Mardu Human Aristocrats in Modern

Parker Ackerman
May 02, 2019

Humans broke into the format at PT Rivals of Ixalan after the printing of Unclaimed Territory, leaving other tribal decks like Merfolk mostly in the dust. A clean five-color manabase, some fliers, and lots of disruption made for a very potent gameplan. But that’s the good version of humans, and we don’t really care about that. What we care about is this MTGO 5-0 Mardu Human Aristocrats list:


Now this is the good stuff. Bloodsoaked Champion to act as repeatable sacrifice fodder, Champion of the Parish to grow as we drop more and more humans, and Doomed Traveler to give us a bit of extra stuff to sacrifice, as well as some bodies in the air. Kytheon swings in for a bit of damage early on, and later can keep your other creatures safe. Kitesail Freebooter is a nice evasive body that also takes a card from our opponent, and Thalia’s Lieutenant can either buff our whole team late-game, or be an early beater that grows as we keep playing creatures. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is great at winning combat, and slows down our opponent’s combo game and removal. Tithe Taker can hinder instant-speed interaction, and leaves behind a flier when it dies. Judith pumps our team and punsihes the opponent for blocking, and Falkenrath Aristocrat ties everything together by giving us a big threat that sacrifices creatures, and is difficult to remove. And although it’s not a Human, it does have some nice synergy with sacrificing humans.

Our spells are just three Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile for removal, keeping the opponent at bay long enough to (hopefully) execute our gameplan. The lands look pretty standard overall, although some things aren’t exactly the standard. Cavern of Souls is great mana fixing that helps against control, Mutavault gives us an extra body if we need it, and the rest is a pretty straightforward Mardu manabase. Notably, the deck doesn’t have Unclaimed Territory or Ancient Ziggurat, mostly because they aren’t necessary, and partially because they can hurt our draws that are heavier on Aristocrats and removal spells.


In the sideboard we have another path if we need it, as well as Dark Confidant when we need extra card advantage. Auriok Champion gains us life against Burn while being difficult for them to remove, Nearheath Pilgrim gives us another source of lifegain, and Ethersworn Canonist can slow down decks like Storm or Phoenix. Rest in Peace shuts down Phoenix, Dredge, and other graveyard-based decks, and Stony Silence handles the various artifact-based decks running around the format. An extra Thalia gives us an extra boost against spell-heavy decks, Kambal punishes decks that try to cast a lot of spells, and Kaya is a decent little catch-all that helps with graveyard strategies, small creatures, and even burn. Finally, we have Wear // Tear, which gives us an out against a wide variety of hate pieces like Rest in Peace, Blood Moon, and Ensnaring Bridge.


  • Keep in mind that you have two axes to attack on. You have the aristocrats “sacrifice everything” gameplan, but you can also just swing in with the army you’re making.
  • Judith’s ability can hit any target. You can eat away at the opponent’s life, hurt a planeswalker, or kill a small or already-damaged creature.
  • This should be obvious, but keep in mind the interaction between Falkenrath Aristocrat and Judith. Each sacrifice will boost Aristocrat while also giving you damage from Judith.
  • You can swing all out, then sacrifice the things that would die to Aristocrat’s ability.
  • Similarly, if you’re on the defensive, you can block, then sacrifice the blocking creature, and the attacker will still count as blocked.

Extra Spice:

  • Fireblade Artist is a cheaper sacrifice outlet that also gets in guaranteed damage, and it’s also a Human. However, it is also a smaller creature, and it’s limited to a single sacrifice per turn.
  • Cartel Aristocrat is a smaller sacrifice outlet that once again is a Human. It represents less damage than Falkenrath Aristocrat, but can dodge removal and sneak past blockers thanks to protection.
  • Priest of Forgotten Gods is yet another 2-drop Human sacrifice outlet. This one takes two creatures to pull off, but gives a much bigger effect.
  • Liliana, Heretical Healer provides a powerful effect if you can get her to transform, bringing back your creatures from the dead. And if you can get the ult off, you have a very good chance of winning the game.
  • Zulaport Cutthroat is the Human version of Blood Artist, and the effect is definitely powerful in aristocrats decks. Cutthroat has the advantage of being Human, but Artist also triggers off of your opponent’s creatures.

The deck is weird, a bit janky, but I definitely think there’s something here. It might not be on-par with five-color humans, but with a bit of work, the deck can definitely pull its weight. The synergies here are incredibly strong, and the interactions are a lot of fun. Give it a shot, and I’m sure you’ll have a blast.

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