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Winning with Chromatic Black

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A lot happened this past week for Magic. The big one was Wizards / Hasbro announcing their plan to make Magic an e-sport by having competitions with a prize pool of $10 million dollars next year. The Top 32 players would compete for it and they also talked about signing contracts with Magic players. While we do not have all the details yet, this is exciting information, nonetheless. This past weekend SCG held their biggest tournament of the year at SCG Con Winter, their Invitational tournament. I competed in this event and while I did very well in the Standard portion, I did not do so hot in the Modern portion. That opened it up for me to pursue other things over the weekend. I decided attempt to qualify for the $10,000 Cube Draft on Sunday by playing in a Standard qualifier. I ended up not dropping a match and qualifying for the Cube where I ultimately took 3rd place and got to take home $2,000. While it is not the same as winning the Invitational, I was very happy. Today I would like to talk a little about my preparation for the Invitational and Chromatic Black, the deck I used to qualify for the $10,000 Cube draft.

Prepping for SCG Con Winter

As the SCG Invitational approached, I began testing my Standard brews to figure out which deck was the best for the current metagame. Rainbow Lich was a fantastic deck to play about a month ago but the metagame had shifted. Once, Golgari was king and played everywhere. Rainbow Lich preyed on Golgari as that matchup was very favorable. However, since then, Izzet Drakes had burst onto the scene and the popularity of Jeskai was on the rise. That coupled with the fact that Mono-Red, Boros Angels, and Selesnya were all seeing less play made Rainbow Lich not an optimal choice, at least not in its current iteration. The Standard deck I landed on was Chromatic Black. It had been winning a lot while I was streaming the deck on MTG Arena. I continued to tune the deck in-between competitive Constructed runs and really liked how the deck performed against the other decks in the metagame. This was arguably the most prepared I was for Standard.

Sadly, I was not prepared for Modern. MTG Arena does not have Modern so I did not get to test much. Instead, I opted to play a deck I had in the past, Jeskai Control. I somehow also forgot to add in Supreme Verdicts to the deck and ended up going 1-3 in the Modern portion. This was obviously not ideal but I it was what it was. Since I did so well in Standard, I decided to play Chromatic Black in the Standard Cube Qualifier.

I ended up not dropping a match in the Standard event. I had some close games but still felt very happy about the deck. This is the deck I ran and did not lose a match in eight rounds.


I’ve talked about this deck in the past and it is actually not much different than the list I wrote about two weeks ago, which you can find here. In fact, the only difference main deck was cutting a swamp for the fourth Cabal Stronghold and cutting one Doom Whisperer for The Mirari Conjecture. The spot that The Mirari Conjecture is in is a flex spot. I wanted the Mirari Conjecture this past weekend because I anticipated more midrange / control decks than aggressive strategies and I wanted a way to keep up in card advantage. The Mirari Conjecture helped with the card advantage while also providing a win condition for when you reach the third chapter.

For the sideboard I just added a Cast Down and a Star of Extinction. Sometimes Cleansing Nova would not be enough against Golgari decks because they would also have an active planeswalker that would be destroying your artifacts and / or gaining them card advantage. This was where Star of Extinction would really shine by being able to deal with both, and thanks to Mastermind's Acquisition, you could just get the card when you were ready to cast it.

The hardest part about this deck is Mastermind's Acquisition. Knowing when to cast it and what to get is key to the success of this deck. Sometimes you will have to tutor in anticipation of your opponent’s next play while other times you will want to hold it until you can cast it and the spell that you grab with Mastermind's Acquisition. Then, when you must tutor for a Vraska's Contempt or Golden Demise, you need to decide if you want the one in your sideboard or main deck. For example, against Izzet drakes you will always want to grab the Vraska's Contempt from your sideboard Game 1. However, let’s say you play against Golgari and you are in a situation where Golden Demise wipes their entire battlefield. You will want to grab the Golden Demise from your main deck most of the time because Golgari can quickly outgrow Mastermind's Acquisition and you will not want to draw more copies in the future.

Another tip with Mastermind's Acquisition is to try and tutor for card advantage when you need an answer if it is possible. Say you are facing down a Carnage Tyrant with an opponent that has no more cards in their hand. Star of Extinction does kill the Carnage Tyrant but Demonlord Belzenlok and Josu Vess, Lich Knight will trade with the dinosaur while also drawing you cards. Depending on your life total, you may want to grab Demonlord Belzenlok or Josu Vess. Josu Vess will end a lot of games; do not forget that he has menace, as do all the zombie tokens he creates. He is excellent on offense and defense. Another thing to consider when you want Vraska's Contempt is if The Eldest Reborn will do the same thing for you but also provide you advantage later in the game. These things may seem simple, but it can be hard remembering it all in the middle of a game. The more you play the deck, that easier it gets.

Sideboarding

I traditionally do not like sideboard guides because even I do not follow them card for card every time. Sometimes you will run into situations where you will want to sideboard different to keep your opponent guessing or because your opponent is playing a card that isn’t traditionally played. So, while reading this guide, keep in mind it is not set in stone by any means.

Golgari Midrange:

X in this scenario can be Duress if they have a ton of planeswalkers like Vraska, Golgari Queen, Vivien Reid, Karn, Scion of Urza, and Vraska, Relic Seeker. However, if your opponent is not running Vraska, Golgari Queen but instead has a lot of discard spells, I’d bring in Arguel's Blood Fast instead. Obviously if they have Kitesail Freebooter you will want to keep in the Moment of Cravings.

Niv-Mizzet, Parun is bad in this matchup because of Vivien Reid and them just naturally not casting a ton of instants or sorceries. Also, heaven forbid they leave in a couple of Ravenous Chupacabras on purpose or on accident and eat your Niv-Mizzet.

Izzet 8 Drakes:

Izzet Drakes is the one with Enigma Drake and Crackling Drake. If you know they have no counterspells, I wouldn’t even bring in Duress but most of them will bring in a couple of Negates. Ritual of Soot is good here to kill Electromacner and Enigma Drake. If they don’t have Goblin Electromancer, you will want to cut Moment of Craving.

Izzet 4 Drakes:

No Enigma Drake means Ritual of Soot is terrible here, so we cut it. This matchup is otherwise similar to 8 drake but they will have more non-creature spells.

Jeskai Control:

Mono Red Aggro:

Duress isn’t insane here, but a Healing Salve is sometimes good enough. If you manage to snag Experimental Frenzy, even better!

Mono White Aggro:

This one really depends on the build and if they have some angels or not. If they are just Mono-White weenie with History of Benalia being the top end, this is all I would do. If I see Ajani's Pridemate then I’d bring in Cast Down and Vraska's Contempt and cut The Mirari Conjecture / Karn, Scion of Urza.

The reason why I don’t have the fourth Vraska's Contempt main deck but bring in almost in every matchup is because I want four battlefield wipes main deck. I’d rather have Ritual of Soot main deck than in the sideboard as I feel it gives me better odds of beating the aggressive strategies Game 1. Ritual of Soot is much more important than Vraska's Contempt against gw, Mono-Red, Golgari, and Mono-White. If you wanted to add the fourth Vraska's Contempt main deck, then I’d say cut The Mirari Conjecture, but I really like The Mirari Conjecture as it can also buyback Vraska's Contempts.

Chromatic Black is a very powerful deck that is well positioned in the metagame. If you enjoy big mana or midrange decks, I would recommend playing it. The only downside is that this deck might get weaker as more sets are released since it is basically Mono-Black. However, if Rakdos and Orzhov provide us with powerful Mono-Black cards, then it could improve just as easily. Time will tell.

That’s it for today.

As always, thanks for reading.

Ali Aintrazi

Follow me @AliEldrazi

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