Pauper: Mono-Black Control Breakdown

Finally, after about a year of waiting, I am covering a deck that I’ve been meaning to go over for a long time. You may be wondering why this has taken so long… Well um, I kinda forgot about it and moved on to something else (Probably because this deck doesn’t have Burning-Tree Emissary), but don’t let that dissuade you from reading this because I plan to cover this deck just as well, if not better than my previous deck breakdowns.

So what deck am I covering today? Well, obviously it’s Mono-Black Control! (yes I know you already saw the name of the deck in the title, just go along with it) This deck is great at doing two things, discard and creature destruction. So when the top deck in Pauper heavily relies on one specific creature as its win condition, what better deck is there? Note that while there is also a Blue & Black version of the deck, in this article I will be covering the Mono-Black only version and will take a look at the other one another time so this article doesn’t get too long.

And with that out of the way, let’s get into the decklist.


Mono Black Pauper Control

Creatures (15)
Coumbaji Witches
Chittering Rats
Phyrexian Rager
Gray Merchant of Asphodel

Instants & Sorceries (16)
Geth’s Verdict
Chainer’s Edict
Sign in Blood

Artifacts & Enchantments (6)
Nihil Spellbomb
Lands (23)
Barren Moor
Bojuka Bog
18 Swamp

Deck List

Coumbaji Witches: A great pinger that can get rid of small threats, and whittle down your opponent. Great for destroying things before they get scary like an unflipped Delver of Secrets or a Sliver before it gets pumped. Witches is also nice because it gives us two devotion to Black

Chittering Rats: Denies your opponent’s next draw, and possibly stops them from flipping Delver (it’s unlikely that this will happen, but still). Plus it leaves behind a decent body and gives us two devotion to Black.

Phyrexian Rager: A 2/2 that also gives us half of a Sign in Blood. It’s a pretty solid card, but it isn’t too exciting.

Gray Merchant of Asphodel: This is our main win condition. Just having a handful of creatures and maybe one or two copies of our main enchantment (we will get to that later) is enough to do some serious damage. Another great aspect of this card is it doesn’t just deal damage, it drains life. This is great for helping us stabilize our life total against the more aggressive decks.

Sign in Blood: Currently the best draw spell we have access to. Just don’t put yourself in the red with its life cost.

Disfigure: Solid removal that is strong enough to hit most threats in this format.

Chainer’s Edict & Geth’s Verdict: Great at dealing with decks that play one giant threat like Gurmag Angler. Chainer’s Edict can also be flashed back late game if you are desperate.

Duress: Good for taking peek at your opponent’s hand and taking out things that pose a threat to you.

Nihil Spellbomb: Clears out a graveyard and lets you draw a card for two mana. Great against graveyard-centric decks, but a slightly worse version of Sign in Blood when we aren’t against decks that use the graveyard, so feel free to board this out in those matchups.

Oubliette: A Black version of Oblivion Ring. It also gives us two devotion to black. If you are playing paper Pauper and its still $20+ feel free to swap this out for a more budget option (Crippling Blight, Dead Weight). Your deck might be a bit weaker, but if you aren’t sure if this deck is the right one for you, you don’t need to go all out and triple the deck’s price just for one card.


With the card breakdown out of the way, let us look at how some of your matchups should play out.

Aggro: It will really be touch and go throughout this matchup, since one moment you can be kicking butt and another you’ll be on the receiving end. Try to stay ahead, and pop your Gray Merchant of Asphodel early if it keeps you alive.

Combo: Currently the main combo deck in Pauper is Izzet Blitz so if you’re up against that deck, try to deny them of their combo creatures as much as possible. They don’t usually play any ways to give their creatures haste, so take them out before they get too big. If you have Duress in hand you may be able to snag an Apostle’s Blessing, possibly making them weak to Disfigure. But if they only have one or two creatures in play it is probably best to use some sac effects to deal with them.

Control: Since our win condition is primarily Gray Merchant of Asphodel, this is going to be a tough matchup. black or red based control decks can kill our creatures, making our combo not as effective, and blue based decks can straight up counter it. This is the matchup where properly scouting with Duress is key, so you don’t end up having to try to grind the game out swinging with 2/2s.

Tempo: This is another tricky matchup as a counter or two can really throw a wrench in your plans, so play it safe, but take any chip damage you can get. If they are playing a deck that can do targeted damage you may need to be wary, as your Coumbaji Witches can be used against you, either by weakening your creatures so they can be killed by weaker removal, or putting you one step closer to death.


I hope this deck has shown you that (at least in Pauper), control can come in more than one flavor. The next deck breakdown I do for Pauper will be a hybrid of this deck and Mono Blue Delver. The last one I did over Izzet Blitz can be found here.

But what do you think? What decklists are you interested in seeing on this website? Is there any specific “flavor” of deck you prefer to see? How bad are my jokes? As always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to say something in the comments section below.



Sylvan Studies Team

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