Tourney match W/L record with the deck: 18W 9L.

Update: 06/01 Monoblack is finally making a debut in pro play at the Pro Tour! Weeks and weeks later; lol.

Read the updates for the most up-to-date info.

Does Karn have a dark side? One that IS NOT oily?

So, I figured I'd turn my attention to Monoblack after witnessing the travesty of UW at a PPTQ. It was honestly very, very, annoying to look at. I've gotten word from the Japanese and Russia that Mono black control has a shot. Recently MTG Goldfish BRIEFLY mentioned this in a video; so I took it as confirmation something was cooking. Heavy discard and heavy creature denial should make black a tough opponent for UW control; at least this is my hope.

Karn, Scion of Urza is the card draw machine for this deck. Dread Shade is a very large beast, and tough to kill b/c of his pump ability; but still succumbs to Seal Away but with four of them in the deck, you're not exactly hurting for these. Josu Vess, Lich Knight has been cut sadly; Torment of Hailfire takes his place as a stronger win-con. Gifted Aetherborn really round out the package for some early game board clearing, and aggro reduction thanks to life link. Divest and Duress keep tabs on your opponent's hand, and punch through some tough moments. Those six spells can and should derail a UW control deck thoroughly; and if it does not, the sideboard includes four copies of Knight of Malice which will undoubtedly frustrate the living hell of UW control players. Cabal Stronghold is useful, despite the hate against this card, and getting mana out of it to pump up our dear friend Dread Shade. The sideboard is there for a variety of reasons. You have additional copies of Divest for more artifact and creature based decks, and you can sidboard in copies of Duress for the same reason. Golden Demise hits their stuff, and leaves yours mostly in-tact. It gets rid of aggro decks very nicely. Lost Legacy means you can just uninstall any threat to you off the cuff.

Against other aggro decks, there's enough removal in here to choke a damn horse. The removal spells will just wreck a lot of aggro decks.

Now, if I could only see Drain Life reprinted, and I'd throw Lich's Mastery in this deck so fast it'd make your head spin.

Update 1: I've picked Doomfall main deck over Gonti, Lord of Luxury because while I do like Gonti, I just feel like Doomfall has better and more proven results. Gonti is board presence, and also can remove a creature. But I do believe his shallow health pool, and cost kind of are worse off than Doomfall.

Update 2: I added some cards to the maybe-board that are more affordable options to play other than Karn, Scion of Urza. I won't say anything but, use what you will, and that Karn is the fastest, repeatable, draw engine out there with very little downside.

Update 3: I'm reading more and more on how people are wanting Liliana, Death's Majesty in this type of deck. I'll not add this to the maybeboard, and I'm uncertain how her synergies will flow with the deck I've engineered. She has some synergy with Demonlord Belzenlok, but at the same time works against him. He exiles cards, and she resurrects them. He provides card draw, and she diminishes your pulls. Also, with a lot of graveyard hate like Scavenger Grounds and Sentinel Totem I'm not as sure she works. As much as she curves into play after a Karn, Scion of Urza the most she will deliver you is one resurrected asset or a 2/2 creature. Neither proposition makes me feel great, and she acts like a lightning rod. Her continued existence will be a short one I believe. Nobody is going to let you build board with her, and in this deck spells are a form of control, not the creature bodies.

Update 4: Tinkered with land a bit; and removed one Cast Down. The card is good, I believe, but I've got a lot of creature removal in the deck and one less of this in order to facilitate some more mana is wise.

Update 5: OK THIS DECK HAS SOME SERIOUS LEGS. I went 3 wins, 1 loss in Standard Showdown. It was AMAZING. The only loss I had was to a mono-red deck. First game I got my opponent very low, second game, I only got two mana the entire game. First game versus RG Monsters: wrecked them with a Torment of Hailfire. Second game: the loss to mono red. Third game: CRUSHED mono red. They didn't pull gas to fuel their fire, I Vraska's and used removal to win, killed them with a Torment of Hailfire. Fourth game: BW Vehicles, it was a no brainer win. It was long, drug out, and with a lot of thought and careful play. My discard spells came to the rescue though, and got rid of all that control. From there I just Fatal Pushed and Vraska'd my way to victory. Gideon and Heart of Kiran took a dirt nap!

Update 6: Changes post-showdown...GOODBYE JOSU VESS. I love him, but alas, he's not useful due to Fumigate, Settle, blah, blah. He makes some good chump blockers but its not as strong as I thought it would be. Main deck Torment of Hailfire it is, and two more in the board for those aggressive counterspell decks. I might change that up later, but for now 2 and 2 feels good. Damn good. That card is busted as a win-condition outright. NO don't main deck four of them. That's silly. Upcoming potential changes, I might drop in Mastermind's Acquisition in place of the two main deck Torment of Hailfire but we'll see.

Update 7: Posted to Reddit; upvote as you see fit. (Edit: skip it)

Update 8: Yep, Mastermind's Acquisition mainboard is a go, along with one Bontu's Last Reckoning getting one reduction, and Lich's Mastery getting a one of in the sideboard. I've decided on Lich's Mastery being handy in delicate fringe situations. I might change that up later, but late game I had a few situations where it would have paid off big time.

Update 9: Yeah reaching for a life saving Battle at the Bridge in my sideboard is more handy; so I've changed that up in the sideboard. Synergizes with variable board states and low life pools better than LM.

Update 10: Went 3 wins, 1 loss last night at FNM. Decks played: UR Wizard Aggro, Mono Red, Mardu Vehicles, BG Negative Counters (-1/-1 stuff). Mini-report: Aggro decks with tons of spell hate - you can remove Gifted Aetherborn and include tons of discard cards to set them up for no gas in the tank failures. Against vehicle decks; unless they include a bevy of spell hate, leave the Aetherborn in. If they are playing white control spells or white period, swap them out for Knight of Malice. The one loss was to Mardu Vehicles b/c I boarded out the the Gifted Aetherborn for discard, and that was not a wise choice. I should have reached for the knights. Their spell control pile was very limited. Lost Legacy proved effective at removing Hazorets and Glorybringers.

Update 11: I've made some calls, and some tough ones at that. The biggest is that our big, flying friend Demonlord Belzenlok is getting benched. I've changed him in favor of adding some more control to the deck in the form of Gonti, Lord of Luxury because he's handed me some very nice cards. I've traded places on Doomfall for Torment of Hailfire and cut out the Mastermind's Acquisition because I needed that card nine times out of ten when I cast Mastermind's. Doomfall is handy, just not as universally handy as I'd like it to be. I've adjusted the land heavily. I've added two Field of Ruin because fuck Hadana's Climb   and Search for Azcanta  . You can also trigger the revolt portion of Fatal Push with Field of Ruin; sick removal is the result. I've also upped the ante on Cabal Stronghold b/c I can never get enough of that card. Bontu's Last Reckoning was just not working out for me, as I found it difficult to handle up on a few choice situations where I had to potentially kill my board to stay alive, when I had a series of low health monsters out. I was annoyed so I swapped it up with Golden Demise but may change that up later. Yahenni's Expertise springs to mind, but that devolves into the same problem as Bontu's...sooo.

Update 12: Added 1 Demonlord Belzenlok back to the maindeck, reduced Field of Ruin by 1 to see how this flows. Recently Seth Waterman at MTG Goldfish, aka SaffronOlive, ran a variant of this deck in a segment called Much Abrew About Nothing.

He classifies his deck as Tier 2; but I think this wins enough to classify as tier one as long as you're actually running control spells. He's utilizing Karn, Scion of Urza as an artifact creature creator, and I think that's kind of a mistake. He's card draw, plain and simple to me. I don't like several aspects of his deck line up because I don't think there's enough control; and in an aggro heavy environment its needed. He went 4 wins, and 1 loss, which is very good, but they came as tough wins. I much rather prefer control spells, with control oriented creatures that offer difficult choices for your opponent. The other viable variant to this deck should be just to run purely spells with zero creatures, and firing off Torment of Hailfire for the kill. I don't find that as interesting, but that's not a bad way to do it either. His assessment of Dread Shade is spot on: it dies to removal. But that's not an underperforming asset. It is supposed to be a lightning rod for many threats, not a closer 100% of the time. The main aim is to have multiple win-cons. Dread Shade is one win condition, Torment of Hailfire is another, and Walking Ballista for 12 million points of damage is another. Not to mention you're ability to ping your opponent to death with small board threats like Gifted Aetherborn or Knight of Malice. Him using Karn, Scion of Urza for artifact generation, as a win conditon, is like me using a spoon to build a mall. You've been given your three win conditions, so use them. Also don't overdo it on card draw, and don't avoid control spells. Causing your opponent to discard cards and denying him assets is critical. In short: abort the fuck out of any threat before it hits the board.

Update 13: Concerning sideboarding... UW Control decks... Board out: 4x Fatal Push, 4x Gifted Aetherborn, 2x Cast Down, 1x Demonlord Belzenlok, 1x Cabal Stronghold. Board in: 4x Knight of Malice, 2x Doomfall, 2x Divest, 2x Duress, 2x Lost Legacy (Name Teferi/Lyra/History of Benalia). Monored/green aggro/low HP swarms decks... Board out: 2x Duress, 2x Divest. Board in: 2x Golden Demise, 2x Lost Legacy (Name Hazoret/Rekindling/Rhonas/Ghalta/Chandra). BR Vehicles... Board Out: 1x Dread Shade, 1x Gonti, Lord of Luxury. Board in 2x Lost Legacy (Name Chandra/Rekindling/Karn/Unlicensed Disintegration). BW Vehicles... Board out: 2x Cast Down, 2x Duress, 4x Gifted Aetherborn, 1x Field of Ruin, 1x Cabal Stronghold. Board in: 2x Golden Demise, 2x Doomfall, 4x Knight of Malice, 2x Lost Legacy (Name History of Benalia/Lyra/Karn/Gideon.) You can use Battle at the Bridge in lieu of a Vraska's at any point as well, if there is something juicy like a God or a Ghalta you wanna get rid of. You can give something -12/-12 and you'll gain 12 life and kill your target. Indestructible targets are fair game. In a match up where artifacts, creatures, and spells become equally important, sideboarding in Doomfall is wise.

Update 14: I’m considering giving Twilight Prophet a spin. She is a late game play only, and might be a good stand-in for Demonlord Belzenlok but also might just be fodder. I find some feedback from other players is that she would be murdered outright very fast. I don’t disagree with that assessment, but would not the same be true for Belzenlok? He has two points more health, and is just as removable by destruction spells, or exiles. She’s nowhere near as big as a heavy hitter, but in an era of Settle the Wreckage and Seal Away I’m unsure having her in the back providing you steady damage is a bad thing. Her life gain ability is nice as well; which only gets better and better as the game stretches onward. I look at the average life gain per turn, and I can say its between 0 and 2.5 life. That's not meaningless.

Update 15: Scratching Twilight Prophet from the maybeboard, as I know for a fact in this meta, she is just too slow. I am going to also remove Gonti, Lord of Luxury in exchange for two Doomfall and sideboard two copies of Never as well. Aggressive planeswalker and creature removal is key in certain match ups, and Gonti just did not give me enough love to get some jobs done. In initial playtesting he rocked, but when you scoop four lands from your opponent, ehhh. I got more practical experience with him tonight that made make this call. He got me close to the end, but I was looking for removal rather than cards from my foe's deck. If I want to remove cards from my foe's deck, that's what Lost Legacy / discard cards are for, and frankly, I might say goodbye to Battle at the Bridge for another copy of Lost Legacy because its so damn good. I'm undecided at this point though. Tonight's match ups led me to a 3 and 1 record, and Lost Legacy removed things like: Unlicensed Disintegration, Hazoret the Fervent, Gideon of the Trials, and Glorybringer. In one match, right before a win, I was about to gut four copies of Rekindling Phoenix from a deck.

Update 16: After consulting with some folks; I'm gonna give Arguel's Blood Fast   a whirl in the sideboard versus strictly control decks. I'll report that outcome. Also, it finally appears that Mono-black control decks are showing up in the meta - FINALLY - it took the audience THIS LONG to realize its potential. Frustrating. Japan and Russia aren't the only ones on the board and people in the west might wake up some time soon here. While the version listed below isn't what I would do, it is what someone went 6 and 3 with in a PPTQ. I don't like Liliana, Death's Majesty as stated before. She diverts from the theory of control too much, and graveyard hate is far too easy to come by. Noxious Gearhulk and Gonti, Lord of Luxury are just gambles, and not running any Karn, Scion of Urza is a huge, huge, fucking mistake. Main deck Never is interesting, as I've thought about doing that as well in place of Doomfall but we'll see how that turns out. I'm running Doomfall mainboard and seeing how that flows; at some juncture I might flop to Never mainboard but I kinda like the exile factor. Also only running 2 Cabal Stronghold; mistakes made. And Memorial to Folly is just a no in my taste pool, I don't care how much Liliana is humping in a pair of stilettos and hotpants. HOWEVER, that being said, in a deck that runs tons of recursion/graveyard play, it does work out. You just must commit to either the Stronghold, or the Memorial I think. Straddling both is too much.

Update 17: Ok, so after 1 FNM that went 2:2, and one Saturday showdown that went 3:1, I'm pretty confident things are looking very strong for this deck. The two losses in FNM were interesting ones. The first was to a mirror match with mono-black and they were running Liliana, Death's Majesty in conjunction with Memorial to Folly and I'm totally absent any graveyard hate in this deck so, not so great a thing. It was a decently long two matches, but the graveyard recursion loophole was not pretty. It may be wise to run Scavenger Ground or Silent Gravestone if graveyard recursion becomes super in-the-meta. The second match I lost was to a zombie and Josu Vess, Lich Knight ramp deck. It was jank, and I only lost because Scarab God showed up, and again, it hit the graveyard patch I didn't build into my board. You play the meta, and you get burned, and that's what happened on both those cases. Graveyard stuff, like butt stuff, must be prepared for. The showdown loss was to again, a Scarab God showing up, but again, I've seen him twice in SCORES upon SCORES of decks as of late, and I always have a Vraska's Contempt waiting for him. They just didn't show up though. Still going very strong though. Final note: FUCK IT, GO ALL IN ON Torment of Hailfire B/C YOLO. Seriously, that card got me VALUE today. I had four in my deck, and I made SEVERAL players discard their entire hand and clear their entire board, MULTIPLES of times. So it stays at 4, and is a lockdown card. It functions better than Doomfall in the removal, and the discard department. It just has some setup time, which is about six turns. That's ok with me, as on turn three, I'd rather do other things than just one Doomfall cast.

Update 17: I'm gonna give Tetzimoc, Primal Death a spin. He might be better than Demonlord Belzenlok but we'll see.

Update 18: More playtesting, more changes. I'm dropping in two Dispossess in the sideboard afterall, mainly because fuck all the Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran being ran. I don't think Fatal Push is enough in matchups against vehicles, and recursion is annoying. Lost Legacy does not cover it, so this will. I've dropped the two Arguel's Blood Fast   as I have found them somewhat costly to do against seasoned control decks that have a heavy hitter or two. I playtested against Lyra Dawnbringer, Torrential Gearhulk, and even other control decks that use primarily one or two assets to swing with, and if you eat your health pool up...dead things happen. I've also rotated in Lich's Mastery in the sideboard again. Why? The super, duper, fringe, match up chance. If you are playing against the win-condition-less Teferi version of UW control, and if you can sneak this card out, they pretty much forfeit. There's a slim to no chance that they are going to be running something to defeat it unless they counter it, and great, they are down one counter then. The two cards that can beat it are Hour of Revelation and River's Rebuke. That leaves History of Benalia if they are even running it, and chances are they won't be against mono-black control. Gideon of the Trials becomes a top priority removal with Lost Legacy too. Anyway, feel free to shit on that card, but I hate going to match time against UW and waiting out the mill. I won't be conceding to that shit, and I'll take a draw sooner than lose like that, lol.

Update 18: SIGH. Lich's Mastery is not fast enough to dodge a T6 counterspell; it can prevent a lot but it was reach anyway. I just went with another planeswalker kill spell; good ol' Never really is strong right now.

Update 19: Ok, so, Monoblack is now mainstream and will make its first appearances at the Pro Tour this weekend. It will also be played at various events around the country with a high REL. So, as standard, it is now time to unsheath the sword and go deep and hard. We're going after UW control, and we're gonna get spikey right now. Changes will be made. Dread Shade and Gifted Aetherborn are now out; as much as I love them. They are great two drops, but I need room to control more, and in addition, being a lightning rod is just not enough. Sure, they beat out some decks, but waiting to play a T4 shade, and hoping gifted does not die is wearing thin on me after playing this deck for at least five weeks now lol. Tetzimoc, Primal Death waves goodbye as well. I'm welcoming on board tons of control cards, including a reintroduction of Gonti, Lord of Luxury. Treasure Map   has fine synergy with Karn, Scion of Urza when you produce Treasure and tick Karn down. Doomfall returns in the main spread. I'm not currently intending to play The Eldest Reborn but there's still time yet to walk that choice back. I'm not going the recursion route with this version, I'm strictly staying above board with that so far. Sideboard changes are now happening too; I need aggressive removal with some Bontu's Last Reckoning again now that I am without shades and aetherborn (sniffles).

Update 20: Combining GY hate plus removal by adding some Phyrexian Scriptures to the sideboard.

Update 21: More sideboard changes; also swapped up the Duress to the mainboard for more UW hate. I'm trying out Harsh Scrutiny over Divest as an option to push around creature based decks a lot more; it also has the scry for 1, which helps get us to the meat we need.

Update 22: Ok so monored and monogreen are just way, way, way, too potent to go with straight spell control. So, I'm changing things up again. I'm swinging back to a midrange control deck, but going more meat and potatoes. I'm also adding our dear friends Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran. I'm FINALLY relenting and going to TRY Liliana, Death's Majesty and I hope she does not disappoint. I'm changing up the discard positions dramatically because right now, UW control is just not showing up often, and when it does, I can just sideboard against it, and I'm fine. Doomfall and durress are both in the sideboard for that. What influences this decision? The metagame; and after this weekend's BLOWOUT Pro Tour where 7 OF THE EIGHT DECKS WERE SOME VARIATION OF RED-BLACK AGGRO/MONORED/RED-BLACK gotta have a board full of creatures. Its kinda getting old.

Update 23: Ok, so, vehicles just do not work out for this deck. They are far too slow, and after playtesting against Mono-red and also BR Vehicles, I can say we just have to set them aside. Scrapheap Scrounger and Heart of Kiran don't belong in the deck b/c of difficulty of crewing. The planeswalkers come to late in the game to crew up the Heart, and the Scrapheaps are just kinda rinky dink bolt fodder. They also can't block, and that's what you need: time. Gifted Aetherborn buys you time at least. I've bumped up the Fatal Push to four again, and also applied Treasure Map   to the main deck. This will help with building some board using Karn, Scion of Urza's -2 ability. I was thinking about inserting more control instead of the maps, but honestly, we just need to get to strong cards faster. And no, don't talk to me about Dark Bargain b/c it is basically slow, and trashy, and costs you life on top of it all. Arguel's Blood Fast   just gets you killed against aggro, so, don't even bother. Fast draw, that doesn't cost life, that is easy to come by is in this deck. Its all artifact powered too. Besides, right now, we need ablative damage soakers rather than card advantage; as much as I loathe to say kinda doesn't have a "Wall of Darkness" or some shit to cover it.

Update 24: I'm going to playtest The Eldest Reborn but I fear it is not fast enough in a lot of cases.

Update 25: Of course more bad news: Liliana, Death's Majesty still does not belong in this variation. She is really aggravating as milling valuable spells is very, very, very, fucking dangerous. I can't express it enough. You get her out, she's great, she resurrects things...but when you need that Vraska's Contempt and the bitch throws in your graveyard for you - ARGH. I want a black planeswalker named Liliana of the Dark Realms in this deck - BUT IT DOES NOT EXIST, LOL. She would be a rockstar perfect fit in here, and can't stress that enough. She's ramp, she would feed Cabal Stronghold, Torment of Hailfire, and Walking Ballista. I'll toss around Noxious Gearhulk mainboard, and one copy more of Never. I'd circle back to one copy Josu Vess, Lich Knight but if you actually kick him, then you'd have won way, way, before hitting him with all of the other win conditions present. So much hate in this deck and my heart right now; but I'll keep trying, lol.

Update 26: Shuffle, shuffle, not shocked, The Eldest Reborn is slow. Great against UWB or UW control decks, but so-so against aggro based decks. Mainboarding Doomfall for now; and will board it in when I need it for certain match ups. It is handy.


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Date added 3 months
Last updated 2 months

This deck is Standard legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.58
Tokens 1/1 Construct, Treasure
Folders Uncategorized, Standard, Standard, Favorite Standard Decks, gid shit, Best Standard deck if seen in a minute, Interesting Standard Decks, Interesting Decks , MB, Do You Play Standard?, See all 18
Top rank #1 on 2018-05-27
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Revision 22 See all

2 months ago)

+2 Doomfall main
-2 The Eldest Reborn main
-2 Doomfall side
+2 The Eldest Reborn side