Full Force drafting is a series dedicated to forcing archetypes in draft formats. Join me every Thursday as we learn the ins and outs of the most recent Magic draft formats.
This week, we have a special Legacy Cube Full Force with the majority votes going to forcing Mono-Black. In the past, I think Mono-Black has had middling success in most of the Magic Online Cubes and while I still doubt it is one of the top decks (or ever will be) it is more powerful than usual in this Cube. A large part of this has to do with the strengths of Mono-Black and the major shifts that have happened to the Cube over the last few iterations.
The Legacy Cube has been undergoing major changes lowering the power level of the cards in the Cube, in particular removing a lot of combos and spells. First the “mana rocks” were removed. Cards like the Ravnica Signets, Mindstone, Basalt Monolith and other cheap sources of artifact mana. In this version of the Cube, cards like Show and Tell, Sneak Attack, Natural Order, and all the original Eldrazi Titans have all be removed. This shifts the focus of the Cube from doing very “unfair” strategies, like cheating large creatures out into more “fair” strategies. It’s opened up more for midrange and aggro creature decks, while still allowing for control decks. This makes creatures more important than ever in this Cube and Mono-Black excels against other creature decks because of the plethora of good removal it gets. Cards like Nekrataal, Shriekmaw, and even Bone Shredder make Mono-Black a monster against other creature focused decks. It’s very difficult for a White Weenie strategy to survive two or three two-for-one removals. The problem Mono-Black has still is that it is quite weak to control match-ups, so you’ll want to stock up early on hand disruption; Hymn to Tourach, Thoughtseize, Duress… All very useful in the Mono-Black build.
So what cards should you look for? I’ve made a list of my favourite five cards from the current Cube to build a Mono-Black deck around:
1. Recurring Nightmare
2. Hymn to Tourach
3. Profane Command
5. Grave Titan
Recurring Nightmare in particular is insanely powerful and while it is best when not confined to only Black creatures, it does get some of the best options there. It has good combinations with the kill creatures like Shriekmaw, while having a lot of synergy with token-generator Ophiomancer or recurring creatures like Geralf’s Messenger. It’s hard to overstate how good Nightmare is and if you have one it will massively warp the way you draft. The drop off for good payoff in Mono-Black is pretty steep, as the other cards on the list are all decent, but not insane. Ophiomancer might look out of place on the list, but it’s deceptively powerful, with a lot of good synergy in the Cube like Nightmare or Attrition, while single-handedly stonewalling a lot of creature strategies. It’s worth mentioning Phyrexian Obliterator here as well, since a lot of people will wonder at it’s exclusion from the list. The problems I have with it are two-fold. It’s a very steep commitment, being totally unplayable outside of Mono-Black lists and it is very weak to removal spells. It has little protection and doesn’t offer any advantage on entering or leaving the battlefield. It’s still a very good card and against decks like Mono-Red where the removal is often damage-based it is almost unstoppable it has too many downsides to make the top five for me.
Next week, we’re moving on from Legacy Cube to review the archetypes available to you in Kaladesh! I’ll go over the main archetypes found in Magic’s newest set in preparation for the release in October.