Limited Lessons – Black in Shadowmoor / Eventide Draft

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Tuesday, July 29th – In triple-Shadowmoor Draft, the Black options was rather unappetizing. Many a first-pick Incremental Blight or Corrupt lay languishing in the sideboard of Red/Green and Blue/White decks. However, Eventide has powered up the color to a new level… today, Nick shows us how to make the most of this oft-ignored color.

I’m sure the topic of this week’s article will come as little or no surprise to anyone who read last week. I purposely avoided talking about any archetypes involving Black so that I could do a special spotlight on it this week.

I’m really excited about all of the new possibilities now that Black is an actual color again. Sure, some of you may argue that BR and BU were playable, but nobody is going to say Black was something you were looking to draft in triple-Shadowmoor. With Eventide around, all of this changes. Black is by far the most improved color with the addition of Eventide, and long gone are the days where you first pick Incremental Blight only to see it end up in your sideboard the majority of the time.

I’m going to go through all of the iterations here, though some of the archetypes I actually haven’t had a chance to draft yet. I still think I have a good idea what you should be looking for in those cases, because I’ve had lots of online conversations about the format and how cards fit into archetypes.


I think this is the best starting point because it should be easier to see how things differ once you start to add a second color. This will be totally “from the ground up,” since this archetype wasn’t really playable in triple-Shadowmoor unless you had multiple Corrupts or something similar. I’m of the belief that you should be aiming for this in the first two packs in order to better keep your options open when Eventide comes.

I think a brief summary of Shadowmoor is in order, because honestly I didn’t draft much Black before the release of Eventide.

Some important options in the common slot for Mono-Black are Loch Korrigan, Gloomlance, and Smolder Initiate. Sootstoke Kindler is also a card that may deserve another look now that Eventide is in the mix. I think Splitting Headache is likely very important as well, since you can assess where the game is going and how to best you’re your future turns while also taking their best card. I think Scarscale Ritual could also be somewhat good in the archetype since there are some ways to move -1/-1 counters (or remove them) like Chainbreaker and Quillspike. The archetype is also lacking in the card drawing department. Torpor Dust is pretty solid in this archetype, as when you win it’s usually because you’ve exhausted their resources and it won’t matter that they can chump block with their guy. Time is definitely more important here, as it would be in any other control build.

Most of the commons are pretty straightforward, and I don’t want to spend a ton of time here since we’ve been playing with Shadowmoor for quite a while now. The majority of your picks in Shadowmoor will be good Black removal or good BR cards with the occasional BU gem through in.

There are obviously a ton of amazing Uncommons for this deck, like Corrupt, Incremental Blight, Beseech the Queen, Crowd of Cinders, etc. The best way to go about drafting this archetype is to just take all of the good cards in the first two packs and then decide whether to focus on BG cards or BW cards depending on how the packs open. I also think it’s very possible to assemble a Blowfly Infestation deck (though UB may be better for that).

Moving on to Eventide, there are plenty of new cards worth discussing further.

Obviously Soul Reap and Unmake are super high picks here, with Unmake being the actual nuts in this archetype.

Raven’s Crime
This card has been pretty strong for me so far, and I think it is definitely above average in this archetype. The idea of course is that it helps you get out of a flood, since there aren’t many card drawing options, and it also helps to empty their hand when you have some removal that will deal with whatever they decide to keep. The one thing going against this is that Mono-Black is a deck that likes to play out its lands, and so it may be tough to abuse this.

Smoldering Butcher
I already mentioned this, but again it’s great in the Green matchups and also hits pretty hard when you can clear the way for it.

Harvest Gwyllion
This guy is huge for the archetype. He reminds me a lot of Gorgon Recluse in that he’s very hard to get past and lets you spend your removal more wisely.

Rendclaw Trow
If the Gwyllion is huge, this guy is even better. He’s cheap, buys time, plays well with -1/-1 counter themes, and is very annoying in the early turns against an aggro deck.

Desecrator Hag
I probably should’ve listed this above along with the removal because it’s so obvious that it’s good and it’s not a difficult card to use correctly.

As I’m looking over the rest of the Eventide spoiler, it seems like the cards are pretty obvious for this archetype. I can’t really say that you should focus in either BG or BW since it really will depend on how the packs open. There are great options in both colors, and I think it’s more about just taking the best card rather than trying to focus in one guild over another just to possibly take advantage of a Mimic or something. That being said, I’ll list the top six Eventide commons for this archetype.

Soul Reap
Desecrator Hag
Rendclaw Trow
Harvest Gwyllion
Raven’s Crime

I stopped here because once you go further you’re relying on being in one guild over another with Mimics and such. Raven’s Crime can also move up the list if you ended up with a bunch of four-drops from Shadowmoor like Sootwalkers or Wanderbrine Rootcutters.

There are tons of great Uncommons for this archetype in both sets, so I’m just going to briefly list the ones that stand out to me in Mono-Black specifically.

Creakwood Ghoul — Great late game card.
Crumbling Ashes – Possibly? Definitely deck dependent.
Soot Imp – Seems like an unreal bomb in Mono-Black.
Syphon Life — Finisher and could also buy time.
Restless Apparition — Puts Loch Corrigan to shame.
Both Hatchlings, since every spell triggers them.
Canker Abomination — Huge for the cost, and there shouldn’t be too many guys out with all of the removal available.
Stalker Hag — Easily castable.

The overall game plan is to have good mana, good removal, and win with whatever guys are available. There are lots of bombs for Mono-Black that many other archetypes really couldn’t use effectively.


This archetype didn’t exist at all in SSS, and is very strong now.

The first two packs will obviously be focused on GR and BR guild cards. The difference is that you get to pick up the good Black cards until everyone else realizes that Black has gone up significantly in value. Mana acceleration will be at a premium here, just like it was in GR, because the game plan is to fire out strong spells that usually cost around five or six mana. Obviously the Quillspike plan is in effect, and you should be taking Devoted Druids highly in this archetype. Runes of the Deus will be good here if you get enough good GR monsters. This deck can splash relatively easily thanks to Manamorphose, Farhaven Elf, and Scuttlemutt.

Unmake loses some value here, but is still a very high pick because the fixers and Manamorphose should help to cast it regularly. Snakeform is of course huge here, and better than the Black removal in most cases.

Aerie Ouphes
These two colors typically aren’t great against fliers unless they just have enough removal to kill them all. The Ouphes is a great card

Tilling Treefolk
This guy will certainly be awesome if you have Raven’s Crime, Syphon Life, or one of the Green cards with Retrace. This especially excites me with Raven’s Crime, as you can go nuts pretty early and still not miss a land drop by just playing this guy. As a side note, I think Raven’s Crime is better in this archetype than in Mono-Black simply because you’re running lots of fixing/acceleration and are more likely to get flooded, and the Crime gives you a use for those extra lands.

Wickerbough Elder
This guy just gets better every time I play him. I think Desecrator Hag is probably still a bit better, but this guy isn’t far behind in the pick order. The best part here is that the deck is happy to fire out good mid-range spells (semi-reminiscent of The Rock) and sometimes you just lose to a Steel of the Godhead or something. This guy ensures that won’t happen and also can just kill a Scarecrow.

Gift of the Deity
This is the main reason to draft this archetype. Once you get this (or get multiples) you should be taking as many BG guys as you possibly can. There are lots of good targets like Rendclaw Trow, Woodlurker Mimic, or even just a Desecrator Hag. What makes this card absolutely huge in the archetype is that you’ll have a lot of Green guys anyway, and the Lure effect is good enough on its own. In builds more focused towards Green, I would take this over every other common (yes, that includes Snakeform, Unmake, and Soul Reap). If you’re more in the middle it’s closer, but this is still amazing and will likely win you more games than Soul Reap in the long run.

Hoof Skulkin
This is definitely one of the best archeypes for a card like this, as the majority of your guys will be Green with Black covering the removal department. It’s nice that you’re packing all of the mana acceleration as well, so that this guy will be very strong in the mid-game.

Here’s a sample list from the other day, with which I went 2-1.

Raven’s Crime
2 Devoted Druid
Elsewhere Flask
2 Woodlurker Mimic
Tilling Treefolk
Rendclaw Trow
Farhaven Elf
Creakwood Liege
Splitting Headache
Desecrator Hag
Scuzzback Marauders
Incremental Blight
Gift of the Deity
Savage Conception
Grief Tyrant
Midnight Banshee
9 Swamp
8 Forest

I actually got the Midnight Banshee quite late in this draft, which is why I’m saying that most players haven’t realized that Black is much better now with the addition of Eventide. Either that or the packs just opened in a way that Black wasn’t an option for many people, as this was pack 2.

At any rate, I have a strong feeling that BG could very well be the new GR, even though Red got a ton of help in Eventide and it didn’t really need it.


This deck is really the only way you could’ve played Black in triple-Shadowmoor, with the occasional UB build popping up that had a ton of bombs. If you want information on triple-Shadowmoor BR cards, I wrote an archetype strategy guide that you can read here.

If you’ve been reading so far, you’ll notice that I keep saying that both Black and Red both gained a ton of value in Eventide. Imagine then what happens when you put them together?

Both Flame Jab and Raven’s Crime are awesome at fighting attrition wars, and Flame Jab gives your opponent some number of dead draws when it’s sitting in your graveyard in the mid-game. The fact that they are both here makes me want to splash Tilling Treefolk, but it’s not something I’ve tried out yet. Oh, and Puncture Blast is by far the best removal here, in case anyone was unsure or wondering whether Unmake was better. It’s more consistent and goes to the dome.

Merrow Bonegnawer
In triple-Shadowmoor, Power of Fire was not really that great in BR because you only had Pili-Pala as a good way to abuse it, and it was just a hard combo to assemble. This guy is totally unplayable in all instances except when you have Power of Fire, and I think the fact that he exists should make Power the top Red pick for this archetype instead of Burn Trail. You are virtually guaranteed to get one of these if you want one, and it’s pretty strong when handling a gun. I didn’t mention it earlier in BG because I wanted to save it for here, but I suppose it could be playable there too if you get Presence of Gond and are also possibly splashing a Power.

I’m not going to devote a separate section to it, but Duergar Mine-Captain is a good option here, though the attacking bonus isn’t usually relevant as you’ll only have one or two guys out and it’s uncertain how many Mountains you’ll have depending on whether you’re heavier Black or Red.

This archetype should play a lot like Mono Red (albeit weaker, since you can’t abuse cards like Hotheaded Giant). Noggle Bandit isn’t so great there, because you should have more removal, and your main interest is getting the board under control and eventually winning rather than trying to kill them as quickly as possible.

The funny thing about this archetype is that while it gained a ton of great stuff, most of it is obvious and I’ve already talked about it either this week or last week in my Updating Archetypes article. You should be able to put the pieces together here if you understand BR’s overall game plan.


This is another archetype that was created by Eventide and not available in triple-Shadowmoor.

The best approach here is probably to focus on UW and BR guilds in Shadowmoor, as well as the mono-colored cards. You’ll usually end up in some sort of control build

Ballynock Cohort, Silkbind Faerie, and other standbys are obviously huge here. I think Burrenton Medic has a lot of potential in a deck like this. Another oddball card I’ve been wanting to try out but haven’t had a chance yet is Woeleecher. I think he has a lot of potential here beyond making your Medics and Cinderhaze Wretches totally nuts. There are enough -1/-1 counters flying around with Persist, Wither, and lots of cards in Eventide that come into play with counters that Woeleecher may have found his place in the format. I also think Scarscale Ritual is huge here because most of your guys are good on defense anyway, and the card draw is really needed.

Overall in Shadowmoor you should be taking strong creatures in White as well as things like Inquisitor’s Snare, and removal in Black. Cinderhaze Wretch should be excellent in this archetype, and Aethertow could also have a place if you get enough White guys to Conspire it regularly.

Eventide really makes the deck tick, as you get the full suite of Recumbent Bliss, Unmake, Ballnock Trapper, and Soul Reap.

Edge of Divinity
This card looked decent on the spoiler and it’s been far better so far in the actual games. I’ve had multiple games where I played it on an early Nip Gwyllion or Nightsky Mimic and easily rode it to victory. The nice thing is that it’s still just fine if the guy is only Black or White as I can remember some formats where Unholy Strength was playable on an evasion creature. The real strength is obviously when you play it on a BW guy, of which there are plenty.

Fire at Will can be playable here in the builds that are heavier in White. The only thing that sucks is that people will expect it since they are already worried about Inquisitor’s Snare and Aethertow when they see Plains. Harvest Gwyllion is obviously awesome here, as you can put Edge on it and make it huge, and all of the other cards have been covered earlier.

I have a sample list from last week.

Nip Gwyllion
2 Edge of Divinity
2 Nightsky Mimic
Mistmeadow Skulk
Inquisitor’s Snare
Safehold Elite
Thistledown Duo
Silkbind Faerie
Oracle of Nectars
Dusk Urchins
Restless Apparition
Harvest Gwyllion
Cinderhaze Wretch
Burrenton Medic
Voracious Hatchling
Cultbrand Cinder
10 Swamp
8 Plains

I did pretty well in Eventide in this draft, and got a good card for my deck almost every pick. The Edges came late and seemed like a perfect fit for this deck. I did manage to go off with Quillspike and Burrenton Medic one game, with five Swamps in play, which was very enjoyable. I never drew Chainbreaker but it seemed like he’d be very strong in a deck like this. I also decided to run 18 land in this deck because it seemed slow and had a lot of ways to use the mana late game, like the Oracle, Chainbreaker, or Quillspike.


This is the one archetype that I don’t have a ton of experience with yet. My theory is that to make it work you want to be focused pretty heavily in Blue and take advantage of the UR and UG cards in Eventide.

I think the best place to start theorizing about it is to look at why it wasn’t great in triple-Shadowmoor, and what Eventide can possibly do to add to that. Most of the UB Guild cards in Shadowmoor aren’t that impressive, and when you combine that with the fact that Black sucked in triple-Shadowmoor it’s easy to see why the archetype wasn’t that impressive unless you got a bunch of bombs or assembled the -1/-1 counter strategy with Blowfly Infestation.

I think the overall plan should be to draft aggressive fliers and Black removal.

Dream Thief
This is a good three-drop follow up to a turn 2 Briarberry Cohort. It will be tough to draw a card off it, but a cheap flier is still good for the archetype.

Favor the Overbeing
If you plan on focusing in UG and get enough guys, this is a good compliment to the strategy. While the card may look mediocre it is been good in the actual games so far, if you have enough UG guys to power it up.

My big problem with this archetype is that the Blue cards aren’t that exciting and the deck was lackluster in triple-Shadowmoor. You get some good removal in Black and Snakeform but beyond that this isn’t an archetype I’d be hoping to end up in. If anyone has had experience to the contrary feel free to share in the forums, but this is a color combination I’d only go into if I was forced in that direction.


Black is now a real player in the overall format. Gone are the days where it could be discarded, and not only does it command respect now, but you should strongly consider drafting an archetype like BG or BW if the cards fall that way. Whatever the case, hopefully this article makes things easier for you or gives you ideas on how to draft Black in the new format.

Nick Eisel
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