In Commander/EDH, it’s generally a good strategy to incorporate more than one color into your deck. Doing so gives you a larger selection of cards to choose from and can help you balance out the weaknesses of all the colors you use.
But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to build a mono-color deck, or that they’re unviable. A mono-color deck can be extraordinarily strong depending on the color you use and the budget you have.
Interested in making a mono-black deck? Your first step will be choosing a Commander, and we’re going to help. Keep reading to see our list of the best black Commander cards in MTG…
Black Mono Color Commander Decks
As we mentioned previously, building a mono-color deck isn’t always the best idea when it comes to Commander. Each color in MTG has its own role in the game, including its strengths and weaknesses. When you build a deck using only a single color, you are limiting yourself to that color’s specific pros and cons.
However, there are still inherent benefits to building mono-color decks. One benefit is that it’s much easier to build your mana base. Unlike with multi-color decks, you don’t have to incorporate a ton of mana rocks or mana fixers to ensure you have access to all your colors.
It’s also naturally easier to put something together when you don’t have an overwhelming number of choices, which may occur when you’re building multi-color decks. With a mono-color deck, you know what you have to work with.
Plus, as far as mono-color decks go, black is an excellent choice. Black can do what most other colors in Magic can, although it often comes at a price. You’ll also have the choice of a few great creature tribes, such as zombies, vampires, and rats.
Best Black Commander Cards in MTG
Once upon a time, Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon decks were abundant. Thanks to its infect ability, decks with Skithiryx in them could often destroy opponents with one attack. Each player can only get ten poison counters before they lose the game, and with a one-to-one ratio of poison counters to damage, Skithiryx can give you four poison counters as-is.
But it gets worse when you equip it with things that increase its power. The more damage Skithiryx does, the more poison counters it applies. It’s not too difficult to equip or enchant Skithiryx enough to bring its power up to ten, allowing it to kill opponents with a single strike.
It’s important to note Skithiryx’s other abilities. You can pay one black to give it haste, meaning it can attack the same turn you cast it. Additionally, you can pay two to regenerate it, which stops it from dying if something would otherwise kill it.
The idea here is to cast a bunch of equipment first. When you’ve got enough to bring Skithiryx up to ten power, you cast Skithiryx, equip all the equipment, pay to give it haste, and attack with it.
Those strange symbols at the top of K’riik, Son of Yawgmoth are called phyrexian mana. Phyrexian mana, as the card states, can be paid with either life or black mana in this case. That’s the first thing that makes K’rrik good: you can pay almost half of his cost with life, if necessary.
To make up for that, K’rrik has lifelink, so attacking or blocking with him will allow you to regain almost all the life points you may have lost casting him. Then, best of all, he translates that phyrexian mana to all black mana costs in spells.
Paying for spells with your life might seem counterintuitive. But this is actually fantastic – it means you can cast a spell on almost any turn, provided you have the life. And should a card you need be too expensive to cast with mana, you can supplement the cost with life points.
You may, however, want to think about incorporating some cards with life gain in any K’rrik deck.
Rats don’t exactly sound like a noble tribe to play, and that may cause many new players to disregard them. More experienced players know that a well-built rat deck can be overwhelmingly powerful.
Marrow-Gnawer is a wonderful Commander to choose if you’re building a rat-themed deck. First, he gives all your rats fear, which means that opponents can only block them with their own black creatures or artifact creatures.
Second, he lets you pretty much double the number of rats you have on the battlefield by sacrificing one. You must tap him to use this ability. Find a card that allows you to untap permanents, though, and you can tap him repeatedly in a turn to generate a rat army.
This dark knight was marked as a great Commander the moment he was released in the Throne of Eldraine set. It’s little wonder that Syr Konrad, the Grim is one of the most popular black Commanders on the market.
Whenever another creature dies or a creature is put into a graveyard, he deals one damage to each opponent. Emphasis on the a there, because it does not need to be your graveyard or your creatures dying.
To make him even stronger, his second ability lets you pay one generic and one black mana to force all players to put the top card of their library into their graveyards. If some of those cards are creatures, Syr Konrad will be doing damage to everyone except you.
Want to make him even more devastating? If you’re able to protect him, consider using a board wipe when there are tons of creatures on the battlefield to dish out loads of damage to opponents.
Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose would be particularly powerful in a deck that focuses on life gain or creatures with lifelink. That’s because your opponents will lose life equal to life that you gain whenever you gain life.
Thus, Vito would make a good choice for a Commander in a vampire tribal deck. If your creatures largely lack lifelink, though, that’s not a problem. You can pay three generic and two black mana to give all your creatures lifelink for a turn, causing you to gain life whenever they attack or block.
What if all your creatures came back from the graveyard virtually automatically? Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker answers that question by giving you the option to bring creatures back from the graveyard on your end step, provided they have a power of one or less.
No need to cast additional expensive recursion cards. Just let Shirei help you effectively raise things from the dead while it’s on the battlefield.
Of course, the creatures in question need to have a power of one or less, but that isn’t a difficult caveat to work with.
Many Commanders are useful because they in some way benefit all your other creatures. Sheoldred, Whispering One is powerful not because she provides a boost to your creatures, but because she’s so oppressive to your opponents.
At the beginning of each opponent’s turn, they’ll be forced to sacrifice a creature. You, on the other hand, will be able to return a creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield at the beginning of your turn.
It doesn’t hurt (for you, anyway) that Sheoldred also has swampwalk. Anyone else playing a black deck won’t be able to block her, and as a formidable 6/6, she’ll deal a lot of damage.
Zombie tribal is a popular theme in black. Who doesn’t want to control an army of the shambling dead? If that’s something you’re interested in trying, Ghoulcaller Gisa is the Commander for you.
You’ll need to be prepared to essentially “recycle” creatures to use her. You can pay one black mana, tap her, and sacrifice a creature. In exchange, she’ll create a number of 2/2 black zombie tokens that’s equal to the number of the sacrificed creature’s power.
Put another way, the bigger the creature you sacrifice, the more zombies you can make from it. Don’t worry about these sacrifices, either – in black, it’s only too easy to bring something back from the graveyard, anyway.
Liliana, Heretical Healer is an interesting card because she’s double-sided. On the one side, you have your standard legendary creature. She has lifelink.
Things get interesting when another one of your creatures dies. That’s when Liliana transforms from a healer into Liliana, Defiant Necromancer. At that point, she is a planeswalker.
While not impossible, it is unusual to have a planeswalker as a Commander because they’re not legendary creatures (with the exception of planeswalkers that specifically say in their text that they can be used as Commanders). Liliana kind of gets around this by starting off as a creature and then transforming.
Her loyalty abilities aren’t too shabby, either. She can make everyone discard a card and return a creature from your graveyard. The best part, though, is her final ability, which makes it so whenever anyone’s creature dies, you get control of it at the end of the turn in which it died. Keep in mind this applies to all creatures – not just the ones in your deck.
Read Also: Which MTG Sets Have Planeswalkers?
Vilis, Broker of Blood is a great example of what black cards tend to be like. In a way, he damages you by requiring you to pay two life and a black mana to activate his second ability. However, this does give a creature -1/-1, allowing you to destroy your opponents’ small creatures. If you have more mana and more life to spend, you can also activate this ability as many times as you like, applying as many -1/-1 counters as you like to something.
Worried about losing your life points? Vilis makes up for it. His last ability allows you to draw a card whenever you lose life. You can easily fill out your hand this way, drawing into cards you need.
Black Commander Questions
Who is the best Dimir Commander?
Dimir is the combination of blue and black. We’ve written a guide to the best Dimir Commanders if you would like guidance on Commander options for those colors.
We can say, however, that one of our favorite Dimir Commanders is The Scarab God. He’s another fantastic Commander for a zombie-centric deck, causing your opponents to lose life for all the zombies you control and letting you scry car ds. He also allows you to copy creatures from graveyards and turn them into zombies.
What is the best black planeswalker?
There are an abundance of black planeswalkers, and many of them are powerful. For that reason, it’s hard to narrow them down to one and say one is the best.
One of the most infamous black planeswalkers, though, is Liliana of the Veil. All of her loyalty abilities are good. You can use her to force players to discard, to make someone sacrifice a creature, or to destroy large numbers of an opponents’ permanents.
What is the best mono-black Commander?
We included a lot of strong mono-black Commander options on this list alone. Picking only one is difficult, but if we had to recommend one, we’d suggest K’rrik, Son of Yawgmoth.
Making it so all of your black spells can be paid for with life or mana is ridiculously powerful. What’s more, buffing himself with +1/+1 counters each time you cast a spell means he will quickly turn into a large creature with lifelink to make up for all the life you’re spending.
If you’re planning on building a mono-color deck, black is definitely one of the more viable colors to go with. It has no shortage of options and themes for you to choose from.
Black can be a little tricky if you’re not careful. Many cards in black have an additional cost, such as sacrificing a creature or making you pay with life. Build your deck carefully, though, and you can create something that harms your opponents far more than it harms you – and that, ultimately, is the key to building a reliable black deck.