Sacrifice decks are MTG decks that rely on deliberately sending their own permanents to the graveyard for beneficial effects. Decks built around sacrificing creatures are sometimes known as Aristocrats decks due to cards like Falkenrath Aristocrat and Vampire Aristocrat which have sacrifice effects that power them up. Though it may seem counterintuitive to deliberately get rid of your own permanents, pay-off cards like Deadly Dispute and Ashnod’s Altar can ensure the reward is worth the cost. Here are 10 of the best Commanders you can build around if you’re looking to try out a sacrifice strategy.
10. Ashnod the Uncaring
The newest Commander on our list was released only last November in the Mishra’s Burnished Banner Brothers’ War Commander deck. Ashnod the Uncaring allows you to copy activated abilities, from creatures and artifacts, which require a sacrifice. Your Burnished Harts will fetch you four lands, your Mindslavers will let you control two different opponents and your Time Sieves will give you two additional turns! The limitation that Ashnod can’t duplicate mana abilities exists solely to prevent her from completely breaking the game with treasure tokens. Though she may be new, Ashnod, the Uncaring is definitely a Commander to watch out for.
9. Baba Lysaga, Night Witch
Baba Lysaga, Night Witch
or “Baby Lasagna
” as the community has nicknamed her is a Commander who opens up some really creative deck-building possibilities. Baba Lysaga
can be tapped down in order to sacrifice up to three permeants. If those permanents have three or more card types each opponent loses three life, you gain three life and draw three cards. The key to making a Baba Lysaga decks work is to fill it with permanents with as many card types as possible. Cards like Mishra’s Factory
and Inkmoth Nexus
work great in Baba Lysaga decks because they can have three cards types simultaneously, enabling her effect with only a single sacrifice. Make sure you keep a few cards like Patriar’s Seal
and Thousand-Year Elixir
in the deck so that you can activate Baba Lysaga’s effect multiple times in a turn.
8. Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker
Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker
is the oldest card on our list, dating back to the set Betrayers of Kamigawa from 2005. During the end step, Shirei
brings back all of the creatures with power one or less which went from the battlefield to the graveyard that turn. A Shirei deck wants to be loaded full of as many one or zero-power creatures you can find with powerful enter the battlefield effects or death triggers. Take cards like Bone Shredder
, Serrated Scorpion
and Sling-Gang Lieutenant
, mix them in with some sacrifice outlets like Deadly Dispute
, Viscera Seer
, and Bolas’s Citadel
and you’ll have the makings of a Shirei deck. Notably, Shirei returns creatures from the graveyard both during your end step and the end step of your opponents’ turns. Don’t be afraid to use your horde of 1/1s to chump block or to sacrifice them repeatedly.
7. Juri, Master of the Revue
Juri, Master of the Revue
decks have a simple game plan, but one which is undeniably effective. Every time you sacrifice a creature, Juri gets a +1/+1 counter
if, at any point, Juri should die he deals damage equal to his power to any target. For only two mana Juri can be brought out exceedingly early in the game. You can buff Juri to be very strong, very quickly through some sacrifices, and then punch through and finish off opponents with Commander damage. In an emergency, or as a means of closing out the game, you can even use one of your sacrifice outlets to kill Juri himself, activating his death trigger and dealing a potentially huge amount of damage to an opponent.
6. Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest
The Sub-Commander of the 2015 Precon “Waking the Graves”. Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest is a five-mana 2/2 flyer that grants every creature you control a +1/+1 counter whenever a creature gets sacrificed. One thing which makes Mazirek stand out is that his ability triggers whenever any player sacrifices a permanent. This combos exceedingly well with cards like Plaguecrafter and Fleshbag Marauder who will grant every creature you control four +1/+1 counters, in a four-player game where every player sacrifices at least one creature. Mazirek decks require you to strike the right balance between going wide, and also reliably having enough creatures to sacrifice to activate Mazirek’s ability. If you can thread this needle you can brew some really powerful decks around this insect shaman.
5. Ziatora, the Incinerator
Ziatora, the Incinerator
is the draconic head of the Riveteers, one of the crime families of New Capenna
is slightly unusual as a sacrifice Commander because she wants you to sacrifice powerful creatures. Most sacrifice Commanders end up sacrificing lots of 1/1s and weak tokens because these don’t cost a lot of mana to generate. While it is certainly possible to sacrifice 1/1s to Ziatora, her ability rewards you for sacrificing stronger creatures. Cards like Phytotitan
, and Daemogoth Titan
are all great targets to be sacrificed to Ziatora in order to deal some real damage, The treasures generated by Ziatora also enable you to work some artifact synergies into your deck, or even pull off a Revel in Riches
4. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
One of the most impactful cards released in Modern Horizons, which was a very powerful set. Yawgmoth brings together sacrifice strategies and counter-based strategies due to being a sacrifice outlet that also has a powerful proliferate effect
. Use Yawgmoth’s first ability to cover your opponents’ creatures in -1/-1 counters and then proliferate to build those counters up until they reduce threats to nothing. If you can put some poison counter-generating cards
like Infectious Inquiry
and Ichor Rats
into your deck, Yawgmoth can proliferate those as well, though this does risk making you public enemy number one at your table.
3. Teysa Karlov
doubles all of your death triggers and also buffs all of your creature tokens. By building a Sacrifice-focussed deck around Teysa, you can activate these death triggers at will. This card debuted in Ravnica Allegiance and was designed to support the Afterlife mechanic in the set, doubling the number of spirit tokens generated when cards like Ministrant of Obligation
and Orzhov Enforcer
die and also giving those tokens some useful keyword abilities. With the vastly increased card pool in Commander, there is so much more that Teysa can do. Drain 10 life from every opponent when your Kokusho, the Evening Star
dies, or create two treasures whenever anything dies with Pitiless Plunderer
. The possibilities are endless.
2. Meren of Clan Nel Toth
Meren of Clan Nel Toth
was the primary Commander of the 2015 Precon “Waking the Graves”. Meren
is a significantly more popular Commander than Mazirek and it’s easy to see why. Meren gives you an experience counter whenever a creature you control dies, meaning it’s very easy to generate a huge number of these counters in a sacrifice deck. Then, during your end step, Meren reanimates a creature in your graveyard with a mana value less than or equal to the number of experience counters you have. With some self-mill or discard effects it’s easy to get a powerful creature like a Butcher of Malakir
into your graveyard and then reanimate it with Meren significantly earlier than you would be able to hard cast it. Meren also lets you loop powerful enter the battlefield effects, or death triggers by repeatedly reanimating and then sacrificing your creatures.
1. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King
Throne of Eldraine was an infamously powerful set and this was especially true of the Brawl decks that were released alongside it. Korvold, Fae-Cursed King is, at the time of writing, the tenth most popular Commander of all time according to EDHREC data. What makes Korvold so powerful is that the card is a both a sacrifice enabler and a payoff. Korvold sacrifices a creature when he enters play or attacks and then rewards you for sacrificing a creature by drawing a card and gaining a +1/+1 counter. Drawing a card every single time a creature gets sacrificed is an exceedingly powerful effect that shouldn’t be underestimated and Korvold decks should never have problems with card advantage as long as they keep the sacrifices flowing.
Ziatora, the Incinerator
is a pretty powerful card, but when it comes to Draconic sacrifice Commanders, Korvold is the one true king.
Read more: Top 10 MTG Best Commander Cards in Phyrexia: All Will Be One