Mono-Black Control Mirrodin Style

Building On A Budget - Dark Sun

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Those of you who played in Champs this year will remember that one of the strong contenders was Mono Black. The key elements to the deck are mostly Mirrodin cards and, with a few quick tweaks, the deck can be budgetized. Everyone knows how Control decks work, but until Torment came out, the idea of an all black-based Control deck sounded silly. Sure, something like it had been done in the past with powerful cards like Necropotence, but that was more of a "I draw 20 cards and beat you silly deck" rather than simple control.

This deck controls the board with cards like Barter in Blood, Icy Manipulator, and Bottle Gnomes, while using Sun Droplets to protect your life total. It slows the game down and wears your opponent thin while building up mana resources to abuse cards like Consume Spirit, Skeleton Shard, and Serum Tank. While it isn't as powerful as the old MBC deck with Nantuko Shades, Braids, and Haunting Echoes, you'll find this deck to be similarly effective and much cheaper to build.

Building on a Budget - Dark Sun

Main Deck

60 cards

25  Swamp

25 lands

Bottle Gnomes

6 creatures

Barter in Blood
Consume Spirit
Extraplanar Lens
Icy Manipulator
Serum Tank
Skeleton Shard
Sun Droplet
Talisman of Dominance

29 other spells

This deck gets its name from being black and having four Sun Droplets. The Droplet, while being a rather silly sort of card, can have a big effect on the game. First, for every Droplet you play, you're effectively negating a 2-power creature since you gain 2 life a turn (one on your opponent's upkeep and one on yours). When you draw more than one droplet, you'll gain bonus life if you can actually deal with the creatures later.

For example, your opponent plays two Tel-Jilad Chosen and you play two Sun Droplets. Your opponent attacks, putting you at 16, and you put 4 counters on each Droplet. By your opponent's next turn you're back at 20 life but still have 2 counters on each Droplet. If your opponent attacks again, you'll have 6 counters on each. If you Barter in Blood on the next turn, killing the two Chosen, you'll eventually reach 28 life. The Droplet is a good way of staving off death until you find the right answer, and for recovering while your opponent finds another threat.

In general, you want to get Extraplanar Lens out as soon as possible. This card lets you do pretty much whatever you want, including cast 10-point Consume Spirits like eating pie. Until you're able to eat said pie, just annoy your opponent with Gnome recursion and other silly tricks with Skeleton Shard--including Triskelion and Duplicant. Just keep your opponent at bay and try to stay at a nice healthy life total, biding your time until you can just Consume him out of the game.

Depending on your metagame, you might want to add Terror to the deck, or at least in the sideboard. This deck is set up more to combat Affinity decks, not the mono-green artifact-hate deck. If you find yourself on the receiving end of one of those, it'll be really nice to have that Terror in your hand when your opponent drops a Glissa. You have to protect that Lens!

Tips On Playing The Deck

  • Dancing Gnomes! Use your Skeleton Shard as much as possible. If you have a Gnome and a Shard at the end of your opponent's turn and nothing extremely important to do next turn, sac the Gnome and return it with the Shard. Free life! Refreshments indeed.

  • Always hit two creatures with the Barter in Blood unless you're in dire need.

  • It's fine to Barter away your Triskelion and Duplicant--you can Skeleton Shard them back later.

  • Use your Consume Spirits wisely. If you don't absolutely need to use one...don't. Try to contain your opponent's creatures by tapping them with Icy Manipulator or blocking with Bottle Gnomes (which are conveniently returned with Skeleton Shard). Save those Consume Spirits for the kill.

  • Sometimes it's correct not to play the Talisman on turn two and turn three. If you get a draw that has a turn-two Droplet and a turn-three Bottle Gnomes, it might be better to wait to play the Talisman if you're able to get to four mana by turn four, anyhow. The mana acceleration won't be worth the life you lose from not having the Droplet in play.

Adding Money To The Deck

There are plenty of rares that would fit well in this deck. Solemn Simulacrum is the first and foremost addition, since it accelerates your mana base and provides a speed bump that'll draw you a card (not to mention it's an awesome Skeleton Shard target).

I originally had a Platinum Angel in the deck, but decided it didn't add enough to be worth the tickets it would cost. If you have one I would throw it in for good measure.

Another great card to have is Promise of Power--it's about the closest thing to Necropotence you're going to get. With a Lens out it's rather simple to entwine for a fatty demon.

As long as you can slow the game down to a crawl, you'll succeed.

Until next time, put your -2/-1 counters wherever you choose.

Nate Heiss
Team CMU
NateHeiss on Magic Online

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