Return to Ravnica: Play to your Weaknesses – Black

Sorry about the delay. I’m back again and today’s color is black. Just as before, I will put down my picks for the best/most useful uncommons and commons, and I will also list what my friend chose for his best commons as well. But before I start, I want to talk real quick about mana acceleration in Return to Ravnica. In previous sets, we had Avacyn’s Pilgrim, Borderland Ranger, and Arbor Elf, but this time around mana acceleration is a little harder to come by. We have great mana fixing cards such as the gates and the other dual pain lands, but as far as creatures are concerned, only the 3 mana Axebane Guardian in green can create mana. So how else can we speed up our decks a little?

Keyrunes

Rakdos Keyrune

Keyrunes are the new Signets. I don’t think they are as good as the signets (which were 2 colorless mana to cast, and added two of your Guild’s colors to your mana pool when you tapped it with one mana), but the Keyrunes will help you to speed up your decks somewhat as well as give you a creature to use in a pinch. This is good for colors that traditionally DON’T have mana acceleration (Red, white, blue, and black). I think the Rakdos Keyrune is one of the best, creating a 3/1 first strike demon when you pay two mana, but the other ones aren’t bad either. When you are building your deck, think about tossing some of these in there if you’re playing with bigger creatures. Two would be even better if you can swing it.

Black cards

Ultimate Price

It’s always good to start out with a removal spell. As always removal is really important in sealed and booster drafts. Matches usually come down to who has the biggest creatures and who can hit the hardest, fastest. But if you are packing some removal, you can gain the upperhand very quickly. Ultimate Price is a good removal spell, even if it only targets monocolored creatures. There are going to be some untouchable creatures, but it won’t be any worse than Victim of the Night (ISD) which only targeted non Zombie/Vampire/Werewolf creatures in a largely Zombie/Vampire/Werewolf set. It’s not as good as Murder either, but one of it’s benefits are that it can be splashed into a deck VERY easily. If you’re running three colors and your black sources are few, you can still cast this relatively easily. There are going to be plenty of one color targets, so I would recommend playing with this if you get it. (btw, does anybody know if this would kill Artifact creatures which are colorless? Do those count at one color or as NO color?)

Stab Wound

Ohhhhh, this is just gruesome! I love the flavor of this card. Stab a creature and let it slowly die, passing on its pain to  to its master. I’d love for some 3/3 Selesnya Centuar to enter the battlefield, then you stick this on him the next turn and let him attack for one while he does 2 damage to your opponent each turn. This also works really well with cards like Rakdos himself that give you bonuses depending on how much life your opponent lost this turn. This would definitely fit into a Rakdos deck first and foremost, but it could be splashed into almost anything X/X/black deck. It also works well as removal against creatures with 2 defense or less.

Cremate

You’d think that Cremate would fit into the sideboard of most decks, but why not play it main? Sure you’ll get the most benefit out of it against a Golgari opponent, stopping them from Scavenging and beefing up their creature, but in the end this is “Draw 1 card for one mana”, and it’s in black. I’d definitely use this, and you can splash it into black/X deck no problem. I’d definitely use this card.

Dead Reveler

Pretty sweet common if you ask me. For 3 mana you get a decent blocker with 3 toughness, or for 3 mana you get a 3/4 beater that is going to be hard to kill on turn 4 unless your opponent teams up against it. People have already been talking about how sick this card will be in Heartless Summoning decks (1 black mana for a 2/3 that can’t block!), but I think it will be pretty good in limited as well. Plus look at his typing! He’s a freaking zombie! BR and UB Zombies are going to be absolutely nasty post rotation. Again, I’d use him in pretty much any black deck.

Dark Revenant

I see soooo many combos with this card. Altar’s Reap (ISD) gets you two cards when you sac a creature, so you’d draw him and one other card right away, but with some Blood Artists in play that can get pretty bloody for your opponent rather quick. In limited, I can see Dark Revenant becoming a staple of Golgari decks, sacrificing him to Jarad cause your opponent to lose life, or sacrificing him to the Golgari Guildmage to add 2 1/1 Saporlings on the battlefield each turn. Four mana might be a little high, but I think that’s fine considering he can be splashed, has flying, and just . . . won’t . . . die!

Deviant Glee

It’s Unholy Strength (4th) on steroids. Dear GOD. Really? Give it trample? Unleash your Dead Reveler on turn 3, then on turn 4 attack with a 5/4 trampler? Geezus. This will go straight into any Rakdos deck I think. It would also work in a GRB or BRU deck too I think. Nothing would be worse for your opponent than you Unleashing a creature, scavenging some of your Golgari creatures for a power boost, then slapping this on it to give it trample. Wow . . . this could be a game ender if your opponent doesn’t have an answer for it.

Slum Reaper

It has built in pseudo-removal and is a 4/2 for 4 mana which isn’t bad at all. If you’re playing a Golgari/Selesnya tokens deck, sacrificing a token will be no problem, but it could cripple your opponent if they are creature-lite. It won’t fit into all decks, but I think a Golgari deck would be the best for it.

Terrus Wurm

Probably the most “meh” of my selections, but I don’t want to leave out beaters like I did with Avacyn Restored. You’re going to need some creatures for later in the game. This guy will give you two game enders in one. He’s a 5/5 that you could slap that Deviant Glee on to make a 7/6 trampler, and when he does die, you can move all that power onto another creature you have, effectively taking the Wurm’s place. His typing is good too, but I don’t think you’ll see him in any Zombie decks post rotation ^_^.

Chris’ Picks

Just like with Green, Chris also made his pick of what black (common) cards he thinks will be great in limited.

  • Dead Reveler
  • Drainpipe Vermin
  • Launch Party
  • Grim Roustabout
  • Mind Rot
  • Ogre Jailbreaker
  • Perilous Shadow
  • Sewer Shambler
  • Stab Wound

We agreed on a few cards (Stab Wound, Dead Reveler), but Chris had quite a few different ideas for his  other commons. I’ve learned that he believes that the format will be much slower than past ones, and that it’s going to come down to who is the most aggressive with their decks (ie, who hits hardest and fastest. Maybe Rakdos will be king in limited?). Chris’ inclusions of Drainpipe Vermin and Mind Rot make it seems like he thinks that making players discard cards will be useful in this format. I do not. I believe that many players will be playing with Golgari or some mix of Golgari colors, and if that’s true discarding a card with Scavenge could turn out to hurt you more. However, it would be really strong against control and direct damage decks like Azorius and Izzet.

Launch Party almost made it to my list. It would work really well in a Golgari deck where you could just recycle the creature through scavenge, and it also combos GREAT with Dark Revenant. Like I said up above, removal is really important in limited, and black gives you a lot of it if you’re willing to pay the price. This card is also an instant, which means you can attack and if your creature is going to die, you can just sacrifice it and kill a creature instead. Your opponent losing 2 life is also a bonus. I’d definitely play with this card.

Grim Roustabout was also on the cusp of my list. It’s a 2/2 attacker with regenerate that can’t block, or a 1/1 that can. The cost was a little too high for me though. There were other 2 mana creatures that I’d put in my curve instead of the Roustabout (like Daggerdrome Imp). It’s not bad, but I wouldn’t take it first. It would probably be a creature that I’d draft later on as a 20+ pick.

Ogre Jailbreaker isn’t a bad card either. It’s a 4/4 blocker, which puts it at the top of the “defender” cards in power, and if my guess on the guild packs are true, then everybody should be getting a gate card in their packs. If that’s true, then he’d be a great midrange threat in your deck on the 4th turn. Otherwise he’s still a lethal blocker.

Perilous Shadow is an interesting card. Without mana, he’s just a 0/4 wall, but if you have an extra 2 mana to throw around he can become a very formidable blocker or an attacker that just won’t go down. However, will you always have that mana to throw around? Mid-game maybe not, but late game he could be your savior. He’s much better than the fragile Liliana’s Shade (M13), but he also requires a bigger investment if you want to turn him into a threat.

Sewer Shambler is also a decent card. If people do choose to go with Rakdos and Golgari en masse, he could do some major damage with swampwalk. Stack all your enchantments, your scavenged souls . . . everything on him and just attack away. Scavenge is also a good ability, so he might also fit in well to your Golgari decks. It might be possible to fill your deck with all scavenge creatures and just keep trying to make the biggest monster on the board.

Wrap Up:

Just like last time, take a good look at both sets of recommendations from Chris and I. If the card fits your strategy use it.  I think both us are leaning towards decks that deal the most damage the fastest are going to win. If that’s true, I think BRU (Rakdos/Izzet) would be a great combination. You get burn, kill spells, large, fast creatures, and card draw. If you aren’t going to use these colors this weekend (or when drafting), be aware of how they could be used and realize what kind of threat it could be to you.

Sorry about the pace of the posts, but I will do my best to get another color done by tomorrow night. Thanks again for reading!

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