A Magical Huffalump Resides Here: Noir

A Magical Huffalump Resides Here

My name is Ed, I am a programmer. Just another dude with another blog. I like MTG, Open Source (more towards FREE software). I like sports, and eventually I hope to do business and do good for the world in general. This blog is gonna be about Magic The Gathering. Decklists and snippets will be posted here. It may lead somewhere or nowhere, as with all things arcane, that was bloody obvious =)

Friday, April 18, 2014


Mono black at the moment is the strongest deck. Note that does not mean it is the strongest deck possible =)

There is a big difference. Being the strongest deck possible means there is nothing in the pool that can defeat it. Which is rubbish of course. The fact that a meta even exists means that minimally cards that hate on it exist. But I don;t think we are even at that point. I still think decks currently in the meta have a shot at it.

Now building a deck that can tango with Black devotion does not mean making a deck that will beat it 100% of the time. Anything with a 40% to 50% chance of beating it means it is a deck that is respectable in terms of going toe to toe against it (in my books at least).

Is there such a deck at the moment that can beat it consistently? Personally I feel ... yes and no. Yes in that you have your 40% win rate decks, but not so the 50% and more decks. Not because Mono Black devotion is the best possible deck, but because it is (at the moment) the most tuned. It has the support of the masses and running it in a tournament is just a matter of tuning it right.

In the tournament won by a S.Korean (sorry abt not remembering his name), if you look at the side board as well , it was extremely similar to the one played by Turtlewald, but with more duress and a reduction of Bile blight and more Devour flesh. This seemed to be in response to azorius's rise at that time. The most recent win by the Japanese pro included artifacts that gained life. All meta tunings.

To defeat your enemy you must know their strengths.

What makes the deck tick?

It has first turn removal: Thoughtseize.

It has 2nd turn threat: Pack Rat

By third turn it has:

Devour Flesh and/or Hero's Downfall

For card advantage it has Underworld Connections

In tandem with that it has lifegain via Grey Merchant.

So there is a card advantage engine. This is relatively interesting. Against blue/white decks, their sphinx's revelation is a one shot. Wherea's the black card advantage is an engine. Less powerful in a short frame of time but long term is at least just as good.

There is also another reason the Underworld Connections is strong, that is that LD is practically unplayable except to stop corner cases of powerful lands. But that is a very minor point. (well depends on how you look at it, auras used to suck because of the potential for two for ones, by placing the aura on a land, it is as good as a plain ole enchantment in terms of risk, I used to joke that chronic flooding practically turns lands into Bazaar of Baghdads in standard)

At turn four, Mono black devotion gains Desecration Demon. The Demon used to be poo pooed because a fourth turn 6/6 is not so scary to an aggro deck going wide (horde of weenies as opposed to one big threat). Those days are kinda over (I miss my blitz deck hoho). Most decks do not kill at the 4th turn these days. Mono Blue Devotion is trying to do that which is also the reason why it has a relatively okay shot of defeating Mono Black Devotion, but not consistently. However Mono Blue devotion is no Blitz.

What do the threats of Desecration Demon and Pack Rat mean. They actually complement each other. A deck normally attacks wide (like most aggro e.g. blitz) or it attacks narrow (like hexproof auras during rtr/innistrad block). Mono Black Devotion can do both.

Mono black can hit you with a horde of rats or a singular evasive 6/6.

The rats are not as weak as they look (sure laugh at me for saying its weak, but before it became prevalent it was largely poo pooed by Mono Black devotion players themselves). The key is the 2cc. It looks innocous at 1/1 turn two, but it does something important. It skips below most counters and then grows if its pilot so wishes.

The best counter is essence scatter and now nullify. Dissolves clock in too late. And all this, is with thought seize and duress as cover.

This is actually Mono Black Devotion's strength against blue.

Against fast aggro, it has lifegain and Phat. Nuff said. (even blitz eventually fell to one card : the Armadillo Cloak pretender.... Unflinching Courage i think.)

Against ramp? ThoughtSeize, Doom Blade.. oh you haz hexproof, that sexy sylvan Caratid? Meet Devour Flesh =)

That in a nutshell is why I think Mono Black Devotion is strong.

1) It has multiple angles of attack in combat
2) It has natural strengths against various archtypes
3) it is currently quite optimally tuned

That is not to say the other decks are hopeless. That is never the case, but there is no doubt that Mono Black Devotion is strong.

Is it a bad thing?

Three Reasons why No!:

1) The current Dominance is more of a lack of people innovating other decks, too much group think.

I have a penchant for not playing the strongest deck, I always try to beat it. As such a dominant deck does not bother me. Many people like to have a balanced environent however.

But thats the thing, I do not think the current reason for mono black's dominance is the lack of balance but rather the lack of creativity.

Top 16 usually show more archtypes, people will poo poo and say, hey thats why they are not top 8: "because they are not viable". Well then, my retort would be: Well see, you obviously are'nt playing it, thats one less person tuning/developing the deck. Extrapolate that to all the people poo pooing and group thinking and just tuning Mono Black Devotion. Yes that is alot of poo. Nuff said.

2) Mono Black is currently pushed

Another reason why the current strength of Mono Black Devotion should'nt be viewed negatively.

Mono Black Control fans have been clamouring for a viable MBC deck for a long long long while. And WOTC has listened. Its really not a bad thing that Mono Black is being pushed. It means WOTC listens. (oh yes fear the coming of LD!!! Like poison, it will one day prevail!!!! =P)

3) The finesse of Balance

Another reason why the current strength of Mono Black Devotion (or blue devotion and u/w control) should'nt be viewed negatively.

There are two ways of achieving balance:

Make everything strong.
Make everything weak.

Thats really about it. Everything must be at same power level. It is boring. If a tall dwarf is standing in the midst of short dwarfs. He is still the tallest dwarf =)

What I am trying to say is, the moment they print something relatively strong, if the overall power level is weak, that something will unbalance the whole environment. Is mono black really that broken? Is thoughtseize really that broken? I doubt it is.

Lets say it is. So you really wished they would stop printing these Bah-ro-ken cruds that unbalances our sacred Standard format.

Would you rather they print weak cards (i.e. all cards are weak so balance is achieved)?

I actually know of people who would say YES! but lets put some other facts on the table:

1) Standard is rotating. Your cards last for about two years. During those two years, to remain relevant, you need to continually buy more current cards.

In short, it is a) Expensive b) Temporal

This is important. If you are rich then you have no worries, you like opening pieces of card board that will either be worth nothing immediately or will be worth nothing in two years. Good for you brother! Let move on! This article: it no for you. =)

b) Temporal is important because, EVEN if a card is truly broken, it too will pass. Into the abyss known as Modern =P

2) Your cards fall into Eternity. This actually ties in with point b above. Your cards will eventually be your arsenal in Modern (or Legacy or *cough* Vintage or EDH). Do you really want weak unplayable cards? Think Thragtusk. Hero in standard, zero everywhere else. Ricky Martin says: Do you really want it?

Now Why do I talk about balance? Because they will never balance by making everything powerful. If you are one of those who LOVE weak cards. Fear not!

They will never print a set that is balanced and powerful (by that I mean at least in Modern context)

Why? Power creep, less design space, plus how much can you print if you keep printing powerful stuff, eventually people will still quit standard if everything is powerful (its easier to print new stuff by varying power than to be creative laterally, this is a point even Maro made).

Strangely what makes people come back to standard is the printing of weak cards. Either to balance limited. Or, to have weak cards form the bulk of the set but have a few true gems, that is something that keeps veterans interested in new sets.

So you will never have, all powerful sets. So long as limited play exists and WOTC want to keep printing NEW sets.

What you can "hope" to get is a few cards sprinkled into the sets that have some power (again I am not referring to relative to the home set, but at least at the level of Modern). And hopefully slowly and painfully build your AWESOME modern deck. (yes I hate modern).

Hence in a very long winded way. That is why when they print stuff like Thoughtseize, there has to be less hate. Else if WOTC is listening, and we know they do, you may well get sets where EVERYTHING is weak. Unless thats what you want. Then we have different wants =P

If you don't likez the toys, mommy takes them from youz.


Stop complaining and git creative.

Gild is actually pretty potent. ;) not in Modern no. But Mono Black is standard no?

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