Demonic Embrace is the Black Embercleave -Mono Black Aggro Perfect Guide-

Grzegorz Kowalski


Hello! Do you enjoy playing Temur Reclamation, Bant Midrange, or Rakdos Sacrifice? No? So you are looking for something fresh and new? Great! I have something for you!

Demonic Embrace

With addition of M21, we got some new, spicy options. One of them is Mono Black Aggro. As you can see on one of my previous tweets, I managed to 7-0 the Standard Metagame Challenge. It was the only deck that gave me the “Trophy”, so I tried it again with small adjustments and made 7-0 again. While writing this article I’m 14-0 after beating every tier 1 deck at least once in the process. Remember, 《Demonic Embrace》 is the black 《Embercleave》!


This is my updated list:

Let’s start with how this deck works, as it’s not that obvious. There are two main plans that work best for us.

Rotting RegisaurDemonic Embrace

The first one is really simple, Cast 《Rotting Regisaur》 → Enchant it with 《Demonic Embrace》 → Win. If that doesn’t work, and we have to play the real game of magic, usually we want to focus on deploying cheap creatures on the curve and killing important stuff with removal. That’s why Mono Black got such a power spike after M21.

EliminateGrasp of Darkness

We got extremely efficient removal spells, that we can swap between games to always have a way to kill whatever we want post board.

It’s important to mulligan correctly. Never keep expensive hands without early plays. Mulligans don’t hurt us that much thanks to how powerful is 《Rotting Regisaur》 (if we don’t have cards in hand, we don’t have to discard them. PROFIT!), keeping slow hands does!

Card Choice

Now, when we know that Mono Black Aggro is a half_Splinter_Twin_half_Delver.dec we might talk a little about the most important card choices, and how to adapt the list if meta changes.

Creature Base



Knight of the Ebon Legion


Serrated Scorpion


Blacklance Paragon


Rotting Regisaur


Spawn of Mayhem


Rankle, Master of Pranks


This part is really solid. I wouldn’t advise any changes at all. 《Blacklance Paragon》 is not a great creature on its own, but wears 《Demonic Embrace》 in a solid way and is a 《Divine Arrow》 that gains us 3 life when we’re in defense. I love 12 one drops here, and even though I board out some of them often, they allow us to play the “Delver Game” in game one.

Stonecoil Serpent

There are some lists with 《Stonecoil Serpent》. I’m not a huge fan of it. Our deck usually works on 3-4 lands, as we discard the rest for 《Rotting Regisaur》 and 《Demonic Embrace》. Also, without access to 《Gemrazer》 it never gets a huge boost. For one mana is by far the worst of all our options. Let’s give it to Mono Green players, they have better use of it.


This is tricky and the most flexible part. You can configure it however you want, so I’ll just focus on when each of the options is the best:



Great Against: Mono Black Aggro, Mono Red Aggro, Bant Ramp, Sultai Ramp, Rakdos Sacrifice.
OK Against: Mono Green Aggro, Gruul Aggro.
Doesn’t kill: 《Nightpack Ambusher》《Questing Beast》《Elder Gargaroth》《Torbran, Thane of Red Fell》.

《Grasp of Darkness》

Grasp of Darkness

Great Against: Mono Red Aggro, Gruul Aggro, Simic Flash, Rakdos Sacrifice.
OK Against: Mono Black Aggro, Mono Green Aggro.
Doesn’t kill: 《Rotting Regisaur》《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》《Lovestruck Beast》, big 《Shark Typhoon》/《Hydroid Krasis》/《Stonecoil Serpent》.

《Noxious Grasp》

Noxious Grasp

Great Against: Mono Green Aggro, Gruul Aggro, Sultai Ramp, Bant Ramp.
OK Against: Nothing, it’s either great or unplayable, so never play this card in the main deck.
Doesn’t kill: Non-Green and Non-White stuff.

For now, I’m happy with 3 《Eliminate》 1 《Grasp of Darkness》 in the main + additional options in the sideboard, so I can fix my removal distribution when I know what I need.


4 《Demonic Embrace》

Demonic Embrace


That’s a short, but really important list. 《Demonic Embrace》 is what makes this deck great and never play less than four in the main deck. You can cut some post board against matchups that bring more point removal against you, or when you turn into full control mode.


1 《Shadowspear》



Oh yeah! My last addition. It works as 5th 《Demonic Embrace》 and single-handedly wins matches against other aggro. The only reason why I’m not playing two in the main deck is the legendary clause. Still worth it to bring the second one vs aggro.

Sideboard Guide

Now, when we know why Mono Black is good, and how to build it, let’s talk about match ups and sideboard plans!

Temur Reclamation (Very Good)

vs. Temur Reclamation


Eliminate Eliminate Eliminate Shadowspear
Demonic Embrace Demonic Embrace Demonic Embrace


Duress Duress Duress Duress
Drill Bit Drill Bit Grasp of Darkness
Brazen Borrower

One of the best matchups. 《Brazen Borrower》 is our worst enemy, as the only card that deals with 《Rotting Regisaur》. It also does a great job blocking 《Rankle, Master of Pranks》. Fortunately usually Temur players don’t play more than one or two copies. Other than that, they don’t have much to say.

Try to be as aggressive as possible, discard their removal, and a clear path for your black monsters. I like having two 《Grasp of Darkness》, as a cheap answer for 《Nightpack Ambusher》 and 《Shark Typhoon》 (to some extent).

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》 is annoying, but Temur is not as fast with bringing 《Uro》 back as Bant for example, so we should be able to close the game before the Elder Giant turns into something better than more expensive 《Growth Spiral》 that gives three life points.

Bant Ramp (Bad)

vs. Bant Ramp


Serrated Scorpion Serrated Scorpion Serrated Scorpion Serrated Scorpion
Eliminate Eliminate
Grasp of Darkness Shadowspear


Duress Duress Duress Duress
Noxious Grasp Noxious Grasp
Drill Bit Drill Bit

It’s not easy to deal with mass removal, life gain, and powerful creatures in one deck. To be honest, I don’t like 《Rotting Regisaur》 in this matchup in general, as it’s so easy to be answered, but after some testing, it seems to be the best way to steal the game. Try to discard answers first, and just hope for the best.

Removal package highly depends on opponent’s list, so don’t blindly follow this guide, just try to think what you see in game two and then adapt according to what I wrote in the removal section.

Rakdos Sacrifice (Slightly Bad)

vs. Rakdos Sacrifice


Rotting Regisaur Rotting Regisaur Rotting Regisaur Rotting Regisaur
Gutterbones Gutterbones Blacklance Paragon 〔s_〕


Grasp of Darkness Grasp of Darkness Grasp of Darkness 墓掘りの檻
Disfigure Disfigure Shadowspear
Claim the Firstborn

《Claim the Firstborn》. If they draw it with any sac engine, it’s almost game over. If they don’t, we usually win. 《Rotting Regisaur》 is the worst creature here, as it’s the best target for 《Claim the Firstborn》.

To be honest both 《Gutterbones》 and 《Blacklance Paragon》 are terrible as well due to 《Mayhem Devil》, but we need to keep some, we simply can’t board in 12 cards. I think 《Blacklance Paragon》 is slightly better, as it can ambush-block something if they don’t have 《Mayhem Devil》 ready, and 《Gutterbones》 is a small creature without any impact other than being cheap guy to sacrifice for their 《Priest of Forgotten Gods》.

Mono Green Aggro (Very Good)

vs. Mono Green Aggro


Gutterbones Gutterbones Gutterbones Gutterbones
Serrated Scorpion Serrated Scorpion
Demonic Embrace Demonic Embrace


Grasp of Darkness Grasp of Darkness Grasp of Darkness Shadowspear
Disfigure Disfigure
Noxious Grasp Noxious Grasp
The Great Henge

Just take a full control role, and eventually win with big creatures. Mono Black has much better removal than Mono Green + 《Castle Locthwain》 to bring card advantage. Always remember about 《The Great Henge》, and try to don’t let them cast it. Sometimes it might be correct to fire removal in your turn.

Mono Red Aggro (Very Good)

vs. Mono Red Aggro


Gutterbones Gutterbones Gutterbones Gutterbones
Demonic Embrace Demonic Embrace


Grasp of Darkness Grasp of Darkness Grasp of Darkness Shadowspear
Disfigure Disfigure

Same as above. Play as Mono Black Control and win with 《Rotting Regisaur》. Good removal + big creatures + 《Shadowspear》 are a true nightmare for Mono Red Aggro.

Sultai Ramp (Good)

vs. Sultai Ramp


Eliminate Eliminate Eliminate Serrated Scorpion
Demonic Embrace Demonic Embrace
Shadowspear Grasp of Darkness


Duress Duress Duress Duress
Noxious Grasp Noxious Grasp
Drill Bit Drill Bit
Extinction Event

They don’t have 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 and 《Elspeth Conquers Death》, so it’s harder for them to deal with 《Rotting Regisaur》. Match up plays out similarly to the Bant one, with the one exception. Always check your creatures’ CMC, and try to diversify it against 《Extinction Event》.


As always, if you have any questions about the deck, feel free to ask me on Twitter! I’m always happy to help! Hope you enjoyed this guide and will enjoy this deck! Have fun, and thanks for reading!

Until next time,

Grzegorz “Urlich” Kowalski (Twitter / Twitch / Youtube)

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Grzegorz Kowalski He made top 8 in GP Lille 2012 and GP Brussels 2015, and GP Santiago 2017 has achieved second place. His extraordinary skill is also demonstrated on Pro Tour, experiencing countless top prize and money finish. He is one of the top players who travels the world and continues to fight. Read more articles by Grzegorz Kowalski

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