Mono Black Theorycraft Decks – Throne of Eldraine Standard

murderous-rider-art-jenn-ravenna
Murderous Rider (Throne of Eldraine) Art by Jenn Ravenna

Welcome to the second theorycrafting session for the upcoming Throne of Eldraine Standard (our first one was for the new version of Mono Red Aggro if you missed that). This is where we take the opportunity to review the new cards in Throne of Eldraine for Standard constructed play in Magic: The Gathering, and how they fit into the overall picture.

Note: As of writing this article, Throne of Eldraine is still half way spoiled – so who knows what more will be added! This will be updated as we know more.

Introduction

We are going to start this article off with a brief history. One of my most memorable moments in Standard is the Theros Standard where they introduced the Devotion mechanic. There were two mono colored decks that dominated Standard for a while – Mono Blue Devotion and Mono Black Devotion. If anybody was around back then and remembers, this was the curve of the deck:

The deck was also supported by powerful support spells like Hero’s Downfall (creature and planeswalker removal) and Underworld Connections (extra card draw each turn).

How is this relevant you say? Well first thing, is we are going to be visiting Theros again in the next set after Throne of Eldraine and we could see the potential return of the devotion mechanic. The second reason, is we are getting a nice set of black cards that could support this archetype pretty well, as well as the addition of Dread Presence in Core Set 2020.

While we don’t have the powerhouse cards like Thoughtseize, I believe in the next Standard season we can see the potential return of Mono Black decks in various flavors due to the focus of Throne of Eldraine on single colored spells and the Adamant mechanic. As a plus, we are getting access to cards that serve similar functions as the above classic Mono Black cards!

Then you may ask, why would we want to go Mono Black and not combine them with other colors? The primary reason would be that mana becomes worse with Checklands rotating out and Shocklands dealing damage to yourself, allowing aggro decks to prey on you. You don’t have to worry about mana fixing and thus is more consistent while aiming to keep the quality of each card.

Mono Black Cards that are Leaving

Thankfully, not many key cards are leaving other than some nice removal spells. There are also some nice nonspecific colorless cards such as Treasure Map, Thaumatic Compass and Karn, Scion of Urza that are leaving the format, but they just that: Colorless cards that can fit into any deck but not specific for Mono Black, so can be replaceable.

Mono Black Cards that are Staying

Black has a surprisingly large amount of weapons in the arsenal – whether it be aggro, midrange or control! The release of Core Set 2020 was the pivotal moment for this archetype as it gave it a lot of tools. Dread Presence and Knight of the Ebon Legion are the best cards for this color, and they should be your reason to play Mono Black. Other than the pictured above cards we also have much more:

  • Yarok’s Fenlurker: Not an aggressive card by nature, and more suited for midrange decks.
  • Embodiment of Agonies: The Tarmogoyf of Standard, it requires some work to make it good and maybe better in a control shell where you can dump creatures the graveyard.
  • Midnight Reaper: This can serve as a strong value card especially in a midrange shell.
  • Rotting Regisaur: Super aggressive card with not much synergy but being a 7/6 for 3 mana is hard to look past.
  • Ritual of Soot: A nice boardwipe for a midrange or control shell.
  • Doom Whisperer: Strong card, but pretty helpless against Teferi, Time Raveler and would be a huge tempo loss.
  • Massacre Girl: Another potential boardwipe card.
  • Ugin, the Ineffable: Decent value planeswalker.

In addition to all these cards to work with, we are also getting some strong options in Throne of Eldraine.

Mono Black Cards that are Coming

  • Ayara, First of Locthwain: The card is average, even in an aggro deck. It would suit better in a sacrifice or a token theme deck (like Field of the Dead).
  • Castle Locthwain: The card is also almost free to play in most black decks, and especially provides value in an aggro deck where your hand will be almost empty at later turns anyway.
  • Witch’s Cottage: You don’t want too many of these as the risk of coming into play tapped is there.

Throne of Eldraine previews have shown that we are getting many cards pushed towards in each of the five colors, and Black is no different. In fact, from what we have seen so far, it looks to be the most promising if you are going for the mono colored path combined with the cards already in Standard. Some other cards worth mentioning:

  • Piper of the Swarm: It’s no Pack Rat, but it can be a must-answer threat if you are running a control deck especially if you can curve it out on the second turn.
  • Witch’s Vengeance: Could be a nice sideboard option for midrange or control decks.
  • Stonecoil Serpent: A catch-all card. Black does not have the ramp to make it even better, but could be a nice option to have.

As for new sideboard options, we are getting a cycle of self-hate cards, and Specter’s Shriek is almost as good as Thoughtseize. I think all four copies are worth the slot in any black deck.

Reave Soul and Epic Downfall are more specific removal spells that has the potential to hit a variety of targets, depending on the requirements in the meta where Legion’s End does not reach. As mentioned above, Witch’s Vengeance is another good sideboard candidate.

Decklists

Without further ado, let’s delve into the potential Mono Black decks in the new Standard.

This version of Mono Black Aggro tries not to rely on synergies too much, so that individual cards can work well on its own.

4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105
4 Gutterbones (RNA) 76
4 Blacklance Paragon (ELD) 79
4 Order of Midnight (ELD) 99
4 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97
4 Rotting Regisaur (M20) 111
3 Midnight Reaper (GRN) 77
4 Spawn of Mayhem (RNA) 85
3 Rankle, Master of Pranks (ELD) 101
2 Specter's Shriek (ELD) 106
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
16 Swamp (ANA) 63
4 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
2 Witch's Cottage (ELD) 249

3 Noxious Grasp (M20) 110
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
2 Epic Downfall (ELD) 85
2 Specter's Shriek (ELD) 106
2 Duress (M20) 97
2 Cavalier of Night (M20) 94
1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89
1 Sorcerous Spyglass (XLN) 248

Smitten Swordmaster is the new Gray Merchant of Asphodel in this deck. The idea is to get the life total low enough and finish off, and it is entirely possible for you to grind out wins with cards like Ayara and Rankle.

4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105
4 Foulmire Knight (ELD) 90
4 Smitten Swordmaster (ELD) 105
4 Order of Midnight (ELD) 99
4 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97
4 Blacklance Paragon (ELD) 79 
3 Midnight Reaper (GRN) 77
4 Oathsworn Knight (ELD) 98
2 Rankle, Master of Pranks (ELD) 101
1 Cavalier of Night (M20) 94
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
2 Duress (M20) 97
16 Swamp (ANA) 63
4 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
2 Witch's Cottage (ELD) 249 

4 Noxious Grasp (M20) 110
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
2 Epic Downfall (ELD) 85
4 Specter's Shriek (ELD) 106
1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89
1 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage (WAR) 83
1 Sorcerous Spyglass (XLN) 248

This is more closer to the classic Mono Black Devotion deck, and this is where Rankle, Master of Pranks can also shine so you can try and win the attrition battle. Cards like Command the Dreadhorde could work okay here as well.

4 Knight of the Ebon Legion (M20) 105
4 Yarok's Fenlurker (M20) 123
4 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97
2 Midnight Reaper (GRN) 77
4 Dread Presence (M20) 96
3 Rankle, Master of Pranks (ELD) 101
4 Clackbridge Troll (ELD) 84
1 Ugin, the Ineffable (WAR) 2
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
3 Ritual of Soot (GRN) 84
1 Witch's Vengeance (ELD) 111
2 Duress (M20) 97
18 Swamp (XLN) 269
4 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
1 Blast Zone (WAR) 244
2 Witch's Cottage (ELD) 249

2 Noxious Grasp (M20) 110
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
2 Epic Downfall (ELD) 85
1 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage (WAR) 83
4 Specter's Shriek (ELD) 106
1 Massacre Girl (WAR) 99
1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89
1 Sorcerous Spyglass (XLN) 248
1 Witch's Vengeance (ELD) 111

Control decks by nature need to be tailored to the metagame – there are cards like Disfigure and Sorin’s Thirst that are good against aggro decks, and then there are even cards like Murder that can be useful. This deck merely displays all the tools Black has in its arsenal.

4 Piper of the Swarm (ELD) 100
4 Yarok's Fenlurker (M20) 123
4 Murderous Rider (ELD) 97
4 Dread Presence (M20) 96
4 Clackbridge Troll (ELD) 84
1 Ugin, the Ineffable (WAR) 2
1 Liliana, Dreadhorde General (WAR) 97
2 Legion's End (M20) 106
1 Finale of Eternity (WAR) 91
3 Ritual of Soot (GRN) 84
1 Cry of the Carnarium (RNA) 70
1 Witch's Vengeance (ELD) 111
3 Duress (M20) 97
1 Command the Dreadhorde (WAR) 82
16 Swamp (XLN) 269
4 Castle Locthwain (ELD) 241
1 Blast Zone (WAR) 244
1 Witch's Cottage (ELD) 249
2 Temple of Malady (M20) 254
2 Mobilized District (WAR) 249

2 Noxious Grasp (M20) 110
1 Legion's End (M20) 106
1 Epic Downfall (ELD) 85
1 Davriel, Rogue Shadowmage (WAR) 83
4 Specter's Shriek (ELD) 106
1 Massacre Girl (WAR) 99
1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89
1 Sorcerous Spyglass (XLN) 248
1 Witch's Vengeance (ELD) 111 
2 Stonecoil Serpent (ELD) 235

Branching Out

Of course, with all these exciting cards it can be better to branch out into a second or even a third color in the new Standard format. There are a lot of possible combinations that you can go.

For example, the Dimir option seems really strong and difficult to deal with, with access to additional cards like Thought Erasure, Thief of Sanity and Disinformation Campaign. Pairing with Black and Red can give Knights synergy, aggro and aristocrats synergy, and the Golgari pairing gives a tonne of midrange options in the new Standard format. We will be covering these in more detail as more of the set is revealed.

Wrapping Up

The plan was to keep this article relatively short and simple like the last one on Mono Red Aggro Theorycraft, but black will be an extremely deep color in the new Throne of Eldraine Standard that can have a lot of options. We will be discussing pairing with other colors in future articles, but for now we will be covering single colors.

Make sure to check out our decks section for all the up to date decks, and we look forward to discussing the new Standard in the comments below, or at our Discord server!

More Throne of Eldraine Standard Theorycraft

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