Welcome to week three of “Jess’s delve through the Commander 2014 precons, comma, the first run upgrade edition.” Or whatever we’re calling these things. This week, as you could probably guess from the title, is going to focus on the mono black deck helmed by Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath. He’s the perfect commander to revitalize the mono black control archetype in Commander.


A mug only a mother could love. Someone’s mother. Not my mother.

Because, let’s face it, most mono black Commander decks aren’t quite mono black control. Most of them are big mana decks, decks helmed by Maga, Traitor to Mortals, Geth, Lord of the Vault, or, my personal favorite, Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder. The goal with these decks is go big. Maga and Geth turn your mana into burn and reanimation, respectively, while Endrek Sahr is more concerned with casting and sacrificing creatures, but the basic building blocks of the decks are all the same. You make all the mana, and then you do all the things.


This should have been the secondary Commander in the precon, if only so they could finally print 1/1 black Thrull tokens. The only one in existence is 0/1 for Breeding Pit.

With Ob Nixilis, I decided to focus all that gross mana advantage over control of the flow of the game. Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath is a good fit for this type of deck, since the life-drain ability can give you a nice buffer without drawing too much direct aggro, and since he’s a pervasive threat that effortlessly survives your own wrath effects.


He is the man who knocks!

So if you want to do something, Ob Nixilis is the one who’s going to shut you down. He’s the man who says no. No wonder he’s from the “evil chivalry” side of the IP.


Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath


Removal (33): Tragic Slip" data-card-name="Tragic Slip">Tragic Slip; Malicious Infliction" data-card-name="Malicious Infliction">Malicious Infliction; Vampire Hexmage; Ashes to Ashes; Reckless Spite" data-card-name="Reckless Spite">Reckless Spite; Royal Assassin; Consuming Vapors; Sever the Bloodline; Tendrils of Corruption" data-card-name="Tendrils of Corruption">Tendrils of Corruption; Bane of the Living; Last Laugh; Mutilate; Nekretaal; Slaughter" data-card-name="Slaughter">Slaughter; Shriekmaw; Annihilate" data-card-name="Annihilate">Annihilate; Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief; Corrupt; Dark Hatchling; Hythonia the Cruel; Life’s Finale; Reign of the Pit; Dread; Midnight Banshee; Reaper from the Abyss; Overseer of the Damned; Necromantic Selection; Decree of Pain" data-card-name="Decree of Pain">Decree of Pain; Pestilence Demon; Reiver Demon; Black Sun’s Zenith; Profane Command; Dregs of Sorrow

Draw (14): Sign in Blood; Grim Haruspex; Read the Bones; Underworld Connections; Ancient Craving; Greed; Syphon Mind; Infernal Offering; Bloodgift Demon; Indulgent Tormentor; Promise of Power; Harvester of Souls; Phyrexian Gargantua; Baleful Force

Mana (7): Sol Ring; Burnished Hart; Commander’s Sphere; Crypt Ghast; Liliana of the Dark Realms; Magus of the Coffers; Nirkana Revenant

Finishers (8): Spoils of Blood" data-card-name="Spoils of Blood">Spoils of Blood; Mimic Vat; Lashwrithe; Gray Merchant of Asphodel; Ob Nixilis, the Fallen; Ob Nixilis, Unshackled; Sepulchral Primordial; Fated Return" data-card-name="Fated Return">Fated Return

Lands (37): Arcane Lighthouse; Bojuka Bog; Cabal Coffers; Crypt of Agadeem; Everglades; Ghost Quarter; Lake of the Dead; Myriad Landscape; Terrain Generator; Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth; 27 Swamp


I’ve coded the decklist to show off the true diversity of threats and answers the deck displays. It didn’t make sense to sort the deck into creatures, permanents, spells, and whatnot, since the role of the card was more enlightening than grouping by card type. But some roles come attached to bodies (the italics), and other roles can be accomplished at instant speed (bolded). This is neat, since it means I can devote a mere eight slots to finishers, while still managing to field a bunch of threats.


This lass may look like a draw engine, but I can promise she will end some games, either by turning sideways or by force-feeding a weakened opponent.

I made the interesting decision to shave a land in this build. Normally I’m opposed, but with all the draw (which bleeds into the removal and mana sections as well) and the mana manipulation, it had a tendency to flood out with the full 38. Obviously, 38 lands isn’t a hard rule, especially when you’re drawing enough cards to make up for the lower frequency.


At the end of the day, control decks built like this don’t usually need specific finishers. And frankly, I could easily cut one of them for a land, if I feel down the line like I’m running short at 37. But this was an opportunity to experiment, or play around. For me, this means running the two other versions of Ob Nixilis, because that’s the type of thing I find amusing. I’ve not had much experience with Ob Nixilis, the Fallen in Commander, but I really was impressed by the card back in my Zendikar block days. It’s always seemed a little optimized for one on one play, what with the target player ability trigger, but sometimes you want to be able to surgically strike out one player without raising the ire of the others. Ob Nixilis, the Fallen also manages to slightly mitigate the drop in quality that Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath faces when you get down to the last one or two opponents.


This is an unholy beast! I pity the fool with the fetchland manabase… and have empathy for the people running Evolving Wilds and Terramorphic expanse, who are going to be ancillary victims of that hate.

Ob Nixilis, Unshackled is a more straightforward beater. Sure, he’s got a brutal shutdown for anyone who wants to search their libraries (bad news for the deck with the fetch base), but that’s secondary. Really, he’s worth running because he’s a flying, trampling, all-together better version of Mortician Beetle. As you kill things in combat or with the wide variety of spot removal options, he will keep growing and growing. Brutal.


I could cut down on some of the other finishers, though. Spoils of Blood just seems like a neat card to try out. There aren’t a bunch of interesting things to do with it, though, so it’ll probably not remain in the deck long term. Mimic Vat used to be an old standby, but between minimizing control and just shifting around my staples, it’s been a while since I’ve played with the card. Lashwrithe is the go-to monoblack equipment these days, which is interesting to me. Nightmare Lash never had the same omnipresence in monoblack decks, but something about the addition of living weapon and the choice of life or mana for equip makes playing Lashwrithe seem like a no-brainer these days.


I’ve yet to get a chance to take Ob Nixxy for a spin, but I’m interested in the potential. My fear is that it’s going to lead to an unpleasant play experience for my friends/foes. I generally skimp on the answers because it can be unpleasant for others when everything they do gets shut down, but I think the choices this deck gives me will allow for a more restrained role. It’s going to be tough to play that way, though, since it may not matter to the person lagging behind that I’m wrathing the board because someone else attacked me; either way, the person falling behind is losing their already shaky position.


Zurgo Smash!

Actually, it’s about control. It’s always about control. Let’s see if that’s as unpleasant for other people as I remember it to be. At least this way, as opposed to the Zurgo Helmsmasher control deck I was tinkering with, I’m not threatening a three hit kill every time I wrath.


This way, it’s always your turn!

(Side note: one of my friends has suggested that Zurgo Helmsmasher/Assault Suit is a brutal combo. I can’t imagine that he’s wrong.)


Anyway, that’s it for this week, as unpleasant as this deck may turn out to be. Tune in next week, when I get to share my spin on Machine Red, now that Daretti, Scrap Savant is a thing.


Jess Stirba is an unethical game opinionist.

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