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Zendikar Rising draft guide – Black | Magic: The Gathering

Welcome back to another Zendikar Rising draft guide for Magic: The Gathering! Last 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 Zendikar 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.

Zendikar Rising Draft Guide – Black

Acquisitions Expert

Acquisitions Expert – 3

I really like this card. At worst, your opponent gets full control of which card they want to discard. However, there are going to be times where you just take away their best card because you have a large party, or they just have a small hand size.

Blood Beckoning

Blood Beckoning  – 1.5

The rate is a little weak just to return 1-2 creatures back to your hand. I suspect this to be a filler card most of the time.

Blood Price

Blood Price – 2.5

I think this card will do pretty well in limited. It’s pretty much Read the Bones except you get a better selection of cards.

Bloodchief's Thirst

Bloodchief’s Thirst – 4

A crazy removal spell with strong flexibility.

Coveted Prize

Coveted Prize – 1.5

Tutor effects are never good in limited, and getting a full party is going to be difficult. Unless you have a crazy bomb in your deck, I’d avoid Coveted Prize.

Deadly Alliance

Deadly Alliance – 4

This is an incredibly efficient removal for black that will cost 4-mana most of the time. Pick it whenever possible.

Demon's Disciple

Demon’s Disciple – 1.5

There are just way too many scenarios where this card will end up hurting you more than helping you.

Drana, the Last Bloodchief

Drana, the Last Bloodchief – 5+

There’s literally no way for your opponent to come back from the game once you cast Drana. Unless she’s dealt with immediately, you’re going to win.

Drana's Silencer

Drana’s Silencer – 2

This card requires you to have close to a full party to be relevant. However, if you already have a full party, then you’re already most likely winning the game. This makes Drana’s Silencer a win-more card, which is never something you want.


Dreadwurm – 2.5

This card might not help you fulfill your party requirements, but the upside is great. Attacking with a 5/4 indestructible creature every turn can be very annoying for your opponent, and help you get in some juicy damage.

Expedition Skulker

Expedition Skulker – 2

A decent filler creature that becomes good if you can put deathtouch on it.

Feed the Swarm
Feed the Swarm – 3.5

Whether you win with 1 life or 20 life, you still won the game. Paying some life to remove your opponent’s best creature for 2 mana is an absurd ability. Plus, Feed the Swarm gets the added bonus of being able to remove enchantments as well!

Ghastly Gloomhunter

Ghastly Gloomhunter – 2

Ghastly Gloomhunter has decent stats and keywords, but not being able to fill party requirements makes me rate it slightly lower than normal.

Guul Draz Mucklord

Guul Draz Mucklord – 1.5

This is the definition of a mediocre card. But hey, at least it looks like he’s having fun partying by himself.

Hagra Constrictor

Hagra Constrictor – 2 // 3 

Although the stats and keywords on this card are decent, Hagra Constrictor fulfilling no party requirements makes me feel hesitant about rating it higher. However, if you start building a dedicated +1/+1 counter deck, then the rating of this card increases.

Highborn Vampire

Highborn Vampire – 1.5

Look at all that text!

Inscription of Ruin
Inscription of Ruin – 4 

For 3-mana, all three modes are amazing options. Like the blue version of this card, casting this card with kicker is going to be a complete blowout.

Lithoform Blight

Lithoform Blight – 1

A weird fixing spell in black. I would never consider including this card into my deck unless I was desperate for fixing.

Malakir Blood-Priest

Malakir Blood-Priest – 2.5

A very solid creature for 2 mana that can act as a finisher in the late game.

Marauding Blight-Priest

Marauding Blight-Priest – 3

There’s actually a solid amount of life-linking creatures in Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising. I can see myself picking up a few copies of this card and using it as my payoff for going into the life gain archetype.

Mind Carver

Mind Carver – 3 

The biggest problem with equipment was that you needed to first cast the equipment and then pay the equip cost. However, since Mind Carver instantly attaches itself to a creature, I think it will perform very well in a creature-focused limited environment.

Mind Drain

Mind Drain – 2

Mind Rot with a slight upside. An okay card if you need a 3-mana spell, but definitely a card you can cut.

Nighthawk Scavenger

Nighthawk Scavenger – 4.5

This card is just bonkers. The value is insane. First of all, Nighthawk Scavenger is going to have no problem coming down as a 3/3 most of the time. Secondly, it’s able to always ensure a trade because of deathtouch. And finally, lifelink allows you to recover in the late game if you’re low.

Nimana Skitter-Sneak

Nimana Skitter-Sneak – 1.5

Mill isn’t very well supported in this set, so I suspect that Nimana Skitter-Sneak is going to be a 4-mana 3/4 most of the time.

Nimana Skydancer

Nimana Skydancer – 3

I like this card. Flash allows you to make some surprise trades, and Nimana Skydancer comes down with immediate mill value.

Nullpriest of Oblivion

Nullpriest of Oblivion – 5 

Let me get this straight. This card has insane value during the early game, and can bring back my best creature in the late game? Sign me up.

Oblivion's Hunger

Oblivion’s Hunger – 1.5 / 2.5 

This combat trick is pretty mediocre outside of a +1/+1 counter deck. With that said, in a dedicated counters deck, this is the type of combat spell I’m looking for.

Scion of the Swarm

Scion of the Swarm – 3.5 

Like I said, life gain is a very well supported archetype in this set. I would argue that even if you aren’t in a dedicated life gain deck, Scion of the Swarm is a worthwhile inclusion. Worst case scenario you get a 3/3 flyer, which is a decent rate for 5-mana.

Scourge of the Skyclaves

Scourge of the Skyclaves – 4 

A great value creature for any black deck. However, I would never cast this for 2-mana in limited. Always cast this card as a 6-mana creature that will force your opponent to lose half their life total.

Shadow Stinger

Shadow Stinger – 2.5

Defensively speaking, I think Shadow Stinger is great, and any deck that wants to get to the late game would love to have this rogue. Though, I wouldn’t try to attack with Shadow Stinger just to mill 3 cards unless my opponent is behind on board.

Shadows' Verdict

Shadows’ Verdict – 3 

Against aggressive decks, Shadows’ Verdict can be a complete blowout spell. However, most decks will still be able to somewhat recover after you cast this card. Overall, a decent board wipe, but nothing game-winning.

Skyclave Shade

Skyclave Shade – 3.5

Always being able to bring this card back is amazing. The main reason why this ability is strong is that later on in the game, you can pay the kicker cost when bringing it back. This means that your opponent is constantly going to have to deal with attacking 5/3 units.

Skyclave Shadowcat

Skyclave Shadowcat – 3 

A great enabler for +1/+1 strategies with decent stats.

Soul Shatter

Soul Shatter – 4

An amazing black removal spell. Most of the time, your creature is going to be a lot worse than the creature you are removing.

Subtle Strike

Subtle Strike – 3

One of the best combat tricks you can ask for in limited. The flexibility to cast this at instant speed and to target any creature you want is amazing.

Taborax, Hope's Demise

Taborax, Hope’s Demise – 4.5

You don’t need clerics in your deck to get value out of this card. It’s a great value flyer that only gets bigger the longer the game gets.

Thwart the Grave

Thwart the Grave – 3.5

Returning two creatures onto the battlefield for 6 mana is pretty great. This is of the best recursion spells for limited.

Vanquish the Weak

Vanquish the Weak – 3

Although this is the weakest form of removal compared to the other spells, it still gets the job done. Wow, black has so much great removal in Zendikar Rising!

Agadeem's Awakening Agadeem, the Undercrypt

Agadeem’s Awakening – 5

A solid bomb that will completely turn the tides of a game. Plus, with mill being at least a relevant theme in this set, you’re likely to have creatures stocked up in the graveyard.

Blackbloom Rogue Blackbloom Bog

Blackbloom Rogue – 3

A solid creature that can really pressure your opponent’s life total if you ensure that they have 8+ cards in their graveyard.

Hagra Mauling Hagra Broodpit

Hagra Mauling – 4

You play this for the removal spell, not for the land.

Malakir Rebirth Malakir Mire

Malakir Rebirth – 2.5

I think Malakir Rebirth is the weakest modal card in black. However, every modal card will find value one way or another, so I’m never sad picking this card.

Pelakka Predation Pelakka Caverns

Pelakka Predation – 3

A solid modal card that every black deck will want to include.

Zof Consumption Zof Bloodbog

Zof Consumption – 2.5

This is a well-designed card. If you have it in your opening hand, you can just use it as land. However, drawn later, it acts as a finisher.


I think black is going to be a very safe option in Zendikar Rising draft. This color is loaded with a bunch of removal spells, most of which only require 1 black mana source and are easy to splash.
The only problem I have with this color is the lack of synergies. The cards in black are individually strong, but do very little to support any themes. Therefore, I suspect black will be the supportive color most of the time, rather than the main color in most Magic: The Gathering Zendikar Rising decks.
Anyways, that’s it for the Zendikar draft guide for black! Next up are the red cards!

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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