Mono-Black Control in EDH

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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

Hello everyone!

Even though not being able to play at the moment, I'm still theorycrafting some decks on my free time. I'm used to build rather laid back and casual decks, focused on themes and mechanics rather than power (5-6 on the power scale, I would wager). Some people in my playgroup have started to show interest in some higher powered decks though, and I would like to have at least one deck that I can bring up to accompany them. Probably something closer to an 8 on the power scale, I guess. Since it's my first time building at such a power level, I would love to get some advice from the community.

This is what I've decided so far: Do some of you have experience playing with/against such strategies? Do you have any advice? Where should I begin? How many slots should I dedicate to each role? Is it a good idea to play both big mana and attrition-based cards, or should I focus on one or the other?

Thanks for your help!
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Post by benjameenbear » 1 week ago

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is a phenomenal card that can be crazy powerful as a Commander. My own personal list is a tribute to Phyrexia and Phyrexia flavored cards, so it's curve is not the best nor does it include some of the most powerful cards out there.

But if you're looking for a Commander that can be SUPER powerful, I would suggest K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. Discounting spells like that is absurdly powerful and, with the proper build, can be a truly competitive monster.

The most important thing to remember, as you learn to build more optimized builds, is that CMC is the real decider of your deck. If you can find the same type of effect on a lower CMC card, you should run the lower CMC card for sure. MTG as a game is ruled by the quantity AND quality of spells you can cast so anything you do to maximize both of these ideas in your own deck will increase the power level of your deck dramatically.

K'rrik supports a more bursty combo type of deck while Yawgmoth can be a combo/control sort of deck depending on how you build it.
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Post by pokken » 1 week ago

A buddy of mine made an Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder MBC deck and it was sick.
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Post by Sinis » 1 week ago

I've played a lot of mono black. Including Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed for a while with non-infinite loops with Victimize and Living Death (usually involving Kokusho and Gray Merchant). I also looped Profane Command with XHD. I think my experience was a little toned down from where you're going, but, you could easily find yourself powered up with these game plans.

Where to begin
I would sort out your wincons first (even before picking your general). That part's pretty easy, the ones I used in a non-infinite loop-style deck are above (plus graveyard hate so no one else is doing the same thing to you on the back of your cards), and you can find your own (with sacrifice outlets and something like Twilight's Call)

I think a big mana style deck would be different. If you're going for Torment of Hailfire/Exsanguinate style decks, I might consider a different general from Xiahou Dun. Like, if you want big mana, maybe Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder (with maindecked Ashnod's Altar) or a draw-oriented Kagemaro, First to Suffer control pile. Alternatively, you can have a big mana outlet in the command zone with Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief or Maga, Traitor to Mortals, the latter of which is just kind of a fancy fireball in the command zone.

Mostly, I would want my general to shore up some weakness in the deck (Xiahou Dun being a strong recursion piece, Kagemaro being a board wipe, etc.)

What next?
Once you have wincons (and maybe your general) sorted out, you're going to want to find room for the deck to be good. Answers, draw, acceleration, and ways to find your ways to win before you die or otherwise enable them is what to do here. I find these slots tend to be the same in each monoblack; lots of monoblack players will play Hero's Downfall, Erebos, God of the Dead/Greed, Damnation (or other wipes).

In terms of abiding by your restrictions with the looping style deck, it's a matter of exclusions. You'll probably want to leave out stuff like Ashnod's Altar/Phyrexian Altar, Carnival of Souls and Pitiless Plunderer, or you might go infinite by accident. Even something innocuous like Pawn of Ulamog might result in near-infinite games. If that's okay with you, and it seems like enough pieces to be fair, you could include a couple (I like Pitiless Plunderer for this, because you need something else to sacrifice guys with; you need to have Pitiless, a sac outlet, Living Death, and Xiahou Dun and a handful of creatures to loop Living Death).

I think the big mana decks are more complicated because you can't just win a game with Torment of Hailfire; you really need a lot of mana. I never really went this route so I'd appreciate others chiming in, but, I think you can probably get there with Extraplanar Lens, Gauntlet of Power, Caged Sun, Crypt Ghast and Nirkana Revenant. Cabal Coffers, Cabal Stronghold, and maybe even Magus of the Coffers. Alternatively, maybe some kind of Yawgmoth's Will (plus Magus of the Will and a set of Dark Ritual type cards could get there, but you'd really be leaning on YW.

But, other than that, I think big mana decks will have the same things as other monoblack decks: Hero's Downfall, good draw/answers/acceleration, etc.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is a phenomenal card that can be crazy powerful as a Commander. My own personal list is a tribute to Phyrexia and Phyrexia flavored cards, so it's curve is not the best nor does it include some of the most powerful cards out there.
Hmm, I do have a copy of Yawgmoth in my binder.
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
But if you're looking for a Commander that can be SUPER powerful, I would suggest K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth. Discounting spells like that is absurdly powerful and, with the proper build, can be a truly competitive monster.
I don't exactly know why but I'm really not enamoured with K'rrik. I can see how powerful he is, I can maybe play him in the 99 but I don't like him enough to have him as the commander.
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
The most important thing to remember, as you learn to build more optimized builds, is that CMC is the real decider of your deck. If you can find the same type of effect on a lower CMC card, you should run the lower CMC card for sure. MTG as a game is ruled by the quantity AND quality of spells you can cast so anything you do to maximize both of these ideas in your own deck will increase the power level of your deck dramatically.
Yeah, that might be the hardest thing for me to do, as I tend to love splashy spells :P
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
K'rrik supports a more bursty combo type of deck while Yawgmoth can be a combo/control sort of deck depending on how you build it.
I'm not looking for a combo build, though. I would like to avoid that the most :\
pokken wrote:
1 week ago
A buddy of mine made an Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder MBC deck and it was sick.
Yeah, I played Endrek a while ago and he was really fun. The reason I'm considering Xiahou Dun is because I tend to often play creature-based decks, I figured that Xiahou Dun might encourage me to play more non-creature spells since it can bring back anything. I might just end up playing tons of creatures again though :P
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Post by benjameenbear » 1 week ago

Alrightty then, if you're looking for a more grindy-style of MBC, I'd definitely recommend @GloriousGoose's Erebos deck and Primer. It hits all of the things I think you're looking for and can be very powerful in the right group. I recommend checking it out at the very least, since he talks about a more control based approach then what I do with my own Yawgmoth list.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
I've played a lot of mono black. Including Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed for a while with non-infinite loops with Victimize and Living Death (usually involving Kokusho and Gray Merchant). I also looped Profane Command with XHD. I think my experience was a little toned down from where you're going, but, you could easily find yourself powered up with these game plans.
Great! I incidently had Living Death and Profane Command in mind!
Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
Where to begin
I would sort out your wincons first (even before picking your general). That part's pretty easy, the ones I used in a non-infinite loop-style deck are above (plus graveyard hate so no one else is doing the same thing to you on the back of your cards), and you can find your own (with sacrifice outlets and something like Twilight's Call)
Right now, I was thinking of running:
Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
I think a big mana style deck would be different. If you're going for Torment of Hailfire/Exsanguinate style decks, I might consider a different general from Xiahou Dun. Like, if you want big mana, maybe Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder (with maindecked Ashnod's Altar) or a draw-oriented Kagemaro, First to Suffer control pile. Alternatively, you can have a big mana outlet in the command zone with Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief or Maga, Traitor to Mortals, the latter of which is just kind of a fancy fireball in the command zone.
Mmh, I was considering Exsanguinate and Torment because I can always play them for a reasonable, albeit non-lethal amount, then reuse them with Xiahou Dun. I don't necessarily intend to go too deep on the big mana package but since I will at least include Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, I figured I might also include Crypt Ghast (and maybe Nirkana Revenant). Is it not worth it?
Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
Mostly, I would want my general to shore up some weakness in the deck (Xiahou Dun being a strong recursion piece, Kagemaro being a board wipe, etc.)
Yeah, that's what I had in mind, and why I was attracted to Xiahou Dun since he offers something unique that lets you recast your wincons and removals.
Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
What next?
Once you have wincons (and maybe your general) sorted out, you're going to want to find room for the deck to be good. Answers, draw, acceleration, and ways to find your ways to win before you die or otherwise enable them is what to do here. I find these slots tend to be the same in each monoblack; lots of monoblack players will play Hero's Downfall, Erebos, God of the Dead/Greed, Damnation (or other wipes).
I usually go for the classic 10 draws / 10 ramps / 10 interaction cards and I adjust from there depending on the deck. I just don't know if that pattern is good enough for "optimized" decks :)
Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
In terms of abiding by your restrictions with the looping style deck, it's a matter of exclusions. You'll probably want to leave out stuff like Ashnod's Altar/Phyrexian Altar, Carnival of Souls and Pitiless Plunderer, or you might go infinite by accident. Even something innocuous like Pawn of Ulamog might result in near-infinite games. If that's okay with you, and it seems like enough pieces to be fair, you could include a couple (I like Pitiless Plunderer for this, because you need something else to sacrifice guys with; you need to have Pitiless, a sac outlet, Living Death, and Xiahou Dun and a handful of creatures to loop Living Death).
I'm hesitant, I have recently traded for a Phyrexian Altar and I must admit it would be nice to fit it in there. I guess it's okay as long as the combo needs at least 4 cards and isn't the primary way to win. I'm willing to give it a try! :)
Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
I think the big mana decks are more complicated because you can't just win a game with Torment of Hailfire; you really need a lot of mana. I never really went this route so I'd appreciate others chiming in, but, I think you can probably get there with Extraplanar Lens, Gauntlet of Power, Caged Sun, Crypt Ghast and Nirkana Revenant. Cabal Coffers, Cabal Stronghold, and maybe even Magus of the Coffers. Alternatively, maybe some kind of Yawgmoth's Will (plus Magus of the Will and a set of Dark Ritual type cards could get there, but you'd really be leaning on YW.

But, other than that, I think big mana decks will have the same things as other monoblack decks: Hero's Downfall, good draw/answers/acceleration, etc.
I played big mana once with Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief and the deck was really fun (Torment of Hailfire didn't exist at the time) but I think a deck like that would be too slow at that power level. I'm not adamant on running Exsanguinate and such, as the looping / recurring style also pleases me but I figured I might run them if it makes the deck better overall.

EDIT:
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
Alrightty then, if you're looking for a more grindy-style of MBC, I'd definitely recommend @GloriousGoose's Erebos deck and Primer. It hits all of the things I think you're looking for and can be very powerful in the right group. I recommend checking it out at the very least, since he talks about a more control based approach then what I do with my own Yawgmoth list.
Alright, thanks! I'll take a look at both yours and @GloriousGoose's lists!
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Post by Sinis » 1 week ago

Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago

Right now, I was thinking of running: <snip>

Mmh, I was considering Exsanguinate and Torment because I can always play them for a reasonable, albeit non-lethal amount, then reuse them with Xiahou Dun. I don't necessarily intend to go too deep on the big mana package but since I will at least include Cabal Coffers + Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, I figured I might also include Crypt Ghast (and maybe Nirkana Revenant). Is it not worth it?
I think Exsanguinate and cards like it aren't really worth it unless you're going to win with it. Torment of Hailfire might be an exception because it's so strong even at low-end mana usage. That said, maybe it fuels something like Greed, so, there's that.
Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
Mostly, I would want my general to shore up some weakness in the deck (Xiahou Dun being a strong recursion piece, Kagemaro being a board wipe, etc.)
Yeah, that's what I had in mind, and why I was attracted to Xiahou Dun since he offers something unique that lets you recast your wincons and removals.
XHD is a very unique card for black, to say the least. When the Judge Promo was printed, I immediately obtained one.
I'm hesitant, I have recently traded for a Phyrexian Altar and I must admit it would be nice to fit it in there. I guess it's okay as long as the combo needs at least 4 cards and isn't the primary way to win. I'm willing to give it a try! :)
I think Phyrexian Altar and similar just make the existing Living Death loop gameplan better. You'll be able to do it more times a turn, or even an infinite number of times per turn.
I played big mana once with Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief and the deck was really fun (Torment of Hailfire didn't exist at the time) but I think a deck like that would be too slow at that power level. I'm not adamant on running Exsanguinate and such, as the looping / recurring style also pleases me but I figured I might run them if it makes the deck better overall.
Exsanguinate might be better than I'm remembering. I could be giving it a short shrift.

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Post by NoNeedToBragoBoutIt » 1 week ago

Great thread so far! I'm gonna pitch in with a few card suggestions:

Bubbling Muck - As a main phase High Tide in , this card has won me dozens of games. It can easily force an early neck-breaking Torment of Hailfire/Exsanguinate.

Corpse Dance - Any kind of creature based approach goes from solid to bonkers with this beast of a card. Pack your Ashnod's Altars and Phyrexian Altars and go wild.

Soul-Guide Lantern - Good lord, this is easily one of the best uncommons printed lately. It doesn't nuke your own recursion plans, while abolishing others peoples plans and "just" replacing itself in the absolute worst case.

Pithing Needle/Sorcerous Spyglass/Phyrexian Revoker - These are absolute top options as hate pieces. Especially, if your meta sees a lot of artifact/PW shenanigans and combos.

Curious to see what you'll turn out building.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

Sinis wrote:
1 week ago
I think Exsanguinate and cards like it aren't really worth it unless you're going to win with it. Torment of Hailfire might be an exception because it's so strong even at low-end mana usage. That said, maybe it fuels something like Greed, so, there's that.
Yeah, that is why I was thinking of running it. Even when non lethal, the amount of life you can gain from it is no joke and can help fuel tons of the best black cards. And if the game lasts long enough, I can recur it with Xiahou Dun and cast it for lethal with the help of Cabal Coffers, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and the like. A counterpoint though, is that I will most likely be running "Gary and Kokopuffs" anyway and I might not need any additional help in that regard.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Bubbling Muck - As a main phase High Tide in , this card has won me dozens of games. It can easily force an early neck-breaking Torment of Hailfire/Exsanguinate.
It is interesting for sure! I think it is worth testing out.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Corpse Dance - Any kind of creature based approach goes from solid to bonkers with this beast of a card. Pack your Ashnod's Altars and Phyrexian Altars and go wild.
Corpse Dance is really high on my list. Around 50% of the Xiahou Dun decks run it on EDHrec and I think it is for good reason (well, there's only 70+ decks, but still a good performance!). My only gripe is that the more creatures I run, the less reliable it becomes since I can't reorganise my graveyard at will.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Soul-Guide Lantern - Good lord, this is easily one of the best uncommons printed lately. It doesn't nuke your own recursion plans, while abolishing others peoples plans and "just" replacing itself in the absolute worst case.
This one does indeed sound great. With Xiahou Dun at the helm though, it might be best to run black coloured graveyard removal such as Erebos's Intervention, Suffer the Past or even Faerie Macabre.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Pithing Needle/Sorcerous Spyglass/Phyrexian Revoker - These are absolute top options as hate pieces. Especially, if your meta sees a lot of artifact/PW shenanigans and combos.
These can be useful indeed but cannot be recurred with Xiahou Dun and my meta is not really combo heavy. I guess it'll depend on the removal package I will be running and how well those cards can cover its weaknesses. I should keep them in mind at the very least, thanks!

Also, I've read @benjameenbear's Yawgmoth primer and @GloriousGoose's Erebos primer. It was an interesting read, thanks for the suggestions!

So now I have a few card ideas that I would like to discuss:
  • First of all, @GloriousGoose's list is running a good amount of targeted discard in order to deal with combos and countermagic. Since Xiahou Dun can recur my key cards, is it right to think that I don't need to pay too much attention to countermagic? As long as it doesn't exile the card, at least. I just feel like if you're not facing combos and heavy control decks really often, those cards just won't do enough.
  • What about "tricks" like Imp's Mischief and Withering Boon? They sound good on paper but I haven't been super happy playing them in the past. Are they more useful against more powerful decks?
  • Is it worth it to run "bad" removal that can still take care of artefacts and enchantments? Stuff like Gate to Phyrexia, Phyrexian Tribute and the recently printed Feed the Swarm. I'm thinking bad removal is still better that no removal but I would like to hear your opinions.
  • What are the best equivalents of Living Death and how many should I run? I can think of Rise of the Dark Realms, Twilight's Call and Balthor the Defiled, although the latter can't be reused.
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Post by benjameenbear » 1 week ago

In regards to the Living Death question: it depends on your creature suite. If you're going to go heavier into control elements and not a lot of creatures, one should be plenty as a board wipe effect that can recur some key pieces (it forms an interesting loop with an Altar, Xiahou Dun, and enough creatures which is something you could consider...). If your creature count is above 20, having an additional Mass Reanimate effect is pretty good so that you can get additional value out of your ETB creatures. So that's the first question I'd recommend you consider.

For me, Gate to Phyrexia is a card that fits the theme of my deck that also happens to have some pretty solid utility. With any one of the self-rezzing creatures a la Reassembling Skeleton you can consistently hit key Artifacts to help level the playing field. I've been impressed with the utility cards and heartily recommend them. Feed the Swarm is a pretty excellent piece of removal that fits Black's color pie niceley. I don't run it in my own Yawgmoth list because I haven't been able to justify its art as of yet. And because cutting cards from that list is nigh impossible.

The black tricksy cards are nice one-time effects imo. I'd rather devote my card slots to being proactive with my strategy, since stack interaction is WAY off of Black's strengths. I personally don't play them and find them unnecessary to a well-developed MBC list.

If you're set on Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed as your Commander, then the spot Discard effects are more valuable because you can recur them. Targeted Discard IS a great effect, but its power is diluted in a multi-player format pretty substantially. I could see you including a single piece of targeted hate (definitely recommend Mind Twist since it nukes a player's hand hardcore) and not being upset with it since it can decimate an opponent's plans so well.
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Post by ISBPathfinder » 1 week ago

So, some real rough things but my experience with mono black has a few things of note:
  • The reasons to be mono black tend to be Cabal Coffers and Gary. If you don't plan to use either or both of these you probably don't have a reason to be mono black.
  • Wincons are a bit rough in mono black. There are a few mono black commanders with size and or evasion that can use things like Nightmare Lash as a wincon but if commander damage doesn't look likely you are likely going to fall back to life siphon effects like Gary, Kokusho, Exsanguinate, and or Torment of Hailfire as your wincons. Its worth noting that these tactics are TERRIBLE for focusing anyone down and tend to remove the whole table at once. They also can be a little weak to lifegain effects and can at times aggro the whole table.
  • You likely want to be somewhat based in creatures. Black tends to have a number of things that draw cards when your creatures die or ways to put the creatures back into play and going creature light in mono black sort is something not done all that often. Other colors might have spellslinger / artificer / whatever else but mono black is primarily stuck with creatures, control, recursion, and draw. Most of the ways to defend yourself will be via creatures as there aren't much for passive defenses in black (I guess there are some artifacts).
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Post by NoNeedToBragoBoutIt » 1 week ago

I'm sorry. With the discussion about alternate commanders i didn't realize you were already set on Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed.
Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
My only gripe is that the more creatures I run, the less reliable it becomes since I can't reorganise my graveyard at will.
For most real strong black decks i know, creature counts are toned down to key ones, like Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Sidisi, Undead Vizier and so on. Rule of thumb is "as many as needed, as few as possible", the rest of the deck then revolves around them. It will take some getting used to, but once you get a hang of it, you'll love Corpse Dance, trust me.
Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
With Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed at the helm though, it might be best to run black coloured graveyard removal.
I'm not too much of a fan of X-Spell solutions. In most cases you'll look to remove a key one or a few essential pieces at best - at instant speed, if possible. Surgical Extraction and Extirpate are as good as it gets (and can disrupt top deck tutors, if need be) and i'm a big fan of Scarab Feast. It's great against bigger graveyards, you can ditch it early if you need draw - then get it back with your commander. Ravenous Trap is an honorable mention, if your meta includes a lot of wheels and discard tech.
Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
Is it worth it to run "bad" removal [...] like [...] the recently printed Feed the Swarm.
Feed the Swarm is solid, despite being sorcery speed, but most other solutions are clunky. I did run Gate to Phyrexia for a while, but it is just so atrociously slow. Nothing i'd advise in a pod of decks my meta would consider 8+ decks. With the amount of mana accel, you could consider Karn Liberated or Ugin, the Ineffable instead.

Also +1 from me on building a creature based deck. With your commander having horsemanship Hatred as a win con would be hilarious.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

Thanks for your suggestions everyone, it's really helpful! I'll try to answer in an organized way:

About Living Death and friends
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
In regards to the Living Death question: it depends on your creature suite. If you're going to go heavier into control elements and not a lot of creatures, one should be plenty as a board wipe effect that can recur some key pieces (it forms an interesting loop with an Altar, Xiahou Dun, and enough creatures which is something you could consider...). If your creature count is above 20, having an additional Mass Reanimate effect is pretty good so that you can get additional value out of your ETB creatures. So that's the first question I'd recommend you consider.
Okay, that makes sense. I think I'll go with only Living Death and Rise of the Dark Realms for the moment, as the latter can also serve as a wincon in a pinch.
---
About Gate to Phyrexia
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
For me, Gate to Phyrexia is a card that fits the theme of my deck that also happens to have some pretty solid utility. With any one of the self-rezzing creatures a la Reassembling Skeleton you can consistently hit key Artifacts to help level the playing field. I've been impressed with the utility cards and heartily recommend them.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
I did run Gate to Phyrexia for a while, but it is just so atrociously slow. Nothing i'd advise in a pod of decks my meta would consider 8+ decks. With the amount of mana accel, you could consider Karn Liberated or Ugin, the Ineffable instead.
I do have some synergy with it since I intend to run Bitterblossom and Reassembling Skeleton for Contamination, maybe also Bloodghast if needed. I can see how it can be slow though, but it is hard to say no to a repeatable and recurrable artefact removal in black. I don't know if I will be able to protect Ugin, the Ineffable and it doesn't deal with any colourless artefact. Sadly, I don't own Karn Liberated and it is quite pricey, but if I can get my hands on one, it would likely end up in the deck.
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About Feed the Swarm
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
Feed the Swarm is a pretty excellent piece of removal that fits Black's color pie niceley. I don't run it in my own Yawgmoth list because I haven't been able to justify its art as of yet. And because cutting cards from that list is nigh impossible.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Feed the Swarm is solid, despite being sorcery speed.
Very well, it looks like this one's confirmed!
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About tricks like Imp's Mischief and Withering Boon
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
The black tricksy cards are nice one-time effects imo. I'd rather devote my card slots to being proactive with my strategy, since stack interaction is WAY off of Black's strengths. I personally don't play them and find them unnecessary to a well-developed MBC list.
That is what I'm thinking at the moment as well, they are cute but in the end too unreliable.
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About targeted discard
benjameenbear wrote:
1 week ago
If you're set on Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed as your Commander, then the spot Discard effects are more valuable because you can recur them. Targeted Discard IS a great effect, but its power is diluted in a multi-player format pretty substantially. I could see you including a single piece of targeted hate (definitely recommend Mind Twist since it nukes a player's hand hardcore) and not being upset with it since it can decimate an opponent's plans so well.
Okay, I can see your point. I think I'll try with just Mind Twist for the moment and see how it plays out. What about Sadistic Hypnotist though, is it too slow?
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About being monoblack
ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 week ago
So, some real rough things but my experience with mono black has a few things of note:
  • The reasons to be mono black tend to be Cabal Coffers and Gary. If you don't plan to use either or both of these you probably don't have a reason to be mono black.
  • Wincons are a bit rough in mono black. There are a few mono black commanders with size and or evasion that can use things like Nightmare Lash as a wincon but if commander damage doesn't look likely you are likely going to fall back to life siphon effects like Gary, Kokusho, Exsanguinate, and or Torment of Hailfire as your wincons. Its worth noting that these tactics are TERRIBLE for focusing anyone down and tend to remove the whole table at once. They also can be a little weak to lifegain effects and can at times aggro the whole table.
I do intend to run Cabal Coffers, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Gray Merchant of Asphodel and other mono-black goodies. I'm ok with not being able to easily focus someone down as I will probably be running more removal to keep the playing field as even as possible. Both @benjameenbear's and @GloriousGoose's primers mentioned being usually hated at the table, so I guess I'll just have to take it. For lifegain strategies, I'll probably stick Erebos, God of the Dead in the list, I think it's the only not-too-narrow answer to such strategies in mono-black.
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About graveyard hate
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
I'm not too much of a fan of X-Spell solutions. In most cases you'll look to remove a key one or a few essential pieces at best - at instant speed, if possible. Surgical Extraction and Extirpate are as good as it gets (and can disrupt top deck tutors, if need be) and i'm a big fan of Scarab Feast. It's great against bigger graveyards, you can ditch it early if you need draw - then get it back with your commander. Ravenous Trap is an honorable mention, if your meta includes a lot of wheels and discard tech.
I like Scarab Feast, what about Faerie Macabre? It doesn't cost you any mana, is instant speed and harder to counter. It can also serve as chump blocker or fodder for the sac outlets if need be.
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Creature-based or not?
ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 week ago
You likely want to be somewhat based in creatures. Black tends to have a number of things that draw cards when your creatures die or ways to put the creatures back into play and going creature light in mono black sort is something not done all that often. Other colors might have spellslinger / artificer / whatever else but mono black is primarily stuck with creatures, control, recursion, and draw. Most of the ways to defend yourself will be via creatures as there aren't much for passive defenses in black (I guess there are some artifacts).
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
For most real strong black decks i know, creature counts are toned down to key ones, like Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Sidisi, Undead Vizier and so on. Rule of thumb is "as many as needed, as few as possible", the rest of the deck then revolves around them. It will take some getting used to, but once you get a hang of it, you'll love Corpse Dance, trust me. (...)

Also +1 from me on building a creature based deck.
So I should probably aim at 20 key creatures or something like that? Maybe 15?
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Hatred?
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
With your commander having horsemanship Hatred as a win con would be hilarious.
Sadly, I do not own Hatred and we don't really count commander damage in my playgroup (although I can ask for it, but it would give it away). I guess I could use it at worse to finish off an opponent. It's true that not making use of that horsemanship seems like a waste. On the other hand though, I don't think keeping Xiahou Dun on the field after the first main phase is a smart play, as my opponents probably won't allow me to untap with him. I could run Lightning Greaves but it seems a bit useless here outside of that specific case, since I don't really plan to attack or even keep creatures long enough for it to matter.
---
Other ideas

What do you think of Grim Discovery and Fortuitous Find? Xiahou Dun can recover them and they can recover Xiahou Dun on top of key lands or artefacts such as Cabal Coffers, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx and Rings of Brighthearth. Is it viable? Or is it way too slow?
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Post by ISBPathfinder » 1 week ago

Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
So I should probably aim at 20 key creatures or something like that? Maybe 15?
If you plan to go voltron then you really only need to worry about defending yourself with them. Most mono black decks don't end up being voltron. It depends on how all in racing you want to get. Generally speaking as Coffers / Exsanguintae / Gary get better its because you have made it later into said game. I am not saying you can't use Hatred and some other forms of voltron as your wincon but I was just pointing out that being the mono black control player often draws its own attention. Trying to removal spell every random creature that comes your way gets to be challanging real fast.

If you want to try to be a fast voltron deck then you need less defenses but if your plan is to draw things out and be a black control strategy you want to find ways to keep yourself alive beyond having to nuke every random creature that comes for you.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 week ago
If you plan to go voltron then you really only need to worry about defending yourself with them. Most mono black decks don't end up being voltron. It depends on how all in racing you want to get. Generally speaking as Coffers / Exsanguintae / Gary get better its because you have made it later into said game. I am not saying you can't use Hatred and some other forms of voltron as your wincon but I was just pointing out that being the mono black control player often draws its own attention. Trying to removal spell every random creature that comes your way gets to be challanging real fast.

If you want to try to be a fast voltron deck then you need less defenses but if your plan is to draw things out and be a black control strategy you want to find ways to keep yourself alive beyond having to nuke every random creature that comes for you.
I don't plan on doing Voltron, Hatred is basically the only card being considered right now that focuses on that tactic. If I don't end up running many creatures, I can probably use cards like Tainted Aether or Lethal Vapors. Otherwise, I can probably use board wipes and edict effects like Fleshbag Marauder to prevent people from developing a menacing board state. I can also maybe use Maze of Ith and, if I gain enough life, Glacial Chasm. If I need instant-speed blockers, Chainer, Dementia Master and/or Geth, Lord of the Vault might be useful. I think there are enough options to keep me alive, the trick will be to know which ones are the best and how many of those cards do I need. :thinking:
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Post by NoNeedToBragoBoutIt » 1 week ago

A key part of your deck has to be what you want to achieve with your deck primarily.
Big mana and creature based strategies go along pretty well, while other strategies might not. Everything else follows suit. Mike & Trike (Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Triskelion) type plays? Low creature count, a lot of tutors. Same goes for Ad Nauseam and Doomsday approaches.
For creature based control you'll likely end up with something between 15 and 25 creatures, depending on how much redundancy you want to include - e.g. Plaguecrafter/Demon's Disciple/Fleshbag Marauder/Merciless Executioner.
Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
What do you think of Grim Discovery and Fortuitous Find?
I really love both. My Gonti, Lord of Luxury MBC deck (link in sig) is less cutthroat on purpose, yet always makes great use of both of them.
I can only imagine, how good they can be in decks with even spicier pieces.

Side note about Murderous Rider // Swift End,Hero's Downfall, Vraska's Contempt and the likes, make sure your Meta really is heavy enough on PWs. As for me, they were Murders most of the time and moved out of my decks lately.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
A key part of your deck has to be what you want to achieve with your deck primarily.
Right now, the goal would be to stall the game long enough to be able to drain all the life from my opponents, or have enough mana to cast a big Torment of Hailfire. Other possibilities include Rise of the Dark Realms if there is enough creatures in all graveyards and a combo loop involving at least 4 cards.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Big mana and creature based strategies go along pretty well, while other strategies might not. Everything else follows suit. Mike & Trike (Mikaeus, the Unhallowed + Triskelion) type plays? Low creature count, a lot of tutors. Same goes for Ad Nauseam and Doomsday approaches.
For creature based control you'll likely end up with something between 15 and 25 creatures, depending on how much redundancy you want to include - e.g. Plaguecrafter/Demon's Disciple/Fleshbag Marauder/Merciless Executioner.
OK, I guess I'll try to have around 20 creatures then, as a starting point.
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
What do you think of Grim Discovery and Fortuitous Find?
I really love both. My Gonti, Lord of Luxury MBC deck (link in sig) is less cutthroat on purpose, yet always makes great use of both of them.
I can only imagine, how good they can be in decks with even spicier pieces.
Very well, I'll give them a try then!
NoNeedToBragoBoutIt wrote:
1 week ago
Side note about Murderous Rider // Swift End,Hero's Downfall, Vraska's Contempt and the likes, make sure your Meta really is heavy enough on PWs. As for me, they were Murders most of the time and moved out of my decks lately.
Good point, I'll keep that in mind. If I were to run one of those though, which one would you recommend? Murderous Rider // Swift End seems like the most versatile but it's less easy to recur. Plaguecrafter and co might do the job if I have enough board wipes but it's less reliable.

Speaking of that, how many board wipes and removal should I include?

Right now, I have the following template in mind:

- 38 lands
- 10 ramp pieces (not including big mana cards)
- 12 draw spells
- 7 board wipes
- 13 removal spells (including graveyard hate and targeted discard)
- 4 tutors
- 15 synergy pieces / value engines / wincons

Obviously some cards will do double duty and fit multiple categories, but that's the rough repartition.
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Post by benjameenbear » 1 week ago

You seem a little heavy on the removal spell count, personally. I think 3-4 Board Wipe effects are plenty. Otherwise, you've got a great starting point for your deck composition, frankly. Don't forget to include some utility lands that function as spells a la Bojuka Bog, Volrath's Stronghold, Castle Locthwain, etc. It's a great way to get even more density of effects in your deck without sacrificing actual spell slots.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

Okay, here's what I've got so far:
Xiahou Dun MBC, first draft - By function

Board Wipe (4)


1 Damnation
1 Mutilate
1 Oblivion Stone
1 Toxic Deluge

Other lands (24)


23 Swamp
1 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Approximate Total Cost:

What do you think? Does it look strong enough to contend with other optimized (non-cEDH) decks? Where could I improve?

I also came across other cards that I'm currently considering:
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Post by ISBPathfinder » 1 week ago

@Dragoon you lack creature defenses. I would immediately suggest looking at Stinkweed Imp and Batterskull. Stinkweed's dredge option gives you a reusable blocker who trades and the dredge fills up your bin for your commander. Batterskull is a decent attacking / blocking option and putting it on your commander lets him send through and serve both offense and defense while also gaining you life.

Pitiless Plunderer looks optimistic at best to me given your low creature counts. It seems like a card that you have to find one of a few other cards in your deck to pay off for you. I think that Reassembling Skeleton kind of sucks because you just don't have that many ways to use it and its getting you to fall into a trap of trying to make it work and trying to make the support cards work when you aren't supporting either side nearly enough. I really get the feeling that you are forcing Contamination and trying to support it with just a few cards. I think..... I would either scrap it or go a lot deeper into making that card work as of right now.

Rise of the Dark Realms - its flashy but honestly I have always been of the impression that it doesn't hold its own weight. You don't even have that many creatures in this list so it feels to me like you would be relying on your opponents to have good things. You know what in my mind does just a better job at this? Geth, Lord of the Vault. He costs less mana to cast, its a creature so you can reanimate it, he can get you ramp from opponents and he fuels himself in that he mills to more things. This card costs a million mana to cast and you are entirely at the wims of what your opponents are playing as to if its any good. Its weak to counter magic, grave hate, and just being drawn early. Geth is a lot better if you ask me as you can channel a billion mana coffers through him but he also costs less and being able to hit artifacts means you can steal opposing ramp. Geth's evasion and body let him block and or swing to connect to a planeswalker in a lot of cases too.

Corpse Augur - It gets back to the fact that its very dependent on what your opponents are playing, when it is played, and if opponents have grave hate. I don't love this effect and personally I really have never seen great results from this card. Whenever possible I prefer not to rely on opponents playing specific types of decks for me to get favorable outcomes.

Sword of Feast and Famine - It curves with your commander and your commander has evasion. Its insane ramp and I think it fits here quite well. I would strongly consider adding it. The fact that you untap the turn you play it makes it cost essentially nothing and gen great mana per turn. I could possibly see adding more equipment but I think SoF&F & Batterskull would be the top of my list.



My overall take, right now you need to either support your sac creatures for value plan a lot by adding more tokeny / recursive producers. Offhand it looks like you lack Bloodghast so thats probably where I would start if you are buffing them. Otherwise I could also see going away from them from the standpoint that your commander really doesn't give much support to that style of concept. Your commander does have recursion for anything but I just don't see why you would use this commander for a go wide sac strategy I guess. I think the commander is fine, I am just pointing out that there are a lot of commanders who would contribute to that style of strategy more directly like say.... Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Krav, the Unredeemed (yea he works fine as a mono black standalone), or Erebos, Bleak-Hearted to just pick a few mono black engine commanders that fit that strategy.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 week ago
My overall take, right now you need to either support your sac creatures for value plan a lot by adding more tokeny / recursive producers. Offhand it looks like you lack Bloodghast so thats probably where I would start if you are buffing them. Otherwise I could also see going away from them from the standpoint that your commander really doesn't give much support to that style of concept. Your commander does have recursion for anything but I just don't see why you would use this commander for a go wide sac strategy I guess. I think the commander is fine, I am just pointing out that there are a lot of commanders who would contribute to that style of strategy more directly like say.... Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, Krav, the Unredeemed (yea he works fine as a mono black standalone), or Erebos, Bleak-Hearted to just pick a few mono black engine commanders that fit that strategy.
Well, the most obvious synergy with Xiahou Dun is Living Death, Victimize and co since you can basically loop as many times as your mana can afford it. I think it integrates much more with a sac and recur strategy than Erebos, God of the Dead. My other option is to go low on the creature count and compensate using Tainted Aether, Spreading Plague and No Mercy, but that means looping will be less relevant and then Erebos, God of the Dead and Geth, Lord of the Vault become more potent commanders. I'm still hesitant between the two, but I'm just much more used to creature-based engines than pure control, so I tend to gravitate towards those strategies.

I guess I should just up the creature count and reinforce those synergies. I completely forgot about Bloodghast and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician (even though we spoke about them in this very thread, memory is strange sometimes ...), thank you for the reminder! Although, my fetches are in another deck, I don't know if Bloodghast will be good enough without them? Is Krav, the Unredeemed worth it in the 99? I admit that gaining life instead of losing it really looks attractive. My only fear going this route is that the deck will be too slow.
ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 week ago
Sword of Feast and Famine - It curves with your commander and your commander has evasion. Its insane ramp and I think it fits here quite well. I would strongly consider adding it. The fact that you untap the turn you play it makes it cost essentially nothing and gen great mana per turn. I could possibly see adding more equipment but I think SoF&F & Batterskull would be the top of my list.
I understand that Xiahou Dun looks like a good target for equipment due to horsemanship, and I love Sword of Feast and Famine. It's just that casting him and forfeit activating his ability until my next turn seems like an incredible waste. I also don't really plan on casting it asap, since it requires stuff in the graveyard to be useful. I'm really torn on this one.
ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 week ago
Corpse Augur - It gets back to the fact that its very dependent on what your opponents are playing, when it is played, and if opponents have grave hate. I don't love this effect and personally I really have never seen great results from this card. Whenever possible I prefer not to rely on opponents playing specific types of decks for me to get favorable outcomes.
Hmm, my experience has always been great with him but I can see your point. With the addition of Krav and Yawgmoth, I can probably cut him.
ISBPathfinder wrote:
1 week ago
Rise of the Dark Realms - its flashy but honestly I have always been of the impression that it doesn't hold its own weight. You don't even have that many creatures in this list so it feels to me like you would be relying on your opponents to have good things. You know what in my mind does just a better job at this? Geth, Lord of the Vault. He costs less mana to cast, its a creature so you can reanimate it, he can get you ramp from opponents and he fuels himself in that he mills to more things. This card costs a million mana to cast and you are entirely at the wims of what your opponents are playing as to if its any good. Its weak to counter magic, grave hate, and just being drawn early. Geth is a lot better if you ask me as you can channel a billion mana coffers through him but he also costs less and being able to hit artifacts means you can steal opposing ramp. Geth's evasion and body let him block and or swing to connect to a planeswalker in a lot of cases too.
Well, I had the opposite experience actually, I've died countless times off of Rise of the Dark Realms whereas Geth, Lord of the Vault was just too slow most of the time. If I can't reliably have a big mana engine, Geth doesn't do anything spectacular. Taking ramp from opponents sounds good on paper, except I can't really get rid of artefacts, so I have to wait for a board wipe played by somebody else to fill the graveyards with them. Also, even if Rise of the Dark Realms doesn't win me the game, I can replay it later on with Xiahou Dun. It can also loop with Xiahou Dun if I have tons of mana, even if it's unlikely.

Thank you for your suggestions!
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Post by lyonhaert » 1 week ago

Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
Is Krav, the Unredeemed worth it in the 99?
Definitely depends on speed, recurrable creatures and/or token production. He has similar resource needs to Yawgmoth in that way, but he's kindof a combo piece in my Chainer deck, especially with Abhorrent Overlord. b, sac N creatures to gain N life and draw N cards can limit looping to your library size at the time (I also self-mill), but can be game-winning. I also keep that going with Skirge Familiar.
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Post by Dragoon » 1 week ago

lyonhaert wrote:
1 week ago
Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
Is Krav, the Unredeemed worth it in the 99?
Definitely depends on speed, recurrable creatures and/or token production. He has similar resource needs to Yawgmoth in that way, but he's kindof a combo piece in my Chainer deck, especially with Abhorrent Overlord. b, sac N creatures to gain N life and draw N cards can limit looping to your library size at the time (I also self-mill), but can be game-winning. I also keep that going with Skirge Familiar.
Yeah, that's typically what I used to do when playing mono-black (except for the infinite combo part). I just have to pay attention to my curve here, since the decks I usually tend to build are likely too slow for the decks that will be facing against this one.
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Post by lyonhaert » 1 week ago

Dragoon wrote:
1 week ago
Yeah, that's typically what I used to do when playing mono-black (except for the infinite combo part). I just have to pay attention to my curve here, since the decks I usually tend to build are likely too slow for the decks that will be facing against this one.
Yeah, Chainer is more of an 8 cmc end-game commander, but I usually don't pay full price for the other big creatures and it suits the medium-power games I prefer. I might make a lower-to-the-ground value engines version someday with Yawgmoth, Krav, and stuff like Pawn of Ulamog/Weaponcraft Enthusiast, cheap recursion, etc.
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