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Much Abrew: Mono-Black Control (Standard)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Last week during our Instant Deck Techs, our Standard offering—Mono-Black Control—was the most popular, so today, we're heading back to the super-fun Dominaria Standard format to see if the addition of Dread Shade, Demonlord Belzenlok, and Josu Vess, Lich Knight to the format can make an entirely new archetype! The main plan of our deck is simple: we draw a bunch of cards with Treasure Maps, Arguel's Blood Fasts, and Karn, Scion of Urza; eventually make a ton of mana with Cabal Stronghold; and then finish off our opponent with a handful of big late-game threats. Is Mono-Black the right control color for Standard? Can it unseat the more popular (and traditionally powerful) UW Control deck? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck! 

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Much Abrew: Mono-Black Control (Standard)


  • While we didn't have a lot of easy games, our record was pretty solid. Not only did we finish 4-1 in a competitive league but we started off 4-0, putting us just one win away from the perfect 5-0 finish!
  • Let's start by discussing the new Dominaria additions that make the deck possible. First, Karn, Scion of Urza is amazing and even more amazing with four copies of Treasure Map to up the artifact count and make our Construct tokens into even bigger threats. It's probably the best card in our deck, allowing us to grind for value by drawing cards and eventually offering us a way to close out the game by way of Construct tokens.
  • Josu Vess, Lich Knight is better than it looks because it's actually not that hard for our deck to get to 10 mana, thanks to Cabal Stronghold. We missed at least one chance to kick it by scrying it to the bottom when we probably should have kept it on the top of our deck to try to make a lethal board of Knight tokens. While it isn't all that exciting as a four-drop, it's a great 10-drop and certainly worth of a slot in the deck as a one- or two-of finisher. 
  • Demonlord Belzenlok was impressive. While some amount of luck was involved, double- or triple-hitting with its enters-the-battlefield trigger stole us some games that we otherwise likely would have lost. Plus, a 6/6 flying body is huge, blocking Heart of Kiran, Lyra Dawnbringer, and Rekindling Phoenix
  • Cabal Stronghold was great. Heading into our league, I was worried that it would make casting Dread Shade difficult, but that was rarely a problem. While the land doesn't make extra mana until the late game, our deck is pretty good at surviving until the late game, and then Cabal Stronghold quickly pulls us ahead by letting us cast multiple spells in a turn, draw a bunch of cards with Arguel's Blood Fast, or simply win the game with Torment of Hailfire or Josu Vess, Lich Knight.
  • The one Dominaria card that was least impressive was Dread Shade. While we did steal a game with it, for the most part, it just died to removal. While eating a removal spell isn't bad, since it means our other creatures are more likely to live, I was expecting more explosiveness out of the three-drop.
  • Perhaps the most impressive thing about Mono-Black Control is that it felt like we were in every matchup. While I'm not sure we're heavily favored against anything, I don't think we're really an underdog to anything either. As such, a combination of tight play and a bit of luck means that no matter what our opponent is doing, we have a chance to win with the deck. Just don't expect many easy wins, since nearly all of our matches went to three games and most of our individual games were pretty close. 
  • The Mastermind's Acquisition plan was pretty good. Randomly getting sideboard cards in game one can steal wins, and having access to Torment of Hailfire to finish off the game when the situation calls for it is a nice upside. I could see going up another copy. 
  • As for other changes to make to the deck, having two Arguel's Blood Fast in the sideboard might be overkill, and with how the meta has shifted toward powerful planeswalkers, having a couple of copies of Sorcerous Spyglass seems like a good idea. As for the main deck, playing just one copy each of Demonlord Belzenlok and Josu Vess, Lich Knight might be correct. This would open up a couple of slots to play another Mastermind's Acquisition and another removal spell. Plus, with an extra Mastermind's Acquisition, we'd still be able to find our big finishers when we need them, even as one-ofs. 
  • So, should you play Mono-Black Control? I think the answer is yes. While the exact build can probably use a bit of tweaking, the deck felt like it had the power to keep up with most of the best decks in Standard, with plenty of card draw and good finishers against control and good early-game interaction (and Gifted Aetherborn) against aggro. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Mono-Black Control make a name for itself as a solid tier-two option in Dominaria Standard as we move toward the release of Magic 2019!


Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck by liking, commenting on, and subscribing to Instant Deck Tech videos! 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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