Note: Experience with aristocrat builds are advised before picking this up, as it can be quite a difficult deck to pilot.

This Aristocrat take on the treasure theme seeks to build a solid defense, while slowly leading our opponent to a position where our play-set of Torment of Hailfire can do optimal damage. It seeks to win the game through sheer CA rather than outright killing our opponent with the above-mentioned spell. I usually just give a description of each card's function in the deck, but because i think playing this right is of utmost importance, i will go through a turn by turn game-plan instead, with a quick overview of the game-plan to start things off.

Card overview:

(you can skip this part if you can see what each card is supposed to do.)


Ruthless Knave: This guy is our bread and butter card. The deck can create treasures without him, but he effectively doubles our treasure production and our card draws. He is also the engine for an infinite combo hidden in this deck.

Pitiless Plunderer: This guy is a solid blocker, and he gives us a treasure whenever another creature dies, so he works towards everything this deck is trying to do. He is a little high on the curve for what he does, but ill take it.

Gleaming Barrier: This is our most solid 2 drop blocker, and gives us a treasure upon death. Blocking and finding treasures is all we want out of our creatures, so this guy fits like a glove.

Dire Fleet Hoarder: This is a chump blocker that gives us a treasure when he dies. Weaker than Gleaming Barrier in almost every way, but it still does all the things we want it to.

Martyr of Dusk: Now this card is sweet in the chump blocking compartment. It chumps 2 turns in a row, so its effectively a 2in1, 3in1 alongside Anointed Procession. Its a very very efficient chump blocker, and it needs to be here even though I really don't like vampires.


Anointed Procession: This card does nothing by itself, but it interacts with every single creature we have, and one or two of our spells as well. It just doubles the speed at which we do everything we want to do.

Ixalan's Binding: This is probably one of the best restrictive spells in standard atm, as it allows you to deal with every copy of the thing that hurts you most. This thing delays games, and that is exactly where we want to be.


Torment of Hailfire: This is our main win-con. The treasure theme allows this to hit much harder than it should, and the play-set of this we have allows us to play it not only as a instant win-con, but also as a means to cripple our opponent.

Dusk / Dawn: This card does lots of things for us. It acts as a pseudo board-wipe against all creatures that can kill our dedicated blockers. From the graveyard it brings back all our creatures apart from Ruthless Knave to our hand, allowing us to play and sack them again. In a deck that seeks to destroy our own creatures, we need a means to get them back.

Oketra's Last Mercy: Because we are playing so defensively, there are times it will be in our best interest to take damage directly, and there may even be times we have no other choice. Because of this, our life-points can drop really low at times, and the only way for us to survive is to gather a whole bunch of life from somewhere. Healing up 16 life-points when you are at 4 gives you a few extra turns to get your things in order. Often times, that is all you need.

Fumigate: This card takes the board-wipe slot over Settle the Wreckage because of a few main reasons. 1. it gains us life, which is great for extending the game. 2. Most of our creatures give us something when they die, so we get a much better deal out of it than our opponent does. 3. Opponents cannot play around it like they can against Settle the Wreckage, which is important in matchups where our opponents go wide. The downside is this kills card: Ruthless kave , it is played at sorcery speed and it costs 1 CMC more. The upside is that next to Revel in Riches, it just wins you the game.

Mastermind's Acquisition: Now normally i don't like tutor cards, but this may be the only exception. For this deck to run optimally, i need to find my win-con, card:Torment in hailfire, and i need to find my play-maker, Ruthless Knave. 4/5 a play-set does this regardless, but for that off-chance that it doesn't, we need an extra chance to find those cards. Since we are playing this anyway, i figured why not add some side-board shenanigans for optimal use of this card that i don't like in the 4/5 case that we do find both our win-con and playmaker. In the side-board we are running some off-color shockers. Journey to Eternity   can help us protect our Ruthless Knave; it can also be played on any other creature and sacked through Ruthless Knave to flip it. Once flipped, it allows us to bring back our Ruthless Knave or any other creature in a pinch. Cut / Ribbons is basically a kill-spell we can find later in the game, and from the graveyard it acts as a win-con against those pesky token decks that go so wide that Torment of Hailfire struggles to get the job done. Additionally it can also find us Tetzimoc, Primal Death so we can start preying to setup a board-wipe the next turn. Finally we can find Revel in Riches, which isn't a good enough card to find room in the main-board, and is even tough to sideboard in, but playing it from the side-board seems perfectly viable as a possible win-con, or in anticipation for Fumigate.


Costly Plunder: At instant speed, this becomes a worth while card draw mechanic, as we can draw 2 cards and often ramp 1-2 manna for our turn when we play this at the end of our opponents second main-phase.

Start / Finish: This card gives us 2 chump blockers, 4 alongside Anointed Procession, and from the graveyard its an unconditional kill-spell. This card has some mean defensive power to it. It just does lots of everything we want to do, and so it is a core card in this deck. The best possible turn 3 play we have.


We rely quite heavily on playing something on turn 2, which is why slowlands don't really help our cause at all. We do have room to play one on turn 1 though, so we can add a few. The problem is that due to the treasure theme, we may not really need lands past a certain point, so cycle lands can be useful. With the land base i am trying to keep it as fast as possible, while also cycling or destroying deserts for some sort of gain. I think the number is right considering treasures. I wouldn't go lower than 22 however. Suggestions are welcome in terms of the actual lands themselves though.

The game plan:

Torment of Hailfire is a very powerful spell that either ends games right there, or hurts our opponent so much to where they struggle to recover. The problem with it, however, is that it gives our opponents all the options.

They can choose to:

-Discard cards

-Pay life-points

-Sacrifice permanents

Or any combination of the 3. It is our goal to limit their choices before we cast the spell.

We do this by:

-Waiting till they are in top-deck mode, leaving them unable to discard cards.

-Playing it after a successful board-wipe type mechanic, leaving them unable to sacrifice creatures.

-Hitting their life-points, leaving them unable to pay life-points.

Notice how 2 of the 3 methods of playing an optimal Torment of Hailfire require us to be patient, not to mention the time it takes to collect the manna we need to put into playing the spell itself. This means we will be looking at creating a strong defense consisting of spells that deter our opponents from attacking, kill-spells, and dedicated blockers and chump blockers.

I believe the Orzhov route does this most efficiently, and I also believe that looking towards treasures is the fastest way to get the manna required for a proper Torment of Hailfire

Note: In regards to treasures, the ideal situation would be to sack Gleaming Barrier/Dire Fleet Hoarder with Ruthless Knave while Pitiless Plunderer and Anointed Procession is in play. This gives you 8 treasures total. The bare-bones Gleaming Barrier / Dire Fleet Hoarder ; Ruthless Knave way gives us 3 treasures, which still isn't bad, as another way of looking at it, is paying 3 manna to ramp you by 3 the next turn. Lastly, sacking a normal creature like Martyr of Dusk or one of our tokens give us 2 treasures. This is sub-optimal early in the game, but it gets infinitely better once you have an Anointed Procession on the field.

                                      **Turn to turn plays:**

Turn 1:

We do not have any 1 drops, so if you happened to have a slow-land, now is the time to play it.

Turn 2:

Here is where we have lots of options, and i will go through all of them. Now obviously if you only have 1 2 drop, you will play that, but if you have more than one, this is the order of importance. If we have a Gleaming Barrier, it is our best turn 2 play in all scenarios, as a 0/4 blocker isn't something anything can get past before turn 4. The fact that it gives us a treasure when it dies mean that even if our opponent uses a removal spell to open up an attack, we still got something out of the deal. If we do not have Gleaming Barrier, it is in our best interest to take the first turn2-3 attack from our opponent in the face. This means we can play Dire Fleet Hoarder or Martyr of Dusk , the first if we don't have a third manna drop, and the second if we do. We can then hit them after they hit us, and if they didn't attack in, we can just leave the board be. Notice that all these creatures gain us something from dying. They are not the best defenders, but they are efficient.

Turn 3:

Again, we have quite a few options here. Our best play would be Start / Finish, as it is such an efficient card that sets up a turn 4 kill. We can also bring Ruthless Knave into the play to setup our turn 4 play. We can use Costly Plunder if we don't have a decent hand and sack one of our 2 drop creatures to draw some cards and possibly get a treasure. We can also play one of our 2 drops. We will want to chump this turn if possible, as we do not want to lose too much life too fast, unless we are given the room to do so. If we have a copy of Oketra's Last Mercy in hand, we may want to opt for taking hits instead and swinging in when their guard is down. Most players will be fine with that since they will do more damage 90% of the time due to the limited offensive capability our creatures have.

Turn 4:

This is where our play will be highly influenced by what our opponent is doing. We can hold up a Settle the Wreckage if we think an attack may be coming in. We can also play Ixalan's Binding if they have one of their key creatures on the field. We can play Dusk / Dawn if they have 1 or 2 stronger creatures out as well. If these spells aren't required, we can also drop in a Pitiless Plunderer against mild aggression, as it is a solid blocker, or Anointed Procession if we are either given the room or have a follow-up play that will take advantage of that. We can also drop a 2-3 drop.

Turn 5:

Yet another turn where we want to act on what they do. Most of our plays thus far is viable. If we elected to take hits rather than chump because of our Oketra's Last Mercy in hand, we may want to play this now, as the next turn we will be forced to chump or be threatened for lethal. Fumigate is a good play against a board that is getting out of hand. Mastermind's Acquisition may also be played here if we have no more urgent play we need to think about.

Turn 6:

By this time in the game, aggro decks will either be in top-deck mode, or very close to it. At the same time control decks may be starting to play a cheaper creature if they feel they are threatened on the board. This is the perfect time to drop 6-8 manna into Torment of Hailfire as our opponents will be relatively limited in their choices. Note that I am almost 100% sure that they will opt to take life-point damage, which is perfectly fine for us. We expected this, they don't expect us to have 3 more copies in our deck. What this means is that the next time you torment, it will cripple your opponents means to combat you. If they are too wide on the board however, we may want to hold off on that Torment of Hailfire until it can actually do some damage. We want to hurt our opponent in one way or another, and killing 4-5 tokens really doesnt since we cannot capitalize on the change in the board-state.

Turn 7:

Our white restrictive spells are still very viable, as is the treasure combos we have. What we will want to do now is to keep them at bay. We also want to work on getting a few more treasures on the board, as we want to play our next Torment of Hailfire ASAP.

Turn 8:

If you have a Torment of Hailfire, play it now. This time around, paying life isn't an option; neither are discarding cards for aggro decks. They need to touch their permanents at this stage, meaning you contained them effectively providing they don't have what it takes to kill you yet. Against control decks, if this lands, this time around they will either have to empty their hand or touch their lands, either of which is a near death-sentence for control.

Turn 9:

Keep doing what you're doing. You have lots of card draw at this stage through Ruthless Knave and Treasure Cove, and if you exhaust your creatures you can always play Dusk / Dawn from the graveyard, as apart from Ruthless Knave, everything else gets a free ticket back to your hand.

Now i understand that your opponent also plays the game, and we might not always have the best answer to the given problem in hand, but this is only meant as a guideline to point us in the right direction, not as a be all end all set of rules.

                                         **Do's and dont's:**

Do play Torment of Hailfire whenever you judge it will hurt. Don't be too stingy about them. you have 4 copies and your first one doesn't have to kill your opponent. Do play Ruthless Knave like a legendary creature. Don't ever have more than one copy on the field. You lose these guys, you don't get them back. Do play Dusk / Dawn when it will kill stuff, preferably before you play Ruthless Knave or after it dies, since you don't want to kill him yourself if you can help it. Even 1 good creature is worth playing this for, as it is even better in the graveyard. Do sacrifice your creatures in response to being destroyed, Don't just sacrifice your entire line of defense unless it will win you the game. Do use your treasures. Don't be stingy with them and wait for Revel in Riches. I know that it can win games, but usually its better played to break the tie, not as an all in chase the Revel in Riches win-con from the start. There is a reason there is only 1 copy in the deck. It isn't really meant to be a win-con, rather a bait as you know when people see treasures in black they think about this card. Don't attack with your creatures unless you have sufficient blockers left to block the next turn. You can win perfectly fine without ever attacking with anything. That being said, if you can sneak 1 or 2 damage in here or there, why the heck not.

                                        **Infinite combo:**

So the glorious infinite combo we come to at last. The pieces you will need is at least 6 lands, 1Ruthless Knave, which will be our engine, 1 Pitiless Plunderer, 2 Anointed Procession, and 1Start / Finish in hand. It works even better if you had another creature like Dire Fleet Hoarder/Gleaming Barrier on the field already to start things off with, but it isn't necessary. So what you do is play Start / Finish for 6 token warriors. Then use your remaining 3 manna to sack one for 9 treasures, then sack another one using treasures. Do this 6 times, and you got a whopping 39 treasures. Now start drawing cards until you get your next creature, play it, sack it, draw more, play next creature, sack it and so on and so on. with cards like Dusk / Dawn you can just get all your critters from the graveyard if your deck is running out of them, just wait until you find a copy of Ruthless Knave to replace the one that will die. Continue doing this until you have a ton of creatures to sack on the field, and a copy or two of Torment of Hailfire in hand. As mentioned, at its earliest, this can be pulled off at turn 6. but it will almost never happen at that time, in fact, it shouldn't happen at all. Its just a cute little thing that you should keep way in the back of your mind. I found this by accident during play-testing, so obviously there is a small chance of this actually happening.


Updates Add

Swapped out Settle the Wreckage for Fumigate as it cant be played around by wide boards such as merfolk. Added another land to help the higher CMC cost in exchange for 1 Dire Fleet Hoarder. Now the creature-line is exactly how it started out lol, except for the extra copy of Start / Finish. The only other change from the original was dropping the 2 Treasure Map  Flip i had. These proved to be too slow and not important enough for my treasure production. I might put them in the side-board against decks that dont have any form of Artifact removal, but they are few in the current meta.


Date added 2 years
Last updated 1 year
Exclude colors URG

This deck is not Standard legal.

Rarity (main - side)

13 - 6 Rares

18 - 0 Uncommons

14 - 9 Commons

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 3.78
Tokens */* Vampire, Treasure
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