Magic 2015 Limited Review: Black

Continuing Onward

Accursed Spirit: Blacktusk Boar has always been a fine Magic card, and this is the Blacker version. 3 power evasion is noting to scoff at, and Black should be easily capable of removing any potential blockers. He was good in M13, he’ll likely remain so here.

Black Cat: An acceptable choice if you need a two drop. The discard isn’t normally relevant, though some players will warp their attacks around not discarding cards they want to keep.

Blood Host: The sacrifice cost is steep, but he will grow out of reach quickly, and the fact he gains you life while doing so is a nice little bonus. If you can keep him adequately protected, he’s a good finisher.

Carrion Crow: Wind Drake has always been a Limited all-star, and I see no reason why the crow will be any different. The drawback si so minor as to almost be irrelevant, though there will be times when it will bite you.

Caustic Tar: An ideal finisher for any control decks. This will end the game swiftly, and is difficult to interact with. The first one will be super good, though I’m unsure about the second.

Child of Night: Classic Limited Staple. 2 power for two mana with an upside easily crosses the line.

Covenant of Blood: While it’s an expensive sorcery, Convoke helps it a bit, and the ability to go straight to the opponent’s life total is not to be underestimated. While a hardcore control deck likely isn’t relying on this card as a finisher, I can see other strategies that won’t mind a copy of this.

Crippling Blight: A card that tends to play better then it reads. It was good in M13 Limited and likely will continue to be so here. There are enough X/1 targets around that this outright kills, and the “can’t block” clause is often quite relevant. Again, you don’t want too many of these, but the first one or two will pull their weight.

Cruel Sadist: I keep looking at this card and thinking how expensive the removal ability is. I have to remind myself that this is a one-drop that scales into the late game, and that’s basically good enough by itself. If this card is crashing in as a 3/3 or 4/4, that’s more then acceptable.

Endless Obedience: Reanimating some nice bomb seems all well and good, but there doesn’t seem to be a huge section of high-impact creatures outside of rares. I’d likely start this in the sideboard and bring it in if I see something awesome, but that could also be a stretch. Maybe Green/Black as an archetype could make this work with Saytr Wayfinder and Necromancer’s Assistant, but putting this in your graveyard would kind of suck.

Eternal Thirst: This is extremely cheap, and the effect it provides significantly powerful. However, your opponents creatures dying isn’t going to happen very reliably, so you likely won’t get more then two counters out of this realistically. While it needs to start on something already big (Charging Rhino, anyone?), the payoff is definitely there.

Feast on the Fallen: “If you’re winning, creatures you control get bigger so you can keep winning”?. Like First Response, this doesn’t do much by itself, and if you have an evasive source of damage, you’ll likely win without this cards help. I’m giving it a miss until someone proves me wrong.

Festergloom: This will likely be sideboard tech against the token strategies White has available. If it wasn’t a Sorcery, the asymmetric nature could make it a nice trick, but alas. =(

Flesh to Dust: Kill something, no questions asked. Unconditional removal is great, and this will be a high pickup in draft and even better in Sealed. Be careful of running into tricks like Peel from Reality or Ephemeral Shields, however.

Gravedigger: I am so unbelievably sad to see this bumped up to uncommon. While it’s an inbuilt two for one, Gravedigger himself wasn’t really causing any problems, in my mind. Nonetheless, still a good pickup if he has appropriate targets.

In Garruk’s Wake: Once again, nine mana is ridiculously expensive. Once again, you are probably a favourite to win the game if this resolves, however. If this format allows us to cast nine mana spells without dying, this could be a perfectly reasonable bomb.

Indulgent Tormentor: Yes, this card gives your opponents a choice. However, none of them are particularly desirable for you opponent. My admittedly few experiences with the card tend to suggest that the card draw ends up as the default anyway. If the demon is hitting the opponent, they can’t very well pay more life, and if they need creatures to block with, they aren’t sacrificing them either. Obviously much worse if you’re not putting the pressure on, but totally capable of closing games by himself.

Leeching Sliver: See Diffusion Sliver. Barring the nut Sliver deck (very unlikely in this format), it’s a two mana 1/1. Though if you have three of these with Indestructible, style points for you.

Liliana Vess: She takes cards from your opponents, and gets your best ones. She also has a reachable ultimate. She doesn’t break the mold of ‘walkers being good in Limited (Hi Tibalt).

Mind Rot: Sometimes, your 23rd card will be Mind Rot. This is acceptable. Just remember to side it out against aggressive strategies, where they likely don’t have a hand by the time you cast this, and are happy it wasn’t a blocker instead.

Necrobite: Mediocre trick is mediocre. While it shone in the bestow-heavy world of Theros, now that our creatures are some mixture of 2 and 3 power and toughness, it’s a lot less appealing. Run it if you need it.

Necrogen Scudder: This is a candidate for uncommon bomb. The life loss is likely irrelevant unless you opponent plans on burning three bounce spells on it, and this has the size to trump most of the common fliers (compare to Nimbus of the Isles). A high priority pick in the colour.

Necromancer’s Assistant: 3 power is the biggest thing this guy has going for him. As discussed above, I don’t think graveyard shenanigans has enough support to be viable, but we’ll see how it plays out.

Necromancer’s Stockpile: The Magic 2015 Zombies. While that doesn’t seem like many, I wouldn’t be surprised if this could be a thing, given the recursion available to Black. Take it if you want to try it out, but value the zombies highly. Remember that any random creature card will draw a card anyway.

Nightfire Giant: My early pick for my favourite uncommon in the set. Five mana 5/4 is a great rate, and the ability to shoot of damage at anything is extremely powerful. A very high pick. Also, it was quite awkward when I realized that, without a Mountain, this guy is literally Zombie Goliath.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled: Ignore the search ability for the purposes of Limited. Flying, trample, and gets bigger when stuff dies are the important parts here. An easy first pick bomb.

Paragon of Open Graves: Possibly the most powerful Paragon, and all on the back of the activated ability. Ensuring all your creatures trade for theirs, regardless of size, will greatly favour you in the long run. Remember that, like all Paragons, he cannot target himself, so no blocking then activating.

Rotfeaster Maggot: 5 toughness in this core set environment looks nigh unbeatable. He even stops the mighty Charging Rhino! He even brings along a little bit of life as an upside. Don’t let the otherwise vanilla-ness of the card fool you: this one is probably deceptively good.

Shadowcloak Vampire: Another candidate for a strong finisher in Black, which is surprising at common. Obviously, managing your life total will be important here, but if there’s no risk of trading, you don’t need to activate.

Sign in Blood: Two cards in the early game is very much worth this cost, unless you’re facing an extremely hyper aggressive deck. Diminishing returns apply to this card as well, so once you have the second, I wouldn’t prioritize these too highly.

Soul of Innistrad: About as unbeatable as all the other Souls. Getting the three best threats already dealt with is a significant upside, even if it dies.

Stab Wound: Anyone who ever played Return to Ravnica Limited can tell you how obnoxious this card is. This is completely capable of killing opponents by itself. There’s also no shortage of 2/3 bodies around to put this on. Another easy first pick.

Stain the Mind: Completely unplayable in Limited. Next.

Typhoid Rats: The rats have basically always been good. They create awkward attacks where your opponent can’t send in with their best creature, but still need to pressure you somehow. Or it will eat some piece of removal like Crippling Blight, which you’re still fine with. Unlike most one drops, it’s even relevant when you draw it late. Solid card.

Ulcerate: Premium removal, but not without cost. Any Black deck that gets its hands on a copy will obviously run it without hesitation, but mind that life. You don’t want too many of this, Necrogen Scudder, and Sign in Blood in your deck, for example.

Unmake the Graves: This being an instant kicks it up a serious notch then where it would be as a sorcery. I don’t hate having a copy of this somewhere in your 40, and it will likely catch opponents off-guard.

Wall of Limbs: This is horribly slow, and you’ll need a lifelinker to make it reliably big. Still, it’s an early game blocker that can double as a finisher, and there’s something to be said for that.

Waste Not: There is not enough discard in Limited to make this card viable. Pass it on.

Witch’s Familiar: As discussed on Aeronaut Tinkerer, a 2/3 body for three mana is a perfectly acceptable Limited body. Just take care it doesn’t get stabbed.

Xathrid Slyblade: An extremely powerful uncommon. While the mana investment is significant, this will lay waste to every creature foolish enough to attack until an opponent has some instant-speed removal. Even then, it can be protected with cards like Negate or Ephemeral Shields. Players simply can’t afford to attack into this without an answer available. This could easily be a first-pick uncommon.

Zof Shade: As far as mana sinks go, one can do a lot worse then Zof Shade. A single activation pushes it to a 4/4, which will generally be more then enough.

More notes!
– Cheap removal is Sorcery speed. (With the exception of Ulcerate.)
– Black seems to rely on graveyard recursion to get an advantage in the late game.
– Most of Black’s early creatures are not geared toward being aggressive.

And that’s all for Black! This is the halfway mark, with Red, Green and the Rest to follow shortly. Stay tuned for the rest of this series!

Until then,



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