“A more elegant Mono Black Burn deck, for a more civilized age.”

It’s mostly just basic swamps here, although we do have a couple tricks up our sleeve in the form of two ‘Burn lands’:

Leechridden Swamp arrives at the suggestion of loricatuslupus, and it’s a welcome addition. Having access to a permanent ‘ to burn’ ability helps keep the pressure on, and gives us an option in the event of a dead draw or the like.

Piranha Marsh enters tapped, so it certainly isn’t ideal (particularly in the early game), but can be used as a surprise finisher dropped just before your end step.

Makes you wonder just what type of vegetation grows along the banks of that marsh...

There’s good synergy between our core strategy and our creatures, and they harmonize well with each other too.

Death Cultist functions much the same as the previous card, only we gain a point of life as a bonus.

Serrated Scorpion is a tiny bit more robust as a blocker, but if and when it dies it’ll give us a nice 2-point bump to our life total at the expense of the opponent. Combine that with the following card’s augment to performance and it really shines for a costed creature.

Zulaport Cutthroat can amplify the effects of our two aforementioned creatures, boosting the life loss they inflict upon death.

An ideal upgrade over Zulaport Cutthroat would be Blood Artist, but I wished to keep the budget down for this particular build. If money is no object, it’s the logical choice.


A handful of spells cover our butts in the event of either an impending threat or one that managed to find its way into play despite our best efforts. Use these cards to help mitigate disaster:

Dash Hopes is usually quite a situationally effective card; in many games it’s simply worthwhile to take the 5 point hit to one’s life points to stick that combo piece or finisher or what have you. However, when we’ve been draining the opponent’s life points away turn after turn and spell after spell, it becomes significantly more dangerous to be so liberal with one’s life total. Best played mid- to late game when life loss is significant and they’re anxiously waiting to play that ace up their sleeve.

Geth's Verdict is a nice way to circumvent creatures with Hexproof, Shroud, Indestructible or any other protective paling that wards off targeted removal. The side benefit of sapping the opponent for 1 life point is just what we’re looking for, too.

Cast Down is here to get rid of troublesome creatures with irritating abilities.

So yes, the pachyderm in the pavilion is that this is technically not a “burn” deck in the truest sense, as we’re not inflicting direct damage upon targeted sources. But if you take a step back and get the spirit of what we’re doing here, I think we can all agree this is a darn close approximation for a color that isn’t traditionally known for this archetype.

Let’s go over the spells we’ll be slinging to inflict this pseudo-burn on our opponent:

Bump in the Night is the cornerstone of this build, and the card that initially sparked the idea to construct this deck. As close to a mono black Lightning Bolt as will likely ever come.

About That Flashback... Show

Fruit of Tizerus is a black Shock, but with the added utility of recastability owing to its Escape cost. Expect to cast this spell multiple times per game.

Vicious Rumors is a Swiss Army knife of a spell; a little of this, a little of that, all beneficial for us. Best sideboarded out for something else if playing against certain archetypes (Reanimation, Escape/Flashback, the upcoming Disturb mechanic, etc.)

Sovereign's Bite is a wonderfully effective card that can help stabilize against aggro decks in particular. For just we drain for 3 and get replenished for 3.

Syphon Life can also rescue us from the grip of impending doom, while stinging the opponent for 2. With Retrace, drawing into multiple lands owing to a poor shuffle goes from nightmare to dream come true.

•Lastly, Bond of Agony: an epic finisher suggested to me courtesy of Chasmolinker. I really don’t know how I missed this one; it’s too perfect. As long as we’re ahead in the life total race by 1 point or more, simply pay into this card’s casting cost to finish off your opponent then and there. The risk/reward is high here, introducing an exhilarating tension that may be missing from the life of a more analytically cautious player...

•Control the board with Dash Hopes, Geth's Verdict and Cast Down.

•Establish a creature presence, blocking incoming damage and following up with sacrificial burn damage of our own, bolstered by Zulaport Cutthroat’s enhancing text.

•Repeatedly cast ‘Burn’ spells, abusing the Escape/Retrace costs of Fruit of Tizerus and Syphon Life until the opponent has met a timely demise.

Just a few spells that further compliment the maindeck. This is still a work in progress, so card(s) in the sideboard (or even the maindeck) are subject to change.

Collective Brutality is a little bit of everything; remove a chump blocker, ‘burn’ the opponent for 2 while upping our own life total, or force that meaningful discard.

Suffer the Past has the potential to be our biggest ‘burn’ spell yet; sort of a black Fireball in a way. Situational, but makes a great finisher.

Circle of Affliction has gorgeous artwork, but can be surprisingly effective at keeping green stompy or red aggro decks at bay while we draw into what we need.

•I found a playset of Imp's Mischief recently and so I’m determined to put them to use. I’ve found it to be an incredibly underestimated, and unknown card in general. I’m quite certain there’s a better card out there to occupy this sideboard slot, but as a personal preference I’m keeping this here—it’s unbelievably satisfying to turn a spell against its caster, while in a color you’d never expect that to be possible in. Leave it to black to turn a Lightning Bolt around and have it bite the hand that cast it!

”Pour out upon them your indignation, And may your burning anger overtake them.”


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25% Casual

75% Competitive

Revision 11 See all

(5 months ago)

+1 Killing Wave maybe
Top Ranked
  • Achieved #20 position overall 2 years ago
  • Achieved #2 position in Modern 2 years ago
  • Achieved #1 position in Modern Humans 1 year ago
  • Achieved #1 position in Modern Mono-Black 2 years ago
Date added 2 years
Last updated 2 weeks

This deck is Modern legal.

Rarity (main - side)

0 - 7 Rares

14 - 8 Uncommons

32 - 0 Commons

Cards 60
Avg. CMC 1.57
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