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How The Devil Plays MTG: The Mono-Black Primer

Modern Budget Competitive Control Midrange Mono-Black Primer


Hello! Welcome to my Primer for Mono Black Aggro/Midrange/Control!


This is my first primer in a series of primers I created for the Modern format.For this primer, I've done what I can to condense many of the primers that have been made online, and combined them with my own personal experiences playing Mono-black decks. Within the primer I've made as many listings as I can for what I have seen or played, as many primers skip over viable options or possibilities for certain metas. The decklist that I currently have is one that I play personally.

Before I delve further into the primer, I want to make one thing very clear. When I talk about these lists being competitive, I'm NOT talking about format breaking SCG top-8 crushing modern decks that will tear up the metagame. Instead, I am talking about lists that can hold their own and win games in FNMs and are viable online as well. I want that to be made clear so that there are no questions regarding this topic.

Mono-black Aggro/Midrange/Control has been a competitive deck for quite some time, as the deck is very meta adaptable and budget friendly due to the manabase that it plays, since many of Modern's decks have a huge price requirement to their manabase. We also have access to cheap and efficient removal that deals with many decks in the format.

The other main reason why Mono-black is so viable in the modern format is because it has access to almost everything you need to survive, which is, threats, removal, and card draw. This is the reason why many people chose to play mono-black in the first place.

This primer is a tool that I've made for people to try out this deck. When looking to build this deck, you should try to figure out the types of matchups you will be facing in your local meta, and figure out a way to make your deck have good matchups against the majority of decks in that meta. Obviously, you will likely have a few bad matchups, but that is the nature of Modern, as it is a rock, paper, scissors format, and there is an answer to every deck.

I have also created a ranking system for each card, and from my own experience, I have rated along the lines of something like this:

★★★★★ = This card is fantastic, and I'd probably play it in practically any Mono-black deck besides maybe a few strategies. This card might also be just a good card and have an entire deck build around it.

★★★★ = This card is good, and I'd probably play it, but sometimes I would consider not playing it in favor of other cards in the list.

★★★ = This card isn't bad, and may have been spectacular in the past, but there are probably better things you could be playing nowadays.

★★ = This card is pretty fringe and I would likely not play it in my own deck, unless maybe on a super tight budget.

★ = This card is pretty janky, and I would not play it in my competetive build without some extreme build around.

Keep in mind that this is based purely on my experience, and that certain cards might be key to certain strategies. After all, they are in this primer for a reason!

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When building your deck, one thing you need to be aware of is the curve of your deck, as there are plenty of decks in the format like Elves and Affinity that like to have their entire hand on the board by around turn 3-4, decks like Death's Shadow Aggro, Infect, and Ad Nausseum would like to kill you around turn 3-4 and you have to be prepared for that. This is why the Midrange and control variants are the most popular in mono black, as the aggro meta often forces people to play a more reactive deck.

Finding the right mix of cards to achieve deck adaptability can be difficult, which is why I've put in cards that are extremely popular in mono-black, as well as the cards that see extreme fringe play, as metas and decks are constantly changing, and some people enjoy their jank.

It should be known that when playing Mono-black (as with any mono-colored deck) you won't have answers to everything, you may find it hard to interact with combo decks that play cards like Leyline of Scanctity, or interact with decks like Tron that simply ramp their way into bigger and badder things then you could ever play. However you make this trade in interaction for pure consistency, as any land you draw should be able to help you cast your spells, it also allows colorless lands to not be as painful to you when playing.

The primary way that many mono-black players pilot their way to victory is not by pressuring their opponent with high power creatures like Elves or Zoo, but rather by removing the OP's hand and baord, and then moving in with your own spells once the field is in your favor.

A key point to be made in deckbuilding is that if you want your deck to be in any way viable, you will need discard. Thankfully, your already in the perfect color for it.

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★★★★ Tormod's Crypt : Crypt is one of the cheapest ways to exile an opponent's graveyard, it also doesn't cost any mana to use or play, definitely the most budget friendly graveyard hate around. The problem with crypt is that it you can't use it to pressure an opponent's graveyard, you can only nuke it, so if your opponent get's their delve creature, etc. in, they have it.

★★★★ Slaughter Pact : It is not uncommon to see this card as a one-of in the main of a Mono-black deck, as the ability to fake not having removal or tapping out can be relevant against certain decks.

★★★★★ Leyline of the Void : While the cmc of this card might be 4, you'll almost always want to play it on turn zero. Leyline is very prevalent due to the graveyard based strategies in the format; and a lot of the time playing this turn 0 wins games in certain matchups. Typically seen as a 3-4 of if relevant.

★★★ Ravenous Trap : This card saw play in modern when Dredge was the top deck in the format. Trap is a dredge hoser that is used when we want to exile an opponent's graveyard on the spot from our hand, instead of having it be weak to removal like Leyline of the Void , it also lets us hose a graveyard if it's not in our opener. More relevant in graveyard heavy metas.

★★★ Tectonic Edge / Ghost Quarter / Field of Ruin : Gives you the ability to destroy manlands, Tron lands, and other troublesome cards. If you do want to run these, be sure to run a few Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth to make your mana more consistent.

★★★★ Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth : This land gives you color fixing as you don't want to get stuck with colorless sources, or lands that don't generate mana at all like Arena . Usually played as 2-4 of if used.

★★★ Cavern of Souls : This card will sometimes show up in tribal builds to help against control decks, but isn't a necessity.

★★★ Inkmoth Nexus : Only relevant in mono-black infect and some 8-rack lists, Inkmoth Nexus can act as finishers in these builds.

★★★ Mutavault : Sees play in 8-rack as finisher as well as some fringe tribal lists.

★★★★★ Marsh Flats / Polluted Delta / Verdant Catacombs / Bloodstained Mire : While fetchlands increase your risk of dying to burn; they also increase deck consistency by cutting down the lands in your deck. Fetches are also great if you are splashing another color.

★★ Arena : A fringe piece. This card is usually ran as a one-of with Phyrexian Obliterator as a way to force your opponent's hand if played. Arena can also come up in various matchups as a way to get free wins, because lets say an opponent has something big like an Inferno Titan , if that it the only creature they have, you can tap it down and get in a free hit. The main issue with this card is that while it is a land, it generates no mana without uroborg, tomb of yawgmoth, and is often seen as being too slow for modern.

Cabal Stronghold : The mighty Cabal Coffers makes it's return in a fixed form that is more difficult to abuse. Since it requires that the swamps be basic, cards like Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth become irrelevant here, as it makes your manabase requirements more strained. This card wants to see play in more casual ramp based strategies that want to use cards like Death Cloud or Profane Command , and want a bigger ceiling.

★★ Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx : A staple in all "true" devotion builds, running this card allows you to make huge plays in the lategame with cards like Phyrexian Arena . Be mindful though, because a colorless manasource can be a problem in some decks.

★★★ Dakmor Salvage : This card is often played in builds that abuse Smallpox as well as some 8-rack builds. Has a combo with Raven's Crime .

★★ Bojuka Bog : Do you need Gravehate but don't want to devote sideboard slots for it? Bog is usually alright as a 1-2 of in graveyard heavy metas.

★★★ Miren, the Moaning Well : This land can work well as a 1 of in lists that want to run big body cards with drawbacks like Abyssal Persecutor .

Crypt of Agadeem : While this card only sees fringe play due to it's usage, in certain builds this card be a huge boon for the deck. Sometimes seen with Haakon, Stromgald Scourge

★★★★★ Swamp : Not all builds need the other lands mentioned here, 20-24 lands is almost always a must.

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★★★★★ Thoughtseize / Inquisition of Kozilek : These two cards are modern staples for a good reason, as they enable you to tear apart your opponent's hand before their cards become relevant. It is not uncommon to see many copies of both of these cards in mono black decks.

★★ Blackmail : A budget turn one discard spell, one nice feature about this card is that it can hit lands, but it's limitations make it pretty unfavorable so it sees little play.

Bloodsoaked Champion : A 'Bad Bloodghast', Champion sees some play in Mono-black aggro, and has seen some play in extreme fringe Mono-black midrange builds.

★★★ Basilisk Collar : Sees fringe play in mono-black aggro and some midrange lists like the older Mono-black Eldrazi lists.

★★★★★ Surgical Extraction / Extirpate : These cards are a great way to tear apart a combo deck that you are facing, as Surgical can be a free spell, and Extirpate can't be stopped, not uncommon to see them in the sideboard of mono-black decks.

★★★★ Death's Shadow : Only really played in decks like Suicide Black with Mono-black colors, Death's Shadow is a boogeyman within the modern format, but he's rezlly just another beater in black builds.

★★ Indulgent Aristocrat : A one-drop that has been seen in certain mono-black vampire decks to pump up your creatures and grow the board.

★★★ Vampire Lacerator : Another one-drop commonly seen in mono-black vampires, Lacerator is an aggressive creature that works for the aggressive vampire decks it gets played in.

★★ Disfigure : Cheap removal against decks like Elves and Infect, not uncommon to see in the 75, has become pretty much replaced by Fatal Push .

★★★★★ Fatal Push : A new format staple, Fatal Push by itself is like an upgraded version of Disfigure , however with Revolt and ways to trigger it, (such as fetchlands) this card can be very good at killing most of the threats you need it to.

★★★★★ Pithing Needle : Mono-black sometimes needs answers to certain abilities, pithing needle works for everything from planeswalkers like Gideon Jura and Karn Liberated , to Thopter Foundry and Inkmoth Nexus .

★★★ Funeral Charm : Discard at instant speed, can also be a sneaky hit with a creature if you play Urborg, usually sees play as a 2-of in 8-rack lists.

★★ Elixir of Immortality : A fringe budget sideboard card that's alright against decks like mill and burn.

★★ Bloodchief Ascension : While typically used in Red-Black shells, ascension has been seen in lists that are very aggressive as a way to turn it on. Also has an infinite combo with Mindcrank when turned on.

Tragic Slip : This card has seen play in some builds that rely on creatures dying and returning.

Illness in the Ranks : A cheap sideboard against token builds, Illness can shut down decks like Thopter Foundry , as they'll usually need enchantment removal to win the game.

Bump in the Night : Mono-black's Lava Spike , seen in the notorious "mono-black burn" deck.

★★★★★ Duress : Outstanding budget discard, almost always in the sideboard for control/combo matchups.

★★ Harsh Scrutiny / Divest : Seen in extremely fringe budget builds that contain creature heavy metas. But in all reality, these cards just aren't really good enough for modern.

★★★★★ The Rack / Shrieking Affliction : The key pieces to the established 8-rack deck.

★★ Cryptbreaker : Typically the one-drop for fringe zombie tribal decks.

★★★★ Gravecrawler : Played in decks with a high zombie concentration, as well as Mono-black devotion lists.

★★★★★ Nihil Spellbomb / Relic of Progenitus : Spellbomb is a cantrip for opposing graveyard hate and relic is superb against dredge as you can be annoying and being able to blow it up for a cantrip at any time.

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★★★★★ Bloodghast : A resilient 2/1 that can keep on coming back from the dead, works very well with Lashwrithe , and is a staple within Mono-black Devotion lists. However against a very aggressive meta it might be better to pick a creature that can actually block.

Altar's Reap : Sees extreme fringe play in decks that are sacrifice based as card draw.

★★★ Heartless Summoning : You could build around this card, and have success with it, as this card allows some combos, such as an infinite loop combo with 2 Myr Retriever and Altar of the Brood , as well as just playing cards like Myr Superion and Spellskite for free. Heartless also allows you to take advantage of high CMC cards like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet , Abyssal Persecutor , Gray Merchant of Asphodel , and maybe even cards like Grave Titan .

★★★ Spellskite : Spellskite is an infect hoser that thanks to WOTC can be played in all colors, this card works well against decks that would rather like to hose you like Bogles or Shadow Zoo, but doesn't see any real play in mono black.

★★ Guardian Idol / Mind Stone : These cards only see play in lists that abuse Death Cloud to make sure you net more mana than your opponent.

★★★★ Bitterblossom : This card has variable play. Against fair decks, you allow yourself to get down a creature every turn, which is great when you have equipment to power the tokens up. Blossom also works very well against opposing liliana's as making us sac tokens doesn't get them very far. The issues are that like Phyrexian Arena it can be the death of you, and it doesn't do anything the turn you play it.

Dragon's Claw : Fringe piece, Only even decent against burn, but in reality cards like Gifted Aetherborn are typically more effective.

★★★ Kalastria Highborn : Commonly seen in Mono-black Vampires, Highborn turns your vampires into little Syphon Life s when they die if you have open mana.

★★★ Stromkirk Condemned : Another card seen in Mono-Black Vampires, Condemned is great at acting like a pseudo-lord for vampires since you can pitch a swamp to pump your team.

★★ Zombie Infestation / Call the Bloodline : Fringe pieces. Played in lists that want to throw away their hand. See play in some janky Madness lists.

★★★ Hand of Cruelty / Black Knight / Stromgald Crusader / Knight of Malice : These two drops are strong enough to hold off a few of the fast creatures in the format, crusader can be more effective in the late game with Lashwrithe . Hand of Cruelty is the strongest tempo card as it is basically a 3/3 when attacking or blocking. However, these creatures were pretty outclassed when Gifted Aetherborn was printed.

★★★★ Brain Maggot /★★★★ Kitesail Freebooter : These creatures are discard spells on bodies. Both of them have their advantages. Maggot is usually played as a turn 2 discard spell, and Freebooter is usually used for a Duress like effect while adding devotion for Gray Merchant of Asphodel .

★★★★ Rite of Consumption / Severed Strands : A card that can provide decent lifegain against decks like burn, as well as being able to kill your own Abyssal Persecutor when you need to, since even if your opponent were to counter your spell. your creature is dead anyway.

★★ Imp's Mischief : Fringe Piece. This card is pretty much sideboard only, because the only cards we'd want to be redirecting here are removal spells, and maybe the occasional counter-combo piece if Splinter Twin ever gets unbanned.

★★★★★ Gifted Aetherborn : A Vampire Nighthawk that had it's mana cost cut by 1 in return for clipping it's wings, Gifted aetherborn essentially allows us to play Vampire Nighthawk without having to play it on turn 3, since you almost never wanted to play it on turn 3 anyways. It's a great card and sees a lot of play in mono-black decks.

★★★★★ Damping Sphere : A new power card, sphere gives us hate for Tron & Storm decks without the need for extra sideboard pieces.

★★ Graveyard Marshal : A new zombie 2-drop, Marshal is basically a weaker Relentless Dead , except it has the potential to make more tokens. This card isn't the most efficient, but it could prove decent in a budget zombie deck.

★★★★★ Dark Confidant : A very flavorful card, Dark Confidant sees play in many midrange and aggro builds with a lower cmc concentration to allow feverous card draw on a 2/1 body. The main issue of this card is that it eats all removal spells and can easily kill you if your cmc is on the high end. Played as a 2-4 if used.

★★★★ Devour Flesh / Geth's Verdict : Both of these spells make a player sacrifice a creature, and have different uses, as verdict is the more aggressive of the two, but you can use devour on yourself to gain life if you want. These budget cards usually see play in metas with decks like Bogles.

★★★ Asylum Visitor / Blood Scrivener /Other bad bobs: These cards are usually favorable on a budget, and in some builds they function like Phyrexian Arena .

★★★ Sangrophage : The black version of Kalonian Tusker , Sangrophage is played primarily in Suicide black aggro decks as an aggressive early game threat.

★★★★ Wrench Mind : The more modern version of Hymn to Tourach , sees play in discard heavy lists like 8-rack.

★★★ Distress : A Thoughtseize like effect played on turn 2, seen in budget lists.

★★★★ Relentless Dead : Often seen in Mono-black deovtion, Relentless dead is a recursive creature that can bring back other dead zombies from your graveyard.

★★ Treacherous Pit-Dweller : Played in some suicide black lists, Pit dweller can be an outstanding threat, but the problem is that of course it can become an even bigger threat for an opponent as well.

★★★ Nantuko Shade : Shade can be a mana sink that's great when you aren't doing anything, but can fall kind flat against most other threats in the format in the early game.

★★★ Waste Not : Often a sideboard card in decks like 8-rack, Waste not can function as a multipurpose tool to help you in a variety of situations.

Dash Hopes : This card only sees play in aggressive lists like suicide black, as since mono-black usually isn't great at pressuring the opponent at a fast rate, this card doesn't give much edge against decks like control or combo.

Hunted Horror : A fringe secret weapon to be used against decks that use Leyline of Sanctity , since they can't be the target of spells or abilities, you can't give them their precious centaurs they deserve. How Sad :) This card also works with decks that abuse Torpor Orb .

★★★★ Ratchet Bomb : One of the few ways mono-black can deal with non-creature heavy decks, it is rather slow but it can be effective in the sideboard.

★★★ Go for the Throat /★★★★★ Victim of Night /★★★ Doom Blade /★★★ Cast Down : Our 2 cmc cost conditional removal spells. Go for the throat is bad against affinity and tron, but works against most other decks. Victim of Night is the least conditional removal spell in the format for mono-black, as besides Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet , Bloodghast , Prized Amalgam , and Gurmag Angler , they are no other real vampires/zombies/werewolves in the format. Doom Blade is a classic removal spell that has shrunk in play because plenty of decks run black these days. Cast down is effective against most creatures, but against certain strategies you may want another card.

★★★ Devour in Shadow : The true mono-black Terminate , Devour in Shadow can destroy any creature, provided you pay the price. Seen in some suicide black lists.

★★★ Bile Blight : An outstanding card against decks that play Lingering Souls , also works against decks like burn and whatnot as a way to deal with decks that play lots of the same creature.

★★★★ Gatekeeper of Malakir : Although technically a 2-drop, Gatekeeper is almost always played as a 3 drop, as removal on a body is always good. This card is sort of meta dependent but is commonly seen in mono black decks.

★★ Sign in Blood /★★ Night's Whisper : Fringe pieces. Okay card draw, seen in some control builds.

★★★★★ Collective Brutality : This card is exceptionally good, as it supplies all kinds of advantages while only costing you 2 mana, very good against burn.

★★★★ Defense Grid : Colorless anti-control card, usually seen as a 2-of in the sideboard if used.

★★★★★ Pack Rat : Pack rat is a powerful two-drop that can quickly take over the board and if not answered, can win you games. Rat also lets you advance your board if you get stuck on 3 mana or keep drawing lands. It should be noted that since the ability makes token copies and not just tokens, the tokens can contribute devotion to Gray Merchant of Asphodel and other devotion pieces.

★★★ Smother : Kills a large amount of creatures in the format, but has been basically replaced with Fatal Push and Victim of Night .

★★ Shadow of Doubt : Played sometimes as a one-of to "get" decks like Tron and Scaepshift by tricking them into playing their Scapeshift s or Expedition Map s. This card is really more of a meta call.

★★ Mortarpod : Sees fringe play in mono-black midrange, usually seen in decks that run Abyssal Persecutor as a way to end the game once you have it.

Shred Memory : A fringe peice. A slight ammount of gravehate, but almost always used for it's transmute effect to tutor for combo pieces. Dimir House Guard and Dimir Machinations function similarly for trasmuting.

★★★ Augur of Skulls : Played in some variants of 8-rack, and fringe play in other mono-black decks.

★★★★ Smallpox : Gives the deck a "Pox" feel, Smallpox is probably one of the best cards you can use turn 2 on the play.

★★ Nameless Inversion : Combos with Haakon, Stromgald Scourge , Nameless inversion also works well in any deck trying to achieve delirium.

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★★★★★ Phyrexian Arena : You'll be using this or Confidant in a lot of builds to ensure you make land drops and keep drawing threats. Some people choose not to play arena because it can kill you, and it doesn't do anything the turn you draw it. 2 is usually a good number.

★★★ Diregraf Colossus : An excellent beatstick for mono black Zombies.

(All ★★★) Cemetery Reaper / Death Baron / Lord of the Undead / Lord of the Accursed : All the lords for a zombie tribal deck.

★★★★★ Liliana of the Veil : Played in almost every nonbudget competitive mono-black deck, Lilli can win games by herself, as she supplies hand disruption, creature removal and the destruction of annoying cards on the opposing side.

★★★★★ Liliana, the Last Hope : She's very good given the current aggro meta, and she can dig for cards like Bloodghast , Fulminator Mage , and Demigod of Revenge . She is usually run as a 1 or 2 of alongside 2 to 3 Liliana of the Veil in nonbudget lists.

★★★★ Dread Shade : Dread Shade is the best value shade ever printed imo, as the decent 3/3 body means it can block creatures like Goblin Guide , and in the late game can possibly serve as a strong threat. However usually the 3 drop slot is taken by Lilli's and the like.

★★★ Lost Legacy : A more on-curve version of what Memoricide typically does, the downside is that it doesn't hit everything, as it can't hit any full artifact based combos, and it can draw cards for your opponent.

★★★ Bontu's Last Reckoning : A 3 mana Damnation that basically time walks you, Reckoning could possibly see play in metas that are extremely aggressive, but I'm unsure if it will replace Damnation or smaller sweepers in most lists. This card usually shows up in 8-rack if anywhere.

Phyrexian Metamorph : While the cmc of this card may be 4, you'll never be paying the mana cost for it. This card has seen fringe play in some Mono-black midrange decks.

★★★ Vampire Nighthawk : More useful in aggro heavy metas. Nighthawk is kind of a roadblock against certain decks as they often don't have much of a response. However with the printing of Gifted Aetherborn , this card has left most lists.

Crucible of Worlds : Combos with Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge to make sure your opponent is seriously screwed. Also allows you to keep playing fetches to make sure you land every land drop.

Virulent Plague : Illness in the Ranks's big brother. Good against any token strategy.

Necrogen Mists : Played in some budget brew sideboards as a 'budget' Lilliana of the Veil.

★★ Haakon, Stromgald Scourge : Haakon has some interesting synergies, such as with Nameless Inversion , allowing you to kill creatures consistently. Haakon also functions well in knight based decks, and while the deck was/is far more potent in legacy, it is still buildable for modern.

Pitiless Horde : Played in some fringe mono-black aggro lists, could be played in some midrange builds for fast pressure.

★★★★ Nyxathid : Amazing is discard heavy lists like 8-rack, Nyxathid is powerful and almost like Tarmogoyf sometimes, as there are plenty of decks in modern that vomit out their hand in the first few turns.

★★★ Underworld Dreams : Fringe piece. Typically used to punish control in more devotion based builds.

★★★ Plague Belcher : Similar to Pitiless Horde Belcher is good in mono-black aggro, as you can easily kill something like Gravecrawler , and then you have a 5/4 menace for 3.

★★ Liliana's Specter /★★ Hypnotic Specter : These cards aren't that spectacular by themselves, as specter is the only real playable one. I think there are better options for 3 drops, but on a super-tight budget I could possibly see them getting used.

★★ Nightveil Specter : A very devotion friendly creature, specter allows you to play lands and whatnot from your opponent's deck, while still getting more devotion and board presence. However, with cards like Geralf's Messenger , Dread Shade , and Lillis, you will likely not be playing this card.

★★★ Herald of Torment /★★ Master of the Feast : Mostly for budget, these creatures are decently powerful, and their drawbacks aren't the worst, but they can see play.

★★★★★ Drown in Sorrow /★★★★★ Flaying Tendrils : These are the best small sweepers in mono-black. Depending on what you play, one may be better than the other. Drown works better if you have graveyard plans yourself, but Tendrils can deal with cards like Voice of Resurgence , Kitchen Finks , and opposing Bloodghast s.

★★★ Lifebane Zombie : This card is able to get cards like Siege Rhino , it also has what is essentially Fear, and can close the game quickly if unhindered.

★★★ Sadistic Sacrament : This card has seen play against combo/control decks, and if you ever have enough mana, you could pay the kicker and exile most of your opponent's deck

★★ Delirium Skeins : Delirium Skeins is mostly seen in some 8-rack lists, but has managed to see fringe play in other lists due to it's ability to destroy combo decks that use cards like Leyline of Sanctity to protect themselves from discard.

★★★★★ Hero's Downfall /★★★ Never One of the few ways Black can kill planeswalkers already in play. Generally played in the sideboard for planeswalker based control decks using cards like Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria . It's a'so good at dealing with Karn Liberated and Ugin, the Spirit Dragon . Since it can kill creatures too it is definitely worth some consideration.

Oblivion Stone : An old fringe piece. Destroys things Black has trouble with such as enchantments and artifacts.

Nantuko Husk : Sees fringe play in Zombie builds that abuse creature recursion.

★★★ Ensnaring Bridge : Played mostly in some 8-rack lists, bridge is an excellent way to slow down aggro decks. The real issue with bridge is everyoe is already bringing out their artifact hate in game 2 against 8-rack anyway.

★★★★★ Fulminator Mage /★★★★★ Rain of Tears : Extra hate against non-basic lands. Mage is pretty expensive, but comes with a 2/2 body and instant speed activation, but rain will get the job done if you want sideboard land destruction for decks like tron.

Everlasting Torment : Fringe budget sideboard tech against decks like Soul Sisters.

Mimic Vat : A fringe piece. While I consider this card a bit slow for modern, Vat can get around cards like Wurmcoil Engine .

Culling Scales : Fringe piece, scales works similarly to Porphyry Nodes in terms of removal, but at 3 cmc, it is kind of slow for modern.

★★★★ Dismember : Another solid removal option. Dismember kills virtually everything in the format and be a spell cast from turn 1 onward.

★★ Syphon Life : This card is very meta and deck dependent, as it usually hit or miss, but the recurring draining does have it's uses.

★★ Phyrexian Crusader : A roadblock against many decks in the format, it's not uncommon to see 2-4 in the 75.

★★★★★ Geralf's Messenger : A devotion staple and outstanding card, Messenger is like the evil Kitchen Finks , as it gives us some edge against control decks that want to wrath our board. It also has many combos, such as with cards like Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet , and Collective Brutality , as it can pump kalitas for more lifegain, or can allow us to drain for 4 off a brutality.

★★★ Crypt Incursion : Graveyard hate with bonus lifegain.

★★★ Captivating Vampire : The 3 cmc lord for Mono-black Vampire Decks, Captivating Vampire is also known to steal away opposing threats should the game go long.

★★★★ Sword of Light and Shadow /Other Swords: Swords are inherently powerful cards, and in decks like knights and other creature heavy builds, they can be very destructive.

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★★★ Korlash, Heir to Blackblade /★★★ Squelching Leeches : These creatures work with your manabase to become powerful in the mid-late game, Korlash has the benefit of ramping if you draw another, as well as being regenerateable. In my opinion Lashwrithe is far better since everything you play becomes a threat.

Liliana of the Dark Realms : This fringe card is only really reliable in mono-black control, as the ability to fetch for swamps to power finishers can be a force to be reckoned with, it is however 4 cmc.

Solemn Simulacrum : An older fringe piece. This card sees some extremely fringe play in very slow Mono-black control as a ramp card with added card draw, although I think it's too slow in the current meta.

★★★★★ Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet : Kalitas is a game-winning 3/4 that works well with cards like Fatal Push to give you free creatures that you can either attack/block with; or feed back to Kalitas to make it bigger. There have even been games where I've eaten my own Geralf's Messenger to get the final points of damage through. Also, If you wrath a board with a bunch of creatures on it with kalitas out, all the creatures get exiled and you get that many zombies, it's ridiculous. Kalitas can also deal with threats like Prized Amalgam since it exiles non-token creatures when they die.

★★★★★ Phyrexian Obliterator : The Mono-Black Xenomorph, obliterator is one of Mono-black's signature threats. This color-pie breaking 5/5 for 4 black mana has Trample, which means that decks that use cards like Lingering Souls are going to have to find another way to deal with it. The real charm however, is that after being dealt damage by a source, that source's controller sacrifices that many permanents. This means that if someone attacks you with a 10/10 Death's Shadow , they must sacrifice 10 permanents after damage. All of these abilities make Obliterator a wall against aggro decks, and an extremely powerful card overall.

★★★★ Abyssal Persecutor /★★★★ Desecration Demon : The modern cycle of Juzam Djinn & Grinning Demon , these big bodied 4 mana demons with drawbacks are very powerful and budget friendly. Persecutor has Trample, allowing you to go over Lingering Souls tokens, but makes it harder to win with cards like Gary. Desecration demon is bad against against go wide strategies, but on open boards is a force to be reckoned with. Both of these creatures want to be played in removal heavy decks that will make their drawbacks less annoying.

★★★★★ Night of Souls' Betrayal /★★★ Curse of Death's Hold : These cards are great against decks like Affinity and Elves. Not uncommon to see 1-2 in the sideboard. Curse used to be played when Night was more expensive.

Endless Whispers : This card is a build-around that can easily produce a nasty deck in a mono-black control list, however the deck would obviously be very meta dependent, but nonetheless, budget friendly.

★★★ Spawn of Mayhem : This card is a new addition to the 4 mana demons with flying and drawbacks. The good things going for this card is that the damage can give you the last few points of damage to win, it can run over cards like Lingering Souls , and unlike the other demons, your opponent having creatures isn't as big an issue. The bad side is that it's a 4/4 for 4 with no immediate impact, and it basically helps any burn player beat you.

★★★★ Vampire Nocturnus : The top of the curve for any vampire deck, Nocturnus makes Vampire decks worth playing since so little decks in the format can actually hand a massive flying board of vampires.

★★★★ Erebos, God of the Dead : Great with devotion decks, Erebos can act as card advantage and a finisher since she's indestructible.

★★★ Erebos's Titan : A very budget and devotion friendly beater, Titan can be very good against boardwipe heavy decks as with Indestructible it can very hard to get rid of.

★★★★★ Whip of Erebos : Lifelink on everything is huge with so many beaters. You can also get recurring value out of cards like Obliterator and Gary, making it very good against control decks. Not uncommon to see as a 1-2 of in the 75.

★★★★★ Lashwrithe : The New Phyrexian take on Nightmare Lash , this card makes smaller threats like Bloodghast and Bitterblossom tokens far more powerful. In addition to this, Lashwrithe can be a huge boon if you put it on a creature like Vampire Nighthawk or Phyrexian Obliterator . It also supplies a body when it enters play, it can definitely be worth running 1-2 in the 75.

★★★★ Damnation : The planar chaos Wrath of God , it can deal with a board full of elves, or force the hand of an affinity player, well worth seeing at least one in the 75.

★★★ Mutilate /★★★ Languish /★★★★ Ritual of Soot : These are the best budget four mana sweepers. If you are splashing another color, and are not playing shocklands, I'd recommend languish. If you are running an all swamp manabase (shocks and/or basics), then Mutilate is the way to go. These cards are also good if aggro decks using Selfless Spirit are relevant in your meta. Ritual is a more onc urve version of Consume the Meek and fas potential as a strong budget sweeper

Sangromancer : Seen in fringe discard lists, but doesn't see any real play.

Risen Executioner : Run as a finisher in some super ultra budget mono-black control lists since you can just cast it from the graveyard over and over if you only have 1-2 of them in the deck, but the game plan doesn't work too well against Path to Exile .

Grave Pact : Fringe piece. This card can be a powerhouse in decks that focus on sacrificing their own creatures. Works well with Nantuko Husk .

★★ Cranial Extraction / Memoricide : These cards allows you to search for any problem in an opponent's deck. These card are primarily for combo, as they aren't very good against anything else.

★★★ Phyrexian Vatmother : A staple of the mono-black infect builds.

Memory Plunder : Fringe piece. While this card has potential to be outstanding against decks like Lving End and Control, I think that discard and gravehate would be more effective against more decks and be more versatile.

★★★ Crypt Ghast : Used in some mono-black midrange lists that want to go tall with their finishers.

Undead Warchief : Fringe piece. The Mega lord for a zombie deck.

★★★ Bone Picker : Sometimes played in more fringe based decks as a tempo-like threat.

★★★ Panharmonicon : After SaffronOlive showcased this card in a mono-black deck on MTGGoldfish, it becomes clear that this enables some insane play, such as turning cards like Ravenous Rats into actual cards, but it also turns Gray Merchant of Asphodel into a monster when it enters play.

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★★ Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon : Often seen as a one-of in mono black infect since he can come down with hast and can regenerate himself.

★★★★ Batterskull : A reccurring 4/4 with Lifelink and Vigilance can be very grindy and give us games in some matchups. Batterskull is usually played in decks that have a higher artifact concentration (like a bunch of Lashwrithe s) or decks that are very removal heavy midrange decks that don't want to be on the Gary plan. Typically played as a one-of if used.

Vengeful Pharaoh : Has seem fringe play as a one-of in some decks that use graveyard synergies. Is almost always in the sideboard.

★★ Liliana, Death's Majesty : While I don't see her tearing up the metagame, she has a lot of resilience since she can protect herself very easily, the issue is do you play this over Gray Merchant of Asphodel in most decks.

★★★ Ob Nixilis Reignited : A little slow for modern but doable, Ob nixilis is removal, card draw, and a finisher all in one, but the problem with this card is similar to Lilli, in that there are probably better options for his slot. Usually seen as a one-of anti-control card for value in the sideboard.

★★★ Demigod of Revenge : Bloodghast isn't the only creature that can return from the grave! Demigod can pull out quick wins if you get them in your graveyard with cards like Collective Brutality and Liliana of the Veil . This card is usually run in a playset to ensure maximum effectiveness if used.

★★★★★ Gray Merchant of Asphodel : The 'big daddy' of mono-black, Gary makes all the cards you play give you a huge benefit, and allows wins out of nowhere in some situations. Also, since it doesn't "target" you can get around card like Leyline of Sanctity for a quick win.

★★★ Shriekmaw : This sorcery speed Terror on a body comes from some fringe decks that used Panharmonicon.

★★★ Doom Whisperer : A decent five drop, this 6/6 flyer can trample over cards like Lingering Souls tokens and whatnot, and can even help you scry through your deck. Of course, the main issue is whether or not this is the right card for the 5-drop slot. Regardless, this card has a lot of value.

★★★ Deity of Scars : Similar to whisperer, Deity is a powerful 5-drop which can grow into a 7/7. Since deity can regenerate itself, it can survive some bolts or other misc. destruction based removal. The problem is that most board wipes in modern already ignore this effect, and path to exile is what will likely be hitting this card anyway. Regardless, it's trample makes it good on the board, and it can easily trade with almost any creature and regenerate to come out on top.

★★★★ Street Wraith : Seen in suicide black Death Shadow lists, street wraith is usually card draw to play delve cards like Tombstalker , Gurmag Angler , and Tasigur, the Golden Fang .

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★★★★ Grave Titan /★★★★ Wurmcoil Engine : Other possible finishers although I don't think they'll be needed. Usually played with Heartless Summoning or Crypt Ghast since Lake of the Dead isn't in modern.

Corrupt : Sees extreme fringe play in some super budget control builds.

★★★★ Tasigur, the Golden Fang : Played in some lists that are heavy with discard and fetches, Tasigur can be favorable if you are going to move into GB rock as a one-of, and is also on a decent body, especially with fetches and high discard.

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★★★★ Gurmag Angler : Usually played in lists with high interaction, angler is seen in mono-black Death's Shadow lists as a finisher that can come down pretty early.

★★★ Sheoldred, Whispering One : Played in ramp decks using Crypt Ghast , sheoldred is fast and reanimating pressure for our opponents.

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★★★ Tombstalker : Decent in decks abusing Smallpox , and can even be used in regular versions of the deck. This will usually be a 5/5 for only . 2-3 copies should be run, if you're using it.

★★ Distended Mindbender : A card that can see fringe play as a one-of in some builds, Mindbender is a great way to screw over control decks since even if they counter the cast trigger occurs. The cost for this card is usually pretty low, as you normally only pay 3-4 mana to get it out.

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★★ Black Sun's Zenith : An older fringe piece, Zenith can take down small creatures and bring down taller creatures, but with the effect only becoming somewhat relevant at 4 mana, other sweepers are usually played over Zenith.

★★★ Killing Wave : Fringe piece. Sometimes seen in Mono-black Control as a one-of to fend off go wide strategies.

Profane Command :Another fringe piece. Command is typically used as 1-2 of if used to kill something and bring something back. However in most decks you'd have discarded this to Lilliana of the veil long before it became useful.

Death Cloud : A build-around card, cloud can sometimes win games by making an opponent sacrificing their entire board and hand to this card, this card is only really viable in a mono-black control deck that supports it.

★★★ Hangarback Walker : While it may not contribute to devotion, hangarback gets better as the game goes on, and it drops thopters when it dies. This card is often played as a 2-drop to soak up some damage while you build up your board, and can get bigger in the late game.

★★★ Chalice of the Void : Chalice has seen play in some of the Mono-black Death Cloud control lists that use this card along with Simian Spirit Guide to completely stop certain decks on turn 1.

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GOOD MATCHUPS: Any deck that relies on creatures, such as aggro and Midrange decks.

FAIR MATCHUPS:Combo decks and Some midrange decks fall into this category, as well as some control builds.

POOR MATCHUPS: Tron, Lantern Control, Scapeshift/titanshift, some of the UWx builds, and any graveyard build you can't interact with.

The reality is that creature based strategies are easy to get through since mono-black has so much interaction for them. However, most black decks besides Suicide Black have a hard time beating decks like Tron because Mono-black usually doesn't punish decks for setting up, or having better lategame threats then us.

It should be noted that these matchups are based on my experiences playing Mono-black midrange and control decks, it is certainly possible to change how the matchups look in your deckbuilding, which is why you must be so mindful about what you will face when building your deck.

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Going Black-Green gives you access to cards like Tarmogoyf , Grim Flayer , Abrupt Decay , Maelstrom Pulse , Kitchen Finks , Collected Company and other cards that fix mono black's weakness to noncreature based combo decks that it sometimes can't race like Ad Nausseum. This strategy is usually a good building block when trying to assemble Jund for competitive play.

Going Black-Red gives you a more aggressive approach, allowing you to play cards like Kolaghan's Command , Terminate , Lightning Bolt , and Blood Moon .

Going Black-White gives you access to more removal and more versatile protection, such as cards like Tidehollow Sculler , Blood Baron of Vizkopa , Path to Exile , Disenchant , Gideon, Ally of Zendikar , and Sorin, Solemn Visitor

Going Blue-black usually means that you will be creating some form of a Zombie deck that plays cards like Diregraf Captain , Thought Scour , and Prized Amalgam . Or you will be playing a mill deck, in my personal experience, mill is far more competitive, but due to it being an archetype already well made and thought out, I have chosen to not cover it in this primer.

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If you have suggestions or like this primer, PLEASE give it an upvote and/or leave a comment! I always like hearing constructive feedback on deckbuilding. This deck went for -40 to where it is now thanks to people like you!

If you want to look at the other primers in this series, budget lists, or my other brews and builds; be sure to check out my profile @Sargeras!

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