Mono Black Control for M13 Standard

July 4, 2012 | Posted by Dee

Black got a couple good control cards in Magic 2013 (M13) so many players are building Mono Black Control decks for post M13 Standard.

Mutilate gives the deck a powerful board sweeper spell while Sign in Blood is a strong card draw effect. Vampire Nighthawk is a good defensive creature and Duress is a cheap way to fight counterspells, planeswalkers, and removal spells.

Here’s where I would start with the deck.

Mono Black Control
Spells (29)
Creatures (7)
Lands (24)
Sideboard (15)

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I based this decklist from a deck that did well in a Magic Online Daily Event earlier this week. I just added a bunch of Swamps and some M13 cards: Vampire Nighthawk, Sign in Blood, and Mutilate in the main deck and Duress in the sideboard.

You might be surprised to see 0 Liliana of the Dark Realms. I tested the new M13 planeswalker but she didn’t do enough.

Her first ability is kind of weak. There are better ways to get more mana and having a bunch of Swamps is not really beneficial.

Her second ability can be powerful but it costs too many loyalty counters. Plus, you can’t activate it right away without losing her in the process.

Ultimate abilities are supposed to affect the board in a major way. Unfortunately, the ultimate of Liliana of the Dark Realms oftentimes doesn’t affect the board at all.

So, I went back to Liliana of the Veil. She is a better planeswalker. She’s cheaper and she can dominate the game by herself without any help. Liliana of the Dark Realms needs other cards to be useful.

If you’re thinking of buying or trading for Liliana of the Dark Realms, I would definitely go for Liliana of the Veil instead.

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The deck has a lot of removal spells to slow down creature decks.

There’s a 2/2 split between Go for the Throat and Doom Blade because you want them in different matchups. This mix of removal should be modified to fit your local metagame.

I like Tribute of Hunger because it regains the life that you lose from Sign in Blood.

Mutilate and Black Sun’s Zenith are your mass removal spells to gain card advantage against aggro decks.

Sever the Bloodline is pretty sweet tech. It may seem like it costs a lot but you’ll be happy it’s in the deck whenever you face multiple Strangleroot Geists and Geralf’s Messengers.

It’s a great card versus Solar Flare after they cast Sun Titan and return multiple Phantasmal Images. You can target the original Sun Titan and exile the copies. Here’s the ruling.

Also, Sever the Bloodline exiles Wurmcoil Engine and deals with an army of token creatures with the same name like Spirit. Here’s the ruling about token creatures. The flashback ability is solid against control decks because it gives you card advantage over a long game.

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Vampire Nighthawk buys you time because all his abilities make him a great blocker. Later on in the game, he can help you mount a comeback by gaining you life.

After you survive the early game, the deck has a couple finishers to end the game in your favor. You’ve got 4 planeswalkers, 1 Grave Titan, 1 Batterskull, and 1 Mimic Vat.

Most of the finishers are expensive so there are 4 Solemn Simulacrum to ramp up your mana. Plus, the artifact creature interacts well with the mass removal spells.

You should play around with the number of copies of the finishers, depending on your local metagame. For example, Grave Titan is vulnerable to Phantasmal Image while Karn Liberated, Sorin Markov, and Batterskull are not.

However, the planeswalkers are much weaker to Zealous Conscripts than Grave Titan. Batterskull is pretty good in many situations but it struggles against Titans and artifact destruction.

Liliana of the Veil also acts as a finisher since her ultimate is devastating.

Nihil Spellbomb is a situational card but it replaces itself at a cheap cost. It helps against reanimator spells and undying creatures.

Over to You

Are you building a Mono Black Control deck for post M13 Standard? If you are, what does your deck look like?

28 Responses to “Mono Black Control for M13 Standard”

  1. Devon on July 5th, 2012 11:52 am

    My list is looking something like this mono black control
    1 batterskull
    4 ichor wellspring
    1 mimic vat
    4 sphere of the suns
    3 nihil spellbomb

    4 solem
    1 grave titan

    1 curse of deaths hold

    2 go for the throat
    2 tribute to hunger
    2 tragic slip

    2 karn
    3 lily
    1 sorin markov

    3 distress
    2 barter in blood
    1 black suns zenith
    1 lifes finale

    14 swamp
    2 buried ruin
    2 ghost quarter
    4 phyrexia’s core

    2 druidic satchel
    1 elixir of immortality
    1 nihil spellbomb
    3 ratchet bomb
    1 curse of deaths hold
    1 karn
    1 lily
    1 sorin
    1 barter in blood
    1 lifes finale
    1 distress

  2. Dee on July 5th, 2012 12:02 pm

    I like it.

    Are you going to test any M13 cards?

  3. Phil Johnson on July 6th, 2012 12:04 am

    Awesome decklist Dee, perfect mana curve. I can’t wait to start casting Sign in Blood & Mutilate again.

  4. Dee on July 6th, 2012 1:10 am

    Thanks and congrats on your top 8 last weekend!

  5. bryan on July 6th, 2012 2:44 pm

    Do you feel that there is any way to make use of liliana of the dark realms at all?

  6. Dee on July 6th, 2012 9:20 pm

    If I had to play Liliana of the Dark Realms, I would look to build a deck that could use all the mana she can generate. I would play cards like Diabolic Revelation and Consume Spirit. Also, I would try out the combo of Sorin Markov with Sorin’s Vengeance. Liliana seems decent with this combo since Sorin’s Vengeance costs a lot of mana.

    I’m not sure how good this deck will be. If you test it, let us know how it goes. You can use proxies to try out the M13 planeswalker to see how good she is before buying or trading for her.

    Liliana of the Dark Realms will get much better when they reprint shocklands in the next block, Return to Ravnica.

    With shocklands, she can fix your mana so you can play more colors. At the same time, shocklands are still Swamps so you wouldn’t lose the synergy with Mutilate.

  7. Devon on July 7th, 2012 4:31 am

    I don’t like Liliana of the Dark Realms as much as Liliana of the Veil even with the shock lands. She in my opinion doesn’t do enough with a Clear Board where as a Unchecked Liliana Of the Veil is basically good game. And I have changed the list to where I dropped Sphere and Wellspring for Sign In Blood and Pristine Talisman and I replaced the phyrexia’s core with Caverns.

  8. bryan on July 7th, 2012 12:56 pm

    Just curious, in what situation would you sb two more lilly of the veil? 4 seems overkill. I was thinking obliterator would fit nice in her place in the sb?

  9. bryan on July 7th, 2012 3:43 pm

    Also what do you think of the interaction between ichor wellspring and phyrexian core over spellbomb. Maybe sideboard them completely? That way you have even more draw power. Or do you feel it would take too much away from mutilate?

  10. Dee on July 7th, 2012 11:01 pm

    @ bryan

    Regarding the Liliana in the sideboard, it depends on your metagame. If you have a lot of red/green decks, then Phyrexian Obliterator is pretty good.

    However, I like having access to 4 Liliana if the metagame has a decent amount of control decks. If you only have a few control decks in your metagame, then replacing the 2 Liliana with something better is a good move.

    Regarding Ichor Wellspring and Phyrexian Core, I don’t think it would take away from Mutilate that much as long as you have at least 20 Swamps. I’m more concerned about not having double black on turn two to cast Sign in Blood.

    My land base used to be 20 Swamps, 2 Buried Ruin, and 2 Ghost Quarter, but I kept having these opening hands with only one Swamp, a colorless land, and Sign in Blood.

    Maybe I just unlucky but it still made me cut the Ghost Quarters for Swamps.

    Also, if you’re going to play Phyrexian Core, you should probably play Mycosynth Wellspring too. That’s a different card draw engine. You don’t need Sign in Blood anymore because you don’t want too many card draw spells. You need the fill the deck with other cards to keep it balanced.

  11. bryan on July 8th, 2012 3:18 pm

    I have a lot of control matchups in my meta so it seems that 4 Lilly’s is the way to go. I think I’d rather have access to sign in blood over ichor wellspring. I dont want to alter the deck list too much so I think I will stick with spellbombs and signs like you have posted above. Thank you for answering my questions; I REALLY like this deck!

  12. Nicholas on July 8th, 2012 4:56 pm

    I built a Mono Black Control, using sorins vengeance combo. I am currently 9-1 with the build. Lost to red/haste.

    Mutilate x4
    Liliana Of the Dark Realms x3
    Sign in Blood x4
    Pristine Talisman x3
    Murder x3
    Distress x4
    Black Sun’s Zenith x3
    Sorin’s Vengeance x4
    Go for the Throat x1
    Sorin Markov x4
    Mind Rot x3

    Duress x4
    Despise x3
    Elixir of Immortality x2
    Hex Parasite x3

  13. Dee on July 8th, 2012 9:52 pm

    @ bryan

    No problem, thanks for your comment and good luck!

    @ Nicholas

    That’s definitely another way to take the deck. The combo with Sorin Markov and Sorin’s Vengeance is pretty strong.

  14. bryan on July 10th, 2012 1:34 pm

    @ Nicholas

    Have you thought about running blood artist?

  15. bryan on July 10th, 2012 6:23 pm

    So I dk why I didn’t think of this earler but do I think army of the damed could be a viable option with all this control? How about you?

  16. Dee on July 11th, 2012 1:20 am

    It seems pretty good as a one-of if you have enough ramp spells. Maybe even a two-of if you jam the deck with a ton of ramp.

  17. bryan on July 11th, 2012 9:55 am

    You dobt think with all the control that it would be a viable one of?

  18. Dee on July 11th, 2012 12:42 pm

    Hm, good point. It is only one more mana than Karn Liberated.

  19. bryan on July 11th, 2012 2:37 pm

    Maybe drop a spellbomb? I dk

  20. Chris on July 11th, 2012 2:37 pm

    I am finding it amusing to see comments about Vengeance being expensive. Its not expensive at all. It costs 7 mana. We don’t even need to consider the designated cost in this deck. What you need to think about is that for the first 6 turns you are mainly trying to stablize the game state anyway, so at that rate, its not even on the horizon of being a problem. Additionally, If you play Sphere and Prestine, your Vengeance clock comes within range of being an early backbreaker.

    I don’t even run Sorin in my deck. I just run them through with the sword twice since I like the sound it makes on MTGO :P

    It is sad though that the card finally gets a little love and its time to rotate out :(

  21. Dee on July 11th, 2012 9:33 pm

    @ bryan

    That could work.

    When you test the deck, every time you draw Army of the Damned, ask yourself if it would be better than Nihil Spellbomb.

    This helps you figure out which card is better.

  22. jacob on July 12th, 2012 7:44 am

    @ Chris

    How do you deal with Huntmaster/Thrangtusk/Pristine Talisman?

  23. bryan on July 12th, 2012 11:55 am

    Overall nihil is much easier to use and more practical. I guess ill just drop AOTD.

  24. ALUCARDAFK on July 25th, 2012 12:41 pm

    @Chris I’ve thought the same way, and both of the decks I play regularly run on Vengeance. But Sorin is nice when they mana leak/cancel your Vengeance and your staring at them with 20 life still. So I play 4x Vengeance and 2 Sorin – that usually works out for me.

  25. Chris on August 23rd, 2012 10:36 pm


    I tried your deck to the tee and then tweaked it up a bit, and this deck is now absolutely sick. Here are the changes I made to your deck..

    -2 Karn
    -2 Lilliana of the Veil
    -2 Spellbomb
    -1 Solemn Simulacrum
    -2 Ghost Quarters

    +3 Sorin Vengeance
    +3 Lilliana of the Dark Realm
    +1 Mimic Vat
    +2 Swamp

    this is the setup i use and I personally found it to work a lot better. This gives you at best a 1 turn setup to the kill and a 2 turn setup to the kill and both really are not hard to do. You alrdy stated what Dark Realms abilities are, so we dont have to explain too much of that, but second ability matched with a Vat creature for the haste after using a mutilate or sun is almost a sure win later on in the game, plus you add the Sorin Combo and with lilliana’s help, comes out a lot quicker, especially if you emblem. All this done without losing too much of the control this deck has, which is excellent. If there is a small tweak, could sub either Vengeance or 1 Vat for another black sun or 2, depending if your deck is made to emblem or to sickeningly boost up a creature for the kill.

  26. mike on August 24th, 2012 1:05 am

    guys in a deck like this you dont use lili of the dark realms ultimate for the ramp you use the second ability the one that kills a creature or buffs a creature often times for the win on an unblocked nighthawk why does everyone forget that planeswalkers have 3 abilities not just 2

  27. Dee on August 24th, 2012 11:40 am

    @ Chris

    Thanks for the tech!

  28. Chris on August 25th, 2012 1:36 pm


    Only time i would ever use the ultimate on Lilliana is when i have both Markov and Vengeance in my hand and i need to make the combo a 1 turn kill. Also helps later in the game when you have black sun’s and if the board gets too big on opp end, the sun won’t burn your whole mana pool to do the job. But yes i agree the main ability to use out of her is the buff for the 1 turn kill. And that’s where the vat comes into play. even though you aren’t running a lot of creatures, the vat assures you a creature and buff him right up for the kill, or close enough for them to concede with them knowing if the vat doesn’t go away, you will finish it next round.