EDH Staples: Black
In a format where your commander will decide almost every detail of your deck, it is a bit strange to talk about staples. In fact there are examples of cards that could be considered “strictly weaker” than others that gain power with the right build (ie: Diabolic Intent vs Demonic Tutor in an Aristocrats style deck).
So in order to alleviate all your worrying, this article will only cover spells that can go into any Black deck, and only the cards that will increase the relative power of those decks. I am purposely avoiding overly expensive cards that do not vastly empower your deck here. I want to showcase affordable and effective additions to the majority of your decks. Even if you don’t put all of these cards into one deck, they are all fantastic additions to your collection. They will see play, one way or another.
Without a doubt, Black is my favourite colour in magic. With that in mind, I've selected some weird but fun cards for you to try out, beyond the regular array of removal and tutors the colour offers. Trust your ambition, and lay waste to your foes! Oh jeez I love these cards.
When it comes to flexing your dark powers, Torment of Hailfire is your ace in the hole. After a back and forth game, casting this with X=7 can kill multiple opponents at once. However, if you plan around heavy mana production it is not absurd to cast this with X above 10. With infinite mana, well - I guess that’s that.
Another powerful game ender is Living Death, a boardclear stapled to a mass reanimation spell. Using sacrifice outlets like Viscera Seer can ensure you end up with the biggest board after, ensuring an easy victory.
But getting to the point of casting your finisher is another problem. Luckily Black provides you with long term disruption and harm. Bottomless Pit interferes with combos, holding threats, and card advantage themed decks. This effect increases in power when you have access to extra draws, such as through Phyrexian Arena or Monarch. A more violent version of this effect comes on Painful Quandary, draining your opponents at an escalating rate. On that note, if you aren’t playing Phyrexian Arena, you absolutely should be.
I’m honestly surprised I don’t see these fae more often. Puppeteer Clique has rarely disappointed me in EDH. Persist with a great effect is already powerful, but hasty reanimations win games in this format. Even if you can’t grab a beater, borrowing Solemn Simulacrum can mean a lot for mana ramp and fixing, and exiling it away after can prevent other players from doing the same. If precision resurrection is not your thing Sepulchral Primordial nabs you the best creature in each opponent’s graveyard, vastly increasing your board presence.
Spicy and Powerful:
It isn’t a list of powerful Commander cards without me peddling a narrow hate card. Much like Rest in Peace Trespasser’s Curse is extremely vicious when used against the right enemy. Watch that Slimefoot, the Stowaway player go white with fear as you curse their main goal. The life gain this card will deliver can also be very relevant, where it can heal you for ten or more damage a game.
This one might seem a bit odd but Palace Siege is a vastly undervalued card. Both modes are very relevant in different boardstates, which offers you a card that can change to suit your needs. I will take a moment to focus on the Khans side though, as it is much more powerful than it seems when paired with a sacrifice outlet. Being able to reuse the same Gonti, Lord of Luxury or Dire Fleet Ravager can ramp up tons of value. Plus, in the late game you can use the Dragon side to edge out your enemies in a few turns.
Okay, I’m not going to lie, this card is hilarious. I honestly believe the reason we don’t ever see it around is because not enough people have seen what it can do. Though steep on the mana cost, it will shut players out of the game immediately. Follow it up with a boardwipe and this card will ricochet you into the winner’s seat. Embrace its necromantic power.
Top Ten Black Cards for Any EDH Deck:
- Torment of Hailfire
- Bottomless Pit
- Grave Betrayal
- Trespasser’s Curse
- Puppeteer Clique
- Living Death
- Painful Quandary
- Palace Siege
- Sepulchral Primordial
- Phyrexian Arena