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Black Friday


I love brewing Black decks.

I find that I play Green decks the most, though I love making Black decks. There’s something about where you can’t add any colors other than Black. Spinal Tap knows:

ml_1 ml_2

In honor of Black Friday, and the recent addition of Kev Walker swamps, a new Vintage Artist Constructed (VAC) winter of brewing is coming. To reiterate, the format is Vintage, except every card in the 60-card deck needs to be by the same artist, including basic lands. If a duo both created an artwork, you can play those cards in either artist’s deck.

Let’s go!

Swamp from Commander 2016 by Kev Walker

Choices Explained

Volrath's Stronghold

Due to it being a Legendary Land, having two or three copies are great, but with Geralf's Messenger needing triple Black, I kept it at two. This card can make a clock with the messenger and is one way to win by itself.

Geralf's Messenger

Making them lose four life for two creatures, potentially killing one of their creatures and an engine with Volrath's Stronghold is a staple for Mono-Black anything.\

Hand of Cruelty

A 3/3 for 2 mana that prevents Mother of Runes protections, making three damage late game to Terese G/W decks, Deschamps Planeswalker White decks, Boros’s Boros, and Guay’s Mono-White deck. I want to see this on turn two every time when I’m going second to start the game. I love seeing a 2/2 for 2 unable to attack because of it. It saves 4-6 life for you!


It’s cheap, efficient and has been strong since Shandalar’s computer game. This card is good and depending on their removal, can hit for a full six with Dragon Shadow in Game 2!

Pack Rat

Much of the Vintage Artist Constructed format is playing overpowered draft cards. Cards like Baneslayer Angel or Pack Rat, cards that need an answer or you lose. In this deck, it plays like a five-drop. There’s quite a glut at two, and it’s the last thing you want killed early.

Mirri the Cursed

I hate dealing with 3/1 flyers that end up killing me in this format. While Mirri can’t stop Baneslayer Angels, she just needs to be a blocker for you, a threat. She blocks once and they won’t attack with their smaller creatures again.

Surrakar Marauder

I cut these down as only two in the main board and the deck needed some more 2-drops. Late game, I found a singleton can really get you through a stalemate, an all too common occurrence in the format. It dies constantly, but you won’t hiccup and get blown out by the Wayne Reynolds fast goblin deck either.

Visara the Dreadful

She’s a big a finisher in the format. If you need her, it’s often to fly over defenders to kill a Planeswalker most of the time. You always sideboard her out against token decks.

Cruel Tutor

I have this in for two reasons: making sure Damnation or Pestilence is cast on turn four, every time. Sure, the versatility is nice but smoothing an already perfect curve I’m all for. That and the art is hilarious.


When behind, this saves your life. When ahead, you still have Geralf's Messenger to clear and own the board post-wrath. Decks shouldn’t be that efficient in this format. Play unfair cards, it is Vintage after all!

Slaughter Pact

For Banisher Priest type creatures and the like, they need some type of spot removal spell. I figure the one that’s free is a pretty solid choice.


If you have never played with Pestilence in a draft, you haven’t understood what Mono-Black decks can do. Notice that it will kill your Surrakar Marauder in an instant, and I would recommend not pinging everyone for one damage with only two Pack Rat tokens out. Sometimes there are bad one-damage instant spells in the format. Do not forget that.

I also found in play-testing that a single Mirri will keep them from attacking you, allowing you to hit for one damage every turn until a Juggernaut or a Geralf's Messenger can enter the battlefield. I often forgot to hit for 5-6 damage with a Geralf's Messenger was in play, effectively wrathing the game, and I keep the Pestilence with the messenger’s undying ability. Getting close to death is nothing when you’re ahead in life from the messenger!


Dragon Shadow

Juggernaut felt really marginal in some matchups and in Black, Kev only has a few ways to make it larger and this one, to make it evasive. It also allows in Game 2 for me to find the non-Black decks like Jason Felix’s Eldrazi into an aura that needs to be taken care of or they lose.

Eastern Paladin

There aren’t a ton of elf decks yet, but there will be. With Terese Nielsen having Natural Order, you need to remove a giant Essence of the Wild or worse, multiple Elvish Vanguard.

Aether Snap

Nice Planeswalkers you got there.

It would be a shame if one card would remove all of them and the tokens they created . . . 

Phyrexian Revoker


Yeah, he’s good in the sideboard.


I have been testing this card a lot vs. the token decks that have been dominating the format as of late, and since Slaughter Pact exists with Juggernaut, it’s been surprisingly good. Unfortunately, every has artifact removal in their sideboard due to Jitte, but they do have to draw it.

Vampiric Link

Add this lifelinking aura to your Mirri and enjoy gaining three life a turn, every turn. If you’re up against any Red decks, finding yourself low on life due to Pestilence and losing out of left field? This will help that. Flame Javelin is no joke in the Boros deck. Getting even 4-5 life is worth it.

We will be seeing a ton more Kev Walker builds in the format, his card pool is so deep compared to everyone else’s choices. It has ways to stay ahead with Visara, catch up with Pestilence and Damnation and come back from dead with Aether Snap.

It’s incredibly strong and I suggest play-testing a few hands on TappedOut!

— Mike

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