Greetings!

I've been playing MtG off and on for about 20 years. Modern is my favorite format and Black is my favorite color. My hobby is tinkering with competitive control and zombie variants.

The two Modern decks I am currently running are: KAMIKAZE SHADOW RACK and GRAVE BLASTER.

It’s been a while but I dove back into Standard. Check out my latest attempt: LILIANA’S EMBRACE.

I’m also updating my Legacy Reanimator deck: INSTANT DEATH.

My Commander deck is now updated as well: KAALIA’S CATACLYSM.

For fun, check out my old-school casual Tinker deck, which I updated with new cards: ULTIMATE TINKER.

So far I have designed 4 decks which have reached #1 on T/O, plus 4 other decks which have broken top 20. I appreciate any comments or suggestions. I am also happy to help if you have any questions for me.

Scallywallwest says... #1

zAzen7977, wow! That was a lot, but I'll say, all of that was definitely useful information. It's pretty cool that you took the time out of your day to type that all out, so thank you for that!! It definitely seems like you know your way around Black, so it was really intriguing to hear (read?) what you had to say on it--your thoughts, comments, and strategies with it. I'll admit, I didn't pay attention too much to the metagame up until recently, and I have to say, being able to sideboard against that is certainly useful!! Anyway, I just want to thank you for responding and putting thought and care into your comment. I wish you the best of luck in deckbuilding! :D

(Completely irrelevant tidbit: My first constructed, built-from-scratch deck was a Grixis goodstuff deck. Not saying I had the intention of building a goodstuff deck, but I decided to just toss every bomb rare/mythic I owned into a pile of cards and call it a deck. I had so many unnecessary sacrifice outlets, and yet I loved the cards I had on the field so much. Those sac outlets usually sat there, useless. I was so desperate to have my stuff stick that I didn't even sacrifice them--to themselves. I hated the very thought of it!! To this day, I still have at least a little bit of trouble when it comes to sacrificing things for value... :b)

July 7, 2020 11 p.m.

zAzen7977 says... #2

Hey casual_competitive, I’m not sure what your question is, but I can talk about standard. I’m no expert, since I drop off from standard from time to time, but I have a few tips that I’ve picked up other the years.

And Scallywallwest, thank you very much!!! I would be happy to talk about using black.

First of all, I’ll discuss deck building. These same principles apply regardless of the format. It’s important to review the entire card pool in the format. To know what to build, you have to know what you will be up against. Also review popular existing decks so you know the main archetypes and the most popular color combinations. If you’re new to the game, I recommend copying an existing deck and modifying it as you learn more.

Then if you are building a deck from scratch, choose a few cards that work together. Mono-color decks can’t address as many threats as multi-colored decks, but they will always have more consistent mana bases (you only have to worry about one land type). In standard you are limited to whatever lands are available, so that will be another thing to consider. Dual lands (like Blood Crypt and fetchlands (like Fabled Passage) are critical for making multi-colored decks consistent.

For example, in my Liliana’s Embrace deck, I chose Liliana, Waker of the Dead, Archfiend's Vessel, Demonic Embrace, and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. Liliana is the focus I built the deck around. Liliana discards a card from my hand, withers creatures based on the number of cards in my graveyard, and can eventually reanimate a creature every turn. So a deck with Liliana should focus on reanimation to utilize her most effectively. Her ability lets me discard Vessels and Kroxa so I can bring them back later. Once I have those cards down, I can add more details. Other utility cards like Thrill of Possibility help you dump cards and draw more. Since I anticipate going up against creature-heavy decks, I also added removal like Eliminate and Bedevil.

Once you have a working concept, you need to be able to win. Choose a few ways to win so you won’t be limited to only one path of attack. Magic is a fickle game and you need to have multiple plan B’s if things don’t go as planned. For example, in my deck I include Doom Whisperer as a finisher, because it is a powerful flying 6/6 trampler and allows me to Surveil at will. Kroxa and demon tokens from the Vessels are other win cons. Plus I run Maximize Velocity and Unleash Fury for good measure. Every deck will be different, but there must be a clear endgame.

Another important consideration is the mana curve. You want cards with affordable mana costs (1-2 mana) that you can cast early in the game, as compared to waiting around doing nothing turns 1-4. In Modern, most decks play at least 1 land and 1 spell every turn and gain serious momentum by turn 4, and if your curve is too high, you will not be able to compete. But you don’t want to burn out too quickly either. You’ll need higher mana cost cards for the late game. If you run cards that cost 5 or more mana, run at least 24 lands. If you are running lean (less expensive cards) you can reduce that number. Cards costing 7 or more mana are generally unusable unless you are playing ramp (lots of cards that generate additional mana besides only lands).

Black is an interesting color in any format because you have to think outside the box. First, choose your focus: Either creature-heavy aggro, control (very few creatures), or midrange (which is a mix of both, starts slow at first but picks up by turn 4). Black decks usually rely on creature removal, hand discard, creature sacrifice, life loss, controlling swamps, or devotion (having lots of black cards in play at the same time). Mono-Black is more consistent than other black color combinations but lacks the ability to deal with artifacts or enchantments effectively. That’s why white, green, and red are popular splash colors. White gives you access to Path to Exile and Disenchant, while red gives you burn and artifact removal like Deface, and green provides removal like Assassin's Trophy and Naturalize.

When you play black, you have to be ready to sacrifice your own resources. You can’t be emotionally attached to a particular creature or planeswalker. It’s just like chess - sometimes you must sacrifice your own pieces. Your life total is also a resource for you to utilize and spend, hence the term “suicide black.” Death's Shadow is an example of this archetype. You need to be able to walk right up to the cliff without falling off. It takes practice to know when you’ve gone too far.

Check out my decks for examples of zombie decks, black midrange devotion, and 8-Rack hand discard control. I like creating variations with different colors.

I hope my comment was helpful!

July 7, 2020 6:08 p.m.

Scallywallwest says... #3

Hello! I've seen some of your decks around, which are really good, by the way, and you seem to always be able to nail down decks when it comes to Black Mana. Do you have any tips for working with Black cards?? :b Kind of a weird question.

July 7, 2020 3:51 p.m.

idk how to standard, teach me the ways of 60 card magic

June 27, 2020 4:39 p.m.

Please login to comment

ConstantVigilance, thanks! It’s a lot of fun to play.

plakjekaas, I appreciate the comment. I played with adding white to this build to take advantage of Revival / Revenge, but I settled with Rakdos because it’s more consistent.

tru13, great point, thanks! I played several games recently and I also felt like I needed more removal. Unleash Fury was not as useful as I thought it would be, so I swapped it out for 2 mainboard Pharika's Libation to deal with creatures and enchantments. I left the other 2 on the sideboard. Duress is good to bring in to preemptively discard enchantments.

July 13, 2020 1:48 a.m.

Hey DasButch, I like your deck! I have a few suggestions -

Rotting Regisaur is a big zombie that helps discard your Crawlers and Ghasts. Plus you can sac it if you want to stop discarding.

Demonic Embrace may be an option since you are self-milling. Another possibility is Liliana, the Last Hope, she self-mills and can generate bodies for sac’ing later.

Soul Stair Expedition seems too slow. You want to keep stuff in the grave to boost your Diregraf Colossus, which I think you should 4 of. Why not 1-2 Unearth instead? Creature goes straight to the battlefield. Also Witch's Cottage and Castle Locthwain are good utility lands.

I think a couple Fatal Push will complement the Tragic Slips too. More removal will help against super fast creature decks. :)

July 9, 2020 7:09 a.m.

Said on zAzen7977...

#3

Hey casual_competitive, I’m not sure what your question is, but I can talk about standard. I’m no expert, since I drop off from standard from time to time, but I have a few tips that I’ve picked up other the years.

And Scallywallwest, thank you very much!!! I would be happy to talk about using black.

First of all, I’ll discuss deck building. These same principles apply regardless of the format. It’s important to review the entire card pool in the format. To know what to build, you have to know what you will be up against. Also review popular existing decks so you know the main archetypes and the most popular color combinations. If you’re new to the game, I recommend copying an existing deck and modifying it as you learn more.

Then if you are building a deck from scratch, choose a few cards that work together. Mono-color decks can’t address as many threats as multi-colored decks, but they will always have more consistent mana bases (you only have to worry about one land type). In standard you are limited to whatever lands are available, so that will be another thing to consider. Dual lands (like Blood Crypt and fetchlands (like Fabled Passage) are critical for making multi-colored decks consistent.

For example, in my Liliana’s Embrace deck, I chose Liliana, Waker of the Dead, Archfiend's Vessel, Demonic Embrace, and Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger. Liliana is the focus I built the deck around. Liliana discards a card from my hand, withers creatures based on the number of cards in my graveyard, and can eventually reanimate a creature every turn. So a deck with Liliana should focus on reanimation to utilize her most effectively. Her ability lets me discard Vessels and Kroxa so I can bring them back later. Once I have those cards down, I can add more details. Other utility cards like Thrill of Possibility help you dump cards and draw more. Since I anticipate going up against creature-heavy decks, I also added removal like Eliminate and Bedevil.

Once you have a working concept, you need to be able to win. Choose a few ways to win so you won’t be limited to only one path of attack. Magic is a fickle game and you need to have multiple plan B’s if things don’t go as planned. For example, in my deck I include Doom Whisperer as a finisher, because it is a powerful flying 6/6 trampler and allows me to Surveil at will. Kroxa and demon tokens from the Vessels are other win cons. Plus I run Maximize Velocity and Unleash Fury for good measure. Every deck will be different, but there must be a clear endgame.

Another important consideration is the mana curve. You want cards with affordable mana costs (1-2 mana) that you can cast early in the game, as compared to waiting around doing nothing turns 1-4. In Modern, most decks play at least 1 land and 1 spell every turn and gain serious momentum by turn 4, and if your curve is too high, you will not be able to compete. But you don’t want to burn out too quickly either. You’ll need higher mana cost cards for the late game. If you run cards that cost 5 or more mana, run at least 24 lands. If you are running lean (less expensive cards) you can reduce that number. Cards costing 7 or more mana are generally unusable unless you are playing ramp (lots of cards that generate additional mana besides only lands).

Black is an interesting color in any format because you have to think outside the box. First, choose your focus: Either creature-heavy aggro, control (very few creatures), or midrange (which is a mix of both, starts slow at first but picks up by turn 4). Black decks usually rely on creature removal, hand discard, creature sacrifice, life loss, controlling swamps, or devotion (having lots of black cards in play at the same time). Mono-Black is more consistent than other black color combinations but lacks the ability to deal with artifacts or enchantments effectively. That’s why white, green, and red are popular splash colors. White gives you access to Path to Exile and Disenchant, while red gives you burn and artifact removal like Deface, and green provides removal like Assassin's Trophy and Naturalize.

When you play black, you have to be ready to sacrifice your own resources. You can’t be emotionally attached to a particular creature or planeswalker. It’s just like chess - sometimes you must sacrifice your own pieces. Your life total is also a resource for you to utilize and spend, hence the term “suicide black.” Death's Shadow is an example of this archetype. You need to be able to walk right up to the cliff without falling off. It takes practice to know when you’ve gone too far.

Check out my decks for examples of zombie decks, black midrange devotion, and 8-Rack hand discard control. I like creating variations with different colors.

I hope my comment was helpful!

July 7, 2020 6:08 p.m.

Great point psionictemplar, I will take your advice and add the third Wrench Mind, thanks!

July 5, 2020 11:18 p.m.

Thanks for your comment OLucas, I did a lot of testing and you are right, I will cut the Urborgs down a bit. I got carried away with the concept of swampwalk for Death's Shadow, but that’s a rare occurrence and I can’t force it by running more Urborgs. Also I had completely forgotten about Necrogen Spellbomb, that looks like a good option for this list, I’ll consider it!

July 4, 2020 4:02 p.m.

Said on Kaalia of the ......

#6

Hey Tr1pL1ek1D0, nice job! I like your list. Kaalia is my favorite commander. I have a few suggestions you may like:

Lightning Greaves is better than Swiftfoot Boots, but you should probably include both. Teferi's Protection is another good option to protect Kaalia.

Also Vindicate is a great removal spell. Some useful lands are Hall of the Bandit Lord and Shizo, Death's Storehouse. I also don’t see any dual lands like Blood Crypt or Godless Shrine. It seems like a lot of your lands can come into play tapped. I would try to minimize including any lands that guarantee you are set back a turn, except if it has a game-changing bonus like Hall of the Bandit Lord.

You might find more interesting options in my deck, which I’ve focused on land destruction:

https://tappedout.net/mtg-decks/kaalia-beatdown-edh/

I haven’t changed my list since Iona was banned, but you’ve inspired me to update it :)

July 3, 2020 5:43 a.m.

Said on Discard Me, Daddy...

#7

Hey NikontheBlack, great job! :D

I suggest swapping out Murder for Never so you can kill planeswalkers and play it from the graveyard. Also, I don’t see Thoughtseize or other 1-drop discard spells, which may bring down your curve a little. But you probably have a good reason for not including them.

July 1, 2020 8:05 p.m.

Said on Zombie Outbreak...

#8

Nice deck! I know it’s expensive at 4 mana, but maybe 1 or 2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet may be beneficial? For lifelink and zombie/vamp sac’ing

June 28, 2020 9:09 p.m.

This is awesome, great job!!! I’ve always wanted to make something like this! :D

June 28, 2020 8:10 p.m.

Said on Mono-Black Burn...

#10

Interesting idea, I’m thinking that you could go creature-less to focus exclusively on removal and control, while running Dash Hopes and Smallpox. But then it may start looking like an old school The Rack deck. If you want to go that route, you can focus more on discard too. Liliana of the Veil is a good enabler for discard and sacrifice as well

June 28, 2020 7:52 p.m.

Said on Unholy Frenzy...

#11

Hey Valengeta, nice job! I like your build and write up.

Here are some suggestions that you may like - first of all, Nantuko Husk is a great way to sac zombies. It’s expensive as compared to the Carrion Feeder, but it can block. I’ve found that not being able to block with 1 drops can be tough. Cryptbreaker and Stitcher's Supplier are options, the former generates zombies for you. Or you could run both Feeder and Husk for extra sac’ing.

Also, this deck could benefit from a splash of white. With 4-8 fetchlands plus a couple of Godless Shrine, plus an Isolated Chapel or two, you can run Tidehollow Sculler, Wayward Servant, and Path to Exile, plus artifact/enchantment hate in the sideboard. Otherwise, you may have a hard time against those match ups :)

June 28, 2020 4:48 p.m.

Thanks for the suggestions tru13. Unleash Fury looks especially effective. I’ll test it out.

Against mill, I would think this deck would be strong, considering the reanimation spells and Kroxa. The sideboard is theoretically set up to help in a situation like you described. Pharika's Libation is black’s only answer to enchantments, besides catching it early with Duress or discarding it with Liliana’s +1. I would switch out the self-mill and Embraces to make room.

June 27, 2020 4:57 a.m.

Hey Abzkaban! Fantastic job with the deck and the primer! Very interesting read. I especially enjoyed your legal analysis in your section titled “But That’s not an Infinite Combo!” :D

June 25, 2020 10:06 p.m.

Thanks for the suggestions Frosto! Liliana's Standard Bearer is interesting because it can be reanimated and triggered over and over, but it’s ability depends on my creatures dying, and sac’ing is not a central part of this deck’s strategy. This deck wants to discard cards straight to the graveyard, or bring them back if they die. Minion's Return falls in the same category as the Standard Bearer. My first priority is to get critters in my discard to reanimate, not prevent their death. Flash is nice tho. I can imagine a sac-heavy variation of this deck and those cards would fit perfectly.

June 25, 2020 9:44 p.m.

Thanks Ivanian!! Great points.

I’m currently running 4 Revival and 1 Call, because I’ve run into situations in testing where I couldn’t cast the Call because I was 1 mana short. But I may change the ratio back to 3:2. Bringing back two creatures is a big deal.

I’m still debating that 3rd mountain as well. During one simulation I ran, I actually milled both of my mountains and that screwed me over. I’ll keep tinkering with it.

Unleash Fury is a possibility too. But yeah, that discard for Maximize Velocity is surprisingly useful. Plus it’s cheap and easy to Surveil for it using Doom Whisperer.

Please let me know how your testing goes! :D

June 25, 2020 6:43 p.m.

Hey mikeb388, I like your list. I think it has a lot of potential and would do well against a lot of deck types, especially a reanimator deck like mine, since you use enchantment exile.

I suggest cutting the number of lands a bit (26 is a lot for me) and working with your mana curve. The way your curve is now, there’s a good chance you can be sitting around doing nothing turns 1 and 2. Also I’d like to see some “finishers” to help you seal the deal.

June 25, 2020 3:22 p.m.

Thanks Ivanian! I’ll take your advice and cut the Barrier of Bones. My goal in including it was to increase the number of 1 drops, but I wasn’t sure if it was necessary. It actually was useful back when Death Baron was a thing. Please keep me updated. I’d love to make this deck as competitive as possible.

Hey mikeb388, I looked but I couldn’t find the deck you were referring to, can you point me to it please?

June 25, 2020 3:09 p.m.

Followers

Balaam__Scallywallwest

Decks

KAMIKAZE SHADOW RACK (Suicide Black)

Modern zAzen7977

SCORE: 14 | 5 COMMENTS | 1036 VIEWS | IN 3 FOLDERS

ZOMBIE FACTORY (Esper Zombie Tribal)

Modern zAzen7977

SCORE: 14 | 13 COMMENTS | 1795 VIEWS | IN 3 FOLDERS

GRAVE BLASTER (Sultai Reanimator)

Modern zAzen7977

SCORE: 16 | 16 COMMENTS | 1469 VIEWS | IN 4 FOLDERS

LILIANA’S EMBRACE (Rakdos Reanimator M21)

Standard zAzen7977

SCORE: 25 | 17 COMMENTS | 3470 VIEWS | IN 6 FOLDERS

KAALIA'S CATACLYSM (Mardu Land Destruction)

Commander / EDH zAzen7977

SCORE: 6 | 1149 VIEWS | IN 4 FOLDERS

LILIANA'S CHILDREN (Mono-black Zombies GRN)

Standard* zAzen7977

SCORE: 114 | 75 COMMENTS | 34960 VIEWS | IN 43 FOLDERS

TWIN LILIANA CONTROL (Ultimate Black Devotion)

Modern zAzen7977

SCORE: 31 | 23 COMMENTS | 3526 VIEWS | IN 10 FOLDERS

INSTANT DEATH (Ultimate Reanimator)

Legacy zAzen7977

SCORE: 1 | 66 VIEWS | IN 1 FOLDER

Finished Decks 16
Prototype Decks 3
Drafts 0
Playing since Visions
Points 335
Avg. deck rating 33.27
T/O Rank 220
Helper Rank 46
Favorite formats Standard, Legacy, Commander / EDH, Modern
Suppressed formats Unformat, Heirloom, Vintage, Pauper, Casual, Limited, Frontier
Good Card Suggestions 21
Last activity 1 day
Joined 2 years