If anyone runs into this, any feedback or recommendations are always appreciated!


Survive the early game using cheap defensive Creatures, ramp and removal. Once a few strong Creatures have made their way to our graveyard (and we have enough mana), play Chainer to reanimate them for value, or just use on of our other backup reanimation engines. Win by repeatedly reanimating and sacrificing Creatures with strong ETB effects (like Gray Merchant of Asphodel ).

Chainer usually has a BIG target on him, especially as anything he reanimates is Exiled when he leaves play. Overcome this weakness by protecting Chainer and sacrificing Creatures he reanimated in response to him getting killed. Don't play Chainer until you have a few good targets, and enough mana to reanimate them.

Sacrifice outlets are really important, and I'll probably add more to the deck over time. They let us Sac creatures reanimated with Chainer to stop them from being exiled when he's killed. They ALSO let us kill our own Creatures with strong ETB effects, so we can reanimate them over and over with Chainer, without relying on our opponent to kill them. Free Instant-speed sacrifice outlets are the best, but even cards like Abhorrent Overlord can be actively useful, letting us recycle an ETB Creature each turn, even itself!

You might like Chainer, Dementia Master as a commander if:

-You like graveyard-themed decks!

-You like playing with your opponents Creatures!

-You like having a 'Toolbox' theme in your deck!

-You don't like Counterspells stopping you from getting big Creatures into play!

-You like working within the limits of a mono-colored deck!

You might NOT like Chainer if:

-You like playing more than one color...

-You don't like getting focused down...

-You don't understand that milling yourself is a good thing...

-You don't like having your toys exiled occasionally...

Artifacts and Enchantments:

Mono-Black has an inherent weakness against Artifacts and Enchantments as it has very few ways to remove them. In a 4v4 game, you may be able to strike deals with opponents to have them take out these kinds of threats ("I'll kill that Flyer if you remove that Smothering Tithe"), but that's not consistent or reliable.

The ways this deck can interact with Artifacts and Enchantments itself are: Sword of Sinew and Steel , Steel Hellkite and Feed the Swarm . There is also the option of using an opponents cards, through 'steal' effects from Gonti, Lord of Luxury , or any of our resurrection effects.

Meteor Golem is a great option for this deck if you regularly come up against game-ending Artifacts and Enchantments. There are other cards I'm not running (usually due to their high CMC or narrow effect) that can deal with Artifacts and Enchantments, including: Unstable Obelisk , Pharika's Libation , Karn, Silver Golem , Scour from Existence , Nevinyrral's Disk and Oblivion Stone .

WotC is slowly adding Enchantment removal to Black's color-pie. Feed the Swarm from Zendikar Rising is some decent targeted Enchantment removal that I've added to the decklist. Soon it's only weakness will be Artifacts, which are usually enablers rather than game-winning payoffs.

Noncreature Spells and Combos:

Mono-Black has very few ways to interact with people 'comboing off' unless the combo involves Creatures. One way to deal with spells you can't otherwise interact with is by forcing your opponents to discard them. Duress , Distress , Inquisition of Kozilek , Thoughtseize and Sadistic Sacrament are ways to remove threatening cards before our opponents get the chance to cast them, however they lose a lot of value in a multiplayer setting, so I would only consider running them in very specific Metas.

Another option to fight against combos is to try to mill the combo pieces with cards like Altar of Dementia , or steal them with Gonti, Lord of Luxury .

Graveyard Hate:

Although this deck works best when reanimating our own ETB Creatures, it doesn’t totally rely on them. Chainer can also target your opponents graveyards, so unless someone uses a Scavenger Grounds , we'll usually have some targets! If we're being targeted with graveyard hate, we can direct our mill effects at our opponents to give us backup reanimation targets.


I don't run much single-target removal that can kill Planeswalkers... because My meta has very few in it. I do have Plaguecrafter and Demon's Disciple , which can force a player to sacrifice a Planeswalker if they don't have any Creatures in play. I also run Sword of Sinew and Steel mainly as Artifact removal, but it also takes out Planeswalkers!

Black does have some other good answers to Planeswalkers: Hero's Downfall , Ruinous Path , Eliminate , Vampire Hexmage and Murderous Rider are good options for single-target removal, but won't hold up against a 'Superfiends' deck. For multi-target or repeatable answers, Hex Parasite , AEther Snap and The Elderspell are better options!


Comments on each card in the deck, including unusual interactions and how well I've felt they play out! I'll keep this regularly updated whenever I make a change to the deck, discover a new interaction or have a new opinion of a card!

-- Abhorrent Overlord : A massive beater that brings an army with it and acts as a Sac outlet! This deck is build to have high Black Devotion, so we're likely to get LOADS of 1/1 Fliers when we cast this guy. He is a little expensive to "hardcast" (pay the 7CMC to play it), so getting him into the graveyard to reanimate is best!

-- Archfiend of Depravity : A Psudo-Stax piece that forces our opponents to sacrifice all their worst Creatures, which then makes our other Edict effects like Plaguecrafter work much more effectively. It also has great stats, 5/4 Flyers can really beat down, and wear Equipment quite well!

"PRO TIP" Reanimate this guy with Chainer right before an opponents end step to give them minimal opportunity to remove him before he forces them to sacrifice their Creatures!

-- Bloodgift Demon : Phyrexian Arena on a big flying stick! Great consistent card draw. Not a great reanimation target, but a good value Creature to hardcast as early as possible.

-- Coffin Queen : A fantastic backup reanimation engine, she essentially works as miniature version of Chainer in the 99. She is more fragile, can't reanimate more than one target at a time, and really requires a Sac outlet to function best when reanimating your own Creatures, so be careful when/how you use her. She can also be used as emergency 'graveyard hate' on our opponents creatures, reanimating one each turn, then untapping to exile it! I haven't had much experience with her yet, so I'll keep updating this as she seems to have a lot of potential!

-- Crypt Ghast : One of the most powerful cards in the deck, and a top Tutor target. Essentially doubling our mana potential, and giving us a way to use it with Extort. If it sticks around it can allow Chainer to reanimate a ton of Creatures, or fuel a lethal Profane Command .

-- Daring Fiendbonder : I'm really suprised this guy isn't used in more Chainer decks. As a Creature, he's easy to tutor for with Buried Alive and Gravebreaker Lamia , and can be exiled for 2 mana to give Chainer an Indestructible counter to protect him! The ability is Sorcery-speed, but can't be countered without using a spell like Disallow .

-- Deal Broker : One of the best creatures to play in the early game that's still very relevant in the late game. Early on it lets us put big expensive creatures into our graveyard to reanimate later, while drawing cheaper spells and helping us hit land drops. Later in the game it stops us from flooding out, by swapping lands and mana rocks for gas! Don't be afraid to discard expensive bomb creatures early on, there's plenty of reanimation options in the deck, and you'll often want targets for them in your graveyard the moment that you draw them... especially for Entreat the Dead

-- Demon's Disciple : More of a removal spell than a Creature, just make sure you sacrifice him to his own ETB ability so he ends up in your graveyard, because he's a great target for Chainer. This deck has a lot of Edict effects like this, which tend to get progressively better when used in succession as the first effect might 'brick' on a worthless token, but the second might hit their bomb!

-- Dimir House Guard : This guy is FANTASTIC. He's a free sacrifice outlet that protects himself and can even sacrifice himself to his own ability, which is surprisingly useful if we reanimate him using Chainer. He also has evasion, AND he's an uncounterable Tutor for a 4CMC spells that works well on-curve. The best targets for him as a Tutor are Crypt Ghast for Ramp, Daring Fiendbonder for protecting Chainer, Disciple of Bolas for Card Draw, Price of Fame for Removal and Whip of Erebos for Recursion! I really want to get a Foil copy of him!

-- Disciple of Bolas : As a 2/1 Creature, you're really after it for its ETB effect. Luckily its ETB effect is great. It lets us sacrifice a Creature (which is often a bonus) and, depending on how big it was, gain a fair chunk of life and draw a TON of cards! She can be reanimated to have the same effect in a pinch, but if you choose the right target the first time, you're unlikely to need to again!

-- Disciple of Griselbrand : An Instant-speed Sac outlet that can help us get back some of the life lost to Chainer. He can also sacrifice himself to his own ability in an emergency.

-- Dread Presence : An awesome cheap Creature. He just does everything. Card draw or removal of small Creatures whenever you play a Swamp is fantastic. I'll usually try to play him followed up by a Swamp in the same turn, so I can trigger him at least once before anyone has a chance to remove him. Most of the time I'll use his trigger to draw, unless there's a really good target for the damage, or I'm running dangerously low on life.

"PRO TIP" Wayfarer's Bauble and Myriad Landscape are ways to put multiple Swamps into play on a single turn, allowing us to use Dread Presence to kill larger Creatures by repeatedly hitting them with 2 damage! We can also wait to crack them until Dead Presence is in play, so we get a lot of value out of him before anyone has much of a chance to kill him off!

-- Dream Devourer : An interesting new card that lets us effectively "ramp" into our late game plays two turns earlier, and this deck has plenty of powerful high CMC cards. He also lets us store excess cards in exile, where they're safe from discard effects (although we don't usually mind discarding creatures that we can later reanimate) and can help avoid discarding to max hand size once we get some card draw engines going. It's also a nice early game blocker that has some serious 'threat of activation' when attacking in the late game (when we have a hand full of cards and enough mana to fortell them all at Instant-speed). He seems like he will work very well with reactive cards, letting us hold up some instant-speed removal with less mana... fortelling Dismember is nice, letting us cast it for just 4 life! Unfortunately fortelling a card with him does not help us cast any costs.

-- K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth : K'rrik works primarily as a key part of the main lethal combo in this deck. It involves K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth + Gray Merchant of Asphodel + Chainer, Dementia Master + a free repeatable Sacrifice outlet. With K'rrik, Chainer and the Sac outlet in play, cast or reanimate Gray Merchant to drain each opponent for minimum of 7 (gaining 21 life with 3 other players). Then Sac Gray Merchant and reanimate him using Chainer by paying 9 life instead of mana (Using K'rrik's ability). Keep repeating this loop to drain everyone out! Use Buried Alive to tutor K'rrik, Gray and a Sac outlet into your graveyard all at once, then use Chainer to reanimate K'rrik to get the combo started for no extra mana! Outside of this combo, K'rrik can be quite fragil and using his ability to pay life to pay costs can put us too low to be able to use Chainer's ability repeatedly.

-- Gonti, Lord of Luxury : Just a great value card. For 4 mana, it gives us a 2/3 Deathtouch Creature, which really dissuades attacks, along with the choice of a card from an opponents deck! This is a great way to get access to effects that Mono-Black usually can't, like Artifact and Enchantment Removal. He's also an excellent target for Mimic Vat , 3 mana to draw the best of top 4 cards of an opponents deck, plus a 2/3 Deathtouch chump blocker or attacker!

-- Gravebreaker Lamia : Another great card that just seems to do it all! A big Lifelink Creature who puts a spell into your graveyard! The best targets for her "Tutor" ability are big expensive game-winning Creatures that you want to reanimate with Chainer, rather than hardcast.

-- Gray Merchant of Asphodel : One of this decks main Wincons. With enough mana, Chainer and a Sac outlet, we can repeatedly reanimate and Sac him to drain our opponents to death. This deck is built to provide decent Black Devotion, so he's often more impactful than Kokusho, the Evening Star , which is a nonbudget alternative. He's another great Mimic Vat target as the token that the Vat produces have the same mana cost of the copied card, so the token copy of Gary will always drain for a minimum of 2 for each opponent!

-- Leaden Myr : A nice little Black mana dork that can chump block and wear equipment! Also, being colorless means he can block Creatures with protection from Black! If you run into a lot of sweeper effects, consider running a normal mana rock like Charcoal Diamond in his place!

-- Mindwrack Demon : A cheap Creature with fantastic stats that has good Black Devotion and wears Equipment really well! He also fills my graveyard with goodies to reanimate with Chainer... So what's the downside?...well...he punches us in the face each turn if we don't have Delirium.

"STATS" By himself, on average, he puts around 3 card types into our graveyard, because we have a nice balance of Lands/Instants/Creatures/Artifacts/Enchantments/Sorceries, and a few Artifact/Enchantment Creatures, which count as 2 types when in the graveyard. Creatures, Instants and Sorceries tend to make their way to the graveyard naturally, so if he mills a Land, Artifact or Enchantment, we'll probably be fine. We can also hold off on playing him until we already have a few card types in our graveyard, if our health is under pressure.

-- Noxious Gearhulk : Removal and Lifegain on a big evasive body. A perfect target for Chainer or Mimic Vat . If you have a Sac outlet and enough mana, just keep repeatedly sacrificing and reanimating him with Chainer to kill any threats, and gain a ton of life!

-- Nullpriest of Oblivion : A really nice versatile Creature from Zendikar Rising. A good turn 2 play as it's likely to get in for a lot of hits with Menace, and the Lifelink means it's going to have a decent impact on life totals. In the late game, it's a fine 6 mana play that can get you back a Creature from your graveyard (if Chainer is busy ;). She's a good Creature to hold onto as insurance when you already have a developed board, in case someone casts a sweeper you can use her to reanimate your best Creature quickly!

-- Overseer of the Damned : More removal on a big evasive stick... that brings an army of zombies with it instead of gaining you life like Noxious Gearhulk! It is pretty expensive at 7 mana so it's a good target to put into your graveyard and reanimate. but it can really turn a game around. It also works as sweeper insurance, as it will "see" every other enemy Creature die, leaving you with an army of zombies after everything else dies!

-- Plaguecrafter : The best version of this effect. He works the same as Demon's Disciple , but with the upside of forcing your opponents to discard if they're out of Creatures or Planeswalkers to sacrifice! He's a great target to Tutor directly into your graveyard using cards like Buried Alive and Gravebreaker Lamia .

-- Sepulchral Primordial : A great budget finisher that works very well when reanimated himself. This deck has plenty of ways to kill your opponents creatures, so you'll often have plenty of good targets, and if you can re-trigger his ETB multiple times (using Chainer, Mimic Vat etc...) then you can easily take over the game.

-- Sidisi, Undead Vizier : A repeatable Grim Tutor with Chainer if you target her with her own Exploit effect. She also has a pretty good 'failcase' as a 4/6 Deathtouch for 5CMC, but you'll almost always want to trade her (or your worst Creature) for a Tutor effect!

-- Soldevi Adnate : A great Sac outlet that gives you some mana in the process, which is really handy when you want to repeatedly sacrifice and reanimate creatures with Chainer. You can also sacrifice it to itself for in an emergency, or if you want to ramp into a 5CMC play on turn 3!

-- Solemn Simulacrum : A nice creature that brings some good consistency to the deck, and can act as Ramp and Card Draw when reanimated with Chainer, then sacrificed. A pretty good Mimic Vat target... when you have a Sac outlet.

-- Steel Hellkite : A pet card of mine that also fits into Mono-Black decks very well as it's a way to destroy Artifacts and Enchantments. It also totally hoses Tokens as they (usually) have a CMC of 0. It also makes good use of the huge amounts of mana this deck can produce. The colorless "fire-Breathing" effect it has can easily finish someone off in the late game. Reanimate it with Chainer on an opponents end step right before your turn to give it "haste", so you have a better chance to get an attack with it before its killed... because it will get killed...

-- Stinkweed Imp : A nice cheap creature that fends off early attacks. Nobody wants to attack into it because you can get it back each turn, while filling your graveyard with targets to reanimate. It's also a nice target for cards like Gravebreaker Lamia or Buried Alive if you're not looking to tutor directly for a combo piece.

-- Toshiro Umezawa : He used to be my commander, but I found he really needed a lot of things to go right for him to do much. I ended up building my deck to be viable without him, which turned out to be about 80% of what you need for a good Chainer deck. I have him in here because he has some good potential to get more use out of the variety of Instants I still run... and because he's awesome!

-- Vilis, Broker of Blood : The quintessential Creature in any Chainer deck. A massive threat that struggles not to draw you a TON of cards, and you can't really draw too many in this deck because your graveyard is like a second hand, so discarding down to 7 is often a bonus. Again, a massive 8/8 Flying beater can knock people out very quickly, and wears Equipment like Shadowspear very well!

-- Yahenni, Undying Partisan : A free Instant-speed Sac outlet that's pretty hard to kill, and can grow into a huge threat if left unchecked. Another low CMC early game defender. I haven't had much experience with her yet, but I find it hard to imagine her NOT doing really really well, especially as this deck has a lot of ways to kill creatures!

-- Defile : Great cheap removal that scales well with the game. It's only really playable in a deck like this with a critical mass of Swamps and Swamp-fetching effects. It's also a great target to flash back with Toshiro Umezawa if you have him in play, because it's so cheap!

-- Dismember : Another excellent targeted removal spell that gets around Indestructible and Regenerate. If you pay life for the Phyrexian Mana, it can help charge up Font of Agonies .

-- Force of Despair : This card can just ruin someone’s day! It's range is limited, but its alternate casting cost really makes it quite flexible. You can bait your opponents into getting blown out by it by fully tapping out on your turn.

-- Go for the Throat : An excellent 2CMC Instant removal spell. Its targeting restriction is one of the easiest to work around... compared to cards like Doom Blade .

-- Hagra Mauling  : I'm not completely sold on this card, it's an overcosted removal spell, however the option to play it as a Land increases the consistence in the deck slightly. If it's in your opening hand and you don't have many other Lands, I believe it's best to just play it as a Land on turn 1, rather than keep it as an expensive removal spell. I may replace this with another Instant or Land at some point if I find it to be too slow or expensive.... The art is great in foil though!

-- Malakir Rebirth  : Early in the game, *play it as a land, late in the game when you have all the mana you need, save it as a protection spell for one of your high-value Creatures, or Chainer (although he will still exile any Nightmares when in the moment that he's dead). It also works VERY well with ETB effects on your Creatures, top targets include Gray Merchant of Asphodel , Overseer of the Damned and Noxious Gearhulk .

-- Price of Fame : Great removal. Often the best targets are Legendary, which makes this ", Destroy target Creature, Surveil 2". Surveil is great in this deck as putting an Creatures into your graveyard can be even better than putting them into your hand!

-- Soul Shatter : A new "all opponent" Edict effect from Zendikar Rising. It should avoid the usual downside of Edict effects bricking on useless tokens or cheap utility creatures, and is the perfect way to deal with Indestructible/Hexproof Voltron commanders sitting behind a horde of chump blockers/sac fodder. Also, the card looks Fantastic as a foil! The dragon's eye glows :)

-- Vampiric Tutor : Ok, first off, I'm only running this because I opened it in a pack... Tutors are very strong, especially in combo decks, however this deck doesn’t currently run any infinite combos. It's good in the early game to help hit land drops, ramp, removal or a card draw engine like Phyrexian Arena . In the late game, you'll usually find some key creature you want to repeatedly reanimate and sacrifice (often Gray Merchant of Asphodel is the best as it kills your opponents while gaining you life), or a sacrifice outlet ( Altar of Dementia ), or a way to protect Chainer ( Lightning Greaves ). You'll usually want to cast it on an opponent's End Step, right before your turn starts, so you can then draw and play the card on your turn with all your mana available. As an Instant, it can also be flashed back using Toshiro Umezawa , although tutoring for him probably isn't the best play...

-- Agadeem's Awakening  : The floor on this card is pretty high, as an ETB tapped land, while the ceiling is really high. Best case scenario in this deck, for 11 mana, you can reanimate an 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 and 2CMC Creature from your graveyard... realistically you're gonna cast it to reanimate a 6, 5, 4 and/or 3CMC Creature. Early in the game, I'd recommend playing it as a tapped land, on a turn where entering tapped doesn't slow you down. Later in the game the card just keeps getting stronger, as you get more mana and more Creatures in your graveyard!

-- Blood on the Snow : A nice budget sweeper that can hit planeswalkers in the instance when we're up against a superfiends deck. I run a high proportion of Snow-covered Swamps to enable this card and Dead of Winter . Blood on the Snow gets around the usual downside of high CMC sweepers, which is that you'll often spent your whole turn casting it, and be the last player to rebuild their board. Blood on the Snow works well with Chainer as his CMC is under 6, so as long as you use 5 snow-sources to cast the spell, you can let chainer go to the graveyard, then immediately reanimate him.

-- Buried Alive : A fantastic Tutor spell for this deck that can set you up to win within a few turns later in the game by filling your grave with key Creatures for Chainer to reanimate! Some top targets are: Plaguecrafter and Noxious Gearhulk for removal, Sidisi, Undead Vizier for more Tutoring, Daring Fiendbonder to protect Chainer or another value Creature, Crypt Ghast for ramp or Gray Merchant of Asphodel , K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth and a Sac outlet to combo off! In the early game, I'll often choose a variety of effects as a 'toolbox', but usually ones that have redundant copies in the deck, so if my graveyard gets exiled before I can get Chainer on line I'm not badly affected.

-- Chainer's Edict : Honestly, this is a bit of a pet card that's not great in EDH. It can be a blowout against volton players, and the fact that it flashes back means that incidentally milling it into our graveyard is a big bonus, but any token strategy laughs at it.

-- Dead of Winter : A fantastic budget-friendly sweeper that's essentially Mutilate for 3CMC! I don't run many sweepers, but this is one of my favourites, and is well worth running Snow-covered Swamps for!

-- Entreat the Dead : A bit of a gimmick that I'm only really running because it's a PERFECT target for Vampiric Tutor (place it on top of your deck, then cast it for its Miracle cost the next turn!). The floor of this card is a 5CMC Sorcery-speed reanimation effect, which is pretty bad, but still playable as this deck can put some good targets into its graveyard quite easily. It does scale well late-game as you get more mana to fuel it, and more targets in your graveyard. If you get to cast it for its Miracle cost when you have a full graveyard, it can essentially win the game on the spot, especially if Gray Merchant of Asphodel is one of the Creatures, as he will 'see' everything you just reanimated when he ETBs! You only have a very small window to cast it for its Miracle cost when you topdeck it, so it's important to have a few good Creatures in your graveyard all the time.

-- Feed the Swarm : New targeted Creature or Enchantment removal from Zendikar Rising. The downfall of Mono-Black are Enchantments (and to a lesser extent Artifacts), because Black just hasn't had good ways to remove them. Now that's changed with Feed the Swarm. Even if this only destroyed Enchantments, I'd run it. The ability to take out Creatures as well is the cherry on top! The lifeloss cost can be pretty significant when targeting high CMC Creatures, so it's best used as a last resort.

-- Night's Whisper : A cheap and efficient card draw spell that's good enough to make its way into some cEDH decks. It's a great turn 2 play to help you hit land drops and find early interation. It's also a good late game topdeck, letting you convert excess mana into more cards.

"PRO TIP" You can use card draw effects like this to help you place high CMC creatures into your graveyard to reanimate cheaply using Chainer. If you have a full hand, casting this spell will put you at 8 cards, forcing you to discard one at the end of your turn. With Night's Whisper , you can do this as early as turn 2, as long as you're "on the draw".

-- Profane Command : I love the command cards. Most often I play this as ", Destroy an X/6 Creature, Resurrect a 6CMC Creature" which is great. It can also be used to finish off a player if you have enough Mana to fuel it. I haven't used the "fear" option yet... because Black is a big part of my Meta, but I could see that being very strong as a finisher against someone who isn't playing Black or Artifact Creatures.

-- Ransack the Lab : A great cheap card selection spell that lets you fill your graveyard with any high CMC Creature you hit. An excellent turn two play to search for a 3rd land, or an early creature or ramp spell! Later in the game it lets you cheaply dig through dead cards to find gas!

-- Font of Agonies : Repeatable removal that's charged by Chainer. It can also be charged if you pay life for Phyrexian Mana when casting Dismember or with Vilis, Broker of Blood when you use him to ping a creature.

-- Phyrexian Arena : Phyrexian Arena can be a pretty bad late-game topdeck as it takes a few turns to really start generating value, but this deck tends to drag games out with all its removal and recursion effects, so I predict this card will perform quite well. It also provides 2 Black Devotion, allowing Gray Merchant of Asphodel to drain for more!

-- Whip of Erebos : A backup reanimation effect (that unfortunately exiles the creature at the end of turn, or if it would leave play) that can be used on a creature with a strong ETB effect in an emergency. It also gives all my Creatures Lifelink, which helps mitigate the life loss from using Chainers ability, and from the Card Draw effects I run. The in its CMC also helps with Devotion when playing Gray Merchant of Asphodel

-- Altar of Dementia : A nice free Instant-speed Sac outlet that fills your graveyard (or your opponents) with more goodies to reanimate! It's also unlikely to get removed (outside of mass Artifact removal) compared to the Creature-based Sac outlets. I tend to focus the mill on myself, because I have high quality creatures, and a few other ways to reanimate creatures from my own graveyard ( Nullpriest of Oblivion , Profane Command and Entreat the Dead ). The only time I'd target my opponents is if I'm likely to have my graveyard Exiled, or if someone's running Creatures with effects that I wanted at the time (Like a Reclamation Sage when there's a problematic Enchantment on the board).

-- Everflowing Chalice : A fantastic mana rock that scales with the game nicely. Play it on turn 2 to ramp you early on, or wait until you have 4 mana to ramp to 6 and get some big demon out, orrrrr do what I often do and spend 12 mana late in the game to get a mana rock that taps for 6!

-- Expedition Map : A great land tutor that acts as a kind of 'toolbox'. It fetches Cabal Stronghold for extra mana in the late game, Myriad Landscape if I already have Cabal Stronghold and need extra Swamps, Phyrexian Tower as a Sac outlet or Bojuka Bog as some great graveyard hate!

-- Lightning Greaves : A great way to protect Chainer or another valuable Creature! I don't often target my own Creatures (except with other protection effects) so Shroud is almost as good as Hexproof. The haste ability is surprisingly useful, leading to plenty of openings to chip in for some damage the turn you play a Creature! The 0CMC Equip cost is really great, being able to Equip it to a Creature when you have 0 Mana is fantastic!

-- Mimic Vat : The only bad thing about this card is that it's so stupidly powerful it rarely lasts long before attracting some Artifact removal. It can be tricky to get online, because a Creature has to die while the Vat is in play before it can 'Imprint' it, but thanks to the variety of Sac outlets and removal options, Creatures tend to die very often! If you're planning on using the Vat to make a token, it's best to hold the mana open and wait to do it on an opponents end step right before your turn, that way you can threaten to generate the token as a chump blocker in response to being attacked, essentially providing a Maze of Ith effect. The only case when you wouldn't want to do this is when you also want to attack with the token!

"IMPRINT TARGETS" I run a TON of Creatures that, if 'Imprinted' can quickly take over the game: Demon's Disciple and Plaguecrafter can Edict your opponents every turn, keeping the field clear unless someone has repeatable token generation, Gonti, Lord of Luxury draws you a great card each turn and provides a lethal chump blocker if generated on an opponents turn, Mindwrack Demon fills your graveyard VERY quickly, Solemn Simulacrum ramps you into oblivion and draws you a card if you have a Sac outlet, Gravebreaker Lamia gains you a bunch of life if you throw her at someone and Tutors a Creature into the graveyard for Chainer to reanimate, Sidisi, Undead Vizier Tutors a card into your hand and can 'Exploit' herself so you're not down a Creature, Noxious Gearhulk and Overseer of the Damned kill a creature and either gain you life or leave behind a 2/2 token and Gray Merchant of Asphodel just kills everyone, even if you don't have any other Black Devotion because the token copy has the exact same CMC/Devotion as the original!

-- Mind Stone : Another fantastic 2CMC mana rock that can fit into almost any deck. The ability to effectively 'Cycle' itself for 3 mana late in the game when it's no longer that useful is great value, and stops it from being a dead draw in later turns.

-- Shadowspear : A new addition to the deck. I was considering adding the card Nighthawk Scavenger as a decent, low CMC "goodstuff" Creature that could get me a lot of life to balance out the lifeloss from using Chainer, but I settled on Shadowspear instead because I already run a lot of great evasive Creatures without Lifelink, so a cheap repeatable way to give them Lifelink seems like it will help with attrition matches. It also has a "Lighthouse" effect of being able to turn off Hexproof and Indestructible, and while my deck has more Edict based removal, it's still useful, especially when used to help someone else target a threatening creature with removal!

-- Sol Ring : It's Sol Ring... Almost every commander deck runs one, for good reason. Even in Power 9 Cube it's one of the top 2 most powerful cards. In 1v1, a turn 1 Sol Ring is just stupidly good, in 4v4, it can put a BIG target on your head. One reason I personally don't mind playing some of the 'less powerful' mana rocks is that they're unassuming, people love blowing up Sol Rings, but are less into blowing up an Everflowing Chalice, even if it's also tapping for 2 mana!

-- Sword of Sinew and Steel : It Slices, It Dices, It Juliennes! A fantastic new addition that's really helping me take care of troublesome Artifacts that Mono-Black has a hard time with. My meta also has a lot of Black in it, so this can also protect Chainer or my other Creatures from removal, and let them slip in for serious damage! The +2/+2 buff is no joke, especially when paired with Menace, Lifelink or Flying.

"PRO TIP" The owner of the Artifact/Planeswalker doesn't have to be the person you hit, so you can make deals with someone not to block your equipped Creature, so you can blow up someone else's stuff!

-- Wayfarer's Bauble : A really nice Land-Ramp option for Mono-Black. This deck has a bit of a "Swamps Matter" subtheme, with cards like Dread Presence and Defile caring about the number of Swamps you have in play, and Cabal Stronghold caring about Basic Swamps in particular! Lands also tend to be less fragile than Artifacts in EDH, so Land-Ramp is preferable, and this is one of the only options outside of Green.

-- Bojuka Bog : Fantastic graveyard hate, which is really relevant in my local meta. Can be a double edged sword as I tend to want to steal Creatures from my opponents graveyards, but still necessary to run.

-- Cabal Stronghold : Budget Cabal Coffers. Even with my handful of nonbasic lands, it usually gives me 4+ extra mana in the late game, which is really useful when repeatedly reanimating with Chainer

-- Myriad Landscape : A way to ramp early in the game, or on a turn where you have nothing to do with your mana. Like Wayfarer's Bauble, it also fetches Swamps for my many "Swamps Matter" cards

-- Phyrexian Tower : A great free Instant-speed Sac outlet that really helps when repeatedly reanimating/sacrificing ETB creatures with Chainer.

-- Snow-Covered Swamp : I'm running Snow-Covered Swamps to fuel Dead of Winter , a really nice cheap sweeper. There are other Snow-Payoffs out there like Mouth of Ronom , Extraplanar Lens and Scrying Sheets . I'm still trying to pin down the number of Snow and Basic Swamp sources I need for my cards that care about those card types.

I'm not running any REALLY expensive cards ( Vampiric Tutor was pulled from a pack...), however if you have a higher budget (or already own some of these cards), I've got a short list of potential upgrades for the deck:

-- Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth : The Coffers helps produce an ungodly amount of mana in the late game (which this deck would LOVE), while the Tomb turns your nonswamp utility lands (including the coffers) into swamps, maximizing the effect of the Coffers!

-- Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx : Potentially even better than Cabal Coffers in this deck because we usually have a high Black devotion.

-- Phyrexian Altar : A fantastic Sac Outlet that enables a few infinite combos with some cheaper supporting cards.

-- Toxic Deluge : A great flexible sweeper that has you 'pay life', fuelling Font of Agonies ! It's probably the best sweeper in Black, and can take out Hexproof and Indestructible targets.

-- Torment of Hailfire : A simple wincon, all you need is a ton of mana, which this deck has the potentual to produce! I have run a borrowed copy of this card myself, it's an awful card to see in your opening hand, but can be the only way to win some long stalledout games. The card can sometimes feel like a 'cheap' wincon, coming out of nowhere and requiring a counter or it just ends the game... but every game needs to end somehow...

-- Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed : Works as a tutor that searches your graveyard instead of your library! He can be bonkers if repeatedly reanimated to fetch back cards like Torment of Hailfire over and over...

-- Necropotence : One of (if not THE) most powerful draw engines in Black. I would swap it with Phyrexian Arena or another card draw spell if I had a copy.

-- Demonic Tutor : A stupidly powerful card, works even better if you're running some good combos, but even without any it would give the deck more consistency.

-- Jet Medallion : A really strong "mana rock". It doesn’t help pay for Chainers ability, but we have enough black spells that we want to hardcast that it seem like it would be very strong. I bloody hope it gets reprinted soon!

-- Grave Pact and/or Dictate of Erebos : These can supercharge the sacrifice subtheme of the deck. If you had either of these to run, I'd also recommend Fleshbag Marauder and Merciless Executioner as more ways to keep your opponents boards clear.

If you're in a more competitive meta, or just like running infinite combos, Chainer has a few options open to him:

- Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Triskelion . Probably the most consistent combo options for Chainer, because it only requires 2 pieces, and both are Creatures that can be easily tutored for, or reanimated if you can get them into your graveyard. Outside the combo, Triskelion is pretty bad, but Mikaeus can be very strong... however.. if you reanimate a nonhuman Creature from an opponent's graveyard using Chainer, when it dies with Mikaeus in play, it will return under your opponents control... so be careful!

- Phyrexian Altar + Abhorrent Overlord + Blood Artist (or a similar effect) + Chainer, Dementia Master . This combo works by casting (or reanimating) Abhorrent Overlord while the other pieces are in play, then sacrificing the Overlord and 2 Harpys to the Phyrexian Altar to produce , gain you 3 life and drain an opponent for 3. You then use the mana to reanimate Overlord again, generating more harpy tokens, and you keep sacrificing/reanimating to drain out your opponents for lethal! It's kinda janky, but all the cards involved are great in the deck by themselves, so when you draw a few of the pieces, you can usually tutor for whatever you're missing!

- Rings of Brighthearth + Basalt Monolith . This combo generates unlimited colorless mana, which can be used to fuel lethal 'X' spells like Profane Command , or just help pay for a hand full of big expensive Creatures! You can also use the unlimited mana to kick an Everflowing Chalice so that it becomes an 'infinite' mana rock as a backup in case the Rings or Monolith are destroyed!

- Exquisite Blood + Sanguine Bond . The classic 2-card Mono-Black infinite combo. It's actually not great in this deck because Chainer doesn’t really help get it on line, and unless you're running a few Tutors that can fetch up the pieces, you're very unlikely to get it going just by drawing both cards. The only upside is that Enchantments are harder to interact with that Creatures... but then again, you can easily reanimate Creatures that get killed or countered!

There's more combos, but these are the main ones I'd consider running if I was into them!

Ideal Opening Hands:

A fantastic opening hand usually includes 3-4 Lands, 1-2 cheap removal spells or cheap Creatures, 1-2 sources of ramp, and 1 source of card draw. I'll almost always keep a hand with 2-6 Lands, depending on if it also has a relevant play for the first three or four turns. I'll almost always mulligan a 1-Land Hand, unless it also has Sol Ring and either another mana rock, or early card draw/selection like Ransack the Lab .

From a calculation, and analysis of over 100 sample opening hands, the average number of lands in an opening hand with this deck is 2.4. The percentage of opening hands that I considered "keepable" was around 75%, with too many or too few Lands being the major factor in mulliganing. Because I run a fair number of 2-4CMC cards, I can consistently develop my board in the early game.

Top Wincons:

-Repeatedly reanimating and sacrificing Gray Merchant of Asphodel using Chainer, or another reanimation engine!

-Burning face with Profane Command . Use Crypt Ghast , Cabal Stronghold and Everflowing Chalice to generate a ton of mana to fuel it!

- Mimic Vat spewing out copies of a Creature with a strong ETB effect! ( Gray Merchant of Asphodel works well here too)

-Reanimating an army with Sepulchral Primordial , Entreat the Dead or Agadeem's Awakening  !

-Good ole BEATDOWN with all my big evasive Creatures and equipment!


Updates Add


Date added 7 months
Last updated 2 weeks

This deck is Commander / EDH legal.

Rarity (main - side)

5 - 0 Mythic Rares

37 - 0 Rares

14 - 0 Uncommons

14 - 0 Commons

Cards 100
Avg. CMC 3.15
Tokens Zombie 2/2 B
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