Magic: The Gathering decks come in a wide range of forms, often exemplifying various well-defined archetypes. While each of Magic's formats has several deck archetypes, the widely popular Commander format is rife with countless examples that make it incredibly diverse. One incredibly popular deck archetype is Aristocrats, named after a bygone Standard synergy between the cards Cartel Aristocrat and Falkenrath Aristocrat.
Aristocrats decks aim to gain value through repeatedly sacrificing one's own creatures, often including powerful sacrifice outlets, creatures with death triggers, recursion, and effects that make the act of sacrificing creatures more beneficial. As there are many great Aristocrats options in the Commander format, we're going to examine the best of the best the archetype has to offer.
10 Judith, The Scourge Diva
For three mana, Judith, the Scourge Diva is a Rakdos option for an aristocrats deck. In addition to offering one's creatures an offensive buff of +1/+0, Judith allows its controller to deal one damage to any target when a creature its owner controls dies.
When paired with several death triggers, Judith can reliably be used to deal severe damage to one's opponents or to their creature's and Planeswalkers, functioning as removal.
9 Prossh, Skyraider of Kher
While aristocrat decks require both creatures to sacrifice and sacrifice outlets, Prossh, Skyraider of Kher is a Jund commander that supplies both. A 5/5 dragon with flying for six mana, upon entering the battlefield, Prossh creates a number of 0/1 kobold tokens equal to the amount of mana spent to cast it. This means that if Prossh is removed and re-cast, it produces yet even more kobolds.
This is great as Prossh comes with a free sacrifice outlet that allows creatures to be sacrificed to give Prossh +1/+0 until the end of the turn. When paired with creatures that care about creatures dying such as Blood Artist or the previously mentioned Judith, this can get out of hand quite quickly.
8 Kels, Fight Fixer
Printed in Jumpstart, Kels, Fight Fixxer is an aristocrats commander option in Dimir. A 4/3 with menace for four mana, Kels states that whenever its controller sacrifices a creature, they can pay one mana to draw a card. This means that while a player would require mana to do so, Kels could convert useful sacrifice outlets into card draw.
Additionally, Kels itself can be used to sacrifice creatures at the cost of one mana, providing itself with protection in the form of indestructible.
7 Ayara, First Of Locthwain
A Mono-Black aristocrats commander, Ayara, First of Locthwain can convert creature deaths into both life drain and card draw. While Ayara can be tapped to sacrifice a black creature to draw a card, it states that whenever it or another black creature enters the battlefield under its owner's control, each opponent loses one life, and its controller gains one life.
This allows Ayara to synergize in great effect with cards that can return themselves from the graveyard to the battlefield, as Ayara can simply keep sacrificing them for value each turn.
6 Elenda, the Dusk Rose
The first of several great Orzhov aristocrats commanders on this list, Elenda, the Dusk Rose is a 1/1 vampire with lifelink for four mana that gains a +1/+1 counter whenever another creature dies. Triggering off any creature's death, whether it be one under its owner's control or an opponent's Elenda can grow quite enormous in a single turn rotation, especially when paired with aristocrats staples and sacrifice outlets.
Upon dying, Elenda can immediately take the form of a game-winning board state, creating a number of 1/1 vampire tokens with lifelink equal to Elenda's power when it died.
5 Liesa, Forgotten Archangel
Printed in Innistrad, Midnight Hunt, Liesa Forgotten Archangel is an Orzhov 4/5 angel with flying and lifelink for five mana that enables aristocrats decks while shutting down opponents' graveyard synergies.
Whenever a creature under its owner's control dies, that card is returned to its owner's hand at the beginning of the next end step, while whenever a creature an opponent controls would die, it is exiled instead. This allows its controller to repeatedly sacrifice their own creatures while single-handedly preventing their opponents from doing the same.
4 Meren Of Clan Nel Toth
Meren Of Clan Nel Toth is a Golgari commander that is widely regarded for its ability to return creatures from the graveyard with ease. A 3/4 for four mana, whenever a creature under Meren's owner's control dies, that player gets an experience counter. This is key, as during that player's end step, they can return a creature with a mana cost less than or equal to the number of experience counters they have from the graveyard to the battlefield!
That player can even opt to return any creature from their graveyard to their hand instead if they've yet to accumulate enough experience counters. This reliably allows creatures to be returned from its controller's graveyard every single turn rotation, synergizing in stellar fashion with sacrifice outlets.
3 Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
An incredible option for a Mono-Black aristocrats commander, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is flexible and multifarious, able to garner significant value through sacrificing creatures. A 2/4 with protection from humans for four mana, at the cost of one life, Yawgmoth can sacrifice a creature, putting a -1/-1 counter on target creature and drawing its controller a card. This allows Yawgmoth to simultaneously remove threats and gain card advantage.
While this is already quite powerful, for the cost of two mana, Yawgmoth allows its controller to discard a card to proliferate, adding to its flexibility and value, potentially adding additional -1/-1 counters to particularly troublesome threats.
2 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
One of the most popular commanders in all of Magic, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is an impressive aristocrats commander in Jund. A 4/4 dragon noble with flying for five mana, whenever Korvold enters the battlefield or attacks, its controller must sacrifice a creature.
However, Korvold adds great value to each sacrifice made by its controller, as whenever they sacrifice a permanent, a +1/+1 counter is put on Korvold and its controller draws a card. This not only adds gas to their strategy, but it grows Korvold into an increasingly dangerous offensive threat.
1 Teysa Karlov
A stellar option for an Orzhov aristocrats commander, Teysa Karlov states that if an ability under its owner's control would trigger from a creature dying, that ability triggers an additional time. As aristocrats decks aim to gain value from sacrificing creatures, often including a litany of cards with death-based triggers, Teysa can double the effectiveness of each of these triggered abilities, providing absurd amounts of value from what are normally somewhat unimpressive actions.
While this ability is well worth Teysa's spot as one's commander, this card works quite well with death triggers that create tokens, as Teysa has an additional ability that provides creature tokens under its owner's control with vigilance and lifelink.
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