I want to take a look at what Black can offer you in the quest to construct a deck around NB. Arguably, it’s the most versatile of NB’s color profile. Black has an absolutely outstanding creature board, respectable Planeswalker choices, and great support spells. So, let’s take a look at these categories.
Right off the bat, I knew I was using Grave Titan. There are better Black creatures, but Grave Titan provides great field presence. And, in a low-creature build like I have, things that let you pump up field presence are golden tickets to victory. For 6 mana, you’re basically bringing down three creatures. This is going to give us a ton of survivability as we charge up NB (and our other Planeswalkers). You can have Grave Titan swing by himself to further increase field presence. While Grave Titan was the only Black creature I opted to use, a few others did really peak my interest.
I had a really hard time saying no to Olivia Voldaren. This card would be such fun in a Control deck. She gives your opponent a sneak peak at what life will be like once NB hits the field. At 4 CMC, Voldaren is a great card to have out in the mid-game, especially if you’re using your removal spells to keep your opponent’s creature force at a minimum. A revision of my deck would probably see this card in the mainboard.
Black also provides us with some phenomenal sideboard creature support, so, let’s take a look at that. Fume Spitter has been seeing a lot of play recently, and that’s not really a surprise: it’s a great answer to Delver of Secrets and, in general, it’s a very useful card. Given the ubiquity of Delver in Standard, this card should practically be mandatory in your sideboard. You could also use this little guy to whittle down some big drops in preparation for Black Sun’s Zenith. Dark Impostor could be a ton of fun in a Control deck too. His activated ability cost is a bit high, but if you’re waiting around for Titans/Planeswalkers, you could have fun with this card. Bloodline Keeper is a common sideboard choice for some U/B Control decks, and that makes sense. He helps generate field presence and provides bigger tokens than the most popular token generator in the format, Lingering Souls. In a Delver-heavy format, this card should probably see some sideboard love as well.
Evil Twin is a cheap alternative (money-wise, not mana-wise) to Phantasmal Image and Phyrexian Metamorph. He’s a good answer to Huntmaster of the Fells, so Evil Twin in the sideboard is also justifiable. Skinrender is a great sideboard option against Birthing Pod. You can throw him down to seriously under-power some of that deck’s early big drops. In general, Skinrender is a great answer to a deck that packs big drops as a win-condition. Given how much you’ll be destroying your opponent’s creatures, Havengul Lich could see some play. You can also use this to recycle your Snapcaster Mage, so the card is worth considering.
Black does removal incredibly well. We’re going to mainboard Doom Blade and Go for the Throat (you may want to use one or the other depending on your local metagame flavor), and pack the extras into our sideboard. These are quick removal spells that we have access to very early on – they’re a necessity in our quest to control our opponent until NB arrives. Tribute to Hunger is also a viable option for spot removal. It does leave your opponent with the option to choose, but if you’re controlling the field well enough, you should be able to put yourself in a position to utilize this card for maximum life gain. I also considered Tragic Slip, again, considering the ubiquity of Delver, but I opted against it. Still, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see it in some similar decks. Black Sun’s Zenith is our go-to spell for mass removal. It recycles itself and can be used at any stage in the game.
Black also houses some incredibly powerful Planeswalkers. Though I’m opting not to use her, Liliana of the Veil fairs really well in Control decks. We can use her to remove a creature in a pinch or do some damage to our opponent’s hand. With Snapcaster Mage, we shouldn’t be too worried about throwing a card away. I’m currently using Sorin Markov in my build. At three black in his 6 CMC, he’s a risk in a three-color deck. Still, the rewards far outweigh the risks. We can use him for removal and life gain…at the same time. We can also throw him down and reduce our opponent’s life total to 10. That is an absolute game changer. Our deck, by design, isn’t offensive. Only needing to do 10 damage to an opponent is a great place for us to be (heck, Grave Titan shows up able to do 10 damage). If he survives long enough, Sorin’s ultimate is probably going to win the game for us. We can use that to our opponent behind on land, force unfavorable combat match ups, or foolishly use much-needed cards.
Woof. Black is pretty awesome. As I said, it’s easily the most versatile color in this deck. Next time, we’re going to take a look at Red, which offers something very different than Black and Blue: burn. Burn and Control are very different playstyles, but I think it’s possible to use Burn in a more typically Control-oriented manner. Red is also the color I’m relying on the least, which is good since we only need one Red mana for NB.