This entry is part 15 of 26 in the series Staple Remover

Posted by Chris-B
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Twitter – @0hn0s3

This week on my five part series exploring mono colored Commander decks, I get to dive into my favorite color, Black. I have an all new deck list for you this week, but I actually already designed a mono Black deck last season. In my previous article I put together a budget Korlash list that I actually built and it is quite fun to play. If you want to check that list out you can find it here.  For this weeks all new list I was inspired by this card when it was first previewed:

Being a Johnny I just couldn’t resist the temptation to build a list around it. Read on to see what i came up with.

The Challenges of Mono Black: Mono Black lists can start to drift into the “ugh this isn’t fun anymore” category if you aren’t careful. Black has access to powerful tutors, but I wanted to avoid a list that relied on traditional tutors to always dig up the same cards each game. Black also has access to powerful stax cards like Braids. I wanted to avoid going the stax route at all costs, so that was out of the question as well. I didn’t want to do the traditional reanimator deck either. The Korlash list I mentioned actually plays somewhat like a Voltron deck and has the theme of “swamps matter” so both those strategies were also out of the question because I wanted something completely different.

Once Shadowborn Apostle was spoiled the gears instantly began to turn in my head. This is the only card other than basic lands and Relentless Rats that lets us run multiple copies in our otherwise singleton decks. I began to brainstorm generals that would work well with the apostle. It then finally flashed into my memory, Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker would love the apostles. I had played around with the idea of making a Shirei deck before but felt it was a little too reliant on playing the attrition game. The apostle seemed like it would give the deck the lines of play it needed to be fun and strong.

How Important is the General: One of the weaknesses of this deck is the fact that the general is pretty important if you want to extract the maximum value from it. I tried to include some of the traditional protective equipment so that Shirei can survive at least a turn or two. I also think that a converted mana cost of 5 is about the upper limit for a build-around general that doesn’t just crush someone outright when you cast it, like Bruna. You are going to want to make sure you have some pieces in place to take advantage of him before you just run him out into the dangerous world of the battlefield.


Presenting Shirei & the Apostles:

Creature [44]
1 Shirei, Shizo’s Caretaker
1 Viscera Seer
21 Shadowborn Apostle
1 Hell’s Caretaker
1 Archdemon of Unx
1 Demon of Death’s Gate
1 Rune-Scarred Demon
1 Harvester of Souls
1 Lord of the Void
1 Blood Artist
1 Xathrid Necromancer
1 Falkenrath Noble
1 Festering Newt
1 Bogbrew Witch
1 Big Game Hunter
1 Rotlung Reanimator
1 Abyssal Gatekeeper
1 Havoc Demon
1 Ogre Slumlord
1 Abhorrent Overlord
1 Shadowborn Demon
1 Bloodgift Demon
1 Reaper from the Abyss
1 Spirit of the Night
Sorcery [2]
1 Diabolic Intent
1 Patriarch’s Bidding
Artifact [12]
1 Skullclamp
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Sol Ring
1 Crystal Ball
1 Bubbling Cauldron
1 Darksteel Plate
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Thrumming Stone
1 Elixir of Immortality
1 Memory Jar
1 Ashnod’s Altar
1 Scroll Rack
Enchantment [4]
1 Attrition
1 Dark Prophecy
1 Grave Pact
1 Phyrexian Arena
Land [38]
36 Swamp
1 Cabal Coffers
1 Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx



WINCON Level: WINCON 4. If you haven’t seen my WINCON rating check it out here. The deck has a lot of useful synergies, but the main way it is going to win is by beating with demons and winning the attrition game. There aren’t any big infinite combos or I win combos in here.

How Does it Work: The deck is based around recurring 1 power creatures for extra value. Cards like Abyssal Gatekeeper are pretty strong when you have Shirei and a sac outlet in play. You will be trying to keep big threats off the table while trying to assembly the Demon Day Machine. If you get Shirei and 6 apostles out you are tutoring for a demon each turn for 1 mana. Shirei is bringing back your apostles at the end of each turn to do it all over again. You can heap on even more value by having something like Xathrid Necromancer in play where you are getting 6 zombie tokens every time you sac your 6 apostles. The deck also has a decent toolbox of demons to pick from. If all else fails cards like Ashnod’s Altar can help you power out expensive demons by sacing your little guys and skipping the whole tutoring process.

You Should Play This Deck If: You want an inexpensive deck. You like big demons. You like breaking card limit rules and want to play multiple of the same card in commander. You like recursion and attrition based strategies. You like build-around style generals.

You Should Avoid this Deck Like the Plague If: You don’t want to be reliant on your general. You don’t want to have to squeeze more value out of each of your resources than your opponents to win. Demons scare you. You don’t enjoy going out to the garage to assemble value engines in your spare time.

Strengths: This deck gives you a big pool of demons to tutor up and beat face. It also can be quite resilient if Shirei is in play and protected. The deck also includes plenty of sac outlets so it will be rare that your stuff gets stolen right out from under you. Also if the Sepulchral Primordial is popular in your playgroup, they won’t be too excited about stealing a Shadowborn Apostle from your yard. Your little value creatures are much more powerful in your hands than that of your opponents.

Weaknesses: Graveyard hate. Losing your general. Enchantments.



Some Key Cards












Rotlung Reanimator/Xathrid Necromancer/Ogre Slumlord: These bros all love Shadowborn Apostle.  Sacing them with one of these guys in play gives you some replacement blockers or attackers.  Additionally if you have your Shirei mojo on, you are going to get the apostles back to do it all over again and get more token love.











Festering Newt & Friends: Well its almost Halloween so get your newt and your pot and brew up a big value stew.  Both the witch and the newt get recurred by Shirei.  The Cauldron provides a sac outlet.  All of the pieces are useful on their own and if you get a couple of them assembled you can be blowing up newts and nuking your opponents each time.

Hell’s Caretaker: You can sacrifice him to himself and Shirei brings him back to do it all over again the next turn.  He’s a great way to snatch demons and such back from your yard.



















Scroll Rack & Friends: With so many one drops it’s likely we will be burning through our hand often.  We want to make sure we keep our hand restocked so we can try and hit 6 apostles in play.  Thrumming Stone works well with some of the scry effects we have included as well.

Elixir: Why is this in here?  If your best demons get binned Elixir allows you to shuffle them up into your library again and tutor for them all over again with your apostle combo.  It’s a handy anti-mill card and also helps get the march of the apostles going again if too many of them have met untimely deaths.









Well those are the basics for mono black Shirei.  Tutor for big ol demons and win the battle of attrition.  If you have a Shirei deck or if you are playing Shadowborn Apostle in your own list I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below.  Also you can drop me a line via my contact info at the top of this article.  See you next week when I rant some more.

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