Blood Artist is a heck of a card. Ever since it was released in Avacyn Restored it has been the centerpiece of numerous tournament winning decks and strategies. The innocuous 0/1 Vampire has a pretty powerful ability that's amazingly easy to exploit in the right deck. If anything, the problem that decks playing Blood Artist found themselves with was that they could only run four Blood Artists!

Well that's no longer the case!

Thanks to Battle for Zendikar we have access to the brand new Ally, Zulaport Cutthroat! Sure, it's an Ally, but I have a feeling that won't really mean anything in most decks that are looking to exploit the two-mana 1/1. It's worth noting, though, that there are a few significant differences between the two cards, despite playing very similar roles.

The first difference is that Zulaport Cutthroat can attack on his own, whereas the Blood Artist hasn't the power to do such things; he is a sensitive artist after all. The other is that Zulaport Cutthroat only triggers when our creatures die, while the Vampire triggers when any creature dies. This is a subtle distinction, but a very important one.

The following list that we're taking a look at today doesn't let those distinctions hinder us one bit. Take a look.

DECKID=1252519

Every week I've been looking for decks in Modern that have been utilizing Battle for Zendikar cards, and this one fits the bill. I can't say I'm surprised to see Zulaport Cutthroat make the...well, "cut" so soon after its release. Magic Online user Draccon136 managed a 3-1 finish with this list in a Daily Event, which is good enough for me; Modern is a pretty dangerous format, if you hadn't heard. If we could fare just as well today I'll be happy. So let's see how things go.

B/W Aristocrats vs. R/W Hate Bears

B/W Aristocrats vs. Amulet Bloom

B/W Aristocrats vs. Red Burn

B/W Aristocrats vs. Amulet Bloom, Match 2

I was pretty surprised because this deck felt both very good and very lacking, all at the same time. While I thought we had an awesome amount of variety in our creatures, I think having zero removal or disruption spells in the maindeck is a recipe for disaster.

If it were up to me I would cut down on the amount of Rally the Ancestors and Return to the Ranks effects we have. Sure, these cards are great, but we rarely have the mana to use them effectively, and we certainly don't seem to need seven of them. I mean, we have to assume that we're going to be sacrificing our creatures before we cast Return to the Ranks, which makes it practically impossible to tap those same creatures for the convoke cost. If we're simply using land mana to pay the cost, we'll probably only be returning about two or three creatures considering the deck only plays 21 lands. In fact I think we won maybe one game via Return to the Ranks or Rally the Ancestors. In a deck like this I think Rally the Ancestors is actually much better because it brings back all of our creatures for a mere four mana, at instant speed no less. Sure, we don't get to attack with them, but that's not really what this deck cares about.

As far as lands go, I can deal with only having 21 lands, but the Mutavault should definitely be a Plains. We have cards like Geralf's Messenger in the deck and we should always be able to cast them on turn three.

Additionally, we should definitely have a second Plains in the deck. Remember that thing I said about having zero disruption in the maindeck? Well, both Blood Moon and Magus of the Moon at real cards in this format, and if our opponents play one it's nice to know that our Return to the Ranks and Rally the Ancestors (both WW spells) don't simply become blanks because we only have one Plains in the deck.

A general rule of thumb I think everyone should follow is to have enough basic lands in your deck to cast all of your cards if a Blood Moon is in play. Running Cryptic Command? Make sure you have at least three Islands. Playing Mystic Snake? Make sure you have at least two Islands and one Forest. Have Cruel Ultimatum in your deck? You know what to do. Don't make your life harder than it needs to be, especially in Modern.

The sideboard seemed kind of all over the place. We don't really have many answers to Amulet Bloom, but I'm not even sure what the good ones are aside from simply having ways to kill a Primeval Titan. Things like one Path to Exile, one Nihil Spellbomb, and one Spellskite all felt somewhat random, unfortunately, but the maindeck is actually explosive enough so that we were often able to get the job done anyway; that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement, however. I'm just not sure which way to take things in regards to the sideboard.

Either way I was a pretty big fan of the deck. Aristocrats-style decks have been powerful in the past, and doubling up on the "Blood Artist" creatures should make them stronger than ever. I can only imagine what happens when we add green for something like Abzan Ascendancy or Collected Company.

That's about it for today. I've created a public page on Facebook for all of my Magic content things, so be sure and give me a like. Friend requests were getting hard to keep up with and a lot of people just wanted to follow my Magic content rather than my personal posts. If you're looking to get updates on when I post a new video to YouTube, know when I have a new article, see when my stream goes live, or want to join in some cool discussions, be sure and give the page a "like."

I'll be back again on Thursday with some Standard action, which should be great because new Standard decks are popping up from weekend to weekend it seems. In the meantime you can check out my podcast, Freshly Brewed, with Ali Aintrazi. You can even help us out over on our Patreon. Thanks for reading and I'll see ya soon!

Frank Lepore
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