Standard Mono Black Midrange guide

Lucas Giggs
09/10/2022 · 12 min read

Standard is evolving, but some decks, or rather, colors, are clearly standing out. Almost unanimously among players, black is the color to beat with cards like The Meathook Massacre or Invoke Despair, and as you know Dominaria brought even more weapons. Today I will make a guide of the deck and of the sideboard against some of the main matches that we find in this new environment. This list has only 14 cards on the sideboard, because I forgot to put the 15th, but please, use the 15th in your next tournament ;)

My most successful version of the deck

Mono Black. Builder: LucasG1ggs.MTGO - Magic Online
Top4 in MTGO Standard Challenge #12476829 [32 Players] 25-Sep-2022
Maindeck (60)
Creature [16]
2  Sheoldred, the Apocalypse   $59.99
2  Concealing Curtains   $0.49
4  Tenacious Underdog   $2.49
4  Graveyard Trespasser   $1.79
4  Evolved Sleeper   $1.29
Artifact [1]
1  Reckoner Bankbuster   $4.99
Instant [5]
2  Cut Down   $0.59
3  Infernal Grasp   $1.49
Sorcery [4]
4  Invoke Despair   $0.79
Enchantment [3]
3  The Meathook Massacre   $49.99
Planeswalker [5]
2  Sorin the Mirthless   $13.99
3  Liliana of the Veil   $23.99
Land [26]
1  Takenuma, Abandoned Mire   $7.49
4  Field of Ruin   $0.25
21  Swamp   $0.01

Sideboard [14]
1  Pithing Needle   $0.79
1  Malicious Malfunction   $0.25
1  Junji, the Midnight Sky   $7.99
1  Sorin the Mirthless   $13.99
1  Infernal Grasp   $1.49
1  Cut Down   $0.59
2  Parasitic Grasp   $0.25
2  Reckoner Bankbuster   $4.99
4  Duress   $0.25
Buy this deck:

$199.71 Tix @cardhoarder   $4.99 / Week @cardhoarder   $405.66 @tcgplayer   $452.24 @cardkingdom  


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Card choices

Evolved Sleeper, AKA the black "Figure of Destiny", is one of the new cards from Dominaria. It has already been appearing in many lists from Standard to Pioneer, and this is no accident. I believe it to be one of the best black turn 1 drops created in recent times, being able to be both aggressive in the early game and a card advantage machine that grows every turn in the late game.

Concealing Curtains

Concealing Curtains
0.3 Tix
$0.99
$0.49

Concealing Curtains is not one of the best turn one drops. It has its usefulness in taking some bombs out of the opponent's hand and being a reasonable clock, but even so, it is still only a mediocre card. I wouldn't use it again in the next tournaments, probably exchanging it for more Bankbusters or even some copies of Duress.

Cut Down

Cut Down
0.01 Tix
$0.59
$0.75

Cut Down is an efficient removal that kills most creatures in the early game, but loses value as the game goes on and it is unable to deal with larger threats. Even so, the use is justified, and we have more copies in the sideboard for those matchups where we want to kill key creatures  that demand an immediate answer, like Raffine and Squee.

Tenacious Underdog

Tenacious Underdog
0.53 Tix
$2.49
$2.41

Tenacious Underdog is an aggressive turn 2 drop with recursivity in the late game. A bit vulnerable to removal, like Flame Blessed Bolt, but even so, it plays a very important role in the deck.

Infernal Grasp

Infernal Grasp
0.03 Tix
$1.49
$1.29

Infernal Grasp is premium removal with a drawback that is almost irrelevant with the amount of life-gaining cards in the deck.

Reckoner Bankbuster

Reckoner Bankbuster
1.2 Tix
$4.99
$2.95

The key card in the Jeskai Hinata's mirror continues to see a lot of play post-rotation. One of the best cards to attack planeswalkers with, it's not easy to remove and generates card advantage. Don't make the same mistake I did and play with four copies in your 75  (probably two of them in your maindeck).

Graveyard Trespasser

Graveyard Trespasser
$4.49
$6

One of the black cards that revolutionized Rakdos Midrange in Pioneer, it also proves to be very useful in this deck, its ability to exile creatures make cards like Takenuma, Corpse Appraiser and Soul Transfer much worse. The fact that it also gains life can be quite relevant against more aggressive decks, in addition to almost always being an unfair trade for the opponent when removed.

Liliana of the Veil

Liliana of the Veil
17.71 Tix
$34.99
$50

Liliana caused quite an impact when it appeared in the Dominaria spoiler and in this deck it finds a nice home. It has the power to win some games by itself, but other cards like Wedding Announcement and Reckoner Bankbuster make her less relevant. Still, it's a key card to have it in the list.

Sorin, the Mirthless

Sorin the Mirthless
7.68 Tix
$18.99
$12.43

Another planeswalker, a relevant source of card advantage in the late game, but also capable of putting two bodies with evasion on the board. It has an ultimate that takes a few turns to "load".

The Meathook Massacre

The Meathook Massacre
$57.99

One of the best black cards released in recent times. It has the ability to turn games around by clearing the board and giving us a really helpful life points. Against less aggressive decks and control decks it's not so relevant, so we use three copies, because when we need it, drawing one is enough.

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse
66.86 Tix
$69.99
$55.32

hen it was first spoiled, it didn't look like much, but this card has been impacting many formats. Its abilities are very relevant, especially in grindy games, often times not even needing to attack to cause damage. Having a "Siege Rhino" every turn is really good.

Invoke Despair

The fact that it has four black mana in its cost makes its use more restrictive (despite appearing in some Grixis lists), but on this deck it fits perfectly. Black doesn't have a great way to deal with enchantments, so having an effective answer to Wedding Announcement, Fable of the Mirror Breaker, and The Restoration of Eiganjo is really useful, but even in a board state where the opponent has no creatures, using 5 mana to deal 6 damage to them and draw 3 cards makes it one of the best cards in the deck.

Field of Ruin

Field of Ruin
0.04 Tix
$0.29
$0.49

The fact that the deck is mono-colored allows you to use colorless lands that are useful in some situations, but in my opinion they more often hurt than help. The deck needs a lot of black mana and running these lands can hurt in some games, like when using Evolved Sleeper's ability or when requiring double or even quadruple mana when you need to cast Invoke Despair. I wouldn't use more than two in the next tournament and even then I would be hesitant about it.

Duress

Duress
0.03 Tix
$0.25
$0.2

A classic card that has always been present in black decks. It gives you information about your opponent's hand and is able to deal with cards such as planeswalkers and enchantments, which black usually cannot handle properly. As mentioned before, we can see up to a few copies even in the main deck.

Pithing Needle

Pithing Needle
0.42 Tix
$2.99
$2.99

A card that I was surprised to see on the list at first, but it is very useful for locking cards like The Wandering Emperor, Reflection of Kiki-Jiki, and Oni-Cult Anvil. I would use a second copy in the sideboard.

Parasitic Grasp and Malicious Malfunction

Parasitic Grasp
0.03 Tix
$0.25
$0.25

Malicious Malfunction
0.01 Tix
$0.25
$0.2

They have utility against more aggressive decks, where the latter is especially good when Oni-Cult Anvil decks.

Junji, the Midnight Sky

Junji, the Midnight Sky
0.88 Tix
$7.99
$5.94

The dragon is a key for the midrange matches where the opponent does not have a way to exile it. Difficult to be removed, it still has some relevant abilities when it dies, such as returning a Sheoldred to the battlefield, for example.

Sideboard guide

Below I will list the five main archetypes of the format and how I sideboard against them. I will consider the 15th card of the side as Pithing Needle, because it really surprised me and I intend to use one more copy in the next event.

VS GRIXIS MIDRANGE

OUT:

  • - 2 Cut Down
  • - 2 Concealing Curtains (or 1 Graveyard Trespasser and 1 The Meathook Massacre)
  • - 1 Tenacious Underdog

IN:

  • + 1 Infernal Grasp
  • + 2 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • + 1 Sorin, the Mirthless
  • + 1 Junji, the Midnight Sky

Cut Down doesn't remove the key creatures in this deck, like Corpse Appraiser and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, so we don't want it here. We'll go with another Grasp that removes everything we need. Bankbuster is one of the best cards in the midrange mirror, providing card advantage and being a respectable threat. In this match we don't need The Meathook Massacre, since the game isn't based on board presence. Trespasser also isn't one of the best cards we can play on turn 3, since once again it doesn't work very well vs Corpse Appraiser. Junji shines here, even though it has the same cmc as Invoke Despair, since grixis can not easily remove it and it is able to attack from the air when the game is stalled

Corpse Appraiser
0.01 Tix
$0.25
$0.2

VS RAKDOS ANVIL

OUT:

  • - 2 Concealing Curtains (or - 2 Tenacious Underdog)
  • - 2 Tenacious Underdog
  • - 3 Liliana of the Veil
  • - 4 Graveyard Trespasser

IN:

  • + 2 Pithing Needle
  • + 4 Duress
  • + 1 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • + 1 Sorin, the Mirthless
  • + 1 Malicious Malfunction
  • + 1 Junji, the Midnight Sky
  • + 1 Infernal Grasp

The Meathook Massacre is a key card in game 1, as it prevents the board from getting out of control. After sideboarding, hitting a Duress early is essential for taking out an Oni-Cult Anvil or a Fable of the Mirror Breaker. Anvil is by far the key card here, so Pithing Needle becomes essential. He doesn't have many creatures, so Trespasser loses value, in addition to taking chump blocks from construct tokens. With the configuration of the post-sideboard list, we become a Monoblack control, depleting our opponent's resources through discard, generating card advantage with Bankbuster, Sorin and Sleeper, and finishing the game with Sheoldred, Junji and Invoke Despair, which, despite looking bad against decks that make a lot of tokens, does a very good job of taking out Fable, The Meathook Massacre and planeswalkers like Sorin, the Mirthless and Ob Nixilis, the Adversary.

VS ESPER MIDRANGE

OUT:

  • - 3 Liliana of the Veil
  • - 2 Concealing Curtains (1 Graveyard Trespasser e 1 Tenacious Underdog)
  • - 3 Graveyard Trespasser
  • - 3 Tenacious Underdog

IN:

  • + 2 Pithing Needle
  • + 4 Duress
  • + 1 Sorin, the Mirthless
  • + 2 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • + 1 Cut Down
  • + 1 Infernal Grasp

In this matchup, we also transform our deck into a Mono Black control version after sideboarding. We take out Trespasser, which is useless against Dennick, Pious Apprentice and also take out Liliana  which is not the best card when facing Wedding Announcement.

Dennick, Pious Apprentice
$1.99
$1

Duress is good for taking out counters and planeswalkers like Kaito Shizuki and The Wandering Emperor. Pithing Needle also comes in to fight against the Emperor, which is a really good card. Raffine is a creature that can turn into a real snowball, so more removal is also needed. Overall, it's a pretty balanced match. We have answers for almost all the cards and sources of card advantage along Invoke Despair, which is one of the best cards in this matchup.

VS GRUUL AGGRO

OUT:

  • - 4 Invoke Despair
  • - 3 Liliana of the Veil

IN:

  • + 1 Cut Down
  • + 1 Malicious Malfunction
  • + 1 Reckoner Bankbuster
  • + 1 Infernal Grasp
  • + 2 Parasitic Grasp
  • + 1 Sorin, the Mirthless

A match that can be favorable because the deck has cards that are very good against aggressive decks, like Sheoldred, Graveyard Trespasser, and, mainly, The Meathook Massacre. But beware, some creatures need to be answered immediately like Thundering Raiju or Halana and Helena, Partners. Therefore, more removal after the sideboard is welcome. Invoke is the card we least want to see here, because it's slow and it will usually only be a bad removal for five mana.

VS SELESNYA ENCHANTMENTS

OUT:

  • - 2 Cut Down
  • - 3 Liliana of the Veil

IN:

  • + 4 Duress
  • + 1 Reckoner Bankbuster

This is a bad match-up for Mono Black because enchantments are particulary hard to deal with and they are able to get ahead on card advantage with cards like Rite of Harmony. Duress helps a lot after sideboarding, taking out key cards like Wedding Announcement and The Restoration of Eiganjo. In this match we have to be more aggressive, preferably curving creatures in the first few turns. Meathook is one of the best cards, clearing the tokens that might get out of hand and helping Invoke Despair to finish the game.

Monoblack Midrange has gained a lot of important tools with Dominaria United and, thanks to the combination of aggressiveness, card advantage, and bombs like Sheoldred and Invoke Despair, has become one of the leading decks in this new Standard. See you next time!

If you liked this article maybe you will also find interesting on of the following ones Pioneer Bant Humans In-depth & sideboard guide, Pioneer Turbo Abzan Greasefang Primer & Sideboard Guide, Oops All Spells cheatsheet and sideboard guide, Boros Justice Deck Guide and using transformational sideboards by Mogged, Beating the Pioneer metagame with Izzet Phoenix

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Lucas Giggs
MTG Streamer
Hi, my name is Lucas de Almeida Hervás. I'm 31 years old, married, and I live in Indaiatuba/SP, Brazil. I've been playing Magic the Gathering since 2009, but I've been making a living off of it since 2019 through leagues and tournaments on Magic Online. For those who don't know me, I'm 2.17 meters tall, hence the nickname "the tallest Magic player in Brazil."

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Published: 2022-10-09 00:00:00

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