Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Card Advantage in Magic
Keeping your hand supplied is crucial to victory in Magic, ensuring you have both lands and spells to play each turn. Blue is king when it comes to card advantage, but black is a close second, often trading life for extra draws.
Seen in all shapes and sizes, black contains many creatures, enchantments, and even lands that fuel you throughout the match—which reign supreme? These are the ten best mono-black draw spells in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Dread Presence
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 4
Dread Presence works best in mono-black, as his activates whenever a swamp enters your field. You get to pick between drawing a card and losing one life or hitting any target for two and gaining a life. The versatility really sells this, letting you shift between card advantage and removal/lifegain as needed.
Plus, the effect works with any swamp, not just basic ones, so lands like "Overgrown Tomb" will also trigger Dread's effect.
9. Graveborn Muse
Like Dread, Muse offers respectable 3/3 stats, but her effect triggers at your upkeep, drawing a card and losing a life for every zombie you control. Counting herself, that'll be at least one, quickly stockpiling your hand.
Now, the effect isn't optional, so be sure to use lifelink or life-draining tools to keep your health stocked, but you'll rapidly amass cards and enjoy Muse's zombie tribal supports (with spirit synergy thrown in for good measure).
8. Asylum Visitor
Visitor wields solid 3/1 stats and enjoys both vampire and wizard subtypes, offering multiple tribal themes. Her madness effect also lets you cast her (for the same price) if discarded, making her perfect for discard-requiring effects.
But no matter how you field Visitor, she gives you a draw and has you lose a life whenever a player has no cards in hand during their upkeep. This can trigger from both you and your opponents, making it great for the duel's later stages where hands tend to deplete.
7. Grim Haruspex
Haruspex is easy to field, only needing three mana and only requiring one of it to be black. Plus, even if you've been color-screwed, you can cast her face-down for three mana using her morph effect, letting you flip her face-up later for one black, which helps conserve mana on future turns.
Either way, Haruspex gives you a draw whenever another non-token creature you control dies; use with self-sacrificing black creatures like "Augur of Skulls" for a fierce combo. Zombie decks can find a similar supporter in "Midnight Reaper", though his effect has you lose life per draw.
6. Undead Augur
Augur specifically needs two black mana, but has decent 2/2 stats and both zombie and wizard bloodlines. Better yet, when he or another zombie you control dies, you draw and lose one life.
Remember, in most games (especially formats like commander), you're more than happy to trade a little life for extra draw power, especially since black has many cards with lifelink to regain health, including...
Banned in EDH as of this writing, Griselbrand requires a hefty sum to cast, so consider gimmicking him into play with graveyard-revival effects or such. But you're rewarded with a dominating 7/7 with flying, lifelink, and demon synergy.
And Griselbrand puts that extra life to good use by letting you spend seven life to instantly draw seven cards, ensuring you never run out of plays. Use infinite-hand cards like "Reliquary Tower" to ensure you don't have to discard extras.
4. Castle Locthwain
As long as you control a swamp (basic or not), Locthwain enters untapped, and like a swamp, it can simply tap for a black mana. But it can also spend three and tap to draw a card, then have you lose life equal to the number of cards in your hand.
When your hand is running thin, that's a small price to pay for reusable card advantage, especially on a card that switches to mana production when needed.
3. Sign in Blood/Night's Whisper
These two sorceries have you draw two cards, then lose two life, a simple yet powerful and inexpensive way to replenish your hand. Whisper can only target yourself, but has a colorless mana symbol; Sign needs two black, but can target any player, potentially eliminating an opponent with two or less life.
Staples in any black commander deck, these are also some of today's cheapest cards; Sign costs well under a single dollar!
2. Phyrexian Arena
At the start of your upkeep, this enchantment has you lose a life, but draw a card, giving two per round instead of just one. It's not optional, so you can defeat yourself if you're not careful, but often it's better to maintain advantage in the form of an enchantment instead of a creature (since they have less removals).
Necropotence needs three black mana, so it's unwieldy outside mono-black, and it makes you skip your draw step and exile discarded cards from your graveyard. But those are small trade-offs for its magnificent effect, letting you pay one life (at any time) to exile your deck's top card, adding it to hand at the end of your turn.
As long as you have life remaining, you can trigger this however much you like each turn, refilling your hand as needed. And skipping your own draw phase can actually come in handy against mill decks, hopefully stalling long enough to overwhelm them in battle.
Colorless Draw Spells in Magic
Today we explored all kinds of black spells to regulate your hand; be sure to use lifelink spells to pay for their self-harming costs. Like any color, black can also harness colorless draw supports like "Skullclamp" and "Tome of Legends", but for now, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2020 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on April 19, 2020:
While great for its time and still decent, Bargain's age is showing. You get almost the same benefit from Necropotence, which costs just half the mana.
Judah from the goblins on April 19, 2020:
What about yawgmoth's bargain 6 mana enchantment that says skip your draw step pay a life draw a card!