Results for the new Standard have been pouring in, and the results look promising. We have what is a pretty clear best deck in Mardu Vehicles, as Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is still bonkers. That said, defeating a known entity as linear as Mardu should be possible, and plenty of people have been successful with all sorts of new brews.
Mono-Black Aggro had its time in the spotlight during the age of Mirage block Standard (type 2), as we’ve seen in the flashback gauntlet on MTGO. Cheap creatures with Hatred to force through damage and give the deck reach made for an effective recipe. It was very much an all-in strategy, however, and as Magic cards have become more powerful over the years, going all-in on an aggro plan has become less viable.
This mono-black aggro deck has a surprising amount of reach and play. Take Dread Wanderer. On the surface, this is a 2/1 for 1 mana that doesn’t do a great job of blocking since it enters the battlefield tapped. But the ability to bring it back in the late game, even though it will be an undersized creature, is extremely valuable. You have a late game mana sink and some potential card advantage. Even if Dread Wanderer can’t profitably get through opposing creatures, the fact that they will need to have those blockers untapped in the late game where you can just bring this back in the same turn gives you some staying power.
Scrapheap Scrounger falls into this category as well. As long as you have mana, and creatures in your graveyard, chump attacking Scroungers becomes an effective late game weapon. You’re also getting a well-sized creature in the early game for your mana investment.
Bone Picker is a new card that really helps your tempo plan. Trading off Dread Wanderers and Scroungers was already profitable, but now you’re able to deploy an under-costed flying, deathtouch creature that can end the game in a hurry.
Night Market Lookout is a much more all-in aggro card, but it does give you a bit of reach and is nice fodder for something like Scrapheap Scrounger later. Having these die after getting in a few points only to become Scrounger food and make Bone Picker cheaper is actually quite strong, and if you can remove their blockers, you’re attacking for 2 each turn.
Glint-Sleeve Siphoner is a good creature to get some value. It plays well with removal spells and will help keep you ahead on cards.
Walking Ballista is mostly here to mow down opposing creatures to force your attackers through, but it’s another late-game mana sink that adds reach.
Black has the best removal spells in Standard to play a tempo game. Fatal Push and Grasp of Darkness remove everything in the format that costs 4 or less, and Grasp can even kill Archangel Avacyn and Glorybringer.
For bigger creatures, the new Never // Return will take down an annoying blocker or a planeswalker. The aftermath of Return isn’t particularly impressive—it’s yet another late-game mana sink as you’re getting a 2/2 for 4 mana, but it doesn’t cost you a card.
Collective Brutality combos well with the creatures that don’t mind being in the graveyard, but can also discard unneeded cards to gain additional value. Removal, discard, and burn are all desirable in aggressive decks.
Liliana, the Last Hope is fantastic in this shell. It can kill a number of creatures, but even just shrinking a blocker is great alongside an aggressive curve or with Walking Ballista. The minus can mill Dread Wanderers, Scrapheap Scroungers, or Returns for some bonus value.
Mono-Black Aggro looks like a great way to get under a number of strategies while maintaining your late game. With lots of decisions on how to best utilize your cards, this looks like an excellent way to approach the new format!