Other than adding some more Swamps, do you have any suggestions for mana acceleration or library manipulation? I could Transmute Dimir Machinations but I'd probably just add the fourth Beseech before that.
Geth's Verdict is hands-down better than Diabolic Edict in mono-Black.
For mana acceleration, I'd consider Crypt Ghast. You can't really get ramp at a good rate in Black unless it's temporary like Dark Ritual. Crypt Ghast equipped with a sword can cause a good bit of damage, in top of gaining you a bit of life with Extort.
I've found Scrying Sheets has been an excellent mana sink. I'd say a bit more than 1/3 of your deck should be snow, however.
Unfortunately there's not a lot of snow that would help us. I used to run Zombie Musher but having to regen everybody every 3 was a pain (since I also run Abominations). Coldsteel Heart would be better with Scrying Sheets than Charcoal Diamond, but perhaps that's not saying much. Instead of 23 Swamps though, I suppose I could use 21-22 Swamps and the rest Sheets. Even then, I'm not sure I can afford to tap down three land to *maybe* get another land. It's like Shivan Gorge in burn.
Crypt Ghast is interesting, but I'd prefer less mana earlier rather than doubling my mana later. I could run fetchlands and Deathrite Shaman, but that's a lot of money for this otherwise pretty cheap casual deck.
In the end, maybe 23 boring snow swamps will work out well enough after all.
I have been trying to make a quicker version of this deck which responds better to aggro. This one has done fairly well by filling up on low mana sac spells and then winning with a combo of Phyrexian Persecutor and one of the Pestilence cards.
If you plan on fighting aggro often, including cheap spot removal is usually the best way to set up the board and not die in the process. Take out their early assault and lock them out with Pestilence.
It takes a lot of slots, but Animating Abominations (see my list on the last page) has been great against aggro. Regenerating 4/3s really tie up the ground, and we all need Swampcycling! Plus, Animating the opponent's dudes is fun too.
A thought about my desire for acceleration: I know it takes the deck out of budget territory, but Mox Diamond might be an option. My main problem is lack of space to fit everything in, and I'm not sure using 3/7 of my opening grip is worth "just" having 2 black mana on turn 1.
EDIT: Sensei's Divining top would be great to help smooth out land draws. Beseech and Abominations provide some shuffling outlets. I could add fetches but I'd like to keep it a budget build.
Well, the 23 land build is doing much better. 8 Pesty effects, 3 Swords, 6 high-toughness blockers, and three tutors makes a pretty consistent package. Something like Mox Diamond or Cabal Ritual would still be good, but you can't fit everything. This is the sort of deck that really only needs two cards in play (Ancestor and Wisps, for example), so a combo shell of cantrips and draw spells would also work, but Black isn't the color for that so I have to play the redundancy game with multiple copies and tutors.
I've seen UB Pestilence decks before, but I've always doubted their playability. However, Blue would certainly have some things to offer: Cantrips, Draw spells, and a good number of high-quality, high-toughness creatures to play.
Debating Chainer's Edict and Tribute to Hunger for edicts #5-6 (after Geth's Verdict). I'm currently on Chainer's because I mostly have old stuff, but I dig the instant speed and life gain of Tribute. The single use and slower speed probably aren't serious problems.
That the Outlast ability is a sorcery speed effect that taps sucks as much as I had feared. Almost enough to make me run Puppet Strings. If only Ancestor were a rare with a better ability: no one would use it so it would still be cheap, but at least it would be more useful.
Has anyone done testing to estimate the average turn their deck can fire off Pestilence for 1 damage, 2 damage, etc.? I think reducing the average time to Pesty activation is a core metric by which to evaluate builds. This is also why I want more than just 4 Rituals for acceleration.