Adventures in the Forgotten Realms introduced a whole slew of “treasures matter” cards, like Kalain, Reclusive Painter and Xorn. Kaldheim had a bunch of treasure producers, too, like Goldspan Dragon and Magda, Brazen Outlaw, and they even showed up in Strixhaven. With the renewed focus on these tokens, it got me thinking about their first introduction all the way back in Ixalan, and the old pirates that made them. I wondered how well everything would fit together. The gears started to turn, and I booted up Arena to start brewing.

My first step would be to figure out what colours I wanted to be in. Of course, treasures can allow you to splash pretty much any colour, but it seemed prudent to start with only two or three; too ambitious a mana base can scupper a deck before it even gets off the ground, and I wasn’t even sure this idea would work to begin with. I wanted to try out Kalain, Reclusive Painter in particular, so I decided to stick with red and black. After slapping together a pile of eighty cards or so, I got to work trimming it down until I had something that looked playable.

Historic Treasures (v.1)


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

This first version of the deck had a little bit of everything; some early treasure production with Kalain and Wily Goblin, some interaction with Fatal Push and Lightning Strike, and a notable three drop: Mayhem Devil.

The Devil popped up while I was looking at my multicolour options, and the fact that it triggered off of sacrificing treasures was too cool to pass up. The first version of the deck didn’t really have any way of sacrificing its creatures other than Deadly Dispute, but I was hopeful that I could generate enough treasures between Captain Lannery Storm, Goldspan Dragon and Xorn that it wouldn’t matter.

That wasn’t quite the case.

Historic Treasures (v.2)


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

+ 1 Captain Lannery Storm
+ 3 Thoughtseize
+ 2 Wily Goblin

– 3 Deadly Dispute
– 1 Devour Intellect
– 1 Fatal Push
– 1 Xorn

(Sideboard added)

After several miserable losses, I knew the list needed some adjusting. As much as I dislike the card, it occured to me that Thoughtseize would fit right into this deck. Devour Intellect was already doing pretty well at fighting some of the explosive plays possible in this format, and more early hand attack felt like a good direction to go in. Getting everything set up with this deck could take several turns, and without early interaction I didn’t think I would survive long enough to have my own big turn.

It pains me to say it, but Thoughtseize did help. At least a bit.

Historic Treasures (v.3)


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

+ 1 Castle Locthwain
+ 2 Deadly Dispute
+ 1 Devour Intellect
+ 3 Immersturm Predator
+ 3 Village Rites

– 2 Fatal Push
– 1 Goldspan Dragon
– 3 Lightning Strike
– 1 Mountain
– 1 Swamp
– 1 Wily Goblin
– 1 Xorn

+ 1 Fatal Push
+ 1 Field of Ruin
+ 1 Lightning Strike

– 1 Devour Intellect
– 1 Immerstrum Predator
– 1 Thoughtseize

I cut Deadly Dispute in the previous version of the deck because it felt too slow, but I quickly learned how much the deck needed a way to cycle through its cards. Once I’d played out my hand, that was it, and if it wasn’t enough I was just dead. So Dispute came back in, alongside Village Rites and a Castle Locthwain as a way to refuel.

I was gradually leaning into an Aristocrats style with this deck, which meant Immerstrum Predator was looking like a reasonable inclusion. I was already toying with it in the sideboard as a way to survive Doomskar or Wrath of God, and its synergies with Mayhem Devil were worth trying out. I moved it to the main deck to try it out.

With all these additions I was running out of room in the list. It was a tough call, but I decided to move all of my on-board interaction to the sideboard, short of Mayhem Devil. This was a gamble, since it would leave me vulnerable to my opponent’s big plays, but it would allow me to really lean into the treasue synergies. It would really only be a problem in best of one games anyway, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for good matchups.

It actually went better than I expected, though my games were feeling a little inconsistent.

Historic Treasures (v.4)


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

+ 3 Blood Aspirant
+ 1 Phyrexian Tower
+ 1 Village Rites

– 2 Deadly Dispute
– 1 Goldspan Dragon
– 2 Xorn


I took a critical look at the list and found that Xorn was just too slow for what I was trying to do. It could lead to some really explosive turns, especially alongside Deadly Dispute, but I rarely had time to get it into play before playing out my treasure generators. On those few occasions that I did, Xorn usually ate a removal spell before doing anything, or I was already in a commanding enough position that the extra treasures didn’t matter. Xorn was one of the catalysts for building this deck in the first place, so it felt bad to cut it entirely, but I knew that doing so would open up a lot of room.

Without Xorn, my mana curve felt a lot better; I could play a Shambling Ghast or Thoughtseize on turn one, with a Wily Goblin or Kalain on turn two, and then follow it all up with an Immersturm Predator or Captain Lannery Storm on turn three. With an extra treasure token kicking around I could even keep up Village Rites, effectively blanking the first removal spell used against me.

On top of all that, if I could draw a Mayhem Devil it would let me really take over the battlefield. The trouble was, without it I found myself spinning my wheels. Treasures only gets you so far if you don’t have a payoff for them.

That’s when I started looking for other ways to benefit from sacrificing artifacts. Blood Aspirant came up almost immediately (probably because I was searching alphabetically), and while it looks at first blush to be more of an enchantment card, it triggers off of sacrificing any permanent type. I immediately saw its potential in this list, and I dashed to my computer to find room for it. Throwing around damage with Mayhem Devil might still the best thing this deck can do, but an ever-growing satyr is really effective at stalling the board or threatening big attacks.

This new version of the deck was working pretty well, so I decided to leave it alone for a while. That plan only lasted about a week, as I got the itch to tinker with it again. Surely I could still improve it….

Historic Treasures (v.5)


Deck by Ben Iverach-Brereton

+ 1 Castle Locthwain
+ 2 Fabled Passage
+ 1 Immersturm Predator
+ 2 Magda, Brazen Outlaw
+ 1 Thoughtseize

+ 2 Witch’s Oven

– 4 Devour Intellect
– 2 Goldspan Dragon
– 1 Phyrexian Tower
– 2 Swamp


Looking at the deck with a fresh set of eyes did a lot of good. I could be more critical of cards that previously felt like stable inclusions, like Goldspan Dragon. As splashy as it was, it would often get stuck in my hand while I spent my treasure on other spells. If I could actually cast it, it was powerful, but trying to save up my mana for it created an odd tension with the rest of my hand.

Meanwhile, Immersturm Predator presented a similar (arguably better) threat at one mana cheaper; unlike the Goldspan Dragon I could potentially get the Predator out as early as turn three, and its ability to become indestructible meant it was much easier to keep it in play. Plus, this gave me more ways to interact with my opponent’s graveyard, which would prove useful against the likes of Kroxa, Lurrus and Unburial Rites.

I would miss the haste and getting extra mana with my treasures, but having a cheaper top end to my mana curve would ultimately be worth it.

Continuing my critique, I found that Devour Intellect was losing a lot of its initial luster. I often had it in my opening hand, but would want to wait to cast it until I had a treasure to spare. This often led to games where I would fire off a late discard spell to stop my opponent from doing something scary, only to be unable to deal with their early play and then find myself stumbling on mana a few turns later. It felt weird to cut half of my interaction, and I briefly experimented with Spark Harvest in its place, but that ended up feeling worse.

I needed to find what was working and find a way to double up on it instead. That was the whole reason I moved all my removal spells to my sideboard, after all!

Looking back at the list, Captain Lannery Storm was impressing me more and more. Not only was she a repeatable source of treasure, but was able to deal massive chunks of damage if left unblocked. With enough treasures she could trade with my opponent’s larger creatures, and if they left her alone I could just stockpile my resources; it was a win-win.

Games where she showed up usually went well, and I was rarely sad to have a backup copy in my hand, since I knew she’d die eventually. I initially thought Goldspan Dragon would provide some redundancy for the Captain, but as I said before, five mana was just too much.

Now, if I could find a backup for Captain Lannery Storm that cost less mana, that just might hit the spot….

Cue Magda, Brazen Outlaw. I wasn’t sure about her at first; this wasn’t a dwarf deck, so her buff was already useless. Plus, I couldn’t generate that explosive burst of treasure with her that I’d come to expect from her triggered ability.

That said, without any other dwarves she was effectively a miniature Captain Storm: she would generate a treasure token each time she attacked. At only one toughness I was worried I wouldn’t actually get to swing with her very often, though I could mitigate that with some treasures and Kalain in play. Plus, if I sequenced it well I could attack with Magda, create my fifth treasure, then cash it all in for an Immersturm Predator. Or a Treasure Vault. Or the other new addition to the deck: a Witch’s Oven.

This must be the fairest use of Witch’s Oven in all of Historic; I don’t have any fancy combos with it, and I don’t even have a dedicated payoff for food tokens. It’s literally here as a cheap sacrifice outlet so I can trigger Blood Aspirant and Mayhem Devil, nothing more.

That said, the life gain from the food tokens is actually pretty useful, especially against aggressive decks. And even in control matchups it’s nice to offset the life loss from Thoughtseize and Castle Locthwain; I’ve been really impressed with how well the Oven fits into the deck.

The fact that sacrificing a food token also triggers the Aspirant and the Devil is a nice bonus, too.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t set out to make Rakdos Aristocrats, but I kind of fell into it by accident. That said, because the deck focuses so much on sacrificing treasures instead pf creatures, it feels quite different from Aristocrats builds I’ve played in the past. Sequencing things properly is an interesting puzzle to figure out each game, since you want to maximize your sacrifice triggers but also want to spend your treasures to get your creatures into play sooner. I’m still getting the hang of it.

I will say this, though: turning Treasure Vault into a makeshift Fireball with Mayhem Devil is one of the sweetest things I’ve done in a while. I highly recommend it.

I won’t claim that I’ve stumbled on the perfect deck, far from it, but I’m really pleased with the improvements I’ve made from where this list started. I’ve smoothed out a lot of the rough edges, and the end result has proven to be a lot of fun. If you’re looking for something a little different to play in Historic, you should give it a try.

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