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Core Set 2021 Draft Guide – Black | Magic: The Gathering

Welcome back to another Core Set 2021 Draft guide for Magic: The GatheringLast time, I went over all the cards for blue. Today, we will be looking at all the black cards.

Before I get into my rating for each card, here’s a brief overview of my Core Set 2021 Draft Guide rating system.

  • 1 – Bad card or only useful in the sideboard
  • 2 – Passable, but not something I would pick early or often
  • 3 – A solid card I’m happy to pick most of the time
  • 4 – Powerful cards that provide a lot of value on their own
  • 5 – Cards that will almost always win the game if your opponents can’t deal with them

Now that we know how I’ll be rating each card, let’s get straight into the ratings.

Core Set 2021 Draft guide – Black


core set 2021 draft guide

Alchemist’s Gift – 1.5

You never want to be using 2 cards to get rid of one creature. Also, having the option to use Lifelink is nice, but isn’t a very powerful ability.

core set 2021 draft guide

Archfiend’s Vessel – 2

This card shines if you’re able to combo it with Rise Again. However, I suspect that most decks won’t benefit from having a 1/1 Lifelink creature.

core set 2021 draft guide

Bad Deal – 2.5

Bad Deal gives you a good deal for 6-mana, as it allows you to keep your card advantage in the late game. I wish this card drained 2 life instead, however, the upside of this card is still worth the risk.

core set 2021 draft guide

Blood Glutton – 2.5

Blood Glutton is a solid common creature that doesn’t need lifegain payoffs to shine. Plus, adding a few +1/+1 counters to this card will allow it to over-perform.

core set 2021 draft guide

Caged Zombie – 2 / 2.5

This card will be a fine inclusion in most decks since it’s not hard for creatures to die. Plus, with a 2/3 stat line, it allows you to play more defensively.

core set 2021 draft guide

Carrion Grub – 2.5

Black wants to have creatures in the graveyard fast. This makes Carrion Grub great at setting up graveyard shenanigans.

core set 2021 draft guide

Crypt Lurker – 3

Crypt Lurker is amazing as it turns your worst creature into a new card. Plus, I like that it is a “may” ability, allowing you to play it as a vanilla 3/4.

core set 2021 draft guide

Deathbloom Thallid – 3

Deathbloom Thallid gives you a good amount of value for 3 mana. It’s able to trade with most creatures in the format and leaves you with a 1/1 to work with. This card is also great combined with sacrifice effects.

core set 2021 draft guide

Demonic Embrace –  5

A bomb spell. Demonic Embrace turns any creature into a game-winning threat and has an affordable recursion cost.

core set 2021 draft guide

Duress – 1

A sideboard card against spell heavy decks.

core set 2021 draft guide

Eliminate – 3.5

A premium removal spell for black.

core set 2021 draft guide

Fetid Imp – 3

Not only can you easily stack counters on this card, but it can also trade into any creature during the late game. I’ve always been a big fan of Fetid Imp and I believe it will over-perform this set.

core set 2021 draft guide

Finishing Blow – 3.5

Impale and Murder both required 2 black mana, making them hard to splash. Finishing Blow may be expensive, but allows almost any deck to splash it as removal. Plus, it’s nice to see answers to Planeswalkers at a common rarity.

core set 2021 draft guide

Gloom Sower – 2

Although there are better finishers out there, Gloom Sower does a fine job at pressuring our opponent during the late game.

core set 2021 draft guide

Goremand – 3

The only downside to this card is that you have to sacrifice a creature to cast this card. This means that if your opponent counters your Goremand, they effectively get 2 for 1 you. However, I believe that the power of Goremand is worth that risk.

core set 2021 draft guide

Grasp of Darkness – 3

Wow, another amazing common removal spell. Even if Grasp of Darkness doesn’t kill whatever you’re trying to kill, it will weaken the creature enough for you to block it effectively with one of your creatures.

core set 2021 draft guide

Grim Tutor – 1

This card was made with Constructed/Commander in mind. Unless you have a crazy bomb in your deck, you should avoid picking Grim Tutor.

core set 2021 draft guide

Hooded Blightfang – 3.5

A 3 mana 1/4 deathtouch will prevent your opponent from attacking effectively. Also, the ability to instantly drain 1 life every time Hooded Blightfang attacks makes this card an auto-include in any black deck.

core set 2021 draft guide

Infernal Scarring – 2

It’s nice that Infernal Scarring replaces itself, but the stat bonus is mediocre. This card can be good if you are planning to be aggressive, or have flyers.

Kaervek, the Spiteful – 3

Kaervek destroys aggro decks and is an extremely strong control card.

Kitesail Freebooter – 3

This is an awesome reprint. Kitesail Freebooter takes your opponent’s best removal spell and gets in for flying damage. A great deal for 2-mana!

core set 2021 draft guide

Liliana, Waker of the Dead – 4

If a planeswalker can protect itself in some way, it usually means that they will overperform in limited. There are limitations to what Liliana can kill with her -3 ability, however, this set contains a decent amount of mill effects to support her. The only downside to Liliana is that she isn’t particularly strong when you are behind. Her +1 loyalty ability requires you to be ahead in cards when you cast her, and that won’t always be a case.

core set 2021 draft guide

Liliana’s Devotee – 3.5

This card does a great job of providing you an absurd amount of value without much support. Creatures die regardless of what archetype you’re in, making it easy to trigger Liliana’s Devotee’s effect.

Liliana’s Standard Bearer – 3

It’s easy to get 2-3 cards off this card, making this an extremely efficient 3-mana play. I would say this card is best when used defensively after your opponent attacks, but is great during all points of the game.

Liliana’s Steward – 2

A mediocre card that won’t get included in most decks.

Malefic Scythe – 3

This card is fine on its own, but is very strong when combined with sacrifice synergies.

Masked Blackguard – 2

Masked Blackguard is a decent filler card with a nice mana sink for the late game. Plus, Flash allows you to snipe your opponent’s 2-health creatures.

Massacre Wurm – 5

This card will kill most of your opponent’s creatures, burn your opponent’s life total, and has the stats to attack extremely well. Massacre Wurm is a bomb.

Mind Rot – 1.5

A filler card that will get cut most of the time.

Necromentia – 1

A lot of text that does a lot of nothing.

Peer into the Abyss – 1

Unless you have Teferi’s Tutelage, never pick this card.

Pestilent Haze – 2.5

Pestilent Haze is a great board clear for control decks. Make sure not to include too many 2-health creatures in your deck if you want to maximize the value of this card.

Rise Again – 2.5

This card is expensive, but I think there are enough graveyard synergies in this set to make Rise Again worthwhile.

Sanctum of Stone Fangs – 3.5

If we learned anything from Ill-Gotten Inheritance, it’s that enchantments that drain every turn are very good. This card is good in any black deck.

Sanguine Indulgence – 2

If you’re in Orzhov, this card can be sweet. Otherwise, drawing 2 cards for 4 mana is just an alright effect.

Silversmote Ghoul – 3

A solid card that works well in both a lifegain or sacrifice deck.

core set 2021 draft guide

Skeleton Archer – 2.5

Normally, I’d say that Skeleton Archer is a mediocre card. However, there are a lot of 1-health creatures in this set, making this card a good pickup for most black decks.

core set 2021 draft guide

Tavern Swindler – 2.5

Tavern Swindler is a solid 2-drop and a great enabler for life gain strategies.

Thieves’ Guild Enforcer – 1.5

Another card with a lot of text that does very little.

Village Rites – 2.5

Village Rites is great at responding to removal spells, and can help you answer enchantments like Capture Sphere. Plus, this card provides a good card draw engine for sacrifice decks.

Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose – 4.5

An absurd lifegain payoff. This card will win you the game if left unanswered.

Walking Corpse – 1.5

A filler 2-drop.

Witch’s Cauldron – 1

I don’t think that Witch’s Cauldron does enough for it to be good. Plus, I’m not a big fan of holding up 2 mana every turn to get value out of this card.


Black has the best removal spells and provides players with a lot of flexible options. Several cards in black are great on their own, making them a safe color to begin in. Anyways, that’s it for the Core Set 2021 Draft guide for black! Next up in the color wheel is red!

Stay tuned to SQUAD for more Magic: The Gathering content.

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Paul Dudsdeemaytha

Paul Dudsdeemaytha is a Vancouver, BC-based writer and content creator at SQUAD. Paul specializes in creating guides for Magic: The Gathering and Legends of Runeterra. When he's not writing, you can probably find him throwing frisbees nearby.
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