Mono Black Dinosaur Aggro at Players Tour Brussels

Fabrizio Anteri

Fabrizio Anteri

Introduction to Mono Black Dinosaur Aggro

Hello everyone,

After weeks of anticipation, we finally had the first Players Tours in Brussels and Nagoya. I was really looking forward to playing the event and hoping for an invitation for the Players Tour Finals, which I got…!

I had an unimpressive draft record (3-3) and it was really on the back of my Pioneer deck that I accomplished the invite with an 8-2 result.

Let’s get started with the decklist I played:

Rotting Regisaur

I worked hard with my friend Humberto Patarca on the deck and we were really happy to where we got. The first thing you should notice about our list is the four copies of 《Rotting Regisaur》 and the absence of 《Spawn of Mayhem》 and 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》. The Dinosaur is always a 3-drop (whereas Spectacle to cast Spawn on turn 3 is not always easy) and it’s also the creature that hits hardest of the three.

MutavaultCastle LocthwainKnight of the Ebon LegionBloodsoaked Champion

Mono Black is a very aggressive deck in Pioneer, with a low mana curve and efficient discard and removal. The deck mulligans well and having a good start is key to win games. Cards like Spawn and Rankle are very powerful and good topdecks, but they are far from ideal for your initial hand. The deck uses its mana very efficiently, you don’t really need 4-drops to spend your mana on, you have 《Mutavault》s, 《Castle Locthwain》s, 《Knight of the Ebon Legion》 activations and creatures coming back from the graveyard.

Shadowspear

Our last minute addition to the deck was 《Shadowspear》. We talked about the card for hours, but we didn’t want people to see it, so we stayed away from Magic Online (MTGO) the last 36 hours before deck submission. We wanted to believe the card would be good with Regisaur, but we didn’t want to risk playing too many only to find out at the PT it wasn’t good enough. We settled on one copy and I loved having access to it.

The Matches

Dimir Inverter

Thassa's OracleInverter of Truth

Mono Black Aggro is very good against Dimir Inverter with its very fast clock and discard. Regisaur makes the match even better. It doesn’t only kill them on a couple hits, it also dodges 《Cry of the Carnarium》 and 《Languish》.

5-Color Niv to Light and Azorius Control

Niv-Mizzet RebornTeferi, Hero of Dominaria

5-Color Niv to Light and Azorius Control are matches where Rankle is better than Regisaur. These matches are still close though and both these decks did poorly at the Players Tours. I wouldn’t expect them to be an important part of the metagame in the next few weeks.

Mono Red with 《Goblin Chainwhirler》

Goblin Chainwhirler

Mono Red with 《Goblin Chainwhirler》 used to be one of the worst matches for Mono Black Aggro, but casting a 7/6 on turn 3 to their board of 1/2s and 《Shock》s in hand won’t make them very happy. The match is still not easy, but at least now there is plenty of hope in the pairing.

Izzet Ensoul and Spirits

Ensoul ArtifactNebelgast Herald

Being on the play or draw against Izzet Ensoul and Spirits normally decides who wins the race. I also believe they are not as consistent with their draws as Mono Black, so I would still place us as favorites in the match. Because of 《Nebelgast Herald》, Spirits is the only match where we want to cut all of our Regisaurs during sideboard.

Lotus Breach Combo and Ramp

Lotus FieldCavalier of Thorns

The different versions of Lotus Breach Combo and slow Ramp decks are also good matches for the deck.

Unexpected Enemy

Satyr WayfinderUro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

An archetype I wasn’t expecting at the PT and I believe it’s a really bad match for the deck, is the Delirium decks with 《Satyr Wayfinder》 and 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》, Simic and Sultai. I was the last player to beat Joel Larsson before he went undefeated to claim the trophy at Brussels, but I got extremely good hands and had extremely close games 1 and 3 on the play to beat him. I don’t think this archetype has a good enough plan against Dimir Inverter and hopefully that deck can keep them in check.

An Interesting Play…

I am one game up against Izzet Ensoul in round 14, both with a record of 10-3. Winner gets an invite to the Players Tour Finals and is one win away from top8, loser has to win the round after for the invite and is very likely out of contention for top8.

Castle LocthwainMurderous Rider

It’s turn 5, I haven’t play land yet and my hand is 《Castle Locthwain》 and 《Murderous Rider》 and he has two cards in hand. I am very nervous, I am so close and I want to finish the job. I know I win if I cast 《Swift End》 and he doesn’t have 《Shrapnel Blast》 and if he does, I am still in a good position because he has to kill 《Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet》 and lose his 《Ghostfire Blade》 to deny me of any Zombie Tokens.

Shrapnel BlastKalitas, Traitor of Ghet

I used the 《Swift End》 before combat, he responded with the 《Shrapnel Blast》 and lived for the turn. He drew another 《Hangarback Walker》 and two more creatures after that. Enough blockers to hold the ground and kill me with Thopters in few turns. I lost Game 3 and my chance for top8.

What was the play I should have gone for that turn?

MutavaultKnight of the Ebon LegionKalitas, Traitor of GhetRotting Regisaur

In my rush to finish the game, I didn’t notice that I had lethal with 《Mutavault》 if he blocks Kalitas (7 from 《Rotting Regisaur》, 2 from 《Mutavault》 and 2 from 《Knight of the Ebon Legion》. Leaving 3 mana open to pump or 《Swift End》 if needed), so he is forced to chump block the Regisaur to live and/or use 《Shrapnel Blast》 before damage. Whatever scenario I was left with if I attacked before casting any spells would have been much better than the one I put myself into. A lesson I will not soon forget.

Sideboard Guide

Dimir Inverter

Against Dimir Inverter

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Grasp of Darkness
Shadowspear

In

Legion's End Legion's End
Drill Bit Drill Bit
Agonizing Remorse
Leyline of the Void

I haven’t play enough this match, so I am not 100% sure about this but I don’t think the 《Leyline of the Void》s are necessary. You have plenty of discard to keep them off the combo, so you want to keep the pressure on to end the game.

Legion's EndThassa's Oracle

A common play pattern for them is to cast 《Thassa’s Oracle》 on turn 2 to block your 2/1s and get it back into their deck with 《Inverter of Truth》 if you use 《Fatal Push》, so I prefer 《Legion’s End》 here to exile the Oracle and maybe get extra copies from their hand. They also have sometimes 《Pack Rat》 or 《Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy》.

Mono Black Aggro

Against Mono Black Aggro (On the Draw)

Out

Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize
Scrapheap Scrounger

In

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Legion's End Legion's End
Liliana, the Last Hope

Against Mono Black Aggro (On the Play)

Out

Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize
Dread Wanderer

In

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Legion's End Legion's End
Liliana, the Last Hope

On the Play, you can board out 1 《Gutterbones》 instead of the 《Dread Wanderer》 if you know for certain they don’t have 《Legion’s End》.

5-Color Niv to Light

Against 5-Color Niv to Light

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Rotting Regisaur
Grasp of Darkness

In

Self-Inflicted Wound Self-Inflicted Wound Self-Inflicted Wound
Drill Bit Drill Bit
Agonizing Remorse
Sylvan CaryatidShadowspearParadise Druid

This is one of the matches where the 《Shadowspear》 hidden mode comes up and you can kill a 《Sylvan Caryatid》 or 《Paradise Druid》. Giving an extra +1/+1 to Regisaur and making sure 《Niv-Mizzet Reborn》 can’t trade with it is a nice bonus.

Azorius Control

Against Azorius Control

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Grasp of Darkness
Drag to the Underworld

In

Drill Bit Drill Bit Self-Inflicted Wound Self-Inflicted Wound
Agonizing Remorse
Liliana, the Last Hope
Apostle of Purifying LightSelf-Inflicted WoundDream Trawler

They normally have creatures post board, many times with 《Protection from Black》 or 《Dream Trawler》 so I like having 《Self-Inflicted Wound》. Three copies could be correct if you see plenty of these creatures.

Izzet Ensoul

Against Izzet Ensoul (On the Play)

Out

Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize
Scrapheap Scrounger

In

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Legion's End Legion's End
Liliana, the Last Hope

Against Izzet Ensoul (On the Draw)

Out

Scrapheap Scrounger Scrapheap Scrounger Scrapheap Scrounger
Thoughtseize Thoughtseize

In

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Legion's End Legion's End
Liliana, the Last Hope

Azorius Spirits

Against Azorius Spirits

Out

Rotting Regisaur Rotting Regisaur Rotting Regisaur Rotting Regisaur
Thoughtseize Thoughtseize

In

Self-Inflicted Wound Self-Inflicted Wound Self-Inflicted Wound
Legion's End Legion's End
Liliana, the Last Hope
ThoughtseizeCollected Company

I haven’t play much against the Bant version with 《Collected Company》. I think I would keep more copies of 《Thoughtseize》 against them and cut some 《Scrapheap Scrounger》.

Mono Red

Against Mono Red

Out

Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize Thoughtseize
Bloodsoaked Champion Bloodsoaked Champion

In

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Legion's End Legion's End
Drill Bit Drill Bit
ThoughtseizeGlorybringer

Assuming they have plenty of one and two-drops. If they have a bigger version I would keep 《Thoughtseize》 and cut all the 《Bloodsoaked Champion》s and not bring in 《Legion’s End》s.

Lotus Breach Combo

Against Lotus Breach Combo

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Murderous Rider Murderous Rider
Drag to the Underworld Shadowspear Grasp of Darkness

In

Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void
Drill Bit Drill Bit
Agonizing Remorse

Green Ramp

Against Green Ramp

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Shadowspear Grasp of Darkness

In

Self-Inflicted Wound Self-Inflicted Wound Self-Inflicted Wound
Drill Bit Drill Bit
Agonizing Remorse

Swedish Sultai (Delirium)

Against Swedish Sultai

Out

Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push Fatal Push
Grasp of Darkness Shadowspear Gutterbones

In

Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void Leyline of the Void
Drill Bit Drill Bit
Agonizing Remorse
Agonizing RemorseDrill BitLeyline of the Void

This match is tricky because there are so many different approaches to take. Leylines? Discard? Removal? My guess for now is to maximize on Discard and reduce on Removal. Leylines seem too important not to bring 4, but maybe you are supposed to keep extra removal for their creatures and hope they never get 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 going.

Moving Forward

Noxious GraspAethersphere Harvester

I still like very much the maindeck and I would play the same 60 next weekend. About the sideboard I get the impression 《Self-Inflicted Wound》 are not as necessary anymore and a mix with 《Noxious Grasp》 could be correct. 《Liliana, the Last Hope》 is still hard to evaluate and I really wanted to have space for one 《Aethersphere Harvester》, maybe she should be the cut for it.

This deck is very consistent, powerful and it has plenty of good matches in the metagame. Now that we have proper control and combo decks around, the format is not about midrange creatures anymore, which are really the only problematic archetypes for Mono Black. I would expect this deck to stick around for months to come, evolving accordingly with the different changes the metagame goes through.

Thanks for reading!

Fabrizio (Twitter)

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Fabrizio Anteri

Fabrizio Anteri Fabrizio Anteri is a Pro Player from Venezuela. He has 11 Grand Prix Top 8s and won 5 trophies. He went 2nd place at GP Bologna with his teammates and he joined Hareruya Hopes at The 2nd Hareruya Hopes Open Recruitment. Read more articles by Fabrizio Anteri