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Drafting Magic 2010 Part 4: Black July 30, 2009

Posted by James in : all , trackback

I already reviewed the first picks and second picks. Here are the other best commons and uncommons to look for when playing black:

First Picks

Second Picks

Decent Cards

black knight

A great card, but this is a lot better in a mostly black deck because getting two black mana can be difficult.

child of night

Not the best “decent” card in this list, but it is a solid two drop.


A very powerful removal spell. Might end up in your sideboard, but it’s about as good as a sideboard card can get.


Two-for-ones are usually a good idea and Graverobber is no exception.


Solid creature removal for one mana. Sometimes worth playing on larger creatures. This is my favorite mentionable card and could be easily considered to be a second pick.

vampire aristocrat

A very solid three drop. After you get several creatures in play, this creature will always have to be blocked.

sign in blood

Two for ones are good, and this can also help kill the opponent.

Mentionable Cards

bog wraith

3/3 creatures for four mana aren’t my favorite, but this is a great sideboard card.

dread warlock

Dread Warlock is what it is. Not much to say here.

drudge skeletons

Drudge Skeletons might be the worst of the mentionable cards on this list. It is a very powerful wall, but that’s about it.


Duress is worth sideboarding. I actually haven’t played it yet, so I’m not sure how good it is overall.

looming shade

Looming Shade could be a second pick in a mono black or mostly black deck. It is a great card, but you need to draw quite a few swamps to make it work.

rise from the grave

Rise from the Grave doesn’t have much worth bringing back to life in black, but it can be great with if you get some big creatures (usually in a different color.)


I don’t know of any powerful combos in black, but black has tons of creature removal. (Doom Blade, Weakness, and Assassinate should be taken.) It is also the best color you can pick for a mono-colored deck. Tendrils of Corruption, Looming Shade, and Consume Spirit are all extremely powerful in a mono black deck, but much less good in a two color deck.


1. alexgcuevas - July 30, 2009

I think you underrate Dread Warlock and Drudge Skeletons, and Vampire Aristocrat.

For perspective, Dread Warlock is very similar to Phantom Warrior… it might as well be unblockable against most decks, as its evasion is better than flying. This is really what black needs, as its only other evasive creature is Kelinore Bat (and Bog Wraith, but its evasion is pretty much the opposite of Warlock’s in terms of effectiveness).

Drudge Skeletons is a 1/1 indestructable in most circumstances, which is really strong for 2 mana (even if he has an upkeep of B). Doesn’t work against flying, but he might as well say “target non-flying creature can’t deal damage to you.” His application is narrow, that is to say, blocking your opponent’s biggest non-evasive attacker, but he’s good at it and cheap, which is important.

As for vampire aristocrat, he does indeed become dangerous when you have many creatures on the board, but consider this - he’s terrible defensively, often acting as a meager gray ogre. On the offensive, you need to not only have more than a couple creatures for him to be a finisher, but you also need them to be not as good as the aristocrat, and you need your opponent not to have instant speed removal. Difficult requirements to fill. I think if the damage rules had not changed, then your pick assessment would be more accurate, but as it is, I would not pick this card very high.

I would add Kelinore Bat and Warpath Ghoul to your mentionables list. They’re unexciting, but good filler cards. Warpath Ghoul especially is an unusually efficient creature for black, and much stronger than its scathe zombies ancestor.

2. alexgcuevas - July 30, 2009

oops, I meant to say overrate vampire aristocrat

3. James - July 31, 2009


What I consider “mentionable” is supposed to require something that could be considered “good.” They are a few steps away from being first picks. Warpath Ghoul and Kelinore Bats are playable, but they are cards I would want to cut from my deck if possible. Would you take those above anything else on the mentionable list?

Black in particular seems pretty good. There’s only a couple unplayable cards.

You are right that the rules changes made Vampire Aristocrat less good, but I might have considered it to be closer to a second pick without the rules changes. They are also really good with Elvish Visionary or that guy that deals 1 damage when it comes into play.

4. Jae - August 5, 2009

mono black deck… nightmare comes to mind?

5. James - August 5, 2009

If you play mono black, Nightmare would be a great choice.

6. Frank - August 6, 2009

I drafted yesterday a black-white deck and ended third of ten. Few comments: I successfully used Kelinore Bats and Dread Warlock as my opponents weren’t able to block it. On the other hand, I never used the ability of Vampire Aristocrat. I used Durres about five times - sometimes you only see your opponents hand, but I also found Chandra and saved the game. One opponent finished me in the very last moment by Sign in blood :-(

7. Jae - August 6, 2009

duress is an awesome card. ALthough it requires some intuition (reading the opponent’s hand+open mana a bit), u can get rid of some very nasty bombs/removal.
Ive used it twice to safely win the game, sweeping out a divine verdict/fog before going in with my nightmare/looming shade.

8. James - August 7, 2009

Frank & Jae,

Thank you for your comments. Do you see Duress as more of a sideboard card or should it always be in the deck?

It is true that creatures with evasion can be pretty good, and this is especially true in multiples. Kelinore Bats will be a higher pick if you end up with a flying/evasion theme.