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Pain Is In Your Mind! *PRIMER*

Commander / EDH Mono-Black


Welcome to Pain Is In Your Mind !

Hi there! Welcome to the primer of my mono-black, life-gain/ping-on-draw deck; commanded by Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. A not very itsy-bitsy spider monster is up and about, sneaking through the shadows of Phyrexia’s infinite webs. She is patrolling those silky wires, looking for freshly caught prey, reforging broken connections and binding the hapless victims she finds to herself forever! She is devious, hungry, intelligent, cunning and rarely shows herself before it’s too late to stop her. Her lust for more power is insatiable and she will suffer no rivals. Those of little faith who presume they can stand in her way: get ready to be physically consumed by her multiple mouths and mentally absorbed by her all-encompassing will. I play this deck in casual formats. It’s not meant to be used in a competitive fashion, but of course I welcome anyone to try! Feel free to comment on anything you (dis)like throughout this primer; I hope you will enjoy it!

In my view, her power-level is off the charts. First off, her abilities intensely reward/severely punish one of the most basic aspects of a MTG game; drawing cards. This neatly fits into one of black magic’s popular niche powers: interaction with card-advantage opportunities. For this reason, building a good deck around Sheoldred is easy and provides lots of synergetic opportunity. Aside from her stupendous powers, she’s also a formidable 4/5 deathtouch combatant. She’s not even that expensive to cast at CMC4. In my view, her only drawback IS her high power-level, as it turns her into a juicy target.

I use the following ten parameters to determine the strength of the deck. For each, I allocate a score of 5 (very good), 4 (good), 3 (mediocre), 2 (bad) or 1 (very bad); when totalized this score represents the power rating of the deck (maximum score is 50 points).

  • Mana: indicates the availability of mana sources within the deck.
  • Ramp: indicates the speed at which mana sources within the deck can be made available.
  • Card Advantage: indicates availability of filter- and draw resources represented within the deck.
  • Overall speed: indicates the deck’s potential for pace, based on resource availability and mana curve.
  • Combo: indicates the measure of combo-orientation of the deck.
  • Army: indicates the deck’s creature-army strength.
  • Commander: indicates how much the deck is commander-oriented/dependent (less dependency is better).
  • Interaction: indicates how much this deck can mess with opponents’ board states and turn-phases.
  • Resilience: indicates whether the deck can prevent and take punches.
  • Spellpower: indicates the availability and strength of high-impact spells.

Mana: 3

The average CMC of this deck is not high, so I felt comfortable to not overdo it with the available mana resources. I added six mana rocks (one of which is specifically meant to cast Sheoldred) and a one-off mana boost spell, along with two creatures that help me to generate more mana per land and one artifact that cheapens the casting of black spells.

Ramp: 1

I’ve included a single ramping opportunity.

Card Advantage: 5

A lot of this deck’s power depends on my ability to draw, as well as my oppositions’ propensity to draw. Obviously, I want my opponents to draw a bit more than they might want to themselves, as this plays to Sheoldred’s main strength. Therefore, I’ve included ten structural forced-draw permanents, as well as three wheel-like effects. I’ve also added three direct-draw options that only affect me, as well as two cheap-to-cast tutors, two top-decking enablers and three options to steal cards from opponents.

Overall speed: 4

The deck contains a lot of card-advantage opportunity. When combined with low overall CMC of the included cards, as well as an average amount of additional mana resources available, this translates to a deck with above-average speed. This is very important, as I’m on a clock to not allow for the opposition to use the additional draw I provide against me.

Combo: 2

I wanted this deck to contain a few interesting combos, so I’ve included a few that feature life-gain/pinging; a number of times combined with the forced drawing of cards.

Army: 4

Creatures within this deck feature a mix of utility purposes (like nasty pinging) combined with some really strong combative power. Some of the monsters even feature both strengths. The deck also includes ways to increase its army’s size by stealing opposing creatures. 

Commander: 5

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse is one of the strongest black creatures I have ever come across. Her abilities tie in perfectly to something that black is already very good at: punishing (opposing) draw. So though her abilities are tremendous, a lot of redundancy can be found within black to perform a similar function. Many of these have been included in the deck; her presence on the battlefield is equal to the cherry on top of the sundae. However, I would really like to use her often, so to make this a bit more of a certainty, I’ve included protective gear for her.

Interaction: 5

Ow, the things this deck can make my opponents do. The most important interaction provided, are forced draws (fourteen cards) and forced discards (four cards) and making them lose life over that both in their turns and during mine. Then there’s a whole bunch of removal options, some in the form of stealing stuff, against creatures (ten cards) and some other permanents (two cards).

Resilience: 4

Aside from Sheoldred, I’ve included a number of easy ways that allow me to recoup lost lifepoints (eight options). Also, I wanted to make sure Sheoldred is not waxed the moment she enters the field, so I included an option that prevents players from countering her summoning, as well as artifact equipment (six cards) that gave her abilities like hexproof and indestructible.

Spellpower: 5

This deck focuses very much on both high-impact permanents as well as temporary spells. They can be divided into several sub-categories; ten cards within the ‘ping’ (+side effects in some cases) category, three cards within the ‘lifegain’ category, eight cards within the forced draw and wheel category and two spells in miscellaneous.

Total power score: 37

This deck is one of the most powerful single-color decks I own. Its resources are ample, its strategy is easy to follow and the cards I need for a win aren’t hard to find. Its commander is excessively powerful and synergizes extremely well with almost any card in this deck. It has enough, easily-accessible resources, amazing life-gain and damage-dealing capabilities and a plethora of high-impact permanents and spells to choose from when playing.

The most important way in which this deck wins, is having players lose lots of life by forcing them to draw lots of additional cards; preferably while tax pieces like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse are on the battlefield. This needs to be done carefully though, as I don’t want to simultaneously give my opponents the means to kill me. An optimal scenario would involve early availability of resources, be it mana or draw, followed by the summoning of ping-mechanisms that punish opposing draws. This is followed up by summoning more draw resources, casting high-impact forced draws and/or forcing opponents to wheel often. My main concern are opponents with excessive lifegain capabilities and/or opponents that are good at interacting with enchantment-like spells.

At least three cards in the starting hand ought to be lands (or two lands and a CMC0 or CMC1 mana rock). This is a must; I am not going to start a game without this hand (even if I have to mulligan down to three cards). The ideal hand would also contain some acceleration in the form of rocks, draw- and/or filter options.

As per usual, I’ll start games by building up resources. Best way to do this quickly, is by casting cheap rocks like Arcane Signet, Charcoal Diamond, Sol Ring or Thought Vessel early on. To accelerate myself even more, I have a Dark Ritual available, along with the deck’s only ramp card: Terrain Generator. An early Jet Medallion can also really make a difference.

In the case I’m not drawing into any of these, I’ll try to go for card-advantage instead; preferably options that will not affect my opposition at first. This is to ensure that they can’t get an advantage over me before Sheoldred arrives. Options that really fit well in that situation include Dark Confidant, Erebos, God of the Dead, Rankle, Master of Pranks, Phyrexian Arena and Twilight Prophet. While trying to obtain these resources, I’ll also keep a lookout for cards with which I can protect my commander. Most notably, this includes spells like Champion's Helm, Commander's Plate, Darksteel Plate, Lightning Greaves, Kaya's Ghostform and Swiftfoot Boots. The early game ends once Sheoldred hits the field.

Now it’s time to start pouring on the hurt. I’m going to do this by summoning as many draw-tax enablers as I can find, while simultaneously forcing my opponents to draw as much as possible. Draw tax is levied by Sheoldred, Fate Unraveler, Psychosis Crawler and Underworld Dreams. Structural draw will now be forced upon myself and my opponents through cards like Font of Mythos, Horn of Greed, Otherworld Atlas, Seizan, Perverter of Truth and Temple Bell.

Even more effective, are the cards that force my opponents to wheel, like Dark Deal and Teferi's Puzzle Box. Especially when I can also double all the damage dealt this way every turn by using Wound Reflection. With so much forced draw, at least some opponents will also be forced to discard quite a lot. I will make use of this opportunity to steal some of my opponents’ stuff with cards like Dauthi Voidwalker, Reanimate and Tergrid, God of Fright  .

With Sheoldred, the Apocalypse (or other draw-tax) out during the post mid-game phases, some spells will outright kill opponents. This goes for the forced wheels mentioned earlier, but also applies to spells like Damnable Pact and Peer into the Abyss. In case this is not enough to win, I can still rely on classics like Exsanguinate and Torment of Hailfire. A few noteworthy combos at this stage can also close out games.

This isn’t a very combo-oriented deck, but I have included a few for fun:

My reliable sources of mana, and some utility:

The cards I use to accelerate mana-availability:

  • Arcane Signet: cheap rock I will use to provide .
  • Charcoal Diamond: enters the battlefield tapped but still a useful source of .
  • Crypt Ghast: doubles my swamp mana output and has the added benefit of granting me some life should I choose to pay a little extra mana during casting.
  • Dark Ritual: an ideal spell in my starting hand (or any hand in the early game).
  • Jet Medallion: helps me to cast black stuff a little cheaper.
  • Jeweled Lotus: perfect for summoning an early Sheoldred.
  • Nirkana Revenant: black mana doubling, as well as a significant powerhouse on the battlefield.
  • Nyx Lotus: with sufficient black permanents available, this baby is bound to generate some solid black mana.
  • Sol Ring: are there EDH decks without this card?
  • Thought Vessel: some colorless mana generation, as well as some insurance against having to discard.

The mechanisms that provide me with card advantage:

  • Alhammarret's Archive: double all my irregular draws AND all my lifegain!
  • Dark Confidant: card advantage in exchange for life.
  • Dauthi Voidwalker: your graveyard becomes my playground.
  • Demonic Tutor: the spell with which all other tutors are compared; a must in all decks featuring black.
  • Erebos, God of the Dead: stops opposing life-gain dead in its tracks, which can be a bane to play against with this deck. Also, the price of some life-points is definitely worth the price of some cards. Especially when Sheoldred hands me back the spent life.
  • Library of Leng: what do you mean, I have to discard?
  • Phyrexian Arena: a bit of additional draw, at the cost of 1 life (this cost can be nullified by Sheoldred).
  • Tergrid, God of Fright  : whatever you discard, I get to keep.
  • Twilight Prophet: top-decking linked to lifedrain; superb!
  • Vampiric Tutor: and two life, for whatever I need from the deck; sounds fair.

You’re going to DRAW!

Those that cannot be enslaved or subjugated, will be destroyed.

Some protection and utility.

  • Memory Jar: superb card to wheel with, and thereby cause a lot of lifegain and lifeloss when Sheoldred is around. Unfortunately I don't own one, so I can't put it in. It would replace Otherworld Atlas if I did have it.

I appreciate the time you took to read my primer. Hopefully it was entertaining and useful to you. If so, feel free to leave a +1 and/or feedback of any kind in the comments below. Thanks again!


Updates Add

Managed to get my hands on a Baleful Mastery; will replace Go for the Throat. Thanks again SufferFromEDHD!


43% Casual

57% Competitive

Date added 2 months
Last updated 2 weeks

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

18 - 0 Mythic Rares

41 - 0 Rares

13 - 0 Uncommons

8 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.05
Tokens City's Blessing
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