Dark Schemes for Black-Red Control

Wow, how ‘bout dem Kaladesh previews, eh?

This set is shaping up to be a powerful one, but not only that, an extremely skill-intensive one as everyone scrambles to figure out how to most effectively utilize energy and crew Vehicles. These are 2 mechanics that have never been seen before and they ask a lot of questions of us. Do you amass energy for the late game with big splashy effects? Do you pump it into early creatures to get their bonuses? How many early creatures do I need to make the inclusion of Vehicles worthwhile? Energy is a brand new resource and we’re not exactly used to knowing how to properly allot it.


One card that doesn’t ask very many questions of us, however, is Demon of Dark Schemes. Anyone who has been reading my articles for any amount of time should definitely know how fond I am of big, splashy finishers, especially in control colors like black, white, or blue. While the Gearhulks are definitely the talk of the town in Kaladesh, I think you’d be remiss to overlook our 6-mana demonic friend.

Let’s take a look at a preliminary shell.

B/R Control

This deck has 13 removal spells, 8 planeswalkers that can kill creatures, and 5 creatures that can… well, kill creatures. It also has 3 Goblin Dark-Dwellers that can also kill creatures. You kill a creature! You kill a creature! Everything kills a creature!

Goblin Dark-Dwellers has 13 targets, which seems like enough, but you could always swap in a few more instants or sorceries if you feel you’re lacking. Three other cards that I was looking at were Transgress the Mind, Incendiary Flow, and Grasp of Darkness. I omitted Grasp of Darkness from the main deck simply because it seemed a little difficult on the mana that early in the game. While Demon of Dark Schemes does require 3 black, you don’t need it until turn 5 or 6.

Now that you no longer have access to Read the Bones, and your next two best options are Live Fast and Succumb to Temptation. Considering that you’re trying to harness energy for your Demon and for things like Harnessed Lightning, Live Fast gets the nod over instant speed.

While you don’t have a ton of creatures to get back with Liliana, the Last Hope, being able to get back something at your top end is just huge. Replaying a Demon of Dark Schemes or a Noxious Gearhulk could be backbreaking.

Chandra, Torch of Defiance also goes surprisingly well with your 6-drops, allowing you to ramp into them on turn 5. You also have the ability to cast a Chandra, then immediately cast an Oath of Chandra, kill a creature, and deal your opponent (or their planeswalker) 2 damage.

One of the goals of the deck is to kill off something powerful that belongs to the opponent, then reanimate it the same turn Demon of Dark Schemes enters the battlefield—this is possible considering you don’t need to tap it. While this does require 9 mana, it can be done as early as turn 7 with a Chandra, Torch of Defiance in play. (You might be noticing a pattern here.) Reanimating one of your own Goblin Dark-Dwellers or a Noxious Gearhulk is also perfectly acceptable.

It’s hard to say exactly what a deck like this might look like until the full set is revealed, but I think this is a pretty solid starting point. I wouldn’t mind adding a second Ob Nixilis Reignited somewhere, and cards like Collective Defiance and Collective Brutality are great for the sideboard. I would love to have the synergy for Unlicensed Disintegration, but without any artifacts (other than Noxious Gearhulk), Ruinous Path is just better.

That’s about it. Let me know what you guys think or if I’m overlooking anything, and I’ll catch you later.

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