Welcome back everyone! Today, we are going to look at some of the black cards in M19 as they relate to sealed play. I’m not going to look at cards like Bone Dragon, because if you are playing black, you are playing this card. I’m going to take a look at the Removal, Questionables, and Traps, as well as the general strategy and playstyle.
Infernal Reckoning: I can’t this stress enough. Don’t play this card. It doesn’t do anything in sealed.
Murder: This is premium removal in the set. You likely want to play every copy you open.
Nightmare’s Thirst: You likely want to start at least 1 of these if you open them. -1/-1 is only ok, but if you have several incidental lifegain effects, this skyrockets in value.
Lich’s Caress: Sealed is typically clunky enough that this will get the job done. I probably wouldn’t play more than 2 of these, but if your deck is slow enough to overcome the mana disadvantage, go for more.
Strangling Spores: Another decent quality removal spell for sealed play. It is, once again, quite clunky, but at least it is an instant. You should probably play one or two if you get them, but the third likely loses most of it’s value.
Liliana, Untouched by Death: I don’t seem much value to Liliana. She doesn’t do anything on an empty board, and if you’re behind she only catches you up if you have enough zombies. It’s cool that she can fuel herself with her +1, but I am hesitant to play her without some cards that support well.
Liliana’s Contract: Card draw is great, but 4 life is a lot. If you come across an aggressive deck, this is probably just a dead draw. If you have enough walls and removal to support it, and another huge finisher worth finding, this seems very good.
Phylactery Lich: I’ve lost to this card before, but not a ton. The fact that it cost three black is worth overcoming if you have some number of decent artifacts (probably 3, 4 if they are fragile). I wouldn’t throw in a few Field Creepers or a random Crucible of Worlds though just to make this work.
Open the Graves: This likely has a high enough ceiling to merit playing it almost every time, and it will help you grind through a board stall. Still, for 5 mana in black, I kind of want my card to crush my opponent. This will do that over five or so turns, with help, but if you are removal heavy and creature light, you may be struggling to enable this. This really needs to make 2+ zombies to be acceptable, and at least 3 to be good.
Abnormal Endurance: I’m not hot on this card. It isn’t unplayable, and it works well with enter the battlefield effects. My guess is that you cast this on Doomed Dissenter to trade up and get extra value at a common “best case scenario,” but that’s a pretty medium for “best case.” I’d avoid this if possible, but if I have to play 1 I could see it being OK.
Infernal Scarring: LOOK AT THE VALUE THOUGH. This card seems great and tricky, but really it unnecessarily opens you up to 2-for-1s. Unlike Abnormal Endurance, this can’t be used as a combat trick because it must be played at sorcery speed, and it doesn’t abuse enter the battlefield effects.
Sovereign’s Bite: Three direct damage can win a game sometimes. Unfortunately, this card will more often then not be stuck in your hand, when you would rather have a creature or a removal spell in its place. Even if you have a ton of lifegain payoff cards…don’t play this.
Vampire Neonate: If a 1/1 for one is unacceptable, I can’t imagine an 0/3 is. This only blocks a few things in the set, and the cost to activate the ability is far too high. perhaps if they have 10+ 2 power creatures I could see this being a decent choice to sideboard in, but not in the main.
The general strategy for black is a bit more clear than blue was. You want to try to out card your opponent with value creatures and removal spells. Vampire Sovereign seems like the best uncommon finisher to me. Skeleton Archer seems like a very high upside card potentially, allowing you to trade up post combat or pick off smaller creatures. These are the kind of things you want to be doing if you are playing with black. Use cards like Ravenous Harpy with Doomed Dissenter to squeeze out a little extra value, and take your opponents down quickly.
That said, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow to hear about the red cards. 😉 In the meantime, preregister for Gameology’s prereleases either in store or online. Till next time!
~ Cassady O’Reilly-Hahn