I have an Aristocrats problem in Commander. At one point I had nearly 20 decks built and a third of them had a pretty significant Aristocrats element. While there are many ways to play Aristocrats – shorthand for sacrifice for value – mine all fooled around in similar space. As a result I was never fully happy with any of the decks while enjoying all of them. At the start of quarantine I resolved to reduce the number of decks I had built and parse down my collection. This meant taking a hard look at all my dying friends and figure out which one to keep together.
It surprised me when the solution was Whisper, Blood Liturgist.
Back when this card was first spoiled I exclaimed that I felt it had been designed just for me. It’s a sacrifice engine that has a drawback that you could turn into an advantage. The card I most wanted to pair with Whisper was Thornbite Staff. Taken together each iteration of Whisper would yield two untap Ttriggers from Thornbite, which could then be used, with a little work, to generate an unbound number of “enters the battlefield” and “dies” triggers. I built a fairly resilient deck, focused on protecting Whisper and her Staff and promptly set it aside.
Like I said before, I had a lot of decks that played in similar space. My Elenda deck ran every Grave Pact, my Grenzo deck was where I leveraged Nim Deathmantle combos, and Savra was a generic sacrifice/control deck. When I decided to reduce the number of options I had Whisper wasn’t even an option – I was going to put together a Teysa, Orzhov Scion deck to take over that role.
So what changed? I got obsessed with something old and something new.
I couldn’t get this combination out of my head. But it was bothering me because again, this hypothetical deck would play in the same space as Savra and Teysa. I had an a ha moment and remember another Commander I love that has been left by the wayside in Sek’Kuar, Deathkeeper. Now I had an Abzan and Jund deck taking pieces of three existing builds.
- Abzan Birthing Pod, which would focus on combos with Altar of Dementia and Blasting Station
- Sek’Kuar Living Death (and excuse to run Death Pit Offering)
- Whisper Aristocrats/Grave Pacts
So how does Whisper work? The entire goal is to set up a turn where you can stick Whisper with Staff and go to town. So much of the deck is dedicated to protecting the combo pieces. Black does not have a ton of options for recurring artifacts so I had to get creative and dig into Artifacts and Lands to get the job done. The deck does have a series of backup kills involving Deathmantle tricks and an unbound amount of mana.
And then there’s this polarizing card. Contamination is a card I love playing and often does nothing when there are enough rocks out. Sometimes I’m up against other black decks and it barely hurts them. Other times it buys me the time I need to win the game. I know this card is controversial – part of playing Magic is getting the chance to play Magic. So if I ever play Whisper at a more casual table – something I’m not likely to do – there’s a chance I simply wouldn’t play Contamination, even if I drew it. There are also times I’m going to slam it early and ride it to victory.
Where does Whisper go from here? I’m always on the lookout for more low cost token generators (hello Weaponcraft Enthusiast) and sacrifice outlets. Maybe one day in the future Wizards will print a piece of equipment that serve as redundancy for Thornbite Staff, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.