Cz's Guide to Black Multiplayer Cards and Strategies

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    ** Guide is Being Worked On, Please Bear With It :)**

    Cz's Guide to Black Multiplayer Cards and Strategies

    Table of Contents:
    1. Introduction
    2. Cards That Everyone Should Have
    3. General Deckbuilding Tips
    4. Card Elements and Roles
    • 4a. Persistent Cards
    • 4b. Destructive Cards
    • 4c. Scaling Cards
    • 4d. Defensive Cards
    • 4e. Trap Cards
    5. Additional Card Choices
    6. Artifacts and Lands
    7. Other Colors
    8. Synergies and Strategies
    9. Sample Decklists
    10. Coping with Adversity: Dealing with Black's Weaknesses
    11. Conclusion

    1. Introduction
    The purpose of this guide is to aid your transition from regular Magic duels (i.e. 1v1 games) to the substantially different world of multiplayer Magic. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or just getting into the game, multiplayer magic is so completely unique from any other format that it could leave anyone slightly discombobulated. While cards such as Duress and Counterspell have always been staples in their time these "sacred cows" will be your undoing in big, multiplayer games. Do not sink into despair though for many of the cards that players cherish most have close multiplayer brothers. Swapping Innocent Blood over Diabolic Edict in your lists will become second-hand nature for you by the end of this. Ultimately I aspire to broaden your general multiplayer card pool knowledge in the hopes that you'll eventually be able to construct your own solid, multiplayer decks. As we delve into the various card choices that you'll have at your disposal you'll soon discover just how many cards are nearly broken in the format. Exsanguinate has never seen any form of competitive play but smart deckbuilders will pick up on hidden gems such as these. Remember that cards are generally balanced for 1v1 play and as this guide progresses we'll see many instances where having additional opponents can cause exponential power increases. After I've improved your general understanding of Black's multiplayer card pool I'll then move on to discuss general synergies and strategies. I'll follow that up by providing some sample decklists to put you on the right track to building your own and finish things off by briefly covering ways to cope with the color's inherent weaknesses. That way, no matter your budget, card availability, or even personal preference, you should still (hopefully!) be able to build some solid multiplayer decks.

    2. Cards That Everyone Should Have
    No matter what kind of player you are, there are simply some cards that everyone should have to fool around with. This section won't highlight all the best cards that Black has to offer, but it will showcase the ones that I find myself using more often than not. I know that multiplayer is generally considered to be a casual format, so the idea here is to keep costs low and playability high whenever possible. As such, I try to list as many reasonably priced (if-not budget) cards as possible. Buy these cards if you're looking for power, versatility and multiplayer appeal at a sensible cost.

    Exsanguinate can arguable be slammed into any multiplayer deck that can reliably pay the BB mana cost. It's among the best multiplayer cards ever printed and everyone should get their hands on a playset. It's a 1 card win condition that does so much work in long, drawn-out sessions. Should Cabal Coffers work its way into the mix then it's a no-brainer. Gray Merchant of Asphodel is incredibly similar and arguably more powerful in decks which can curve out with permanents and which have revival engines such as Haunted Crossroads and/or Whip of Erebos in order to to re-buy him as needed. While he may appear to merely be a Syphon Soul on legs in practice he's usually an unstoppable behemoth. Crypt Ghast is another beast who typically ends games if left unchecked for more than a few turns. Not only does he act as Cabal Coffers 4-8 but he's a warm body who can wear equipment (Lashwrithe for example) and Extorting is never a bad place to be in big multiplayer games. Whip of Erebos is usually a solid singleton in creature-based decks and has plenty of obvious synergy with Gray Merchant of Asphodel. having 1 of these laying around never hurts. Kokusho, the Evening Star is the last "big" drain spell and, much like the Merchant, does disgusting things when continually revived. While many other drain spells exist (Blood Tithe, Subversion) they're typically weaker than these options on average. Exsanguinate and Gray Merchant of Asphodel are inexpensive and can be played in any number of different shells and archetypes. Just buy them; I promise that you won't regret it.

    Multiplayer games tend to run long and so the most important thing that you'll want for your decks is some solid draw in my opinion. I highly recommend running at least 4. My favorite go-to is Syphon Mind which is a card that everyone should have 20 copies of in my mind. It's a draw 3+ for 4 that also forces a whack of discards. The old 6-for-1 (or better). Blindly jamming them in any metagame that consists of 4 or more players can't possibly be wrong in my opinion. Once you start hitting 5 or more players the card is just completely devastating. My favorite alternative is Phyrexian Arena which comes down sooner and synergizes well with cards such as Gray Merchant of Asphodel. You can't chain them like you can chain Syphon Minds into one another but I mean it's still a fantastic way to hit your land drops while ensuring that you can cast a spell (virtually) every turn. As long as you play some amount of drain (Exsanguinate, Vampire Nighthawk, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Kokusho, the Evening Star) the lifeloss should be a trivial concern at worst. I realize that the Arena isn't the cheapest card ever but I mean there's always Underworld Connections if you need something inexpensive. It's significantly worse and I don't see why you'd ever run it over Syphon Mind (maybe your meta has 3 player in it?) unless your deck had Gray Merchant of Asphodel but I mean it's certainly an option. Either way these are the "big 3" casual options in my mind.

    Other solid draw engines include goodies such as Erebos, God of the Dead, Bloodgift Demon, Mind's Eye, Harvester of Souls, Baleful Force and Griselbrand. While I don't mind Skeletal Scrying and Promise of Power type cards either ideally you'll have some number of repeatable effects to keep you gassed-up all game long. It's also incredibly difficult to compete with Syphon Mind with respect to being a 1-shot draw spell in general. It's usually wrong to play something else instead.

    Once your deck has drain and draw the only thing that it's really missing is something unfair. Those are the 3 primary elements of successful multiplayer Black decks in my experience. The best examples of unfair cards include Bloodchief Ascension, Buried Alive, Recurring Nightmare, No Mercy, Grave Pact, The Abyss and Living Death. The purpose of this section is basically just to make you aware of these cards because they all have insane win%s in my circles. When paired with overpowered draw such as Phyrexian Arena and Syphon Mind and overpowered drain such as Exsanguinate and Gray Merchant of Asphodel you'll just plain start winning a lot of games. No ifs ands or buts. They're not the cheapest cards ever and you typically have to build with them in mind but I don't see how I could write a multiplayer guide and not take the time to champion cards that just end games on the spot. You can obviously still build decks that don't include any of these cards and experience success but if you're looking for a cool "build-around-mes" these are some of your best bets. The only exception is No Mercy which is just brutally overpowered when paired with drain because it completely obsoletes creature-based aggression. You don't have to build around it; it's always good. The obvious thing to note is that none of these cards are creatures. They're almost all Enchantments as a matter of fact. Enchantments tend to be very durable since removal for them is often scarcely played and most of it is fairly marginal. Decks based around them tend to thrive as a result.

    All players need a way to regain board control if and when they lose it. As such acquiring a playset of either Innocent Blood, Abyssal Gatekeeper, Toxic Deluge, Barter in Blood, Massacre, Damnation and/or Mutilate should be made a high priority. In an ideal world most Black decks would have Damnation but given it's pricetag that isn't exactly realistic. You'll have to make due with Toxic Deluge, Mutilate or even something as slow as Life's Finale in the vast majority of your budget brews. I like Innocent Blood and Massacre as well because of their ability to clear the field for a low sum of mana. Cheap mass removal spells are incredibly powerful in multiplayer and I highly recommend picking both cards up if possible. Moving on, Decree of Pain is awesome because it can be cycled for an instant speed, uncounterable, cantripping Infest. Late-game it just straight up wins matches by burying the table in card advantage. It's a fairly cheap and powerful rare and so most players would do well to purchase some. Another pair of cards that I love to field in my multiplayer decks are Profane Command and Hex. The latter may as well be a 6 mana Plague Wind while the former brings a lot of utility and power to your decks. It will often be used as a removal spell + revival tool but it can also dome people for X and grant your army fear to go in for the killing blow.

    With respect to dealing with non-creature permanents your best bets are global board wipes such as Oblivion Stone, Nevinyrral's Disk and All is Dust. O-Stone always gets the job done so picking up 4 of those is likely a prudent course of action to take. While it will rarely have any synergy with the rest of your deck fielding them will ensure that you're never drawing dead to a Humility effect or whatever. All is Dust is sweet in decks with Worn Powerstone and Wurmcoil Engine and the like but you run the risk of losing to opposing artifacts such as Sword of Light and Shadow when you field it. These cards have unfortunately become fairly pricey over time but I mean Black decks typically struggle to handle Artifacts, Enchantments and Planeswalkers and these are basically your best outs to non-creature permanents. Thems the breaks.

    With respect to spot removal your best option is Tendrils of Corruption and it's not even close. It's worthless outside of mono-Black obviously but I mean I'd be hesitant to touch anything else insofar as I was. While you may resign yourself to fielding a small number of Go for the Throats, Diabolic Edicts and Slaughter Pacts they're marginal solutions at best. Trading 1-for-1 is miserable in a multiplayer setting after all. Tendrils of Corruption is good because Black decks just need to survive in order to win and this is the perfect answer to aggressive strategies. Killing an attacker and gaining a bunch of life is usually a 10-12 point life swing which is typically all you need to stabilize.

    In terms of lands that you'll want to keep an eye out for, grab yourself a set of Leechridden Swamps right off the bat. Having a source of repeatable, colorless, mass life-loss is too useful to pass up. I'm also a strong advocate of playing Bojuka Bog. You lose a bit of value by having your land ETBT, that much is clear, but it's often a "free" Tormod's Crypt and the vast majority of multiplayer games that I've seen include someone playing a graveyard-based deck. The good news? Both of these lands are inexpensive and they can both be played in just about any deck which makes them perfect investments. The bad news? This is where the budget train ends unfortunately. Your top priority from here should be to acquire some Cabal Coffers. It's the single best reason to play a mono-Black deck over some combination of colors as it enables you to do ludicrously overpowered things (blitzing out Exsanguinates and Decree of Pains for example). Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth is the next big purchase that you should be looking to make since it makes your Coffers more powerful than they already are. You definitely don't need them if you're not playing a Coffers deck though. Next up we have Volrath's Stronghold as a way to fight past removal and other forms of disruption. Drawing a Sepulchral Primordial or Griselbrand every turn isn't exactly the worst place to be after all. The next set of staples that I find myself in running in just about everything are sacrifice outlets such as High Market and Phyrexian Tower. Anything that allows me to sac my critters in response to exile effects (such as Oblivion Ring) basically. Creature-based Black decks should almost always run revival engines (such as Oversold Cemetery) in my opinion and so I want to ensure that I'll be able to grind through removal and whatnot.

    Since Black decks tend to be a bit slow and controlling in nature I recommend picking up a bit of ramp. Everflowing Chalice, Worn Powerstone, Thran Dynamo and Crypt Ghast are all favorites of mine but even say Wayfarer's Bauble, Charcoal Diamond, Mind Stone, Solemn Simulacrum and Gilded Lotus are all fine options as well. They key here is enabling yourself to quickly and reliably cast your game-enders. You don't need a ton of it but a bit of ramp (4ish spells) really does go a long way in my experience. Think about it this way; an easy way to win games is to chain spells like Life's Finale and Decree of Pain into Sepulchral Primordial and Rise of the Dark Realms whereas an easy way to lose games is to sit around on 3 mana and do nothing. For what it's worth my typical ramp spell of choice is Worn Powerstone. I'll usually play 4 and blindly mulligan my opening hand if it doesn't include one (you get one free mulligan in multiplayer after all). 6 mana on turn 4 is so obscenely powerful because it enables you to do things like fire off a Life's Finale on turn 4 directly into a Sepulchral Primordial on turn 5.

    In terms of resupplying your forces Volrath's Stronghold, Phyrexian Reclamation, Oversold Cemetery, Haunted Crossroads, Whip of Erebos and Diabolic Servitude are truly under appreciated. They permit you to be flexible with your armies and allow you to recover from various forms of denial and mass removal. That versatility is precisely what most players are lacking in their first decks. Always have cards that will help you come back from behind if possible but that are still fine even if you're ahead. While each of these cards works better in different kinds of decks one of them should ultimately be suitable for whatever it is that you're building. For what it's worth, I typically treat revival spells as "draw engines" for the purposes of achieving my goal of having 4-6 total. Your deck only has space for so many cards and so loading up on revival and draw isn't necessarily a good thing. I typically limit my revival to 1-2 cards tops and play draw spells and/or engines otherwise. I like the strategic mix of longevity and versatility that this combination gives me.

    1 CMC
    Thrull Parasite: While his body and activated ability are unimpressive at best Extort is relevant at every stage of the game. Turning every spell that you cast into a mini-Syphon Soul is obnoxiously powerful in bigger, slower games. He's easily the best fair, budget 1 drop at your disposal.
    Gravecrawler: This card is expensive and has almost no inherent value but it's incredibly busted in the right archetypes.
    Deathrite Shaman: He's a Llanowar Elves in Black (assuming that people play with Fetchlands) who also happens to be very good at draining people out. Turn 2 Phyrexian Arena is nothing to scoff at and even tapping this guy a handful off times to Sizzle people is still an immense life swing in the grand scheme of things. The only drawback here is its enormous pricetag and reliance on Fetchlands which further increases its virtual pricetag. It's not a practical card in that sense.
    Tenacious Dead: Sometimes you need more than 4 Reassembling Skeletons in your Contamination/Braids, Cabal Minion/Smokestack decks or whatever and having one that can come out on turn 1 is surprisingly relevant. He's completely useless outside of Prison decks though.
    Typhoid Rats: Solid creature deterrent.
    Guul Draz Assassin: Decent removal engine who's relevant at every stage of the game. Very mana intensive though.
    Pulse Tracker: Good aggressive beater that can do some relevant damage as long as one player has a slow start. The fact of the matter that he can fairly reliably deal 3 damage when cast on turn 1, at least in my experience.

    2 CMC
    Wight of Precinct Six: Realistically speaking this guy isn't going to be very big on turn 2 but he's virtually always going to be a relevant body beyond that. I think he's among the best all-around 2 drops in a vacuum for that reason alone.
    Reassembling Skeleton, Bloodghast: They pair amazingly well with equipment and any number of Skullclamp, Attrition, Recurring Nightmare, Grave Pact, Helm of Possession, etc. effects can break them in half. The fact that most removal does very little to hinder him makes them a true force to be reckoned with.
    Basilica Screecher: Not much of a blocker but evasion is always nice for equipment and Extort will always be a relevant keyword.
    Nezumi Graverobber: Graveyard hoser who can do some legitimate revival work. I've always been impressed with this guy. It's very easy to flip him early on and he's still fine when drawn late.
    Hunted Horror: This is my go-to creature when I know that some of the players at the table will be less experienced and may need a bit of help early on. They get some free blockers and I get myself an ally. The fact that I also get a 2 mana 7/7 trampler out of the deal is pretty sweet too. This card is extremely unfair in the right setting and it's worth testing him out to see how he'll fare for you in your circles.
    Abyssal Gatekeeper: It's not quite an Innocent Blood and it's not quite a No Mercy but for 2 mana I'll take it.
    Blood Artist: In creature-heavy metas that feature a lot of removal this little guy can do some decent work. He's not much of a blocker though.
    Pack Rat: Given enough time/mana/draw this card can get insanely out of hand. It's horrendous in removal-heavy metas but it can dominate games where it's lacking. When this card is good it's the best card in your deck but when it's bad it's likely the worst. Run it at your own discretion.

    3 CMC
    Fleshbag Marauder: As silly as it sounds I think that this is likely the most powerful 3-drop at your disposal if only because so few decks can beat a list that casts one of these every turn off of an Oversold Cemetery or whatever. The ability to draw an Innocent Blood every turn in a color that has access to Phyrexian Arena variants is just obnoxiously difficult for fair, creature-based decks to fight past. While it may not be the best card in a vacuum in the context of specific decks this card is very unfair.
    Vampire Nighthawk: You could blindly jam 4 of these into all of your Black decks and you'd rarely regret it. He's easily the best all-around Black 3 drop in a vacuum. If you're not building around synergy he's the best "good stuff" 3 drop.
    Stinkweed Imp: This card is deceptively good. He trades with almost anything both in the air and on the ground and he can be recurred as needed to keep threatening blocks. Dredging is also very relevant if your deck is using revival engines such as Oversold Cemetery or if it has creatures such as Reassembling Skeleton and Vengeful Pharaoh. My all time favorite pairing has to be Demigod of Revenge though. It's just an absurd interaction in my opinion.
    Nighthowler: It's tough to argue with a 3 mana Mortivore.
    Geralf's Messenger: This card may seem odd but realistically it's one of your better options at 3 CMC. Having multi-body blockers is always relevant and the mana cost is arguably an advantage in a world of Gray Merchant of Asphodels and Erebos, God of the Deads.
    Urborg Syphon-Mage: Untapping with this creature is awesome. Just be aware that it won't always happen :P.
    Dark Impostor: He's no prize pig on turn 3 but you'll appreciate him if the game runs long.

    4 CMC
    Phyrexian Obliterator: We've come a long way since Phyrexian Negator o.O. He's the ultimate 4 drop in a mono-Black deck.
    Erebos, God of the Dead: It's pretty tough to argue with the raw power here. Every aspect of this card figures to be relevant in a long, grindy, multiplayer games after all.
    Crypt Ghast: Cabal Coffers 4-8 and he even Extorts to boot. I don't think that much more needs to be said about this monster.
    Lashwrithe, Bonehoard: I'm cheating here but these are among the best Black 4 drops in the game given that we live in a world of Reassembling Skeletons and such.
    Abyssal Persecutor, Desecration Demon: Huge fliers are never bad things to have and their drawbacks are typically negligible at worst.
    Korlash, Heir to Blackblade, Mortivore, Sewer Nemesis: Big 4 drops without evasion seems to be a specialty for Black.
    Bloodline Keeper: Very solid threat who wins the game if left unchecked.
    Graveborn Muse: A 3/3 Phyrexian Arena is perfectly fine. You don't need other Zombies to make her worthwhile.
    Braids, Cabal Minion: Fantastic in your prison decks featuring Reassembling Skeleton and whatnot.
    Balthor the Defiled: Hey, mass recursion is mass recursion.
    Falkenrath Noble: Pairs well with Blood Artist in decks that feature a lot of removal, drain and/or death.
    Magus of the Abyss: Powerful if your deck has Reassembling Skeletons or other recurring threats.

    5 CMC
    Gray Merchant of Asphodel: This guy is head and shoulders above the other Black 5 drops and basically changed the way that I build my creature-based decks. The historic problem with running 5 drops is that they've almost always been completely outclassed by 6 drops such as Grave Titan. This is the first creature (in my mind) to actually challenge that generic rule of thumb. Buy 4, play them in everything and never look back.
    Demigod of Revenge: This is basically the only unfair 5 drop not named Gray Merchant of Asphodel. When paired with Buried Alive and/or Stinkweed Imp and revival such as Oversold Cemetery it can completely dominate games.
    Bloodgift Demon: I love drawing cards, don't you? This is easily one of Black's best 5 drops in my opinion since he's a big dumb flier who draws cards.
    Batterskull: I'm cheating again but this card is bonkers at 5 mana.
    Shriekmaw: I'll take a Sorcery speed Terror that has actual mid-to-late game power and who can slap on a Loxodon Warhammer.
    Vengeful Pharaoh: He's a solid 1-of in most lists. I wouldn't play a ton of him but I do like me a No Mercy that can also win games.
    Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief: She's walking removal that ends games in the air.

    6+ CMC
    Kokusho, the Evening Star: Probably the best Black 6 drop and I won't waste my breath explaining why. He's tied with Wurmcoil Engine at the very least. Speaking of which...
    Wurmcoil Engine: More artifacts! Yey! This is likely the best all-around multiplayer creature in the game and so it has to be listed in my mind.
    Massacre Wurm: Fantastic card to ramp into in faster metas. A Plague Wind that Searing Fleshes people while giving you a 6/5 body is good in my book.
    Grave Titan: 10 power for 6 mana across 3 bodies? Trades with anything? Makes a 4/4 every turn? What isn't there to love about this card?
    Visara the Dreadful, Reaper from the Abyss: Big fliers who kill stuff as needed. 'Nuff said.
    Dread: No Mercy that ends games? Sign me up. This card is sick in decks that have a lot of lifegain (such as Exsanguinate).
    Mikaeus, the Unhallowed: Good in combo decks (there's a 100 ways to go infinite off of him) but he's just sheer value in general.
    Sepulchral Primordial: Err... Um... Right... It doesn't take a rocket surgeon to see why this is the best Black 7 drop by a fairly huge margin. Life's Finale into this guy is usually lights out, especially if something like Phyrexian Reclamation is already in play.
    Sheoldred, Whispering One: Easily the second best 7 drop. This chick is insane if you can ever untap with her but I mean you'll usually get a few free cards out of the deal if nothing else.
    Griselbrand: So yeah, the 8 drop slot doesn't have much competition any more. A 7/7 lifelink flier that draws me cards? You don't have to twist my arm on this one.
    Avatar of Woe: She reminds me of Visara in many ways. I like her ability to be cast on the cheap later on which is relevant if you're reviving her with things like Phyrexian Reclamation and Oversold Cemetery. Play her in your Stinkweed Imp decks and you'll do fine.
    Myojin of Night's Reach: I'm not usually big on random discard effects but this one is pretty insane. I'll pay 8 mana to empty everyone's hand.
    Reiver Demon, Dread Cacodemon: Hey, sometimes you just need to kill "the everything."

    3. General Deckbuilding Tips
    Now that we've covered some of the basic card options and deckbuilding strategies it's time to focus on building a solid deck. While the tips and tricks that I'll be covering here won't work for every deck in every metagame it should give you a good idea of how to build something that will more-or-less be "solid." If you're an experienced deckbuilder this section probably won't be very useful to you. I'm not seeking to fine-tune and perfect a specific list after all. I want to stress that these guidelines should be taken with a grain of salt since every meta will be different after all. Ultimately I don't think that I'll be leading anyone astray though. I'm not going to try and re-invent the wheel after all. I'm simply looking to provide some decent advice about how to go about building a generic multiplayer deck that figures to run smoothly.

    Mana Base: 24+ Lands
    Let's start with the foundation of every deck; the mana base. I personally believe that most successful multiplayer decks are going to want to play at least 24 lands. I say "at least" because 27 or so will often be a better number but 24 is a good place to start in my mind. I'm not going to delve into the nitty-gritty math behind the number but what I can tell you is that 24 is roughly what you'll need to ensure 4 mana by turn 4. Not guarantee mind you but far more often than not you'll reach that goal. Now, why is that number important? Well, Magic is a game that starts at 4 in my opinion. Once you hit 4 mana you can play powerful spells that will have a dramatic impact on the game. Damnation, Syphon Mind and Phyrexian Obliterator are all good examples of this. Cards that cost less than 4 mana are typically "fine" but are less likely to have a significant impact on the game. They're too cheap to be that powerful after all. Furthermore it's my belief that if you're not doing powerful things then you're probably not going to win many multiplayer games. Players "fly under the radar" and steal games all the time, I realize that, but I inevitably see the strongest players fielding the best cards winning the most games. Again, let's be clear about what I'm saying. While you certainly could play a deck of 1-2 drops and get away with 18-20 lands I don't think that those kinds of decks win multiplayer games with any sort of consistency. If your deck has at least 24 lands it forces you to justify them in the sense that you'll be playing with powerful 4+ drops to put those lands to use. Even if that wasn't your intention initially you'll probably win more games because of it.

    Make your mana base work for you. My decks routinely feature lands such as Cabal Coffers, Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Leechridden Swamp, Bojuka Bog, Volrath's Stronghold, Phyrexian Tower, Mishra's Factory, High Market and many more. If you're just sitting there playing basics then over a third of your deck is going to be blanks that won't have much value past a certain point. By incorporating spell and manlands into your lists you can put an often overlooked section of your deck to work. It's a great way to squeeze extra value into your lists and you would do well to remember that.

    Ramp: 0-4 as Needed
    The next thing that you'll have to decide is whether or not you'll want to include some ramp in your lists. While ramp suffers from being a weak draw later on (it's neither a threat nor an answer after all) it's almost always extremely powerful when drawn early. It's a swingy effect in that sense but it's well worth the risk in my experience. My typical ramp spells of choice are Worn Powerstone and Crypt Ghast. The former enables me to cast 6 mana spells on turn 4 which is fast enough to stabilize against quick starts (for me at least) and start taking control of the game. Wurmcoil Engine and Massacre Wurm aren't easy to beat after all. It's no Sol Ring and it's not a good draw on turn 10 but it's usually so good on turn 3 that I'll take that risk. The latter is simply an amazing ramper who figures to gain me a whack of life. He's much more vulnerable than an artifact however and so I don't recommend fielding him if your meta is swimming in creature removal. My typical alternative is Mind Stone since it's a solid turn 2 play that can always be cycled away later on. It's never a dead card in that sense.

    The idea here isn't to overload your deck with ramp but having 4 solid early-game ramp spells has proven to be quite effective for me. I'll qualify that a bit and say that I like playing with "big" spells that cost 6 or more mana though so please keep that in mind. You clearly don't need them if your curve stops at 4 or 5 after all. I do like having some number of game-changers myself and those typically cost a fair amount of mana. As such it makes sense for me to include some ramp in a fair number of my lists. Before moving on I just want to remind everyone that you get a free mulligan in multiplayer and my basic strategy is to blindly mull initial 7 card hands that don't have ramp in them (most of the time anyways). Having 2 free cracks at 7 for that Worn Powerstone is actually pretty overpowered in the long-run. Over the course of 1 or 2 games you might not see a significant improvement in your overall win% but in the long I think that it's substantial.

    Draw and/or Revival: 4-6
    Moving on, I typically field 4-6 draw and/or revival spells in my lists. Multiplayer games tend to run long and so you'll often find yourself looking for answers and threats in order to stay in the game. The best way to do that, in my experience, is to ensure that you have additional resource streams in addition to your free draw every turn. While the ideal number to run will vary from person-to-person, I tend to think of using 4-6 as the happy middle ground. 0 just plain isn't an option in my mind (I rarely see people win games where they don't draw extra cards) but I mean it's not like running 8 would automatically screw you over or something. Striking the perfect balance of threats, answers, ramp and draw isn't easy and you'll just have to tinker around and find a number that works for you.

    With respect to revival my decks will sometimes run 1-2 copies of it in place of draw. Good examples of multiplayer recursion are Oversold Cemetery (useless early but very strong later on), Diabolic Servitude (great for most of the game but obsoletes all other revival), Haunted Crossroads (insane with Phyrexian Arena and other similar cards) and Phyrexian Reclamation (great with lifegain such as Exsanguinate, Vampire Nighthawk, Gray Merchant of Asphodel, Wurmcoil Engine and Kokusho, the Evening Star). I typically pick 2 singletons and roll with that and support them with 4 solid draw spells. Most of these cards suck in multiples after all but the first copy is usually very good. If your deck has 18 or more creatures, 1-2 revival spells are likely better than simply running another draw spell. Decks with 10-15 creatures should only be running 1 in all likelihood. Decks with fewer than 10 creatures probably shouldn't run any. Just stick to draw spells at that point.

    Creature Count: 16+
    My typical baseline creature count for a multiplayer deck is 16. Why 16? Unlike the 24 land count this number doesn't have much in the way of mathematical support. If you're looking for hard evidence I have none that I can provide you with. I like the number 16 because it's a quarter of your deck which is usually enough to ensure that you'll be able to field enough warm bodies to deter random attacks that you could easily avoid. One of the easiest ways to lose games is to do nothing and lose and the best way to prevent that from happening is to ensure that your lists have a critical mass of relevant bodies in them. Again, the ideal number to run will vary from person-to-person but you want a solid chunk of your deck to be worthwhile creatures in my mind. 16 is a high enough number that you won't eat a removal spell or two and find yourself playing a deck that doesn't have any more win conditions. Laugh all you want but I've certainly made that mistake in the past. While I completely agree that many decks will want to run more and others will want to run less it's a good starting point in my mind. I will say that 16 is actually on the lower end of the creature count spectrum and that I typically find myself playing 18-20 creatures on average. Still, 16 is often high enough to ensure that you'll have something out there to block/beat down for you at most stages of the game. I already went over the ones that I personally like to use in previous sections so check those out if you're looking for advice on what to field.

    This section is going to give you a general overview of how to build your curve. Again, this won't work for everyone, but it shouldn't be too far from the mark. This comes from being an 11 year multiplayer veteran with a lot of Constructed experience as well, so take that for what it's worth.

    1 CMC is pretty easy. You should almost never play 1 drop creatures and only a small number of spells are worth fielding. There are obviously some exceptions but if your list has something like Festering Goblin in it then it's just plain doing something wrong in my opinion. 1 drop creatures are rarely-if-ever relevant past the first turn and you're never going to aggro the table out with them. The are often hard mulligans in that sense. I highly recommend that you avoid them. Your best option is Thrull Parasite because Extort is fairly overpowered in multiplyer to the point where doesn't matter if he's a worthless blocker with a useless activated ability. Converting excess mana into global drain adds up quickly and you'll easily get a card's worth of value out of this little guy unless he's removed early on. I like pairing him with Leechridden Swamp which I also consider to be a 1 drop due to the ETBT nature of the card. It doesn't waste any spell slots and the effect is almost always going to be relevant in long, grindy games. This combo ensures that you can use your mana effectively at all times (more-or-less) which is almost always a solid way to win games. You don't have to feel bad about running 26 lands when you have these kinds of cards in your lists. The last 1 drop that I routinely turn to is Bloodchief Ascension which is card that I grossly underestimated for far too long. Triggering it is way easier than you probably think and it can completely dominate a game if left unchecked. Casting this card on turn 1 is a very easy way to pick up some free wins and it's easily the most unfair thing that you can possibly do. Most of my decks also run Phyrexian Reclamation as a singleton but it's not exactly a relevant turn 1 play most of the time. If you're looking for removal then Innocent Blood and Massacre (I only play it if I expect it to be free) are your best bets by far. Any Control deck would do well to run some number of them.

    2 CMC is Black's biggest hole in my opinion. There's very little that you can be happy to run here outside of a singleton Oversold Cemetery in creature-based decks. Hunted Horror is arguably the most broken thing that you can do since the card is absurd if you can give the tokens to a passive/reciprocal player who won't attack you. You just cast Entomb + Reanimate except it cost you 1 card and no life. That's meta dependent however and shouldn't be relied upon. The most generically powerful creature available to you is Wight of Precinct Six but Reassembling Skeleton/Bloodghast have much more potential to be unfair. The problem with both of these cards is that they're all fairly useless on turn 2 which isn't a great place to be. Basilica Screecher isn't bad but I think that it's a much weaker card than Thrull Parasite on average unless your deck has a critical mass of equipment. They're both useless attackers and/or blockers so it's 1 CMC vs 2 CMC. Abyssal Gatekeeper is realistically your only solid defensive option against aggressive starts. People will typically force you to trade him off but that's perfectly fine. Smallpox is amazing in some archetypes but no Midrange/Ramp/Control deck is going to want to lose a land early on. Give Hunted Horror a whirl because the card is legitimately busted in the right circles but otherwise don't put much emphasis on the slot.

    3 CMC is where the game starts to get interesting. This is typically the first big turn of the game for my Black decks. Almost everything that you can cast here is relatively unfair and it should help you set the pace for the game. Aggro can be easily stifled with with Toxic Deluge, Vampire Nighthawk and Fleshbag Marauder whereas Control will struggle to compete with your Phyrexian Arenas and Recurring Nightmares. There isn't much that trumps Worn Powerstone with respect to ramp and so you can easily match the Green decks if you were so inclined. Haunted Crossroads is a solid singleton and can make those Abyssal Gatekeepers and Fleshbag Marauders oppressively difficult for creature-based decks to handle. It's obviously at its worst when cast on turn 3 but I mean it's still an option. Buried Alive can set up some scary Living Deaths/Demigod of Revenges down the road but I mean it just plain turns all of your revival on. I really like its interaction with Diabolic Servitude for example.

    4 CMC is the first truly big threshold that you should care about. It's your first chance to cast an actual game-changer such as Grave Pact, Crypt Ghast, No Mercy, Lashwrithe, Mutilate, Erebos, God of the Dead, Damnation, Phyrexian Obliterator, Abyssal Persecutor, Syphon Mind, Tendrils of Corruption, etc. If your deck doesn't have four to eight really good turn 4 plays then it's probably doing something wrong. In a vacuum Syphon Mind is the most unfair thing that you can do in big 5+ player games since you can usually chain them together to create endless amounts of gas. Your defensive options are all absurd because because most of them completely stifle creature beats. I mean how do you attack into a No Mercy or Phyrexian Obliterator? Your removal is just nuts because Damnation isn't fair and no aggro deck can beat a resolved Tendrils of Corruption. All of your options here are completely busted and this is one of the primary reasons why I think that Black is the best all-around multiplayer colors. It's also why your 2 drop should usually be a ramp spell rather than a dorky creature.

    5 CMC is completely dominated by Living Death, Gray Merchant of Asphodel and Demigod of Revenge in my mind. They're the kinds of cards that can completely take games over and typically leave you in a commanding position to win. Bloodgift Demon is fine and I'm always happy to play with him but I mean he doesn't just win games outright like the aforementioned spells can. This is the stage of the game where you should ideally be trying to close the game out and these are some of the best fair ways to go about doing it. While some people try to get things like Exquisite Blood and Sanguine Bond to work they've always felt very win-more to me since I rarely struggle to win games where I'm resolving and recurring Gray Merchant of Asphodels and Kokusho, the Evening Stars. If you're a newer player with a smaller budget just buy 4x Gray Merchant of Asphodel and play it alongside, you guessed it, any Black permanents in the game. The card is completely overpowered and anyone can win with it. The most budget of budget decks can afford 4x Exsanguinate and 4x Gray Merchant of Asphodel and the rest of the deck almost doesn't matter.

    6 CMC is the next "big one" in my mind. Now we're in the realm of creatures such as Kokusho, the Evening Star, Massacre Wurm, Wurmcoil Engine, Grave Titan and spells such as Hex and Life's Finale. In my opinion you'll want at least four 6 drops in your lists. You probably cannot beat Primeval Titan, Consecrated Sphinx, Wurmcoil Engine, etc. with some dorky 3-5 CMC creatures after all. While I'm personally fond of playing up to eight 6+ drops that should only be done if you do decide to roll with some ramp. Again, Worn Powerstone gets them out on turn 4 with a decent amount of consistency (2/3rds of the time) so you can often cut back on early drops and focus on 6 drops if you with to pursue that strategy. Everyone should be doing wild and crazy things but there's a good chance that whipping out game-enders every few turns will match it fairly evenly.

    7+ CMC is tough to properly evaluate. The cards are incredibly slow but obscenely powerful after all. They won't be options in all metas but I mean they'll certainly be viable in many of them. The right number to run will always vary immensely but realistically you'll probably only want a couple of them in your lists. Having a handful of haymakers is fine but you don't want to put yourself in a position where you lose due to slow, awkward draws. Still, what I will say is that the advent of creatures such as Sepulchral Primordial and Griselbrand in a world of Worn Powerstones and Crypt Ghasts has made the prospect of hitting and/or ramping to 8 mana worthwhile. I consider them to be top tier cards that I would happily slam in just about any deck that could reasonably cast them. Sheoldred, Whispering One, Grave Betrayal, All is Dust, Decree of Pain, Army of the Damned and Rise of the Dark Realms are other examples of crazy powerful 7+ CMC spells that I would happily play in my lists. I also like to treat X spells such as Exsanguinate as "big drops" and prepare my lists accordingly. I want to highlight the fact that Cabal Coffers makes casting these kinds of cards incredibly reasonable especially once you factor Black's unfair draw spells into the equation. Consistently hitting land drops and ramping to 10+ mana isn't very difficult when you're chaining Syphon Minds together after all.

    8. Synergies and Strategies
    Now that we've gone over the most prominent multiplayer card choices it's high time we start piecing some of this information together to start building decks. The goal of this section will be to discuss general synergies that can be applied to various decks/archetypes rather than discussing specific combos or interactions in great detail. In multiplayer games more-so than in duels the sum of the parts has to be greater than the whole. It's the only realistic way to win the game given the incredible opposition that players are likely to be facing. I'm going to be taking relatively simple concepts and incorporate what I've been discussing into them. That is to say that I will show you how to put a multiplayer spin on a strategy that you already know and love. Full decklists will come later since I'm still trying to drive home the idea of thinking about things from a multiplayer perspective at this point in time. You need a solid plan to defeat a large number of opponents and that won't come intuitively to everyone at first.

    I want to start off by talking about discard-based strategies since it's one of the few features that is more-or-less unique to Black's portion of the color pie. The biggest weaknesses of discard spells in multiplayer is that people can always topdeck into new threats and pinpoint discard is basically worthless given the increased number of opponents. Expending mana and cards to disrupt a single opponent is a frivolous use of resources after all and so you'll never see a Duress in any of my lists. Moreover discard spells can't block or kill creatures on the battlefield but they're going to piss everyone off so prepare to get dogpiled if you start playing it in large quantities. Bluntly put I think that discard-based decks are almost completely unplayble except for the specific archetype that I'm about to cover. The TL;DR is that Ensnaring Bridge is overpowered but I'll go over the specifics of playing discard in multiplayer in greater detail than that.

    The Right Discard
    Since we're dealing with many opponents pinpoint discard isn't going to accomplish anything. You're going to need a mix of persistent discard engines and volatile mass discard in order to quickly and consistently drop and lock everyone at 0 cards in hand. Your options to accomplish this objective are extremely limited so listen up. In terms of persistent discard your best options are Necrogen Mists, Bottomless Pit, Liliana of the Veil and Words of Waste in that order. Gibbering Descent is too slow and creatures such as Cunning Lethemancer are far too vulnerable. They just die immediately in my experience. Necrogen Mists is the best choice by a country mile because it's cheap, resilient and does exactly what you need it to do. Max out on those and support it with a few Pits or Words or whatever. With respect to mass discard your best options are Smallpox and Pox mostly because they're strong removal options which is crucial to the success of these kinds of decks. Losing lands kind of sucks but these lists typically only need 3 mana to function and nothing in your deck should ever cost more than 4 and so you should usually manage. Delirium Skeins and Unnerve are fine too and you'll frequently find yourself playing some number of them. Unnerve is a bit pricey at 4 CMC but the problem with Skeins is that it basically has to be the last spell that you cast which can be quite tricky in practice. You'll have to tinker around with your lists a bit to find a configuration that works for you.

    The Right Defense
    Bluntly put these decks would be unplayable garbage if Ensnaring Bridge and Noetic Scales didn't exist. They completely obsolete aggressive strategies which is the only reason why discard decks are capable of being competitive in my mind. You already have discard to neuter control and combo so once you remove aggro from the equation you actually have a solid plan to win. That being said you typically need faster solutions to critter beats because sticking a Bridge with an empty hand is easier said than done early on. This is where cheap mass removal such as Innocent Blood, Abyssal Gatekeeper, Smallpox and Pox enter the equation. Massacre is a virtual 0 drop which never hurts either and Toxic Deluge is easily playable as well. Mutilate and Damnation are fringe playable but 4 CMC is a lot for this type of strategy. Run them in small numbers if at all. All you're looking for is a critical mass of cheap, interactive effects that can stave early aggression off. Chaining removal into a Bridge into a discard engine into a Delirium Skeins is pretty much your nut draw so build your deck accordingly.

    The Right Win Conditions
    This is actually the easiest part of building discard decks by far. Creatures suck since they all kill way too slowly, only Guilltfeeder can attack through a Bridge, they die to your mass removal effects, they die to everyone else's removal, etc. Even the recursive options such as Bloodghast and Nether Spirit are just awful. Cursed Scroll and its ilk work fine in duels but they're way too slow to rely on in a multiplayer game. People will hit their 1-outers before they close games out. With that in mind you're basically left with Shrieking Affliction, Wheel of Torture and Quest for the Nihil Stone. Affliction is the best option by far (it's not even close) and I'm rather indifferent about the other 2. The key here is playing win conditions which are good even if they're cast when everyone has 0 cards in hand. Why? Because when you're casting Smallpox, Necrogen Mists and Pox the first cards to go will be win conditions. You'll still need lands, discard engines, removal, etc. at that stage of the game but win conditions will still be hard mulligans. What this means is that you usually don't cast a win condition until you topdeck one much later on. Do not, I repeat, do not play with Liliana's Caress and its ilk. Cards that have no value when people are locked at 0 cards in hand have no value period in my mind. Do not play anything that can be hit by creature removal (Rackling for example) either. My proposed options are cheap and reliable. Just take my word for it.

    The Right Support
    Discard decks usually want a small number of support spells in my experience and there are a few decent options that you should consider. Waste Not is completely disgusting in big metas since you can basically combo off using the free mana to ritual your entire hand into play. It provides you with some blockers and some early game card advantage as well. While it doesn't have much synergy with Bridge and/or Scales I still think that you need to have access to those kinds of effects in your lists. Bottled Cloister is a Phyrexian Arena that effectively supports your Ensnaring Bridges and Noetic Scales It means that you can go turn 3 Bridge turn 4 Cloister to thwart aggro and from there you can focus on casting your discard spells while pitching your excess removal in the process. Null Brooch gives you outs to board wipes and other effects that would just completely crush you. I've personally never gotten this card to work but I mean I could see how it might be useful to someone somewhere in theory. I don't think highly of it but you should be made aware of it. Geth's Grimoire combos well with Words of Waste but obviously renders both Ensnaring Bridge and Noetic Scales (mostly) obsolete. You'd want to support it with true mass removal such as Damnation since your best to win is likely going to involve casting a Mutilate/Damnation/Life's Finale every turn while WoW locks people at 0 cards in hand and Geth's Grimoire draws you into unlimited action. Shrieking Affliction or whatever could close the game out from there.

    Looking back at our persistent and destructive cards sections once again we can see various ways of clearing the board of pesky creatures. While this does a good job of setting players back, it doesn't actually win you the game. In this section I'll be exploring some of the better ways to win using these MBC style removal-heavy decks and how you should be looking to support and play them. While they play out in a similar fashion as they would in a regular duel session, there are still some important considerations to make.

    Getting Back on the Horse

    One of the better ways to convert mass removal into a game win is to recover from their effects and/or abuse them much faster than the other players can. Choosing the right cards to play both pre and post-Wrath is vital to your success since that will be your best chance to seize the initiative and make plays that can win the game. Whenever possible you'll want to play recursive threats such as Reassembling Skeleton and (my personal favorite) Stinkweed Imp pre-Wrath to ensure that you're not actually losing much to your inevitable Mutilate on turn 4 (or whatever). You'll also want to be slamming some equipment on to the table whenever possible because they won't be going anywhere even if all of your critters do. Bonehoard and Lashwrithe are 2 favorites of mine because of how well they scale into the late game. Still, pretty much anything will do. Umezawa's Jitte, any Sword (Sword of Light and Shadow for example), Grafted Wargear, Batterskull and much more are all quite nuts when you have a steady stream of recursive threats to support them.

    Conversely, one could simply play with some revival. Phyrexian Reclamation, Oversold Cemetery, Haunted Crossroads and Diabolic Servitude can all enable you to recur your key threats as needed. While each has their own ups and downs, it's clear that there's a spell out there for everyone. You don't need a ton of these kinds of cards, but hey, 1-2 copies can sometimes go a long way. This is especially true if you're fielding Fleshbag Marauder-esque creatures that function as your removal spells. Still, just plain recurring Vampire Nighthawks, Phyrexian Obliterators, Wurmcoil Engines and Grave Titans while Wrathing as needed is probably going to get there in the end.

    Maximizing Value
    Another way to abuse your mass removal spells is to pair them with synergistic spells and effects. Mimic Vat and Grave Betrayal both come to mind as cards that can be back-breaking if they're followed-up with a big removal spell of some sort. Mortivore is usually pretty strong after-the-fact however, which is relevant if your deck doesn't have enough bodies to support Bonehoard. Beacon of Unrest and its ilk are typically fine options as well but they're not nearly as exciting. You can also "go for the win" and pair mass removal with Massacre Wurm and/or Shriveling Rot effects to hopefully end games outright.

    Finish Him
    I think that the "best" (from a "I want to win at all costs" standpoint) way to abuse mass removal spells in a multiplayer setting is to simply combo people out or win with something like Exsanguinate that isn't affected by it. It doesn't matter if you're using Vampire Hexmage + Dark Depths, Helm of Obedience + Leyline of the Void, Bloodchief Ascension + Mindcrank, Exquisite Blood + Sanguine Bond or any number of other viable options because they should all get there in the end. While this option is somewhat cheesy and unfun (even if it's just a simple Cabal Coffers fueled Exsanguinate), it's still a viable way to go about it. Still, combo decks should probably only be used sporadically in my opinion.

    One of the cards that has dramatically changed the face of multiplayer Magic is Exsanguinate. While it was preceded by Kokusho, the Evening Star and other weaker variants such as Syphon Soul and Blood Tithe, nothing of its caliber was seen until Mirrodin Besieged was printed. It's what I like to call a "one card win condition." It has a fairly unique ability in the sense that it can quite easily defeat any number of opponents on its own. That's an incredible feat to say the least. I feel as though this card, more than any other, has paved the way for multiplayer drain decks. As a Black mage myself, I've learned a lot about building drain decks in my lifetime. While the strategy being employed is fairly linear, I can tell you that there's much more to building the decks than simply cramming as many drain spells as you possibly can into the thing.

    Defense is Paramount
    Any global deck is going to draw global hate. If you're simultaneously draining down each opponent they're going to eventually gang-up on you in an attempt to stop you from killing them all. You're not exactly giving them much choice after all. As such, I've come across a number of defensive precautions that you can take to thwart the inevitable onslaught heading your way. Your first line of defense is typically Boseiju, Who Shelters All. It's an extremely relevant card in counter heavy metas, because it ensures that you'll be firing off drain spells constantly in order to maintain the high life total that you'll need to survive. You cannot afford to have that Exsanguinate for 8 get Mana Leaked after all. Defense Grid is a potential consideration as well but I mean land slots are typically much easier to gobble up than spell slots. Next, you'll probably want to turn to something that will enable you to stifle creature-based attacks. Innocent Blood, Abyssal Gatekeeper, Massacre, Barter in Blood, Mutilate and Damnation all spring to mind as good options to consider. The idea here is to prevent dogpiles of creatures from taking you down by using a whack of mass removal to keep early hordes in check. You can also support that plan with a few No Mercys and Dreads that will handle the odd creature that still gets through. You should have the life total to take a few hits here and there after all. Your last line of defense should almost always be Glacial Chasm (+ Eon Hub if desired). It's an amazing card that has won me countless games. These decks do not care about attacking and the life payment is irrelevant when you're draining everyone down. It's the penultimate defense for those reasons alone, and so I strongly suggest that you consider including some in your lists. They can be utterly insane in the right hands.

    Life for Cards
    In addition to shoring up your deck's defenses, you'll have to ensure that the deck will draw enough threats to keep the drain engine going. This is actually incredibly easy, because no other color can covert life-to-cards like Black can. Whenever I build drain decks, I always turn to cards such as Skeletal Scrying, Sign in Blood, Necropotence, Underworld Connections, Phyrexian Arena, Necrologia, Yawgmoth's Bargain and even Promise of Power. I personally feel like every Black mage should experience the power of untapping with a Yawgmoth's Bargain in play. Simply draw cards until you grab an Exsanguinate or Blood Tithe, play it, and repeat. It's honestly that simple. Learn to love trading life for cards; it's one of Black's greatest strengths.

    Playing Your Meta
    The last thing to consider when playing drain decks is how competitive your meta is. In highly competitive ones with lots of removal for instance, Urborg Syphon-Mage probably won't be very effective. You don't want to play a card just to have it eat a removal spell. He is a best used in removal-light metas where he can happily turn all of your dead lands and weak draws into Syphon Souls. Furthermore, ensure that you take advantage of the casual nature of multiplayer whenever possible. For example, I know that a lot of playgroups have "friendly" mulligan rules that allow player to take freebies if they so desire. A creature such as Chancellor of the Dross can become a very potent tool in those instances and should strongly be considered in your decks. Keep in mind that there is no one way to build or play a drain deck and so you should always take your personal metagame's quirks into consideration.

    One of the most powerful types of Control decks that you can possibly field in a multiplayer setting are Prison decks. By locking your opponents out of vital resources you can effectively prevent them from ever being a factor in the game. While this can be quite frustrating, it's too powerful to ignore. I'm not saying that everyone should play a Prison deck in a casual setting, but hey, some men just want to watch the world burn. Black mages can build some incredibly consistent and devastating Prison decks, so look no further if you're in to that sort of thing.

    All Hope Shall Vanish

    The biggest problem that Prison decks face in a multiplayer setting is a good old-fashioned dogpile. Once the jig is up you probably don't have very long to live and you should expect to face heavy resistance each and every time. As such you would do well to try and (virtually) end games as quickly as possible. That usually means turning to a few key cards, namely Contamination, Smokestack and Braids, Cabal Minion. These 3 cards can essentially read "you don't get to play the game" for everyone else provided that you built your deck accordingly. While there are certainly other "build-around-mes" to consider these are the big 3 in my mind. Cards such as Tangle Wire and Desolation aren't always good enough after all. They can dramatically change the pace of the game, there's no question about that, but it's hard to outright win using any of them. In an ideal world you'd want to support the "big 3" with cards such as The Abyss and Nether Void but that's completely impractical from a financial standpoint. Unfortunately they don't have any midway decent budget replacements other than possibly Grave Pact which can do a decent impression of The Abyss at times. Nether Void is irreplaceable however as your alternatives are mere Spheres. It's a shame really because those cards are indescribably fun to play with... well, fun for their controller anyways :).

    Death and Taxes
    Now that we've established the primary players it's important to highlight how we're going to break their symmetry. On the surface it seems as though a card such as Smokestack could cause you just as much harm as it would causes others. That will basically never be the case in practice however. You're going to be filling your deck with cards such as Tenacious Dead, Reassembling Skeleton, Brood of Cockroaches, Bloodghast, Nuisance Engine, Endless Cockroaches, Crucible of Worlds, Sengir Autocrat, Nether Spirit etc. that fulfills the sacrifice requirement indefinitely (or at least for a very long time) whereas other players will not have that luxury. It's not outside the realm of possibility that you can just run out a turn 2 Reassembling Skeleton and follow it up with a Contamination to win the game for all intents and purposes. That won't happen in all metas but it will certainly be the case in some. The key thing to remember is that breaking the symmetry is imperative with respect to building a solid Prison deck. The self-inflicted damage should be minimal compared to the overall global ruin.

    All-In on Artifacts
    The next thing to consider is how to round the deck out. Bearing in mind that goal is typically to lock players out of the game you should be focused on adding speed and disruption to your lists whenever possible. 1-2 CMC accelerants are a great way to power out a Braids/Smokestack on turns 2-3 which is typically essential for long-term success in these kinds of shells. Your ideal options are clearly things like Sol Ring and Mana Vault but since I typically assume that people play with Legacy B&R lists that probably means fielding something like Charcoal Diamond instead. Smallpox is a fantastic way to clear the field and set people back on lands which can be backbreaking if something like Smokestack is already leaning on people's mana bases fairly hard. Ensnaring Bridge is a nice cheap artifact that can stop anything big from heading your way and can always be sacrificed later on if needed. Sundial of the Infinite can be extremely powerful especially if you don't have any good fodder to pitch to your Smokestack or whatever. It's important to note that Smokestack has 2 triggers so you can always add a counter on to it before skipping your turn with the other still on the stack. You can easily force people to drop down to 0 permanents using that strategy. Dakmor Salvage and Crucible of Worlds provide some interesting and versatile mana base options and are especially relevant when Bloodghast and Mishra's Factory are involved. Ultimately you're just looking for a good mix of cheap artifacts, recursive creatures and solid lands that can help you go the distance. Realistically speaking nothing in your deck should cost 4 or more mana and even then your only 4 drops should be Braids and Smokestack.

    Sealing the Deal
    The final component of a Prison deck is its plan to actually win the game. This is barely worth discussing since pretty much anything can work. Bloodchief Ascension, Iron Maiden, Leechridden Swamp, Animate Dead on some fatty or even just your random 1 and 2 power beaters can work. I strongly encourage you to kill people quickly however if only out of courtesy to your opposition. Your deck isn't exactly "fun" to play against so I don't mind making it slightly worse if it means ending games sooner and making people less annoyed. Do not sit there and deck people out over 2 hours or whatever. That's a good way to get a deck banned on the spot (or worse!).
    Last edited by Prid3: 1/2/2014 5:46:33 PM
    [quote=Cz] Cz you're the tallest, coolest and humblest poster on MTGS. Keep up the good work!
  • #2
    4. Card Elements and Roles
    I'd like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of playing the right kinds of cards in a multiplayer setting. The best way that I can describe a big Chaos game is by comparing it to a marathon. While everyone typically has a strong start to the event, the players who came unprepared for it tend to fall flat during the mid-game stages of the competition. It's the savvy veterans who allocated the time to train and condition themselves that will ultimately see it through to the end. With that analogy in mind, you're primarily looking for cards that will grant you the ability to stay in the game with a chance to win for as long as possible. The 5 generic types of cards that will enable you accomplish that feat are persistent cards, destructive cards, scaling cards, defensive cards and trap cards. These are all critical effects that can help you go the distance and ultimately take home the win. I'll now be taking a much more in-depth look at each of these roles, as well as showcasing the relevant cards in the color. It's my hope that this will make it relatively easy to extract useful information from this guide, since it should provide you with a fairly good idea on where to turn to get relevant card choices for your decks.

    4a. Persistent Cards
    This sections aims to highlight cards that have resilient, repeatable and/or constant effects. In multiplayer, they are invaluable tools for many reasons. First of all, it's important not to look at resilient cards with the frame of mind: "If I were to lose my permanent, I could pay to keep it/get it back." That's a duel mindset. Rather, you should be thinking to yourself "Since I can protect/reuse this, who would bother depleting resources to temporarily hinder it?" Remember, multiplayer Magic is about taking on many other players. Wasting valuable cards and resources to briefly shut down a threat is neither efficient nor effective. Thus, resilient cards tend to stick around much longer than they probably should. With respect to repeatable and/or constant effects, they bring inevitability to your decks. While cheap and efficient single-shot effects are what you typically see used in duels, they aren't nearly as effective in big, Chaos battles. As discussed earlier, I think of duels as being "sprints" and multiplayer games as being "marathons." You need to be in it for the long haul or you'll just fall by the wayside halfway through. Repeatable and/or constant effects help you go the distance, and that's what you'll need to eventually take down the table. With that in mind, let's take a look at classic examples of persistent Black cards:

    Bloodghast, Reassembling Skeleton: Insane with cards such as Skullclamp, Grave Pact, Attrition, Fallen Ideal, Carnage Altar, and any sacrifice effect for that matter. They're begging to be broken in a hundred ways. My personal favorite application is Contamination, but you might take a lot of flak for pulling this out in a casual game.
    Stinkweed Imp: This card is much more versatile and powerful than he seems. He trades with anything and fills your graveyard which fuels other recursive threats as well as recursive engines such as Oversold Cemetery. He carries equipment extremely well too, and comes back as much as you need.
    Haakon, Stromgald Scourge: Haakon is just so powerful with discard, and mixing him with some knights gives you unlimited blockers/beaters. Nameless Inversion is indeed a knight, so he even gives you unlimited removal/pump.
    Endless Cockroaches, Nether Spirit: Think Contamination for potential abuse.
    Phylactery Lich: Make use of your Darksteel Axes or give yourself more reasons to maindeck those Darksteel Plates to protect your other creatures.
    Krovikan Horror: Combos well with Tortured Existence, especially if Fleshbag Marauder and/or Shriekmaw is thrown into the mix.
    Veilborn Ghoul: Another great Tortured Existence centerpiece. This guy prefers support such as Liliana of the Dark Realms however.
    Korlash, Heir to Blackblade, Mortivore: This is just my way of saying "regeneration." Any creatures that can regenerate is instantly a candidate for multiplayer because people will overlook you if your creatures can't easily be killed. They will usually send their forces and target their spells elsewhere knowing that's so easy for you to recover from their effects. This keyword is one of your best friends. Learn to love it.

    Liliana of the Veil: Cheap Planeswalker (CMC wise) with a global effect that adds counters to herself. What's not to love? Although her minus abilities are fairly lackluster, the fact that she's a global discard engine that draws fire away from your dome makes her a very appealing Planeswalker. I especially love her interaction with cards such as Wheel of Torture and Ensnaring Bridge. This vixen cannot be underestimated in a multiplayer setting, namely in dedicated discard-based Control decks.
    Liliana of the Dark Realms: Boy did this card ever miss the mark. Her -3 is abysmal and her ultimate does nothing on its own. You're probably paying 4 mana to tutor up a Swamp or two on average with her. I can't think of a single deck that would want her. Even a mono-Black Exsanguinate deck has much better options at its disposal.
    Liliana Vess: She supports discard strategies, tutors for cards and her ultimate just plain wins games. While she may seem great on the surface, the reality is that she's very hard to field effectively. She has the scariest ultimate in the game, which means that playing her and pumping her will make you a massive target. Protecting her (and you!) is going to be vital because she won't be lasting long if you're not dedicating everything that you have into keeping her around. I wouldn't recommend playing her in most lists.
    Sorin Markov: He can nail the person who just cast Congregate, take control of the guy with Insurrection in hand and plink off small creatures/low players to boost your life total. This guy is also an EDH monster as his ability to slash 30 or more life for 6 mana is nearly impossible to replicate elsewhere. While I wouldn't consider him to be a multiplayer card in general, I consider him to be an EDH auto-include (and EDH is primarily a multiplayer format). If you play EDH, you'll want a Sorin. It's that simple.
    Karn Liberated: Karn, in my mind, is just a solid 'Walker that brings a double Vindicate to every color. Keep in mind that since you you're in Black, you probably desperately need his ability to handle troublesome enchantments and artifacts. His +4 ability will always be relevant and makes him an incredibly resilient Planeswalker that will almost always eat a "life total's worth" of damage before going down. His -14 ability can be somewhat unfun in a multiplayer setting, mostly because it can just drag games out for a very long time. That's one thing to keep in mind if you do decide to slot him into your decks. Black is more than capable of powering him out (Cabal Coffers) and protecting him from harm (Damnation), which are both critically important preparations to make with respect to fielding him effectively.

    Player Life Loss:
    Pulse Tracker, Infectious Horror
    Shrieking Affliction, Quest for the Nihil Stone, Liliana's Caress, Flipped Nezumi Shortfang, Megrim, Hollowborn Barghest: Solid win-conditions for your discard-based Control decks.
    Blood Seeker
    Liability, Patron of the Nezumi
    Underworld Dreams
    Forsaken Wastes: It's not quite Sulfuric Vortex but it's as close as Black is ever going to get.
    Xathrid Demon: This card loves creatures such as Blistergrub, Howling Banshee and virtually any of the creatures in the "Destructive Cards" section of this guide. The synergy is wonderful.
    Baneful Omen: This card loves the effects of Sensei's Divining Top, Vampiric Tutor, Insidious Dreams, Cruel Tutor and Liliana Vess, especially when paired with the converted mana costs of Draco and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn.

    Global Damage:
    Withering Wisps, Pestilence: Darksteel Myr has a use! Stuffy Doll and Phylactery Lich are both cards that come to mind as well.
    Crypt Rats, Plague Spitter, Thrashing Wumpus, Pestilence Demon: All love Loxodon Warhammer if nothing else.

    Creature Hate:
    Guul Draz Assassin: Probably the best Black multiplayer 1 drop in the game.
    Crumbling Ashes, Blowfly Infestation: See Midnight Banshee and Fevered Convulsions among others.
    Plaguebearer: Hoses tokens extremely well but can always be used to kill actual creatures over time.
    Attrition: Pairs amazingly well with Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodghast.
    Death Match: Pairs well with Bloodghast and Reassemblign Skeleton and such.
    Lethal Vapors: This card pairs beautifully with cards such as Pithing Needle and Phyrexian Revoker. Just remember to play the Revoker BEFORE you land the Vapors :P.
    Harbinger of Night, Midnight Banshee, Carnifex Demon: All good options in your Wither decks.
    Pillar Tombs of Aku, The Abyss, Magus of the Abyss, Anowon, the Ruin Sage, Call to the Grave
    Grave Pact, Butcher of Malakir: Frighteningly strong multiplayer cards. Not only do they make all your creatures scary, but they allow you quickly establish board control. They love Reassembling Skeleton and other recurring threats too.
    Tainted Aether
    Night of Souls' Betrayal
    Spreading Plague
    Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief
    Xathrid Gorgon
    Sheoldred, Whispering One

    Bottomless Pit, Necrogen Mists: Personal favorties when it comes to discard decks. Season with Ensnaring Bridge, Shrieking Affliction and Wheel of Torture.
    Words of Waste: Pairing this with Geth's Grimoire is just mean.
    Painful Quandary
    Scythe Specter
    Gibbering Descent: Dat Hellbent effect O.O! Glacial Chasm, Contamination and so much more comes to mind.

    Phyrexian Reclamation
    Disturbed Burial
    Haunted Crossroads
    Recurring Nightmare: So I get to trade my Reassembling Skeleton for a Kokusho, the Evening Star or Sundering Titan? Insanity doesn't quite cover it.
    Necroskitter: Black Sun'z Zenith, Carnifex Demon and Fevered Convulsions all have a new best friend.
    Diabolic Servitude
    Mikaeus, the Unhallowed: Combo-city right here. Cinderhaze Wretch, Triskelion and any Persist creature (Lingering Tormentor) + any sac outlet (Blasting Station, Altar of Dementia) all give him a hearty hello.
    Sheoldred, Whispering One

    Creature Generation:
    Skirsdag High Priest
    Cemetery Reaper: Screw you Genesis, Glory, etc.
    Bloodline Keeper
    Demonic Rising
    Grave Titan: This card is a house. 10 power for 6 mana in Black and it just keeps making more and more warm bodies. He even trades with everything he blocks/blocking thanks to Deathtouch. I can't say enough good things about this card. If you're looking for a powerful Black creature, look no further.

    Graveyard Hate:
    Planar Void
    Withered Wretch
    Leyline of the Void: Combos amazingly well with Helm of Obedience. It's a solid way of packing an extra win condition into decks that might need one.

    Phyrexian Arena, Graveborn Muse, Bloodgift Demon
    Underworld Connections: It's much worse than Arena but sometimes you're on a budget so...
    Yawgmoth's Bargain
    Griselbrand: Because, you know, Yawgmoth's Bargain needed a 7 power, evasive, Lifelinking body right? Sigh... where to begin... Buried Alive, Entomb and Putrid Imp all get him into your graveyard and Recurring Nightmare, Necromancy, Animate Dead, Diabolic Servitude and much more all revive him. From there you should be able to draw and/or revive a bunch of Kokusho, the Evening Stars and cast some Exsanguinates until you win.

    Contamination: Where to begin... Reassembling Skeleton, Endless Cockroaches, Nether Spirit, Gibbering Descent, Eon Hub, Nuisance Engine, you get the idea :P.
    Desolation: Loves Sundial of the Infinite but it just obnoxious in general.
    Tainted Aether
    Infernal Darkness: Another game-breaking card, especially when paired with something like Eon Hub or a Hellbent Gibbering Descent.
    Nether Void: The classic Black denial spell.
    Braids, Cabal Minion: This card is disgustingly powerful in dedicated Prison decks that churn out a body (Bloodghast, Reassembling Skeleton) to feed her every turn. You can also just abuse the fact that Sundial of the Infinite exists and use it as well.

    Heartless Summoning: This card can be awkward to build around but when your draw well and slam it on turn 2 it's usually pretty tough to lose.
    Nirkana Revenant

    4b. Destructive Cards
    These are the face-smashers; the cards that pound everyone into the ground and gain you a massive advantage in one fell swoop. Any powerful, temporary, global effect fits into this category, with the "single-shot" attribute being their most distinguishing factor. These are not the kinds of cards that are used to gain you small, incremental advantages over time. Rather, they're trying to immediately bash the table to bits. While their temporary nature doesn't make them ideal when it comes to winning marathons, you're still probably going to have to rely on them to shore up some of your decks' weaknesses. They're a "necessary evil" in that sense. While some of these cards leave you relatively unscathed, a fair number of them wail on you equally as hard as they beat on everyone else. Building around the latter effects should be an important consideration when constructing your decks, since you don't want accidentally become the agent of your own demise. While the volatile nature of these cards makes them somewhat risky, since you can't rely on them to help you out more than once, it's offset by the fact that they provide you with access to some of the strongest effects in the game. Multiplayer, as is self-evident, necessitates that you challenge a great number of foes. It would be arrogant-if-not-stupid to think that you wouldn't find yourself behind at some point in your games, and so cards like these are a great way to keep the other players in check when you find yourself on the back-foot. If peoples' armies, life totals, mana bases, etc. start to get out of hand then these are the kinds of cards that can level the playing field or even swing things back into your favor. Every color has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to destructive effects, so you'll just have to make due with what you have available to you. Let's take a look at some of the most prominent choices:

    Alternate Win:
    Mortal Combat: Think Iname, Death Aspect and Morality Shift for potential abuse.

    Mindlash Sliver, Rotting Rats, Liliana's Specter
    Strongarm Tactics
    Delirium Skeins
    Cabal Conditioning
    Myojin of Night's Reach

    Mass removal:
    Innocent Blood, Barter in Blood
    Black Sun's Zenith
    Bane of the Living
    Dregs of Sorrow
    Living Death: Mix with Leyline of the Void/Withered Wretch and you have a Damnation + Twilight's Call for ~5 mana. These are some of the scariest cards ever printed for multiplayer.
    Life's Finale
    Massacre Wurm: What can't be said about this card? It's an aggressive beater, mass removal, and global life loss all wrapped into one. I know this isn't coming as news to anyone, but this is one of those cards that you can just throw into most most black and expect good things to happen.
    Decree of Pain
    Reiver Demon
    Plague Wind
    Dread Cacodemon

    Life Loss:
    Maggot Carrier, Rathi Fiend, Howling Banshee
    Blistergrub, Soulcage Fiend, Caustic Hound
    Bond of Agony
    Exsanguinate: One of the (if not the) best mutiplayer cards of all time. In terms of a card that you can just automatically throw into any deck, nothing really tops this one. If the only thing you do after reading this guide is buy a set of these, I'd feel like it was mission accomplished.
    Repay in Kind: Lich couldn't ask for a better partner in crime.

    Discard + Removal + Life Loss:

    Smallpox: Solid answer to early aggro that still significantly hinders Combo and Control players. This card does tons of work, especially if you're just pitching something like Bloodghast to it.
    Pox: One of my most favorite disruptive tools. It destroys the most well-laid plans in one fell swoop.
    Death Cloud: This card combos well with any Planeswalker under the sun and it's pretty tough to lose if you can cast this after you've resolved one.

    Shared Trauma: Black gets dedicated mill now? Weird but I'll take it.

    4c. Scaling Cards
    In this section, I'll highlight cards that scale directly off of having more players around. That is, the more players that are in the game, the more powerful that they become. The two types of scaling cards are the "true scalers" which benefit from having more players around and "semi-scalers" which benefit from having many more targets to choose from. An easy way to think about it is that Subversion (a true scaler) will drain more life every circuit in a 10 player game than it would in a 5 player game, but something like Beacon of Unrest (a semi-scaler) will only ever revive a single creature. You'll always appreciate having a bunch of awesome targets to choose from, but the card doesn't become wildly stronger or anything. These are prime examples of cards that are (generally) useless in duels that have suddenly become incredibly powerful due to the increased number of players in the game. If anyone started to read this guide in order to find the true multiplayer cards that are deliberately designed to be played in big Chaos games, then look no further. These are some of the first cards that you should be looking to invest in, especially if you're just starting to build up a collection of powerful, flexible, multiplayer cards. They'll always be relevant threats, regardless of the number of foes you'll be facing. Keeping all of that into consideration, let's take a look at what we have to work with:

    True Scalers:
    Bloodchief Ascension: Mix with Mindcrank for a 2 card instant win combo. My favorite way to get the counters rolling is by using Ankh of Mishra.
    Exsanguinate: The best damned scaler in the game. This card is a BEAST!
    Blood Artist, Falkenrath Noble
    Dross Harvester
    Syphon Soul, Blood Tithe, Chancellor of the Dross
    Urborg Syphon-Mage
    Syphon Mind: Feel free to start any black deck with 4 of these. It'll never steer you wrong.
    Syphon Flesh
    Scavenger Drake, Khabál Ghoul
    Death Match: Pairs well with your Reassembling Skeletons and Bloodghasts and whatnot.
    Mortivore: Cheap regeneration? Check. Huge body? Check. Cheap cost? Check. Fantastic card? Check.
    Necrotic Ooze: Forms a 3 card combo with Triskelion and Phyrexian Devourer that kills the table through removal. By the way, did I mention that Buried Alive pitches 3 creatures into your graveyard?
    Cairn Wanderer
    Black Market
    Exquisite Blood: Combos nicely with Sanguine Bond but is fairly powerful on its own too.
    Polluted Bonds
    Kokusho, the Evening Star: This card is a true multiplayer beast. Feel free to just play him as is, but you can also thoroughly abuse him using cards such as Entomb, Buried Alive, Animate Dead, Necromancy and more. Cycling through multiple copies via Recurring Nightmare is even more degenrate, especially since Buried Alive can get 2 of them and a recurring threat (Bloodghast, Reassembling Skeleton) into your graveyard at the same time.
    Harvester of Souls: This is one of those occasions where I'm just going to keep my mouth shut and be thankful that Wizards wants us Black mages to have all of the fun in multiplayer. This card is absurd.
    Reaper from the Abyss
    Grave Betrayal: If this can't get you juices flowing then I don't know what will.
    Avatar of Woe

    Any/enemy graveyard revival such as: Nezumi Graverobber, Chainer, Dementia Master, Beacon of Unrest, Geth, Lord of the Vault, Lim-Dûl the Necromancer
    Spoils of Evil
    Dark Impostor: Gray Ogre isn't the most impressive creature of all time but once you hit 6 mana this guy becomes quite fearsome.
    Sewer Nemesis
    Puppeteer Clique
    Herald of Leshrac: Zuran Orb anyone?

    4d. Defensive Cards
    As the name suggests, these cards ward-off other players, encouraging them to direct their attention elsewhere. Their purpose is to keep you alive for as long as possible by using whatever means necessary. This all stems back to coming prepared to go the distance and completing the marathon, which often entails protecting your own personal space from any would-be delinquents. While many of these cards may seem marginal at first (often times being 1-for-1 trades), it's important to remember the mental aspects of multiplayer. Making the "you gain nothing from attacking me" argument to 4 people, even if it's implicit, essentially makes your defensive cards 4-for-1 trades should they successfully stave off any would-be attackers. The fact that death and/or retaliation is assured goes a long way to protecting you, and shouldn't be underestimated. As you will soon see, the cards listed below range in terms of mana cost and level of protection that they offer. Picking the ones that will work best for your decks should be based off of a combination of their weaknesses and your own personal metagame. That is, try to pick the ones that will protect your deck when it's at its most vulnerable stage of development, given what you expect the other players to be doing at that time. With that general guideline in mind, you should have plenty of options to mull over:

    Executioner's Capsule, Seal of Doom: Spot removal can sometimes be required but it's always nice if you can threaten it without having to actually use it.
    Abyssal Gatekeeper: It's not quite Innocent Blood and it's not quite Seal of Doom, but it's often the best of both worlds.
    Vampire Nighthawk, Nirkana Cutthroat: This is my generic "deathtouch" example. It says a lot when your 2/3 can trade with their 7/7, and so this idea of mutually assured destruction basically prevents any rational person from making moves against you. Learn to love this keyword, as it will go far in protecting you in the long run.
    Stinkweed Imp: While this card may seem fairly innocuous it's actually one of my favorites. He trades with anything and Dredging is a great enabler for cards like Recurring Nightmare, Oversold Cemetery, Reassembling Skeleton, etc. The fact that he recurs himself also means that he carries equipment well. Lashwrithe, Bonehoard and Loxodon Warhammer (deathtouch + trample is awesome) all come to mind. Don't be fooled; this is easily one of your best options.
    Koskun Falls: It's a far cry from Propaganda but it isn't unplayable.
    Vampire Hexmage: Dropping her is the best way to say "attack me and I'm killing your Planewalker." Loves Dark Depths and Grim Discovery if all else fails .
    Hissing Miasma, Blood Reckoning: These cards are best used in lifegain decks (Exsanguinate, Vampire Nighthaawk, Wurmcoil Engine, etc.) since it makes the prospect of racing hopeless. They also screw-over token decks quite well.
    No Mercy: This card is a great 1-2 of in most decks. It certainly isn't perfect but at the same time it's really annoying to have to deal with it. This is especailly true in decks with Exsanguinate.
    Phyrexian Obliterator: Wait... What...? Is this card real?
    Vengeful Pharaoh: Solid 1-of as a random blocker who makes life difficult for your opponents.
    Stronghold Overseer: Good luck attacking into this walking Darkness.
    Dread: He, much like other No Mercy effects, is best paired with lifegain such as Exsanguinate.

    4d. Trap Cards
    Trap cards punish your opponents for making uninformed decisions, unaware of the impending consequences of their ill-timed actions. Their distinguishing factor is that they typically abuse some sort of instant-speed effect to catch them off-guard and promptly discipline them for their ignorance. A select-few can only come out at sorcery-speed, however the overwhelming majority of them can "get" people at any time. While these cards will rarely-if-ever have a devastating effect on the board, their primary use is to put your opponents off-balance. You're not using these cards because you expect them to win you games; you're using them so that people will stop screwing with you when you appear to be defenseless. The idea is to let them know that you are never open, no matter how little you may appear to have on your side of the table. It's assumed that you're not to be trifled with, since there's no telling what could all be lurking in your hand. This should hopefully set you up later in games to bluff a defense, which means that the effects of trap cards tend to span far beyond the game at hand. Keep in mind that psychological warfare can be an important factor when it comes to consistently winning games in a multiplayer setting, and so every little edge that you can acquire helps. A word of caution though; I wouldn't rely on having your opponents "play scared" against you on a regular basis. Don't assume that just because you blew someone out once that you'll never have to put early-game defense in your decks ever again. If you fail to deliver on your promises too often then you'll quickly become known as the person who "cried wolf." That being said, it'll still sometimes be the best shot that you'll have at winning. Anyways, let's take a look at what awaits our unwitting foes:

    Phthisis: What's this? You ramped a Darksteel Colossus into play? YOU DUN GOOFED SON! This is the best example of a sorcery-speed Trap card as far as I can tell.
    False Cure: Punish those dirty Exsanguinate players!
    Sudden Spoiling: Watch any 2 armies clash and instantly change the tide of the battle to suit your needs. Or, use it like Darkness in a pinch. Not the best card ever but it's quite powerful if you have a big standing army yourself.
    Shriveling Rot: Now that's a multiplayer card! Scares, kills, wins... what doesn’t it do? This is easily one of the most powerful cards I've mentioned so far and is well worth acquiring.
    Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni: Shoulda blocked bro!

    5. Additional Card Choices
    Let's face it; I've only started the list of the playable Black cards. Just because a card doesn't meet one of the arbitrary requirements that I've previously established, that doesn't outright prevent it from being an amazing card to field in a multiplayer setting. I mean, I'm not exactly going to call Ancestral Recall a bad card because it "doesn't scale" or whatever. An amazing card is always going to be worth playing, regardless of the number of opponents that you're facing down. I'm not going to list every playable card in the color here or anything, just ones that I could see myself playing in some decks. I'm still trying to keep you on the right track when it comes to building your decks after all. So, after some reflection, I came up with:

    Dark Ritual: If your deck has a critical mass of powerful early game plays then this can be a playable card. Turn 1 Phyrexian Arenas and Necropotences are pretty tough to argue with after all.
    Demonic Consultation: Absolutely broken in combo decks.
    Vampiric Tutor: This is best used when it's grabbing combo pieces or draw engines but I mean at 1 mana it's kinda hard to pass this one up.
    Skeletal Scrying: It doesn't take much for an instant speed draw X spell to be playable lol.
    Demonic Tutor: Yeah this card is just broken in ANY deck lol.
    Profane Command: It's a 2-for-1 that can dome people for X and give your army fear to make kills. Not bad.
    Beseech the Queen: Not the best tutor ever but certainly not the worst. 3 mana is easier to stomach than Diabolic Tutor's 4. Diabolic Tutor is completely unplayable in case that isn't clear.
    Sever the Bloodline: Exiling 2 threats isn't great but it's sometimes required.
    Consuming Vapors: Solid 2-for-1 with some free lifegain involved.
    Tendrils of Corruption: I'm not a fan of most spot removal but this one is usually fine.
    Promise of Power: Cards and dudes are always good things to have on hand.
    Annihilate: Any cantrip with a decent effect is playable.

    6. Artifacts and Lands
    Each color has its own various strengths and weaknesses, and so one of the best ways to enhance what it already does well or shore up areas where it struggles is to turn to colorless solutions such as artifacts and lands. At the end of the day, even though these types of cards could care less about the color(s) of the deck that they're in, it's still very easy to associate certain artifacts and lands to certain colors. The point here is that I'm not trying to create a blanket list of powerful multiplayer artifacts or anything, but rather to showcase the ones that naturally pair with the color. Everything listed will serve an important role in one way or another, and will hopefully shed light on some powerful synergies and strategies that you may not have previously considered. Keep in mind that many of these cards may not be multiplayer cards in the traditional sense, but they bring such a high degree of consistency and/or power to decks that I feel compelled to mention them anyways. The available options include:

    Synergistic Lands:
    Leechridden Swamp: Global, colorless life loss on a land is so devious.
    Volrath's Stronghold
    Howltooth Hollow: The old Mindslicer into a free Hollowborn Barghest combo never looked so good.
    Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth: Loves Filth, breaks Cabal Coffers in two and is just generally awesome at turning utility lands into Swamps to shore up your mana base.
    Dark Depths: Cabal Coffers, Vampire Hexmage, Hex Parasite and Aether Snap are all great ways to get a 20/20 indestructible flier on the field. For more abuse, pair it with the Hexmage and throw in Grim Discovery to recover the combo should anything happen to Marit Lage.
    Boseiju, Who Shelters All: Imperative land to have access to in counter-heavy metas. You can't afford to have your Exsanguinates for 15+ be stopped after all.
    Dakmor Salvage: Pox effects sure chew through lands.
    Glacial Chasm: Loves Eon Hub and a Hellbent Gibbering Descent. Mix with Contamination and you can stop all damage and most spells. Scary! This is easily the strongest multiplayer land for its cost ($ wise).
    Phyrexian Tower, High Market: Sometimes you just plain need a sac outlet and having it on a land is groovy.

    Solid Ramp:
    Sol Ring: The best ramp spell in the game. It's always correct to play the maximum number of copies that your playgroup will allow (barring personal preference to keep things casual).
    Everflowing Chalice: It's a Mind Stone on turn 2 or an Ur-Golem's Eye on turn 4, both of which help to speed up your slow Control decks.
    Charcoal Diamond, Mind Stone: Since your turn 2 is often "wasted" anyways it's never a bad idea to have access to some Rampant Growths.
    Worn Powerstone: Helps you hit 6 mana by turn 4, which is the perfect number to start slamming Wurmcoil Engines and Massacre Wurms and whatnot.
    Solemn Simulacrum: Solid ramper who blocks (virtual lifegain) and draws you a card. You'll rarely live the dream and get the full 3-for-1 but that's fine. It's worth noting that any warm body is fine when your list has Lashwrithe or whatever.
    Thran Dynamo: Cheap and effective way to power out some X spells (Profane Command, Exsanguinate) or ramp out your Griselbrands and whatnot.
    Gilded Lotus

    Good Creatures:
    Wurmcoil Engine: The best all-around multiplayer creature ever printed in my mind. Any deck that has 4 of them gets 2 big thumbs up from me.

    Persistent Artifacts:

    Sundial of the Infinite: Combos amazing well with cards like Dawn of the Dead, Mimic Vat, Unearth (Corpse Connoisseur for example), Braids, Cabal Minion, Glacial Chasm, Infernal Darkness, Desolation, and so much more.
    Ghoulcaller's Bell, Worry Beads, Mesmeric Orb, Sands of Delirium, Whetstone, Keening Stone: Mill for the mill decks.
    Ankh of Mishra: Best used in quick-kill decks with cards like Pox, Bloodchief Ascension, etc.
    Mindcrank: Nothing beats pairing this card with Bloodchief Ascension for a 2 card instant win combo. Just remember to include Ankh of Mishra to get those counters rolling quickly.
    Skeleton Shard: Amazing form of recursion in a world of Sundering Titans and Wurmcoil Engines.
    Crucible of Worlds: Pox and Death Cloud destroy your mana base after all.
    Staff of Domination: Put that Cabal Coffers mana to use.
    Mimic Vat: Utterly abusive in multiplayer, especially when paired with strong "enters the battlefield" effects.
    Rackling, Wheel of Torture: Perfect win conditions for your discard-based Control decks.
    Bösium Strip, Mirari: Good in MBC decks that have access to tons of mana and ramp massive spells. Doubling Exsanguinates wins games.
    Trading Post: Blah blah Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodghast blah blah.
    Phyrexian Processor: Setting this off at 5-8 in your decks with global drain spells can be backbreaking. Much like Exsanguinate, it's not always about firing if off for 15+ to outright win the game. Value X spells are still very powerful.
    Dingus Staff, Dingus Egg: Pox effects are so much better when they win games outright. Think of a Death Cloud for 10 with these on the field!
    Psychosis Crawler: You can see how abusive he can be with Yawgmoth's Bargain, Griselbrand and black's other bursty draw effects that cost life, such as Promise of Power. Great way to burn everyone down with you while creating massive beaters to finish enemy players off.
    Eldrazi Monument: One of the best cards ever printed for creature-based decks. Pretty much every tribal deck should be running 3-4 of them if they can reliable fuel its upkeep cost in my opinion.

    Destructive Artifacts:
    Oblivion Stone, Nevinyrral's Disk, All is Dust: Grant Black mages the ability to destroy bothersome enchantments and/or artifacts that they wouldn't be able to touch otherwise.
    Memory Jar: Gruesomely powerful combo card. Not only does it draw you 7 cards to work with, but it can also be paired with Underworld Dreams and/or Liliana's Caress to destroy the entire table.

    Defensive Artifacts:
    Defense Grid: Gotta stop those counters somehow.
    Ensnaring Bridge: Great defensive card to use in discard decks. Gibbering Descent and the like do a good job of locking everyone at 0 cards. Note that Guiltfeeder loves discard and attacks snugly past it at 0 power.
    Noetic Scales: Another beastly defensive card to field in your discard decks.
    Witchbane Orb: I think that it's cool that Black has access to this kind of effect now. Not everyone will need this type of protection, but hey, it's always available if you do.
    Stuffy Doll, Creepy Doll: 2 of my favorite cards to field in Pestilence-style decks. Fair warning that Stuffy Doll doesn't exactly make you any friends though :P.

    Scaling Artifacts:

    Geth's Grimoire: Mix with Words of Waste for maximum effectiveness. Toss in Sickening Dreams and you have a bonified way of winning the game outright.
    Bonehoard: Mortivores 5-8. This card is disgustingly good in creature-heavy metas. It, like half the cards in this guide, pairs well with Reassembling Skeleton.
    Grimoire of the Dead
    Mind's Eye
    It that Betrays: Probably the single greatest card to play/revive just before you Death Cloud for 10. Has so much fun Pox-like effects. Try to revive him if possible to get past his steep mana cost.

    Reasonably Priced Equipment:
    Ring of Xathrid: Fantastic way to add inevitability and resilience to your creature-based decks.
    Grafted Wargear: Amazing on your early drops (Vault Skirge, Reassembling Skeleton, Vampire Nighthawk).
    Loxodon Warhammer: Lifegain and Trample is sweet, especially when you drop this on something like Mortivore.
    Sword of Vengeance: Gets the job done more often than not. Haste and First Strike make sorcery-speed removal look silly. This is a Control player's nightmare.
    Lashwrithe: This card is unreal when paired with your Reassembling Skeletons and Stinkweed Imps and whatnot.
    Bonehoard: Yeah, this was in the previous section too, but it's powerful enough to highlight it a bunch. Pair this with a Reassembling Skeleton once and you'll be hooked for life.
    Batterskull: Beep beep! The win truck is here!

    Card Draw:
    Skullclamp: If your deck has more than 0 creatures and you're allowed to play this card then you probably want to. It's one of the most absurdly broken draw engines ever printed after all.
    Candles of Leng
    Seer's Sundial
    Jayemdae Tome: The definition of a mediocre card in my mind. Not too cheap, not too expensive, no downside, no amazing upside, just a moderately playable card.
    Angelheart Vial: Pseudo-Sun Droplet that draws you cards.
    Illuminated Folio:
    Staff of Nin

    Miscellaneous Draw/Fetch/Manipulation:
    Expedition Map: Grabs your Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Dark Depths and/or Cabal Coffers.
    Sensei's Divining Top: Having 1 of these in your decks with fetchlands, tutors and other shuffle effects is a decent way to improve your overall card quality.
    Journeyer's Kite: A personal favorite of mine in slow control decks. It's great at helping you build up your Swamp count so that you can dominate the late-game with massive Cabal Coffers-fueled plays.

    7. Other Colors
    As much as I'd like to think that a color can stand on its own, there exist many Gold cards that are tailored for multiplayer play that can often times provide it with some much needed support. Because Gold cards are harder to cast relative to mono-colored ones, you typically get more bang for your buck when you field them. As such these gems will not only enhance the tactics you've already become familiar with, but will likely upgrade the power level of your decks to the next threshold. This is all too important in multiplayer, where you'll constantly be barraged by a horde of powerful threats all barreling down at you from you stiff opposition. It's difficult to express a general use for these kinds of cards, and so I can't give a much more specific description of what Gold cards will bring to your decks. The best advice that I can give you is to simply peruse the list as you build decks of the corresponding colors. You just may find a diamond in the rough. Relevant Gold cards, in my mind, include:

    Black + Red:
    Lavaclaw Reaches: Not the best manland ever but it's still a lategame Fireball that fixes your mana.
    Spiteflame Witch
    Everlasting torment
    Spiteful Visions: Works well in your Underworld Dreams decks.
    Rakdos, Lord of Riots
    Olivia Voldaren
    Kulrath Knight: Midnight Banshee never had it so good.
    Lightning Reaver
    Breath of Malfegor: My finisher of choice in BR burn decks featuring Exsanguinate and Earthquake type effects.
    Skull Rend
    Deathbringer Thoctar
    Defiler of Souls
    Kaervek the Merciless

    Black + Blue:
    Creeping Tar Pit: This thing eats Planeswalkers for breakfast, dodges most removal, carries equipment extremely well and even fixes your mana.
    Baleful Strix: Possibly the second dumbest thing that you can recur with Skeleton Shard. The first is obviously Wurmcoil Engine.
    Sygg, River Cutthroat
    Vile Consumption
    Urza's Guilt
    Breathstealer's Crypt
    Memory Plunder: I'll take that Insurrection thank you.
    Vela the Night-Clad

    Black + White:
    Vault of the Archangel: This card should make the cut virtually every time. It brings insane inevitability to any creature-based deck.
    Orzhov Guildmage
    Putrid Warrior
    Orzhov Pontiff
    Souls of the Faultless
    Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
    Ghost Council of Orzhova
    Divinity of Pride: Solid in your lifegain decks with Exsanguinate, Blood Tithe, Serra Ascendant, etc.
    Agent of Masks
    Necromancer's Covenant
    Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
    Angel of Despair
    Debtors' Knell

    Black + Green:
    Svogthos, the Restless Tomb: Fine land for your graveyard-based decks.
    Grim Backwoods: I could see decks running 1 of these to convert late-game mana dorks into real cards.
    Deathrite Shaman: Acceleration, lifegain and global damage all for the low cost of 1 mana.
    Korozda Guildmage: It functions well as both a 2 and a 6 drop and it allows you to push damage through using anyone's creatures.
    Pernicious Deed
    Glissa, the Traitor
    Savra, Queen of the Golgari
    Jarad, Golgari Lich Lord
    Vulturous Zombie
    Lord of Extinction
    Vraska the Unseen
    Last edited by Prid3: 1/2/2014 2:56:48 AM
    [quote=Cz] Cz you're the tallest, coolest and humblest poster on MTGS. Keep up the good work!
  • #3
    9. Sample Deck Lists
    The purpose of this section will be to provide readers with an idea of some sample decklists that I have constructed over the years. I'll do my best to highlight the most important interactions and synergies amongst the various cards; which probably means that I won't spend too much time explaining why Syphon Mind is in the deck. They'll be good starting points for anyone looking to make similar decks, by giving you a basic idea of the most obvious card choices. Now, keep in mind that these deck lists will become somewhat outdated and suboptimal as time goes on. I'll do my best to update them as much as possible, but I'm only 1 man. They'll still be useful learning tools however, even if they're not always relevant. Each of these decks brings various multiplayer elements that I've previously discussed into play. Please keep all of this in mind as you read over them.

    Need a Hand?Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    24x Swamp

    Creatures (6)
    4x Abyssal Gatekeeper
    2x Rotting Rats

    Spells (30)
    4x Quest for the Nihil Stone
    3x Innocent Blood
    4x Shrieking Affliction
    4x Smallpox
    4x Necrogen Mists
    3x Bottomless Pit
    4x Ensnaring Bridge
    2x Mutilate
    2x Noetic Scales

    This is an example a very simple discard-based Control deck. Your goal should be to kill small creatures with your removal, land a constant discard engine or two and ultimately survive long enough to kill everyone with Quest for the Nihil Stone and/or Shrieking Affliction. Ensnaring Bridge handles anything large, which is why Innocent Blood and Abyssal Gatekeeper were chosen to handle the small fries. Massacre is a potential alternative to use over Mutilate but should only be chosen if it will consistently be cast for free. Null Brooch can be included to answer troublesome mass removal spells such as Tranquility that would just destroy you. Don't run them if you don't think that you'll need them however. The mana base is purposely kept simple because you'll need to hit your land drops consistently. Discard decks tend to draw a lot of hate so you typically cannot afford to stumble on mana. That's why none of the lands enter the battlefield tapped in my list. Your mileage with the deck will vary, but you can always turn to tutors to make it more consistent if needed. Beseech the Queen and Dimir Machinations are your primary budget options, and I highly recommend them in slower metas. Finding Bridges is the real key to the deck, so it's fine if the tutors are somewhat limited in scope. With respect to alternate win conditions, cards to consider are Bloodchief Ascension and Wheel of Torture.

    Still, my favorite variation of this deck is one based off of traditional Legacy Pox lists. It's obviously modified to beat any number of opponents but it's a complete hoot to play and should incite quite a few groans from the rest of the table.

    Need a Hand?Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (25)
    25x Swamp

    Creatures (3)
    3x Abyssal Gatekeeper

    Spells (31)
    4x Dark Ritual
    3x Innocent Blood
    4x Shrieking Affliction
    4x Smallpox
    2x Pox
    4x Necrogen Mists
    2x Bottomless Pit
    3x Wheel of Torture
    4x Ensnaring Bridge
    2x Noetic Scales

    For what it's worth I've been playing this type of deck for close to 9 years now and this is where it's ended up. I feel like a strategic mix of constant discard, persistent protection and mass removal are keys that cannot be overlooked if you want the deck to be successful. Win conditions are often very unimportant but the 2 best (by a huge margin in my opinion) are the 2 that I've listed. Everything else is a bit too slow or conditional and I've lost plenty of games because of that.

    MBCMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (25)
    19x Swamps
    3x Cabal Coffers
    1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1x Phyrexian Tower
    1x High Market

    Creatures (16)
    4x Vampire Nighthawk
    4x Phyrexian Obliterator
    1x Vengeful Pharaoh
    1x Kokusho, the Evening Star
    4x Wurmcoil Engine
    2x Sepulchral Primordial

    Spells (19)
    3x Wayfarer's Bauble
    1x Phyrexian Reclamation
    2x Exsanguinate
    2x Worn Powerstone
    3x Phyrexian Arena
    1x Oblivion Stone
    1x Haunted Crossroads
    3x Mutilate
    1x Syphon Mind
    1x No Mercy
    1x All is Dust

    This is an example of a traditional MBC deck that touches on many of multiplayer elements that I've been alluding to all this time. It's seeking to stabilize the field early on with Vampire Nighthawk so that it can hopefully slam a Phyrexian Obliterator or Wurmcoil Engine on turn 4 (off of a turn 3 Worn Powerstone whenever possible). From there it's either to looking to grind the table out with powerful spells or to simply drain everyone for 20 using Exsanguinate and Kokopuffs. Phyrexian Arena is the draw engine of choice and a lone Phyrexian Reclamation is there to support your creatures as needed. Since both cards drain your life the deck has a ton of ways to recoup it. As you can plainly see this deck is somewhat slow and will never start before turn 3. As such, I wouldn't recommend using it in highly-aggressive metas.

    Phyrexian Obliterator is sweet but could be omitted for budget reasons. Same thing with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. My guide lists plenty of decent alternatives for the former and the latter is just "nice to have" but not "need to have." Arena could also be Underworld Connections or Syphon Mind. As far as the fatties are concerned, run whatever you prefer. Any good 6 drop will fit the bill. If counters are a concern then Boseiju, Who Shelters All should be added to the mana base. Finally, since the deck is a bit soft to artifacts and enchantments, more cards such as Nevinyrral's Disk, Oblivion Stone and All is Dust are potential inclusions to ponder as well.

    MBCMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    20x Swamp
    4x Leechridden Swamp

    Creatures (16)
    3x Typhoid Rats
    3x Reassembling Skeleton
    2x Abyssal Gatekeeper
    3x Stinkweed Imp
    2x Vampire Nighthawk
    2x Bloodgift Demon
    1x Dread

    Spells (20)
    3x Innocent Blood
    3x Exsanguinate
    4x Phyrexian Arena
    4x Lashwrithe
    2x Mutilate
    1x No Mercy
    2x Grave Pact
    1x Demonic Rising

    This deck is similar but it's better suited in those metas where people are playing with overly-aggressive duel decks packed with aggressive creatures and such. It can still play for the late-game but is mostly looking to grind people out with recursive beaters and removal in the end. It wants to get that 1 drop, 2 drop (sometimes anyways), 3 drop, 4 drop curve but it doesn't want to get smoked to any random ramp deck or whatnot.

    Fueling the FurnaceMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    17x Swamp
    4x Mishra's Factory
    2x Dakmor Salvage
    1x Shizo, Death's Storehouse

    Creatures (12)
    4x Reassembling Skeleton
    3x Bloodghast
    2x Endless Cockroaches
    3x Braids, Cabal Minion

    Spells (24)
    3x Bloodchief Ascension
    3x Charcoal Diamond
    4x Guardian Idol
    4x Smallpox
    3x Ensnaring Bridge
    3x Contamination
    4x Smokestack

    The basic idea of this deck is to play a turn 1 Bloodchief Ascension (ideally anyways), a turn 2 mana accelerant (Guardian Idol or Charcoal Diamond) or recursive threat (preferably Reassembling Skeleton) and then a turn 3 Contamination, Smokestack or Braids, Cabal Minion (preferably Smokestack). From there it will play a variety of recursive creatures and cheap artifacts to fuel either card until it can lock the other players at 0 permanents. The plan is to keep Smokestack at 1 counter for the most part and to simply pitch whatever is convenient to it every turn. The deck is not "just dead" if it doesn't have a Reassembling Skeleton or whatnot since it can still pitch random cards to it until it finds one. The deck runs seven 2 CMC accelerants since it really wants to start every game with a turn 3 Smokestack/Braids whenever possible. I fear that it would be too slow otherwise. Drawing too many is never that bad since you can always pitch them to the sacrifice triggers or use Guardian Idol to beat down (which is hopefully adding counters to your Bloodchief Ascension). Smallpox and Ensnaring Bridge are your primary defensive measures, with Smallpox also contributing to the cause of getting people down to nothing. Most of the beaters in this deck hit for 2, which is relevant given that Bloodchief Ascension is the primary win condition. Darkmor Salvage is a nice recursive land which also helps recur Bloodghasts if need be. Either way it does a lot of work when it comes to overcoming Smallpox and whatnot.

    If you're looking for a more explosive version of the list, consider trying to incorporate cards such as Dark Ritual, Sol Ring and Mana Vault to the build. Sol Ring in particular can allow for some disgustingly fast starts. As with all of my lists, this is rough shell and not really a "finished good." It's a solid base but you'll probably want to tweak it.

    Kevorkian ControlMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    20x Swamp
    4x Leechridden Swamp

    Creatures (23)
    3x Skirsdag High Priest
    2x Gatekeeper of Malakir
    3x Vampire Nighthawk
    4x Fleshbag Marauder
    2x Stinkweed Imp
    3x Krovikan Horror
    2x Abyssal Persecutor
    1x Graveborn Muse
    3x Shriekmaw
    1x Puppeteer Clique

    Spells (14)
    4x Tortured Existence
    2x Grafted Wargear
    2x Bonehoard
    1x Lashwrithe
    4x Syphon Mind

    This is supposed to be a very fun Control deck to pilot in creature-heavy metas. The basic goal of the deck is to assemble Tortured Existence, Krovikan Horror/Stinkweed Imp and Shriekmaw/Fleshbag Marauder. Start by casting Tortured Existence or preferably already have it in play. Next, cast your Fleshbag Marauder and have it sac itself or evoke a Shriekmaw to kill something. You can now discard Krovikan Horror (or Stinkweed Imp) to return that creature to your hand. With any luck you should be able to cast the Fleshbag Marauder/evoke the Shriekmaw again so that it's placed directly above Krovikan Horror. Rinse and repeat as much as desired. Stinkweed Imp acts as a virtual Krovikan Horrors who can dig you further into your deck for more bodies if needed. The equipment are nice since they give your deck a bit of power and abuse the various sacrifice mechanics at work in the deck. The other creatures are mostly there to protect you and to slap people around. Abyssal Persecutor delivers a real beating and this deck has about 100 ways to kill him. Puppeteer Clique hangs around to act as a beater and graveyard hate, and should usually finds way to push damage through. Skirsdag High Priest is just a monster, and should produce Demons out the wazoo.

    If you're looking to modify the deck, there are a few cards to consider. Avatar of Woe is slightly more budget friendly than Abyssal Persecutor is and can still do a lot of work for the deck. If you wanted to save some money, that's an easy swap. Conversely, if you're maybe looking to juice it up a bit, you could always consider adding Grave Pact to the list. It would keep the board pretty damn clear at all time. Necroplasm can certainly be a consideration as well, primarily in metas dominated by token decks.

    One Point at a TimeMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    20x Snow-Covered Swamp
    4x Vault of Whispers

    Creatures (14)
    4x Darksteel Myr
    4x Phylactery Lich
    4x Creepy Doll
    2x Stuffy Doll

    Spells (22)
    4x Darksteel Axe
    2x Night's Whisper
    4x Sign in Blood
    1x Simulacrum
    4x Exsanguinate
    3x Withering Wisps
    4x Pestilence

    One of the most important aspects of a Pestilence deck is that you need to do most of your work before you stick a Pestilence variant. You really don't have much time to do stuff afterward. That's why this deck uses a marginal draw spell over something traditional such as Syphon Mind. While the latter has more more inherit power, it won't find you a Phylactery Lich to play on turn 3 in preparation for your Withering Wisps on turn 4. The goal of this deck will be to play some sort of early, indestructible creature (either the Myr or the Lich) and from there you'll just play some Pestilence variant and proceed to tap out until you win. Now, Phylactery Lich is kind of an awkward card. He demands that you have a lot of good targets to put his counter on. That's why the deck has Darksteel Myr, Darksteel Axe and Vault of Whispers as early artifacts. I don't usually consider Darksteel Citadel to be a viable option since we need way too much Black mana in this deck. Still, it probably wouldn't work out too poorly.

    Skull PactMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    22x Swamp
    2x Leechridden Swamp

    Creatures (12)
    4x Bloodghast
    4x Reassembling Skeleton
    2x Dimir House Guard

    Spells (23)
    4x Innocent Blood
    4x Skullclamp
    1x Ashnod's Altar
    4x Exsanguinate
    2x Phyrexian Arena
    2x Buried Alive
    3x Grave Pact
    4x Mutilate

    This is a Control deck seeking to abuse Skullclamp and Grave Pact by pairing them with a host of recursive threats. Buried Alive is a great way to pitch 3 Bloodghasts into your bin at which point every land drop gets you a nice 3 bodies to Clamp away. Grave Pact should all-but clear the field from that point on, leaving you with a ton of time to eventually set up an Exsanguinate win. Ashnod's Altar obviously has a lot of fun with a creature like Bloodghast, since a trio of them can produce 12 mana if you make your land drop.

    No Drain, No gainMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (28)
    25x Swamp
    3x Glacial Chasm

    Spells (32)
    4x Everflowing Chalice
    4x Innocent Blood
    4x Exsanguinate
    2x Phyrexian Arena
    3x Syphon Soul
    4x Syphon Mind
    2x Blood Tithe
    2x Barter in Blood
    4x Mutilate
    3x Eon Hub

    My take on a pure drain deck. This list seeks to keep the field clear of critters, play a handful of draws spells, and from there it plans to chain drain spells until it wins. The amount and type of removal used can always vary based on your meta and your personal preferences but the idea here is to have enough to keep yourself alive. Eon Hub + Glacial Chasm is a pretty fearsome combo and you can always bump up the numbers as desired. Bear in mind that Chasm is pretty amazing even without Hub since the lifegain in the list should be adequate to fuel it long enough for you to win.

    Veil-Cursed DisciplesMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    16x Swamp
    4x Darksteel Citadel
    4x Leechridden Swamp

    Creatures (25)
    4x Hunted Horror
    4x Phylactery Lich
    2x Dusk Urchins
    2x Vampire Nighthawk
    3x Fleshbag Marauder
    2x Disciple of Bolas
    2x Abyssal Persecutor
    4x Veilborn Ghoul
    1x Xathrid Demon
    1x Sepulchral Primordial

    Spells (11)
    3x Tortured Existence
    4x Darksteel Axe
    2x Journeyer's Kite
    2x Loxodon Warhammer

    This deck seeks to abuse the interaction between Veilborn Ghoul and Tortured Existence in addition to putting out a ton of early-game pressure in the form of massive creatures. The artifacts were chosen to support Phylactery Lich, and I strongly urge that players consider using Vault of Whispers over Darksteel Citadel if their meta is light on artifact removal. Disciple of Bolas is a walking card advantage engine that helps to keep your life total nice and high, and can also axe your Abyssal Persecutors if need be. The equipment are there to force people to trade with your creatures so that you can keep recurring them, but also help boost your life total to avoid getting run over later on. Fleshbag Marauder does a lot of work once you get your Tortured Existence engine online and should be able to keep the field relatively clear. Xathrid Demon is the go-to finisher since he puts all of these high-power creatures to good use and has a global presence on the game. Hunted Horror is a meta call and should only be used "if he'll work." That is, the card is terrible if you're just going to get in a fight with the guy who gets the 2 beasts, but is AWESOME otherwise. 2 mana 13 power? Yeah, I'll take that thanks. I've seen this card outright kill players enough times to justify keeping them in.

    Swords 'n DudesMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    20x Swamp
    4x Leechridden Swamp

    Creatures (21)
    3x Reassembling Skeleton
    3x Stinkweed Imp
    4x Vampire Nighthawk
    2x Abyssal Persecutor
    2x Bloodline Keeper
    3x Bloodgift Demon
    1x Grave Titan
    2x Wurmcoil Engine
    1x Sepulchral Primordial

    Spells (11)
    1x Oversold Cemetery
    1x Haunted Crossroads
    2x Profane Command
    3x Phyrexian Arena
    4x Grafted Wargear
    1x Loxodon Warhammer
    2x Lashwrithe

    This is a perfect example of a multiplayer aggro deck in my mind. It has a lot of raw power, tons of inevitability, a fair amount of draw and recursion, and plenty of haymakers that can end games.

    The Dread of NightMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    24x Swamp

    Creatures (20)
    3x Reassembling Skeleton
    4x Vault Skirge
    4x Vampire Nighthawk
    3x Bloodgift Demon
    1x Vengeful Pharaoh
    1x Dread
    2x Kokusho, the Evening Star
    2x Wurmcoil engine

    Spells (16)
    1x Phyrexian Reclamation
    4x Phyrexian Arena
    3x Grafted Wargear
    1x Loxodon Warhammer
    3x Lashwrithe
    2x Tendrils of Corruption
    1x Consuming Vapors
    1x No mercy

    This is another simple deck that's designed to exert a lot of early game pressure. It has 12 "small drop" creatures and plenty of fantastic equipment to equip to them in order to put the heat on. A Turn 2 Reassembling Skeleton/Vault Skirge followed up with a Grafted Wargear is pretty insane after all, and is often enough to take slower players out. Hex and Tendrils of Corruption provide you with some powerful removal options, but the Command can also be used to dome people for X and give your team Fear in order to make killing blows.

    Demonic FuryMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    20x Swamp
    4x Leechridden Swamp

    Creatures (26)
    4x Pulse Tracker
    4x Blood Artist
    4x Soulcage Fiend
    4x Blistergrub
    4x Howling Banshee
    4x Falkenrath Noble
    2x Xathrid Demon

    Spells (10)
    4x Exsanguinate
    2x Grafted Wargear
    4x Lashwrithe

    This deck is all about Xathrid Demon. The deck has an aggressive curve that ultimately seeks to beat everyone low enough so that a combination of Exsanguinate, Howling Banshee, Blistergrub and Xathrid Demon can finish everyone off. Beyond that the deck is looking to stay somewhat defensive when needed, and also field as many value creatures as possible.

    Neck Nibblin'Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    20x Swamp
    4x Leechridden Swamp

    Creatures (23)
    4x Pulse Tracker
    4x Blood Artist
    4x Falkenrath Noble
    3x Bloodline Keeper
    4x Malakir Bloodwitch
    4x Chancellor of the Dross

    Spells (13)
    4x Exsanguinate
    4x Phyrexian Arena
    4x Blood Tithe
    1x No Mercy

    This is a no-thrills, no-gimmicks Drain deck where every card is either draining all of your opponents for some amount, or drawing you into more drain. I won't harp on it too much since it's fairly self-explanatory.

    Braaaaaaaaaaaains!Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (25)
    19x Snow-Covered Swamp
    4x Leechridden Swamp
    2x Unholy Grotto

    Creatures (28)
    4x Gravecrawler
    2x Stromgald Crusader
    4x Fleshbag Marauder
    2x Cemetery Reaper
    2x Lord of the Undead
    1x Death baron
    2x Zombie Warchief
    4x Vengeful Dead
    2x Grave Defiler
    2x Noxious Ghoul
    1x Vengeful Pharaoh
    1x Mikaeus, the Unhallowed

    Spells (7)
    1x Oversold Cemetery
    2x Endless Ranks of the Dead
    1x Grave Pact
    2x Tombstone Stairwell
    1x Eldrazi Monument
    1x Zombie Apocalypse

    My take on the classic Zombie archetype. There are literally a million different ways to build the deck and so I don't expect anyone to ever find the "ideal" 60. There are far too many synergies and strategies to explore after all. This deck is somewhat focused on Vengeful Dead and supports him with Tombstone Stairwell and Zombie Apocalypse. The deck can also win with Eldrazi Monument and sports various cards that can fuel it. Fleshbag Marauder + Unholy Grotto/Oversold Cemetery is another cool interaction that can help keep the rest of the table in check. Any old revival works for that though. If you're looking for something cool, try adding Haunted Crossroads. It can do spicy things with Grave Defiler but obviously is super with Fleshbag Marauder and Eldrazi Monument as well. The deck has a fair amount of lords and some amount of early drops but they could always be removed for slower, better cards if desired. If you want to run more of the "bomb spells" you could. I just wanted to highlight some different ones. I couldn't possibly show you a perfect 60 even if I wanted to and so I highly recommend experimenting and coming up with your own brews. Just play 60 awesome cards and have fun with it.

    Prid3's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (26)
    20x Swamp
    3x Cabal Coffers
    1x Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    1x High market
    1x Phyrexian Tower

    Creatures (23)
    3x Treacherous Pit-Dweller
    1x Skirsdag High-Priest
    3x Soulcage Fiend
    3x Abyssal Persecutor
    1x Blood Speaker
    2x Bloodgift Demon
    1x Reaper from the Abyss
    2x Harvester of Souls
    2x Rune-Scarred Demon
    1x Lord of the Void
    2x Griselbrand
    1x Reiver Demon
    1x Dread Cacodemon

    Spells (11)
    2x Wayfarer's Bauble
    1x Oversold Cemetery
    3x Everflowing Chalice
    3x Mark of the Oni
    1x Patriarch's Bidding
    1x Demonic Rising

    This is a fairly simple take on the Demon tribe. It features a wide array of powerful demonic bruisers and a small suite of ramp and early blockers. Treacherous Pit-Dweller is primarily included as a fun "political" card. A 4/3 for 2 can hopefully beat people down early on and with any luck you can use it to "buy an ally" once it croaks. If you don't expect that to happen in your meta then you could always remove it and field more ramp or possibly even Heartless Summoning. It's tough to go wrong with that plan after all. Mark of the Oni is a cool 3 mana Control Magic in this type of deck which is a nice change of pace given that Enslave is your next best option. I included some spicy singletons to the list but you could always mix and match your own. I do think that the Demonic Rising is fairly powerful though since it allows you to play around Wraths extremely effectively.

    This deck can easily be built without some of the more expensive creatures and support effects but I still wanted to highlight them just in case. Still, I wouldn't blame you for cutting Griselbrand and simply jamming some other fatty in his slot.

    Rats :<Magic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    Lands (24)
    10x Swamp
    4x Mutavault
    4x Swarmyard
    4x Bojuka Bog
    1x Shizo, Death's Storehouse
    1x Volrath's Stronghold

    Creatures (25)
    4x Typhoid Rats
    4x Pack Rat
    3x Nezumi Graverobber
    4x Crypt Rats
    1x Erebos, God of the Dead
    1x Marrow-Gnawer
    3x Ogre Slumlord
    2x Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
    2x Ratcatcher
    1x Patron of the Nezumi

    Spells (11)
    2x Oversold Cemetery
    3x Syphon Mind
    2x Whip of Erebos
    1x Door of Destinies
    3x Eldrazi Monument

    As with all of my tribal decks the goal here is basically just to get some form of token generator/revival engine online with Eldrazi Monument but this is just a rough shell really. Pack Rat is the real star of the deck and makes cards like Oversold Cemetery, Whip of Erebos and Eldrazi Monument completely absurd. Your version could easily lean more heavily on Patron of the Nezumi to get the job done for example and you could always run something like Lab Rats to fuel the Monument if you were so inclined. I don't believe that either are necessary personally though. Phyrexian Arena and/or Erebos, God of the Dead could easily be Skullclamp, Underworld Connections, Dark Prophecy, Syphon Mind or even just more Ratcatchers. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, Volrath's Stronghold, Swarmyard and/or Mutavault aren't needed and could easily be Swamps/Leechridden Swamps. You could also play Swamps + Cabal Coffers if you wanted but Coffers isn't at its best in this type of deck. It really is fine if you just run Swamps, Bojuka Bogs and Leechridden Swamps. Oversold Cemetery could be Phyrexian Reclamation or Haunted Crossroads. Disturbed Burial could work too since you're probably just reviving Pack Rat if anything.

    Whip of Erebos is good with Crypt Rats in the sense that it provides you with some extra life to fuel your various draw engines and thwart early aggression. It also works amazingly well with Pack Rats since you can create a copy which won't get exiled at end of turn. The original will, sure, but you only need one to start the chain again! Moving on I should probably quickly highlight the Bojuka Bog + Nezumi Graverobber interaction which is kind of neat. It's a good way to fuel your Monuments if needed and I mean free creatures are free creatures. Bojuka Bog is just a very powerful card and so you don't even need an excuse to play it. Something to keep in mind is that Pack Rat copies include its mana cost so they definitely trigger devotion for Erebos, God of the Dead. Eldrazi Monument + Crypt Rats + Ogre Slumlord is no joke so you really do want some number of Monuments in there. As much as I'd like to say "Marrow-Gnawer isn't needed" to save you $15.00 it's REALLY good in the deck and that's kind of how you just God-crush everybody. If you do acquire him then do your best to sandbag him until you get a Monument online because it sucks when he dies. Obviously he can still get exiled which is a pain but you can always run cards like High Market/Phyrexian Tower/Altar of Dementia/Ashnod's Altar to dodge them if they're common in your meta. Once he's safely tucked away in your graveyard you can revive him in various ways.This is a very rough Rat aggro deck. The ultimate goal of the list is to stick an Eldrazi Monument and fuel it with a Pack Rat or Marrow-Gnawer. Lashwrithe/Eldrazi Monument + Crypt Rats is another combo that gives the deck a bit of a backup plan. You can also just use Pack Rat to kill everyone, especially once you stick an Arena in play.

    10. Coping with Adversity: Dealing with Black's Weaknesses
    I'd like to think that I've done an adequate job of explaining the various strengths of Black in multiplayer. That being said, it is a color with some exploitable weaknesses. The most common problem faced by Black mages are artifact and enchantment-based decks. Your best bet to combat them will be to grab a full set of All is Dusts, Oblivion Stones and/or Nevinyrral's Disks to wipe them all out at once. While fielding these kinds of cards severely restricts your deckbuilding possibilities they're the only powerful options at your disposal. Karn Liberated, Steel Hellkite and Spine of Ish Sah are all marginal solutions to consider but they're clearly not ideal under most circumstances. They can all be moderately effective at times but I wouldn't put much faith in them. It'll be difficult to remove more than a couple of permanents with them on average after all. Beyond that you're looking at much more targeted solutions within the color itself. Further on I'll explore some of the specific counters that you can utilize. Planeswalkers can sometimes prove to be a bit of an nuisance for Black decks. The color isn't exactly privy to Oblivion Ring or burn effects after all. While the aforementioned All is Dust, Oblivion Stone and/or Karn Liberated are all solid answers to Walkers they're not always the most practical. I'll do my best to highlight some decent alternatives in a bit. None of them are amazing so don't hold your breath, but hey, we all gotta do what we all gotta do to survive.

    Luckily for us artifacts aren't quite as bad as enchantments. Gate to Phyrexia is a card you probably haven't heard of, but it exists for a reason. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and count your losses in win or lose situations. With creatures such as Reassembling Skeleton and Bloodghast floating around the drawback of this card is very minor and easily manageable. Additionally, we all know that Black is the king of creature removal and that makes Xenic Poltergeist a very appealing solution to artifacts. Simply transmogrify and kill as the situation calls for it. Black has plenty of cards that it can use to revive him if needed and more than enough removal to ensure that his ability reads "Tap: destroy target artifact."

    Enchantments are where things get ugly. Black has a very hard time dealing with enchantments and White has many pesky ones they can use to thwart a Black mage's well-laid plans. Moat and Imperial Mask sure spring to mind but there are many others as well. Dystopia is one of the few tools Black mages have to remove a white enchantment on the field and you can even negate its drawback with a Hellbent Gibbering Descent. Black also has access to a lot of drain (see Exsanguinate) that it can use to sustain itself while the bothersome permanents are being sacrificed. Your best bet is to mix Dystopia with a card like Damnation to ensure that your opponents are unable to merely sacrifice creatures and such. Sadly this solution is lackluster at best. If enchantments are causing you excessive grief you will likely be forced to splash other colors or turn to artifact-based removal to deal with them.

    Black has some moderately playable solutions to Planeswalkers. Hero's Downfall is a pure-upside Murder which is both flexible and powerful enough to maindeck in most metas. Aether Snap is really good at triggering Dark Depths and it just happens to neutralize Jace fairly effectively as well. It's not the most versatile card ever, don't get me wrong, but it can still be useful if you really need something. Speaking of Dark Depths, Vampire Hexmage is another creature who's good at eating counters. Trading 1-for-1 isn't great or anything, but hey, it can be a necessary evil at times. The Hexmage is actually a decent body early on, especially if your lists run cards like Grafted Wargear and Lashwrithe and such. A 2/1 first striker for 2 is solid and will keep a lot of aggro decks at bay. The last card to consider is Hex Parasite. 1/1s for 1 aren't where you usually want to be in multiplayer but I mean sometimes your hands will be tied. He can eat any number of Walkers and goes to town on Taurean Maulers and Forgotten Ancients and whatnot too. The downside is that he has to survive and that he sucks-up all of your mana though. I do want to highlight the fact that Black has amazing revival spells which makes creature-based options pretty decent all things considered. Killed or not it's fairly easy to get these small durdles back to do some work later on if needed.
    I will admit that it's an uphill battle to face heavy Planeswalker, artifact and enchantment themed decks but the best way to circumvent that weakness is to focus on Black's strengths. Use better tactics and stronger cards to outwit and ultimately outplay your opponents. Make sure that people are reacting to you and not the other way around. By seizing control of the game, it's very possibly to beat decks that would otherwise crush you. That will go a lot further than trying to cram Gate to Phyrexia, Aether Snap and Dystopia into every deck you play "just in case."

    11. Conclusion
    If you're not overwhelmed, you should be! This is way more information and cards than most players can handle in one sitting. Don't try to learn everything I wrote, just look up the various sections as they become applicable to the deck you're trying to play, and apply it as best you can. My goal for this guide was not to list every card, but to list the best ones. I'm hoping this makes card choices easier on the reader, since the suboptimal ones have been purposely left out. Remember, I'm always patrolling the forums to help out anyone seeking advice on their Black decks, so feel free to PM me or make a post and I'll be sure to do as much of the grunt work for you as I can. I would actually prefer to have people not post deck lists in this thread if possible, so please keep that in mind. Finally, I would like to thank you for your time and hope my guide proved to be a useful tool to anyone playing Black in their multiplayer games. My goal was to open your minds to the wide world of multiplayer, and I hope that reading this guide has inspired new decks and strategies in all who've read it. After all:

    Once you go Black, you never go back!

    *** An Open Request to Anyone Who's Read This Guide ***

    First of all, let me personally thank you for taking the time to read what I have to say. I hope that my guide has steered you in the right in the direction by clearly demonstrating to you what a multiplayer deck should look like. Still, one thing that I would always love to hear is what I could do better. Are there any decks that I should add to my "Sample Decklists" section? I'm not asking for full lists, just general concepts. I do my best to come up with as many as I possibly can, but I'm only one man. Are there are any strategies that I should add to my "Synergies and Strategies" section? Am I showcasing the right kinds of cards in my "Cards Everyone Should Have" section? Did you find the guide too long, too complicated, too boring? Are there any obvious spelling mistakes/broken links? What did you find most useful from reading this? Was there anything that you felt was a total waste of time? Can you apply these concepts to your own deckbuilding process? All these questions and more are things that I would love to hear about. You don't have to answer them all or anything, as I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback. Oh, and by all means, pour on the criticism. Trust me, I can take it. The best responses that I've ever gotten about my guides have been constructive criticism that I've been more than happy to apply to them. Putting it bluntly, I'd rather hear about what I'm doing wrong/what I could do better over what I'm doing right. Your opinion matters a lot to me, even if you don't think it does. I don't want anyone to feel as though they're not qualified to give negative feedback or what have you. I've made this guide for you. If you've read it and didn't find it useful, then believe me, I want to hear it.

    Thank you for your time and consideration!
    Last edited by Prid3: 10/11/2013 1:43:24 AM
    [quote=Cz] Cz you're the tallest, coolest and humblest poster on MTGS. Keep up the good work!
  • #4

    It is soooo nice to see you over here. The God Father of black Multiplayer!


  • #5
    What an awesome list. Not sure what else to say, but good job!
  • #6
    First of all, a wonderful comprehensive post here, thank you.

    Some comments:

    Exsanguinate, while powerful, is a really lame and I would say unfair card to run in multiplayer. Sure, that is where it was designed to shine but some people (myself included) will not run it. It's the same reason many playgroups ban Kokusho. Maybe in a 3 player game I could justify it, but otherwise I would not call it a 'staple' for mono black.

    Also, I consider phyrexian arena a staple for MBC decks myself. Whether 1on1 duels or multiplayer, it is the engine that makes MBC tick.

    Edit: I also don't see cabal coffers mentioned in your staples, which is usually reason #1 to run a MBC deck in the first place.
    Last edited by Hammer: 5/20/2011 7:43:26 AM
  • #7
    Article 3 touches on cabal coffers.

    As far as exsanguate, alot of tich's post is def pushing the envelope and being the best you can be.
    Last edited by Umaro: 5/20/2011 8:47:22 AM

  • #8
    Quote from killem2
    Article 3 touches on cabal coffers.

    As far as exsanguate, alot of tich's post is def pushing the envelope and being the best you can be.

    Right, which is why I find it strange that he buries the arena and coffers in sub-articles rather than putting them at the top of his 'Cards everyone should have' list. Arena and coffers are reasons number 1 and 2 to play MBC at all IMHO.
  • #9
    Quote from Hammer
    Right, which is why I find it strange that he buries the arena and coffers in sub-articles rather than putting them at the top of his 'Cards everyone should have' list. Arena and coffers are reasons number 1 and 2 to play MBC at all IMHO.

    I'm sure he'll explain his walkthrough, but i would have to imagine that coffers isn't used in every single black deck or perhaps even the majority of them. Maybe my association and peer pressure.

  • #10
    My (albeit limited) experience in MP games shows that there is always one or more players running life-gaining cards, so Exsanguinate is a fine means to counter them.

    Besides, as so many black cards are powered by life, picking up a handful here and there is no bad thing.

    Comments by Tich (and others) led to my picking up enough copies of Exsanguinate to keep at least 2 copies in each of my regularly played black-based MP decks. With 4 in the BR deck featuring X-spells and Black Market. There, it just becomes silly.

    A shout out to Gamers N Geeks in Mobile, Alabama and Underhill's Games in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

    Visit for all your self-improvement needs. - why prepping is important.
  • #11
    Quote from Hammer
    Right, which is why I find it strange that he buries the arena and coffers in sub-articles rather than putting them at the top of his 'Cards everyone should have' list. Arena and coffers are reasons number 1 and 2 to play MBC at all IMHO.

    I actually agree with you, thank you for pointing that out. I do run Cabal Coffers in virtually every deck that I run. Phyrexian Arena should probably also be on the list, as it is another staple that I always turn to.

    Quote from Hammer

    Exsanguinate, while powerful, is a really lame and I would say unfair card to run in multiplayer. Sure, that is where it was designed to shine but some people (myself included) will not run it. It's the same reason many playgroups ban Kokusho. Maybe in a 3 player game I could justify it, but otherwise I would not call it a 'staple' for mono black.

    This I do not agree with at all. One thing that I absolutely refuse to do is give people bad advice. If a player is looking for a solid, cheap, accessible, multiplayer win-condition then I am going to suggest Exsanguinate (virtually) every time. Why? It's pretty much the best card for the job. Not only does it scale as the game goes on, but it bypasses almost every protection spell out there (i.e Moat/Imperial Mask effects). If players feel like the card is too good, then they can ban it/not play it at their own discretion. That's not my job though. As such, I am going to tell people the best cards and the best combos, and they can use that information however they want. In my mind it's the single best Black multiplayer card ever printed (or among the top 3) and I'm going to champion it until every player has used it.
    Last edited by Prid3: 5/21/2011 4:38:07 PM
    [quote=Cz] Cz you're the tallest, coolest and humblest poster on MTGS. Keep up the good work!
  • #12
    Hey tich do you play any other colors that deep to make that you could do this for all colors?

    I am going to link to this in the sticky.

  • #13
    It's been something I've been contemplating, but at the same time it feels like a lot of work. I haven't really made up my mind yet.
    [quote=Cz] Cz you're the tallest, coolest and humblest poster on MTGS. Keep up the good work!
  • #14
    I'll definitely port the Artifact guide over from the WotC forums when I get a chance to tidy it up. Maybe the Budget Duals thread, too?
    Not sure how I'm going to maintain them between two forums, though. Rolleyes
  • #15
    The WotC forums have guides of a similar nature for all colors, though none are as complete, thorough, or up-to-date as Tich's.

    I am the author of the red one, for example, and it needs Scars block and the Commander cards, as well as reformatting - now I know to NEVER use MS Word when writing for a forum - and more work.

    The point is that each of the color guides is started and could be used as a start point for ambitious Magickers.

    A shout out to Gamers N Geeks in Mobile, Alabama and Underhill's Games in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

    Visit for all your self-improvement needs. - why prepping is important.
  • #16
    Hey awesome to see you guys here at these forums! I used to post quite frequently at the WotC multiplayer forums, but quit when they did their big change. I've been here lurking pretty much ever since. Maybe we can get some MP threads going! Don't know if you guys remember me or not thought. Smile
  • #17
    Quote from Nevik Ecir
    Hey awesome to see you guys here at these forums! I used to post quite frequently at the WotC multiplayer forums, but quit when they did their big change. I've been here lurking pretty much ever since. Maybe we can get some MP threads going! Don't know if you guys remember me or not thought. Smile

    I don't know too many people from the old forums, but feel free to posts some decks!

  • #18
    Updated to include Innistrad and MTG: Commander.
    [quote=Cz] Cz you're the tallest, coolest and humblest poster on MTGS. Keep up the good work!
  • #19

    I'm trying to put together a B multiplayer deck and this guide is really very helpfull. I hope you won't mind if I pick your brains when I get to selecting the cards for my deck.

    Thanks in advance,

  • #20
    Very very good guide, Tich.
    You touched pretty much every aspect and every strategy of Black in multiplayer.
  • #21
    Here are two decks I think are pretty good.

    Enders Game's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    4 Dark Ritual
    1 Demonic Tutor
    1 Vampiric Tutor
    1 Yawgmoth's Will
    4 Cabal Coffers
    3 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    3 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
    4 Exsanguinate
    14 Swamp
    1 Yawgmoth's Bargain
    1 Necropotence
    4 Blood Tithe
    4 Pestilence
    4 Shriveling Rot
    2 Urza's Armor
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Beseech the Queen
    4 Damnation

    Enders Game's DeckMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
    4 Dark Ritual
    1 Demonic Tutor
    1 Vampiric Tutor
    1 Yawgmoth's Will
    4 Cabal Coffers
    3 Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
    3 Boseiju, Who Shelters All
    4 Exsanguinate
    14 Swamp
    1 Yawgmoth's Bargain
    1 Necropotence
    4 Blood Tithe
    1 Sol Ring
    4 Black Sun's Zenith
    4 Damnation
    2 Decree of Pain
    4 Beseech the Queen
    4 Promise of Power

    It seems really powerful
    Search for the peaces you need to win, Then...
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  • #22
    Nevermind, I'm an idiot.

    Awesome guide, by the way.
    Last edited by Nuggy: 2/23/2012 7:41:18 PM
  • #23
    Updated up to Dark Ascension.

    Completely re-did the "Sample Deck Lists" section.
    Last edited by Prid3: 2/27/2012 4:37:12 PM
    [quote=Cz] Cz you're the tallest, coolest and humblest poster on MTGS. Keep up the good work!
  • #24
    Great Guide Cz! Thanks a lot. I have to compete mostly against proven legacy decks in star magic and am struggleing to build cheap decks that are competitive enough. Your guides will definately help me :).

    One addition i would like to add: Quest for the Gravelord fits nicely in the "scaling" category i think. In the games i play, there are a lot of creatures dying, even without my help.
    EDH: UWG Jenara, Asura of War, B Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed
    Legacy: UWR UWR Delver, WUB Deathblade, UBR ANT
  • #25
    Nice guide Cz. One small nitpick, Eon Hub + Gibbering Descent = non-bo (not a combo). They are mutually exclusive effects.
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