The color black in Magic: The Gathering represents death, power, greed, and dominance. Several Commander strategies lean toward black including reanimation, discard, and Zombies. When it comes to deck building, there are particular abilities that black does best. Black is probably best-known for its removal, tutor effects, and sacrificial cards.
Black can be a menacing force in any game of Commander. Players running black may try to search for combo pieces, destroy all creatures, or trade life for card advantage. The game state can change in black's favor quickly by utilizing its strengths to full effect.
While you are probably familiar with the most-played black cards across Commander decks like Phyrexian Arena and Damnation, you may want to consider running a few of the following cards as well. From least expensive to most expensive, here are 10 black Commander cards you should be playing.
Changeling Outcast is an unassuming 1/1 for one mana with upside. One benefit of Changeling Outcast is being every creature type. By possessing all creature types, Changeling Outcast synergies with a multitude of black tribal creatures. Another benefit of Changeling Outcast is that it can't be blocked. A guaranteed attack on an opponent (assuming no removal) is excellent for Ninja, Rogue, and Pirate Commander decks.
Yuriko, the Tiger's Shadow loves to ninjutsu an unblocked Changeling Outcast. Anowon, the Ruin Thief can mill an opponent and draw you a card when Changeling Outcast deals combat damage to an opponent. The famous pirate commander Admiral Beckett Brass shines when three Pirates, including Changeling Outcast, deal combat damage to an opponent in a single turn.
Another potential home for Changeling Outcast is in the 99 of Reaper King. Changeling Outcast enters play as a Scarecrow, which triggers Reaper King's ability to destroy a permanent. Changeling Outcast is a fantastic addition to any black deck that can take advantage of its abilities.
Did you think a common from Dungeons and Dragons: Adventures in the Forgotten Realms would appear here? Deadly Dispute is a functionally better alternative to similar black draw spells.
According to EDHREC, Costly Plunder and Altar's Reap see play in over 6,000 Commander decks. However, Deadly Dispute trumps both cards by offering a Treasure token and drawing two cards for the same mana cost. Any black decks running artifact tokens, creature tokens, or interested in sacrificing permanents can utilize Deadly Dispute. The new Forgotten Realms commanders Kalain, Reclusive Painter and Prosper, Tome-Bound can maximize Deadly Dispute too.
Ashes to Ashes last appeared as an uncommon in 5th Edition. Due to its age, it would not be surprising if many players are unfamiliar with Ashes to Ashes. For the cost of three mana and 5 damage, you get to exile two target nonartifact creatures on the battlefield.
Ashes to Ashes is a guaranteed two-for-one. Your opponents' jaws may drop after you exile multiple commanders at once. The 5 damage drawback is not insignificant, but there are plenty of ways to gain life in black. If you are short on creature removal and flex slots in a black deck, you may want to try playing Ashes to Ashes.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury offers incredible value for four mana. When Gonti, Lord of Luxury enters the battlefield, you immediately get the best card from among the top four of an opponent's library. The opponent won't know what card you chose. Best of all, you still get to play the card even if Gonti, Lord of Luxury leaves the battlefield. Beyond the enters-the-battlefield ability, Gonti, Lord of Luxury is a solid blocker with deathtouch.
Commanders that may want Gonti, Lord of Luxury in their 99 include Xanathar, Guild Kingpin and Prosper, Tome-Bound. Both commanders align with Gonti, Lord of Luxury's enters-the-battlefield ability. Also, Gonti, Lord of Luxury is a Rogue that pairs well with Anowon, the Ruin Thief.
Malakir Rebirth is a fantastic double-sided black card from Zendikar Rising. For one black mana and 2 life, Malakir Rebirth will return a target creature to the battlefield tapped under its owner's control when that creature dies. Interestingly, you may use Malakir Rebirth on any creature, not just your own. An excellent target for Malakir Rebirth is reviving a dying Nevinyrral, Urborg Tyrant to produce an army of 2/2 black Zombie creature tokens on an empty board.
Whenever you need to hit a land drop, you can play Malakir Rebirth as a tapped black land. Replacing a land in a Commander deck with Malakir Rebirth gives you an extra spell without cutting utility. The flexibility and low cost of Malakir Rebirth make it useful in many black Commander decks.
Phyrexian Reclamation offers a powerful activated ability for a low cost. At instant speed, you may return a creature from your graveyard to your hand for two mana and 2 life. Often, black wants to sacrifice creatures or discard cards to gain an advantage. Phyrexian Reclamation helps mitigate drawbacks of other cards and abilities by retrieving sacrificed or discarded creature cards from the graveyard.
Phyrexian Reclamation is especially good at fueling commander abilities. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician can repeatedly activate abilities with Phyrexian Reclamation on the battlefield. Phyrexian Reclamation may allow you to keep creatures on the battlefield for Greven, Predator Captain triggered ability.
Beyond assisting commanders, Phyrexian Reclamation can bring back creatures with powerful enters-the-battlefield triggers or combo enablers. A recurring Shriekmaw is one way to ensure you always have removal in hand. The ability to get back one or both pieces of the Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and Zealous Conscripts combo is frightening for opponents. Phyrexian Reclamation is an enchantment worth playing in any Commander deck that wants to Raise Dead.
Ritual of the Machine is an old card from Alliances. As an additional cost to casting Ritual of the Machine, you sacrifice a creature to get control of a target nonartifact, nonblack creature. Your opponents may be surprised when you cast Ritual of the Machine to take control of their commander.
New Blood and Captivating Vampire are other black cards that can turn a target creature to your side of the battlefield. However, you will need a deck full of Vampires to effectively use New Blood and Captivating Vampire. Ritual of the Machine has an advantage over them because it works in any black deck capable of sacrificing creatures. While Ritual of the Machine cannot control all creatures, it does provide a powerful effect rarely seen in black.
Crypt Ghast is a wonderful creature for black Commander decks containing a decent amount of swamps. The ability to produce extra black mana from swamps is very desirable. As a bonus, Crypt Ghast possesses the extort ability to drain and gain life from opponents.
Almost every mono-black Commander deck wants to run Crypt Ghast. High casting cost black commanders such as Vilis, Broker of Blood and Mikaeus, the Unhallowed may use Crypt Ghast to help cast them from the command zone. Black X spells like Torment of Hailfire can take advantage of the extra mana production as well.
The "free spells" from Commander 2020 are all outstanding. Deadly Rollick exiles a creature for no mana at instant speed if you have a commander on the battlefield. Also, your opponents will not expect you to cast Deadly Rollick when tapped out of mana. Even if you cannot cast Deadly Rollick for free, paying one black and three colorless mana is reasonable.
I believe every Commander deck needs at least one spell that either exiles a creature or shuffles it into an opponent's deck. While there are decks capable of winning without casting a creature (Will Kenrith / Rowan Kenrith, Oloro, Ageless Ascetic), the chances of having zero targets for Deadly Rollick in a Commander game is incredibly low. Deadly Rollick is a top contender among creature removal spells for a black Commander deck.
Ophiomancer is a versatile black creature in Commander. For one black and two colorless mana, Ophiomancer is a 2/2 Human Shaman that routinely creates a 1/1 black Snake creature token with deathtouch. At the beginning of each upkeep, if you control no Snakes, you get to make a 1/1 black Snake creature token with deathtouch. A repeated source of creature tokens, especially with deathtouch, has countless uses.
The strengths of Ophiomancer are more than creating a creature token with deathtouch for blocking in combat. Multiple cards mentioned above synergize with Ophiomancer including Deadly Dispute, Ritual of the Machine, and Yawgmoth, Thran Physician. Aristocrat decks with Teysa, Orzhov Scion, Ayara, First of Locthwain, or other black commanders may benefit from Ophiomancer. For players interested in a foil copy of Ophiomancer, the upcoming product-hover id="247519" includes the first foil version of Ophiomancer with new artwork.