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Theros Beyond Death Constructed Set Review: Black

Other Theros Beyond Death Reviews

Previous Limited Reviews: White | Blue | BlackRed | Green |Gold & Artifacts

Previous Constructed Reviews: White | Blue

Ratings Scale

5.0: Multi-format all-star. (Jace, the Mind SculptorTarmogoyfSnapcaster Mage. Arcum’s Astrolabe.)
4.0: Format staple. (Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. Nissa, Who Shakes the WorldUrza, Lord High Artificer.)
3.5: Good in multiple archetypes and formats, but not a staple. (Jace Beleren. Banishing Light. Brazen Borrower.)
3.0: Archetype staple. (Jace, Architect of Thought. Leafkin Druid. Cauldron Familiar.)
2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. (Jace, Memory Adept. Ayara, First of Locthwain. Rimrock Knight.)
2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. (Jace, Wielder of MysteriesNaturalizeDuress.) Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although an explanation is obviously important.
1.0: It has seen play once. (One with Nothing). (I believe it was tech vs. Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)

Agonizing Remorse

Agonizing Remorse

Constructed: 2.5

Transgress the Mind is back, and for the low cost of one life, can now hit any non-land permanent (and can snipe cards from the graveyard too). It’s not quite Thoughtseize, but it does let you interact with your opponent at a reasonable cost, and plenty of Standard decks will be interested. This will see a mix of sideboard and maindeck play, as midrange decks may want it main and more focused decks will bring it in against control.

Aphemia, the Cacophony - Extended Art

Aphemia, the Cacophony

Constructed: 3.0

Aphemia is priced to move. A 2/1 enchantment flier is already a solid deal for two mana, and it’s not hard to make a deck where Aphemia makes a Zombie almost every turn. That’s a lot of board presence at a very cheap cost, and it sounds pretty good to me.

Cling to Dust

Cling to Dust

Constructed: 2.0

I like this as a sideboard option, as it offers some good graveyard interaction at a very affordable cost. It also serves as a draw engine if you’re not using your graveyard, which is a real bonus on a card you may have been interested in already.

Discordant Piper

Discordant Piper

Constructed: 2.0

If you’re really hard-up for sacrifice fodder, Discordant Piper can help, but as the name suggests, he doesn’t sound very good.

Drag to the Underworld

Drag to the Underworld

Constructed: 3.0

BB for a removal spell is definitely a steal, so as long as you reliably are devoted to black, Drag to the Underworld will be a good option. Missing on planeswalkers is a big deal, so you will likely want a mix of these alongside other options.

Eat to Extinction

Eat to Extinction

Constructed: 3.5

Paying four mana to kill anything isn’t where you’d want to start, but when you’re looking for a backup to Murderous Rider you could do much worse. Surveil 1 is also a solid benefit, and exiling can be critical. If there are matchups where you need to exile over kill, this could easily get the nod over Murderous Rider and other removal spells.

Elspeth's Nightmare

Elspeth’s Nightmare

Constructed: 2.5

It takes a somewhat narrow set of circumstances for Elspeth’s Nightmare to get max value, but when it does it’s very powerful. If you can successfully kill a creature and Duress them, you got a great deal for just three mana. I like the idea of this as a sideboard card if there are decks that play a mix of small creatures and spells (think Mono-U Tempo).

Erebos, Bleak-Hearted - Showcase

Erebos, Bleak-Hearted

Constructed: 3.0

I wanted to make a “the future is bleak” joke about Erebos, but I actually like this card quite a bit. Having a 0-mana trigger that draws you a card each time your creatures die is a big game, and getting your devotion to five is quite doable. This looks like a great engine for a sacrifice deck or a great sideboard card against removal decks, and those two things combine to make me very interested in Erebos, bleak heart and everything.

Erebos's Intervention

Erebos’s Intervention

Constructed: 2.0

The Interventions are appealing because of their flexibility, but this one has two modes that aren’t likely to both be good in the same matchup. That doesn’t mean you can’t make good use of it, as a life-gain removal spell and graveyard hate are both good effects, but it’s not something like Thassa’s Intervention (where both modes are great against most decks).

Funeral Rites

Funeral Rites

Constructed: 2.0

You really need to want the mill 2 in order to make this the rite pick, and I suspect very few decks will. Three mana and 2 life for 2 cards is just not the best deal around.

Gravebreaker Lamia

Gravebreaker Lamia

Constructed: 2.5

Entomb plus making your graveyard shenanigans cheaper is pretty sweet, and I’m interested in seeing if this is as broken as the name implies. If you make a deck where putting a card in your graveyard is close to drawing a card, this will do some good work, and making escape more affordable is a good secondary ability. Plus, a 4/4 lifelink is a real body, even in Constructed.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Constructed: 3.0

Constructed: 3.0

Even if Pack Rat and Underworld Connections aren’t present, Gray Merchant is still a very compelling build-around. This makes a great high-end threat for a Mono-Black deck, and gives you extra life to pay for black’s various life loss cards. Gray Merchant is an awesome reprint, and will be a fun card to make use of, even if it might not dominate like it did last time around.

Hateful Eidolon

Hateful Eidolon

Constructed: 3.0

I really like the combination of abilities here. This being a 1-drop enchantment with lifelink is a good start, as cards like Aphemia combine exceedingly nicely with the Eidolon, and drawing cards whenever you kill something with Mire’s Grasp or Dead Weight is awesome too. Check out this list that 5-0ed a Magic Online league for inspiration:

2 Alseid of Life's Bounty
4 Aphemia, the Cacophony
2 Archon of Sun's Grace
1 Cavalier of Dawn
4 Hateful Eidolon
3 Starfield Mystic
2 Final Payment
3 All That Glitters
2 Dead Weight
1 Elspeth Conquers Death
3 Mire's Grasp
2 Sentinel's Eyes
3 Treacherous Blessing
4 Tymaret Calls the Dead
2 Castle Ardenvale
2 Castle Locthwain
4 Godless Shrine
6 Plains (331)
6 Swamp (339)
4 Temple of Silence
Mire's Grasp

Mire’s Grasp

Constructed: 2.5

Mire’s Grasp is a flexible and powerful removal spell at the 2-mana mark, even at sorcery speed. It may not kill the biggest things, but it’s an enchantment and it can shrink larger creatures if need be. Having your 2-drop kill anything that costs 3 or less is a big game, and Mire’s Grasp is a good option to have.

Mogis's Favor

Mogis’s Favor

Constructed: 2.0

Mogis’s Favor reminds me of Darkblast (at least the removal aspect of it, not the self-milling enabler part). If picking off X/1’s is important in the format, this could be a good sideboard card. Imagine killing a Scorch Spitter on turn one, then bringing this back to kill a future one on turn four or five. That’s pretty solid, and it’s not hard to envision the metagame where this is what a black control deck wants.

Nightmare Shepherd

Nightmare Shepherd

Constructed: 3.0

Nightmare Shepherd is awesome in mono-black sacrifice, and pairs extremely well with Ayara. Did you know that playing a second Ayara with one and a Shepherd in play leads to “uncountable” damage according to Matt Nass? In this case, “uncountable” equals six (2 initially, then whichever you sacrifice comes back as a 1/1, which is another 2, and then you can choose to  sacrifice the real version and bring THAT one back as a 1/1, meaning another 2). Using Shepherd to re-trigger ETB and death abilities is sweet, and this is going to be a very fun and effective build-around.

Pharika's Libation

Pharika’s Libation

Constructed: 2.0

Pharika’s Libation isn’t the sort of tasty beverage I’m in for, but I did want to note that it is black enchantment removal. It’s not out of the question that you’d side one or two of these to snipe important enchantments or hexproof creatures.

Treacherous Blessing

Treacherous Blessing

Constructed: 3.0

This is a very cool card. Treacherous Blessing gives you great power at a high cost, but there are way to turn it to your advantage. The most obvious is Doom Foretold, but there are many other options. If you can target this or sacrifice it for free, this is a good deal, and out of the sideboard for matchups where your life total doesn’t matter it’s also quite powerful.

Tymaret Calls the Dead

Tymaret Calls the Dead

Constructed: 3.0

Two zombies and a bunch of self-mill is definitely worth three mana, and this even comes with some scry and life as a kicker. That’s pretty sweet, and works nicely in decks that care about enchantments as well.

Tymaret, Chosen from Death

Tymaret, Chosen from Death

Constructed: 3.0

I really like Tymaret. Think of this is a Scavenging Ooze that doesn’t get bigger, but often starts as a 2/4 or greater. It disrupts graveyards, gains you life, and adds BB to your devotion count (while being an enchantment). This is a strong card, and one that has many different uses.

Underworld Dreams

Underworld Dreams

Constructed: 2.0

The best use for Underworld Dreams (besides getting Legends versions and looking at how sweet they are) is to up your devotion count. It does stick around easily, and punishes the opponent for drawing extra cards, so if your plan is to burn them out with Gray Merchant, this could fit in well.

Woe Strider

Woe Strider

Constructed: 3.5

Woe Strider offers a lot of action for just three mana. Making multiple creatures and having a zero-mana sacrifice outlet in play is something multiple decks will be interested in, and this even comes back later as a real best. Woe Strider is a very strong addition to Standard, and gives sacrifice decks a powerful new tool.

Top 3 Black Cards

3. Nightmare Shepherd

2. Eat to Extinction

1. Woe Strider

Black got a ton of different removal spells, almost all of which have Constructed implications. It also got a pair of cool build-arounds, and both Woe Strider and Nightmare Shepherd will be a lot of fun to figure out.

LSV

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