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Paul Hagan's Magic The Gathering Deck Garage
 MDG: Extended Mono-Black Control - 4.05.05

Hey all, and welcome back to the Deck Garage. I don’t have any major news, announcements, or comments, so I guess we can just jump right into the fixin’ this week. Here’s the e-mail I’m running with…

19 Swamp
1 Phyrexian Tower
1 Volrath's stronghold

4 Blood Pet
3 Festering Goblin
3 Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker
3 Phyrexian Plaguelord
3 Mesmeric Fiend

3 Chainer's Edict
2 Consume Spirit
4 Jet Medallion
3 Vampiric Tutor
3 Night's Whisper
1 Cranial Extraction
3 Diabolic Edict
3 Cabal Therapy
1 Urborg Justice


2 Bone Shredder
3 Engineered Plague
1 Urborg Justice
1 False Cure
2 Eradicate
1 Kill Switch
1 Cranial Extraction
2 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
2 Terror

I'm trying to take this to a PTQ and hoping to rogue deck my way into placing, so budget is not all that important to me. This particular PTQ is EXTENDED, so I believe that my deck is legal.

WIth that said, let me give you a rundown of how this weird looking deck works. The main controling components are the edicts, Shirei with Plaguelord and Jet Medallion for acceleration. WIth a Plaguelord in play I am able to pretty much get rid of any threat that comes my way in creature form, and with Shirei, it makes it even worse, for my opponent. The Mesmeric Fiend is in there to look at their hand (in place of duress) and he combos extremely well with Cabal

I was think about adding (at most 2) Braids, Cabal Minion to disrupt my opponent even more. I could also use some help fixing my Sideboard. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated even if you don't post my deck online.

Thanks for your time and consideration


OK, for starters, Mark has done a great job on his deck thus far. It looks like he put a fair amount of thought into it, and there are a lot of good card choices. However, there is always room for improvement, and that’s what this article is here for. Before I get rolling, I have to do a quick fix that doesn’t warrant a lot of space. Urborg Justice is only from Weatherlight, and therefore is not legal in Extended.

-1 Urborg Justice
-1 Urborg Justice [SB]

The biggest thing that jumped out at me initially was Mesmeric Fiend over Duress. With combo decks showing up en masse at Grand Prix Seattle and Eindhoven, you really can’t afford to (A) only temporarily get rid of a card and (B) wait a turn to force the discard.

-3 Mesmeric Fiend
+4 Duress

I think seven discard spells should be adequate, though if Mark expects a field that is more aggressive, he could easily cut a couple of those.

The next big change I’d like to make is to get rid of the weak-end creatures, Blood Pet and Festering Goblin. Although there are situations where these two guys might be good, here is not the place.

-4 Blood Pet
-3 Festering Goblin

With these two cards gone, and the fact that there aren’t a ton of 1-casting cost creatures roaming around Extended right now, Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker can probably take a hike as well.

-3 Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker

Now the question arises: what creatures do we put in, if any? My first instinct is to actually shift this deck closer to a true mono-black control build, with few creatures and a ton of spells. I think that might be a good way to go (mind you, not the only way), so why don’t we try it out.

Going along our planned route, we need a definitive win condition. Since I can’t really think of too many more solid creatures than Nantuko Shade, why not run with a playset of him?

+4 Nantuko Shade

I can’t quite help thinking that there is one more card that I’d like to play with, one that is actually out of Betrayers of Kamigawa. With Diabolic Edict, Vampiric Tutor, and possibly one or two more instants in Mark’s deck, it couldn’t hurt to run a few Toshiro Umezawa to get extra use out of Mark’s instants.

+2 Toshiro Umezawa

Looking over Mark’s deck now, we have a win condition, a way to clear the path, and a few extra spells for other purposes, such as Night’s Whisper. Looks good, right? Well, there are a few more things we can do. There are still two slots to be filled, once of which I think can be dedicated to land, and there are a couple of cards that can probably come out. Let’s start with pulling cards first, then determining how to use the empty slots.

Consume Spirit is, in short, just too slow. Extended is a fast-paced environment, where you must be taking advantage of every card in hand, otherwise you will be at a severe disadvantage. Consume Spirit, at least in the early game, tends to be a dead card.

-2 Consume Spirit

Jet Medallion might have been a decent call in the original build of this deck, but now that it is trimmed down, Mark will rarely need high amounts of mana with exception of Nantuko Shade.

-4 Jet Medallion

Next, I don’t think sacrificing any of Mark’s dudes for mana would be a good idea, so out goes Phyrexian Tower.

-1 Phyrexian Tower

Now that we have cleared out all of the remaining space, what needs to come in? There are 11 slots remaining. I think the first order of business is to fix the land (not Mark’s fault, but mine), so let’s throw in a couple of Dust Bowl to take care of any opponent’s troublesome non-basics, one swamp to fill in the rest, and move on.

+2 Dust Bowl
+1 Swamp

I almost didn’t include this part, but I think it is the right call. I want to up the count on Vampiric Tutor to four. You can get away with three easily, but I’m running with four. My biggest concern is too much loss of life between Tutor and Night’s Whisper, and if that is an issue, then I encourage Mark to lose one of them.

+1 Vampiric Tutor

Next, since Mark is running with Vampiric Tutor, why don’t we throw in one copy of Haunting Echoes? There are games where it can be extremely relevant, and it can’t hurt with all of the discard and removal Mark is packing.

+1 Haunting Echoes

For the same reason as including Haunting Echoes above, let’s add a single copy of Smother. There are some games where there will be a specific creature you want to get rid of, and Edicts don’t help that.

+1 Smother

I also don’t see a reason to run just three Plaguelord. It’s good enough to warrant four, plus it counts as more removal.

+1 Phyrexian Plaguelord

Now that we’ve messed around with the count on a bunch of cards, we really have four slots left with which to play. Since there are a number of decks running around with small creatures that do tricks (see: Waterfront Bouncer, Cavern Harpy, etc.), why don’t we include two ways to deal with those threats: Hideous Laughter and Night of Soul’s Betrayal. Hideous Laughter is also good for a quick, effective board sweep.

+2 Hideous Laughter
+2 Night of Soul’s Betrayal

As for the sideboard, there are a few cards that I think have to go to make room for other cards that warrant a slot. Terror, Bone Shredder, and Eradicate all have to go, on grounds that the deck seems like it has plenty of removal as is, plus we’ll be throwing in at least one more, better removal card into sideboard before we’re done.

-2 Bone Shredder [SB]
-2 Eradicate [SB]
-2 Terror [SB]

False Cure is OK enough card, and I have used it on occasion. However, the only major life-gainer I see in most Extended decks is Ravenous Baloth. I think Mark can get more than four life out of a card, so out goes False Cure.

-1 False Cure [SB]

Finally, I didn’t want to cut this card, but I have to in order to make room. Out goes Kill Switch.

-1 Kill Switch [SB]

For those match-ups where Mark’s opponent will take a while to set up their win, I’ve included three Phyrexian Negator. Mark’s opponent will get to sit back and stare at a 5/5 trampler that they need to deal with in the immediate future.

+3 Phyrexian Negator [SB]

For match-ups that include either (A) combo elements or (B) control strategies, I’ve thrown in a fourth copy of Cabal Therapy.

+1 Cabal Therapy [SB]

There are plenty of green creatures roaming around Extended, so I think Mark should at least run a couple copies of Perish.

+2 Perish [SB]

Also running around in Extended is a *lot* of graveyard manipulation, especially with the addition of Eternal Witness. Some people will point you in the direction of Withered Wretch, but I think it is generally better if you have graveyard disruption in instant form that your opponent might not plan around.

+3 Coffin Purge [SB]

That wraps up work on this deck; here’s how it came out.

LAND (23):
2 Dust Bowl
20 Swamp
1 Volrath's Stronghold

4 Nantuko Shade
4 Phyrexian Plaguelord
2 Toshiro Umezawa

3 Cabal Therapy
3 Chainer's Edict
1 Cranial Extraction
3 Diabolic Edict
4 Duress
1 Haunting Echoes
2 Hideous Laughter
2 Night of Soul’s Betrayal
3 Night’s Whisper
1 Smother
4 Vampiric Tutor

2 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
1 Cabal Therapy
3 Coffin Purge
1 Cranial Extraction
3 Engineered Plague
2 Perish
3 Phyrexian Negator

Hope that helps, Mark, and good luck! I’ll see y’all next week.

-Paul Hagan


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