forced sacrifice effects like, so to compensate, let’s just draw a bunch of cards with and , not to mention some death-based draw via and . Just make sure that you come out ahead on creatures with , or punish the tokens player by sticking first. Make it hurt for them to draw.
Riku of Two Deaths
This decklist kinda goes a bit old school, repurposing old Commander favorites to squeeze out extra value from each. We’re getting all parts of the animal from, same is true for . Fitting, given our commander comes from the original precons.
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Te-mur, the Merrier
I think this decklist could at least put a smirk on the face of the queen of aristocrats,. We’ll be racking up the death count, punishing our opponents for it along the way. Hey, someone’s got to pay, might as well not be us. How could that be any more Orzhov?
Come back next month for another pint of mind-bending brews!