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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Mar 20 2007 9:26am
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Before I start: A short time ago, there was an article at Wizards' website about a mono black deck and playing rogue mono black decks. That article has some similarities with mine below. I'm aware of this. But believe it or not, this below article was under construction for a very long time and just so that someone posted something similar somewhere else, will not cause me to throw all this information out of the window. For your information...

It is very hard to be a Necromancer. You are all alone. No one likes you. You don't have any friends. All those who obey you, are actually waiting for the day when they will have the chance to stab you on the back. You have to be scary all the time and put fear in everyones hearts around you. You always have to be strong. Anyone and everyone can make mistakes; but not you. You don't have that luxury. Ah well, it really is hard to be a Necromancer. Especially these days...

But what is doing the Necromancer in M:TG at the moment? Does anyone is scared of his mono-black magic?  Is he still powerful? Let us try to answer these questions.

What I most probably should say at the end of the article, I will say now... No dear Necromancer. I'm afraid no one is scared of you. Actually it is worse; no one is taking you seriously. Although people are asking for your help in different formats from time to time, no one is willing to use you alone. No one but me. I took your black magic and played it in many different formats. And here are the results.



Such a thing does not exists. The deck options in this format are almost endless and there are so many super-uber decks around and mono-black is only a joke against them.  But in the casual room, mono-black is not that bad actually. Here is what I've played recently in the casual room.

Mono-Black Control, An Extended Deck by Lord Erman

23 Lands

16x Swamp
3x Cabal Coffers
1x Deserted Temple
1x Stalking Stones 
1x Miren, the Moaning Well
1x Shizo, Death's Storehouse

8 Creatures

4x Twisted Abomination
4x Kokusho, the Evening Star 


4 Artifacts

3x Phyrexian Totem
1x Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang

25 Other Spells

3x Phyrexian Arena
4x Sudden Death
4x Tendrils of Corruption
4x Consume Spirit
4x Damnation
4x Innocent Blood
2x Corrupt 

If you play a lot in the casual room then you know one thing; that place has its own unwritten rules. For example, when CHK block was in standard, Umezawa's Jitte was almost banned in that room. But three of the most important unwritten rules are the following; no ld, no counters and no discard.

We don't like you guys in the casual room!

Stone Rain



As I was going to play mono-black in the casual room, discard as a strategy was not an option. No matter if I win or lose, at least I wanted to finish my games and with a discard deck in the casual room, that would have been very unlikely.

So I choose control as a strategy. As you see, the deck has only 8 creatures and early game, Twisted Abominations act more like a mana source.

Although nowhere near even tier-2, I like the deck and the results in the casual room were not that bad. Any creature based deck was an easy prey. I even won many games against control decks. The main reason is, as you can also see from the list above, the deck has so many different win conditions. Kokusho, the Evening Star is the most obvious one but there were many games I won with Consume Spirit, Corrupt, Phyrexian Totem or with that lone Tatsumasa, the Dragon's Fang. I even won a game with my Stalking Stones!

If you are a member of the casual room population and if you like playing extended games for fun, I strongly recommend you trying this deck. Any enchantment/artifact heavy deck will give you hard times but other than that, you'll be more than fine. And if you don't have any Damnations don't worry; they can be replaced. Rend Flesh could be an option for example.



Mono-black in Standard has unfortunately the same fate as it has in Extended; that is being out of order! But again in the casual room, where there are no Dragonstorm decks or Dralnu du Louvre decks or Angelfire decks, mono-black is a good choice.

I build the below deck for Standard fun.

Mono-Black Control, A Standard Deck by Lord Erman

23 Lands

19x Swamp
4x Desert

10 Creatures

4x Twisted Abomination
4x Stronghold Overseer
2x Magus of the Coffers 

3 Artifacts

3x Phyrexian Totem

24 Other Spells

3x Phyrexian Arena
4x Extirpate
4x Sudden Death
4x Consume Spirit
4x Damnation
4x Stupor
1x Temporal Extortion

Although it has similarities with the extended version, the above deck plays differently. I tried to replace the most important cards of the extended version with standard legal options.

Cabal Coffers


Magus of the Coffers


Kokusho, the Evening Star

turns into

Stronghold Overseer

Of course Stronghold Overseer is no Kokusho, the Evening Star but I needed a fattie as a beater and this guy was the closest I could find to that mighty dragon.

If you had a chance to read my previous article, you then know that I'm in love with Extirpate. To those who have doubts about the card; just play it in the main deck and you'll see the power of it. Combine it with Stupor and it works wonders.

One last card I want to talk about is Temporal Extortion. I actually don't like giving my opponent options to choose from but I added one copy of this card to the deck to see how good/bad it is and all I can say is that it is an interesting card. Half of your opponent's life is nothing to be laughed at or you get one extra turn which is always useful.

And finally in my opinion the most important card of mono-black decks;

Consume Spirit

Without doubt, the best X spell available in black.

As in Extended, mono-black in Standard is also fun to play but you get nowhere with it if you are a Spike-type player.  But if you are looking for fun games, the above deck is very satisfactory.



I like playing this format. As it is mostly about creature fights, you don't have to worry about getting your spells countered or your lands destroyed(well, at least most of the time). And the deck building in this format is also very challanging because no sideboarding is allowed. You have to do everything with the main deck.

When it comes to playing mono-black in Tribal Wars, the most obvious choice is of course the Zombie tribe. Or perhaps Rats. But you don't need someone to show you how to build those decks or how to play them, so I choose something different; Assassins!

The most important part of Tribal Wars is to find answers to your opponent's creatures. And with 20+ lands and at least 20 creatures, this gives us less room to add removal cards into the deck. And this is the best part of the Assassin tribe; all of the tribe members are actually removal spells!

Here is my build.

Assassin Tribe, A Classic Tribal Wars Deck by Lord Erman

23 Lands

15x Swamp
3x Barren Moor
4x Everglades
1x Shizo, Death's Storehouse

24 Creatures

4x Nekrataal
4x Royal Assassin
4x Tsabo's Assassin
4x Unliving Psychopath
4x Kiku, Night's Flower
4x Visara the Dreadful

4x Artifacts

4x Distorting Lens

9 Other Spells

3x Gravestorm
4x Damnation
2x Diabolic Tutor

You may wonder what Distorting Lens does in a deck like this. Actually it is pretty obvious; there are so many "protection from black" creatures around and we are all "Men in Black", so the lens negates this problem. Also it is needed when you have Tsabo's Assassin on table and black is the most common colour.

Royal Assassin

Kiku, Night


Distorting Lens


Visara the Dreadful

Unliving Psychopath


We may be all Men in Black but we can change that!


The tribe's most important problem is that it is slow. You can never win a race against those well-known tribes such as Soldiers, Elves, Goblins or alike. And this is the reason we have Damnation in deck. If they are multiplying like rats, then unleash your horrible black magic upon them and damn them!

I choose Gravestorm over Phyrexian Arena for this deck because I am not allowed to use sideboard and with the main deck I must find a solution to those graveyard manipulating decks. Gravestorm is therefore a better card and it works better in this deck. 

And finally a few words about Visara the Dreadful. Visara may not be an assassin but it perfectly fits into the whole "destroy target creature" theme. And as a 5/5 flyer, it is also the beater we don't have among the assassins.



Now this is fun. Actually this is ridiculous. I will say no more about it and will first give you my Nekrataal Avatar deck's cardlist.

Nekrataal Avatar, A Vanguard Extended Deck by Lord Erman

10 Lands

10x Forest

4 Other Spells

4x Glimpse of Nature

1x Avatar

Nekrataal Avatar

46 Creatures

4x Accursed Centaur
4x Bile Urchin
4x Blood Pet
4x Cabal Trainee
4x Carrion Feeder
4x Carrion Rats
4x Festering Goblin
4x Gnat Miser
4x Maggot Carrier
4x Putrid Imp
4x Thoughtpicker Witch
4x Zombie Cannibal

This guy is just pure evil!

Yes the deck has some green in it and yes this should have been mono-black. But hey, I'm the Necromancer remember? I am not your true-to-his-word white mage, so I can cheat! And I cheated. To me, this deck is mono-black.

I will not explain the deck but instead of it, I will show you a picture which is worth a 1000 words.



I told you, it is ridiculous.

A personal note: I am not the inventor of this deck so all credits go to him/her.



And this will be our last deck. Actually I should have said, these will be our last decks, as I have 2 decks for this format.

Mono-black in all the formats has a very important feature; to be able to draw cards. It could be Phyrexian Arena or Gravestorm; in either case we are drawing cards. But in TSP Block, we just can't (and no I'm not considering Null Profusion as an option).

Here is my first TSP Block mono-black deck.


Mono-Black Control - A TSP Block Deck, by Lord Erman

24 Lands

20x Swamp
4x Desert

10 Creatures

2x Magus of the Coffers
4x Twisted Abomination
4x Stronghold Overseer

3 Artifacts

3x Phyrexian Totem

23 Other Spells

2x Enslave
4x Extirpate
4x Sudden Death
4x Tendrils of Corruption
4x Damnation
4x Stupor
1x Temporal Extortion

This is almost exactly the same deck I suggested for STD format, only with a few differences here and there. We don't have Phyrexian Arena and we don't have Consume Spirit in this format and I tried to fill those slots with Enslave and Tendrils of Corruption. Other than these two cards, nothing new here. 

So let me move forward to the final deck.

Mono-Black Discard, A TSP Block Deck, by Lord Erman

22 Lands

18x Swamp
4x Desert

7 Creatures

4x Twisted Abomination
3x Phantasmagorian

7 Artifacts

3x Phyrexian Totem
4x The Rack

24 Other Spells

4x Funeral Charm
4x Sudden Death
4x Tendrils of Corruption
4x Mindstab
4x Smallpox
4x Stupor


Yes I remember that I said I will avoid discard in the casual room. And I cheated you again! Well, normally I wouldn't build such a deck but I just couldn't resist the beauty of this doll torn in two:

The Rack

Although both decks I suggested are strong decks(at least in the casual room), they lack the ability to "reload", meaning card drawing of course. If the next set called Future Sight can solve this problem, perhaps they can then also be considered as tourney decks one day, who knows!

Okay dear readers. I think we have seen enough of the miserable life of a Necromancer in different formats. All of the decks are fun to play but that's it; don't expect to win anything with them or you'll be dissapointed. I like playing those decks in the casual room because while playing those decks, I can have great time and break no one's heart in the meantime. As I said earlier, you have to be careful about what you play in that room or you'll stay all alone and blocked by all.

Thank you very much for reading.

Take Care,
Nafiz ERMAN, a.k.a. Lord Erman



by Anonymous (Unregistered) (not verified) at Fri, 02/08/2008 - 10:49
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what about a freeform mono black control deck

Necromancer in limbo. by N_i_g_h_t_m_a_r_e (not verified) at Sat, 03/24/2007 - 18:17
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I'm a huge fan of mono-black, and try to this day to find ways to make it viable even in extended. It's very true that mono-black can wreck house in casual settings but in serious settings I continue to see them falter. I'd love to see something like mono-black aggro running off of bad moon or something take off, but it hasn't happened yet as far as I can tell. When I first saw the card Damnation I had hoped that this might bring hope to the monoblack necromancer but until I acquire it myself I will need to watch for its potential from the sidelines.

P.S. I loved the vanguard deck you listed. (while you didn't make the deck initially yourself as you stated,) It gives me a reason to consider getting that avatar for a few rounds of fun.

by Lord Erman at Tue, 03/20/2007 - 12:32
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I still keep my Disks, Tourachs and Racks and play that deck against my wife from time to time!! And what you say is true, Armageddon to WW... ehem... Boom/Bust to Boros Deck Wins is a huge boost it is obvious. I haven't played much standard games in the tourney room recently so I really cannot tell the exact impact of this "boost" but I guess that every Boros Deck Wins player is now experimenting with the new Armageddon.

Irony! by Elvish_Dragon at Tue, 03/20/2007 - 18:24
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Ironically, my next article is on mono-black... if I could get off my lazy butt and do all the HTML'ing for the game listing. >.< Great article! The 39 creatures was insane ^^ Totally facebeating!

Good Article by jinx_talaris at Wed, 03/21/2007 - 02:57
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I've always been a huge fan of black magic >:D Might I suggest placing one or two Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoths in any/all of the mentioned decks? That card has changed my life...well not my life, but most of my opponents! Great job overall.

by Lord Erman at Wed, 03/21/2007 - 05:35
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Thanks guys for all the comments and to jinx: I really don't know how I missed that card. Thanks for reminding me. I put 2x in each deck after your comment. Thanks!

The Necromancer from Hell by Rob_Zombie2002 (Unregistered) (not verified) at Wed, 03/21/2007 - 08:57
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My comment is pretty much for your opening. Your right, necromancy is one of the (in my opinion) hardest options in MTG. Because everyone knows the power that a necromancer can bring to a table is absolutely devastating, sometimes nearly unbeatable in classic, people truely do want you gone asap. The necromancer is therfore forced to play fast, hit hard, and most importantly decieve his enemy.

I'm sure many of you who've read my previous articles or met me know that I'm a a tournament veteran of over 10 years, every one of those years clear on to this day I've run reanimation decks of various objectives. Reanimator has never been harder to play than it is today what with all the reanimator hate that easily attainable right now and the fact that it fits in almost any deck.

The biggest problem that I've found with people running reanimator now is the lack of diversity, they rely solely on 1 creature/combo and are screwed if it gets destroyed. Anti-blockers like Thorn elemental and anti bounce like Plated Slagwurm are not even thought of even though they can save your backside against blue and white. Eternal Witness is even overlooked despite of the fack that it can virtualy give you a second chance in mid/late game against critter killer decks. People even forget the use of dual lands, not even imagining that they might draw a reanimation intended creature and get screwed on topdecking a reanimation card.

Since this comment is getting long, and i'm about to start ranting (yes about to start lol), I'll end with this, Reanimator decks are not yet gone from tournament play in classic, in fact, they can easily own the format against nearly any deck with the right mind behind them. It's simply a matter of building your deck with diversity, speed, strength, and failsafe in mind.

For anyone that is interested in powerful reanimator decks feel free to contact me on MTGO on the account Rob_Zombie2002 if i'm not there simply leave a message, i'll get back to ya.

Great effort by Mikail52 at Tue, 03/20/2007 - 12:09
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Nice effort friend. Keep up the good work. Would you please prepare an article for mono red fans like me.

The Way it Was... by thescale99 at Tue, 03/20/2007 - 12:22
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I like the article about the state of Mono-Black. Back in the Dark Ages of MTG (insert pun here), mono-black/discard was all the rage: Rack, Blacknight, Hymn to Tourach, Nevinyrral's Disk, etc. I get the sneaky suspision that white/red could now be that deck w/ Soltari Priest/Icatian Javelineers/ Savanah Lion, Magus of the Disk, Boom/Bust, etc. Basicly, a Boros Wins build with some mass destruction. Thoughts?