Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Black Mana in Magic
Black is a versatile color in Magic, specializing in creature removal, sacrificial abilities, draining life, and the deathtouch keyword. But it dabbles in other effects as well, including surprisingly strong ramping thanks to some of the best lands in the game.
Rarely do these cards appear in standard, so you'll want them in eternal formats like commander, but they help black quickly attain loads of mana for its best spells—which reign supreme? These are the ten strongest black ramps in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Spoils of Evil
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3
This instant chooses an opponent and gives you one life and colorless mana per artifact and creature in their graveyard. Sure, this only counts one opponent (imagine if it worked on everyone in multiplayer), and it's a shame the mana isn't black. But you can still attain incredible amounts of resources, especially after milling foes in blue/black Dimir themes.
9. Bubbling Muck/Rain of Filth
Muck is a slightly-worse version of blue's "High Tide", having all swamps tap for an extra black until end of turn. It's only a sorcery where Tide is an instant, and you have to be careful since opposing swamps will also benefit, but it's a low-cost spell that actually prefers the late game, almost doubling your output for the turn.
Rain of Filth is similar albeit riskier, instantly letting you sacrifice lands that turn to add a black mana. So you can tap-sac them for two mana each, hopefully giving enough for a game-winning play.
8. Lake of the Dead
Just playing Lake requires you to sacrifice a swamp (be sure to tap it for mana first). From there, Lake can either tap for one black, or tap and sac another swamp for four. Sure, you're killing your long-term mana, but sometimes it's worth it for that immediate gain, especially if you can recover lost lands with cards like "Crucible of Worlds".
7. Crypt Ghast/Nirkana Revenant
Both Crypt Ghast and Revenant let your swamps tap for an extra black mana, and since this includes non-basics, lands like "Sunken Hollow" also benefit. Crypt also offers extort (letting you spend a black/white mana when you cast a spell to drain one life from each opponent), while Revenant can spend a black mana to gain +1/+1 for the turn.
Both work great in any swamp-focused deck; I generally recommend Crypt for his lower cost, but Revenant offers vampire synergy for tribal themes.
6. Dark Ritual/Cabal Ritual
These instants both spend black mana to gain black mana. Dark Ritual simply trades one black for three (net gain of two), while Cabal trades two for three, or two for five (net gain three) if threshold is active by having seven or more cards in graveyard.
These'll help ramp to big spells early on, helping you take a lead foes will be hard-pressed to recover from. Plus, thanks to Dark Ritual's numerous reprints, it's cheaper than most of today's cards, costing less than two dollars!
5. Culling the Weak/Organ Harvest
Culling the Weak offers an even stronger Dark Ritual, spending one black to instantly gain four. You have to sacrifice a creature to cast it, so toss a weak zombie token or a creature you stole from an opponent using cards like "Claim the Firstborn".
Organ Harvest sadly stems from the semi-official Unglued set, making it illegal in most events, but it has a similarly powerful effect, letting your team sac any number of creatures for two black mana each.
4. Songs of the Damned
Black is the best color at milling its own cards, which comes in handy for spells like Song. It instantly generates one black per creature in your graveyard, perfect for graveyard-stocking themes like the zombie tribe.
3. Priest of Gix
Priest's stats are only 2/1, but on entry, he gives three black mana, effectively paying for himself. From there, you have a human cleric minion, giving some interesting tribal potential, but he'll best serve you if you can repeatedly blink him to and from the field to reuse his ETB effect.
Blinking is more a blue/white specialty, but even mono-black decks can utilize Priest by reviving him from graveyard to gain easy mana.
2. Cabal Stronghold
Stronghold's a great land since it can always tap for colorless, meaning in the early game, it's almost as good as a regular swamp. But it can also spend three and tap to add one black per basic swamp you control, an amazing ramp in your match's finishing stages.
This time, remember that only basic swamps count, so Stronghold works best in one or two color decks, which have more room for basics.
1. Cabal Coffers/Magus of the Coffers
Unlike Stronghold, Coffers can't tap for regular mana, so it's not as helpful on your opening turns. However, it's amazing effect spends two and taps to give one black per swamp (basic or not) you control. You'll also see this effect on Magus, a 4/4 wizard who also taps and spend two to add black per swamp you control.
To ensure all your lands count, play "Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth" to make all lands swamps.
Multi-Color Ramps in Magic
Today we explored the best mono-black mana ramps, but you'll find more by adding in other colors. For instance, adding unlocks cards like "Cadaverous Bloom", while playing both blue and green accesses "Titan's Nest".
Black is arguably the most versatile color in the game, and in the right deck, it rivals green for mana production. But for now, vote for your favorite spell and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2021 Jeremy Gill