Suicide Black has a basic premise: Play undercosted spells with drawbacks and disrupt your opponent, while you crush them with a stack of cardboard. The style of play is shoot first, ask questions later. It doesn’t matter that you are killing yourself in the process – because out of all twenty points of life that you and your opponent have, only the last one counts.
While I have not been able to play in any sanctioned events, I have made Top 8 twice with this deck in fairly large unsanctioned tournies (eighty people). The first time, I thought I was just lucky. The second time, I figured that maybe this deck has something going for it. So I present you with my latest evolution of mono-Black aggro:
Suicide Jank – ver. 4.22 by njx
4 Carrion Feeder
4 Wretched Anurid
4 Hollow Specter
4 Grinning Demon
2 Withered Wretch
2 Bane of the Living
4 Dark Banishing
3 Lightning Greaves
3 Loxodon Warhammer
//Mana Sources: 24
3 Chrome Mox
Blackmail / Coercion
No, neither is even close to Duress, but it’s what you got to work with. Cheap disruption is good in this format. Very few players expect to play against discard outside of Persecute, so they often don’t know how to play around it. I have played tons of games with and without it in different quantities – and I recommend three of each. This deck needs hand disruption cheaper than Persecute, especially since White decks have begun using Ivory Mask.
Having six discard spells for less than four mana usually means you can clear the way for the more devastating Persecute with ease. That may sound like a two-for-one, but when you get to steal a Mana Leak, so that you can hit Persecute for White, opponents playing U/W have to decide if they will sweat it out or head on to game 2.
Big Dumb Fat Elephant Club (Loxodon Warhammer)
If there is any deck that needs this card, it is this deck. With eight creatures that hurt you in this deck, an opponent who can chump block ad infinitum will have fun watching you torture yourself. The lifegain helps to offset these disadvantages, but even moreso, the trample means that chump blocking is a waste of time. It also ensures that opponents can’t outrace you – a club-wielding Demon, Harvester, or Bane will make racing you highly improbable.
These are metagame specific. Against White, you are going to want those three Harvesters. Against Goblins and Elves, the extra Bane is a big plus. Other options include Graveborn Muse, Nantuko Husk, Rotlung Reanimator, Withered Wretch, and Embalmed Brawler are all pretty good. Vampiric Spirit can also be tremendously useful. (Go ahead. Click the link. I’m not insulted.) Use whatever suits your metagame best.
A note on Dross Harvester:
The Harvester is more suicidal than giving a piggy-back ride to Aunt Bertha, but it hoses White. The key is not to let it sit around – play it, force your opponent to take the damage or steamroll some creatures, then sacrifice it. Dross Harvester is also good, because it trades with Myr Enforcers at roughly the same mana cost. Again, a Warhammer on this is usually game over. The lifegain also partially offsets the board-sweeping effects that are so dominant in the metagame.
Graveborn Muse can actually be just as dangerous as the Harvester. With ten other zombies, I find that I can end up losing huge amounts of life with this in play. While four cards a turn seems good, when two of them are zombies, you can’t really play them, or you’re dead. In other decks, the life loss is not too bad, but in this deck, it’s overkill. True, you can sacrifice the Muse, but I have found that I would rather not run them in face of more evasion, mass kill, or utility creatures. The biggest difference between Graveborn Muse and Dross Harvester, though, is that only one of them trades with Ravenous Baloths and Myr Enforcers.
You may wonder where Consume Spirit and Nightmare Lash are. Simply put, this deck doesn’t want to play any spells for more than four mana, and the Swamp Whips don’t give trample. While Nightmare Lash can be devastating, Loxodon Warhammer is just better for this deck. There isn’t enough evasion to make the Swamp Whip a real threat.
Stats are listed pre- and post- sideboard. Fifty games were played for each match-up against competent players who have played at least fifty games with the deck prior to playtesting. (I promise you, none of us have lives. That’s all we do all day – play magic and wait until graduate school starts again.) [What’s this? Reasonable methodology? Be still me beating heart. – Knut]
U/W Control: 38-12 / 35-15
Basically, U/W has a serious uphill battle against you. In game 1, merciless beatings usually render them dead before they can get going. U/W simply cannot deal with your efficient fat. As long as you don’t overextend, you will win. Time your Blackmails after turn 3. After sideboarding, they will put in Karma against you; but Loxodon goodies keep you alive, and without Akroma’s Vengeance, they can’t get rid of it easily. If you play smart, you will outrace them – but you need Persecute to clear the way.
-2 Feeder, -2 Bane, -2 Banishing, -1 Greaves
+4 Persecute, +3 Harvester
Affinity: 29-21/ 27-23
Affinity has so many different variations that it’s hard to quantify results; but the reasons for winning are generally the same. Your creatures are faster, bigger, and nastier for roughly the same cost. Aggro builds present more of a challenge in game 1, but are easily tamed through sideboarding. Blackmail is surprisingly solid in this match-up because they tend to drop their hand early.
With Frogmites & Hoverguards: -2 Feeder, +2 Infest
Against Ten Counterspells (Sarnia Affinity): -2 Feeder, +2 Persecute
With Frogmites only: -2 Wretch, +2 Harvester
Goblins / Goblin Bidding: 21-29 / 27-23
This is a tough match-up. Non-bidding builds more often run Sulfuric Vortex, and they are infinitely harder than those that don’t. You have to hit them very, very hard in game 1. Sideboarding makes this match turn the other way. Don’t worry about the Biddings; a late Blackmail will grab them. Game 2, they will bring in Shatter for your Equipment, so Warhammers aren’t worth running. After sideboarding, you bring in enough hate to slow them down.
-2 Demon, -1 Anurid, -2 Feeder, -3 Warhammer
+4 Infest, +3 Terror, +1 Bane
R/G LD (Angry Slug): 21-29 / 25-25
Another hard match-up that you can deal better with after sideboarding. Ravenous Baloths and Troll Ascetics make it very hard to be aggressive, and Molder Slug negates your equipment. Game 1 will go long, as they tend to be able to muck up the ground pretty easily. After sideboarding, it’s roughly even, but you are better prepared to deal with them.
-6 Equipment, -2 Blackmail;
+3 Infest, +3 Terror, +2 Persecute
Astroglide: 25-25 / 26-24
An even match, R/W has quite a lot of tools that you strongly dislike. Lightning Rift is just a downright pain in Aunt Bertha’s neck. Solemn Simulacrum helps them smooth out their mana issues and have early blocking fodder, and the rest of their deck offers quite a lot of contingencies. Disruption is key, but fortunately this deck isn’t too popular most places.
-3 Anurid, -4 Feeder;
+4 Persecute, +3 Harvester
Elves! : 12-38 / 36-14
Elves are actually rising in popularity as the definitive answer to Affinity. The best build I’ve seen is revjack23’s Elvish Wedding – my friend Radjan plays that deck all of the time, and it is way better than most people think.
There is nothing like Elves to hose Affinity – and just like that match-up, in Game 1; you lose. End of discussion. Wirewood Hivemasters will kill you with your own Wretched Anurids if you can’t sacrifice them, otherwise your Carrion Feeders are worthless. After sideboarding, you take back the crown, if you play carefully. If they are playing against a more traditional version, consider siding in Harvesters for ridiculous amounts of lifegain post-Infest.
-4 Anurid, -4 Feeder, -4 Banishing;
+4 Infest, +3 Terror, +1 Bane, +4 Persecute
(-2 Withered Wretch: +2 Harvester)
W/G Control: 3-47 / 6-44
This deck plugs up the ground like no other deck can, and they can stall you for forever and a day. Troll Ascetic, Ravenous Baloth, Exalted Angel, Naturalize – it’s all there. This is totally different than U/W (which has no fast creatures to stop your assault), and miles away from R/G LD (which doesn’t have access to Karma). The only way to win is to hope your opponent falls into a toilet. The only way out of this one is to ID. (Alpha Lackey: Go away. Far, far away.) The only games you win are when you can pull off turn 1 Anurid, turn 2 Warhammer, turn 3 Persecute.
Sideboarding (like it makes a difference):
-4 Feeder, -2 Warhammer, -1 Blackmail
+2 Infest, +1 Bane, +4 Persecute
With one month to go until Darksteel joins us in Standard, there is quite a lot of potential in the Suicide archetype. While Mono-Black Clerics and Kibler Zombies have shown how that Black aggro actually has game in Standard, those decks opted for tribal synergy. By choosing to play sheer efficiency and more aggressive disruption, you get something that beats control much better, albeit weakening the match against aggro. Fortunately, your sideboard helps you convert into a more control-oriented build for those match-ups.
Try it out. You’ll be convinced: there’s some potential here. Let’s hope Darksteel brings this archetype into a more prominent light.