Today’s Standard budget deck requires only 12 common, 24 uncommon and four rare wildcards. This is a Mono-Black Papercuts deck that tries to slowly drain the opponent to death with incremental life loss triggers.
Standard - Budget Brews - Papercuts LVD
These are the “papercuts” of the deck. Underworld Dreams provides ample devotion for Gray Merchant of Asphodel and can also combine with Foreboding Fruit to target the opponent for extra damage. Dogged Pursuit and Sanctum of Stone Fangs are almost identical, but given that Sanctum is legendary, we’re only running two copies.
Revenge of Ravens is not really a win condition but it does work within the theme of the deck and prevents tokens from swarming us so we can save our spot removal for bigger threats.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a great stabilizing play, as it will often swing life totals back in our favor. Deploying our enchantments first to increase our devotion before playing Gray Merchant is often key. Foreboding Fruit is both a card draw effect and a way to close out the game, especially effective alongside Underworld Dreams when targeting the opponent.
Our early interaction comes in the form of Bloodchief’s Thirst and Heartless Act. Elspeth’s Nightmare is another great removal option in certain matchups, offering an additional discard effect and graveyard cleanup.
To round out our interaction, we also get to play with Priest of the Haunted Edge alongside 20 Snow-Covered Swamps. Priest gives us an early blocker that turns into a removal spell later, while providing a little bit of extra devotion at the same time. Castle Locthwain is the only rare in the deck, and while not essential for the deck to function, it’s highly recommended. There will be plenty of situations where those few extra cards make the difference, especially in slower matchups.
Against aggressive creature decks, we can take out some of our slower enchantments to make room for additional interaction. Sweepers like Pestilent Haze, Extinction Event, Shadows’ Verdict and Crippling Fear can all be serviceable in different matchups. In the more controlling matchups, we can swap out some of the removal spells for cheap discard effects like Duress and Agonizing Remorse. Mazemind Tome could also be a useful card draw engine there. Additional removal options like Lash of Malice, Eliminate and Soul Shatter can also line up better than the main deck interaction in certain matchups. The matchups where we board in extra interaction are also where we really see the value of Castle Locthwain restocking our hand to eventually find some win conditions.
One land that could be worth including is Faceless Haven. We can’t play many copies because of the mana requirement on Underworld Dreams, but it can provide an extra angle of attack. It might also require taking out a copy of Castle Locthwain to have enough snow lands to activate consistently.
Unlike a regular control deck that needs main deck sweepers to fight creature strategies, Mono-Black Papercuts tries to stabilize with early spot removal and enchantment life gain. That being said, we could still make room for a few main deck sweepers. There are many board clears to choose from, including Blood on the Snow if we want to leverage the extra snow synergy, resulting in Gray Merchant or Priest of the Haunted Edge potentially coming back from the dead. Tergrid, God of Fright and especially the back half, Tergrid’s Lantern, can complement our papercut strategy, although it’s probably better reserved as a sideboard card in slower matchups where the opponent cannot simply discard their useless creature removal that was stuck in their hand.