Welcome back to another Modern Monday! As you can clearly tell, this article is a little later than usual. I found myself in Florida over the holidays and I could only get so many articles completed before leaving…so here we are! Modern Friday!

Those details out of the way, there have been quite a few interesting Modern decks showing up recently and today’s is no different. This list was piloted by Paladin Gervasi who made the Top 8 of a Regional RPTQ with the deck in Plano, Texas. It’s a mono-black deck that uses some interesting new cards like Liliana, the Last Hope and a full set of Collective Brutality.

2 Abyssal Persecutor
4 Geralf’s Messenger
4 Hangarback Walker
2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
4 Phyrexian Obliterator

1 Batterskull
4 Collective Brutality
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Liliana of the Veil
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
2 Mortarpod
3 Thoughtseize
3 Victim of Night

24 Swamp

1 Spellskite
1 Hero’s Downfall
1 Dismember
2 Sadistic Sacrament
2 Disfigure
2 Mutilate
4 Leyline of the Void
2 Night of Souls’ Betrayal

The deck is basically a Mono-Black Devotion deck without any real way to take advantage of devotion. I’ve played similar decks to this in the past and the one single card I was consistently impressed with, in Modern, was Gray Merchant of Asphodel. While this card seems like it would be extremely slow in Modern, being able to curve into him after playing a Geralf’s messenger and a Phyrexian Obliterator is a huge 18 point life swing that can usually win the game on its own. The card just gives you such a huge amount of reach.

While we don’t have Gray Merchants here, we do have some other interesting choices. Let’s see how they play out and then we’ll discuss them.

I actually love decks like this in Modern and I think they always perform better than expected. The mana base is super simple, and I wonder if it could even benefit from something like a couple of Mutavaults and a couple of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoths. I just feel bad when our mana base is mono basic lands. It feels like we can get a little spicier. That being said, when you want to make sure you can cast Geralf’s Messenger into Phyrexian Obliterator, there are no better lands to be tapping.

The deck definitely has some interesting choices, like Abyssal Persecutor and Mortarpod. While both of these cards go well together, I don’t know if they’re good enough to take up four slots in our deck. I also wonder if something like Desecration Demon is just better. I mean, we’re talking about the same 6/6 flier for four mana, only one of them doesn’t require us to kill it in order to win the game.

Hangarback Walker was also an interesting inclusion. I get that it has some pretty sweet synergy with Mortarpod, but how big are we realistically able to make a Hangarback Walker, and how long do we want to wait before spending two mana to equip it with a Mortarpod and shoot something with it. Granted, we did actually do this a few times in our matches, but it never felt ideal.

In the version I piloted a few months back, I had a couple copies of Phyrexian Arena, the full set of Victim of Night, and the full set of Gray Merchants. The card was that good. I also had Gatekeeper of Malakir in the two slot, but it’s arguably a three-drop and might not still make the cut. I also had a copy of Pack Rat for some free wins. That deck actually performed splendidly for me, and I think this version of the deck also showed that it’s possible to win some Modern matches with the strategy.

Give it a try, make some tweaks, and let me know what you discover! I think you’ll be surprised.

Frank Lepore
Freshly Brewed Podcast with Ali Aintrazi (available on iTunes and Stitcher Radio)