- Plato, Phaedo
Erebos, God of the Dead: Danse Macabre is a big mana mono-black control deck that uses big drain effects to destroy your opponents in a single turn. To achieve this goal, it runs a disruption suite consisting of board control and discard, powerful card draw and tutor effects, and massive ramp to fuel those spectacularly splashy plays in the late game. In addition, the deck puts your opponents into lose/lose situations by running cards that force them to make difficult decisions. Conceptually, it's about the inevitability and acceptance of death, because there's going to be a lot of it.
Erebos is deceptively powerful. Are there mono-black commanders with more raw power? Sure. Does mono-black have access to better card draw? Of course. However, Erebos is more than the sum of his parts. His unique suite of traits and abilities combine to make him a fantastic commander for a mono-black control deck. Let's go over them in order, shall we?
Clocking in at four mana, Erebos sits on the lower-middle end of the spectrum as commanders go. Not low enough to be low impact, but not high enough to be prohibitive. In fact, I'd say that four mana is the sweet spot for commanders, as they're playable on turn 3 if you land a mana rock or Rampant Growth on turn 2, which this deck aims to do. Coming out early means he's less likely to be countered and gives you something relevant to invest your mana into in the mid game.
Some commanders require finesse with regards to when you cast them due to the inherent fragility associated with the creature card type. Not Erebos. If you have the mana and nothing better to spend it on, it's usually a safe bet that you can run him out without fear of immediately losing him to a board wipe. There are ways around his indestructibility, of course, and you should expect your meta to adapt to include these types of cards should you play this deck, but resources spent on Erebos are resources they can't spend on your other devastating enchantments and artifacts.
When is a creature not a creature? When you're not feeling particularly devoted to it. There are pros and cons to turning Erebos into a creature. The most glaring drawback is that he becomes vulnerable to certain removal spells that only affect creatures, but in return for this vulnerability you gain access to an excellent blocker. This deck can attract aggression from creature-heavy decks since they're very weak against the amount of removal we run, and having an imposing, difficult to remove blocker helps to make attacking you unattractive. This in turn means they're not attacking, prolonging the game and allowing your drain effects and inevitability to do more work, or even better, sending their creatures elsewhere, lowering opposing life totals and doing your job for you. Be mindful of your devotion count at all times, as sometimes the better play is to hold your permanents back to prevent Erebos becoming a creature.
No Life Gain
This is easily his weakest ability, but it's more relevant than you think. By capping life totals, your incremental damage cards more easily add up, shutting off incidental life gain from cards like Blood Artist, Soul Warden, or random lifelink creatures. As an additional bonus you get to hose most of the ubiquitous Oloro, Ageless Ascetic decks running around. That's something, right?
Wizards of the Coast saved the best for last. This is Erebos's most powerful ability and is largely the reason he's our commander. Drawing cards is one of the best things you can be doing in EDH since it gives you more options, and having it on demand from the command zone means you will rarely want for things to do. Given the amount of mana the deck can generate having a mana sink that converts your two most plentiful resources into the most difficult to acquire resource is incredibly potent. You don't want to be too cavalier with your life total, but don't be afraid to draw yourself back up to seven or more at the end of your opponent's turn. After all, you'll likely conserve more life by drawing into removal or drain effects rather than letting opposing pesky creatures live.
Plus, he has a sweet hat. Who doesn't enjoy a good hat?
Rather than go over every single black commander, I'm only going to discuss the ones I think lend themselves to a big mana control deck. Sorry, Grandmother Sengir, you'll find love again someday.
Geth, Lord of the Vault: A relevant body, evasion, and a great mana sink. Why not use him? Well, his two biggest problems are that he scales with the power of the group until the group becomes truly competitive and he depends on your opponents having decent targets in their graveyard. Also, like Chainer, overcommitting to the board with his ability will walk you face first into a board wipe. I prefer the incremental value of card draw over a more powerful, if expensive, ability. Plus, he's more of a mid or late game card, like Chainer in many ways which to me devalues him as a commander.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury: The new hotness as far as mono-black control is concerned. It's a very cool card and makes games play out differently, but most decks I've seen him in tend to be too commander-centric to me. Running otherwise terrible cards like Supernatural Stamina and Undying Evil just to support your commander getting as many enters the battlefield triggers as possible seems too cute for my tastes. They have fantastic synergy, but having such a glaring and exploitable weakness is a serious problem. Shut Gonti down and the deck functions as subpar mono-black control deck. Overall, if you don't mind relying on synergy with mediocre cards, he's an okay choice.
Sheoldred, Whispering One: Seven mana is a lot, even for mono-black. She tends to be a removal magnet due to her ability to take over games should she survive a turn or two, so you have to deploy her with the utmost care. If she does survive until your next turn, you've generated quite a bit of value, but frankly her glacial pace before generating enough value to justify casting her is unattractive to me. Black already has tons of ways to get rid of opposing creatures as well as reanimating stuff, most of which clock in under seven mana. I actually think she's one of the most overrated cards in the format and as such strongly disagree with running her as a commander.
Sidisi, Undead Vizier: While most notorious as the leader of mono-black Ad Nauseam combo decks, her ability to find exactly what you need from the command zone also lends itself to a toolbox control strategy. You can easily find silver bullets like Pithing Needle or graveyard hate as well as your win conditions and disruption spells. For me personally, I think the commander tax renders her impotent after a couple of casts, which means she's only useful a couple of times. Compared to Erebos, who generates an avalanche of value over time, I think she's ultimately subpar for strict control. If you're running combos like Doomsday or Sanguine Bond/Exquisite Blood, she increases in value, but otherwise I think you're better off with an incremental value commander.
Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed: While serviceable as a basic mono-black control commander, it's Xiahou Dun's ability to function as a combo commander as well as control that make him stand out. Looping him with Living Death and Phyrexian Altar shenanigans leading to an infinite Bitter Ordeal is a strong, solid win condition. I think he's a top tier mono-black commander for his versatility and ability to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately, I have a personal dislike for infinite combos and prefer longer games with lots of back and forth, so I decided against him. I won't harangue you if you decide to run him over Erebos, but know that they're fundamentally different decks.
I started playing Magic at 8 years old around the time of Ice Age, Homelands, and Alliances with my older brother and his friends. Since then I've played off and on, notably during middle school and high school when I discovered my love for mono-black with a good ol' fashioned Pestilence deck that played Cemetery Gate as a way to keep Pestilence in play. I transitioned into a budget Vintage player with Suicide Black and ritualing into a turn 1 Hyppie was revelatory. I had suckled at the teats of power and there was no going back. I've played mono-black in every format where it's even remotely viable, from Pox in Legacy to Odyssey block constructed mono-black control to 8-Rack in Modern. Mono-black is my jam.
While I started mono-black EDH out with Chainer, Dementia Master, over time I learned that he's ended up being a poor mana sink. After a year of loops with Gray Merchant of Asphodel I grew bored of having such a linear strategy and wanted to play a commander who didn't lend himself towards any particularly strategy. Thus, the commander switched to Erebos, God of the Dead. The first iteration was mediocre due to a lot of leftovers from Chainer, but once I hit on the idea of treating the deck like one giant, complex engine the current shape began to take form. There was a period where it focused on group slug like Ankh of Mishra and Underworld Dreams, but I found it to be extremely slow and irritating for my opponents, which is bad for sticking around until the late game. After two years of tuning, refining, and tweaking, the deck has solidified into its current state.
Board Control: 20
Cards listed in bold are currently in the deck, whereas non-bolded cards didn't make the cut.
All Is Dust: Just close your eyes for a moment, lay your weary head to rest, and all those pesky creatures and enchantments will be dealt with. Mono-black doesn't have a lot of answers to enchantments and there can be several nasty ones that need to be dealt with. With any luck other players can take care of them for you, but depending on your opponents to help you is often a losing proposition. In addition to hitting most creatures, it gets around things like indestructible and hexproof. Seven mana is a lot, yes, but this deck is capable of producing ludicrous amounts of mana so it's a solid addition to you removal suite.
Beseech the Queen: It's the weakest tutor in the deck, but still worth playing since it can grab most of your super busted cards without issue for the low, low cost of three mana. Having to reveal the card you grabbed is a downside, so you'll mostly want to tutor for something you'll immediately play. Don't forget that its actual converted mana cost is six, so be careful with Ad Nauseam.
Bubbling Muck: I was skeptical about this card at first, but after a few games it became apparent to me how strong the card could be. Early on, it's just a Dark Ritual, but in the mid to late game it can fuel massive Exsanguinates or Torment of Hailfires that would've otherwise been non-lethal. That said, it can sit in your hand for a while doing nothing or be win more in the late game, so I've found the best use for it is to be a little aggressive with it. Try and land an early Myojin of Night's Reach, Death Cloud or Mind Twist to disrupt your opponents. Remember, you can always recur it with Yawgmoth's Will when you're going for the kill.
Consume Spirit: Direct drain spell number one. It's not nearly on the same level as Exsanguinate or Torment of Hailfire, but being able to take out a creature or planeswalker directly or just remove a single player from the game while providing you with some life with which to generate value is reasonably okay. Being able to generate tons of mana with ease also makes it better. I tend to rate versatile cards more highly than other people since I consider cards that perform more than one function a form of virtual card advantage, so this otherwise unimpressive card on paper is actually very playable in this list. Also, burning someone out who was about to swing for lethal is very satisfying.
Damnation: Your basic, run of the mill board wipe. The deck is dense with removal and this is the gold standard with its reasonable mana cost and unconditional destruction. A meat and taters card through and through. It's not exciting, but it gets the job done. Depending on the stage of the game and the board state, I alternate between this card and Mutilate as my tutor target sweepers of choice.
Dark Petition: Not as good as Demonic Tutor, but it's close. Obviously, it's unusable in the early game, but since this deck runs plenty of instants and sorceries spell mastery is very easy to turn on which turns this card into a monster in the mid to late game. Unless there's something that desperately needs answering or I need to generate absurd amounts of mana, the most common tutor targets for this card are Yawgmoth's Will or Necropotence to capitalize on the mana refund. Will is a particularly powerful tutor target because you can then recast the Petition again to go get something else.
Death Cloud: I hesitated including this card in my first draft since it dips into mass land destruction territory which I try to avoid, but then it occurred to me that it's less of a MLD spell and more of a "you lose now" spell. You'll note that this card doesn't affect enchantments or artifacts, so keeping something like Tainted Aether and Erebos with a couple of mana rocks in play with excess mana from tapping out while your opponents are reduced to nothing effectively wins the game on the spot. There are also emergency situations when you absolutely need to get rid of one or two problematic creatures and Death Clouding for two is the right play. Let me repeat my mantra: versatility is good.
Decree of Pain: It took me a long time to add this card because I held the opinion that it was just too expensive, but like Necropotence or Ad Nauseam it can catapult you back into the game if you're far behind. Eight mana is a lot but this card is savage. And even when you're ahead, this card can lock in your dominance even if the card draw is unnecessary. Technically you can cycle it should the need arise though in my admittedly limited testing this never happened, but it's an option.
Demonic Tutor: Two mana to grab the card that answers a problem for you or the one that wins you the game. Two mana. Best card. Run it. Love it. It should be noted, however, that you should only cast tutors when you already know what you're getting. Casting them blindly not only takes up a lot of play time, but puts you at a disadvantage by not waiting as long as possible to use it. In a game of limited information, seeing your opponent play particular cards reveals a lot about their deck and their intentions, so having a way to go find your silver bullet against them is more relevant than grabbing something that seems nice in the moment.
Doomfall: It took a while for this card to make its way into the deck, but I'm glad it did. As you may have heard, I love versatility, and this card provides that in spades. It wrecks Hexproof voltron commanders like Rafiq of the Many with Greaves on and Uril, the Miststalker as well as decks that run few threats. If the opponent is smart, they recognize how much of a threat you are to their gameplan, so having an extra out against them is nice. In addition, the Thoughtseize mode allows us to both push our win conditions through countermagic. It can also be used in a pinch to disrupt combo decks. On paper it seems underwhelming, but I've been pleased with its performance so far.
Exsanguinate: The original primary win condition for the deck. It's since been outclassed by Torment of Hailfire, but that doesn't all of a sudden make it a bad card. You'll still win plenty of games with it, it's just less of a tutor target. Unlike Torment, though, it can be cast at low to moderate values for X simply for the life gain aspect which is relevant in a deck that tends to be aggressive with its life total. Don't be afraid to cast it for non-lethal values in the mid game to survive a turn or two before you clear things up with a board wipe.
Mind Sludge: I think it's playable, as it's a reasonably powerful haymaker against blue decks in the mid and late game. Unfortunately, it isn't great in the early game when mass discard is at its most powerful, and it suffers compared to Mind Twist and Myojin of Night's Reach later on. Still, at its best it's a five mana Wit's End, so I wouldn't fault you for running it.
Mind Twist: Want to cripple the blue mage or combo player who's been sticking in your craw? Have I got the card for you. Casting it on turn 3 or 4 powered by mana rocks or a Dark Ritual on them will cripple them for a while. This card is so potent that it's a fairly common tutor target if I'm playing in a pod dominated by Islands. The random aspect is just so brutal. Sometimes you'll hit three lands and completely shut down their resource development, and sometimes you'll hit the gas in their hand and render them impotent for a few turns. Regardless, it buys you time to develop your own board and depending on the pod, the thanks of everyone you didn't Twist for slowing down the most powerful deck at the table. The flip side is that the target of this spell will likely focus their attention on you until a greater threat emerges, but that's the cost of doing business.
Mutilate: Like Damnation, this is a bread and butter board wipe. It gets around indestructible, which is nice. Four mana is about as much as I'm willing to pay for a board wipe that only hits creature and doesn't do anything else of note, so it compares favorably to Crux of Fate or Deadly Tempest despite the potential for it to miss some larger creatures if you're low on Swamps.
Night's Whisper: I ran this card (along with Sign in Blood) for a long, long time. However, I realized that they're superfluous with Erebos's ability. They're both two life for a net total of +1 cards, but Erebos doesn't take up deck space and is consistently in play. Ultimately, I cut them because of wanting to run more gas. They're excellent in most other mono-black decks for sure, though.
Praetor's Grasp: This ended up being another difficult cut. I've been able to find juicy targets like Damnation and Cabal Coffers before, but there were also times when it was just an overcosted way to go find Sol Ring. I stopped using it for the preemptive combo hate a long time ago, and its hit or miss nature ultimately led to me dropping it. If you see a disproportionate amount of black decks in your meta it's still a fine card, but I prefer consistency and not relying on the pod to have what I need.
Sadistic Sacrament: Mono-black control can't contain fast combo decks, even with Jester's Cap style effects. Kicking this card was fun against some decks, rendering them impotent, but by and large the card was dead and sat in my hand the whole game wishing it was something else. I would rather shore up my weaknesses against other decks than trying to combat competitive EDH decks. Against them, there's simply no real hope.
Scheming Symmetry: *still testing*
Shrouded Lore: *still testing*
Sign in Blood: Night's Whisper number two. It's marginally more useful since you can dome people for two life, but otherwise it suffers the same fate.
Thoughtseize: One of the more underrated cards in the format due to a fundamental misunderstanding what makes the card so good. Unlike in regular 60 card 1v1 formats, you don't want to slam it down on turn 1 against a random opponent. It requires far more finesse than that. You'll want to save it to preempt countermagic ruining your plans or as a way to disrupt combo players from going off. Thoughtseize is the kind of card that heavily rewards meta and archetype knowledge precisely because of when you must time it. Did someone just Diabolic Revelation for four? There's a good chance they're going to combo off on their next turn. Did the blue player just draw a metric ton of cards? They probably drew into countermagic. Don't listen to the people who say it's bad because it's card disadvantage relative to the other players in the pod. This is the kind of card every mono-black deck should be running.
Torment of Hailfire: Oh, baby. A huge one of these has become the most mana efficient way for this deck to win. Best played after a board wipe to reduce the amount of permanents your opponent can sacrifice to avoid the life loss, resolving this at X = 12+ pretty much closes out the game. Don't get too cocky and dump all of your mana into it, though as it's the kind of spell just begging to be countered. This means you'll have to do some of the math yourself to determine whether or not it will be lethal for each player (which telegraphs your intent), but with cautious play you can avoid the blowout.
Toxic Deluge: One of the best sweepers in the format since it clocks in at the rock bottom cost of three mana and gets around indestructibility. The life payment can be rough, but sometimes you really, really need to get rid of that Blightsteel Colossus or Gaddock Teeg. I prefer having it in my opening hand as the opening board wipe volley due to its low cost, but since it can deal with just about everything I do occasionally find myself tutoring it up and ponying up the health to clear things up.
Yawgmoth's Will: Arguably the strongest Magic card ever printed. In Vintage, which is full of fast mana and powerful card draw, being able to replay all of the broken cards you just played is incredibly good. While our deck doesn't have fast mana, it has big mana, which in some cases is even better. I've won many games on the back of resolving this stupid card. From replaying a Cabal Coffers that was destroyed, recasting the Bubbling Muck you just played to generate all the mana, or simply wiping the board and tutoring for something else, this card delivers. Its price has shot up dramatically to what I think is an unreasonable price for a card that only sees play in Vintage and EDH, but if you can pick one up I strongly recommend it.
Ad Nauseam: Arguably the most powerful card draw spell in the format with Necropotence being its only real competitor. Luckily, we can run both. With our curve being very close to two mana on average including lands, the card draw is on par with Erebos as far as life per card goes, but Ad Nauseam is far more efficient mana wise. However, you need to be careful with it because sometimes you'll flip Myojin of Night's Reach followed by Beseech the Queen. As a result, Ad Nauseam should only be cast if you're planning on winning next turn or if you desperately need to stop someone else from winning. It's easy to get greedy and try to draw more cards than you need like you would with Necropotence, but refrain from doing so unless absolutely necessary.
Dark Ritual: I was skeptical about including this at first due to the EDH hivemind's opinion that card disadvantage is the devil; they were wrong. Dark Ritual is extremely powerful. Temporarily jumping two turns ahead of everyone else enables you to do ridiculous plays like a turn 5 Myojin of Night's Reach or a turn 1 Necropotence. It's tempting to use it to accelerate into a turn 2 Erebos, but landing him that early isn't at all useful since you'll be low on mana and one card down. Save it for your fueling your bombs like Mind Twist or Torment of Hailfire. It's also fantastic in a deck with Yawgmoth's Will.
Defile: This is a spicy meatball. Or so I thought. A single mana spell that can eventually take out just about any creature? Sounds great on paper, but in practice I found that it frequently whiffed on creatures I desperately needed to remove. Plus, with the amount of mana this deck can generate, in the mid and late game the difference between one and two mana is largely irrelevant.
Go for the Throat: It's cost effective spot removal that hits almost every relevant creature. Though lackluster against, say, Daretti, Scrap Savant or Breya, Etherium Shaper, it's better than Doom Blade because in my experience black creatures are more plentiful than artifact creatures and Cast Down is hot garbage in EDH.
Hero's Downfall: Unconditional spot removal that also takes out planeswalkers. That last part is very relevant since the deck's low creature count can make dealing with planeswalkers problematic. Obviously it's better than Ruinous Path and Never // Return due to being instant speed. It's also fun to say "Give 'em the boot!" whenever you cast it.
Imp's Mischief: Without a way to reliably tutor it up in response to someone casting a juicy target like Time Stretch or Blue Sun's Zenith, this card rotted in my hand more often than not. There is, of course, the ability to redirect a counterspell to protect your bomb spell, but for that I found it inferior to Thoughtseize. Its lack of versatility is its downfall.
Malicious Affliction: Two mana is where I want all of my removal to be for two reasons: they're super efficient and holding mana open for them means you can just use Erebos's ability at the end of turn should you not need to use it. The non-black restriction can be super relevant with so many powerful black/x creatures in the format, but its Morbid rider means it can potentially remove two problematic creatures for the low cost of two mana. It took me awhile to warm up to this card, but I still think it's the worst spot removal in the deck.
Silence the Believers: While the deck lacked exile removal for a long time, the addition of Doomfall rendered this one obsolete. If you run into lots of indestructible creatures, I can see it being a worthy inclusion, but four mana is a lot to ask for in a removal spell. It does scale reasonably well with your mana production, but at that point you might as well cast a wrath effect. We're already breaking the symmetry by not running many creatures, so the niche utility this card provides means it doesn't make the slot in my deck.
Sudden Spoiling: Deceptively powerful. From stopping Laboratory Maniac in its tracks to simply Foging a lethal attack step, there's more versatility here than you might imagine. Split Second is the icing on top that makes the card playable, though. Since you can only flip morphs or activate mana abilities while it's on the stack, this will give many players fits because they can't effectively interact with it. The look on someone's face when they die due to decking themselves is absolutely priceless and worth the cost of admission alone. Just be aware that this doesn't stop something like Craterhoof Behemoth or Triumph of the Hordes if they have enough creatures out, as the +X/+X applies after the creatures are 0/2s.
Suffer the Past: Graveyard hate that doubles as a win condition in the late game assuming you didn't Bog them. I've also used it simply for the life gain in emergency situations though I would recommend avoiding that if at all possible. Say it with me now: versatility.
Vampiric Tutor: It compares unfavorably with Demonic Tutor but who cares because this card is still incredibly good. If it's in my opening hand I almost universally use it to grab Sol Ring because I don't own Mana Crypt. Also, tutoring to the top is only a minor setback with a commander that can draw cards at will. It's a mono-black staple for a reason.
Withering Boon: No one will ever see this coming. Even if they know it's in your deck. Remove Soul isn't a great counterspell in blue, but is invaluable in a deck that has limited ways to interact with the stack. Incidentally, its mana cost is the same as Erebos's activation cost which means you can always leave the mana open for it if it's in your hand.
Caged Sun: I ran this for a very long time, but thankfully I came around to realizing this card isn't very good. It's a doubler, sure, but six mana is a big investment for a deck that can't properly interact with artifacts in the graveyard. The anthem effect is wasted due to the low creature count. I think it compares poorly to the other six mana doubler, Nirkana Revenant since the Revenant can be brought back via reanimation and can also lay down some serious beats. Also, for some reason, Caged Sun draws more heat than Nirkana Revenant and is frequently destroyed in short order. I wouldn't blame you for running it, though, if you're in desperate need of doublers.
Charcoal Diamond: Comes into play tapped, but produces black mana. Exciting.
Coldsteel Heart: Almost strictly better than Charcoal Diamond since it can produce any color of mana should you end up with an opponent's creature with a good activated ability. 99.999% of the time though this is irrelevant and you should just name black when it comes into play.
Everflowing Chalice: Comes into play untapped, but acts like a mana battery that you can dump a lot of mana into to produce oodles of mana in the following turns. Unfortunately, it doesn't produce black mana, so you can't use it for Drain Life or Consume Spirit, but it does fuel big Death Clouds and Exsanguinates.
Expedition Map: In descending order your targets are generally going to be Cabal Coffers, Bojuka Bog, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Strip Mine, Deserted Temple, or Maze of Ith. Finding Cabal Coffers is strong enough, but it's the kind of card that scales with the quality of your non-basics.
Fellwar Stone: Comes into play untapped and there's a very good chance that it'll produce black mana. Like Coldsteel Heart, it can also produce mana of other colors so be mindful if you end up with something spicy.
Mana Crypt: I don't own one or I would include it. Obviously. 1.5 damage per turn is more than a fair trade for being two turns ahead of the competition.
Mana Web: Primarily intended to hose blue players by forcing them to decide whether or not to develop their board or hold mana open for counterspells, this card also has game against removal. Generally speaking, the more competitive your deck is, the better this becomes. It doesn't do much to affect people playing 'fair' decks that only play one or two spells a turn which means it will stick around long enough for you to do some serious board development.
Mind Stone: Comes into play untapped and cycles itself for a card when you don't need it anymore. Keep in mind, though, that it effectively costs two to draw a card which is the same as Erebos, only with him you get to keep your rock. Sometimes you need to dig without losing life, though, so don't be like me and forget you can do that.
Oblivion Stone: When everything that isn't a land at the table needs to be blown up, accept no substitutes. Don't get greedy and try to put fate counters on your stuff because you're asking for it to be destroyed before you can clear the table. The best thing about this card is that it has a chilling effect on other players that causes them to reduce what they put on the board. This allows you time to develop your manabase and sculpt your hand which puts you in a very advantageous position.
Phyrexian Totem: This is kind of a pet card for me, but given our plethora of board wipes and anti-creature tech, this humble mana rock can deliver serious beats in a pinch. 5 life per swing looks underwhelming, but that damage adds up when you're looking to Exsanguinate or Torment of Hailfire for the win. Just be wary of instant speed burn spells since they can really ruin your day.
Rings of Brighthearth: Having a commander with an activated ability and a decent number of utility lands with them, you would think this card would be an easy inclusion. Indeed, it was in the deck for a long time, but over time I realized how marginal the card was. Erebos's ability costs the same as it does to copy it with Rings, so you're really only saving yourself two life. Granted, sometimes saving life is important, but that in and of itself doesn't warrant its inclusion. Certainly it can be used to copy planeswalker abilities or Maze of Ith, but again, that's a corner case. Finally, it goes infinite with Deserted Temple, Cabal Coffers, and five Swamps out, and I tend to shy away from infinite combos. It's an okay card, but there are decks that can better abuse it.
Sol Ring: The second best mana rock in the format after Mana Crypt and any sane banlist should include it, but here we are. Consign yourself to the fact that EDH is a 98 card format and play it.
Thought Vessel: Comes into play untapped with a relevant upside. My favorite 2 cost rock in the deck because I enjoy having a hand full of cards.
Torpor Orb: I ran this before I had so many enter the battlefield triggers, and it performed admirably against decks like Roon of the Hidden Realm and random value creatures. However, since I've added more ETBs, I found this card to have too much negative synergy with the rest of the deck. Also, I prefer to give the opponent difficult decisions rather than outright saying they can't do something as it draws less heat.
Venser's Journal: I was pleasantly surprised by this card. Cards that don't really do much beyond gaining life usually aren't very good, but the amount of sustain this gives the deck can be absurd. Our deck plans to slow the game down by running so much board control, and having this card out for 5+ turns with 5+ cards in hand can be an insurmountable amout of lifegain against a lot of decks. The unlimited hand size is a nice rider, as well, particularly so with Necropotence in play.
Wayfarer's Bauble: It's an okay pseudo-mana rock that you can deploy on turn 1 and boost your Swamp count, but beyond playing it on turn 1 it's definitely mediocre.
Animate Dead: While it opens your creature up to enchantment removal instead of just creature removal, it's dirt cheap. Two mana is a bargain bin price for this effect. Sometimes the right play is to cast it on something like Mulldrifter, but my primary targets are my mana doubler creatures when they inevitably bite the dust. The -1/0 has been completely irrelevant each time I played it but keep it in mind. Don't miscalculate combat math because of it.
Dance of the Dead: While I wanted to run this card for the name alone, it's the weakest of the reanimator enchantments. Animate Dead costs the same amount of mana with a less restrictive drawback, and Necromancy can be cast at instant speed in a pinch. Given the small amount of targets in my own deck, despite how strong they are, I found two the be the right number of reanimators here.
Infernal Darkness: If you can get past the awful Foglio art, this card is incredible. Against non-black decks this card might as well say, "Take some extra turns, I guess." Locking opponents out of the game for as long as you choose, since the cumulative upkeep cost is so low, is absurdly good. If you've been a good boy or girl and done your due diligence in wiping the board before dropping this you can effectively win the game on the spot. Against black/x decks, the card loses some of its luster, but is still heavily disruptive enough to deploy.
Lethal Vapors: This is a fun one. It creates a tragedy of the commons type situation where no one wants to be the one to jump on the grenade even though it would benefit them as a group. Of course, this serves to slow the game down even more so your inevitable mana generation and card draw runneth over. I love these types of cards that make opponents make decisions.
Necromancy: The most versatile of the reanimator enchantments due to being able to cast it as though it had flash. The three mana cost isn't terribly relevant considering you'll rarely be casting it in the early turns since there will typically be few targets for it. Of note is the fact that this spell operates differently than Animate Dead. Being an aura inherently means Animate Dead must have a declared target on the stack, whereas Necromancy only becomes an aura once it's in play. This means that your opponents must blindly counter the Necromancy without knowing your target. A small distinction, but it can be very relevant.
Necropotence: Ah, yes. The Skull. One of the most absurd Magic cards ever printed, you'd have to be a fool to not run this in any deck that can support its restrictive casting cost. 1 life for 1 card is a stupidly good trade even if you have to wait until your end step to grab them. With all of the unlimited hand size cards we run, it's not uncommon to have 15+ cards in hand at any given time. This is probably win more, but there's a certain level of satisfaction to having that many. Also, Necropotence's exile ability for discarded cards is actually a triggered ability and can thus be responded to by instant speed reanimation.
No Mercy: Normally, I dislike pillowfort cards, but this one is particularly potent. If you think of it as an attrition card, it's pretty efficient at what it does. Sending attacks elsewhere means your opponents are doing your work for you, all because they don't want to lose their creatures. This means you're effectively generating quite a bit of life while your opponents lose theirs. Of course, the card does nothing to save you from an alpha strike, but usually that's not a problem.
Oppression: The name says it all. While it also affects you, with your commander drawing tons of cards you can easily break the symmetry to the point where it grinds opponents into dust. You'll occasionally enable some reanimation shenanigans, but given the plethora of removal we run it's typically not a problem. Putting your opponents into topdeck mode is an excellent way to slow things down until you move in for the kill.
Painful Quandary: Similar to Oppression, only it doesn't affect you and gives opponents more of a choice in what they lose. 5 life isn't a ton in EDH, but landing this card early enough will have serious repercussions for the rest of the table. It's not uncommon for this humble enchantment to account for 30+ life loss among your opponents which makes them more susceptible to your big drains.
Pestilence: Rabies baby is love, rabies baby is life. Pestilence is incredibly good at what it does, which is killing stuff. Combined with Glacial Chasm or simply having a lot of life, this card also doubles as a win condition. On top of all that, if you can turn Erebos into a creature, Pestilence is going to stick around for a long time.
Polluted Bonds: While a terrible topdeck in the late game, landing this early on will give you an exorbitant amount of life while slowly bleeding your opponents. I alternate between loving this card and cutting it, but I think the risk is worth it. 2 life doesn't seem like much in a format that starts at 40 life, but this card is usually innocuous enough to avoid too much hate while giving you life with which to activate Erebos freely.
Spreading Plague: This is yet another card that will keep the number of creatures in play relatively small which in turn means you're getting attacked by fewer creatures. If that's the case, you get to have more life to draw cards with as well as slowly burning through your opponents' resources. It can occasionally backfire if you have something like Crypt Ghast in play, but playing around it isn't too terrible difficult for you.
Tainted Aether: Talk about difficult decisions. While we break the symmetry by running few but high impact creatures, for most opponents this card is brutal. It becomes less powerful as the game goes on due to opponents drawing into excess lands they're willing to sacrifice, on turn 3 or 4 this card can be backbreaking against creature-heavy strategies. As such, expect players to target you with attacks, but between this and your other board control they won't be able to do much.
Underworld Dreams: Initially included when the deck had a heavier punisher theme, I eventually cut it due to being low impact. I did once get to live the dream of someone Entering the Infinite, but I would expect that to be a very, very, very rare case. Still, against blue-based decks that draw a lot of cards, it can put a decent hurting on them until you can polish them off with a big, dumb X spell.
Words of Waste: I've been hot and cold on this card, including it and cutting it many times. However, once I was able to effectively locking someone out of the game by activating it and Erebos during someone's draw step, I learned of the real potential of this card. Giving the opponents a choice of what to discard can be problematic against reanimation strategies, but activated en masse to clear out every opponents' hand is too powerful to ignore.
Karn Liberated: Mono-black has trouble with artifacts and enchantments and Karn here presents a way to deal with them. I don't own one so I don't think my analysis will be too insightful, but he seems pretty useful. I would test him over All is Dust.
Liliana of the Dark Realms: She's not incredibly powerful, but her low cost makes her playable. Her first ability is a Phyrexian Arena that only gets Swamps. It's great to always hit land drops since the deck is mana hungry. However, it's her minus ability that's really attractive. Being able to kill something problematic or buff one of your creatures to swing for lethal is very handy. Her ultimate, of course, is completely bonkers. If you manage to get there, winning from that point should be academic.
Liliana Vess: I long derided her as being an awful Vampiric Tutor but once I started playing with her I realized that was an inaccurate assessment. It's not impossible to get two tutors from her, and since Erebos can draw cards you tutored to the top, she's less vampiric and more grim. The Rise of the Dark Realms ultimate is impressive, but due to using her primarily for the tutor effect it's very rare for it to go off. Her Disrupting Scepter plus ability is no joke if the game goes down to 1v1.
Ob Nixilis Reignited: An actual Phyrexian Arena stapled to Murder with an ultimate that says "target player loses the game soon" seems like it would be an obvious choice. You're not wrong. Unfortunately, space is tight and I opted to go with the lower mana cost of Liliana of the Dark Realms. I find five mana is just a teensy bit more than I want to pay for his effects.
Sorin Markov: This card is more trouble than it's worth. Sure, dropping someone to 10 early on seems like a death sentence, but I found that all it really does is turn the table against you immediately. That's not good. His mana cost is a big negative as well. Spending six mana to mildly hinder someone is not a very useful turn and typically ends up as a kingmaking move. Play at your own risk.
Ugin, the Spirit Dragon: Like Karn, I don't own one and therefore can't analyze it properly, but I can say that I think he would be better than Karn. A board wipe that leaves your mana rocks intact seems good, even if it can't deal with opposing artifacts. I would likely replace All is Dust to try him.
Crypt Ghast: The second best mana doubler in the deck after Cabal Coffers. 4 mana is a great place to be: it can come down early enough to accelerate you into power plays such as a turn 4 or 5 Myojin of Night's Reach, or in the late game its cost is negligible enough to act as a super ritual that allows you to play multiple powerful spells in a turn or simply a win condition like Torment of Hailfire. On top of all of that is the extort mechanic which is on theme for incremental damage and also gains you a bit of life to fuel Erebos activations. Ol' Dirty Ghastard is a house and a half. However, he tends to be a removal magnet, so always have a plan to use the mana you generate, even if it's just activating Erebos a few times.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel: I still can't believe this card is a common. While this deck can't abuse Gary as well as, say, Chainer with a sac outlet, he still pulls his weight. Yes, it does require respectable devotion to be truly effective, but that's not particularly difficult with this deck. Draining for 7+ in a standard pod is such a massive life swing that it buys you time to find something to stabilize with or something that wins you the game outright.
Kokusho, the Evening Star: Remember when this card was banned as a commander? I want to say that that indicates her power level, but if I'm honest I think I can admit that she's the weakest creature in the deck. Still playable, of course, but she compares unfavorably with Gary. She's more versatile in that she doesn't require devotion to drain and is much better on defense and offense, but sometimes it can be tricky to trigger her on death ability without a board wipe if you desperately need the life and often times doesn't drain nearly as much as Gary will.
Magus of the Coffers: Yet another mana doubler creature, only this one goes infinite with Umbral Mantle and six Swamps. So, why doesn't he make the cut? The biggest issue facing the Magus is that without a haste enabler it takes him an entire turn around the table before you can make use of him. It doesn't happen every time, but it's my experience that he runs face first into a wrath or other removal spell before you get another turn. On top of that he costs five mana for an unimpressive 4/4 body, making him a poor blocker while you wait for your turn to come. Finally, I dislike the combo route, especially when you're not even running it but still get aggro from an unknown group. It's not the worst card you could be playing, but I find he's more trouble than he's worth.
Massacre Wurm: I ran this card for a long time, but after some serious consideration I decided to cut it. Sure, against token decks or go-wide strategies it does serious work, but those are decks we're already well-equipped to handle. You will occasionally be able to kill people with it, which is nice, but that happens so rarely as to be unremarkable.
Myojin of Night's Reach: The god before gods were a thing. At a whopping 8 mana, she's tied for the most expensive card in the deck, but she's very much worth it. If you can land an early doubler, resolving her on turn 4, 5, or 6 can be completely backbreaking and virtually win the game on the spot. Even on curve she devastates any deck that keeps a full grip, such as blue-based control decks if she resolves. In emergency situations she's a solid blocker, and on top of it all she contributes a solid three black devotion. Don't leave home without her.
Nirkana Revenant: Arguably the worst doubler in the deck given her mana cost and ease of being removed, but still very playable. Unlike the other doublers in the deck, however, Nirkana Revenant can lay down the beats in a pinch and doubles as a win condition. That situation doesn't frequently come up but keep it in mind as a potential path to victory.
Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed: I don't own one and doubt I ever will, but a four mana conditional Regrowth doesn't strike me as playable in this deck. In the right deck that can abuse him with cards like Corpse Dance and Living Death he seems spectacular, but in my list I think he compares unfavorably with something as bad as Diabolic Tutor. At four mana each, one gets you a card you've already played which may or may not be relevant, while the other lets you pick through your entire library. I haven't tested it personally, so I could be completely wrong, but I'm not even sure he's worth testing.
Ancient Tomb: Finally picked one of these up and it doesn't disappoint. Not only does it enable a turn 2 Erebos with a two mana rock, it also provides you with enough mana to start activating his ability multiple times per turn. The damage from this land can add up quickly, though, so make sure to grab an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth so you can tap it without feeling the pain.
Blast Zone: Yup, this is a card, alright. Removal on a land is already fantastic but when you consider that it can be used to take out problematic artifacts or enchantments, it becomes doubly good for us. Just be mindful of the collateral damage on your own permanents.
Blighted Fen: Diabolic Edict on a land? Seems good. However, what is effectively six mana to take out a single opposing creature isn't very efficient. The deck runs a massive amount of removal and without Crucible of Worlds to recur it it just doesn't make the cut.
Bojuka Bog: EDH is a format full of graveyard value decks and this slows them down, or even causes them to lose outright if well timed. Sometimes you have to play it before there are any juicy graveyards, and that's okay. Don't be that guy who plays mono-black and doesn't run Bog. Your friends will thank you.
Boseiju, Who Shelters All: The deck runs a lot of haymaker sorceries that could use counter protection, but Boseiju's glaring drawbacks means it doesn't make the cut. Entering tapped is bad enough, but the two life adds up when you're having to use it in the early game to cast spells that aren't going to be countered.
Cabal Coffers: One of the best cards in the deck full stop. This is a big mana deck, and this is a big mana card. It sucks to have in the opening hand if you don't have the Swamps to support it, but beyond that this card is bananas here. I really shouldn't have to explain this card's inclusion. Be mindful of windmill slamming it when you draw it. Sometimes the better play is to hold onto it in your hand to activate on the turn you plan to win. Magic is a game of limited information, after all.
Cabal Stronghold: Cabal Coffers number two. Now now, let's not get carried away. This card is significantly worse than Coffers in two major ways: higher activation cost, and it counts only basic Swamps. You have to have five Swamps before Stronghold produces any extra mana, and the basic restriction means it doesn't combo with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. Still, even with these two limitations, it's a ramp land in the mid and late game, and unlike Coffers it taps for mana on its own. It's a solid card.
Deserted Temple: It acts as a second Cabal Coffers, Cabal Stronghold, or Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, untaps Maze of Ith, and is part of the emergency infinite mana combo (Coffers + Temple + Rings of Brighthearth + 6 Swamps). It's not the best land in the deck but it's a relatively low risk card to run with potentially huge returns.
Glacial Chasm: One of the better pillowfort cards since it's both difficult remove and play around. Some decks will just scoop to this card sticking around for a few turns, and others will have to dig for a tertiary win condition which gives you time to find your own win condition. Of note is the powerful synergy with Pestilence. Pumping all of your excess mana at the end of your opponents' turns with Chasm out will quickly lead to a victory for you.
Maze of Ith: It doesn't produce mana by itself which can be a little awkward, but this card will save your life. Directing attackers elsewhere also bolsters the deck's goal of life total attrition. Just beware of hexproof voltron commanders.
Myriad Landscape: Ramp on a land seems like a good deal, but it's just so slow. I wouldn't fault you for running it, but I have a strong aversion to lands that enter the battlefield tapped unless they do something very powerful. +1 Swamp count for what is two turns and effectively four mana doesn't appeal to me.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx: While it only produces a significant amount of mana when you're already ahead on board, even generating two extra mana with it is worthwhile. Like Deserted Temple, it's a low risk card that has the potential to win you the game with massive drains.
Reliquary Tower: Your general draws cards and you're running Necropotence and Ad Nauseam. With Necro and Nauseam discarding down to seven can be irrelevant because you keep all the cards you need, but there's very little downside to running the Tower and I personally enjoy having a huge grip. It's probably the weakest non-basic in the deck, so cutting it for a Swamp is a fine choice, too.
Strip Mine: There are a ton of powerful lands in EDH and having some way to interact with them can mean the difference between winning or losing. Whether it's stopping Gaea's Cradle from generating a billion mana to simply cutting someone off of a color to slow them down, Strip Mine should be in virtually every EDH deck.
Thespian's Stage: Cabal Coffers number three. There are moments where you're able to copy some opposing land like Dark Depths but by and large you'll be converting this into a Swamp before copying Coffers.
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: The super Swamp. Turning all of your lands into Cabal Coffers boosters would be worthwhile enough, but making your colorless lands tap for black to fuel Drain Life or Consume Spirit is also noteworthy. Of course, sometimes the card backfires and you end up helping out your opponents fix their mana, and it has incredibly bad synergy with Gauntlet of Power, allowing your opponents to tap their lands for two. Still, all things considered this card is easily worth running.
Vesuva: Ideally it copies Cabal Coffers, but typically in the early game you'll play this as a Swamp that comes into play tapped. As a land that can become another doubler, it has a lot of potential, but I think it's the worst of the Coffers clones.
Volrath's Stronghold: While the deck only runs a very small amount of creatures, each one is high impact and being able to recur them without taking up deck space is potent. That said, oftentimes it sits in play as a Wastes. I cut it from my list, but if your deck has a higher creature density then it should put in a lot of work.
The name of the game is attrition. Your disruption suite is tailored to slowly deprive your opponents of resources until they're out of gas, so it benefits you more than other players to slow the game down. The longer the game, the more damaging your disruption pieces are, and thus the more likely you are to emerge victorious. While some of our pieces affect us negatively as well, they do more damage to other players due to this deck's ability to break parity either by drawing cards or generating a lot of mana. Another reason to slow things down is that this deck has an excellent sense of inevitability; that is, your win conditions scale up in relation to your resource generation. All that said, you must also be careful. This deck can draw a lot of hate, most of which is warranted, so you'll be playing defensively much of the game. It's important to apply your pressure slowly. You must treat your opponents as if they were frogs in a pot with the water slowly being heated. Before they understand what has happened, it will be too late.
The ideal average starting hand has three lands, a two cost mana rock, and at least one early play besides Erebos. It's not imperative that you land him on turn 3 every game, but getting him down early means you can start drawing cards as needed sooner. For the most part, he's our turn 3 plan. As such, when deciding whether to keep a hand or not, if it enables a turn 3 Erebos I'm likely to keep it. Let's go over a few sample hands.
The first order of business is to begin developing your manabase. Ideally, you'll have a mana rock to deploy tso you can power out an early Erebos to give you something to invest your mana into. Other than that, hold steady and just make your innocuous little land drops each turn until you can cast him. If you have a 2 cost removal spell and a particularly threatening creature comes out, such as a reanimated Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur or Gaddock Teeg, go ahead and remove them. Otherwise, be very stingy about your spot removal when a board wipe like Damnation can mop up for you. There are specific cards that you'll want to play before Erebos such as Tainted Aether, No Mercy, or Lethal Vapors. Anything that will slow the game down is advantageous to you. Otherwise, your priority should be on getting your commander out as soon as possible.
By this point, you should have a reasonable manabase and either Erebos and/or a disruptive permanent in play. You'll want to continue developing your manabase, of course, perhaps even tutoring for Cabal Coffers or Crypt Ghast if the situation allows. This is also the phrase where Erebos's card draw is most important since it allows you to dig with almost reckless abandon. Since the correct play for many decks is to pressure your life total to limit the amount you can spend on drawing cards, you'll want to play defense here by wiping the board or playing an anti-creature permanent. Depending on the pod, you'll have to make a judgment call about whether or not to turn Erebos into a creature. If you're facing a lot of creatures it can be beneficial to do so, but against decks packing exile removal (primarily white) you're probably better off holding back. Indeed, sandbagging some of your disruptive permanents in the event yours are wiped out is the smart play here. You don't want to overcommit and run head first into Merciless Eviction or Fracturing Gust if you can help it. I've found that two disruptive permanents are generally sufficient to slow down the game enough without drawing too much heat. Myojin of Night's Reach and Mind Twist are savage cards at this time as well.
You've made it this far and things are looking pretty good for you. You'll likely have an abundance of mana and a way to convert that into cards via Erebos as well as domination of the board. If you have successfully left your opponents adrift without much action, the next logical step is to finish them off with a giant Exsanguinate, Torment of Hailfire, or Death Cloud. If the other decks have managed to hold on through your attrition, I will typically tutor up Yawgmoth's Will to bury them in value. Replaying the tutor you used to find it in the first place is a great start, as is recurring board wipes and discard. On the other hand, if you've somehow found yourself behind at this point, Yawgmoth's Will and Decree of Pain will catapult you right back into relevance.
Midrange. The natural prey of this deck. Our disruption suite is tailored to deal with the midrangey battlecruiser decks that comprise so much of the overall EDH meta. They just can't keep up with the constant stream of cards you draw. You'll bury them in removal to the point where they will have little to no board and few to no cards in hand. Once they're floundering you're free to finish them off with whatever you have on hand.
Non-blue decks. Since we play lots of sorceries and instants, non-blue decks can't interact with us very well since they have limited interaction with the stack. Being able to resolve your win conditions uninterrupted is a huge advantage over these decks.
Voltron and other commander-centric decks. We run a lot of removal, and most decks that rely heavily on their commander to function will fold to us. There are exceptions, like Derevi, Empyrial Tactician and planeswalker commanders, but for regular ol' creature commanders that don't cheat the commander tax you're in good shape. Smart players will target you first because of their disadvantage but you're well equipped to handle them.
Fast combo decks. There's just no way for this deck to consistently keep pace with a combo deck that wins on turn 3. I used to run Sadistic Sacrament as a vain attempt to preemptively disrupt these decks, but it didn't work out that way and was a dead draw against other decks. If you find yourself in a pod with a competitive EDH combo deck, the best thing to do is to politic against them and hope one of the other decks can stop them.
Mana denial. Winter Orb and Armageddon are backbreaking against us. More so than other decks, we rely on our lands to fuel our doublers like Cabal Coffers and Crypt Ghast in order to make our expensive, big plays. Without them, we're dead in the water because we can't realistically recover in time before the opponent playing the denial wins. If you know someone is playing mana denial it's a good idea to go after them first. If they whine, tell them you know what they did.
Powerful enchantments and artifacts. Black notoriously has problems with artifacts and enchantments, so it's no surprise that they can give you trouble. Running Oblivion Stone and All is Dust and the tutors to find them helps to alleviate this problem but they'll still be a thorn in your side. Cards like Sword of Feast and Famine, Necropotence, and opposing gods will give you fits. We're not even going to talk about a turn 1 Sol Ring into a signet.
Note: This log is not exhaustive as there were many undocumented changes made in its history. Still, it serves as a point of reference to its general evolution.
- Wretched Confluence: Again, I like versatility, but in this particular deck it feels lackluster.
- Charcoal Diamond: I hate ETBT rocks in this deck, even if it does produce black mana.
+ Suffer the Past: GY hate that can potentially kill a player.
+ Torment of Hailfire: This is the kind of card this deck was built for.
+ Descent into Madness: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.
Descent is probably going to be a rotating slot for trying out Lethal Vapors and Tainted Æther.
- Descent into Madness
+ Lethal Vapors
Worst Fears has always been met with a groan from my playgroup, so in the interest of not being ganged up on I'm cutting it. Also, it's an 8 mana card that doesn't necessarily even eliminate a player. There's a lot of card draw in my meta so to counteract it I'm adding Mind Sludge. It's just such a powerful haymaker at only 5 mana.
- Worst Fears
+ Mind Sludge
- Diabolic Tutor: It's just a bad, unnecessary tutor, frankly. It always felt like a placeholder for something better, and it's past time to cut it.
- Black Market: It's a cool devotion enabler and has the potential to generate a lot of mana over time, but five mana for a card that takes a while to charge up isn't in the deck's interest.
- Lethal Vapors: In the right environment this is a powerful card. Here, though, with the large amount of creature removal I run it doesn't pull its weight. It doesn't stop someone from comboing off the turn they destroy the Vapors, which is a very relevant downside.
- No Mercy: I want to like this card. It's an okay rattlesnake card and effectively saves a lot of life, which is relevant with a deck so aggressive with its life total, but it doesn't actually do anything to affect the board. When the game goes to 1v1, it doesn't save you from an alpha strike, and again, the deck is already so heavily anti-creature that it's often just +2 devotion.
- Spreading Plague: It keeps the board relatively creature light, but there are a lot more black creatures in my meta lately and losing Crypt Ghast or Nirkana Revenant feels pretty bad.
- Magus of the Coffers: No matter how many times I try to make this guy work it just doesn't happen. Waiting a whole turn cycle is fine if you can consistently cast him on turn 4 but after that he becomes a giant target for removal.
+ Ankh of Mishra: Punish mana ramping and fetching for two mana. I haven't tried this one yet, but there has been a mild influx of more green based ramp decks in my meta so this could produce a lot of damage for a single card.
+ Phyrexian Totem: This card is a hoot. The mana rock aspect is mediocre, but pairing it with a way to pressure life totals makes it a fine card for the deck. Considering I pack so much creature removal the Negator is able to attack cleanly fairly often. Just watch out for Lightning Bolt.
+ Infernal Darkness: It had to be done. I already have a lot of removal, so I'm adding this in to help combat ramp and control decks. When cast on a clean board, it can buy you several turns to build back up or press the advantage.
+ Ob Nixilis Reignited: Okay, you got me, I like modal effects in EDH. Versatility is virtual card advantage after all. Plus, it's not entirely unreasonable for me to ultimate a planeswalker, and Obby's ultimate is perfectly on theme with the deck.
+ Massacre Wurm: Devotion enabler, board wiper, life drainer. And easy include if I can get past my aversion towards creatures.
And last, but certainly not least, I put Ad Nauseam back in the deck. After being called, and I quote, "an idiot," by one of my playgroup for cutting it, I remembered in Chainer it could be used to put yourself back in the game if you were far behind, and that was enough justification for putting it back in. It's one of the most powerful cards in the format even outside of combo.
- Necromancy: I've used the alternate casting method a handful of times which has saved my life, but by and large this is a generic goodstuff card that usually ends up snatching something random instead of one of my mana doublers.
+ Liliana Vess: You know, it's been years since I've sleeved her up, but this deck has the potential to protect planeswalkers fairly well and the original Liliana can get out of hand if she lasts a few turns. Her ultimate is a little lackluster in a deck without many creatures, but it's still a Rise of the Dark Realms. Plus, with the changes to how Planeswalkers work, why not?
+ Tainted AEther: It's a little too close to stax for me normally, but slowing the game down is in the deck's best interests ultimately and Tainted AEther is a giant dump on the game after a board wipe. While it's symmetrical the deck runs few enough creatures that you'll only have to sacrifice a few lands here or there.
Cards on the chopping block:
? Reanimate / Animate Dead: See above about Necromancy. Ideally, you're grabbing Crypt Ghast back before a huge Exsanguinate or your opponent's Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur, but most of the time they end up grabbing something comparatively innocuous just to generate some midgame value. On the other hand, killing and reanimating Consecrated Sphinx is something I love to do.
? Maga, Traitor to Mortals: Probably the worst drain in the deck and I'm pretty good on that front. I do enjoy killing people with Savior of Kamigawa cards, and leaving around a huge body is impressive, but I think Drain Life's life gain and Profane Command's reanimation/removal are typically more relevant.
? Read the Bones: It's a great card. Digging four deep for three mana is a good deal, but unfortunately good deals are no longer good enough to occupy deck slots. Sign in Blood and Night's Whisper come down on turn 2 to smooth things out (which is incredible when you had to mulligan down to six) but turn 3 is just a bit too slow.
? mana rock: Mind Stone and Fellwar Stone are both candidates for removal since I'm wanting to add a basic land to the deck to get it back up to 37 mana producing lands.
- Tainted AEther: It's a fantastic card, no doubt, but the deck can already be a tad oppressive and adding land destruction makes it pretty brutal. This is 100% a concession made to keep the deck semi-fun to play against and not at all indicative of its playability.
- Read the Bones: Worse than Sign in Blood/Night's Whisper early on, which is where these types of cards shine. It's excellent in the mid and late game, but that's where my deck is strongest and digging for four is often less powerful than straight tutoring or drawing a ton with other methods. On the other hand I wouldn't be sad to find a way for it to slot back in, because it really is pretty good.
- Mind Sludge: I had to make a cut somewhere and this card is only relevant in the mid and late game which is typically when hands are low, making the card superfluous. I included it as anti-blue tech for obvious reasons but it doesn't happen that way very often. Compares unfavorably with Mind Twist, which is just as strong in the mid and late game but can still be powerful in the early game with a tiny bit of mana ramp.
- Reanimate: It feels very weird to cut this, but I haven't really noticed its absence. It's a generic goodstuff card without much synergy in the deck, and the life loss when stealing a fatty from someone else's graveyard can be a legitimate turn off later in the game. I'm not arguing that it's not a fantastically powerful card, just that it doesn't fit here. I don't run any real fatties, and so this card is worthless until a wrath or two when graveyards fill up, and at that point Animate Dead and Necromancy are almost as good.
- Maga, Traitor to Mortals: As much as I like killing people with cards from the worst set in Modern Magic, the large body just isn't as relevant as the life gain from Consume Spirit/Drain Life or the versatility of Profane Command. I also got real tired of the political jokes real quick.
+ Bloodchief Ascension: I had never tried it before, but now I'm a true believer. It can be a little awkward to get it active sometimes, especially when the table dogpiles you, but left unchecked you can run away with the game even without Mindcrank. Board wipe? Everybody take six, I go up eighteen. Discard? Oops, your hand is gone and you're below ten. Torment of Hailfire? Time to scoop 'em up. The major downside is that it's a legitimate threat that can turn you into the archenemy, but hey, no risk, no reward.
+ No Mercy: As I pointed out earlier, it's not the best card in the deck, but I started thinking about how often it sent creatures in other directions which makes it a lot better than what I thought was effectively just a life gain card. No, it doesn't stop an alpha strike, but that's not what the card is there for. The deck is all about incremental value and chipping away at opposing life totals works to the deck's advantage. It also has a huge bullseye on it for removal since people often think it's a bigger threat than it actually is, which is relevant in a deck with so many powerful artifacts and enchantments. : Target player discards Krosan Grip isn't the worst play in the world when you've got Necro, Painful Quandary, or Caged Sun in hand.
+ Necromancy: It's back. The end.
+ Words of Waste: It's also back. Locking people out at their draw step is strong, and with Mind Sludge cut I needed another source of discard. Enabling graveyard decks is always a concern but with Bojuka Bog, Suffer the Past, opposing graveyard hate, and killing the player are all means of dealing with them. It also has incredible art.
+ Oblivion Stone: I loved and played it in Chainer but never put it in this Erebos list because of all the enchantments/artifacts I play. In Chainer, I played mostly creatures, so losing one or two to a full wipe never felt too bad because I could just bring them back. Not so much here, but Oblivion Stone has such a powerful chilling effect on the board that slows things down and allows my incremental damage dealers to do some work. In that respect it's a lot like an Infernal Darkness that eventually blows up the world. Besides, have you seen the new Iconic Masters art? It's pretty good.
+ Leechridden Swamp: A Swamp that comes into play tapped but is incredibly on theme. It should probably just be a basic but I dream of the day I kill someone with it. It will eventually happen, right?
- Drain Life
- Polluted Bonds
+ Night of Souls' Betrayal
Night of Souls' Betrayal on the other hand has performed better than I thought it would. Obviously there's quite a few Edgar Markov decks running around lately and being able to completely shut down their gameplan until they can find their enchantment removal is incredibly strong. Even against midrangey decks with larger creatures being able to shave 3-4 damage off of a big attack is surprisingly relevant. It's the perfect kind of card to fit into a toolbox tutor strategy. True, Pestilence is better most of the time, but switching to Snow-Covered Swamps for a second Pestilence is off the table for aesthetic purposes and they're just different enough to perform separate roles.
Silence the Believers has been on my radar recently. I lost an exile effect in Scour from Existence, and sometimes a creature just needs to not be around anymore. 4cmc for spot removal is steep, but the scalability of it into the late game is attractive to me. I also get to make quips like, "Your first amendment privileges are being revoked," or, "Time to shut up."
While we're on the subject of 4cmc removal, Tendrils of Corruption has got to go. It's not terrible, but 4cmc for a card that doesn't necessarily kill a creature isn't a card this deck wants to cast, even with the added life gain. I have done the occasional techy play of casting it on my commander to save myself from an opposing burn spells, but those are niche situations compared to the times I've drawn into it and wished it was any other spot removal card.
Finally, there's Sorin Markov. It's time for us to part ways. I don't think I was ever sufficiently critical of the card, which is why it's lasted so long. It's a powerful effect, but since it's single target and doesn't directly kill anyone. Sure, it occasionally creates a blood in the water situation where other players will opportunistically take out someone I Sorined, but more often it just upsets people. One player in particular recently became the King of Salt and scooped immediately afterwards. Beyond that it's honestly superfluous. Incremental damage with the life total cap Erebos imposes is more subtle and thus more valuable as a life total reducer than a bomby reduction. That's what Exsanguinate and Torment of Hailfire are for, and they actually kill opponents. Also, on the off chance someone manages to remove Erebos and gain infinite life and commander damage isn't a reasonable plan, there's always the back up infinite mana combo.
- Tendrils of Corruption
- Sorin Markov
+ Silence the Believers
That leaves two slots open and I'm more than willing to experiment with different options. Snuff Out, Dismember, Slaughter Pact, or Malicious Affliction for more cheap spot removal? Praetor's Grasp to find Sol Rings, other goodies, and combo pieces? Sudden Spoiling to stop combos and pseudo-Fog alpha strikes? The return of Drain Life, Death Cloud, or Read the Bones? I'm all ears!
Sudden Spoiling surprised me. Casting it on LabMan to cause the combo player to lose felt great. A lot of the time it's just an overcosted Darkness, but my deck can easily handle the negative card advantage via my general.
Silence the Believers hasn't been used much, so I'm leaving it in until I get the proper chance to test it. I've been toying with the idea of going back to Dismember due to its low cost but not being able to hit Eldrazi or other significant fatties is a real drawback.
The deck's primary weaknesses are speedy combo decks and creature-light control decks. To that end, I've considered adding in more hate for those strategies.
Torpor Orb comes to mind immediately. While my deck is very effective at killing creatures, it's less effective at preventing them from coming into play in the first place. Enter the Battlefield Dragon Highlander is a thing, and Orb stops that thing cold. Windmill slamming it against creature-based combo or UGvalue.dec seems good. The only card it effects in my deck is Gary so it seems like a solid option to experiment with. Suck it, Palinchron/Deadeye Navigator.
Similar to the above, Pithing Needle has come up on my radar again. There will always be activated ability generals, powerful artifacts, and planeswalkers around, so I don't see it being a dead card very often. It's also unlikely to attract attention from players it hasn't been honed in on, which is relevant in a deck as mean as this one. Eat it, Palinchron/Deadeye Navigator.
Mind Sludge is never far from my mind as a card I'd like to slip back into the deck. Even on turn 5 with 4 Swamps out it's a crippling effect. Blue-based decks are very powerful and putting them in topdeck mode can be the difference between winning and losing.
Finally, the big reveal: I'm playing Death Cloud. The first list I made included it, but after some conscientious consideration I decided it's too mean to blow up the world. Well, after some more thinking and playing with Torment of Hailfire, I realized Death Cloud isn't a land destruction spell, it's a "y'all should just scoop now" spell. No hands, no lands, and no creatures means most decks just aren't coming back. Indeed, when combined with my artifacts and enchantments as well as floating mana to pump into Erebos to break parity even more it's just brutal. It fits both X-spell Tribal and Death Tribal, so I'm moving forward with it. Damn the salt. If only I could afford Nether Void.
As for cuts, well, some have been a long time coming. The deck is pretty well tuned at this point, but I have considered some of the under performers.
Night of Souls' Betrayal has to go. Edgar Markov decks have fallen out of popularity around here, and I have very little trouble with go-wide strategies. It's a solid choice for some lists, and I love the flavor, but it doesn't pull its weight properly here, even with the devotion.
Words of Waste is getting the axe again. Yes, locking out someone at their draw step when the game goes to 1v1 is very powerful, but enabling graveyard decks and hurting potential allies makes it a bit unwieldy.
Animate Dead/Necromancy have been on my watch list for awhile now, and I think the time has come to retire them. As I've said before they're generic goodstuff cards that don't progress the deck's gameplan. Despite being flavorful and on theme they're functionally very boring. Good cards, but boring.
Leechridden Swamp has been activated less than a handful of times and made zero impact on the game. On the other hand, it entering tapped has set me back enough times to warrant its removal. So long janky tech, hello basic land.
- Night of Souls' Betrayal
- Words of Waste
- Animate Dead
- Leechridden Swamp
+ Torpor Orb
+ Pithing Needle
+ Mind Sludge
+ Death Cloud
- 2 Swamp
- Blighted Fen
- Pithing Needle
+ Animate Dead
+ Polluted Bonds
+ Volrath's Stronghold
As it turns out the list I posted here was only 98 cards for awhile. Oops!
The physical deck was playing an extra Swamp so I cut that one and one that was supposed to be there. I still have 36 mana producing lands which is fine since I'm running seven or eight sources of cheap ramp depending on how you define Dark Ritual. Honestly, I would like to keep one of them, but there are just so many cards I want to run that I don't mind cutting a boring land for something spicy. Something like cards I had already cut.
I was wrong about Animate Dead and Necromancy. Yes, they're generic goodstuff cards for the deck since I'm not playing reanimator, but what excellent generic goodstuff cards they are. There weren't any times where I truly missed them, but there were moments when they would've been helpful. Sometimes the deck just needs a blocker and any generic fatty will do, and sometimes there's the opportunity to grab a Vorinclex, Voice of Hunger to run away with the game. Plus, as enchantments, they work towards devotion and turning Erebos on which gives us a great blocker even if he is more vulnerable to removal.
Speaking of enabling devotion, Polluted Bonds is back. It's not great, but it's on theme and the late game life gain can be relevant. I mean, Boundless Realms is a thing, as is Splendid Reclamation. Look, I said it wasn't great, what more do you want from me?
As for Volrath's Stronghold, honestly I forgot it was a card until someone used it against me the other day. While I don't run many creatures in the deck, the ones I do run are potent enough to want to recur.
Pithing Needle was a disappointment. It's an okay silver bullet against some commanders but often it doesn't have a great target, and besides, most kill spells would do something similar. It's also kind of boring.
Blighted Fen seems okay in theory since I run Crucible of Worlds, but six mana for a Diabolic Edict is pretty mediocre, even if its recurrable. I've used it a handful of times but most often it sits in play as a crappy colorless mana generating land. It's not Volrath's Stronghold by a mile (or five).
EDIT: Didn't want to double post but after some consideration I'm going to try rogerandover's suggestion of Venser's Journal from six months ago. It's a five mana card that doesn't really do anything, but I'm willing to put aside my skepticism. The deck can burn through its life total pretty quickly and having a way to gain large chunks of life at a time to buy you more time for your attrition cards to do work could be useful. Also, the no maximum hand size part is somewhat relevant when your general draws cards.
What to cut, though?
Praetor's Grasp has continued to be primarily a mediocre tutor. Hardcore cEDH combo decks are pretty rare at my stomping grounds, so like I said earlier I don't get much use from it as a combo hoser. Sadistic Sacrament is a better Jester's Cap effect since it removes more cards and can be kicked in the late game to neuter an opponent. Grasp has slightly more utility, but I dislike relying on my opponents for usable cards.
Ob Nixilis Reignited is a card I go back and forth on frequently. All of his abilities are good, and due to all of the wipes and removal I play it's not uncommon for me to get his ultimate online. That said, there are times where he's a five mana sorcery speed Muder. Still, he's rather versatile and exemplifies the core themes of the deck, so it's kind of a pet card.
I'm leaning towards cutting Praetor's Grasp. It doesn't bring me joy when I draw it which is probably the best reason to cut a card.
- Praetor's Grasp
+ Venser's Journal
+ Phyrexian Scriptures
Two additions to a niche deck is about as much as you can ask for in a new set. So, what to cut?
- Volrath's Stronghold
It's... okay. It always feels nice to get back Crypt Ghast, but with only six creatures in the deck there are many times that it's just a Wastes. I feel like it's the weakest nonbasic in the deck and I think it's a mistake to cut a basic Swamp given the land that's replacing it.
- Crucible of Worlds
Originally added as Cabal Coffers protection, I've used it for that function only a handful of times. There's also the Strip Mine lock, but that strategy is underwhelming in multiplayer. I'm not running fetches, which greatly increase the power of Crucible, especially so in decks that starve for mana. Most of the time I draw it it's a dead card, and I only tutor for it when Coffers is down and I've already cast Yawgmoth's Will. It's a safe cut.
Also, Venser's Journal sucks. Praetor's Grasp is back!
- Bloodchief Ascension
- Painful Quandary
- Phyrexian Arena
- Phyrexian Scriptures
- Polluted Bonds
- Ob Nixilis Reignited
You'll notice a trend. I took out most of the group slug effects. I had taken a brief break from EDH to play Arena and D&D, but when I returned I found myself getting dogpiled due to how annoying my group remembered them being. That's fine. I was starting to tire of them anyway and wanted a change. Ankh was too symmetrical and often contributed to my death, Ascension was increasingly difficult to turn on, and Bonds was just too slow to make much of a meaningful difference.
As for Painful Quandary, after thinking about it, I found it either useless or winmore. Popping it out early means opponents just take the life loss and either remove it or pummel me, and popping it late when I'm ahead doesn't really help me to stay on top. Similarly, the only time I saw Phyrexian Scriptures it resolved and was immediately destroyed before it could go off. It was as awkward as I thought it would be. Ob Nixilis Reignited isn't a bad card, but it's not particularly great, and I wanted to make room for some new additions. There's a good possibility he'll be back.
The most controversial drop is Phyrexian Arena. Long considered a staple for decks running black, there are just too many times where I'll topdeck it and wish it was anything else from immediate card draw to removal. It created too many feelbad moments and I think it compares poorly to something as simple as Read the Bones. Sometimes you've got to dig deep and Arena doesn't let you do that. Sure, it's great on turn three, but that doesn't happen very often.
+ Charcoal Diamond
+ Coldsteel Heart
+ Decree of Pain
+ Drain Life
+ Read the Bones
+ Shrouded Lore
+ Tainted Aether
The mana rocks are here because I'm trying to maximize the chances of landing Erebos on turn 3. While topdecking them in the late game isn't ideal, it's not the worst thing in the world either since the deck is very, very mana hungry, even with a low curve. They're not flashy, but they get the job done. Drain Life and Read the Bones likewise are back for redundancy purposes. I have nothing interesting to say about them.
Decree of Pain is a monster of a card. Ripping it off the top when you're facing lethal the next turn is such a massive change in the game state. It's no Cyclonic Rift into Amnesia, but drawing 5+ cards and wiping the board is incredible. Don't forget that it has cycling. Don't get greedy and hold onto it hoping to draw into enough mana to hardcast it. I know I sound like a broken record about versatility, but it really does make a difference.
Tainted Aether is back. It's just too good not to run. Unlike Spreading Plague which can backfire and kill your important mana doubler creatures, Tainted Aether's drawback is minimal since saccing a land only to double the rest of your remaining Swamps is a net gain. Keeping your opponents from developing their boards is very, very strong. Expect it to eat enchantment removal as early as someone draws it. That it's such a target is telling about the power level of the card.
Finally, Shrouded Lore. I'm not convinced it belongs here, but I think it's worth testing. I've had it lead to some early game blowouts by recurring Demonic Tutor to find two of my most powerful cards, but I haven't seen it at all in the mid to late game where I suspect it suffers most. However, the fact that I can politic with it to return vital spells that are useful against the person obviously in the lead makes me think it might be worthwhile.
Underworld Dreams is coming out again (RIP). I'm really attached to it, and it puts out a respectable amount of damage for its cost, but not affecting the board state and not applying too much pressure to life totals weakens it. Glacial Chasm, as discussed, is coming in to replace it, as is a Swamp coming out for Blast Zone. Finally, I'm cutting Wayfarer's Bauble for Phyrexian Totem. Bauble is an excellent turn one play, but on every other turn it's awkward. +1 Swamp count is nice and it enables a turn 3 Erebos, but Totem turns into a reasonable threat after a board wipe. Lowering life totals to make your X spells lethal is a solid use of your mana. Totem is also a much, much better late game topdeck.
- Underworld Dreams
- Sudden Death
- Wayfarer's Bauble
+ Glacial Chasm
+ Blast Zone
+ Malicious Affliction
+ Phyrexian Totem
Necromancy or Dance of the Dead are going as well. Three reanimation cards in a deck with few targets, even if they're really good, is probably too much. Two is less than three, and the name is better, but I'm not sure if Dance is the better choice since Necromancy can also be used in an emergency to find a blocker or steal a dead ETB critter at instant speed.
- Font of Agonies
- a reanimation spell
+ Mana Web
+ open slot
Also from Horizons is Defile. I love cheap removal and it's very difficult to get cheaper than this. It scales reasonably well and gets around indestructible/regeneration. When's the last time you saw someone regenerate a creature?
While we're talking about additions, what do we think about Dark Depths? Most of us already run Thespian's Stage so adding the other half of the combo seems plausible as an alternative win condition. The token is black, after all.
Finally, while I haven't been able to play much recently, I did manage to get in a game and threw Polluted Bonds back in to fill the open slot and man, did it perform. I went second and landed it on turn 4, so it generated quite a bit of life for me and lowered life totals enough to squeeze out a barely lethal Torment of Hailfire before facing lethal attacks after my turn. I liked it a lot.
As for cuts, well, I think it's time for Praetor's Grasp, Smallpox, Malicious Affliction, and Reliquary Tower to go. Grasp was always hit or miss and I haven't used it to preempt a combo in a long time. Smallpox feels too mean and the indiscriminate nature of it doesn't help with politics. Affliction is being traded out for other removal. And Tower, while useful with a general that draws cards, is generally superfluous. I think I'm running too many mana producing lands and Tower seems to be the weakest one.
- Praetor's Grasp
- Malicious Affliction
- Reliquary Tower
+ Dead of Winter
+ Withering Wisps
+ Polluted Bonds
+ Dark Depths
On the bright side, Scheming Symmetry looks bonkers. Not only does it have obvious political implications ("you find enchantment removal for me, I'll find a wrath for you"), with Erebos out in the late game it might as well be a Grim Tutor, which I only don't run due to financial reasons. I really like this card and fully expect it to perform admirably.
I've made some other cuts as well. Dark Depths never activated, and upon further reflection I realized that it was superfluous. Blanking enemy creature removal is one of the strong suits of the deck, and Marit Lage is a magnet for Swords to Plowshares and friends. I never drew Withering Wisps, but I'm sure it would perform only slightly worse than Pestilence. However, I'm cutting the Snow-Covered Swamps for simple basics and as a result Wisps is unplayable. Aesthetics matter.
As for what to put in, since I'm in a new meta that I suspect to be more competent in both play and deckbuilding, I'm retrying Shrouded Lore. I think I'll be able to pull some political shenanigans down here. Malicious Affliction is back in over Defile, and Star Compass is just another cheap mana rock to enable a turn 3 Erebos. With the 8 cheap rocks, I have approximately a 55% chance (if I did the math right) to see one by turn two, which means that about half the time I should be able to power him out a turn early.
- Dead of Winter
- Dark Depths
- Withering Wisps
+ Scheming Symmetry
+ Shrouded Lore
+ Malicious Affliction
+ Star Compass
Both Throne of Eldraine and Theros: Beyond Death were kind for the deck, contributing a whopping five cards to the deck. It doesn't sound like much, but for a well-tuned deck it's a significant difference.
- Go for the Throat
- Malicious Affliction
- Scheming Symmetry
- Liliana Vess
- Phyrexian Totem
- Suffer the Past
- Reliquary Tower
- Words of Waste
+ Drag to the Underworld
+ Murderous Rider
+ Agonizing Remorse
+ Massacre Wurm
+ Arcane Signet
+ Erebos's Intervention
+ Storage Matrix
+ Underworld Dreams
Go for the Throat and Malicious Affliction have both failed me on multiple occasions due to their restrictions, so they're both out for Drag to the Underworld and Murderous Rider. Drag will often be only 2cmc with no restriction due to the large amount of devotion the deck has, and Rider is - get this - more versatile.
Scheming Symmetry was pretty mediocre. There were times where it helped me win, yes, but there were also times where it sat useless in my hand. Similarly, I was increasingly frustrated with Liliana Vess lately, as there were several games where she was a severely overcosted Vampiric Tutor, just like I originally thought. As a result, they get cut while I bring in Agonizing Remorse and Massacre Wurm. Wurm is largely there as a way to reduce my opponents' life totals, though the ability to wipe out token armies is handy as well. Remorse is a nice, versatile card that helps combat countermagic and combo as well as graveyard decks. I'm telling y'all, embrace pinpoint discard.
Phyrexian Totem for Arcane Signet is an obvious switch. Totem's cost was prohibitive and frankly, it was a pet card to begin with. Additionally, Erebos's Intervention is a much better Suffer the Past. As a modal card, it appeals to me.
Reliquary Tower was long a win more land, and I began to suspect that 36 mana producing lands was just a bit too high for a deck with so much draw power and so many rocks. I decided to give ol' Storage Matrix a shot as it's a disruptive card against several archetypes and affects my deck minimally. It's also on theme for giving my opponents difficult decisions without locking them out of the game completely.
Finally, as I became frustrated with Words of Waste and love the new art for Underworld Dreams, I switched them out. Gotta have at least one pet card in every deck, right?
If you've made it this far, I just want to say thank you for reading. I put a lot of work into this and I'd hate to have it all go to waste. Hopefully you learned a thing or two and were inspired to make your own MBC deck with which to torture the masses. Just make sure you don't get punched in the face for blowing everything up. The salt only gives you more power.
Also, I've set up a Discord server for mono-black enthusiasts if you have any questions, concerns, or feedback. Come hang out.
Finally, a huge special thanks to @lyonhaert for both immense feedback on the list as well as updating the old format from MTGS to MTGN syntax. Without him, this post wouldn't exist.
If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present.
- Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus