Commander Decks are a mix of staples and cards that will support your decks themes and goals. The following is a list of Black cards that I consider to be the top ten cards in their color. The list is subjective and it will differ from person to person. When it is time to construct a deck consider these cards when building your deck list.
Honorable Mention: Zulaport Cutthroat
When building this list I expected Zulaport Cutthroat to make the top ten. Then I began slotting the strong cards in black and the card just kept dropping and dropping and eventually out of the top ten. Zulaport Cutthroat is a solid card and it has a strong ability. Creatures die all the time and Zulaport Cutthroat will do damage to each of your opponents while giving you incidental lifegain. Most decks can use this ability. Unfortunately, you really need to build around this card to weaponize it. This is why it dropped out of the top ten.
10 Crypt Ghast
This card is Cabal Coffers on a stick. It ramps you while providing an extort trigger. The mana production is huge and will help fuel explosive turns and will help pay for an extort trigger or two. The extort trigger will not win the game. It will knock down your opponents just a little bit and give you some life in the process. It is neck and neck with a similar card in Nirkana Revenant. The Ghast gets the nod because it is two mana cheaper and the extort ability is less cause to draw removal than a combat oriented Nirkana Revenant.
9 Grave Pact and Dictate of Erebos
Yes this is cheating and the two cards are almost functional reprints of each other. Creatures die all the time in commander and these cards weaponize it to help remove your opponents board of creatures.They are enchantments and are difficult to remove. They also can be utilized in most commander decks. The differences between the two cards is one mana. Dictate which is more expensive has flash so it can catch your opponents off guard. Either will do the job of eventually getting you opponents to sacrifice their indestructible creatures. If possible why not add both in your deck.
8 Liliana, Dreadhoarde General
While expensive to cast, Liliana, Dreadhoarde General is a versatile commander. Its static ability of drawing cards for creatures dying is very strong. Creatures die in commander and this lets you capitalize on it. It also helps you rebuild after a board wipe. She creates throwaway creatures to help you draw cards as well. The General also removes creatures through each player sacrificing two. While maybe not optimal it still will draw you two cards in the process. Ultimate abilities rarely factor in a game. This one will win games if you can find a way to cheat into it. Yes they get to keep their best permanents. However, they will lose all lands but one and that will lock down a game so that you to cruise to a win.
This card is a combo finder. Some decks will just use it sparingly to draw some extra cards That is strong enough as you will always have a grip of seven cards. It excels in combo decks. It does not matter if you sacrifice a bunch of life to dig for the card you need. If it will cause you win the game then your life count does not matter. A win at 1 life is just as good as a win with one-thousand life. You do not care if you have to exile a few cards. If Necropotence gets you your combo pieces you will win with to without those extra cards. This card is the jet fuel that makes the plane fly.
There are many board wipes in Magic’s history. While destroying creatures is strong there is a special place in my heart for those that give -X/-X. This can clear a board and if your meta contains indestructible creatures it efficiently takes care of them. Mutilate is a -X/-X board wipe through and through. It’s cost efficient for a board wipe at four mana. It loses a little power in multi colored commander decks as you will be limited by the number of swamps you own. If you have an extra $20 to $25 to invest in such a deck an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth will make all your lands swamps to make it more efficient. Usually there are other cards that are in black decks that want more swamps making Urborg a reasonable include. Even without Urborg, this card is quite strong.
5 K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth
In a format that starts with 40 life Phyrexian Mana is broken. Every commander deck wants to ramp and K’rrik will ramp for you in black. In black fashion, it will cost you life to do so. He is a better commander than in the 99 as if you build around him you can abuse his abilities. Still, he is useful being played in any deck that contains a reasonable amount of black cards. You can cast cards for cheaper and pump up his power at the same time. Then when you attack with him you can gain life that you can use to cast even more cards at a discount. This does not include the insane synergy that he has with Pontiff of Blight.
4 Vampiric Tutor
Search for a card any card. Do not pass go and do not reveal it.Granted, the card goes on top of your deck. However it is an instant and you can play it right before your turn to help prevent players messing with your library. This card will not give a card advantage as you spend a card and do not replace it however it will allow you to search your library for the card you need for that exact moment and not tip off your opponents to what that card is. This card is functionally a second copy of any card in your deck. It will help give you consistency for a mana, a card and two life.
3 Torment of Hailfire
I don’t think I have seen a card that wins as many games as Torment of Hailfire. With all the mana doublers in black an X spell often will wreak havoc on the board. It also targets each opponent and this ability scales with the number of players at the table. When this card is played it often is for an insane amount of mana for X. This almost assures each opponent will be bled out and lose the game. If a player is alive he has sacrificed so many permanents or discarded his hand that his ability to come back in the game without help is greatly diminished. I wanted to rank this card higher but just could not bump it over the final two cards because it is so mana intensive. .
2 Toxic Deluge
It is hard to argue a three mana board wipe that can remove indestructables and that you can craft to not hurt you as badly as your opponents. The deluge gives creatures -X/-X according to the amount of life you pay. At the same time you choose the amount you pay and this allows you to decide what lives and what dies on the battlefield. If you have K’rrik on the battlefield and he is a 7/7 with counters before the deluge go ahead and pay 7 life and wipe everything else but K’rrik. (K’rrik gains an additional counter from Toxic Deluge) Overall, Toxic Deluge is a flexible board wipe for cheap.
1 Demonic Tutor
Number one had to be a card that will allow you to fetch any of the top ten cards on this list or any other list. It has the advantages of Vampiric Tutor of fetching any card and not revealing it. Demonic Tutor also puts the card in hand immediately allowing you to have the answer needed for the moment or the combo piece you need right now to win the game. It also costs two mana which should allow you cast the card you searched for. Any deck can benefit from a Demonic Tutor if you are playing black.
Not every deck wants all of these cards. Consider this list more as a buffet when building your decks. Peruse the list and sample from these cards that meets your decks needs.This top ten and others help to point out some of the most important criteria in deckbuilding. Versatility, powerful effects at a discount, and the ability to build explosive plays are all aspects of a card that increase it’s value in a deck. As black shows if you can search your library for a card you need at a reasonable cost, then it’s power trumps everything else. When building your deck look for cards that also accomplish what your deck is trying to do while filling the needs of these criteria.
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