With the release of Born of the Gods just around the corner, I thought I’d discuss a match up that I find very interesting and one that we can expect to see often in the coming months given the cards spoiled in Born of the Gods. As you might have guessed from the title, it’s the mono-Black mirror. Unlike most people, I rather enjoy the mono-black mirror. With decent draws on both sides, the games are attrition battles not unlike Jund mirrors from last season. So today I’ll be covering my take on the mirror match and some sideboarding tips that could give you that small edge you have been looking for in the mirror. Switching a 50/50 coin flip to the Harvey Dent two-face coin flip.
First of all let’s see a list:
4 Desecration Demon
4 Gray Merchant of Asphodel
4 Nightveil Specter
4 Pack Rat
3 Devour Flesh
4 Hero’s Downfall
2 Pharika’s Cure
1 Ultimate Price
4 Underworld Connections
4 Temple of Deceit
3 Dark Betrayal
2 Doom Blade
2 Erebos, God of the Dead
3 Lifebane Zombie
2 Pharika’s Cure
This is a fairly traditional mono-Black list. The 16 creatures are stock although some might differ from this with the inclusion of one Erebos, God of the Dead in the main deck. As for the spells, the only variation from normal lists is the one ultimate price over the fourth devour flesh. Personally I am not a fan of ultimate price. It’s just too situational against too many decks.
“Let us get on with it shall we!” All right, all right, now the first thing to remember in the mirror match is that there are 3 stages.
Stage 1: Pack Rat! Are you dead?? Stage 1 usually occurs in the first 3 turns of the game where both players try to untap with a Pack Rat in play. This usually involves some number of Thoughtseizes and Devour Fleshes. If a player does manage to untap with a Pack Rat, the game is most likely over and you move on to sideboarding. In most cases however, both players kill each-others Rats and we are left at parity going into turn 4.
Stage 2: Connections. After the dust has settled on the Pack Rat War, Underworld Connections becomes the most important part of the mid-game. Since neither player has a way to get rid of said Connections, it is an almost endless stream of card advantage. If player A gets a Connections online and Player B does not, it’s usually game over.
Stage 3: Pack Rat, The Comeback! Why is Connections so important? Because it gets you closer to another Pack Rat; by turn 8 or 9, a top decked Pack Rat can result in three 3/3 rats all in one turn. Overloading your opponent’s removal, and spelling the end of the road for your adversary.
Honorable Mention Stage 4: Where’s my Gray Merchant!! In a certain number of cases you trade resources with your opponent until both of you are under 10 life, and sometimes when your back is against the wall, all you need is the help of your travelling salesman to steal the game.
The big advantage I’ve gained through playing with the deck online is in post sideboarded games. Over half of my opponents just don’t sideboard optimally and give me a huge edge in games 2 and 3.
Desecration Demon is certainly not terrible, but paying 4 mana and getting it dark betrayed certainly feels that way. I think leaving him in in the mirror is the biggest and most frequent mistake I’ve seen players make in sideboarding. Hero’s downfall also gets trimmed because it’s less efficient than dark betrayal and it doesn’t help fight the Pack Rat War in the early game unless you’re on the play. Finally Pharika’s Cure is simply too narrow, hitting only Pack Rat and the occasional Mutavault.
Not much to say about Dark Betrayal and Erebos. Super-efficient removal and an indestructible threat and source of card advantage. As for Duress, we have to go back to the 3 stages of the mirror. Stage 1 is Pack Rat, Duress can help protect your Pack Rat from Thoughtseize or their removal. Stage 2: Underworld Connections…enough said. Stage 3, once again you can check to make sure the coast is clear for your Pack Rat and worst case scenario you just discard it to feed your army. It is important to note that sometimes they will have the double Thoughtseize into Pack Rat opening hand, but that is part of the game. Once you get past this reality the mirror becomes quite fun.
Finally we come to Born of the Gods, mono-Black mirrors will never be the same. Bile Blight will be a role player in other matchups, but in the mirror it will be the most important card to have against the 2 mana menace. It’s still unclear how many Blights players will be running in their 75, but beware, getting your 3/3 Pack Rats Bile Blighted will make you hate the Mirror so discard with caution.
Hope you enjoyed my first foray into writing, I will certainly write a follow up article on the match up, post Born of the Gods. Special thanks to Rob Bull for his help on Magic Online.
Until next time, you stay classy magic community.
Article submitted by Alex Lavoie. For any questions or comments feel free to email Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.