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Ikoria Draft Guide – all Black cards ranked | Magic: The Gathering

Welcome back to another Ikoria Draft guide for Magic: The Gathering! Last time, I went over all the cards for white. Today, we will be looking at all the black cards.

As always, before I get into my rating for each card, here’s a brief overview of my 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.

Ikoria Draft guide – Black

ikoria draft guide

Bastion of Remembrance – 2.5

Bastion of Remembrance provides a steady amount of value throughout the game. It doesn’t do much on its own, but it is nice that it comes with a 1/1 human token. Orzhov Humans and Rakdos Sacrifice will want to include this into their decks most of the time. Golgari and Dimir won’t see as much value, but can still include this card most of the time.

ikoria draft guide

Blitz Leech – 3

Blitz Leech is definitely a nice creature to pick up early on in the draft. Its flexibility is awesome. This card can usually snipe a small creature through its -2/-2 effect, and the fact that it removes all counters off a creature shouldn’t be underestimated. On top of all of that, it can be played at instant speed, and can trade very well against most creatures in the format.

ikoria draft guide

Blood Curdle – 4

Blood Curdle is an amazing common. 4-mana instant speed removal is going to be great in this set. Giving a Menace counter to your creature isn’t always going to be impactful, but is a nice bonus.

ikoria draft guide

Boot Nipper – 2.5

I think most of the time when you cast Boot Nipper, you’re going to choose Deathtouch. With that said, Lifelink is a good option if you plan on Mutating in the future. This card has value in all stages of the game, and will be a nice pick up most of the time.

ikoria draft guide

Bushmeat Poacher – 2

4-mana for a 2/4 is nothing to be excited about. However, this card is a pretty decent blocker and provides a nice value engine for blockers that were going to die anyway. The fact that Bushmeat Poacher gains you life is going to add up over time, and makes this card a decent inclusion in black decks.

ikoria draft guide

Call of the Death-Dweller – 3

The flexibility of Call of the Death-Dweller is amazing. The decks that can utilize this card’s effect are going to have an insane amount of value. Still, not every black deck is going to want Call of the Death-Dweller. Also, keep in mind that it doesn’t scale very well later on in the game. So make sure you have enough creatures to bring back if you’re going to include this card into your deck.

ikoria draft guide

Cavern Whisperer – 2.5

A 4/4 menace creature for 5 mana is already a passable card. However, being able to mutate Cavern Whisperer into play on turn 4 can be a huge swing for you. Cavern Whisperer gets a little worse later on in the game, but is still a good pick overall.

ikoria draft guide

Chittering Harvester – 2.5

Initially I thought Chittering Harvester was very good, but now I find that it’s only good in certain situations. After playing with this card a few times, paying 5 mana to remove your opponent’s worst creature was underwhelming. Against go-wide decks, Chittering Harvester isn’t going to do you a whole lot, even if you get a few mutate triggers off it. With that said, against other decks that aren’t capable of going wide, Chittering Harvester is going to be awesome.

ikoria draft guide

Corpse Churn – 1.5

Not too excited about this card. I don’t think it’s that important to have cards in your graveyard in this set unless you have a good amount of Golgari payoffs. Corpse Churn is a 1-for-1 that doesn’t really help many black decks out there. Wouldn’t be bad to have one in your deck, but this card isn’t something I’ll be looking for too often when drafting.
ikoria draft guide

Dark Bargain – 2

This bargain is dark indeed. Paying 4-mana and 2 life for Dark Bargain isn’t that great, and I wouldn’t prioritize this card.

ikoria draft guide

Dead Weight – 2.5

In other formats, Dead Weight is usually a good card and can snipe early creatures. However, Ikoria doesn’t have that many great targets for Dead Weight. The card still does its job and will still be good against aggressive decks, but it won’t find as much value as it normally would.

Dirge Bat – 4.5
Dirge Bat is a straight-up bomb. Just being able to trigger it’s mutate effect once is great; do it more than once and you’ll probably just run away with the game. Also, I really like that it can act as instant speed removal because of flash.
ikoria draft guide
Durable Coilbug – 1.5
A filler card at best.
Duskfang Mentor – 2.5
Lifelink is a great ability in limited and is going to be really impactful if you’re able to grow it over time. I’m happy to include Duskfang Mentor in most of my black decks.
Easy Prey – 3
Easy Prey is a card that is good early and can still be useful later in the game. However, If this card didn’t have cycling, I would’ve have rated it much lower. I really like how a lot of situational cards in Ikoria are given Cycling.
Extinction Event – 4
Extinction Event is a really awesome card. This card is going to remove your opponent’s best creature, and maybe even more. The downside of this card is that it could potentially destroy your creatures as well, but most of the time you’ll be able to plan ahead of time.
Gloom Pangolin – 1.5
Boring. Having a vanilla 1/5 for three mana is not where you want to be.
Grimdancer – 3.5
This card won’t win you the game by itself, but it does a darn good job of getting you there. Menace, deathtouch, and lifelink are all relevant keywords and make Grimadancer useful in any scenario. Grimdancer is a great defender, attacker, and creature to mutate on top of.
Heartless Act – 3
This won’t kill just anything, but it will kill most things in the format. You’ll be casting it for its first option most of the time, but its second option can be useful under certain circumstances. All-in-all a great instant-removal spell.
Hunted Nightmare – 3 // 4
This card does drop in value a little bit later in the game. However, Hunted Nightmare is incredibly strong on turn 3, and will outright win you games if your opponent doesn’t have any creatures early. Menace helps with the downside, and I think makes this card a solid pick most of the time.
Insatiable Hemophage – 2.5
This card is fine as a standalone creature and is good to mutate on top of weaker creatures you already have. Its mutate effect is nice, but won’t be as impactful as most people think.
Lurking Deadeye – 2.5
It’s not uncommon to find targets to kill with Lurking Deadeye’s ability. Using one of your weaker creatures to chump and flashing in Lurking Deadeye is going to be awesome. Also, even without its ability, just the fact that this card can flash in and trade with a lot of creatures by itself is great.
Memory Leak – 2
Another average card that’s only good because of cycling 1.
ikoria draft guide
Mutual Destruction – 2 // 2.5
Strong in some decks, weak in others. Mutual Destruction is a little awkward, because mutate wants to use weaker creatures as an outlet to mutate on to. However, this card is better in decks that can go wide and create tokens like Orzhov.
Mythos of Nethroi – 4.5
Honestly, not much to say about this card. Just amazing, instant speed removal.
Nightsquad Commando – 1.5 // 2.5
Nightsquad Commando isn’t good as a vanilla 2/3, even if it is a human. I would only pick this card if you’re able to consistently trigger its effect.
Serrated Scorpion – 1.5
This card can be a decent sacrifice outlet or mutate fodder but will be something I want to cut most of the time.
ikoria draft guide
Suffocating Fumes – 2
This card can be very useful against go-wide decks. Otherwise, it is yet another card that wouldn’t be that great if it didn’t have cycling.
ikoria draft guide
Unbreakable Bond – 2
Getting a creature back, even if it has lifelink, isn’t going to be that impactful. You’ll need to have a creature that’s worth bringing back for 5-mana and I just don’t think that will be possible most of the time. Unbreakable Bond can be good in Golgari decks, but won’t do much for most black decks.
Unexpected Fangs – 1.5
I know that the counter stays on the creature, but I want a combat trick that helps my creature trade or win. A +1/+1 boost in my creature’s stats won’t help it do either.
Unlikely Aid – 2
Unlikely Aid is just a little bit better than Unexpected Fangs. With Unlikely aid, a +2/+0 bonus is significant enough to trade most of the time, and the card at least guaranteed that your creature won’t die.

Void Beckoner – 2.5

I would give this card a 2 if it didn’t have cycling. I like that cycling this card permanently gives a creature death touch. This means that you don’t need to wait for combat to cycle this card. Also, the flexibility of keeping it as a giant beater later in the game is nice.

Whisper Squad – 1

No matter how many other Whisper Squads you get, I just don’t see it doing much. I’d much rather just have cards that create human tokens.

Zagoth Mamba – 1 // 2.5

This is the best mutate target in the set. It comes down early and has a very relevant ability when mutated on top of. However, Zagoth Mamba is only useful when you have a good amount of mutate in your deck. Otherwise, it’s just a 1 mana 1/1.

Conclusion

I think Black is a very strong color in Ikoria. There’s a lot of strong removal spells and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a popular color to splash into. Anyways, 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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