Shakedown Heavy Art by Randy Vargas

Standard 2023 Mono Black Aggro Deck Guide – Rotation Proof Decks

Need something new to play, but don't want to spend Wildcards on a deck that won't be legal in a few months? DoggertQBones is back with another rotation proof deck as he goes over Mono Black Aggro and it's obscenely good creature matchups!

Hello everyone! Once again I’m coming back with a deck that you can use now, or after the Standard rotation in September! If you’re unfamiliar with this series, you can check out the link below for the other decks I’ve done so far!

With a full Standard rotation coming soon on September 1, 2022 (MTG Arena release date) with Dominaria United, understanding what’s going to be viable at the start of the format is going to be invaluable in navigating a brand new format. To that end, I’m going to be scouring the available decks in Standard, see what decks are likely to be strong even without the new set, and better yet, you can build and play them right now for a strong deck that won’t lose any new cards!

To accomplish this, the best way is to find strategies that are relatively contained within a set, have powerful synergies, and are strong enough to likely hold up to the test of time. To that end, if we’re going to talk decks, we may as well hit the best of the best going into the new format. As my current favorite Bo1 Standard deck and one that I purport is extremely underrated, today Im covering what Mono Black Aggro might look like after the rotation!

Let’s take a look at the deck.

Mono Black Aggro – Standard 2023
by DoggertQBones
Buy on TCGplayer $119.65
best of 1
9 mythic
18 rare
8 uncommon
25 common
Planeswalkers (2)
Creatures (16)
Shakedown Heavy
Instants (8)
Infernal Grasp
Sorceries (4)
Invoke Despair
Enchantments (6)
Lands (24)
Hostile Hostel
60 Cards

Like my previous articles so far, I’ve been prioritizing decks that don’t lose much come the September rotation. However, Mono Black is one of the most untouched decks yet! Since it’s a mono colored deck, we have zero reliance on dual lands to help cast our spells. Sure, losing Hive of the Eye Tyrant is unfortunate, but it doesn’t hurt this decks consistency!

Having a deck that can consistently enact its game plan is one of the most important facets a strategy can have. While this usually isn’t an issue for most strategies, knowing it’s never going to be a problem is a huge benefit. Furthermore, being a mono colored aggro deck also means you’re likely to have a great curve. When you combine great mana with a great curve, you know you have a winner.

Like I always say, (almost) all good aggressive decks start at one mana. While we only have access to one good one drop, Okiba Reckoner Raid is an excellent one to have. Most one drops would kill to guarantee two damage and gain two life, and not only do we get that, but a 2/2 Menace at the end! Menace is easily one of the most underrated keywords, especially when you are playing a large amount of creatures and are whittling away at the opponent’s life total.

Moving up the curve to our twos, we have a couple of excellent options. Tenacious Underdog has been an absolute killer in many Black decks and it does excellent work here. A 2 mana 3/2 is a sizable body for a two drop, but being able to recur it over and over again from the graveyard to accrue additional damage and cards is extremely powerful. Aggro decks rarely get this kind of card advantage, especially attached to a body we’d already want to play!

While Underdog is extremely aggressive, Tainted Adversary can be offensive or defensive as needed. By the virtue of being an aggro deck, we are generally looking to attack with this, but being a 2/3 Deathtouch means that it can always trade up if needed and can pretty much never trade down since the 3 toughness makes it tough for cheaper creatures to trade with it. Furthermore, the pseudo kicker ability can put on a massive amount of pressure out of nowhere and can easily kill players within a turn or two.

Going up the curve once again, we have yet another couple of extremely powerful creatures. Seeing more eternal play than Standard play, Graveyard Trespasser is an absolute house with a strong body, an unbelievable ward ability, the ability to drain life, and incidental graveyard hate! It does so many things which is obviously excellent considering it doesn’t require any special cards to make ti work. While this is normally at home in a midrange deck, this excels in aggressive strategies as the ping matters so much more.

While it’s not getting as much love as I anticipated, Shakedown Heavy has been phenomenal in an aggressive deck. Whether its slamming in for 6 damage or the opponent constantly giving you card out of fear of dying, Heavy has always been good, even when the opponent gets to choose whether to take the hit or not. Furthermore, it’s one of the best defensive creatures in the deck as well since getting through 4 toughness on turn 3 is quite difficult.

Finally we reach the top end of the deck.

While not the most aggressive of options, we don’t hate just having solid cards in the deck. If you’re ahead or at parity, Sorin will help you accelerate ahead by providing a constant stream of cards and/or Vampires to work with.

While I just enjoy playing a good mono colored deck, 99% of the reason I’m playing Mono Black is to play Invoke Despair. This card is bananas. A guaranteed 3 for 1 that will likely deal damage and net some cards is obviously disgusting and is an amazing option for an aggressive deck. Since we’re already good at pressuring the opponent’s resources, them worrying about randomly getting blown out by an Invoke Despair only makes this deck more terrifying and consistent.

Of course, what’s a Mono Black deck without removal? Unsurprisingly, I just went with the best spells we have available. While both Infernal Grasp and Hero's Downfall are fine removal spells, I expect that there will be more cheap interaction come the next set that we would happily replace Downfall with. Although killing planeswalkers is nice, doing it for three mana is a bit pricey these days. Long gone are the days that 3 mana removal is what you’re looking to do!

While it may look weird in a creature deck, our inclusion of The Meathook Massacre is more than worth it. It’s powerful in a variety of situations as you can use it offensively to help drain those last few points of life, use it to sweep away smaller creatures, or reset the board when you get behind. No matter the stage of the game, I’m always quite happy to see a Meathook in my hand.

What I really like about this deck is how effective it can be offensively and defensively. You have all the underpinnings of an aggressive deck, but if you’re on the back foot, you have no problem taking a more defensive role until you can stabilize. This is something that pretty much no aggro deck I’ve played can reasonably do, so being able to shift game plans is a powerful weapon to have in an already powerful deck. This is even more true when facing aggressive decks as this deck can seamlessly switch from aggressor to a tough defensive deck to get through with our high toughness creatures and bevy of removal. So if you want to beat up on the other creature strategies your’re seeing (or might se in the future), this is an excellent choice.

Tips and Tricks

Tenacious Underdog Art by Zara Alfonso
Tenacious Underdog Art by Zara Alfonso
  • Remember that although you’ll typically use the Blitz ability on Tenacious Underdog when it’s in the graveyard, you can use it from your hand as well which is easy to miss.
  • Against other aggressive decks, I rarely attack with Tainted Adversary as it’s substantially better on defense than it is on offense.
  • Even if you can kick Tainted Adversary, don’t get locked in on doing that every time as just running it out and holding up removal is a perfectly good line.
  • When you have Graveyard Trespasser out, consider just passing the turn with removal rather than adding to the board more if the 4/4 body matters a lot, you need the graveyard hate, or they have enough creatures that the drain speeds up the clock significantly.
  • Against other aggressive decks, unless you are substantially behind, you should pretty much always attack with Shakedown Heavy. If it connects you deal a ton of damage, if they let you draw a card then you have a huge blocker.
  • I would prioritize the card draw with Sorin the Mirthless much more highly than the Vampires.

Thank you for reading, and for the current Standard iteration of the deck, check it out here:

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Robert "DoggertQBones" Lee is the content manager of MTGAZone and a high ranked Arena player. He has one GP Top 8 and pioneered popular archetypes like UB 8 Shark, UB Yorion, and GW Company in Historic. Beyond Magic, his passions are writing and coaching! Join our community on
Twitch and Discord.

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