Judith Is The Best Blood Artist Of All-Time

Pro Tour Champion Ari Lax doesn’t need extra incentive to play the same kinds of strategies that Rally the Ancestors decks did! Could this Rakdos bomb be the kind of legend “Aristocrats” style decks need to return? Things are looking good!

I spent the last two weeks alluding to Gruesome Menagerie and the
Aristocrats sacrifice archetype as a potential rising star with Ravnica Allegiance. Godless Shrine, Blood Crypt, Rix Maadi
Reveler, the afterlife mechanic. They all pointed towards the pieces coming
together, but I was just waiting for one or two more cards to fall into

Judith, the Scourge Diva is beyond what I was hoping for. It’s the Blood
Artist we were looking for, and then so much more.

Basic Aristocrats

Let’s talk about the baselines here.

How have we surpassed Blood Artist this time?

Judith, the Scourge Diva is an actual Magic card and not a stupid 0/1.
Benalish Marshal won the last Pro Tour. You can just beat your opponent the
normal way with Judith if your sacrifice cards don’t completely come

Judith, the Scourge Diva turns death triggers into card advantage, not just
life loss. She picks off opposing creatures, and I literally have no idea
how you are supposed to declare blocks against her with anything short of a
6/6 that can’t die to a bonus ping or two.

What are the downsides?

The main thing Blood Artist can do that Judith can’t is stack. She’s a
legend, you can only have one copy of her to trigger per death. We can work
with that, and it isn’t like extra copies are actually dead. She is a
must-kill threat, already a flag for a playset legend. But if you control a
Judith and cast another, the second one dying triggers two pings. Duplicate
Judiths turning into Forked Bolt is a perfectly fine outcome.

Judith, the Scourge Diva is also one-sided, but so was Zulaport Cutthroat.
When you are building an Aristocrats-style deck you are always going to be
doing most of the creature death related things.

Judith, the Scourge Diva also only triggers off non-token creatures dying.
Fortunately, your tokens all still get +1/+0, so who really cares? This
just means you can’t solely fuel Judith off dedicated token makers, but I’m
absolutely fine sacrificing a Hunted Witness for a damage and a 2/1

What happens if we just throw some red and black creatures in with all the
synergies I discussed the last couple weeks and call it a day?

After a dive into the format, it was quickly clear the best thing you can
do along the same lines as Judith, the Scourge Diva is Midnight Reaper.
Honestly Midnight Reaper is a more powerful payoff for having your
creatures die, but Judith’s power boost lets your sacrificial dorks jam at
people. We are playing both, so it isn’t actually a contest.

The constricting factor on this whole amalgam is good ways to sacrifice
your own creatures. My current plan largely involves throwing things into
combat and letting that work itself out. This bottleneck is why I’ve
elected to drop low power cogs like Stitcher’s Supplier and Dusk Legion
Zealot. I want to pay mana for cards I want to attack with. I’m not in love
with Gutterbones as a one-drop, but it will do for now.

I want Seekers’ Squire to hit my fifth land for Gruesome Menagerie, but if
you are still on “friends don’t let friends play Seekers’ Squire,” there
are other two-drop options. Graveyard Marshal is the actual next card out;
I’m just concerned about double black costs and more slow grindy engines in
a deck trying to be low to the ground. Kitesail Freebooter is another
possible source of interaction in our all creature deck, and Goblin
Cratermaker could be another.

There is one old school style sacrifice outlet in Standard that also helps
with the one-drop issue. We already had twelve Goblins in the initial list,
so what does Skirk Prospector make the deck look like?

Okay, that mana is not nice, specifically being light on basic land types
for Dragonskull Summit. Even if Gruesome Menagerie looks like it gets way
better with more sacrifice outlets, the Goblin package pushes you towards
really heavy red and away from a more evenly split Rakdos manabase.
Unclaimed Territory is a nice extra black source that isn’t a Rakdos
Guildgate as all your black creatures are Humans, but it doesn’t cast
spells. I might be overcompensating, so feel free to try getting greedy
with more basic Swamps.

Another possible Goblin configuration involves going infinite. If you
control Runaway Steam-Kin and Goblin Warchief, with enough startup mana or
counters you can loop sacrificing Squee, the Immortal to Skirk Prospector.
It costs double red to cast a Warchief-reduced Squee, you get one back off
the sacrifice and another off the cast of a red spell once you remove +1/+1
counters from the Runaway Steam-Kin. With a Judith, the Scourge Diva or
Midnight Reaper you should be able to kill your opponent.

I may also be underestimating Legion Warboss. So far I’ve disliked the card
in aggro shells, but loved it as a solo threat backed by removal for their
blockers. With Judith, the Scourge Diva pumps or just filtering tokens
through Goblin Dark-Dweller or Siege-Gang Commander you might be getting
enough out of it as a source of throwaway bodies to consider it in a
removal-light deck like this one.

What about the classic Mardu configuration? If you just convert the basic
lands in the original list to white dual lands things should work out on
colors. Your filler low drops get a lot better when they produce a token on
death, but getting another reasonable sacrifice outlet is probably the
biggest addition. Pitiless Pontiff still costs mana to activate and doesn’t
have a tangible return so I’m not going to max out on the card, but more of
a needed effect at a fair price can’t hurt.

In my rush to talk about afterlife and pseudo-afterlife creatures, I think
I may have missed Legion’s Landing.
Last week I talked about the card
as a way to rush to Rix Maadi Reveler, but pushing towards five mana for
Gruesome Menagerie is probably better. Making 2/1 lifelink creatures with
Judith, the Scourge Diva is a lot better than the 1/1 baseline of Adanto,
the First Fort.

Where is Teysa Karlov? I don’t know, somewhere else. I feel like I would
rather keep my curve low and not worry about winning more once I have
Judith, the Scourge Diva or Midnight Reaper already on the battlefield.
Maybe if there are more good afterlife low drops I would want a couple, but
until there’s another death triggering one-drop I’m off it.

Still, these are all fairly straightforward engine decks. You aren’t really
comboing anyone out, you just are making some reasonable small attackers
and making trading for them annoying. Can we go bigger?

Jund Pseudo-Combo

A card that has kept my attention as oddly breakable since Guilds of Ravnica released is Kraul Harpooner. Its raw stat line
and ability to act as a Plummet versus various Angels was initially a pull
for the card in Steel Leaf Champion aggro, but it does have an arbitrary
power pump the turn it resolves even if it doesn’t fight a flier. If you
can somehow get it to attack that turn, you can do some pseudo-combo stuff.

If I said that would be a riot, would anyone get mad at me?

(Note: Rhythm of the Savages x4 is also in my list right now, but that

an unconfirmed card name

as of this writing.)

I may be overestimating how good the Kraul Harpooner with haste combo is
compared to just playing Golgari Raiders here, but the baseline of Kraul
Harpooner is an actual Magic card–you can not say that for Golgari

This isn’t a dedicated Judith, the Scourge Diva deck, but she seems to fit
here. You can layer a lot of power boosting effects between your riot
instances and Judith, allowing your random enabler dorks to punch through
basically anything.

While it might seem weird to shove a few red enchantments into a Golgari
undergrowth deck, I think Rhythm of the Savages is extremely powerful. Red
mana isn’t an issue either. The sheer volume of explore and Glowspore
Shaman means the extra color is mostly free, and another color of creatures
to recur with Find after self-milling them isn’t bad either.

Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth

Now we get to the truly weird stuff. While people may refer to the deck as
Aristocrats after the Blood Artist-era lists, the single most successful
deck with these effects was easily Rally the Ancestors. Gruesome Menagerie
is some recursion that lets you mimic the smaller engine part of the Rally
the Ancestors game, but it isn’t the full on Living Death effect you need
to be a real combo deck.

The core combo has three pieces. You need a way to drain life when
creatures die, a sacrifice outlet, and a way to bring back creatures en

We have a card that does recur all creatures. Well, mostly. Primevals’
Glorious Rebirth has a lot of asks

tied to it, but it does recur an arbitrary number of creatures. Judith, the
Scourge Diva happens to be a legendary creature for casting your big
legendary sorcery and getting recurred from it. Also, by nature of wanting
a bunch of legendary permanents to recur, you are going to have a lot of
legendary creatures so I’m honestly more worried about the seven mana part
of casting Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth than the legendary sorcery part.

The missing piece is a good sacrifice effect. There isn’t a legendary
creature that recurs to sacrifice things the way Nantuko Husk did. Are you
really paying an extra two mana on top of your seven mana sorcery to
Torgaar, Famine Incarnate them?

Even if you add another piece, there isn’t a free sacrifice outlet. You
have to pay mana to convert creatures to death triggers unless they have
the creature type Goblin. That doesn’t make a great combo kill.

We can also just use Comprehensive Rules 704.5j. To quote: “The is called
the ‘legend rule.'” This is an old Rally the Ancestors trick, where
sometimes you would get your Nantuko Husks exiled to Infinite Obliteration
and just have to legend rule a few Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy to drain them out.

If your deck is just playsets of legendary creatures and you cast
Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth, you can have a lot of death triggers due to
multiple legends dying.

Even if it is right to call this deck ambitious, there’s a lot of stuff
trying to tie it together.

There’s a lot of on plan legendary permanents pushing you towards seven

Almost all of your legendary creatures and Diligent Excavator are Humans,
so Unclaimed Territory helps with the full on Grixis creature base.

You have Rona, Disciple of Gix as a creature to recur Primevals’ Glorious
Rebirth. Not really to chain the card multiple times, but to let you use
the self mill aspect of the deck to find your kill condition. Azcanta, the
Sunken Ruin also helps dig for your key spell. If you really needed to go
deeper, Mausoleum Secrets works as a tutor when your gameplan is humming

You also have ways to really layer Judith, the Scourge Diva for clean
kills. Not only do multiple Judiths stack, they double stack with Teya
Karlov, and you can preemptively Lazav, the Multifarious for more copies of
your key legendary creatures. Rules note: all of these Judith triggers
check the gamestate before everything died, so you get bonus triggers for
multiple Teysas as well as multiple Judiths.

The weakest link here is how hard this deck leans on Diligent Excavator to
churn through its library. Even if Diligent Excavator is the perfect card
for the deck, there isn’t a good backup plan and the next best cards aren’t
that good. Stitcher’s Supplier is a few cards, Search for Azcanta is a few,
and Lazav, the Multifarious might be another, but you need a fair amount to
go right without a constant churn of cards to graveyard.

I’ve seen Drowned Secrets used successfully in other decks, but I don’t
think the color spread of this deck works out right. That also involves
Radical Idea taking up deck slots to really dig through cards, and possibly
loading up with Wand of Vertebrae. If you can find a smaller kill package
this might be a good route to pursue, but I wonder if it’s even better than
the known self-mill package of Creeping Chill plus Arclight Phoenix if you
are that spell dense.

You may be able to compromise with some Chart a Course style effects. Rix
Maadi Reveler and Rowdy Crew are even more Humans!

The non-Judith kill option for Primevals’ Glorious Rebirth is Garna, the
Bloodflame. You can get a bunch of good attackers back and give them haste
with Garna, the Bloodflame, but that’s loose. You would need to load up on
more expensive threats, and once you do that your deck is a clunky garbage
fire. I would rather not want to light my cards on fire when I draw an
opening hand, and the Judith package is all castable creatures.

Judith, the Showstopper

We already knew Blood Artist effects are powerful, and Judith, the Scourge
Devil does not disappoint. She can put on the full performance from low end
aggro threat to full on combo enabler. Like I said last week with Rix Maadi
Reveler, that kind of extreme versatility and power is absolutely

This iteration of Rakdos isn’t your typical hellbent or unleash aggro or
bust nonsense. The guild is reaching for something more in Ravnica Allegiance and it is almost assured to get there.