The Aristocrats – From Standard to Modern

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of playing the Aristocrats: Act 2 in some small Standard testing sessions, an FNM and a Grand Prix Trial. The deck has been very strong and has helped me secure some wins that I’ve been seemingly unable to find in a Standard environment.

Here’s the current list I’ve been running in Standard that’s been updated after playing against a broader range of decks including Jund and The Rock. It’s tuned a little more for larger tournaments so Pithing Needles and Liliana of the Veil are back in.


So why have I found success with the Aristocrats? First of all, it has game against every deck out there. Naya Blitz, G/R Aggro, Junk Reanimator, Bant Auras, UWR Control, Jund… you name it. If you’re playing Aristocrats, you have a damn good shot at winning. Some matches are obviously pretty favored, while others such as Jund and Bant Auras are closer to 50/50. Still, I’ll take those odds.

The coup de grâce that had me sleeving up a R/W/B 75 was the Boros Reckoner / Blasphemous Act combo. Not only do we have game against everyone we play, but now we can also get free wins. Until Mutilate, Electrickery or Curse of Death’s Hold become main deck cards, there is no reason to avoid the Aristocrats.

I’ll more than likely be playing this list at Grand Prix: Miami in a few weeks with dreams and ambitions of winning big.

But what happens after that? Would it be time to sell of Falkenrath Aristocrats with rotation looming around the bend? I’ve never been a dedicated Standard player because the thought of cards deteriorating overnight leaves an ugly taste in my mouth. The Modern format is getting pushed heavily by Wizards with Modern Masters, shockland reprints, Pro Tours, etc. and if it does eventually overtake Legacy as the second largest competitive format (another article for another day) we could see more and more Standard cards surviving rotation. Some cards are obviously cross format all-stars, but I believe there could be hope for your Huntmasters and Falkenraths yet.

Heroes and Villains  is also hosting a Modern tournament with a foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor up for grabs. Now that I have two excuses to give modern some thought, I ended up wondering if it was possible to port over the Aristocrats from it’s Standard form. This is pretty rough, but I’ve gotta start somewhere.

I encourage you to give me feedback and make suggestions, but only if you can actually replace a card in the list. Do not simply say  ”X card is bad”. That’s easy; anyone can do that. Instead  tell me why the card is bad and what you would replace it with.


This deck gives us a few ways to win. I feel that decks that have more than one general line of play are fun, but also good. I played Caleb Durward’s UWR Twin / Control deck at the last PTQ I attended and loved being able to play the control game or the combo game. With this modern iteration of the Aristocrats, we have a few different combos as well as an aggro plan. The sideboard also gives us a great control line.

Aggro / Attacking
We have a curve that gets us flying hasty dudes at the top end with some disruption and confusing board states thanks to Boros Reckoner and Tidehollow Sculler. As a good player, you should be able to capitalize on the full potential of these cards. Don’t count Restoration Angel out either, she can still provide some great damage.

Blasphemous Act / Boros Reckoner
The traditional combo. If you have a Boros Reckoner in play and cast a Blasphemous Act, you get to dome your opponent for a whopping thirteen points of damage. Cartel Aristocrat and Falkenrath Aristocrat can also survive the spell leaving you with a favorable board state.

Kiki-Jiki / Restoration Angel
Another auto win is Restoration Angel and Kiki. You essentially get infinite Restoration Angels and then swing in for lethal.

Kiki-Jiki / Tidehollow Sculler / Aristocrat
This is not as instant win but is also devastating. Copying the Sculler and sacrificing in response to the trigger lets us constantly eat the best card out of our opponents hand once per turn.

Kiki-Jiki / Anything
Honestly, Kiki is pretty absurd with most everything in this list. It’s an obviously great card but it has extreme synergy in a list that is finally not reliant on Birthing Pod. Don’t let Wizards know you enjoy playing Kiki too much, otherwise it will get probably end up getting banned. Or Lightning Bolt will get banned. Whatever.

If you need to board against control you have a great advantage of playing cards that live through Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Supreme Verdict, etc. Path to Exile is problematic, but they can only path so many times. We also bring in a ton of planeswalkers which provides us with aggressive creatures that don’t die easily, instant combo wins and late game advantage. Against other aggro decks, we also get to play Baneslayer Angel. If you’ve never resolved one, you should try it sometime.

That’s all for now. Again, please let me know what you think about the deck. What card substitutions would you make if you were to play this at a Modern even? I want to hear from you.


Dave Winsauer