Lately in Standard we are seeing a lot of W/x aggro decks. We have seen a lot of decks begin to hedge towards this. Anyone running black is running some number of Languish if not the full set and some whom have decided to join the aggressive game are running cards that give them an advantage in the mirrors like Planar Outburst and Tragic Arrogance which can set the board in your favor. Many players are splashing colors and trying to gain an advantage by having access to spells and threats in multiple colors.

What we don’t see often is mono colored decks. Even mono White Aggro splashes Red for some creature lands and Reckless Bushwhacker to try and get through the board sweepers that we see in Standard. Randomly recently we have also seen Mono Blue Prison make a decent run in an SCG Open. The deck features cards like Engulf the Shore, Hydrolash and Prism Ring in order to blunt the assault before it can take over a game. It has many similar tools that we are seeing to combat these aggressive weenie strategies.

Since we have seen a mono Blue Prison deck, why not another mono colored deck? Here we are going back to my Standard roots and working with mono Black Control.

Mono Black Control

Lands (25)
Blighted Fen
Sea Gate Wreckage
20 Swamp

Creatures (3)
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
Sidisi, Undead Vizier

Spells (33)
Behold the Beyond
Brain in a Jar
Damnable Pact
Dark Petition
Grasp of Darkness
Infinite Obliteration
Ob Nixilis Reignited
Oblivion Strike
Read the Bones
Ruinous Path
Tamiyo’s Journal
Ultimate Price
Virulent Plague
Sideboard (14)
Dead Weight
Infinite Obliteration
Inverter of Truth
Mindwrack Demon
Prism Ring
Transgress the Mind
Virulent Plague

Mono black control is a deck that I have always enjoyed in Standard. Very few decks interact in a way that isn’t through combat. Mono black is always full of spot creature removal like Ultimate Price and sweeper spells like Languish. There is always some discard in order to preemptively handle threats from our opponent as well as cards that interact with us.

I have always enjoyed decks in Standard that are either mono black or heavily leaning on black with a slight splash. During Innistrad Standard I was playing the B/G Rock deck up until Liliana of the Veil and Thragtusk rotated out. I very quickly lost my interest in the format after trying to continue B/G Rock, Junk Reanimator and Jund. Nothing held my interest and having to consistently buy new cards because of rotations always bothered me, especially for a format that I wasn’t having fun with. I find myself amused with the card Brain in a Jar. The potential to cheaply and instantly cast sorcery speed removal and discard is a decent aspect to the card. Especially when you just need to cast something like a Languish in response to a Thalia’s Lieutenant. Later in the game we can use those built up charge counters to clean up the top of our deck and smooth out our draws.


As with many true control decks Creatures are few and far between. To start off our creature suite we have Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. Kalitas is a great way to stave off aggressive decks. The lifelink is how we are able to pull ahead in a game where we fall behind. Its abilities alongside our removal can allow us to essentially spam tokens for each creature we kill. Kalitas can grow fairly easily as we need in longer games to survive Languish.

Sidisi, Undead Vizier is a card that I am fascinated with as I try to never underestimate the value of a tutor. The fact that Sidisi can exploit a zombie token created by Kalitas just makes for a lot of value. The ability to turn a simple zombie token into something like an Ob Nixilis Reignited is certainly nothing to dislike. Worth the single “fun of” slot in the deck even if Sidisi dies to the exploit.


Here we mostly just have Swamps so that we can easily cast our spells on time and without any mana issues. In addition to Swamp we have three Blighted Fen as additional late game creature removal in order to get around protections and counter magic and at instant speed.

In addition to Swamp and Blighted Fen we have a pair of Sea Gate Wreckage to potentially draw into action and win conditions later in the game when we have the open mana and nothing to play.


Here we have removal from two mana in Ultimate Price and Grasp of Darkness up to four mana in Languish and Oblivion Strike. The removal suite has been designed so that we can get Brain in a Jar on each turn doing something relevant and at instant speed if necessary.

Infinite Obliteration is here in order to just say no to cards like Archangel Avacyn which is currently a four of in many decks and can make removal tough to actually kill opposing creatures.

Ruinous Path is our answer to many creatures as well as planeswalkers.


Here we simply have Ob Nixilis Reignited. He draws us cards, answers creatures and provides us a win condition all in one. Paired with Kalitas we can easily use our life total as a resource without much issue. There is the potential that a Damnable Pact can provide a very spicy way to kill your opponent if Ob Nixilis reaches his ultimate.

Spells—Silver Bullets

Virulent Plague is a fairly regular card in decks with black and Dark Petition since it can handle token strategies.

Infinite Obliteration as mentioned earlier is here to answer problematic creatures like Archangel Avacyn and potentially Thalia’s Lieutenant which has been seeing a fair amount of play in the aggressive strategies and can quickly get out of hand if left unchecked.

Damnable Pact combined with Ob Nixilis can not only be card advantage, but pointed at our opponent with an emblem in play means it can easily become a win condition on its own.

Tamiyo’s Journal is here for the long game. Each turn we can potentially gain an extra card drawn when we have to dig quickly. For games where we have the time it allows us to tutor for any card in our deck in order to close a game or lock an opponent out of a game.

The last silver bullet we have in the deck is our imitation Seasons Past,Behold the Beyond. Allowing us to take an empty hand and turn it into three useful cards in top decks situations or simply discarding irrelevant spells to find three cards that could win the game or answer whatever our opponent is doing.


Being on a Standard brew yet again, leaves me in confusion for the sideboard. I can imagine that we might want to take a page out of the mono Blue Prison deck and run Prism Ring in order to be able to gain life back over the course of a game.

Transgress the Mind seems good for gaining information and exiling cards that will have a large impact on the board.

I am fairly certain that having the back up Virulent Plague is correct as you do not want an opponent to answer the first and not have access to a second copy of it.

Some number of Flaying Tendrils may be fine for early game scenarios coming down a turn before Languish in order to answer some number of smaller creatures to bridge the way into larger impact spells like Languish, Kalitas and Ob Nixilis.

Dead Weight is a nice early answer to cheap creatures that need the turn one answer. The fact that they can make larger creatures smaller is likely fine as well.

An additional Infinite Obliteration for match ups where we want to remove any potential threat from multiple bombs out of our opponent’s deck could be worthwhile.

The potential for more threats seems worthwhile to close out games faster where applicable. I am unsure if Inverter of Truth or Mindwrack Demon is better. The fact that Mindwrack Demon has very little drawback alongside a 4/5 body, flying and trample is good enough. The fact that we may be lacking in delirium is concerning as four life a turn is incidentally a big drawback but can be arranged and avoided. Inverter of Truth could potentially be a great threat as a 6/6 flier. The downside of this creature is extremely odd. Similar to Leveler it exiles your library, but then shuffles your graveyard into your library which could potentially mean less dead draws while you close out a game since your graveyard is likely made up of removal and discard. On the other hand if Inverter of Truth is destroyed, you are likely to mill yourself out and may be unable to finish the game.

Initial Thoughts

I would potentially come out of retirement in Standard and play this deck if I had access to some of the more expensive cards. The deck has many controlling features that I always love in my black based control decks. I do believe that if someone wanted to potentially run this at an LGS event, that they would do well with it. This deck may even have all the right pieces in order to take down a 1k if not an Open.

Happy brewing to each and every one of you. If anyone has an idea for a brew that they would like to see, I will gladly take requests and challenges in the comments. 🙂

Aaron Gazzaniga manages a restaurant and in his off time has been an avid magic player/brewer since 2003. Having begun in Odyssey Standard Block and always favoring control and prison style decks, we come to this moment in time where Aaron finally gets to talk about and share his ideas.

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