• Unlucky Frog Gaming

Magic Tactica: Mardu Venga Bus and Orzhov Aristocrats

By Josh Hartley

Hello once again Magic: The Gathering fans! It’s been a little while since I wrote about cardboard crack so I thought it would be worth updating you folks on what I’ve been up to.

Last time I covered off a couple of pretty well established decks so I thought it would be fun to try something a little more off the wall. So, without further ado...

Mardu Venga Bus


4 Basilica Bell-Haunt

4 Dusk Legion Zealot

4 Lumbering Battlement

4 Ravenous Chupacabra

4 Rix Maadi Reveler

3 Siege-Gang Commander


4 Justiciar's Portal

4 Mortify

3 Treasure Map

1 Discovery // Dispersal


4 Blood Crypt

4 Clifftop Retreat

2 Dragonskull Summit

4 Godless Shrine

4 Isolated Chapel

1 Memorial to Folly

1 Mountain

4 Sacred Foundry

1 Swamp


4 Duress

2 Kaya, Orzhov Usurper

3 Lava Coil

3 Moment of Craving

1 Sorcerous Spyglass

2 The Eldest Reborn

You may have seen this online named as Mardu Party Bus, but the moment I read that I couldn’t get the Vengaboys seminal 1999 hit out of my head so that’s what I’m going with.

So, allow me to introduce you to the Venga Bus.

"Venga Bus, here. The name's real - possibly Scandinavian."

The idea behind this deck is to play a ton of creatures with enter the battlefield effects, have them all hop on Lumbering Battlement and then use Justicar’s Portal to flicker the Lumbering Battlement, triggering all of your creatures effects.

It sounds sweet and it’s certainly satisfying when everything comes together and you start looping a chain of buses. The question remains; is it any good?

In a word, no.

The trouble is that you’re far too reliant on drawing the right cards. What most good combo decks have in common is that when they don’t draw their key pieces they still work as a functional deck. This is just simply not the case here. Without the synergy of Lumbering Battlement, Justicar’s Portal and a handful of creatures this just feels like a bad mid-range deck, which is really not what you want to be doing.

I can’t deny though just how fun this deck is to play when it works. If you just fancy trying something a bit daft in standard by all means give this a try, however if you’re wanting a deck that’s remotely competitive I would steer clear.

Whilst I haven’t had much luck with the Venga Bus, I have seen a lot more success with our next deck.

Orzhov Aristocrats


4 Gutterbones

4 Hunted Witness

4 Midnight Reaper

4 Pitiless Pontiff

4 Priest of Forgotten Gods

4 Seraph of the Scales

4 Tithe Taker


2 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants

2 Cast Down

4 Mortify


4 Godless Shrine

4 Isolated Chapel

8 Plains

8 Swamp


1 Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants

4 Duress

1 Lyra Dawnbringer

3 Moment of Craving

2 Sorcerous Spyglass

4 Tocatli Honor Guard

In case you’re not familiar with the term an aristocrats deck is one that tries to gain an advantage by sacrificing it’s own creatures. 20 out of the 28 creatures in the main deck trigger some sort of effect upon death which I would say is enough to earn the title.

The real star of the show is Priest of the Forgotten Gods. At first glance she’s not remarkable – paying two creatures to kill an opponents creature and draw a card is fine but not wonderful. However when you put her in a deck like this where you’re getting another creature or a card added to the bargain these small benefits start to add up.

And unlike the Venga Bus the deck doesn’t fall on it’s face when you don’t draw her; the deck list is effectively a who’s who of standard legal cards in black and white.

"Do you think Priest of the Forgotten Gods is a cultist?" "Priest? No, no - she's just a bit new agey is all."

Between the main deck and the sideboard cards you have access to it feels like this deck has a decent amount of game against the rest of the field. The only thing I will say is that I’ve struggled against Sultai Mid-Range – that deck is the right mix of interactive cards and threats to play out to overcome what we’re doing here.

That being said this is probably more of a testament to just how good the Sultai deck is right now. If you want to try something a little different in standard at the moment I couldn’t recommend aristocrats enough.

So what has everyone else been playing in standard right now? Are there any decks that I should try out? Long time listener, Patron and self-titled executive producer Ewan Bowers has sent me a deck list titled 'Judith Priest'. That’s got to be worth trying for the name alone.

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