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Goldfish Gladiators: Mono-Black Aggro

Welcome to Goldfish Gladiators, a new series with a twist: rather than taking place on Magic Online, Goldfish Gladiator is focused on Magic Arena. This week, we're trying something that people have requested for a while now: a budget deck for Magic Arena—Mono-Black Aggro. The idea of the deck is simple: we play all of the cheapest, most efficient black creatures in the format, hope to dodge Goblin Chainwhirler, and kill our opponent quickly before they can stabilize. The upside of the deck is that it has zero mythics and only 14 rares (with four of the rares being free Glint-Sleeve Siphoners that you already have in your collection). Can a budget deck compete in Magic Arena? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Goldfish Gladiators: Mono-Black Aggro


  • As for the record, we finished our quick constructed with a 4-3 record, which isn't exciting in paper but really isn't all that bad for a budget deck. If you can consistently go 4-3 on Magic Arena, you'll grow your collection with free cards while also getting your entry fees back from the tournaments themselves, so in some sense, going 4-3 (or better) is ideal for a budget deck on the client.
  • The deck itself can be powerful in the right matchups—the clock is fast, and it can kill opponents pretty quickly. On the other hand, if we don't win the game quickly, the deck doesn't really have much of a chance to win in the late game. While Graveyard Marshal and Scrapheap Scrounger's graveyard synergies help a bit, our odds of winning if the game goes long is pretty small. 
  • Goblin Chainwhirler is brutal. While the metagame shifting more toward control is good for Mono-Black Aggro, I'm not sure how Mono-Black Aggro consistently beats the red decks that are near the top of the Standard format. 
  • One of the downsides of the deck is that there really aren't many upgrades to be made, as the build we played in the videos already has the best black aggro cards in the format. It's also questionable whether the deck will survive rotation. About half of the creatures will leave the format, and while Guilds of Ravnica might bring replacements, the multi-colored nature of the set might make remaining mono-black difficult.
  • As far as the budget, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is free, so the only rares we have to deal with are two Scrapheap Scroungers, four Graveyard Marshals, and four Dread Wanderers. While there isn't another good one-drop option to replace Dread Wanderer (the best options are likely Night Bridge Patrol, Sparring Construct, or Blight Keeper, none of which is anywhere near as good as Dread Wanderer) the two-drops are easily replaceable, with Gifted Aetherborn not only being a good option but one that might actually make the deck better by improving the mono-red matchup. The other two-drop slots could be filled by Knight of Malice, which isn't fully powered with no white cards in the deck but is still more than reasonable. Of course, losing Graveyard Marshal and Scrapheap Scrounger would weaken the deck against control, but it might be worth the trade-off, especially if you are trying to build the deck with as few rare wildcards as possible.
  • In the end, my advice would be to make Mono-Black Aggro for as cheap as possible and use it to grind for more cards. While it seems unlikely that you'll be hitting the seven-win mark very often, going 4-3 is reasonable, even if you play the non-rare build we were just talking about. Plus, the deck plays fast, which is what you want if your goal is to grind into a collection for free. While Mono-Black likely isn't as competitive as Mono-Red, if you are looking for a different style of budget deck that is still competitive enough to hit four wins and earn some free cards, it seems like a solid budget option.


Anyway, that's all for today. As we wait for Guilds of Ravnica to release, we'll be playing more limited and maybe some of the weird weekend events here on Goldfish Gladiators over the next few weeks! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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