Introduction to Mono Black
I’ve been playing Mono Black since the release of Throne of Eldraine to a great success and all these days I just keep asking myself why is this deck not seeing more play? Am I being lucky with my results?
Let’s start from week 0. The set got out on the 26th of September and on the 27th I went from Diamond 1 on the MTG Arena ladder to top4 Mythic in an undefeated run of 20 matches.
20-0 I think I'll take a break pic.twitter.com/TBZnoUWne0— Fabrizio Anteri (@Anteri_F) September 27, 2019
There is always variance and luck involved in these runs, but I am certain the consistency and power level of the deck was way ahead what everyone else was trying at the time.
People adapted; decks gained form and they gained the necessary interaction to stop the engine of the deck: 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》.
Since then I’ve been trying different cards, builds and concepts. The deck is very customizable and you could make a good base to deal with the different archetypes of the format.
This weekend I managed a top8 finish of the MOCS playoff on Magic Online with the deck. In the 7 rounds of swiss I played against Golos Lands 6 times and beat it in 5 occasions. There were 15 copies of that deck in the top32 of the event.
This dominance of Golos Lands was also replicated in different events around the globe and it’s save to assume this will be the most represented deck in weeks to come from now.
The Different Cards
Let’s break down the different cards you could be building your Mono Black deck with:
The Mana Base
《Castle Locthwain》 is fantastic, always run 4.
I’ve found 《Mobilized District》 to be useful more often than problematic for the mana, so I am happy to run one copy in builds without much double or triple black.
The final land count will depend on the curve and exact build. 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》 helps a lot with the mana so you can go as low as 21 or 22 lands. Other builds require 23 or 24 lands to operate consistently.
The 1 Drops
Eight 1-drops is not enough, so you need to find additional creatures for the job.
《Foulmire Knight》 attacks through the 0/2s and 0/3s of the format, which is nice for Spectacle. The Adventure of the card also comes in sometimes and it’s a nice bonus to have on a 1-drop.
Some list run 《Cauldron Familiar》 with 《Witch’s Oven》. Even though I like the interaction between these two cards, I don’t think there is enough space in the deck to run both and they are underwhelming on their own.
The 2 Drops
This is where it gets tricky. Black’s one and three drops are very good, but the two drops are lacking in power level.
When the metagame is right for her, she is the MVP and it’s totally worth it to build around her. Sadly with Golos being the most popular deck I don’t think that time is now.
This one hits hard and all three of Flash, Lifelink and Deathtouch are very relevant. I ran 3 at the playoff, but I want all 4 moving forward.
There is a version of the deck focused on Knights with 《Smitten Swordmaster》. I haven’t try it yet, but it’s on my bucket list.
Reasonable as a 2-drop and has a relevant Adventure for the mid-late game. Can’t block is relevant often and that’s why I think this card shouldn’t be a 4-of.
Another unimpressive two drop for the list. I like it most when combined with other discard effects.
The 3 Drops
Technically a 4 drop, I know. I’ve tried different builds based on synergy and a sacrifice theme without 《Spawn of Mayhem》 and those builds simply don’t put enough pressure. Spawn hits SO hard and even has evasion. I really can’t justify not running 4 of these at the moment.
Grants insurance against sweepers and can fight a 《Wicked Wolf》. Being a Knight is also relevant sometimes. I am a fan.
This card is very good, don’t get me wrong. Sadly she has a hard time fighting for a spot in the curve that I don’t think she can win under the current metagame. If aggressive strategies pick up popularity I will be happy to add some copies of this to the maindeck.
This is removal more often than a 3-drop, but against decks like Mono Red having this sitting down as a creature is very relevant as well. I’ve been playing 4 of these almost always, but since it’s not that great against Golos, I’ve considered cutting down to 3.
THE 4 Drop
The one and only, 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》: He does so much. Powerful, versatile and has good synergies with most of the deck. 4 mana is getting into the “a bit too much” range for the deck, so I am still uncertain what number of copies should be right here. I’ve found it to be too good to only run 2 copies and 4 could be too many sometimes. I think 3 for now should be the correct number.
More Interaction and the Sideboard
One aspect I love about the deck, is how all the cards are proactive while still having access to meaningful interaction. 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》 and/or 《Murderous Rider》 may not always be enough though, so having access to extra interaction in the maindeck is also fine.
Good against aggro and also good against Zombie tokens from 《Field of the Dead》. I’ve tried this in the maindeck before and I think it belongs there at the moment.
Golos goes over the top of control and 《Duress》 is no longer the best discard spell to have access to. Being able to take Golos, 《Hydroid Krasis》 or 《Realm-Cloaked Giant》 is very important. I didn’t play this maindeck during the weekend, but moving forward I want to.
Green creature-based decks were very good before rotation and with the addition of 《Oko, Thief of Crowns》, 《Wicked Wolf》 and 《Gilded Goose》 they are even better now. 《Noxious Grasp》 is a premium removal against them and I wouldn’t play less than 4 in my sideboard.
I like the idea of this card. It is not only great against creature-type strategy decks like Elementals and Knights, but it still gets plenty of two-for-ones when naming Human, Druid or Elf.
As I write this down I realize how Ashiok is not as good anymore against Golos. Post sideboard they take the role of a control player. With multiple copies of 《Devout Decree》, 《Glass Casket》 and 《Deputy of Detention》. It is possible that the best Planeswalker for the spot is 《Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage》.
I only cut this because I didn’t want too many 3 drops in the sideboard for the same role. Davriel is not only relevant in more matches than Ashiok, it also plays well with all the other Discard effects in the deck.
There are a few other cards to consider for the sideboard, but I don’t think they are good enough and/or I don’t have enough experience with them to know for sure.
To wrap it up, I want to share what I think should be the best possible 75 moving forward. Golos Lands should continue to dominate and the maindeck of our deck should be focused on beating that. The sideboard will help us fix other possible matches.
4 《Castle Locthwain》
1 《Mobilized District》
-Land (23)- 4 《Knight of the Ebon Legion》
2 《Foulmire Knight》
4 《Yarok’s Fenlurker》
4 《Blacklance Paragon》
2 《Order of Midnight》
3 《Midnight Reaper》
3 《Murderous Rider》
4 《Spawn of Mayhem》
3 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》
Simic / Bant Ramp
This is it! Thanks for reading and I hope to see you crushing Golos with this.