Much Abrew: Abzan Rally Aristocrats (Pioneer)

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Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Rally the Ancestors Aristocrats decks have been some of my favorites for a long, long time, but they’ve recently fallen off in popularity thanks to Mayhem Devil–fueled Rakdos and Jund Sac decks. Well, today, we’re bringing back old-school Rally the Ancestors Aristocrats in Pioneer. We’ve even got a real aristocrat—Cartel Aristocrat—as our primary sacrifice outlet! Can we dodge graveyard hate and pick up some wins with Rally the Ancestors Aristocrats in Pioneer? Let’s get to the video and find out on today’s Much Abrew About Nothing!

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Much Abrew: Abzan Rally Aristocrats

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, we finished 3-2 with Abzan Rally Aristocrats, although it was a disappointing 3-2 in some ways since we started off with three wins before losing our last two matches. 
  • The plan is pretty simple: the primary goal is to set up a board state (and / or graveyard) where we can win by sacrificing random creatures to Cartel Aristocrats with a few Blood Artist effects like Cruel Celebrant and Zulaport Cutthroat on the battlefield. While it is possible to do this by hard-casting our creatures, we can greatly speed up the process by filling our graveyard and using Rally the Ancestors to reanimate all the creatures in our graveyard.
  • Rally the Ancestors is a really interesting card. Every creature in our deck costs two or fewer mana, so for the low, low price of just four mana, Rally the Ancestors can reanimate our entire graveyard at instant speed. The problem with Rally the Ancestors is that all the creatures we reanimate will get exiled on our next upkeep, so we can’t actually attack with them. But that’s fine in our deck—our creatures aren’t great at attacking anyway. Thanks to our sacrifice outlets like Cartel Aristocrat, we can use Rally the Ancestors to reanimate our graveyard, sacrifice all of our creatures before they get exiled, and (hopefully) win the game with Cruel Celebrant and Zulaport Cutthroat triggers.
  • Our backup plan is to build a couple of massive creatures by filling our graveyard. Both Fiend Artisan and Urborg Lhurgoyf grow based on the number of creatures in our graveyard, which can get absolutely massive when combined with sacrifice effects and graveyard-filling creatures like Stitcher’s Supplier and Satyr Wayfinder. The drawback of this plan is that it also relies on our graveyard, which means that if our opponent can find some graveyard hate, they can lock out both our primary and backup plans, leaving us with a low-power plan C of beating down with mostly one-power creatures.
  • Another weird quirk of the deck is that we don’t really have removal in the main deck outside of Priest of Forgotten Gods, which is a great card but can be inconsistent as removal. In theory, we don’t really need removal; instead, we just chump block with things like Blisterpod and Hunted Witness until we can with Rally the Ancestors. This does mean that cards like Graveyard Trespasser can be a major problem for our deck. 
  • The good news is that Abzan Rally Aristocrats is overloaded with sneaky synergies and felt pretty consistent (although we did have some games where we were begging the Magic gods for a Rally the Ancestors), but there is bad news too…
  • The biggest weakness of Abzan Rally Aristocrats is that graveyard hate shuts it down hard. We saw this in our last two matches, which we ended up losing. Stuff like Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace is more or less unbeatable, while even a Graveyard Trespasser can be fairly problematic. While we do have Outland Liberator in our sideboard to blow up artifact- and enchantment-based graveyard hate, it didn’t really feel like enough, considering how unlikely we are to win against a graveyard hate spell. Adding a copy or two of Boseiju, Who Endures to the mana base could give us a main-deck answer, and loading up on more sideboard hate answers (maybe Assassin’s Trophy) seems necessary. 
  • So, should you play Abzan Rally Aristocrats in Pioneer? I think the answer is yes. The deck felt solid, and it’s fun to play. Just be warned that graveyard hate is a really big issue, and—thanks to the prevalence of Greasefang decks in Pioneer—pretty much every deck will be playing some graveyard hate in their sideboard. Even so, we ended up with a winning record with the deck and did some super-sweet things along the way!

Conclusion

Anyway, that’s all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.