Necrodominance | Modern Horizons 3 | Art by Robin Olausson
4, Jul, 24

Inevitable MTG Ban Could Unleash A New Meta Monster!

Article at a Glance

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Modern is in a bit of a rough spot lately. Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 was last weekend, and the tournament was absolutely dominated by Nadu decks. One deck having a huge meta share is one thing, but Nadu decks also have incredibly tedious, un-interactive play patterns. The result? A major tournament that many players did not enjoy watching.

Most sensible money is on a Nadu ban at this point. Or at least a ban for one of its enablers, like Shuko or Outrider en-Kor. But once it’s gone, which deck will rush in to fill the power vacuum? Looking at the data from recent MTG events, the most likely candidate is Mono-Black Necro. This is another new deck forged in the fires of Modern Horizons 3 and, Nadu aside, it’s a strategy with very few bad matchups.

A Bold New Strategy

Mono-Black Necro MTG Key Cards

Mono-Black Necro, if you haven’t already guessed, is a black Midrange deck named for its signature card, Necrodominance. It plays many of the black staples we’ve all grown to loathe, such as Orcish Bowmasters and Sheoldred, the Apocalypse. What makes it so interesting, though, is the way in which it leverages the sheer draw power of its titular card to play a ton of “free” spells.

Grief needs no introduction, but you likely haven’t seen Force of Despair, March of Wretched Sorrow, or Soul Spike in a while. That’s because, despite their potential to be cast for free in exchange for cards in your hand, they just weren’t efficient enough for Modern. Necrodominance changes the math on this considerably. When you can draw as many cards as you want a turn, spells that use your hand as a resource become not just powerful, but essential to avoid discarding excess cards.

For example, if you draw up to eight cards with Necrodominance, you can then either discard three of them or cast a Soul Spike. I’m sure you’ll agree the latter is much more efficient. Lines like this give the deck a near-limitless supply of removal. The ever-useful The One Ring can even step in and cover card draw duties, if you don’t draw your Necrodominance.

The deck also has a very interesting mana base. Since it needs a good supply of black cards to discard, it plays a lot of MDFC lands like Fell the Profane and Boggart Trawler. These count as black cards in hand, and therefore pull double duty in the deck. Malakir Rebirth can even combo with Grief to replicate Scam playlines if that’s your bag. This leaves only around 17 ‘real’ lands in the deck: certainly unusual in 60-card Magic.

The Heir To The Throne?


The end result of all this carefully constructed synergy? Mono-Black Necro is one of the very best MTG decks in Modern. While it’s early days in terms of data, things are looking very good so far. For a start, the deck was the only one other than Nadu to put more than one player in the top eight at Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3. Both Noah Ma and Seth Manfield made the cut, with very different versions of the deck.

Mono-Black Necro has also been performing very well in Modern Challenges, of which many have been held since Modern Horizons 3 was released. It has solid matchups all around, but it’s particularly well-placed against Eldrazi decks. Both Eldrazi Tron and RG Through the Breach fold pretty hard to this deck. These are both popular lists, which are seeing a lot of play as people revisit their favorite betentacled friends.

One interesting thing about Mono-Black Necro is that MTG players haven’t settled on a single definitive list for the deck yet. Even the two players who took it to the top eight at the Pro Tour were running different versions. Each Challenge-winning list is a little bit different, too. This inconsistency is actually a major point in the deck’s favor. If it’s putting up such good results now, while it’s still being tweaked, it will only get better as a single optimized list is discovered down the line.

Dealing With The ‘Dominance

Once Nadu inevitably has its wings clipped, Mono-Black Necro could easily step into its shoes as the best deck in Modern. It could even court similar complaints; free spells are famously unfun to play against, after all. In any case, you’ll likely end up running into this deck quite often if you plan to play Modern any time soon. So you’d best be ready for when you do.

The most obvious sideboard tech against the deck is Vexing Bauble. This completely shuts down all of its free spells, forcing it to play like a regular Midrange deck. It’s also a very cheap artifact, which Mono-Black Necro has no real answers for outside of a turn one discard spell.

Alternatively, you could target the deck’s engine pieces. Without Necrodominance or The One Ring, Mono-Black Necro is just a worse version of Rakdos Scam. Likely much worse, what with all the MDFC lands clogging up the curve. Cards that answer artifacts and/or enchantments, then, are ideal sideboard picks for this matchup. Pick Your Poison covers both bases, all while getting around The One Ring’s Indestructibility.

Finally, resilient creatures are excellent against a deck whose gameplan is so removal-centric. None of Mono-Black Necro’s free spells exile creatures, so as long as you can get yours back from the graveyard you have a chance. New Modern staple Phlage, Titan of Fire’s Fury is a perfect example. It can slowly wear a Necro player down over multiple turns with its recursion, and pick off Griefs and Bowmasters in the process.

Read More: MTG Best Modern Decks

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