A Magictation by Mikeal Basile
“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection–thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.
Here are my top thirteen black spells to spite your enemies (I mean, friends) in Commander. Black is known for its death magic, and this list certainly highlights a few targeted removal spells. This list incorporates some of black’s typical effects, which usually involve making a sacrifice to further your evil desires. Swiping the last Cheetos while casting these spiteful black spells is one of life’s finest pleasures.
Ritual of the Machine
Black has a few ways to steal creatures, but nothing tops Ritual of the Machine. Ritual permanently steals a creature. This effect should not be underestimated. Many black decks utilize sacrifice engines and token generation (Aristocrat strategies for example). Ritual of the Machine adds a twist by not only removing an opponent’s creature, but by having it join your fold, swapping a useless serf for your opponent’s meaningful creature. Ritual of the Machine lets you kill your opponent with their own creature–a nefariously satisfying way to win.
Noxious Vapors is meant for a multi-color deck. Only the most malevolent and reckless Magic players will be willing to make this work in mono black. Making many opponents discard multiple cards at once is powerful. Feel free to have Megrim join the party. This allows you to dump creatures into your own graveyard, capitalizing on black’s reanimation powers, simultaneously crippling your opponents’ hands. Noxious Vapors may make a few people salty, but just remind them you had to discard too. Repeat after me: “Clearly, this is a fair and balanced card.”
Unspeakable Symbol is a unique pump effect. Bleeding yourself to make your friends bleed even more is exactly the type of effect we need. This activates at instant speed and glows with a dark spectral light in Kathril Aspect Warper decks (and other Voltron style decks, too). Black has tremendous access to life draining effects and lifelinking creatures. You can easily buff your life total, and then buff your team of nefarious vampires. Your friends might think it is an unspeakably bad card, but Unspeakable Symbol will foreshadow their doom.
Chain of Smog
Chain of Smog is another discard spell often overlooked by playgroups. I like most of the cards from this cycle, and find that Chain of Smog can lead to a deadly series of back and forth discards. Allowing Chain of Smog to choke out an entire table is all part of our darkest dreams (and our opponents’ nightmares). Play it while emitting an evil chuckle and see if your friend dares to send it back your way. Once it comes back, then prepare to live the nightmare! Couple Chain of Smog with dredge, scavenge, and recover cards to really throttle the life out of your friends.
Slaughter offers a fantastic rate for repeatable, instant speed removal. Slaughter is far better in Commander, because the buyback cost of four life hurts much less with a starting life total of forty. When you have a deck that drains other people’s life, Slaughter quickly becomes a wickedly good and oppressively repetitive removal spell.
Desolation is pure spite at its worst. You will immediately suffer for casting it, but with the devilish intention of sharing the misery. This does not trigger until the end step. You can be truly viscous by combining Desolation with Sundial of the Infinite or grind value with Gitrog Monster. Keep in mind that Desolation hits anyone that taps a land during any turn, so pesky blue mages must beware. Desolation spreads misery across the table, and we will revel in each other’s misery, right?
Hissing Miasma is a sinister punishment card. Disincentivizing attacks against you for only three mana is solid. This helps you get to your end game. Hissing Miasma also makes your friend’s token army much weaker. Let your friends know they should pick on someone else by poisoning the table with Hissing Miasma.
Phyresis is a toxic little trick which allows you to switch strategies. Perhaps an opponent has “gone infinite” with life gain, but this little enchantment means you only need to deal ten more points with the enchanted creature to kill your opponent with poison damage. Poison is a nasty strategy, and switching to it when required can be a surprising and evil necessity. Snake Cult Initiation provides a similar effect, but it is double the casting cost. Phyresis makes your 5/5’s very scary creatures, and all for only two mana.
Phyrexian Reclamation is a twisted way to get back your creatures. It comes down for a paltry one mana and costs only two mana and two life to return a creature from your graveyard to your hand. That is an excellent repeatable way to abuse creatures with ETB effects (think Plaguecrafter, Dirge Bat, or Bone Shredder). I love pairing this with cards like Shriekmaw that can be evoked and then reused almost immediately. Phyrexian Reclamation may cost life, but sacrificing life to wound our enemies is always a worthwhile investment.
Withering Boon is black’s Remove Soul, and it is worth paying the three life to counter a spell. While black has many removal spells, this one denies ETB effects (Karmic Guide). Being able to counter Avacyn, Angel of Hope, or Predator Ooze is so worth paying three life. Indestructible creatures dodge plenty of removal, but they cannot dodge anything while they are still on the stack. Withering Boon is the black removal spell that saves you from self-righteous cards like Akroma, Angel of Wrath and Blood Baron of Vizcopa. Withering Boon is a twisted blessing that enables black to answer otherwise unanswerable creatures.
Massacre will usually be free to cast. It is wonderfully named and sickly satisfying to cast for free. Using this to wipe out a couple early utility creatures is great. Depending on the board state, it can be a fine card to cast at its full cost. The possibility of casting it for free makes this an amazing addition to any vengeful black deck. Massacre destroys opponents’ token armies and leaves you with plenty of mana left over. Combine Massacre with Massacre Wurm to completely eviscerate your opponents.
Strands of Night
Strands of Night is underrated. Black has access to many reanimation spells, but this one is repeatable. You repeatedly return creatures from your graveyard for only two mana, two life, and a swamp. Combining this with cards like Cavalier of Knight, Fleshbag Marauder, and Dakmor Lancer can be deliciously deadly. Corpse Harvester and Strands of Night are a crushing combination that allows you to pile on the punishment. Smother your opponents with the suffocating and repeated reanimation provided by Strands of Night.
Ashes to Ashes
Ashes to Ashes is better than the recently reprinted Reckless Spite. Ashes to Ashes exiles, and only has to give up instant speed to do so. Exiling two creatures for three mana and five life is a sinister spiteful maneuver. Ashes to Ashes also allows us to target black creatures as well, and that is often a restriction in black removal (Doom Blade, Shriekmaw, Snuff Out). There are plenty of indestructible creatures that require exiling (Scarab God and friends). Ashes to Ashes is exactly the type of card that you cast when you have had enough of the nonsense.
Phyrexian Tribute is a one-of-a-kind card. It allows you to destroy an artifact with a black spell. Try finding another black spell that does that! It is not a great rate to sacrifice two creatures for one artifact, and having someone counter this is especially awful, but it does do what no other black card can. Slotting this into a sacrifice deck, tokens deck, or some sort of Aristocrats strategy could be a spicy include that saves you from a Nevinyral’s Disk or Oblivion Stone.
When playing these spells, it is important to announce that you are doing so out of spite. You cast these spells simply to get back at others, and not necessarily to win. Casting Ashes to Ashes may very well kill you, but if it keeps someone else from victory, then that is a win in my book!
Black magic deals in death and unwholesome rebirths. Cards like Reckless Spite, Ashes to Ashes, Strands of Night, and others just sound truly vile. These evil and devilishly cheap cards were collecting dust in my collection for no reason. Stumbling across these grim spells produced many evil chuckles. I relish casting simple Terrors and Doom Blades, yet going beyond one for one removal is always enticing. Dust off your own copies, or splurge the $15 to buy one of each card from this list. It is the best of both worlds–you can be spiteful and cheap at the same time!