How to Draft Black-Red Grind in Dominaria

My third favorite archetype in Dominaria Draft is Black-Red Grindy. In most Limited formats, black-red decks have access to a lot of removal and sometimes that leads to grindy decks. Other times, it leads to more aggressive strategies where the removal is used to clear big blockers. But I have never seen one quite like Dominaria’s. There is recursion on recursion, and the best common card draw spell is black. I can’t remember a Draft format where I went more all-in on grinding out card advantage wins than with B/R in Dominaria Limited. The deck is very good and a treat to play. If you can get a great finisher for this deck like Fight with Fire or Josu Vess that’s great—they are windmill slams, but honestly you don’t need it.

Blue-black can have trouble closing sometimes. But B/R can win with nothing more than card drawing, recursion, and removal. Unless you get Valduk, you do not want the common Equipment for this deck. You aren’t looking to have a lot of creatures in play, you don’t want small creatures unless they have an enters-the-battlefield ability, and you aren’t ever worried about being able to attack. This is the only black deck I don’t love Thallid Omnivore, but its value can change based on how many Skittering Surveyors, Fungal Infections, and Deathbloom Thallid you get. You want as many copes of All three of those as you can get. If you get a single Surveyor, you will usually be able to splash some good stuff, so value the first one very highly. Great commons to splash into this deck are Blessed Light and Cloudreader Sphinx.

The Pick Order

These are the commons I consider optimal in roughly the order I take them. Some cards are great but have diminishing returns, Soul Salvage being the best example. The first copy is a must-have all-star. The second is a good card. The third is playable but not great. I probably wouldn’t play four. That makes it tough to rank in a list. If you are in pack 2 and don’t have one yet, start moving it up, and if it’s pack 2 and you already have 1 or even 2, move it down accordingly. This is also true of Dark Bargain and to a lesser extent Fungal Infection.

Additional Playables

I would never start either of the grizzly bears (Cabal Evangel or Siege-Gang Commander) unless I didn’t have 5+ cards that cost 2 or less mana or enough total playables from this list, but I do try to pick them up as sideboard cards to board in on the draw against aggressive decks.

Just like last time, I’m going to list all of the cards that are on color in roughly the order I value them. Remember that some card values change more than others, depending on what you have, but this is a good guide for how I value these cards when I’m drafting Black-Red Grindy.

Uncommons, Rares, and Mythics


Playable but Optimal

(The value of Traxos swings wildly, but this deck doesn’t usually have a lot of historic cards and isn’t aggressive, so I wouldn’t play this without at least 5 historic cards and I wouldn’t take it aggressively in this deck unless I expected to end up with 8+.)

Some Cards I Don’t Normally Play (And You Shouldn’t Either)

(Self-Replicator is playable at 7 historic cards, very good at 12.)

I’m going to talk about Yawgmoth’s Vile Offering and Jaya’s Immolating Inferno here, because they can be tough to evaluate. Both, if cast, are extremely broken, but when should you play them? Card draw and self-mill like Dark Bargain and Windgrace Acolyte can really help you find your legends if you have multiple Soul Salvages to bring them back. Normally, without recursion, I don’t play the legendary sorceries unless I have at least three legends, and that’s the stone minimum. I don’t consider them early picks during the Draft unless I expect to finish with 4-5 legends, based on how many I already have and how much of the Draft I have left. But because of this deck’s card draw, self-mill, and ability to grab both legends and spells out of the graveyard with Ghitu Chronicler and Soul Salvage, I will usually play these cards with just two legends (if I have the recursion). I would never play them with just one legend. Rough ratings for these cards in this archetype would be:

  • Expect to have 4+ legends – Bomb first picks
  • 3 legends – On par with common removal
  • 2 legends – Don’t cut, but don’t take over anything good

I think this is the third best archetype in the format behind B/G Saprolings and U/R Wizards, but it’s the most fun to draft. Next week I’m going to write about U/W Flyers, which I have as the fourth best archetype in the format.

Happy Grinding

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