Table of Contents
With Kamigawa here and the meta constantly evolving, everyone seems to be in a brewing frenzy to see who can find out the top decks of the format.A lot of the obvious good cards have already found homes and excelling, some of the more innocuous options are slowly getting their bearings and starting to put up results (more on this in future articles.) Of course I’ve been looking for the new hotness, but for whatever reason, I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic lately. Although this is probably not a recommended strategy for deck building nowadays, I can’t help to reminisce on one of my favorite formats ever: Standard 2022.
For those who don’t know what that is, near the end of each year, Wizards will do a format where only the sets that will be legal for the entire duration of the next year will be legal. They did this for 2021, they did this for 2022, and will likely continue. What made Standard 2022 particularly special though was that Standard was in quite the rut with the same few cards and decks just showing up over and over again. However, this format took out all of the “problem” sets which left us with a super fresh format. Not only was the format fun, but it left us with a decent look of what Standard might look like in the future despite missing the next set!
I built a lot of decks during that time and was able to port a few over to actual Standard, but my favorite deck from that time never made the transition. What deck would that be? Well, I think you can tell from the title.
Monoblack felt really good in 2022 and was just a very fun strategy to me. I love midrange decks, and for whatever reason, leaving the opponent with a few resources to work with was just a great time. The problem with this deck moving into normal Standard was two fold though: it wasn’t really getting new cards which only hurt the possibility of being an option more with each set and it’s inherently not that strong of a deck.
The first issue there’s really not much we can do about, but the second one ended up being more of the issue. we had access to some strong cards, but a lot of our deck could be a bit weak or situational which is obviously not ideal. It performed really well against the “poles” of the format (one being small aggro and the other being slow control), but beating the middle became harder and harder. However, Kamigawa may have changed that.
With some fresh cards, a different build, and perhaps a different meta, I’ve finally been doing reasonably with Monoblack. The controlling aspect has been reasonable and the hand pressure against the slow decks has felt similarly good. Like before, the more midrange decks can still be tough, but far from unbeatable.
Before I share the lists, I do want to emphasize that although this deck has been solid for me, I would not consider this an extremely competitive option, at least in it’s current form. Great for playing on ladder and having a good time, but I wouldn’t take this to a tournament right now sort of deal. That said, this deck went from seemingly unplayable to solid so if you enjoy this type of strategy, I think this will serve you reasonably well.
As you can see, the core strategy from the 2022 version is still very much intact.
The decks main focus is on the discard creatures as they’re going to accrue our value for us. Acquisitions Expert, Elderfang Disciple, and Virus Beetle all have similar stat lines and the same goal, get a card out of the opponent’s hand. Against small creature decks, these creatures can easily be 2 for 1s as you take a card from them and can use them to trade and against Control they can take a card and then present marginal, but surprisingly relevant pressure. Now one of the issues with the old builds of Monoblack was that against the midrange decks, these bodies were particularly useless, however this new build doesn’t suffer from that nearly as much.
In terms of new cards, Dockside Chef helps give further utility to the discard creatures. If they’re outclassed, simply put them in front of an attacker and sacrifice them for a card! If we’re considering older cards, we’ve built in such a way to make these bodies even more relevant. With The Meathook Massacre you can pressure the opponent when they die, we have multiple planeswalkers they can help protect, and in the Bo1 version, t hey’ve been playing well with the one of Henrika Domnathi.
The second piece to the Discard engine is the big payoff that is unique to this deck alone: Tergrid, God of Fright. Tergrid is definitely a bit clunky compared to the other expensive threats nowadays, but its power is no joke. On the Lantern side, you can start grinding down their resources and/or life total which fits perfectly into our strategy. On front half, if you manage to untap after casting it, every discard creature you play can turn into a functional Mind Control. This can put a lot of pressure on the opponent to use their cards sub-optimally to avoid this which is just good news for us.
Beyond the discard package of the deck, it has a lot of the cards you would expect in this strategy. We have plenty of removal, a few Planeswalkers, and Nighthawk Scavenger to be a huge threat when the opponent has dumped most of their resources into the graveyard. With these cards working in conjunction, you can have a surprisingly powerful and resilient deck that can take on a variety of strategies.
NOTABLE EXCLUSIONS / POTENTIAL INCLUSIONS
A decent blocker that can turn into a meaningful body and a Vendilion Clique is definitely a reasonable option. I wouldn’t know what toc ut to make room for it, but maybe this should have some slots over some of the 2 mana discard creatures.
The 2022 iteration of this deck had Eyetwitch as it was a Bo1 format thus free, but I think this deck really needs all of it’s sideboard slots.
This is another way we can make use of the random bodies we tend to have laying around and provide us with multiple cards and a Treasure. I’ve been liking Dockside Chef being a repeatable engine, but I could see this just being better. I would say try both and see which you prefer.
Similar logic to Deadly Dispute, but coming with a good body is definitely a plus. My worry is having this the games we can’t keep a creature on board or simply don’t draw them which makes me shy away from this, but I’m sure it would be reasonable as well.
I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Soul Transfer and this deck does (or can easily) have a decent split of artifacts and enchantments. The issue is I feel that most games we won’t have great targets to recur, but maybe it should be built in a way to use this better. Definitely a good consideration over all.
Initially I thought this could be a pretty good option for this deck. Against the fast decks they may be hellbent so they’ll be forced to sacrifice creatures oand against Control they lose two cards and have to contend with another threat! However, the card isn’t templated the way we want. If the opponent has no creatures out, they can choose not to discard and this will edict them, but with no creatures out, it just doesn’t do anything for that turn. I feel like this was meant to be templated the other way where they have to sacrifice a creature, and if they don’t, they have to discard, but that’s not how it is so missed opportunity.
MATCHUPS AND SIDEBOARD GUIDE
|-2 Dockside Chef||+2 Power Word Kill|
|-1 Virus Beetle||+1 Hero's Downfall|
|-3 Tergrid, God of Fright||+1 Bloodchief's Thirst|
|+2 The Meathook Massacre|
Against creature decks in general, we’re just going full control in the post board games. Just keep 1 for 1ing them and eventually you’ll pull out ahead with your discard creatures or value cards like the Planeswalkers or The Meathook Massacre.
|-2 Power Word Kill||+1 Sorin the Mirthless|
|-2 Infernal Grasp||+1 Hero's Downfall|
|-2 Bloodchief's Thirst||+4 Go Blank|
Unfortunately for this deck, this is likely the toughest matchup in Standard. They have a similar game plan to us, but their grindy cards tend to be more efficient than ours. That said, it’s far from unbeatable as you may just have heavy discard draws that can really pressure their resources. Try to only keep hands that can go late into the game and hope for the best.
|-2 Nighthawk Scavenger||+1 Sorin the Mirthless|
|-2 Power Word Kill||+1 Hero's Downfall|
|-2 Infernal Grasp||+4 Duress|
|-2 Bloodchief's Thirst||+4 Go Blank|
|-2 The Meathook Massacre|
If we’re talking the clunky control decks, these tend to be really good matchups. We absolutely rip their hand apart before they can do anything and it’s pretty easy to ride nearly anything to victory at that point. Put a lot of pressure on their hands, resolve good threats, and just grind them into the dirt.
TIPS AND TRICKS
- If you have Elderfang Disciple and Acquisitions Expert in hand, consider deploying Disciple first as it’s a Cleric that works with Expert’s trigger! You’ll be able to see two cards instead of one which can be the difference between hitting something useless and hitting something impactful.
- Similar to the tip above, if your opponent kills your Acquisitions Expert with the trigger on the stack and you don’t have another on board or an Elderfang Disciple on board, the trigger will fizzle.
- Unless you have a good reason to keep the random discard creatures laying around, I like to chump block pretty aggressively. Keeping your life total high is pretty important so you can live until the late game to start casting your high impact cards.
- I tend to sandbag Nighthawk Scavenger when possible as it’s our fastest threat in the deck. If you think the opponent has removal for it, don’t be afraid to just pass with removal open.
- Although you want to live the dream with Tergrid, God of Fright by stealing something important, 99% of the time, just playing it as the Lantern is going to be better. It’s really effective pressure and most players have a tendency to take too much damage before looking to sacrifice resources.
Thank you for reading!