So the Magic Online Cube came back this Wednesday (yesterday), and Melissa and I were all set to draft some Cube and record some games for you guys. We drafted a pretty sweet Esper deck that could admittedly use a little more mana fixing, but was otherwise solid (Cryptic Command, Bitterblossom, five sweepers, etc.).

We had won our first round and were in the middle of our second when disaster struck. We had a Wake Thrasher in play and (roughly) a million triggers popped up, each one attempting to give the merfolk a +1/+1 bonus. I knew there was a Magic Online command that would place all identical triggers onto the stack at one time so I wouldn't have to click 13 individual times, but neither myself nor Melissa had any idea what it was. We tried things like F7, F8, F9...

Nothing worked and we eventually resigned to putting all the triggers onto the stack manually each time. No big deal, right? Well, twenty minutes later we noticed that our match had only been recording for about 19 minutes. That was impossible, we both thought; both myself and my opponent only had about three minutes on each of our clocks which meant we were about 45 minutes into the match! So what on Earth was going on?!

Turns out that in Camtasia, one of the buttons we had pressed to make our life with Wake Thrasher a little easier, actually pauses the recording. The match had only been recording for 19 minutes, but that was because we accidentally paused it at the 19 minute mark.

Awk...ward.

Without a way to get back an awesome 20 minutes of missing game play, we decided to finish up our draft and play some matches with the following deck.

DECKID=1191014

This is the same list that Mike Flores goes over in his Make the Play Monday for this week. I rarely play aggro decks, because I'm simply not that good at being able to maximize damage the way good aggro decks require, but I loved a lot of the cards in this particular list, specifically those from Born of the Gods. Mike was also hyping both the list and archetype up quite a bit, so I couldn't help but want to pick up Herald of Torments and Pain Seers and give it a try.

Let's see how it worked out.

Monoblack Aggro vs. UG Devotion

Monoblack Aggro vs. RG Devotion

Monoblack Aggro vs. Monoblack Artifacts? (No idea!)

Monoblack Aggro vs. Monoblack Aggro

That third match...I have no idea what was going on there, and that last match was clearly a budget list, but our opponent was super nice, so it is what it is!

In one of the videos I compared the Monoblack Aggro deck to Red Deck Wins. They're very similar in theory, but there are several notable differences. While the red deck tends to just push all its creatures into the red zone, it lacks a lot of subtle advantages that the black deck comes equipped with: things like discard, evasion, card drawing, etc. Many times the red deck is at the mercy of the top of their deck, but the black deck often has numerous forms of card advantage, such as bestowing a Herald of Torment or untapping a Pain Seer.

Lifebane Zombie provides a similar form of card advantage and evasion; ripping a green or white creature out of the opponent's hand while also being able to attack their planeswalker - often uncontested - is fairly huge game. While red decks have things like Chandra's Phoenix and Fanatic of Mogis for reach, we have things like Lifebane Zombie, Herald of Torment, and Pain Seer. While the former red cards are powerful, the latter black cards are all arguably two-for-ones or better.

While Pain Seer is no Dark Confidant, I was pleasantly surprised with the little two-drop. It does have its benefits. If Pain Seer was Dark Confidant, there were plenty of times I would have simply died from revealing a card off the top and taking damage. The fact that you can "control" when you draw extra cards with Pain Seer is huge and definitely makes a difference. The second point of toughness is also a relevant factor, especially with so many one toughness creatures in the format.

Herald of Torment was just as good as everyone thought it would be. Not only could we bestow it for an amazing buff, often landing us a five power flier, but we can simply cast it as a 3/3 on turn three as well. While the one damage per turn can be somewhat detrimental at times, I always felt like the Herald was one of the most powerful creatures on the board - or would be after timely removal - which was a great feeling.

Pack Rat is just as good as usual and, despite there only being one in the deck, it managed to win us several games on its own. This made me immediately wonder why we didn't include more of our rodent friends, perhaps cutting the most expensive card in the deck in the form of Desecration Demon for them.

Speaking of Desecration Demon, it is easily the riskiest card in the deck. For one we end up taking a lot of damage from our own cards; specifically things like Thoughtseize, Herald of Torment, and Pain Seer. This means having a creature that our opponent can tap at will to get through damage can sometimes be scary. For two, it also happens to be the most expensive card in the deck, which means we never want to draw it off of the aforementioned Pain Seer! Other than that the card is great, as it often is, but those are two pretty sizable marks against it if you ask me.

If I were to play an aggro deck of this kind - tons of one and two-drops, along with a ton of removal - I would definitely lean heavily toward a monoblack build. It just seems to be doing a lot of what we want to be doing in Standard right now, and the removal is the best of the best.

That's about all I have for this week. Let me know what you guys might be interested in seeing for next Monday and I'll see what I can come up with! The likely candidates are Cube Drafts or Modern, so let us know what you'd be interested in. Thanks for reading and I'll catch you next week.

Frank Lepore
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