Just like last week’s Humans list, this isn’t the first time I ventured into Mono-Black territory in Modern. This is another deck I frequently see a good deal of success with, and that always gives me pause, as I wonder why it isn’t more commonly played.
Sure, it doesn’t have all the fancy footwork and crazy combo interactions of some other Modern decks, but what it does have is a good deal of “surprise” creatures—creatures that can take over a game out of nowhere, like Phyrexian Obliterator and Gray Merchant of Asphodel (yes, you read that correctly)—and a lot of solid disruption options.
The list I’m trying out today was played by Bradley Merani to a Top 8 finish at an SCQ IQ in New Holland. Take a gander.
Whenever I’m playing a deck like this, I lament the fact that I have very few answers to enchantments and artifacts since that’s not really black’s area. This version of the deck does have access to red for things like Crumble to Dust and By Force, which definitely helps. Additionally, if I have issues against artifacts or enchantments, splashing white instead can also provide support with things like Disenchant, Stony Silence, or even copies of something like Lingering Souls to discard to Liliana of the Veil.
Let’s see if the addition of red can shore up the areas where black is lacking.
See, this is what I’m talking about. This is a completely respectable record with a deck that has absolutely no place in the Modern metagame, and I might have even won the round against U/W had I not misclicked and kicked my Gatekeeper of Malakir.
Can I talk for a minute about the two cards I mentioned in the beginning of the article? Phyrexian Obliterator has been one of my favorite pet cards for a long time now and every time I get to play with it I’m just thrilled. I’m also always eager to find a way to be able to fight with it outside of playing Arena as a land in my deck—if it tapped for colorless, I’d be all over it. Funny enough, the addition of red to the deck does let me play Pit Fight. As a 2-mana instant this is one of the best options, but I’m still not sure that’s good enough, and I’d definitely have to be playing the full suite of Phyrexian Obliterators to make this worthwhile.
The other guy, Gray Merchant, is just insane. I can’t say this enough. I’m constantly impressed by this card. Modern is a format where players regularly take damage, and this is compounded with the rise of Death’s Shadow. Gray Merchant is immune to several counters like Spell Snare, Spell Pierce, and Stubborn Denial, while also not concerning himself with removal. Being able to pay 5 mana for a creature that regularly deals between 5 and 9 damage has proven to be stronger than you might think. If I had something like Whip of Erebos in the deck—whew. I already have two different Lilianas that can reanimate the Zombie, but I wouldn’t be opposed to playing a third.
Honestly, the one thing I absolutely love about the mono-black decks is how much customization you have. There are so many different options that are all great in the deck, and in Modern in general, like Grave Titan, Victim of Night, Bloodghasts, or a Zombie package with Gravecrawlers and Whips of Erebos. There are a ton of options and the cards are so inherently strong on their own that you have a lot of flexibility. If you’re looking for something unique in Modern, try Mono-Black out!