Let it never be said we can’t learn from our mistakes. At Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar, we had what ended up being the best deck, Rally the Ancestors. Builds just a few cards off of Matt Nass’s original list won multiple GP’s, and he was the only one smart (or brave) enough to play it. Not this time!
It’s funny that the deck many of us on Team ChannelFireball and Team Ultra PRO played was a deck we started with, basically shelved, and then resurrected just two days before the Pro Tour. That deck is Green/Black Sacrifice.
(This is also the part where I get to go on the record and say that the “Aristocrats” naming convention is not good. I hate non-descriptive decknames, and this is one of the most egregious offenders).
The original list had Smothering Abomination in the Duskwatch Recruiter slot, and didn’t feel like it was quite there. Cryptolith Rite didn’t feel right (rite?) without a good mana sink, and having your finisher cost 4 mana and die to a 1-2 mana removal was a huge problem. A few days before the PT, Sam Black kept building decks with similar cores, and that prompted us to dredge up the original deck. He was really set on Cryptolith Rite, and once he added Rite and Duskwatch Recruiter to the BG deck, that was just game (we had a brief stopover in the land of Ulvenwald Mysteries, but those were soon moved to the sideboard).
Company is the best card in the deck and the best card in Standard. It’s why it’s worth building a deck with only creatures that cost 3 or less, as paying 4 mana for 5-6 mana’s worth of creatures and being up a card is just absurd. We tried a bunch of non-Company builds, but in the end, Company reigned supreme.
Recruiter isn’t quite as good as Company, but serves the same role. It lets you turn mana into action, and Recruiter + Rite is incredibly hard to beat. It spirals out of control very rapidly, and the flipped side of Recruiter is also a huge selling point. I’ve drawn three cards off Recruiter end of turn, had it flip, and cast four creatures on my turn. That’s just absurd.
These are your win conditions. Husk is your best threat, and the first card you look for on just about any Company. It has tons of fuel, and besides attacking for 20, lets you win outside of combat in concert with Cutthroat. Abbey is a backup Husk and commonly deals 14 or 19, depending on how many Cutthroats you have in play when you summon Ormendahl. Besides combining with the sacrifice effects to drain your opponent out, Cutthroat lets you survive in grindy games while you chump block, and punishes sweepers. Once you have a Husk out, Cutthroat is you number one priority on Company, and you often scry with Catacomb Sifter to find it.
Here are the grist for the mill—the Husk fodder. Husk eats these with glee, and they even do a decent job without Husk. Sifter is one of the biggest value hits off Company, and Liliana lets you return all sorts of good creatures. She’s hard to cast, which is why there are only two, but she gives you a ton of extra Cutthroat triggers on the turn you are killing them.
Here’s the modest version and the turbocharged version of the same card. Loam Dryad is like a one-creature band (playing a Springleaf Drum, of course) and Rite is the whole ensemble. Even though Rite is a blank in multiples, the first copy just lets you explode, and is a key part of this deck’s power. Rites into Company or Recruiter overwhelms any opponent without sweepers in a matter of turns.
Tips and Tricks
• Don’t miss your triggers! This seems obvious, but this deck has a LOT of triggers, and you need to keep on top of them.
• Know how to stack your triggers. Alternating scrys from Sifter and casting Company or drawing off Elvish Visionary is key. I like scrying a creature to the top before Company, though if you really need to draw a specific card on your next turn, you often want to Company before scrying.
• Westvale Abbey is the last land you should play, as Ormendahl has haste, and I’ve even missed land drops to conceal that info.
• Blisterpod + Cutthroat + Husk + Liliana is just 20 damage. Game.
• Don’t be afraid to use all of Lili’s loyalty immediately to get back Catacomb Sifter. She rarely gets activated multiple times.
• Slowroll Cutthroat, as having them survive is way more important than attacking with them. I tend to keep them in hand unless the matchup is one without removal.
• Practice Cutthroat math. It’s tricky, and the deck does surprisingly large amounts of damage. You don’t want to leave wins on the table. Sometimes Abbey is a better sac outlet than Husk, as it eats all the Cutthroats at the same time, getting you more triggers. A board of 2 Cutthroats, Husk, 2 Visionaries, deals 6 life loss with Husk eating things, and the full 10 with Abbey (plus whatever Ormendahl attacks for).
• Activating Hissing Quagmire to eat it with Husk comes up a lot.
This deck is a blast to play, and does a lot of pretty silly stuff. Good luck, and hope you don’t face Kalitas.
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