Eldritch Moon: 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 be using a new format this time around. After a lot of feedback, I’ve decided to abandon my 3 tier scoring system of Low-Medium-High and I will instead be moving onto a 5 star ranking system. The system is as follows:

  • 1 star = a card that is barely playable, even as filler for your deck
  • 2 stars = this card could be a strong sideboard card, but is highly conditional and not always effective
  • 3 stars = a 3 star card is a solid role-player. These cards could be less than amazing removal effects, or a creature that is a glass cannon (high power, low defense). They could be good except for a few flaws.
  • 4 stars = Here’s where we get into the powerhouses. 4 Stars could be good finishers, or cards that can end a game if left unchecked. They also have multiple effects, and are all around good value for you. The only thing holding them back is restrictive costs or some small drawback. Most first pick draft commons/uncommons fit into this ranking.
  • 5 stars = you won’t see a lot of these at common and uncommon. These will usually be your rares and mythics because they are incredibly bonkers. Planeswalkers, massive creatures, etc., these are the cards you could build a deck around. No questions asked first pick in draft.

 

Looking back on SOI limited, the black cards in the set actually had a decent amount of removal effects compared to the other colors, and the madness cards were rather good as well. For Eldritch Moon, we get a few more playable removal effects, and a METRIC CRAP TON of zombies. If white pushed humans and blue pushed spirits, zombies are definitely going to be pushed in black. It feels as though SOI and EMN wanted to give some lesser played creature tribes to play with, and it did a damn good job of it. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some of these cards showing up in modern decks down the road, and in standard humans won’t be the only tribe on the block anymore.

 

Murder

The last time Murder was in standard was in M13. It never saw any play when it was standard legal due to the superior removal spells during Innistrad/Ravnica standard such as Ultimate Price and Tragic Slip. Nowadays, a 3 mana instant that kills ANY creature is incredibly strong in standard. The metagame has become so creature-centric and the removal so slow that anything like this will see play in standard. For limited, of course this is in most cases a first pick. No disadvantage removal is rare, especially at 3 mana and at instant speed. Grab it when you see it because you won’t see it again in draft.

RATING: 4 Stars

 

Ruthless Disposal

This type of effect in the past would have been garbage, but in EMN/SOI limited it should be alright. It gives you a way to cast a card off of madness and targets 2 creatures to kill. There is absolutely no way a creature will survive this, even Emrakul. Its draw backs are being sorcery speed and 5 mana, but in a solid UB or RB madness deck I think it’s a great card. If you are playing with any good madness cards, pick this up as one of your 23.

RATING: 3.5 Stars

 

Certain Death

Lots of people have been comparing this to Sip of Hemlock in Theros limited, and that’s pretty much what it is, but slightly better. Instead of killing a creature and hurting your opponent, it now drains them. It’s unconditional removal again and if you step back and look at all of the black removal cards from SOI and EMN, you can probably agree that black has the de facto best removal in limited. It would not be hard to draft an almost entire set of 6-7 removal spells in black for your deck. Screw getting creative with combat tricks, just straight out kill stuff! I’d have given it a higher rating except that it’s 6 mana and sorcery speed.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Boon of Emrakul

Boon of Emrakul can kill a large number of creatures it enchants, but it can also do a good job of pumping up the power of those high toughness creatures like the 1/5 blue spirit with flying or turn your Kessig Dire Swine into a 9/3 glass cannon with trample later in the game. It’s a decent card for both offense and defense, so if you’re short on removal pick it up.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Borrowed Malevolence

It’s not really going to kill anything, but it’s a hell of a combat trick. For 3 mana you can turn the tables on your opponent’s creature at instant speed, buffing up your creature while debuffing them. If you’re in BW humans or UB flyers this isn’t a bad tempo effect, but don’t take it over any of the above mentioned removal spells. This is one of those cards that I’d probably add into my deck as the 23rd and final choice in limited.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

Markov Crusader

While black has some really good removal this time around, I’m kind of disappointed by their creatures. There are a few good cards, and there is definitely some synergy to be had in various archetypes, but there isn’t anything that really screams “pick me, pick me!”. Markov Crusader is okay though, especially if you can grab a few vampires like Heir of Falkenrath or Olivia. Good power level, life link, and not too expensive. I think it will show up in a large amount of black decks. Roleplayer, but not game winner.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Thraben Foulbloods

Thraben Foulbloods is a well balanced card I think. It starts off with a decent body and fits on a mana curve well, and in a well developed BW or GB Delirium deck you should have no problem turning it into a 4/3 Menace. I would take a card like this rather high in draft if I was in black for those reasons. It’s never bad to have too many 3-4 drop creatures that allow you to put the pressure on your opponent quickly and constantly.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Olivia's Dragoon

It’s a black “bear”, but being able to give it flying and using it to activate madness are both great effects. Good card for any black deck out there, and I expect it to be rather popular in limited. If you can’t grab a Heir of Falkenrath for your BR or BU madness deck, Olivia’s Dragoon is the next best thing. I don’t expect these to come back around the table to you in draft if you let it pass you by. I’d take it somewhat high in draft if possible and definitely play it in my sealed deck.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Haunted Dead

Haunted Dead is one of the sweetest limited cards in this entire set. Lets start off with the obvious. It’s a zombie that gives you a 1/1 flyer for 4 mana, which by itself is good value. When it dies you can bring it back to life and get another spirit token, and since it’s a discard effect it also activates your madness effects. Being 4 mana also means that you can use it for Emerge effects to reduce the cost of that creature. When you add all of these effects together, you get a dream card in limited. It fits into any type of deck, gives you great value, and comes back to life repeatedly. I would especially like this card with Relentless Dead and Prized Amalgam. It’d be hard to not first pick this I think.

RATING: 4 Stars

 

Gavony Unhallowed

Gavony Unhallowed is a great blocker that gets bigger and bigger the longer a game goes on. It will be hard to kill outside of black removal, and it’s zombie typing is definitely an asset. It combos VERY well with Haunted Dead, Prized, Amalgam, and Emerge effects. Fill up your deck with lots of tokens and watch it grow! If you see this around your 4th or 5th choice in draft I’d grab it. I think it’s useable in all limited black archetypes.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Liliana's Elite

Liliana’s Elite can be hit or miss though. If you play it late in the game you could be getting a 4/4 or 5/5 but it’s not something you want early on in the game. Overall I think it’s a good pick in limited, but it would benefit from effects that let you pitch cards to the graveyard or fill it up quickly like delirium effects or Liliana’s Indignation. Luckily it’s a zombie though, so if you have a card like Geralf and Gisa you can keep playing it again and again while filling up your graveyard with non-zombies.

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

Dusk Feaster

A 4/5 flying creature that isn’t rare is great, but not one for 7 mana. If I’m not able to activate delirium efficiently with my deck, I’d much rather be playing a bigger 6/6 or larger finisher for 7 mana, like one of the Eldrazi. Not saying it’s unplayable, in fact I think it will show up in non-delirium decks, but if you want to get the best value out of this card play it in a GB, UB, or BW delirium themed deck. There are very few things that beat a 4/5 flyer in the air.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Midnight Scavengers

Midnight Scavengers is one of the Meld cards and while the flipped side is strong and worth getting the other piece to flip, I’m just trying to look at this card by itself first. Bottom line, you get a Raise Dead effect on a 3/3 creature for 5 mana and I think that’s worth playing. I’m not sure how rare both cards are going to be in limited, but I think they’ll be appearing at a similar frequency of other flip cards so don’t expect too many in a draft or in sealed. Word of advice, if you see this card it might just be this card, but if you see Graf Rats I’d expect the player to have both and to be able to Meld them together. Just an FYI.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Skirsdag Supplicant

I’m not sure how good this card will be. It has a good body, only costs 3 mana which means it’s on curve, and it gives you another discard outlet to play madness effects. If you’re not able to gain that life back it could become a liability though. Probably best in a BW with some life gain effects.

RATING: 3 Stars

 

Graf Harvest

In UB Zombies, this is going to be an awesome card. There are more than a dozen playable zombies at common and uncommon, and having this card in play makes even the 3/5 Lamplighter of Selhoff or a Stitched Skaab dangerous. With a creature heavy limited deck of about 15-17 creatures, you can expect to get at least a few zombies from this enchantment, and adding in a few zombies to that number makes it worth playing. If you’re playing a lot of madness and delirium effects, it shouldn’t be too hard to put a creature or two in the graveyard by turn 4. I think it’s hilarious with Eternal Scourge. 

RATING: 2.5 Stars

 

Other Cards That Might See Play

  • Rise from the Grave – Along with Ever After, it might be possible to put together a limited reanimator/delirium/madness deck that pitches big creatures like Eldrazi and then put them into play.
  • Succumb to Temptation – Sign in Blood and Read the Bones saw limited play, and drawing cards is always good.
  • Vampire Cutthroat – Not bad if you have Olivia or other effects that boost its power level. Good in a life-centric build with Lone Rider.
  • Weirded Vampire – Playable 3/3 “hill giant” that fits well in a deck heavy with discard effects. Nothing to write home about. One of those 20th-23rd cards that could easily get cut.
  • Graf Rats – most of the time you’ll see these in the same deck as Midnight Scavangers, but there will be rare occasions they’ll show up in an aggressive deck cause it’s a 2 mana 2/1.

 

Coming Up Next

 

As I said above, there aren’t too many amazing creatures in black but the synergy is definitely there to push certain archetypes to the next level. Decks like UB zombies will be much better this time around, and the removal effects from both Shadows Over Innistrad and Eldritch Moon will make black one of the most popular colors in EMN limited. I expect BW and GB Delirium decks to get better too with all of the added discard effects and delirium based cards from the new set, but I wouldn’t overlook UB delirium either. It’s an up and coming archetype. BR Vampires also shouldn’t be too bad with the amount of removal between the two colors to choose from and the large number of vampires.

That will do it for today’s article, but if you have any other combinations I didn’t mention or think I over/under rated a card, please let me know in the comment section below. I’ll be working on Red a little bit tonight but I probably won’t be able to get it out until Thursday night due to work. Be sure to check back and read it when you can before the pre-release!

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