I am aware that, not only will this article go up later than I would like, but that this particular deck has been covered fairly extensively since it placed a couple of copies in the top 8 of the SCG Open a few weeks ago. That said, I have been piloting the four color “aristocrats” deck, and would like to share my insights.
Here is my deck, as of this writing:
3 Windswept Heath
3 Flooded Strand
3 Polluted Delta
2 Canopy Vista
2 Prairie Stream
2 Sunken Hollow
2 Caves of Koilos
1 Llanowar Wastes
1 Shambling Vent
1 Lumbering Falls
So, for starters, I want to point out that this deck is very similar to one which Gerry Thomson posted a while ago, and I am here to tell you, there is a reason that the 4-ofs are what they are, and that makes sideboarding difficult. Also, I managed to get copies of Den Protector and Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy before the prices skyrocketed, and I highly recommend that anyone who doesn’t own all of the fetchlands from Khans of Tarkir should get them now, or before the next rotation, since they are as cheap as they will ever be now. It is convenient that this deck does not demand the other major money card, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but the the Jaces make up for that
If you do have all the pieces, or can buy the pieces (my gosh, isn’t Jace expensive?), then this is a very fun deck that requires little sideboarding, and is ideal for any player who wants to out-play his or her opponent. The core of the deck is focused on playing absolutely terrible creatures. The upside is that pretty much all of the creatures do something in addition to attacking and blocking with their pathetically sized bodies.
Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is of course, the most expensive (money-wise) card in the deck, so I should justify his presence first. Jace is awesome. If you have a chance to play him on turn 2, you should. The worst mode for Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy reads, “opponent spends a removal spell on this,” and that’s the worst thing that Jace can do for you. The ceiling on Jace is so high, you’ll soon realize why he is selling at $75 at the time of this writing. If you untap with Jace, you have the option of drawing a card and discarding a card, at instant speed. This is known at the “Merfolk Looter” ability, and it is useful for fixing every problem you might have. Not enough mana? Jace can filter cards to find lands. Too much mana? Jace lets you discard, so extra lands go where you want them, in the graveyard.
Jace also lets you play instants and sorceries out of the graveyard, so if the choice is hard, remember that you can play Rally, Abzan Charm, and Collected Company from the graveyard, as long as Jace flips into the Telepath Unbound.
Beyond that, Den Protector also lets you buy back your few, valuable non-creature spells, or any piece of your combo kill that might have ended up in the graveyard, Elvish Visionary has a triggered ability that is worth paying 1G and a card for, and only gets better when you cast Rally for X=2 or more.
Grim Haruspex, Nantuko Husk, Zulaport Cutthroat and Rally the Ancestors are the cards you’re playing the deck to play. Alongside Rally the Ancestors, Husk lets you put creatures back into your graveyard so that they don’t get exiled, and Nantuko Husk plus Haruspex or Cutthroat gets you a whole lot of cards, or a whole lot of life. This is a build that can just end games when your opponent doesn’t expect it.
What I say in favor of the deck is that it’s complex and demands a lot from the pilot. There is a specific plan in action, and the pilot must know what spells are important, and when. It also has ways to pivot and play beatdown, even without combo pieces, so this deck can win with an inexperienced pilot, but the games where the opponent is ready for you will test your skill. For the player who remembers all of their triggered abilities, and who can fetch exactly the right land in the first 3 turns, there is little in standard that can match the sheer, unstoppable, game-ending power of this deck. This deck will win against all the removal anyone can throw at it, as long as nothing important gets exiled.
Just remember to declare every single one of your triggers, especially if you take this deck to a tournament. Every Zulaport Cutthroat or Grim Haruspex trigger you miss will cost you, and those costs add up into game losses.
The sideboard is worth mentioning because there are a lot of tools there for the bad matchups, ie, Abzan Aggro and Atarka Red. The tricky part is figuring out how much of your core combo you can give up and still defend yourself. I’ve been playing with the deck for a couple of weeks now, and I still don’t have it figured out completely.