We’re back again and this time around I have a spicy list from Nu Games’ own Joel Herrick! While I have thus far featured tri-color decks, this time around we plunder the depths of the darkest color for a look at the rewards and pitfalls of playing mono Black. Before we get to the deck list however I’d like to offer my two cents about playing a single color in EDH.

If you are new to the game or trying to build a new deck on a budget, mono colored decks can be a very good option simply because you don’t have to spring for an expensive mana base. Suddenly cards like Path to Exile and Blood Moon are not as scary when you run mostly basic lands and never having to play lands which enter the battlefield tapped just for the sake of mana fixing lets your plays go a little easier. Because you’re not trying to make room for the best of each color as you might try to do in multicolored builds, you can dig deep in your chosen color and really explore all that it has to offer you. By the same token, you will have to work harder to cover all of your bases. You can play to the strengths of your chosen color but you also have to take into account what limitations you will have by sticking to a single color. Often times, Artifacts are your new best friend as they can help fill some of the gaps your color has. Alright enough primer, let’s get down to business.


Commander: Xiahou Dun, the One-Eyed


Creatures (27):

Blood Artist




Bloodgift Demon


Braids, Cabal Minion


Burnished Hart


Chainer, Dementia Master


Crypt Ghast


Dimir House Guard


Disciple of Bolas




Erebos, God of the Dead


Falkenrath Noble


Fleshbag Marauder


Graveborn Muse


Gray Merchant of Asphodel


Harvester of Souls


Kokusho, the Evening Star


Massacre Wurm


Mikaeus, the Unhallowed


Nirkana Revenant


Pawn of Ulamog


Pilgrim’s Eye


Reassembling Skeleton


Rune-Scarred Demon




Solemn Simulacrum




Planeswalkers (2):


Karn Liberated


Liliana of the Dark Realms


Instants (3):


Corpse Dance




Vampiric Tutor


Sorceries (12):

All is Dust


Beseech the Queen




Demonic Tutor


Living Death


Overwhelming Forces


Profane Command


Read the Bones


Sign in Blood


Temporal Extortion


Toxic Deluge


Yawgmoth’s Will


Enchantments (6):


Dark Prophecy


Gate to Phyrexia






Phyrexian Arena


Strands of Night


Artifacts (12):


Crucible of Worlds


Expedition Map


Mana Crypt


Nihil Spellbomb


Oblivion Stone


Phyrexian Altar


Rings of Brighthearth


Sensei’s Divining Top




Sol Ring


Trading Post


Wayfarer’s Bauble


Lands (37):


Bojuka Bog


Buried Ruin


Cabal Coffers


Deserted Temple


High Market


Marsh Flats


Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx


Phyrexian Tower


Strip Mine


Swamp x22


Thawing Glaciers


Thespian’s Stage


Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth


Verdant Catacombs




Volrath’s Stronghold


The Good: Xiahou is a monster of recursion. The graveyard quickly becomes a second hand and anything worth playing once can easily be played again and again in the course of the game. Control decks only work as long as you have more answers than your opponent has spells and being able to re-use those answers makes Xiahou a strong general for Mono Black Control. While there are several powerful synergies in the deck, we do not need to lean on any particular one to achieve victory. Instead we can gauge what our opponent is trying to do to win and circumvent that plan at every turn.


The Bad: Without anything in your graveyard, Xiahou Dun isn’t quite powerhouse he could be. Deathrite Shaman is going to be annoying, Bojuka Bogmay be unfortunate andRest in Peace is going to make your life difficult no matter when it comes down. While creatures like Deathrite can easily be dealt with, Black is notorious for struggling to deal with Enchantments or Artifacts so that Leyline of the Void is going to be a pain.


Key Cards: Corpse Dance is the card in this deck. It allows for repeatable Xiahou Dun activations and it the core interaction that makes the deck tick. Fleshbag Marauder and Corpse Dance gives us access to a repeatable, instant-speed edict effect. Rune-Scarred Demon, a sacrifice outlet and Corpse Dance allows for an instant-speed tutor. Xiahou Dun and Living Death grant us board wipes galore and if we add an addition 5 creatures plus Ashnod’s Altar we have an infinite loop. Once we have enough mana to cast Profane Command for 4 or more, Xiahou Dun lets us abuse the Command for repeatable life drain or spot removal. Joel has also included a few infinite combos such as Rings of Brightearth + Cabal Coffers + Deserted Temped to grant infinite mana. Mikaeus the Unhallowed and Triskelion give infinite damage (commonly referred to as the “Mike and Trike” combo). Mikaeus is a beast in his own right, allowing many ETB effects like Kokusho to be abused even further.


Philosophy: Joel has crafted this list so that there is no specific win-con that must be achieved. Rather, the deck is a toolbox which tries to adapt to the strengths of its opponents and exploits their weaknesses. While we do have access to instant wins like the Mike and Trike combo, Joel said that he prefers not to go that route unless it is absolutely necessary or the game has dragged on for too long.


Going Deeper: If we were trying to tune this deck into absurdity, Morality Shift would certainly be the place to start as it is this deck’s version of Enter the Infinite. Exsanguinate is another win condition which could be included and Mindslicer with Xiahou is a pretty disgusting combo as well. Contamination is a well known and often disliked lock down that only gets more powerful with a creature like Xiahou.

Joel purposefully excluded these cards because even though they increase the power level of the deck, they make it drastically less fun to play against. If you are playing in a highly competitive environment or tournament, these cards are worth including but in casual games with your friends I suspect that most people will get pretty tired of seeing such degeneracy rather quickly and I agree with Joel’s decision to leave them out of the build.

While I have seen very few Xiahou Dun decks running around my local meta I think he is one of the most diverse commanders to build around. You could easily craft a strong reanimator list with Xiahou at the helm or simply abuse tutors like Demonic Tutor to dig up all your lands and Exsanguinate your way to victory. While some decks force you to build around a specific theme or idea, Xiahou makes none of these demands. Instead, you can dig up your 99 favorite Black cards and get as creative as you want.


So what decks have you been brewing lately? I hope to see all of you and your newest ideas on Thursday nights at Nu Games for EDH!