Aristocrats has been popping up a bit on Magic Online lately and I've been having some good results with it in testing, so I decided to record a video to show how it plays out. It has some unintuitive elements to it, so hopefully these videos help to show how to use it.
It's similar to Melira Company in that it's an Abzan deck that utilizes the graveyard to combo kill the opponent, but instead of relying on the combat step as the Backup Plan, this deck relies on drain triggers from Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat.
The combo we're trying to set up involves four parts, two of which are interchangeable:
1. Sacrifice outlet (either Viscera Seer or Cartel Aristocrat)
2. Drain creature (either Blood Artist or Zulaport Cutthroat)
3. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
4. Safehold Elite
When the combo is assembled, we sacrifice Safehold Elite to one of the sacrifice outlets, triggering one of the drain creatures to have the opponent lose a life. Then when it persists back it triggers Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit's ability to bolster itself. The -1/-1 persist counter is negated by the +1/+1 bolster counter, allowing you to repeat the process indefinitely until the opponent is dead. If the drain component of the combo is missing, you can scry through your whole deck with Viscera Seer until you find the last piece of the combo.
In addition to scrying with Viscera Seer, the deck can also find the parts of the combo through Collected Company. Once it sacrifices all its creatures, it can use Rally the Ancestors or Return to the Ranks to get them all back and often scry into another Rally the Ancestors, Return to the Ranks, or Collected Company by sacrificing all those creatures it just got back. Satyr Wayrfinder also plays a pivotal role by not only finding a land to cast the bigger spells but also milling creatures into the graveyard to fuel Return to the Ranks and Rally the Ancestors.
While the goal of the deck is to assemble its combo, it wins a lot of its games simply by draining the opponent for a bunch, getting all its creatures back from the graveyard, and then draining its opponent for a bunch again. The deck is a lot more powerful and consistent than I originally expected.
The key to winning post-board games is to dodge Rest in Peace and Grafdigger's Cage, or to have the right answer to them. Since Grafdigger's Cage shuts off most of the key cards in our deck and its colorless, we almost always bring in the three Disenchants as a preemptive answer to it. It's a bonus when the opponent has other targets for Disenchant such as AEther Vial, Eidolon of the Great Revel, Cranial Plating, or Prismatic Omen.
Stony Silence is good against Relic of Progenitus and also comes in against Affinity and Tron.
Eidolon of the Great Revel is a bullet card against Storm type decks that we can find with Collected Company.
Duress and Thoughtseize are good against Infect and Eldrazi and are also important tools on the play for answering Grafdigger's Cage or Relic of Progenitus. It's also the most effective way to stop Rest in Peace.
Against Combo Chord of Calling decks I bring in more copies of Path to Exile. In most matchups I board out the two in the main deck as those are the two flex spots in the deck and that space is generally better served with answers to graveyard hate in post-board games but game 1 Path to Exile is the best generic Thwart to opposing game plans and can also help answer Scavenging Ooze.
Aside from Path to Exile, I also sometimes shave a Cartel Aristocrat or two to make space for sideboard cards. Other times I'll shave a few copies of Rally the Ancestors and/or Return to the Ranks since those cards become less effective if the opponent brings in graveyard disruption.
I pretty much never touch Satyr Wayfinder or Viscera Seer and rarely touch Anafenza or Safehold Elite. Even though we don't have any obvious cards against burn, our matchup is actually quite good because of all the life we gain from our drain triggers.
As far as cards to consider from Eldritch Moon, Grim Flayer is the most appealing option. He can help fuel the graveyard spells by milling creatures into the graveyard while also digging us closer to more Collected Company, Rally the Ancestors, and Return to the Ranks. I'll have to test him out once the set is released online. In the meantime, check out the videos to see how the games play out!