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Corrupt from Dominaria United. Art by Dominik Mayer

Transmogrant’s Crown – Is the Brothers’ War Bringing Mono Black Into Battle?

The Brothers' War is filled with powerful cards. Is Transmogrant's Crown poised to take us back to the glory days of Mono Black Aggro?

We’re less than two weeks away from the November 15 MTG Arena release of The Brothers’ War, but we’ve already seen a ton of what the new set has to offer, thanks to the onslaught of card previews we got from the Magic 30th Anniversary Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. The set looks like an absolute slam dunk so far, with tons of flavorful and resonant designs, cool, splashy artifacts, and interesting cards for various competitive formats. I’m willing to bet that The Brothers’ War will go down in Magic history as a powerful, but balanced set that revitalized Explorer and Pioneer, while also redefining a pretty rigid Standard format with new strategies and build-arounds.

Last time, I shone the spotlight on a card I think will be a solid role player in various aggressive and combo-oriented White decks in Explorer and other formats: Soul Partition.

Today, I’m going to switch it up and show off a card that I think has the potential to power up a whole archetype across formats: Transmogrant's Crown I think this card has what it takes to elevate Mono Black aggressive strategies in Standard and Explorer. I’ll discuss why I think the card is so powerful with a focus on the new Standard format, where it might fit in, and also how The Brothers’ War contains many more cards that fit into Mono Black aggro or assertive midrange decks.

The Crown is a Jewel

I think it’s easy to look at a card like Transmogrant's Crown and dismiss it as just another role playing artifact in The Brothers’ War limited. In the past, it’s taken a lot for an equipment to see play in competitive formats. Colossus Hammer is a Modern staple, not on its own merits, but because it combos with cards like Puresteel Paladin and Sigarda's Aid to win the game on turn 3 a lot of the time. Shadowspear is probably the best example of a recently-printed equipment that has shone in Constructed formats due to its efficiency and flexibility in different decks.

Like Shadowspear, Crown is a cheap artifact that helps your attackers push through damage and get into combat with beefier blockers. The design of the card heavily incentivizes you to put it in a deck with Black mana where the equip cost is reduced to 1.

What really supercharges Transmogrant's Crown and makes it Standard, and even Explorer-playable to me, is the card draw ability. In a Black deck with a lot of cheap creatures, it can completely take over the game by helping your army trade up while also ensuring you don’t lose out on resources in the process. This ability reminds me of cards like Shapers' Sanctuary and Lifecrafter's Bestiary because they reward you for simply enacting your game plan and don’t ask much of you.

Crown is even better in this regard because it also pumps your creatures! Sanctuary and Bestiary were very powerful sideboard cards in their respective Standard formats, while the one-mana enchantment still sees play in the sideboards of Green Explorer decks. Meanwhile, Crown is the type of card I can see playing 2 to 4 of because of how well it contributes to Mono Black Aggro’s traditional Plan A and Plan B of killing quickly, and, failing that, grinding the opponent out of resources.

While I did say that Crown doesn’t ask much of you, you still need to slot it into a Black deck that cares about attacking more than it wants to slowly squeeze the life out of your opponent. Because of recently printed power cards like Invoke Despair, Liliana of the Veil, and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, a lot of Black decks would prefer to do the latter. So we do need to do a little work by finding the best shell for this potent effect.

Where Can Transmogrant's Crown Make The Biggest Impact?

I spent a lot of time with a crown on my head

– Halle Berry

We want to play Crown in a deck with lots of creatures to take advantage of its abilities and to make combat a nightmare for your opponent. In Standard, where the card pool isn’t that big, we can start with a Mono Black shell that we know has done well in the format before The Brothers’ War. Take a look at this Mono Black Midrange deck that LucasG1ggs finished 5th with in a recent Standard Challenge on Magic Online:

Mono Black Midrange By LucasG1ggs
by INickStrad
Buy on TCGplayer $314.81
Standard
Midrange
best of 3
8 mythic
20 rare
5 uncommon
27 common
0
1
2
3
4
5
6+
Planeswalkers (5)
Creatures (15)
4
Evolved Sleeper
$3.96
Instants (5)
2
Cut Down
$1.18
3
Infernal Grasp
$5.97
Sorceries (6)
2
Duress
$0.50
4
Invoke Despair
$3.16
Artifacts (2)
Lands (27)
25
Swamp
$6.25
60 Cards
$374.02
Sideboard
2
Cut Down
$1.18
1
Infernal Grasp
$1.99
3
Parasitic Grasp
$0.75
2
Duress
$0.50
14 Cards
$36.88

This is a midrange deck through and through – Planeswalkers, card advantage, and efficient removal and disruption. It’s not the best home for Crown, But it does showcase how powerful Black’s suite of creatures are in Standard. Evolved Sleeper, Tenacious Underdog, and even Graveyard Trespasser and Sheoldred are equally comfortable in slow or assertive decks. All of these creatures bring both stats and grindy abilities to battle.

I won’t go into a full deck building exercise yet, while we don’t have the full set to look at, but this is a great place to start. We can cut some of the grindier cards like Planeswalkers or move them into the sideboard and bring in 2-4 copies of Crown and 8-12 more creatures. As I wrote above, The Brothers’ War offers a lot of aggressively-slanted cards that still offer the late game punch that aggro decks crave.

It’s easy to see how Gix, Yawgmoth Praetor synergizes with other creatures, but I am equally excited by the reprinting of Corrupt back into Standard. I’m not certain that it’s a better finisher than Invoke Despair, but it’s something I plan on trying out simply due to how much surprise damage it can do when your opponent thinks that they’ve stabilized. Lastly, there was a card spoiled in Portuguese that slots right into the deck.

This is a 3/1 for two that can’t block. It also has the ability to return from your graveyard to the battlefield with a +1/+1 counter on it. The ability costs 4BB to start with, but you get a four-mana discount if your opponent controls four or more nonbasic lands. This aggressive beater is the perfect card for Mono Black, and it should shine in decks even if Transmogrant's Crown turns out to be a bust.

Heavy Is The Head That Wears The Crown

As for Explorer, it’s harder to say for sure whether the Crown will make Mono Black a contender. I would say the chances are good that it gives aggro players a reason to pick up a pile of Swamps, especially when paired with this selection of creatures that like to come back from the graveyard and pick up a Crown:

We’re so close to the release of The Brothers’ War and to determining which cards will represent the set in competitive play. While not the flashiest mythic, Transmogrant's Crown is a bread-and-butter Mono Black card that glues the archetype together and helps it compete in all stages of the game.

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INickStrad
INickStrad

Nicholas "INickStrad" Price is a writer and competitive Magic player from Manila, Philippines. He has played in high level events on paper, MTGO, and Arena, and spends his time drafting the latest set and improving at Constructed formats.

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