Born of the Gods Preview—Bile Blight

Posted in Top Decks on January 16, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Welcome to the first preview week for Born of the Gods. Today's preview card is sure to make a big impact in Standard, and it may have implications in Modern as well. It can be hard to weigh the value of this type of card against all the others like it, but cards as powerful as today's preview don't show up very often.

In the old days of Magic we played Terror, and it was quite the deal. We could spend a measly two mana and dispatch huge threats like Force of Nature, Serra Angel, or Shivan Dragon. Many years went by and Terror remained one of the most archetypal, solid, and versatile spells available for black players who needed a good removal spell.


Through the years, we've received various two-mana black removal spells. Cards like Nameless Inversion, Doom Blade, Go for the Throat, Smother, Ultimate Price, Diabolic Edict, Cruel Edict, Devour Flesh, and Echoing Decay have all seen their fair share of high-level tournament play. The two-mana black removal spell has become an institution. It's something we can trust. Long after we're dead and gone, the two-mana black removal spell will still be a tournament-worthy tool.

History tells us that today's preview card will be good, maybe even great. Let's take a look at the latest powerful two-mana removal spell.

Bile Blight may not deal with huge monsters like Polukranos, World Eater or Stormbreath Dragon in the same way that cards like Ultimate Price or Doom Blade do, but Bile Blight is rarely stuck in your hand the way Standard's other two-mana removal spells are. Doom Blade is a great card, but mono-black decks are a huge factor in Standard and we have every reason to believe that they will continue to enjoy some level of success. Doom Blade may be the absolute best two-mana removal spell against Gruul or Selesnya opponents, but in the mono-black matchup it can only target opposing Mutavaults, and, well, that's just not very good. Ultimate Price solves this issue to some degree, but cards like Fleecemane Lion and Boros Reckoner are sure to be adopted by a lot of aggressive strategies, and we may find ourselves getting beaten up with a spot removal spell in our hand. Bile Blight suffers no such issues. It's live in the mono-black matchup, and it's going to be great against the red-green-white color combinations and mono-blue also.

Bile Blight's second line of text is also extremely relevant. It's hard to weigh the value of this little bit of text, but it's sure to make our opponents play the game much differently. Was our opponent planning on attacking with more than one Mutavault? He or she better think about that decision a bit! In fact, playing any creature with 3 or less toughness in multiples becomes a major liability when there's a chance that Bile Blight might be looming in the future.

Doom Blade

Bile Blight's most important application in Standard will be its ability to kill Nightveil Specter for two mana. Until now, there was not a worthwhile main deck two-mana spot-removal spell outside of red that could deal with Nightveil Specter. We can expect Nightveil Specter to continue doing well as long as devotion strategies are relevant. Having a two-mana instant that kills Nightveil Specter, and maybe two Nightveil Specters, will drastically decrease the card's influence on the format. Another card that's sure to be unhappy about Bile Blight is Pack Rat, whose strength in Standard will be severely neutered by the presence of this new removal spell.

Going forward, Bile Blight will be an important tool against token strategies when and if they become popular. For just two mana, we can deal with the entirety of Spectral Procession, kill an army of Goblin tokens, or kill any and every Pestermite on the table, even if there are thirty billion of them.

Spectral Procession

I'm sure Bile Blight will see a lot of play in many different decks, but its most obvious home will be in Mono-Black Devotion. Let's put together a Mono-Black Devotion deck that utilizes this new and powerful spot-removal spell.

Diversifying our removal spells is important. Hero's Downfall can be played as a four-of because it's always going to kill exactly what we want it to kill. A card like Bile Blight is inexpensive and versatile, but playing a full four copies may be a bit ambitious before we know what the Born of the Gods Standard will look like. Bile Blight won't be very good if the format is just a bunch of control decks, but I strongly suspect we'll continue seeing creatures do well, and that makes Bile Blight one of the stronger cards in the format.

We should definitely be playing all the other commonly used Mono-Black tools that are available to us. Pack Rat gives us degenerate draws that can take over games and make short work of our opponents. (As long as they don't have Bile Blights of their own to absolutely destroy us.)

Pack Rat
Hero's Downfall

Nightveil Specter is legitimately awesome and deserves four slots in our deck for sure. Nightveil Specter provides us with a steady stream of card advantage, a great defensive body against aggressive decks, and a whopping three devotion to black.

Desecration Demon is a massive flier that will continue ruining days as long as it's Standard legal. Desecration Demon probably becomes more powerful with the introduction of Bile Blight. Bile Blight is a good way to deal with an army of tokens that tap down the demon every turn. Desecration Demon is big enough to outrange opposing Bile Blights. This seems like a card that's excellent both with and against today's preview card.

Nightveil Specter
Desecration Demon

Gray Merchant of Asphodel provides the Mono-Black Devotion deck with an incredible tool that makes it difficult to race.

Thoughtseize provides us with some much-needed disruption to protect our Desecration Demon from Selesnya Charm, our Pack Rat from Bile Blight, and our Nightveil Specter from whatever removal spell our opponent might have to deal with it. It's also an excellent tool to nab things like Voice of Resurgence, that can be very powerful against us, especially if they're drawn in multiples.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Underworld Connections provides us with some much-needed card advantage and black devotion. It helps turn on our Erebos, God of the Dead, adds additional strength to our Gray Merchant of Asphodel, and provides us with an extra card every turn.

Here's what a Mono-Black Devotion deck using Bile Blight might look like.

Mono-Black Devotion

Download Arena Decklist

The Mono-Black Devotion deck is a tried-and-true strategy that's sure to be a huge factor in the new Standard metagame going forward. We can expect Bile Blight to further improve the deck's capabilities in many matchups and make the deck more prevalent going forward.

Be sure to check out all the Born of the Gods previews this week and next on Next week, I'll be back with yet another preview card that's sure to spark some interesting conversation.

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