Brew of the Week – Mono-Black Aggro with Magic Origins

A couple months ago, I wrote an in-depth deck guide on Mono-Black Humans in Standard. Since then, the archetype has received updates from Dragons of Tarkir, and there are sweet additions in Magic Origins as well.

Here is a recent well-performing deck list from a major event:

Brett Krodel’s Mono-Black Aggro

13th at the SCG Standard Open in Baltimore on June 27

It’s not a groundbreaking brew, but it’s an interesting fringe archetype that makes up around 1% of the online metagame these days.

With Dragons of Tarkir, the deck got access to Self-Inflicted Wound, Ultimate Price, Duress, Damnable Pact, and Virulent Plague. But the biggest change was the replacement of the Human theme (Obelisk of Urd, Ruthless Ripper) by a Warrior theme (Blood-Chin Rager, Blood-Chin Fanatic). This transition from Humans to Warriors was surprisingly smooth for this deck because Bloodsoaked Champion, Mardu Shadowspear, Tormented Hero, and Mardu Strike Leader are all Human Warriors. And the rest of the deck could stay largely the same because both Obelisk of Urd and Blood-Chin Rager fill a similar role: to push damage past big blockers.

Playtest results and observations

I tested Brett Krodel’s deck in Magic Online 8-mans, going 8-2 in total. These were my matchups:

  • Wins versus Sidisi-Whip, RG Devotion, RG Devotion, Esper Dragons, Sultai Control, Jeskai, Abzan Megamorph, and GW Company.
  • Losses versus Abzan Aggro and Mono Red.

Some quick observations from my testing:

  • Blood-Chin Rager was fine, but not as powerful as Mogis’s Marauder. It’s still easily blocked, and it doesn’t affect the board immediately.
  • Blood-Chin Fanatic was good against removal-light decks, but weak against everything else. I never had the time or mana to take advantage of the combo with Bloodsoaked Champion.
  • Merciless Executioner was surprisingly good, especially when it takes down Courser of Kruphix or Dragonlord Ojutai while sacrificing Bloodsoaked Champion. It’s bad against Satyr Wayfinder and Hordeling Outburst, but overall I was pleasantly surprised.
  • I didn’t like Sign in Blood. It’s bad against Mono-Red, takes time, and doesn’t affect the board right away. I don’t mind it as a sideboard card for the grindier matchups, but in game 1 I just want to attack.
  • I missed Obelisk of Urd, or more specifically, more ways to break through big blockers.
  • Master of the Feast was a good sideboard card against red decks. It’s hard to kill for RG Devotion, Mono-Red, and Jeskai, and it flies over all of their tokens.

New Options from Magic Origins

Despoiler of Souls

A good 2-drop in a deck that isn’t planning on blocking anyway. With 3 power, it happily attacks into Sylvan Caryatid and Deathmist Raptor. In the late-game, it should be easy to recur, and it synergizes nicely with Merciless Executioner. On the flip side, it’s not a Warrior or Human.

Erebos’s Titan

In an aggro deck, you don’t want to pay four mana for a 5/5 with no evasion or enters-the-battlefield triggers, especially in a format with Hero’s Downfall, Abzan Charm, Roast, and Ultimate Price. Erebos’s Titan could go in a devotion-style deck with Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Languish, but I think that would lead to a different deck than the aggro deck that I have in mind.

Fleshbag Marauder

We can now play more than 4 Merciless Executioners!

Graveblade Marauder

It’s a Human and a Warrior. It is, however, at odds with Despoiler of Souls if we decide to go that route, and its damage output potential seems lower than Mogis’s Marauder and Mardu Strike Leader.

Infinite Obliteration

These cards are always overrated. Unless a combo deck pops up that instantly loses to this, I prefer Thoughtseize or Duress.

Liliana, Heretical Healer // Liliana, Defiant Necromancer

Not a super-aggressive creature, but lifelink helps in damage races, and if you can transform her quickly and reliably enough, then you get your mana’s worth.

She should be relatively easy to flip via chump-attacks or Merciless Executioner. Moreover, imagine you go turn-2 Pain Seer into turn-3 Liliana while facing a Den Protector. If your opponent blocks, then you get to flip Liliana right away. If your opponent doesn’t block, then you get to draw a card with Pain Seer. Either way, you win.

In planeswalker form, I can imagine plus’ing her for several turns, discarding Despoiler of Souls and Bloodsoaked Champion in the process, and eventually going ultimate. If you follow up with Merciless Executioner, you get a never-ending stream of reanimated corpses. Alternatively, using the minus ability to return Mogis’s Marauder is a good path to victory as well.

Prism Ring

Would be good if there were an actual Burn deck in the format, but when most of the red decks are more creature-based, I’d rather have Pharika’s Cure.

Tainted Remedy

I wouldn’t board this in against a deck with just 4 Siege Rhinos, but if that deck would contain Whip of Erebos as well, then Tainted Remedy turns into a powerful sideboard card. It’s not even remotely fair how this single-handedly destroys Whip of Erebos decks. Unfortunately, Whip is not popular in Standard right now.

Touch of Moonglove

Looks worse than Boon of Erebos. I prefer keeping a creature in play over dealing 2 damage to my opponent.

A List with Magic Origins

Putting everything together, here’s what I’d like to try:

Suicide Black with Green

This is a build with Despoiler of Souls, so creature types are all over the place, which meant I had to cut the Warrior theme. This allowed me to replace Mardu Shadowspear with Gnarled Scarhide, which helps against Courser of Kruphix and can double Liliana’s lifelink.

The dream is to play Merciless Executioner or Fleshbag Marauder, sacrifice Despoiler of Souls, and transform Liliana in the process. The curve is heavy on three-drops and the deck is creature-heavy, but that’s where Collected Company comes in. It brings a lot of value, helps assemble the synergies, and digs deeper toward a lethal Mogis’s Marauder.

What do you think? Does Liliana, Heretical Healer fit in this deck, and/or is there a better home for her?


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