Deck Tech: Sultai Aristocrats

Posted in GRAND PRIX TOKYO 2016 on May 7, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Ken Yukuhiro is someone who is known to play with interesting combo decks. He has a penchant for running around with small creatures that generate value when they die, accompanying sacrifice outlets, some form of recursion and preferably an infinite (or at least a largely finite) loop, such as the product that brought him to the Top 4 at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored.


Ken Yukuhiro, Top 8 at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona.

Ken Yukuhiro's FRites Reanimator

It was an Innistrad Block Constructed event, which makes this a perfect throwback moment. Using Mulch to fill up his graveyard, he can eventually find Unburial Rites to bring back Griselbrand and draw a ton of cards to take over the game with. Alternatively, he can also set up following four card combo by filling his yard with all four creatures and bringing them back for infinite life and an infinite number of Wolves.

Then, last year at Grand Prix Singapore 2015, he brought the following brew for the Modern event and finished in the money among over 1,100 players. Next Level Abzan was designed to prey on the sea of Siege Rhino-based decks.

Abzan Ascendancy is a nightmare because players have no efficient way to deal with a troop of flying Spirits. Blood Artist is essentially Zulaport Cutthroat on steroids, while Viscera Seer is a one-mana sacrifice outlet. Doomed Traveler and Tukatongue Thallid provide replacements when they hit the bin, ready to be returned via Return to the Ranks!

Ken Yukuhiro's Next Level Abzan

Sorry about the rambling, I'm about to cut to the chase very soon.

Based on Yukuhiro's track record, who seems to love playing "Aristocrats-styled" decks across any format, it was hard to believe that he wouldn't instantly fall in love with the Black-Green version popularized by Luis Scott-Vargas at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad.


Yukuhiro modifies the Black-Green Aristocrats deck to combat the metagame.

"When I saw the list, I built the deck immediately and goldfished it for a bit. I found that it is probably the most powerful deck right now. It has a lot of explosive starts, powerful end game and also a combo kill element. The only problem I have is against the dreaded Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet."

A fair bit of control decks have emerged in various shells. Most notably, the Black-Green Seasons Past and Grixis Control decks all sport the extremely powerful Legend, which can stop the Aristocrats deck in its tracks.

"Once Kalitas hits the board, I'm dead. I cannot sacrifice anything because they get exiled, and I don't get to drain my opponent's life with Zulaport Cutthroat. It also has Lifelink, and is likely bigger than all my creatures, not to mention that most decks which run Kalitas have a lot of removal. It's terrible and I've lost every single maindeck game against Kalitas today."

However, Yukuhiro makes up for said shortcoming with the full set of Ultimate Price from the board. The singleton of Gilt-Leaf Winnower is also a nice piece of tech against opposing Kalitas's. Also sideboarding out Collected Company to make way for Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, he has the ability to function like a Black-Green Token deck, and becomes more aggressive in nature.

"I think the metagame today is Bant Company and Kalitas-based control decks. White Weenie also seems popular, and I certainly hope that it will be, because it's a good matchup for me!"


Shota Yasooka

Addressing the Blue splash, he credits Shota Yasooka for suggesting the pair of Dragonlord Silumgar, which he thinks are great in the current climate. But of course, Yasooka cannot resist playing with Blue and Black cards, so it could be a biased conjecture. Also, unexpectedly he is on Esper Control, which he insists that we call it "Dromar Control". Not gonna happen, Yasooka-san. Anyway, having the third color provides access to a pair of Negates in the sideboard, protection against sweepers that are becoming prevalent.

"Negate is pretty good against Radiant Flames, Kozilek's Return, and Languish. Those are the only cards that matter to them in this matchup and I'm happy to have an answer against those."

Other than that, the deck is still pretty much runs on the same engine, and relies on Loam Dryad, Catacomb Sifter and Cryptolith Rite to quickly accelerate and achieve critical mass. The mana can be sunk into Duskwatch Recruiter to find more threats, or to cast a premature Collected Company or to transform Westvale Abbey quickly.

"Most players don't have very good solutions to Ormendahl, Profane Prince, and the power of this deck is its ability to flip it early. But depending on the matchup, we need to decide whether to go all-in. For example, against White decks, we need to be more careful because they have Silkwrap, Declaration in Stone and Stasis Snare. In that case, we should slowly try to grind them out rather than risking it all. However, there are some matchups that are totally cold to Ormendahl, which is where it will shine!"

5-0 and going strong, let's check back with him later to see how he is doing. Will he be able to secure a strong record and make it to Day 2? As usual, the juicy decklist will only be posted after Round 15 concludes and let's hope that he'll make it through to the Top 8!

Sultai Aristocrats

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