Owen’s Pick of the Week – Mono-Black Aggro

Welcome back to another edition of my Pick of the Week!

If I were playing in a Standard tournament with Dragons of Tarkir this weekend, here’s what I’d bring:

Mono-Black Aggro

I’d battle with this new and updated version of Mono-Black Aggro. This deck has always been near and dear to my heart. I love a good chance to put Hero’s Downfall and Thoughtseize alongside hard-hitting, 2-power, 1-mana creatures and produce some roughly unbeatable hands. Turn one Bloodsoaked Champion followed by Gnarled Scarhide and Thoughtseize meant lights out against many decks in the format.




As if I hadn’t written enough already about the power of Thoughtseize, it’s even better in an aggressive deck— you can either take their cheap reactive spells to leverage a strong hand or you can take high-power sideboard cards like Drown in Sorrow.




Sidisi, Undead Vizier looks tailor-made to be paired with Bloodsoaked Champion and that’s why I included it here. I would play more copies or even have them maindeck, but the 5-mana price tag seems extremely high to me. To cast 5-mana cards on turn five with any consistency you should be playing about 24 or 25 lands, and having that many lands in your deck and four copies of a card like Bloodsoaked Champion is begging for trouble. It can’t block, and with a high land count and cards that don’t defend your life total coupled with the fact that you’re less likely to get a good fast kill with four more lands in your deck over four spells, just means your hands won’t be as clean and crisp as they could be.

Pitiless Horde is automatically a mandatory 4-of maindeck for any black aggressive deck. The only thing that concerns me about this card is not the 2-life per turn drawback, it’s the 3 total toughness, which makes it a rough investment against decks that can play Bile Blight or Lightning Strike. In my eyes it’s a sort of win-win situation because if it goes uncontested then you have a 5/3 for 3 and you can close out the game quick enough that the 2 life a turn won’t matter, and if they do happen to kill it then that’s one less defensive card they can have in their hand AND I won’t lose any life!

Duress is also a stone-cold killer for this deck. It does all the awesome things Thoughtseize does, but it only does it against decks where you won’t be hurt by the noncreature handicap of the card. Duress is equal to Thoughtseize against decks with no creatures, so, simply put, against the decks you’re likely to sideboard in Duress you’ve now gone from 4 Thoughtseize to 8. If this is one of best, if not actual best, Thoughtseize decks in the format, then the addition of Duress makes it a force to be reckoned with.

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