Mono-Black Aggro

Posted in Feature on November 15, 2013

By Luis Scott-Vargas

Luis Scott-Vargas plays, writes, and makes videos about Magic. He has played on the Pro Tour for almost a decade, and between that and producing content for ChannelFireball, often has his hands full (of cards).

Apparently it's monocolor aggro week in Standard, but we might as well close out the week the way we started it. With that in mind, today I'm taking a look at Owen Turtenwald's Mono-Black Aggro deck, which he wrote about at ChannelFireball. Owen is always one to build focused aggro decks in order to attack the format (both literally and figuratively), so it's always interesting seeing what he comes up with.

Thrill-Kill Assassin

In this case, he wasn't satisfied with the other colors for a variety of reasons, and turned his attention to mono-black. There's no real reason that all mono-black decks have to be midrange or control, and this deck is certainly neither of those things. It sports a nice curve of eight one-drops, eight two-drops, eight three and four-drops, and twelve removal/disruption spells, plus the mandatory four Mutavaults.

Curving Rakdos Cackler into Thrill-Kill Assassin into Lifebane Zombie can just beat some decks, and if you have a removal spell for the opponent's first play it's even harder for the opponent to come back. All the creatures dodge Doom Blade, most are cheap enough to make removal that does kill them inefficient, and Pack Rat and Desecration Demon can easily win the game by themselves (well, that's not technically accurate when we are talking about Pack Rat).

I also like that, when you lead with turn-one Thoughtseize into turn-two Pack Rat, your opponent will often mistake you for Mono-Black Midrange, a deck that looks very similar but plays very differently. That could make your opponent scry incorrectly, take too much damage early, or overvalue the wrong cards in his or her hand. You might even be able to win a game without revealing what you are playing, after which the turn-one Rakdos Cackler could just deal 10 damage because your opponent sided out Azorius Charms or the like.

As Owen mentions, there are some tricks to the deck. Pack Rat combines very well with Mutavault, your removal spells can target your own Tormented Hero, and you don't need to just spew out Thoughtseizes on turn one. This is an aggro deck, but aggro decks aren't brainless by any stretch, and they reward tight play just as much as control decks.

Owen Turtenwald's Mono-Black Aggro

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