In Magic: the Gathering, black can be a risky color to play. It represents the idea of pacts made with nefarious powers – and those pacts almost always come with strings.
But what makes black risky is precisely what makes it strong. That’s why black is a solid color to work with – it will give you access to what most other colors are capable of, even if it’s at a price.
Black even has a wide range of common creatures to stock your decks with. In this guide, we’ll highlight some of the best common black creatures in MTG that you can try out in your next deck.
What is a Common Creature?
Cards in Magic: the Gathering are divided into a handful of rarity levels: common, uncommon, rare, and mythic. As you move up in rarity levels, the cards become harder to find and usually more powerful.
That puts commons at the bottom of the pyramid. As the name implies, they are the most frequently printed cards and are typically easy to get your hands on.
This means that common cards tend to be more affordable than those of a higher rarity level. However, that is not always the case; value depends upon a card’s power level in addition to how easy it is to find it. Common cards that haven’t been reprinted a lot and that are powerful may still be on the pricier end of the spectrum.
Common cards are also the framework for the Pauper format. Those building pauper decks may only use commons.
Best Common Black Creatures in MTG
To understand why Gray Merchant of Asphodel is good, you need to understand the definition of one word: devotion. Devotion is the number of particular mana symbols among all your permanents on the battlefield. For example, Gray Merchant of Asphodel costs two black mana and three generic mana, so it would add two devotion to black to your battlefield.
It’s not difficult to have a high devotion to a certain color, especially if you’re playing a mono color deck. If you’ve got even a few black permanents on the battlefield, this merchant will do a decent amount of damage to every opponent while allowing you to gain life.
One thing to keep in mind is that Gray Merchant of Asphodel isn’t a common in all printings. Some sets actually classify it as an uncommon, but because it is often a common, we still included it here.
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Scrying is a nice ability that makes it possible for you to shape what cards you’re going to draw next. It works by letting you peek at the next card in your library, then decide if you want to move that card to the bottom of the pile instead of drawing it next.
It’s a subtle ability, to be sure, but one that will still be useful. And for a modest cost of one black mana and the sacrifice of a creature, Viscera Seer lets you consistently scry, shaping the nature of what you’ll draw .
This could potentially mean you’ll only ever draw into cards that are useful for you. If you have a bunch of creatures that you’re willing to sacrifice, such as tokens, it’s even better.
Don’t let Stinkweed Imp’s gross name repel you from it. It’s an excellent black common card. Not only are you getting a ½ with flying for a total of three mana, but its additional abilities are solid.
Its second ability is a lot like deathtouch. Whenever Stinkweed Imp attacks or blocks a creature, that creature is destroyed. This functions as a good repellant to stop people from attacking you, as well as convincing them to let Stinkweed Imp through whenever you attack with it.
It also has Dredge, which lets you cast Stinkweed Imp again essentially in exchange for placing five cards from your library into your graveyard. Since black as a color excels at interacting with the graveyard, anyway, this isn’t necessarily a problem. You’ll likely have other methods of getting those cards you put in your graveyard back.
Back when the Mirrodin block was still new, Disciple of the Vault was a common card to include in black decks. This is because the Mirrodin sets were extremely artifact-heavy, so it was likely that you and your opponents each had tons of artifacts on the battlefield.
Disciple of the Vault’s ability works best when there are numerous artifacts. That’s because, when one goes into the graveyard from the battlefield, you can have Disciple of the Vault ping an opponent for 1 life for each artifact going to the graveyard.
Think about the potential here. If there are a lot of artifacts on the battlefield, you could play a board wipe that targets artifacts, then direct a ton of damage at a single individual. It could easily be a finisher.
Butcher Ghoul is a simple card with a simple premise. Like the zombie that it is, it will come back from your graveyard automatically after its death. The benefit here, however, is that it comes back with +1/+1 counter on it, assuming it didn’t have one already.
You’re basically getting a card that revives itself and gives itself a slight boost automatically. All this is a possibility for an affordable one generic and one black mana.
By itself, this black cat looks like a modest card. However, around the time of its release, it saw a quick ban in the Standard format because of all the problematic combos Cauldron Familiar could be a part of.
In an eternal format, such as Commander, those combos are still a possibility. All you need is a card that generates food tokens and Cauldron Familiar. Whenever Cauldron Familiar enters the battlefield, each opponent will lose one life and you will gain one life.
Got those food tokens we mentioned earlier? Good, because you can sacrifice a food token to bring Cauldron Familiar back from the graveyard, causing it to enter the battlefield again, triggering its ability again. You can see why this would get annoying for your opponents.
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Whenever there’s a lot of controversy or debate surrounding a card, you can almost be certain that the card in question is powerful in some way. That’s certainly the case with Street Wraith, a card that’s been a cycling favorite for many black decks for years.
For one thing, Street Wraith has swampwalk. This means that anyone who has a swamp simply can’t block it, so you can use it as a way of battering anyone else playing black decks.
The second powerful part is its cycling ability. You can pay two life to discard it and draw a card. Using this modest cycling cost, you can get rid of Street Wraith if it’s simply not useful to you at the time and draw a card that may be better for you.
Shadowborn Apostle is such a powerful card, it has its own archetype within the game. You’ll notice this if you choose to purchase one – for a common, they can be surprisingly pricey.
What Shadowborn Apostle does is make it possible for you to have as many of them as you want in a deck, regardless of traditional format regulations. You can sacrifice six Shadowborn Apostles to search for a demon and put it onto the battlefield, then shuffle your library.
This means you can basically pay seven black mana (six to cast Shadowborn Apostles, then one more to sacrifice six of them) to play a demon essentially free. It’s an excellent way to cheat out a really high-costed demon that would otherwise be difficult to hard cast.
The strategy for Relentless Rats is in some ways similar to Shadowborn Apostles. You can put as many Relentless Rats in your deck as you want, regardless of what the rules for the format are.
In fact, the more Relentless Rates you have, the better. That’s because each Relentless Rats card gets +1/+1 for every other card on the battlefield called Relentless Rats. In other words, you effectively build a rat army, and the rats all boost each other.
Please note: this is another card that may be a common or uncommon depending on the printing. We still chose to include it because it is often a common.
Milling is a strategy in which a player tries to force an opponent to put as many cards from their library into the graveyard as they can. The objective is to burn through an opponent’s library, making it so they eventually have nothing left to draw and lose the game.
Balustrade Spy is perfect for mill-themed decks. He forces a player to reveal the top of their library until they reach a land card. All cards they revealed go straight into their graveyard.
Depending on how many lands they’ve put into their deck, Balustrade Spy can be ruthless.
Common Black Creature Questions
What is black good at in MTG?
In Magic: the Gathering, there are five distinct colors. For the most part, they have their own unique abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. (Although there has been some line-blurring between colors over the years!)
So, what sets black apart from the rest of the pack? If we had to describe black briefly, we would say it’s the color of making dark pacts. It’s like a demon offering everything you want in life…for a price.
Put another way, it’s a color that can do pretty much anything you need it to. However, there’s usually some kind of sacrifice involved, such as forcing you to play life, discard a card, or sacrifice a creature.
In particular, though, black has excellent removal abilities and decent card draw. Additionally, it’s well-known for its abundance of horror-related creatures like vampires, zombies, and demons. It’s a solid color to incorporate into many decks.
What is the most powerful color in Magic?
Determining which color in Magic is strongest is difficult because it can change with each new set that is released. Many would likely agree that white is the weakest color now, but that hasn’t always been the case. We may choose a color now and say it’s the strongest – just keep in mind that that is subject to change.
With that in mind, we feel that blue has been consistently strong for the past several years. It’s got an abundance of extremely powerful counterspells, card draw, and flying creatures.
Black has tons of great cards to choose from throughout its history. If you find yourself tempted to only choose rares or mythics, thinking that they’ll always be the best, you’re limiting yourself.
We hope this list proves to you that cards of all rarity levels deserve a place in your deck. Just because a card is common doesn’t mean that it’s weak.