Dragons of Tarkir: 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.)

As for my rating system, I’ll merely state if it’s a high, medium, or low pick in draft. A HIGH pick means that you should take it as soon as you see it (if it’s in your colors of course). HIGH picks are bombs that won’t come around the table a second time. MEDIUM picks are cards that have good synergies with other cards and are great at filling your mana curve or acting as role players. These cards might come around a 2nd time if you pass on them, so if there is another card that ranks higher, take that one and wait for this to come back. LOW picks are cards that are the leftovers. Maybe you need a 23rd card for your deck to round things out – THAT’S what a LOW pick is. You can take these ratings to mean the same for sealed as well. )

Whoo boy. Black sure didn’t hold back this time around. Players have been clamoring for better removal spells and black has it in SPADES. This couldn’t have been a better time to flood the limited format with removal spells seeing as most of the creatures in the format are 4 power or more flying monsters. Big creatures means BIG removal spells. I think you’ll agree with me when I say black is back. Before you continue, be sure to check out my picks from Fate Reforged in this link.

 

Ultimate Price

Ultimate Price

The Ultimate Price is death, and for 2 mana it is totally worth it. Fate Reforged had a very small amount of multicolor creatures, and while DTK has more than double, this card should still be absolutely amazing in limited and picked up as soon as you get it passed to you. Well, don’t take it over a bomb rare, but it’s definitely good to have it if you’re playing with black. Its only draw back in this format is going to be the morph creatures, which are colorless. But then again, you should have no problem taking them out as they flip!

RATING: HIGH

 

Vulturous Aven

Vulturous Aven

I REALLY like this card. For 4 mana I can get a Sign in Blood and a 2/3 flyer? Don’t mind if I do! This really enriches the limited format and makes playing black that much better. While this creature might not be winning any battles against dragons, it adds to the synergy in UB Exploit decks and makes playing a card like Palace Familiar that much better. It’s a must have in UB flyers, and probably worth playing in decks with a lower curve that need some gas later in the game to keep the pressure on.

RATING: High-Medium

 

Foul-Tongued Shriek

Foul-Tongued Shriek

Speaking of low curve decks, Foul-Tongue Shriek would work great with a BW warrior deck. If you load up on 1-3 casting cost creatures you could easily burn an opponent out with this card on turn 5 or so. Limited decks tend to have 14+ creatures anyways, so you’re bound to get at least 4 points of damage from this effect later on in the game, possibly getting lethal. It is also a big tempo swing. BG is also another valid choice, as well as UB flyers since they’ll be hard to block as it is.

RATING: Medium

 

Rakshasa Gravecaller

Rakshasa Gravecaller

Lots of value here. 5 mana for a beefy wall that lets you put in 2 creatures for the price of one is good in my book. The mana cost isn’t too high, and putting 3 creatures on the battlefield is pretty strong. It still gives you some room for finishers at 5 and 6 mana, but it also lets you get rid of weaker creatures that have outlived their usefulness. As with the other Exploit creatures, amazing with both Palace Siege and Tasigur.

RATING: High-Medium

 

Death Wind

Death Wind

Not great early on in the game, but it becomes pretty good removal later on. I’d want it in my 23 cards. Pay 5 to kill a 4/4 dragon, pay 7 to kill most of the other dragons . . .  considering Ultimate Price only kills mono colored creatures and Murderous Cut is in KTK, you’re going to need something to kill those huge creatures or you will downright die.

RATING: Medium

 

Ambuscade Shaman

Ambuscade Shaman

Dash creatures work well in those aggressive BW and BR decks, and the Shaman can make your creatures downright nasty. I’d probably play him in a BR deck to be honest along with cards like Goblin Heelcutter, Mardu Scout, Lightning Berserker, and anything else with Dash. I don’t expect the colors to be that popular, so it might not be too hard to get 6-7 dash creatures in the deck to go along with him. If you play a Warbringer things will just get downright silly. You can choose to play him as a 4/4 haste each turn, or drop him and attack with your other haste creatures. I also like this synergy with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Bring back a creature, give it +2/+2 . .  . there are lots of things you can do with him.

RATING: Medium-High

 

Reckless Imp

Reckless Imp

Speaking of cards that go well with the Shaman, Reckless Imp is great. You can sneak in 2 damage early with its dash ability while building up the board, and if you are playing with the Shaman you can instantly pump him up to a 4/4 flyer with haste. Even if you don’t have a Ambuscade Shaman in your pool, this is still a solid card. Flying on a black creature isn’t that rare, but for this mana cost and power level it kind of is. I’d play it in BR Dash aggro, UB Flyers, and it would probably be good in BW and BG too. It’s only draw back is not being able to block. Play some tempo spells or removal and you should have no problem getting in 6+ points of damage with it.

RATING: Medium

 

Silumgar Butcher

Silumgar Butcher

The Butcher is playable I think, but just barely. He has built in removal which is useful, but 5 mana for a 3/3 is cutting it close. At 5 mana I want to be playing bigger creatures and good spells. He does add to the UB midrange Exploit deck though, and gives you a way to both fill your graveyard for Delve and to take out a bigger creature after damage is dealt. I guess 5 mana would mean you have an extra creature to sacrifice to him from turns 1-4, like Shambling Goblin.

RATING: Medium-Low

 

Minister of Pain

Minister of Pain

Minister of Pain creates quite the tempo swing when she comes into play. If your opponent is playing with goblin, warrior, and soldier tokens she could wipe their board. Shambling Goblin suddenly takes out a 2 toughness creature when it dies, and if you’re playing a BR dash deck your creatures have a definite advantage that turn. Her 2/3 body is also respectable, so I would consider her a roleplayer in any other Black deck, such as UB flyers, BW warriors, etc.

RATING: Medium

 

Acid-Spewer Dragon

Acid-Spewer Dragon

You can expect to get at least 3 dragons in a sealed tournament, and it wouldn’t be too hard to get a few in draft either. Deathtouch + flying is probably better than the lifelink guy, but it stills depends on how many other dragons you’re playing. If the top end of your deck is 3-4 dragons, I think he’s worth playing, though I would probably take something costed slightly lower in its place instead. Probably something to finish out your 23 card pool.

RATING: Low-Medium

 

Other Cars that Might See Play

  • Blood-Chin Rager – Good in a warrior deck, so so without other warriors.
  • Coat with Venom – If your removal is subpar and you are playing a creature heavy, aggressive deck, this is a good alternative.
  • Defeat – Side in against aggro decks.
  • Flatten – much better than Throttle was in KTK. Probably should be up above with the strong recommendations.
  • Foul-Tongue Invocation – better with a dragon in hand, but only really good if your opponent has few creatures. It’s still helping you win through attrition though.
  • Hand of Silumgar – Solid roleplayer in black decks. Deathtouch will keep creatures from attacking/blocking, also has the warrior typing which helps in certain situations.
  • Marang River Skeleton – Yay, Dredge Skeletons with morph! A 2/2 regenerating creature is pretty good.
  • Marsh Hulk – This guy is a solid beater. I’d play him at the top end of my deck most of the time. He’ll usually become a 5/7 which is pretty awesome in limited. He’ll be able to survive almost any attack and block anything on the ground.
  • Shambling Goblin – Good early attacker that can get through 2 toughness creatures, also combos well with Exploit.
  • Sibsig Icebreakers – Works great with Delve, also puts your opponent at a disadvantage

 

Coming Up Next

Wow. Black was a big shock to me. There are some really good cards in this color and I think I might be tempted to play UB now instead of GR or GW. The removal is good, the creature abilities are deep and have a lot of lines of play . . . I definitely want to recommend that you play with black at your next limited tournament. I think it will be one of the most powerful colors in FRF/DTK limited.

If you have any other suggestions or comments, or if you can think of any other combinations or synergies from the colors I’ve talked about so far, I’d like to hear from you. Please post any comments down below. Thanks for reading, and check back tomorrow for my next color: Red.

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