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Competitive Mono Black Midrange on a Budget

Modern Budget Competitive Midrange Mono-Black Primer Tempo





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If you are like me and money for magic isn't exactly something you have a ton of, then this deck might be for you. There is also an upgraded list towards the bottom of this.


This deck is very effective at fighting a majority of popular decks in the format, as the massive amount of creature hate, hand disruption, and card advantage allow us to stop our opponent's hand and board from becoming an issue and keeping them on top-deck support while we beat them to death with our efficient creatures.

Since we are a mono black deck, we have access to the cheapest and most effective creature and hand hate magic has to offer us without the pain of dealing with things like mana fixing. Also, you will notice that we play a LOT of removal, very smilier to Jund in that sense, everything is based on value, and as a midrange deck thats exactly what we are shooting for.


Asylum Visitor: We aren't playing Bob, and with good reason, since we are playing 23 lands and plenty of discard outlets, we are often hellbenting ourselves AND our opponent anyway which means we get efficient card advantage, as well as a possible removal spell draw on our opponent's turn; and with an aggressive 3/1 body to boot, we gotta play 4 of these.

Distress: Distress lets us pick out any card on turn 2 from our opponent's hand with no penalty to our life total. This is our budget Thoughtseize, as the other budget alternative, Blackmail only lets us hit up to 3 cards, and we'd like to hit more than that. Inquisition of Kozilek is another possibility although it is not quite as budget friendly.

Go for the Throat: As I said, this deck plays a LOT of removal. Unless we are playing affinity, we should be good with this in our mainboard.

Victim of Night: Mono black's cheapest and most effective removal spell, since there aren't way too many vampires, werewolves, or zombies running around in modern.

Gatekeeper of Malakir: Although it is technically a 2-drop, Gatekeeper is almost always a 3 drop unless you are playing something like a combo deck where the kicker trigger isn't very necessary. Also, any creature that brings it's own removal is welcome to our table.

Lifebane Zombie : A card that usually isn't seen in a lot of Modern decks, this allows us to hit that pesky Loxodon Smiter, Siege Rhino, Geist of Saint Traft or anything else that fits those two colors, and with Intimidate to boot, only playing 2 due it's conditional usage.

Swamp: We need lands.

Phyrexian Crusader: Used as a roadblock, we play two to hate on lifegain decks like Soul Sisters as well as provide a solid defender against any other red or white decks like Goblins and 8-Whack. Also, since it's unpathable and immune to pyroclasm, we can often stall or kill certain decks.

Distended Mindbender : Typically played as either a 4 or 5 drop thanks to his emerge ability, Mindbender is run as a giant middle finger to control builds, because even if they counter it the casting trigger still activates.

Erebos's Titan : While not being a Phyrexian Obliterator, a 5/5 beater for 4 we can get it back with Surgical Extraction, as well as something like a an opposing Bloodghast or Tasigur, the Golden Fang etc. is great. Also, with the amount of removal and discard we play, against certain builds we have a 5/5 indestructible, so wrath effects can be nullified. An alternative card to this can be Abyssal Persecutor or Desecration Demon .

Flaying Tendrils: The mono-black anger of the gods. After playing at FNMs I came to the conclusion that Mutilate is simply too slow to really beat out decks that can kill me before I gain board control, this card also lets me beat Mirran Crusader a card that makes me tremble in fear if I can't kill it with something like Gatekeeper.

Alms of the Vein: Since we run so many discard outlets in this deck, achieving the Madness cost is pretty easy, this card is mostly run due to the fact that we spend a TON of life in card draw and can lose some life in the early game, thus allowing us to gain more card advantage, and survive that final bolt to the face we need to win.

Collective Brutality: The surge in price for this card is warranted, as it can do a heck of a lot for the deck, fore example, playing this on turn 3 and discard alms of the vein, allows you to drain for 5 life, as well as activate the effect of your choosing, it's one of the most solid base cards that should almost never be sideboarded out.

Erebos, God of the Dead: Another power finisher in our deck which allows us to hate out lifegain and gain instant card advantage. Erebos allows us to use our life total as a resource to draw from rather then a number we use to track how close we are to death. Devotion for her is really easy to achieve, as it typically only takes two other creatures for her to be a 5/7 beater, especially with Titan on the board.

Stromkirk Condemned: Acting as a pseudo lord for our deck, Stromkirk is a solid 2-drop that allows us to get in madness triggers for our cards, as well as supply an anthem effect we can use to pump up our team and send them swinging at our opponent.


I've been experimenting with Pack Rat and have found it quite useful, it is definitely something to consider given it's powerful potential and synergy with the rest of our deck.

Some other sweet cards you can consider putting into your own list can be cards like Geralf's Messenger, Nantuko Shade , Gifted Aetherborn and Vampire Nighthawk, feel free to experiment!


Necrogen Mists: The discard engine for our deck. This card shaves off hands pretty quickly, this is our replacement for Lilianna, since we often use her as a discard outlet anyway. Mists can also take down combo decks, as eventually they can't keep cards in their hand. I play Elixir of Immortality because I need it to win the burn matchup in my local meta.

Duress: In case we need more discard, we got it. Great against any combo/control matchup.

Distress: More discard to fight a control/combo matchup, this card would be the best to replace with gravehate if someone in your meta plays dredge or another graveyard based deck.

Surgical Extraction: Sometimes we need to take all their little toys away, this card can kill combo and control decks, it's great gravehate, and can be a turn 0 play.

Geth's Verdict : Boggles is the worst matchup I've ever had with this deck, (it's the only deck I've gone 0-2 against so far, every other matchup i've either won or has been winnable) if Boggles isn't a problem in your meta, play Ratchet Bomb or something else that allows us to destroy noncreature permanents instead.


These are cards in the maybeboard that are good sideboard material for certain matchups.

If someone in your meta plays Dredge, Tormod's Crypt, Leyline of the Void, Grafdigger's Cage all work.

If know that you will be playing decks that use a lot of noncreature permanents, Ratchet Bomb and Pithing Needle are both very useful and pretty efficient for their price. Also, since we are mono black, we can't do too much about those cards if these are not included.

Burn problems? put Elixir of Immortality in your sideboard to deal with this aggressive matchup.

Tron? Ghost Quarter and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, as well as just putting in Rain of Tears .

The remaining maybeboard consists of suggestions from others that I don't want to put into the deck personally, but they have been suggested. Remember, always tune your sideboard to face the matchups in your meta that you will have a hard time beating.



When you play this deck, you want to start out with about 2-3 swamps in hand, anything less is virtually unplayable and will likely result in you losing the game. Make sure you have some removal and/or discard (shouldn't be too hard)


This deck plays out the early game mostly through removal and discard spells while keeping up on board control through cards like Gatekeeper of Malakir, this way when our threats hit the board we just need to push to the finish. You have to use your removal and discard spells well, just like if you were to play Jund, wasting spells can cost you the game. Against the grand majority of match ups, you might just be playing discard and removal spells until you get something like Erebos's Titan to give you some wiggle room.


This deck closes the game by beating our opponent to death (as was mentioned earlier) with value creatures while keeping the pressure on our opponent with cards like Necrogen Mists in order to sustain board control.


Some people have asked me how the deck does, and what are good/bad matchups for it, so I'll lay down as much as I can:


These are matchups that we have a good chance of winning against.

Any deck that relies on creatures, things like Zoo, Elves, Hatebears, Infect, Bant Eldrazi, Jund, Affinity, 8-Whack/Goblins, Stompy, Death's Shadow Zoo, Merfolk, etc.


These are matchups we can win, but are not favorable, especially post board we stand a chance at winning games. (check the maybeboard for hate against these decks if they are in your meta and hate for them isn't already in the sideboard)

Most Combo decks (Ad Nauseum, Pilla-Pala, Sword Combo, Restore Balance)

Boggles, Junk, Token decks, Naya Burn, Skred Red, Delver, etc.

Soul Sisters (If you draw Crusader or Erebos)


These are the worst matchups this deck can face, the list is pretty short, you'll have to work hard to beat these ones.

UW(X) Control Builds (discard is key here)

Graveyard decks like Dredge and Living End (Should you not interact with them post board)

Burn: Burn can be a very difficult matchup, which is why you need to play some elixirs if you want to beat it.

Tron: Tron is probably the worst matchup i've had with this deck besides boggles, as a turn 3 karn pretty much ends us and we can't stop them from ramping, you'd need to play something like Rain of Tears or Ghost Quarter to win this matchup.


Why no Gary?

Gray Merchant of Asphodel is not played because this deck doesn't really care about our hand and wants it discarded so Asylum Vistor becomes Dark Confidant and since we are a very reactive deck, most of our cards are going to be either discarded or played long before we hit 5 mana.

Why no Dismember or Disfigure?

This is honestly because we have so much removal that I useful across the board I haven't had need of it, but if your meta requires it, make appropriate changes.

Why is the discard so light?

Since at the time this deck was made, most of my meta was creature based, I deemed having overloaded discard unnecessary, but again, if your meta requires it, make appropriate changes.


Please feel free to leave me a comment or an upvote, I'd really appreciate any suggestions that people have for me on how to make the deck stronger/ more competitive while staying on a budget.


Get these cards in this order:

  1. Replace 4 Distress with 4 Thoughtseize: Discarding a card on turn 1 is vital to winning certain matchups, it also lines up the deck for all the turn 2 plays that we can make.

  2. Replace 4 Erebos's Titan with 4 Phyrexian Obliterator: Obliterator stops a lot of aggro decks in their tracks, and unless your meta is full of decks like Jund or UW Control where the indestructible mechanic on Titan can be somewhat abusive, Obliterator is the superior card and can win many matchups by itself.

  3. Replace 1 Distended Mindbender with 1 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet: While Mindbender can screw over many control decks, since one of the upgrades to this deck is Dark confidant, we can't really afford to play Mindbender, meanwhile, Kalitas gives us lifegain and creature generation due to the massive amount of kill spells we play.

  4. Replace 4 Asylum Visitor with 4 Dark Confidant: I've had a lot of criticism in regards to this choice, as most people would agree that dealing 4 damage to yourself with this card isn't very effective nor worth it to draw just one card. However, when playing the deck, you will notice that about 60-70% of the time, you actually draw either a land or a 2-drop off of it, and it isn't too often that you actually pay 4 life to use the confidant. Confidant also gives you guaranteed card draw and makes the deck feel a LOT like Jund.

  5. Replace 3 Flaying Tendrils and 1 Stromkirk Condemned for 4 Liliana of the Veil: Lilli is amazing, and she is the most expensive upgrade by far, but she shoots down a lot of control/combo and Boggles matchups and just a strictly better card then mists.

  6. This is one of my favorite decks I play (YES I DO ACTUALLY PLAY THIS DECK) and the greatest budget build I've made so far, if you want to see what I personally do with it you can find it here, How The Devil Plays MTG: The Mono-Black Primer


Yes, I did actually make a full mono-black primer, you can check it out at this link!


If you enjoyed this deck, feel free to check out my other budget decks on my profile @ user:TeamSDBags


Updates Add

change I switched out the 4 Distress for 4 Thoughtseize which I highly recommend as it makes the deck play sooooo much better, and it's totally worth it to buy them, I bought a playset for $40, they weren't mint, but they play, and to me that's what counts.

Same venue tonight, but more people

2-0 Naya Humans

This guy only has a standard deck and played it in modern, which typically isnt the best idea, but, his call.

Game 1: I won through removal, discard, threats, gatekeeper is really nice against aggro.

Game 2: (no sideboard changes) I won through removal, discard, and threats, played similarly to the last game.

2-0 UWB Ad Nauseem

Game 1: Won through a turn 1 thoughtseize hitting an Ad Nauseem and him never drawing another the entire game, won with threats.

Game 2: opponent mulled to 6 (he almost mulled to 5) (brought in all discard over all removal spells) Won through Thoughtseize and Duress, he never drew the combo, and payed the price for keeping a hand with no combo pieces.

0-2 GW Boggles

Game 1: Drew spot removal, no gatekeeper, lost to a baddy I couldn't kill

Game 2: (sided out removal, brought in my ratchet bombs) 2 Gatekeepers, but he kept getting creatures, and killed me with a good board. T_T

2-1 Death's Shadow Zoo (same guy as last week btw)

Game 1: I won through spot removal, discard, and threats, simple as that.

Game 2: I lost, as I couldn't kill both of his creatures, no matter which one i killed i would have died, made it turn 6 though.

Game 3: Played through with discard and removal, Won through the fact that my opponent made himself drop to 2 life with only a Swiftspear on the board and with me at 17 life, and I had a Gatekeeper, and a Titan out.

So I went 3-1 Tonight, and got 2nd place.

If you do buy this deck, I HIGHLY recommend getting yourself Thoughtseize, it is so worth it. Making the change to Geth's Verdict makes the Boggles matchup so much better.


Been thinking about building a mono black deck that doesn't cost hundreds of dollars lately. Thanks for the inspiration! +1

July 25, 2016 3:23 a.m.

Awesome deck idea +1

July 27, 2016 12:12 a.m.

This deck is actually really competitive, probably one of the best decks I've seen on a budget +1

July 28, 2016 11:05 p.m.

personally, this is something i wouldn't take to friday night magic.

August 2, 2016 1:09 p.m.

bah-bammmm why do you say that? I appreciate criticism if it can be constructive.

August 2, 2016 2:32 p.m.

Competitive + budget= upvote

August 3, 2016 9:48 a.m.

well, if you want a midrange disruption heavy mono black deck, Grey Merchant of Asphodel is very good.

August 3, 2016 1:36 p.m.

You have quite a bit of discard. Consider Waste Not?

August 3, 2016 3:07 p.m.

RubyStrings since this deck is trying to be aggressive in it's threats as possible, I don't think that Waste Not would make it into the mainboard, but it could possibly be a sideboard option, so it's been added to the maybeboard, thanks for the suggestion though!

August 3, 2016 3:12 p.m.

i just don't think this deck would do very well against things like elves, jund, burn, or any other regular modern deck.

August 3, 2016 3:33 p.m.

Actually bah-bammmm I've played this against each of those decks and most problems are resolved post-board, I'm not really expecting an $80 budget deck to beat out a deck like Jund which requires you to take a mortgage on your house in order to play, although I did play Jund a few days ago with this build and went 1-2. The vast majority of my meta is made up of aggro decks, and this deck usually takes the cake.

August 3, 2016 4:19 p.m.

i just couldn't see this deck beating big zoo or burn

August 3, 2016 4:40 p.m.

bah-bammmm To be fair Jund itself typically loses to burn, and I've had people call this a "Worse jund" build. I've had cards like Elixir of Immortality, Alms of the Vein, Collective Brutality come to save me in aggro/burn matchups, there's very, very few people in my meta that have the budget to play things like Tarmogoyf, and while it is true that this deck can potentially lose to burn, there's a reason burn is one of the most competitive budget decks.

August 3, 2016 5:01 p.m.

Wait, you're telling me that a budget deck can't beat every deck out there?


August 3, 2016 6:09 p.m.

frostdiggity unfortunately yes lol

August 3, 2016 11:28 p.m.

well, the issue is i couldn't see this going 5-0 at a tournament, maybe i could see it winning a game or two.

August 4, 2016 9:42 p.m.

bah-bammmm This is a BUDGET deck, if this deck was to be a consistent 5-0 build, there would have to be some upgrades that go above what I have put into this deck in terms of price range, cards like Liliana of the Veil and Phyrexian Obliterator are amazing and would make this deck even better than it already is, but are WAY outside of my budget and what I consider to be budget. Considering the price of the decks you suggested this deck not beating, I'd say that your meta plays at a much higher price range then mine does, this deck is for FNM play, not the Pro Tour.

August 5, 2016 4:06 a.m.

ive been play testing this deck quite a bit and i really enjoy it i even bought it in paper but once change that i made is swapping voldaren pariah for geralf's messenger a cheap threat that is much harder to remove, the main factor being that often times the 5/6 your about to get is not worth 3 creatures and a complete loss of momentum. further more your removal suite and your resilient threats are enough to beat them.

August 5, 2016 3:25 p.m.

libertymic I'm glad that people are enjoying my build, in reference to what you said about Geralf's Messenger I do agree that sometimes the Pariah can be a bit clunky at times, one of the main reasons I do play it is because of the Madness trigger, which allows me to discard it with something like Necrogen Mists and still get a card out, if it works for you then by all means play it, the card has been added to the maybeboard.

August 5, 2016 4:42 p.m.

I'd have to agree with the inclusion of Gary for the life loss and he is great to emerge from. Also if you want to a nice aggro 2-drop there is Despoiler of Souls

August 6, 2016 2:29 p.m.

Censuring Gary was originally in this build, but the reason he was taken out was because since we run Necrogen Mists often times we have to discard away cards in our hand, and almost always Gary would be a card I would discard because this deck wants to hit roughly five-six lands lands in total, and trying to sit on Gary just isn't something that's possible in this build. As for your suggestion of Despoiler of Souls it has been added to the maybe board, as I can't really see it replacing any of the cards that are mainboarded, as the ones listed are kinda necessary as two drops, but thanks for the suggestion!

August 6, 2016 10:16 p.m.

Do you play mtgo or xmage? If so could you post some gameplay footage? Besides Lili and Obliterator, what are some other good upgrades?

August 8, 2016 5:35 a.m.

I have been playtesting this deck a bit, and the only thing I'd say is that there are way too few lands. I think it would be much more consistent to run 23-24 lands, especially since this deck doesn't mind drawing extra as they can be used as discard fodder.

August 8, 2016 9:45 p.m.

Frostknife I do not play either of those, but I can put down a basic plan of how the deck works, and I'll add an unbudgeted version link of this list in the description soon.

All_Regent I will playtest the deck with 23 lands adding in two swamps and cutting two pariahs I will post an update about it if I feel the consistency is raised.

August 9, 2016 5:51 p.m.

I've bought this deck and will be taking it to a modern tournament next week at some point, so I'll let you know how it does if you want.

I expect there to be about 4/5 infect decks, one jund deck, one RG tron deck, and one GW bogles deck, so infect shouldn't be too bad given how much spot removal there is, but the others, I have no idea how it will go.

August 12, 2016 5:23 a.m.

K00lDudE1 If you'd like to post the results of your tournament, then by all means feel free to do so! I will be taking this deck to my own local FNM tonight and will be putting up the results tomorrow.

August 12, 2016 1:25 p.m.

Also, K00lDudE1 since I've playtested this deck against each of those decks, I can tell you how your match-ups will probably go.

Infect: Spot-Removal and Gatekeeper of Malakir will be what saves you, hopefully you hit it in your opening hand or on turn 2 in order to avoid things like Apostle's Blessing, post board swap out your mists and discard for more removal.

Jund: Both decks play very similarly in a lot of ways, since their lilianna will be doing most of the work for you, you'll probably want to get rid of mists and get some more removal spells. Having played it, this is usually a 50/50 matchup as both decks play enough consistent threats and removal to equalize most of the time.

RG Tron: This will probably be your worst match-up, having played against the T1 version, Karn really messes you up, and the consistent board hate can be a real problem, I'd board in Duress and Surgical Extraction, try to hit a Karn (or Ugin if they play it), and get rid of them all before they become a problem.

Bogles: This matchup is very dependent on your opening hand in game 1, Gatekeeper of Malakir will likely be your win ticket if you you draw it and play it on turn 3. Board in ratchet bomb, mutilate, and some more removal if they play things like kor spiritdancer.

August 12, 2016 1:38 p.m.

Ok, thanks, that helps a lot!

August 13, 2016 12:21 p.m.

If anyone could tell me about any cards that beat Boggles that I don't already play, that'd be awesome (Toughest matchup I've seen so far)

August 20, 2016 4:05 a.m.

@ TeamSDBags - Either use Geth's Verdict or Damnation. EDIT: Scratch that I didn't see the budget tag.

August 20, 2016 4:10 a.m.

kengiczar I agree that Geth's Verdict would be a way to go, Damnation wouldn't really work anyway because of totem armor lol, but thanks for reminding me that verdict exists!

August 20, 2016 6:24 a.m.

Have you considered adding a Ghost Quarter or 2 or something along those lines?

August 20, 2016 11:42 p.m.

frostdiggity I originally tried to play with 2 ghost quarter, and found that rather problematic, as I don't play Urborg and I really need consistent pure black mana for my plays, otherwise I lose my curve and consistency, since Tron isn't a big deal in my meta anyway I personally don't worry about it, as anything less then Karn/Ugin isn't very scary anyway. But I will add it to the maybeboard in case people want to play it.

August 21, 2016 12:15 a.m.

Ravenous Rats, Rotting Rats, Chittering Rats all have incredibly strong effects and force your opponent into a topdecking position pretty quickly. Just something to consider.

September 16, 2016 3:44 a.m.

veeonix although I have seen those cards in a 'rat lock' style deck, the rats simply aren't threats in any real way, chittering rats is a fun way to lock an opponent out of the game, but the deck is styled more towards a value midrange deck. Thanks for the feedback!

September 16, 2016 8:30 p.m.

Maybe Bump in the Night over Alms of the Vein?. I like Erebos's Titan but it dies a little too easily to Dismember. I o like it quite a bit though. And also, doesn't Phyrexian Crusader go against what your trying to do since it has infect?

October 9, 2016 1:55 p.m.


First of all, thanks for the feedback! I always appreciate people taking the time to look at my decks.

Although Bump in the night is a more aggressive card, alms is actually played here for lifegain, since there are so many discard outlets in this deck, very rarely do we have to hardcast it.

While Erebos's Titan does die to dismember, I put it in here becuase of it's assistance to devotion, and immunity to many control decks, this also helps Erebos, God of the Dead become a creature faster. The alternative to this would be Phyrexian Obliterator which crushes aggro, but since that costs a hefty price, the other budget alternative you could play would be Abyssal Persecutor which does not die to dismemeber, and can be easily killed by plenty of cards in our deck when we need it to.

Phyrexian crusader is mostly in this deck to hate out lifegain, and although yes, it doesn't fit with the rest of the deck in terms of how it deals damage, it is supposed to be more of a road block for certain decks, and can be swapped out post board.

October 9, 2016 4:17 p.m.

This makes much more sense now. Very well constructed in the theory behind each card in its spot. Very Jund like in that essence. (a complement of course)

October 9, 2016 4:42 p.m.

Black Sun's Zenith seems like an upgrade to Flaying Tendrils, tell me if I'm wrong.

February 1, 2017 8:41 p.m.

-Counterspell- It's really not, Flaying Tendrils actually exiles the creatures, which prevents cards like Voice of Resurgence and Bloodghast from returning or activating effects. Also, the mana cost is very relevent, as in order to achieve the same effect with Zenith, you'd have to pay an additional mana, and we might as well play Mutilate for an actual boardwipe. I get that the recurring facor can be very good, but I think it'd be better suited for Mono-black control, rather than a more midrange build.

February 1, 2017 8:46 p.m.

Why does it say this deck has -49 upvotes

June 11, 2017 3:04 p.m.

Not sure if anyone has asked this or not but why not lifebane zombie sideboard and vampire nighthawk main?

December 5, 2017 12:13 p.m.

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8 months ago)

-2 Surgical Extraction side
+2 Extirpate side