Arctic_Ghost's picture
By: Arctic_Ghost, Arctic_Ghost
Sep 17 2019 11:00am

Mono Black Control is and will always be a favorite of the Pauper community in my opinion. It is one of the oldest decks and can be a blast to play. Discard, Removal, access to cards such as Crypt Rats and Gray Merchant of Asphodel, what more could you ask for? Having said that however, the archetype has become fairly repetitive and personally for me, the plan of the archetype hasn't changed much.


I am not a huge fan of land destruction decks, as they aren't really my style preference when playing Magic. This version of MBC is also not really “new” and is also fairly known by many players, but it is also an archetype that I haven't covered. Today I am going to make up for lost time. Let's see this archetype that I am talking about.



First up are the creatures. You have 3 copies of Thorn of the Black Rose, which is not only a very good blocker, but also makes you the monarch so that you gain card advantage as well. The other creature you have is your main win condition, 4 copies of good old Gurmag Angler. Gurmag Angler can come down rather quickly in this archetype and with all of the land destruction you have, you should give your opponent a tough time to find an answer as well to Angler as well.


Choking Sands, Icequake, Rancid Earth and Befoul – These cards are the main point of this deck. Instead of trying to use removal to keep your opponents creatures off the battlefield, you are trying to keep them from playing spells entirely.


Choking Sands is really just a Stone Rain for the most part and nothing much more, however sometimes the 2 points of damage will come up when trying to deal the final few points of damage to your opponent. Icequake can also be compared to Stone Rain, but since Snow Covered lands are so popular in the Pauper format these days, gaining 1 life could be the difference between having an extra turn to live and drawing a card deeper to find an answer, as opposed to just losing the game.


Rancid Earth has 2 purposes in this archetype, as not only is it a land destruction spell, it also can be a board wipe against decks such as Goblins or Elves if you have Threshold (meaning if you have 7 or more cards in your graveyard), making it double as a good removal spell as well. Befoul can be either a land destruction spell or a removal spell, depending on the situation and what you need to be at the time. However do remember that Befoul is 4 mana to cast and can not be cast on turn 1 off of a Dark Ritual.


Dark Ritual, Divest, Snuff out and Sign in Blood – Here we have the “card advantage” spells of the deck (these are what help you generate card advantage and get ahead of your opponent). Dark Ritual helps you power out your land destruction spells on turn 1 (or turn 2 if using Befoul) and immediately start cutting your opponent off of resources. Then we have Sign in Blood to help you draw some cards, but in some occasions it can also deal the final few points of life to your opponent.


Divest is the discard spell of choice because you want to try and cut your opponent off of threats, not necessarily spells. For example: if your opponent is a Mono Green Stompy player, their pump spells are only a problem if there are creatures on the battlefield to use them on. Finally we have Snuff Out as your main removal spell, since for paying 4 life (which isn't a small amount, so make sure to keep your life total in check), you can cast it for no mana spent and cast more spells in the same turn.


Divest is played over Duress because you lack removal to keep your opponents threats off the board. While it can be a little worse against decks such as Burn, where the spells matter more than creatures, most of the archetypes in pauper rely heavily on creatures and some decks such as Tireless Tribe combo can rely on specific creatures to win the game, making Divest even more valuable. You could also make a case of Distress, but the difference between 1 mana and 2 mana are very huge in this deck.


The manabase is nothing too special as it consists of 14 Swamps, 4 copies of Barren Moor to be able to use as a land or cycle it away if you need to dig a bit deeper. Then finally you have 4 copies of Peat Bog. While you can only use Peat Bog twice before it gets sacrificed and goes away, being able to cast a Choking Sands on turn 2 or a Befoul on turn 3 can make or break you against almost any deck in the format. With this archetype, you need to start destroying lands as quickly as possible and try to stay ahead of your opponent, Peat Bog is very crucial to helping out with this plan.


The Sideboard

4 Duress and 1 Divest – Against control decks such as Teachings control or Urza Tron, you will want Duress to rip their key spells out of their hand. Against other control archetypes that rely more on creatures, (such as Delver strategies) you may want a couple of Duress and the 4th copy of Divest to really rip apart their whole hand and cut them off resources so that you are free to resolve your spells.


Crypt Rats and Evincar's Justice – When you are facing an aggro deck such as White Weenie, Elves or Slivers for example, you will need some board wipes. You don't have enough removal to keep going 1 for 1 with your opponents threats. Due to this, you will need to rely on your opponent over extending to the battlefield and getting a big board wipe in. Do be careful however as you don't have much in the way of gaining life in this deck, so it is quite easy to lose the game because of your own cards.


Syphon LifeSyphon Life is pretty good against the longer matchups where you may flood out on lands you don't need or possibly on land destruction spells that won't do anything later on in the game (also for the burn matchup). Having a reusable way to filter them into a card like Syphon Life helps towards winning the game. You can also bring it against aggro decks as well, however it always seems a bit slow to me. I am not a big fan of this card in this archetype because unlike MBC you don't have a way to aggro your opponent out and then use Syphon Life to get in the final points of damage. However I will admit that I may also not truly understand how to use this card in this archetype.


Chainer's Edict – Always need some Edict effects for the Hexproof matchup or Heroic type of decks.


Thorn of the Black Rose – I personally believe that if want to include the 4th copy of this creature, you should just have it in the main deck somewhere. I don't feel there is much of a difference going up from 3 to 4 copies against most archetypes, but that is just my opinion.


Vampiric Link – This one is alright to bring in against Burn or RDW type of archetypes. You can just attach to a Gurmag Angler and go to town. There is also the option to put it on your opponents creature, but I have found that to not be as effective in most cases. I am personally not a fan of this card and would replace it with maybe a card such as Tendrils of Agony for some extra removal/life gain, or you could add in something like Spinning Darkness as well.


Verdict and Conclusion

While I am not a huge fan of this particular build of MBC, that doesn't mean it is a bad choice. I don't find land destruction decks to be all that fun, but that is the great thing about Magic, there are so many possibilities and decks for everyone to enjoy however they want to play.


A big problem I have with this archetype is that I always feel like I have to draw specific spells in a very specific order and if I don't, I just end up losing the game. Against aggro decks for instance, if you aren't able to destroy their lands before turn 3, they could have already played 3-4 creatures and suddenly you are already dead.


Even against decks such as Urza Tron. (which I think that is one of the archetypes this deck is designed to beat) the whole point of their deck is to get Urza Tron online, so destroying their lands over and over can result in fruitless effort. They also run enough ramp that they don't always need full Tron to win the game. If they manage to land a threat such as Mulldrifter you could also just lose to it since land destruction spells don't do much against creatures.


The list I showed you today is a 5-0 list, so take what I have said today with grain of salt. I will never discourage anyone from trying a deck out for themselves, but I will say that in my opinion, with this archetype, (not necessarily this list in particular) you might not end up winning as much as you would like. That being said if you like land destruction, then this is definitely a deck for you!


Thank you all so much for reading and I'll catch ya next time!