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Spoiler Spotlight – Bile Blight

Today I am here to talk about a Born of the Gods card that has been getting a lot of attention recently:

Bile Blight

I didn’t know how to react when I first saw this card. It jumped out to me as an incredibly strong tool for my beloved Mono-Black Devotion deck, but scared me, too—the most obvious application for Bile Blight is to destroy multiple [ccProd]Pack Rat[/ccProd]s. It’s taken me a bit of soul searching to determine if this card makes Mono-Black a stronger deck by giving it a great, cheap removal spell, or if it weakens the deck by making its primary win condition, Pack Rat, a liability against more decks.

Bile Blight looks like it’s a great card that should be an auto-include for the deck. This card is so sweet. I have been tortured for so long having to wrack my brain to figure out the best mix of [ccProd]Doom Blade[/ccProd], [ccProd]Ultimate Price[/ccProd], [ccProd]Devour Flesh[/ccProd], and [ccProd]Pharika’s Cure[/ccProd], knowing that if I draw the wrong one of these at the wrong time I may well lose a game that I could have won with the right removal spell. No longer will this be a problem—you play all your Bile Blights and life is easy. I admit it can’t kill everything, it won’t kill creatures like [ccProd]Polukranos[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Stormbreath Dragon[/ccProd], but it does kill [ccProd]Nightveil Specter[/ccProd] and [ccProd]Master of Waves[/ccProd] consistently, which no other two-casting-cost removal spell has been able to do in Standard. To be completely honest I’ve found that those bigger creatures you can’t kill with your situational removal matter much less than you might expect. Needing a cheap removal spell almost always means that you need to kill a cheap creature, so having a catch-all removal spell for early creatures is right where I want to be, and I’ll rely on other spells like [ccProd]Hero’s Downfall[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd] to take care of the bigger, bulkier creatures.

[draft]pack rat[/draft]

Now to address our fallen hero: Pack Rat. When I saw Bile Blight I was all but ready to say goodbye to my sweet prince and chalk up his string of incredible successes to unprepared opponents and a small Standard format where options are too limited for much else to be good. On closer consideration I feel differently. Pack Rat will continue to be great, despite the printing of this new-age [ccProd]Echoing Decay[/ccProd].

Yes, it is true that you can no longer go all-in on Pack Rat in the mirror match, since a mere topdecked Bile Blight could result in a 2- or 3-for-1. That doesn’t mean that the card is unplayable, I anticipate very few decks in new Standard will be able to afford the double-black casting cost on this card. I love having Pack Rat against decks like White Weenie and Mono-Blue Devotion, and even Burn or Red Devotion, and I have no reason to think that Pack Rat won’t be as good as he is now against those strategies.

I refuse to sacrifice my plan A because it is weaker than it once was in the mirror match. I also believe that one of the reasons that Pack Rat is so good is because you can curve out perfectly from Thoughtseize into Pack Rat and take their best removal spell and hope the Rat goes uncontested. This is still as true now as it ever was and now you just have to be mindful of this and aim your [ccProd]Thoughtseize[/ccProd] or [ccProd]Duress[/ccProd] right at their Bile Blights.

One thing people fail to realize is that while all Mono-Black Devotion opponents will now have Bile Blight making life very difficult for your Pack Rats, you will also have Bile Blight for their Pack Rats. You’re on an even playing field and I expect the games in the mirror match will be more interesting than ever and be decided by skill more often. I for one am looking forward to a new world of mirrors. I feel like only Mono-Black Devotion and Esper can make good use of this card, and it isn’t like my Pack Rats are going to change in value against an Esper deck when they go from 4 Supreme Verdict and 4 Detention Sphere to that configuration plus 2 copies of Bile Blight. I fully expect the printing of this card to make Pack Rat slightly worse, and [ccProd]Underworld Connections[/ccProd] much more important and powerful.

[deck]Main Deck
4 Thoughtseize
1 Devour Flesh
1 Ultimate Price
4 Pack Rat
4 Bile Blight
4 Underworld Connections
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Heros Downfall
4 Desecration Demon
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
4 Temple of Deceit
4 Mutavault
18 Swamp
Sideboard
3 Lifebane Zombie
3 Duress
3 Drown in Sorrow
2 Dark Betrayal
2 Erebos, God of the Dead
1 Pharika’s Cure
1 Doom Blade[/deck]

This is a rough draft of what my build of Mono-Black Devotion would look like if I were to play a Standard tournament tomorrow with only the revealed cards from Born of the Gods being legal. I’ve added the full amount of Bile Blight to the main deck and diversified my removal a little more to try and improve the RG Monsters matchup, which has gained in popularity as of late. I also chose to play some copies of Drown in Sorrow, the new [ccProd]Infest[/ccProd] with scry which should make Mono-Red and White Weenie matchups a total breeze. I feel now more than ever that Mono-Black looks like a finely tuned deck that has specific answers in mind for specific threats, where before I sometimes looked at my deck and felt that I was at the mercy of the small card pool and limited number of good black cards printed.

In the end, I feel Bile Blight will be a Standard staple, and four copies in the maindeck of Mono-Black Devotion will become mandatory. It will take it’s rightful place on the throne next to Hero’s Downfall as premium black removal.

Owen Turtenwald
qazwsxedcrfvtgbyhnuj on Magic Online
OwenTweetenwald on twitter

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