If you’re going to be attending a Grand Prix in 2018—and I sure hope this is almost all of you—be prepared to get in some  Pauper side events. In fact, if you’re attending Santa Clara, Indianapolis, or London, you can get a chance to meet and play with The Professor, the man who helped spearhead the campaign for paper Pauper events! Today’s deck combines an incredible ability to keep the board under control with card advantage to create a value deck that I really love.

Black features some of the best creature removal in the history of Magic, and that includes many commons throughout history that are legal in Pauper. Perhaps the most powerful of these is Chainer’s Edict. Edicts don’t care how big your opponent’s creatures are—they’re going to go down. This is a format with combo decks that rely on creatures like Mnemonic Wall or Tireless Tribe, and this can take them down and flash back for more. The Achilles’ heel of Edict effects are token makers and small creatures, but you’ve got a few ways to handle those.

Crypt Rats can wipe the board of small creatures to let your Edicts shine. The Rats can also just kill an opponent in a single large activation, so it remains relevant into the late game thanks to the Fireball-mode. You also have access to Pestilence to clear the board and stick around for more. This is the bane of tokens everywhere, as you can pay a single black mana to continually sweep the board of 1-toughness creatures.

There are also a lot of really cheap, powerful, aggressive creatures in the format. Cards like Delver of Secrets and Ninja of the Deep Hours can ruin your day if not dealt with, but Disfigure can take them out for a single mana. It can also team up with your Pestilence effects to take down bigger threats.

With all of these small, cheap creatures in the format, Cuombajj Witches can dominate. Many strategies rely on cheap 1-toughness creatures and the Witches is another way to punish them.

For larger creatures, you have Oubliette to stop them cold. Tendrils of Corruption costs a fair amount for a removal spell, so it’s not as effective early, but the possibility of gaining a boatload of life is amazing, especially with so many self-damaging effects in the deck.

Your card advantage comes in large part from Sign in Blood. This can keep you stocked with options and for cheap enough to be relevant. Sign in Blood can even finish off an opponent at a low life total.

Your creatures are loaded up with ways to get ahead on cards. On one hand, you have Phyrexian Rager. The Rager will give you a card at the cost of a life when it enters the battlefield, allowing you to get a board presence but stay ahead on resources. On the other hand, you have Chittering Rats, which almost has the opposite effect. Chittering Rats will effectively nullify your opponent’s next draw step, getting you ahead a card that way, tightening the noose against a light mana draw.

Thorn of the Black Rose is the newest addition to these controlling Mono-Black Pauper builds. With 2 copies in the main deck and the other 2 in the sideboard, this is a great way to get ahead in a variety of matchups. Becoming the Monarch is one of the best ways in Magic to get ahead in cards and stay there, but the monarchy is fickle. In matchups where they can’t go wide and steal the crown, Thorn of the Black Rose will run away with the game.

Your finisher and top of your curve goes to everyone’s favorite “Gary”: Gray Merchant of Asphodel. The Merchant can end the game with a single trigger, but it will more often just put the game totally out of reach. You can take plenty of damage from your Sign in Bloods, Ragers, and Pestilence effects, but the Merchant can gain piles of life in a hurry. With your Witches, Chittering Rats, Oubliettes, Pestilence, and the Merchants themselves all having 2 black mana symbols in their cost, the ability to trigger for a drain of 8 or more is totally within reach!

Mono-Black is one of the best strategies in Pauper as a way to use life as a resource and get crazy far ahead on the board and with cards in hand!

Mono-Black

NEWHJ, 5-0 in an MTGO Pauper League