Born of the Gods: Playing to Your Weaknesses – Black

(NOTE: “Playing to your Weaknesses” is a series of articles I have been doing on my own blog since Avacyn Restored that cover all of the uncommons and commons in a new expansion and which ones I would choose to use as one of the 23 cards in a 40 card limited deck. For those of you uninitiated to limited, it simply means sealed and booster draft, where you open packs and then proceed to make a deck out of them. I’ve purposely left out the rare cards because it is much more likely that you’ll see multiples of uncommon and commons in your packs/pools.)

(Click here for my article on Theros limited – black)

I seem to remember saying that there was VERY little removal in Theros at the uncommon and common rarity. This made for some battle royale, monstrous battles where the person to get the bigger beater online usually won the game. When we open up our packs of Born of the Gods, it will play out quite differently. Let’s take a look at some of the black cards you’ll be putting in your decks come next weekend for the pre-release. 

Asphyxiate

Asphyxiate

Well, it’s no Hero’s Downfall or Murder (M13), but Asphyxiate will get the job done. It might not have many targets when playing against a heroic deck, but all other strategies should be fair game. Kill their blocker, take out their creature with reach . . . . this card is pretty good in limited. I’d much rather have this than a Pharika’s Cure or Sip of Hemlock, which is why I would probably take this as one of the first 3 cards in  a draft and give it a top 10 spot in my sealed deck.

Bile Blight

Bile Blight

Let’s do a little math. 92 of the 138 creatures in Theros have 3 toughness or less, and there are only about 20 or so creatures from Born of Gods that could survive a spell like this. Sure Lash of the Whip does -4/-4, but it only hits one creature. Bile Blight is going to be big in standard, giving black a board wipe against aggro decks that gave it fits in the past, but it should also be pretty good in limited. Without knowing what your opponent is playing it might not be as effective as a Lash of the Whip, but if your opponent has at least 1 copy of a creature with less than 4 toughness on it, you suddenly get a 2 for 1, which is pretty big in limited. It also plays well against token creatures. I think it would be a pretty good card in draft because your opponents will be trying to take multiples of the same cards for consistency, so take it around pick 5 or 6 (or higher if there aren’t better removal choices). I think you can’t go wrong in sealed either because this card is only 2 mana. It makes it much better than Pharika’s Cure, and earns a spot in the top 10 cards of a Black/X for me. 

Drown in Sorrow

Drown in Sorrow

This card will be downright nasty against heroic decks in limited, but should also be good against at least half of the creatures in the block (There are 59 2-toughness creatures alone in Theros). Lets face it, black hasn’t had too many 1 or 2 toughness creatures that you’d want to play. I don’t know how many times I played Fellhide Minotaurs in black cause I had nothing else, but at least he was a 2/3. Great removal in a GB deck, but would fit just about any other black theme you can come up with. I think I’d take this as a first pick in draft, and it would be one of the first cards I sleeve up for my sealed deck as well.

Forlorn Pseudamma

Forlorn Pseudamma

That one toughness is PAINFUL, but at least this card has intimidate. It is a more aggressive Inspired card than the other ones I’ve seen so far, and you should have no problem activating it’s ability every turn after this card attacks (unless you’re playing against black yourself). Mono black devotion was a good deck in Theros limited if you had the cards like Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but most of the time black was nothing more than an afterthought. I think this will be a solid card in BNG limited, and would probably take it as my 5th or 6th pick in a draft if I was going black. This card might actually be good in a B/X heroic deck as well. 

Marshmist Titan

Marshmist Titan

Speaking of mono black devotion decks, black lacks big bodied creatures. Marshmist can be pretty good in a black leaning deck like UB control. I think it’s safe to count him as a 4 drop, because there is a good chance you’ll have 3 black symbols on your board by turn 4. If you’re going the mono black route, he should be a high pick in both draft and sealed, but otherwise you should adjust when to take him in draft according to how black your deck is leaning.

Nyxborn Eidolon

Nyxborn Eidolon

Well, we had the functional reprint of Holy Strength (sort of) with Nyxborn Shieldmate, so why not remake Unholy Strength as well (sort of). Black is lacking good enchantment creatures, but every bit counts. It further strengthens blacks presence in combat, and works in just about any strategy (even black/X heroic decks). It’s not a high pick in draft (maybe 7th or 8th?), but I think it would earn a spot in my 23 for sealed.

Odunos River Trawler

Odunos River Trawler

Ohhhh, a black Auramancer that lets me get not one but TWO enchantment creatures from my graveyard if I pay white? This is a pretty awesome card, especially in a BNG limited where there are close to 70 enchantment creatures. Did your Erebos or Heliod somehow die? Bring them back to your hand! Heh, while I don’t see that situation happening anytime soon, I think this card would be good splashed in a heavy enchantment creature deck, or even splashing white in a Black/X deck to activate his secondary ability (I personally think splashing black for his cost is better). Great targets for him would be Boon Satyr, Courser of Kruphix, or Herald of Torment to name a few. With all the enchantment creatures being added to the mix, I think he would be a solid card in any deck. I wouldn’t take him high in draft (6th-7th maybe?), but I think I’d reserve a spot for him in my sealed deck. 

Sanguimancy

Sanguimancy

Talk about a double bladed sword. Do I want to put myself in mortal danger, or draw a crap ton of cards? If you play this in a mono black deck I’d say you’re crazy, but in a two color, Black/X deck, this could be pretty good, especially if you have ways to gain back the loss of life (Whip of Erebos, Hopeful Eidolon, etc). Hell, I’d be willing to pay 4 life for 4 cards on turn 5. I mean, just wow. This is going to be a first pick in draft, and a MUST play in sealed. Just don’t get too greed with your life total. 

Servant of Tymaret

Servant of Tymaret

Soooo, when you regenerate a creature that would die, it becomes tapped and removed from battle . . . and when you untap he drains a life from your opponent. Hmmm, pretty good card I think. He can be aggressive and attack, activating his Inspired ability that way, or if your opponent has the advantage, he can stem the loss of life by 4 each turn (thanks to the life gain during your untap). He’s a very well designed card for this mechanic. Not a high draft pick, but I wouldn’t mind playing him in my sealed deck. Bonus points if you can win a game with both him and Scholar of Athreos.

Spiteful Returned

Spiteful Returned

No available for a limited time only! Turn any creature you control into a Pulse Tracker (WWK)! Heh, all jokes aside, I like this card. Pulse Tracker, for those of you that didn’t play during Worldwake, was a 1 mana vampire that caused a player to lose 1 life whenever it attacked. This zombie does it better, and can do it from the safety of another creature’s body. This means you can get two uses out of him, thus getting 4 damage out of him before he dies when attacking the following turn. The bestow cost also isn’t bad either. Yet another card that I would play in any black deck I was building. If I had a choice between this or Baleful Eidolon, I’d choose this one definitely. Not an early draft pick, but you don’t want to let him go around a second time if you didn’t choose him your first time. 

Other Cards that Might See Play

  • Claim of Erebos – well, I don’t think you want to risk losing a creature to removal to put this on it, nor do I think you want to sacrifice a spot in your deck for it, but if you have a lot of good Inspired abilities and want to activate them, then by all means play this. 
  • Necrobite – well, it acts as removal (sort of). You can block a big creature with a small one, kill the big creature, and regenerate yours. If you want more removal or don’t have enough, it’s worth playing. 
  • Warchanter of Mogis – Again, not a bad card, maybe even playable, but this is a card that I would probably play as my 23rd card in my deck because I couldn’t find anything better. The inspired ability is good, but I think there are better cards than him. 
  • Weight of the Underworld – If you’re playing mono black or just need more removal, this is probably an alright card. I’d probably play a creature instead of this in my sealed deck though, but if you have nothing else it’s worth a try. 

Coming Up Next

Black’s looking pretty strong now, isn’t it? I think UB is going to be a pretty difficult limited deck to beat now, but even the subpar GB monsters deck should benefit from all this added removal. No more having to worry about your Nessian Asp being continuously blocked by a chump if you have a Drown in Sorrow! Plus, how sick is Sanguimancy in limited play? That card is going to do a lot of work.

Phew! It’s Monday and I already have 3 articles done. This is boding very well for me, even though I have a heavy workload the rest of this week. I’ll be talking about Red next, and should have the article up on Wednesday sometime. If you have any comments or suggestions for black, please leave them down below!

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