This rendition of mono-black is at heart a midrange strategy (it is capable, however, of pulling almost combo-like finishes with Gray Merchant of Asphodel), with powerful threats backed by disruption and card advantage. Consequently, it is both capable of killing an opponent quite quickly or playing into the late game, as the matchup dictates.

One of the reasons to play this list over the more traditional Modern midrange decks like Abzan and Jund is that this deck goes over the top of those lists, with threats that are more powerful and more resilient. Another reason is the almost inexhaustible supply of extra cards at a far cheaper price - when Dark Confidant is the chosen source of cards, one remains afraid of creature removal, and also of playing threats whose power level is proportional to their mana cost; by contrast, Phyrexian Arena and Ob Nixilis Reignited are far more difficult to remove, hurt much less in the long run, and do not reveal one's draws.

It may be fair to say this list has a lategame that is among the best to be found in the format (not counting Jace, the Mind Sculptor, which is a one card lategame engine). The deck also has an inevitability with Gray Merchant of Asphodel that other midrange decks do not possess. Being mono-colour also has the distinct advantage of not having to worry about colour-screw, pain from a lot of fetches and shocks, or Blood Moon. Targeted land destruction is in an equal vein made much worse; Ponza and The Rack are usually free wins.

The list was inspired by the mono-black craze of Theros block Standard. Thoughtseize into Pack Rat was a format-defining game-winning play; Gray Merchant and Underworld Connections provided long-term card advantage and combat-independent inevitability. Thoughtseize into Pack Rat is not as broken in a format such as Modern which has access to better, more plentiful, and more efficient removal; early threats from aggressive strategies, such as Death's Shadow, Cranial Plating, Goblin Guide, Lord of Atlantis, Tarmogoyf, Hollow One, Thalia's Lieutenant and so forth can render the inexorable Rat train too slow, even on turn 2. Also worth noting is that a lot of decks are going wide in the early turns, or are playing sweepers; cards like Reflector Mage, Detention Sphere, Maelstrom Pulse and Cryptic Command can also make make the Rat feel really bad. Other threats that can be expected to perform more reliably and provide similar levels of board domination if unanswered have therefore been selected in its stead.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet provides a source of recurring lifegain to offset the pain from our own Thoughtseize and card draw; he is a source of card advantage against creatures; he deals very efficiently with graveyard recursion (Flamewake Phoenix, Bloodghast, Liliana, the Last Hope, Kolaghan's Command). Fetchlands with Godless Shrine enable the splash of Stony Silence and Disenchant to deal with problematic artifacts and enchantments (the old lists, for instance, would often be entirely unable to race through a resolved Assemble the Legion) like Leyline of Sanctity from combo and Ensnaring Bridge from Lantern Prison.

Liliana, the Last Hope offers an additional means of accruing card advantage while providing recurring removal against tokens and other small go-wide strategies; she ensures the deck never actually runs out of threats, and can provide inevitability with recurring Gray Merchants (Merchant, being a zombie, can be sacrificed to Kalitas). While this deck does not have a way to win through a resolved infinite life combo and may get decked if the opponent finds answers to every single creature and planeswalker, it has enough disruption and removal to ensure such scenarios rarely come to be.

The deck has been tested with and without Shadow of Doubt. First and simplest, it filters; having a pair of cantrips helps tremendously to smooth out awkward draws, especially since this is a very mana reliant deck. Second, hitting an enemy fetchland with the card in the early turns is backbreaking, and often a game defining play. Third, it is a clean answer to a lot of combo cards, like Whir of Invention, Chord of Calling, Expedition Map, Sylvan Scrying, Scapeshift, Nahiri, the Harbinger, Primeval Titan, etc. However, sometimes it is just a two mana cycler for no value, especially when the opponent knows to play around it; hence, its maindeck inclusion is meta dependent (usually in the sideboard, more powerful and targeted hate cards for the matchup can be placed).

The deck has gone through several phases of testing to get where it currently is. As new cards are released and the meta shifts, the list will be updated to have the most powerful and versatile inclusions possible; but barring a shift so dramatic that the cards in the current format are simply made obsolete by more powerful printings, the core set of cards that power the strategy ought to remain the same. That said, some sideboard slots are certainly flexible, and even the main 60 need not be set in stone.


Updates Add

Took team to the quarterfinals with this list - I was on Modern:

I actually won my 5-8 bracket match (paired against the Lantern player in position 4, Gray Merchant for 19, then 23), but my teammates lost theirs, so we didn't make it to the semis.

Matchups were Affinity, Jund, GW Hatebears, Abzan, and Lantern (one opponent dropped). Won against Affinity and Jund; other two didn't matter, because teammates lost their games.

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Date added 1 year
Last updated 3 minutes
Exclude colors URG
Splash colors W

This deck is Modern legal.

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 2.63
Tokens Liliana, 2/2 Zombie, Nixilis
Folders Mono Black , Black, Modern inspiration, MODERN XXX, Modern, Modern inspiration, Modern, Modern Decks, Modern Reference, Future Decks, See all 24
Top rank #46 on 2017-04-04
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