A Whole New World: MTG post rotation – Black

Almost done! I plan on being out all Friday night and most of Saturday, so I don’t think I should wait on putting out this next post. No new spoilers for Return to Ravnica since my last post, but you can be sure there will be some new cards featured on the net by Monday when I finish these articles about cards that will be rotating out on October 5th.

I’ve chosen to do Black today as my color of choice, and while looking through all of the rotating cards I was a little let down. I thought there were more cards to talk about, but cards from the newer sets have displaced a lot of the past powerhouses. There are still some cards that are going to be hard to replace, but others shouldn’t have a hard time being replaced at all.

Here’s the my list of the top 10 cards that will be missed in October in black when the rotation happens:

  1. Dismember
  2. Doom Blade
  3. Go for the Throat
  4. Phryrexian Obliterator
  5. Massacre Wurm
  6. Black Sun’s Zenith
  7. Phyrexian Crusader
  8. Grave Titan
  9. Surgical Extraction
  10. Skinrender

1. Dismember

Dismember is at number 1 for the same reasons that both Gitaxian Probe and Gut Shot were high : they are pretty much free to cast with Phyrexian Mana and they have great value. Outright destruction and damage have lost a lot of their luster in the current metagame, and giving creatures -X/-X has taken their place. This could explain why cards like Mutilate (M13) and Tragic Slip (DKA) have become more popular lately. Decks that were usually removal light suddenly had a great card to use against their opponents. Tragic Slip and Mutilate will definitely fill up more sideboards after the rotation, but they’ll have to be relegated to decks running black (especially Mutilate, which will probably see play only in Mono black decks). This won’t effect any decks in particular, but I’m sure it will be missed in many sideboards.

2. Doom Blade

Right now be the only time you’ll be able to splash death into your deck. Doom Blade was great because it was one colorless and one black, and killed a non-black creature. Against Zombies it has problems, but against other decks it was great. UB Control and other control decks (Grixis, BR) will miss it when it rotates, but Wizards isn’t leaving us totally in the dark. Murder (M13) kills everything at 3 mana, but with two of those being black it might be tough to get off early in a non-mono black deck. Victim of Night (ISD) might take over for it in the 2 mana spot, but with Zombies and Vampires (Falkenrath Aristocrat (DKA) and Blood Artist (AVR) ) seeing a lot of play in the metagame lately, black might be looking somewhere else for removal. I think the answer will mostly like come in RTR, because as of now it looks like black removal is going to suck.

3. Go for the Throat

Again, Murder (M13) will kill everything, but both Doom Blade and Go For the Throat are superior cards because of their lower casting costs and their ability to be effectively splashed in various decks. Right now you can kill a Grave Titan and Griselbrand in the metagame for two mana, but afterwards you’ll have to go with Victim of Night or with nothing at all. UB Control is probably going to be a little weaker until Gatecrash when more Dimir (blue/black) cards are released, but don’t count it out. Talrand, Sky Summoner (M13) will make some major inroads in UB control I think, and the focus will shift to making as many tokens as possible instead of countering and killing everything to pave the way for a big creature like Grave Titan late in the game.

4. Phyrexian Obliterator

Damn you Zombie decks. You just have TOO many weapons! I thought Geralf’s Messenger, Mortarpod, and Blood Artist were insane, but lately you’ve be using Obliterator too! Stop! Just stop! It hurts! If you didn’t have something to destroy it or remove it from the game, you were most likely taking all of the damage. This card was horrible to play against. I can’t think of any cards that would be able to replace the Obliterator in Zombie decks, so be thankful it’s losing some of its power. UB/BR Zombies will still be a top deck, but it might be slowed down a little bit by the lack of a UB land in RTR and no strong finishers (aside from Geralf’s Messenger). But that never stopped it before. The biggest dangers are going to continue to be Blood Artist and a Gravecrawler (DKA)/Bloodthrone Vampire (M13) combo.

5. Massacre Wurm

Another beastly creature is leaving black. It does seem that a lot of the big creatures like the Wurm, Grave Titan, and Phyrexian Obliterator will be leaving black in October, so Wizards must be planning on some really nasty black creatures in Return to Ravnica. There’s no way that Griselbrand will be left as the biggest black baddie on the block. Massacre Wurm saw some play in UB Heartless Summoning decks, but recently it’s also appeared alongside Blood Artist in Zombie Birthing Pod decks. Both of these decks are on their way out, so don’t think it will affect the metagame too much when it rotates. Curse of Death’s Hold (ISD) will fit into some sideboards if you want the negative power/defense part of the Wurm’s ability, but I think what players will really miss is that -2 life. In a metagame full of 1/1 and 2/2 creatures, not to mention tokens, throwing this bad boy out could kill and opponent by making them lose 2 life for each creature.

6. Black Sun’s Zenith

I’m really going to miss the Suns. All of them were great because they could be used again and again (as long as they weren’t countered), and next to the Green Sun, Black Sun’s Zenith was the 2nd best. A few months back it saw a lot of play in UB Control decks, but recently it has fallen out of play, especially in Grixis decks where Bonfire of the Damned (AVR) is the better finisher/board wipe. Luckily Mutilate (M13) and Killing Wave (AVR) can take its place in October, but both are somewhat weaker without the ability to be shuffled back into the player’s library. In a UB deck Snapcaster Mage will become a lot more important.

7. Phyrexian Crusader

This is a great card against Naya Pod decks right now. It’s safe from Bonfire of the Damned/Slagstorm (MBS)/Whipflare (NPH), Celestial Purge (M12), and Oblivion Ring (M13), and it also fits in well in both mono black infect decks and Zombie decks because of it’s typing. It usually sits in sideboards (aside from mono black infect), and comes into play against red decks more often than white decks. The reason it sees the most play isn’t because of it’s typing, cost, first strike, or infect however. Protection from Red and White are simply amazing on a black card (especially against cards like Pillar of Flame (AVR) that remove cards from the game), and it’s going to be hard to replace in the sideboard. We’ll definitely see more Zombies in RTR, but I think a lot of those are going to be green and black Golgari zombies in the first set, and they’ll be lacking stuff like protection from X and Y colors.

8. Grave Titan

Grave Titan was the king of Esper and UB control decks months ago. He was the finisher you knew was coming but could do nothing about by the time it was cast. Lately, he’s been seen a little bit in Zombie Pod decks, but with the drop in popularity of control, the Grave Titan has fallen into obscurity compared to his Inferno and Primeval brothers. He’ll be around up until the end in fringe decks like UB control and Esper, but you won’t see any UB zombie players using him. There are a few cards that might be a decent replacement in UB decks, but nothing like him. Talrand will definitely take over the token creature producer part, but for beaters, Griselbrand will most likely take up that mantel. The draw back is that he’s a Legendary creature and you can only have one of him in play at a time.

9. Surgical Extraction

Another great Phyrexian mana card. I used Surgical Extraction a lot in my UR deck. It helped me to win quite a few games by taking out their Delver, Birthing Pod, or Geist of Saint Traft. Of course it’s mainly a sideboard card, but strangely enough I haven’t seen it at all recently. Memoricide (SOM) is also rotating, so we’re going to be losing two cards that can cripple a persons deck. In their place we’ll have Shimian Specter (M13), but at 4 mana and a 2/2 creature, he’s a lot more susceptible to being killed before you even get the benefit of removing their cards from the game. Sever the Bloodline (ISD) is great for creatures that are already on the battlefield, but it doesn’t affect non creature cards like both Surgical Extraction and Memoricide can. I’m gonna miss ya S.E., but I’ll make it without you.

I should also state that this card will probably see some modern/legacy play so don’t worry about the price taking too much of a dive. Most Phyrexian mana cards will be around for a long time in the older formats, so hold onto them if you have them and wait for their prices to go up in the future!

10. Skinrender

The last card I chose was Skinrender, and just like my other color lists, I’m not really sure if this should be included in the list or not. The only deck it’s seen prominently in is Zombie Birthing Pod in the 4 drop spot. Outside of Zombie Pod, I haven’t seen it in any other deck. The loss of it in rotation won’t be felt in the slightest. If you can think of another black card that will be missed more, let me know and I’ll switch it up. Other possibilities could be Rune-Scarred Demon, Distress, Despise, Sheoldread, Whispering One, or Necrotic Ooze, but I’ll let you decide what I should feature as #10. None of those has seen much play in the metagame lately, but then again, perhaps your gaming are is different from mine.

Let me know!

Wrap Up

Black is going to be lacking spot removal at first, but I’m sure that problem will be solved in Return to Ravnica. There is no way they’d let Victim of Night and Murder take on all of those duties in the next block. Zombie decks should make it through the rotation relatively untouched, and I think it will be one of the top 3 decks in the weeks following the release of RTR. Black is also going to be losing some heavy beaters, so look for black mages to focus more on hitting you and your creatures with spells. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the main combo being Blood Artist (AVR)/Killing Wave (AVR) in black and zombie decks. I think Esper, Grixis and UB control will also weaken a little, but Esper will be the worst off because Ohrzov (sp? the white/black guild) and Dimir (UB) won’t be released until the second set. I expect both BR (Rakdos) and UR (Izzet) to gain A LOT of good cards in RTR, and that means Grixis is going to get a definite power up.

And that does it for today’s post. Again, I welcome any comments or suggestions on this topic, and I can’t wait to be finished this weekend with my final article about white! Afterwards I’ll take a break from the RTR talk and focus a little bit more on the recent metagame in Nagoya, along with a few posts about new shops I’ve been to in Aichi prefecture. Stay tuned and see you again!

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