Black has various ways to ramp up mana. However it is relatively difficult to find ways to ramp lands. However this task is not all together impossible. One of the most fun decks I have come across to date, at least for multi-player, is a deck whose General is the only General at the current time with the Landfall mechanic.
Building around the Landfall mechanic in mono-black is extremely difficult to do. You have to be willing to add in cards that may be sub par in many other decks. However these additional cards are generally what make the deck run extremely smoothly. It isn’t at all unlikely in this deck to see the General on exactly turn 4 or 5, and then to proceed to kill not just one, but two players simultaneously with the General thanks to his ability which has an interesting ability which I will get to in a moment. First however I need to cover a special note about General Damage: General Damage can only be caused by Combat Damage. As such this General’s ability, which causes life loss cannot cause General Damage as it is neither damage, nor combat damage. Now as for that ability, it reads as follows:
Landfall – Whenever a land enters the battlefield under your control, you may have target player lose 3 life. If you do, put three +1/+1 counters on Ob Nixilis, the Fallen.
The beauty of this ability is that if you can find a way to make Ob Nixilis unblockable, he can easily become a 12/12 creature in less than two turns. Further, even on the first trigger, if an opponent burns out Ob Nixilis with something like a Lightning Bolt, the primary trigger still occurs. That opponent will still lose three life before Ob Nixilis is killed. However the +1/+1 counters do not get put onto Ob Nixilis until after the Lightning Bolt has resolved, thus it is impossible for the creature to survive the Bolt that way. Alternatively, if an opponent goes to burn out Ob Nixilis, and you respond by using something such as a fetchland to trigger his Landfall ability, he will survive the bolt due to the way the stack resolves.
Now, Landfall is a mechanic that requires a very specific category of mana ramp. That is ramp that instead of generating as much mana as possible, instead puts as many lands as possible into play from either the deck or your hand in either a single turn or over the course of multiple turns. So… lets take a look at some of the better cards that generate such forms of land acceleration available to Black:
Ghost Quarter — This card has traditionally been used as land destruction. And while it can be used as such in this deck, it can also be used as a Landfall enabler. In this capacity what you do is use it on one of your own lands that you no longer want, in order to search out a basic land. You can potentially trigger Landfall up to twice in a single turn with this card. One needs to remember however that the land you get with Ghost Quarter comes into play untapped. So make sure to use this to the largest advantage you can get from it.
Journeyer’s Kite — Essentially it lets you take lands from your library and put them into your hand. Thus making sure that you never run out of landfall triggers (at least for as long as you still have basic lands in your library anyways).
Terrain Generator — This card combo’s really nicely with Journeyer’s Kite, enabling you to immediately put the cards you searched for with the Kite directly into play. This combo is a tad expensive, but is definitely worth it.
Solemn Simulacrum — Solemn enables you to put a land directly into play when the simulacrum enters play. Then when the simulacrum leaves play it lets you draw a card. This is among the best card advantage engines available in MTG.
Thawing Glaciers — Allowing you to search for any basic land you want, this card is a really nice enabler of Landfall. Not to mention that when used Thawing Glaciers returns itself to your hand, and happens to be a land itself, thus ensuring constant landfall triggers.
Panorama’s — These cards search for any basic land. They do not bounce to your hand after use the way that Thawing Glaciers does. However, they are available for use immediately after you play them, enabling you to get 2 landfall triggers in a turn. The problem is that they cost mana to use. The advantage to these over Fetchlands is that they tap for mana themselves, thus allowing you to use them while you are preparing to summon your General.
Terramorphic Expanse — Only searches for basics, does not tap for mana. However this card is available for use immediately after you play it, allowing for two triggers of landfall in a turn.
Fetch Lands — These enable you to fetch for any basic land type. That means you can fetch non-basic lands that have a basic land type. However not many such lands are available to Mono-Black (I think Leechridden Swamp is the only one (Except basics, it is – MtGCP)). Unlike with Panorama’s and the Expanse, the lands you fetch with these come into play untapped meaning you can use those lands immediately.
Crucible of Worlds — You remember all those cards you just sacrificed to thin out your deck? Do you want to keep doing it? Of course you do. This allows you to do that. Not to mention it allows you to continue triggering Landfall which isn’t that bad at all. Further it helps protect you against land destruction.
Twisted Abomination — Swampcycling is one of the best friends to Landfall available. Especially when it is coupled with a creature with a huge body and regeneration. The reason for the huge body is that there is a large amount of recursion available in Black that makes using that body extremely likely. Add to that the card Oversold Cemetery and you have a near infinite Swampcycling engine.
That would be about it for the really good land acceleration. However land acceleration in and of itself is not enough for most EDH decks. You also want to be utilizing mana acceleration. Mana acceleration differs from land acceleration in that mana acceleration seeks to add more mana to your mana pool than you would have from your current allotment of lands. Where as land acceleration simply seeks to get as many lands as possible into play. To that end you should also run following cards to help accelerate your mana:
Ancient Tomb — This card along with Temple of the False God, Sol Ring, and Mana Crypt are 2 for 1’s as far as mana acceleration is concerned. In essence they give you 2 mana for 1 card. Further these cards are all essentially permanent until destroyed in some way. The real benefit of playing Ancient Tomb in this deck however is that you really do not care about the life loss as you have got Ob Nixilis and various other means of gaining your life back.
Lake of the Dead — This is an interesting card. While it can provide you with a boost of 4 black mana, it costs you a land each and every time it does that. Not to mention it costs you a land when it comes into play. The best scenario for the use of this card is when you have not only an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play, but also a Crucible of Worlds in play there by negating the card disadvantage that you net with this card.
Cabal Coffers — Does not provide any mana on its own (unless you have an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play). However when coupled with 2 other lands (or an Ancient Tomb or other 2 for 1 mana producer) this card can create obscene amounts of mana so long as you have more swamps in play than you are using to activate this card.
Crypt of Agadeem — Like Cabal Coffers, it is possible for this card to produce obscene amounts of mana. Unlike Cabal Coffers this card relies on creature cards in your graveyard to power its obscene amounts of mana (where as Cabal Coffers relies on swamps) and the Crypt also produces black mana on its own without the aid of Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth.
Jet Medallion — Not truly a form of mana acceleration, instead this card lowers the cost of your black spells by a single colorless mana. Thus making it easier to ramp into big spells by a tad bit.
Extraplanar Lens — One of the best ramping spells ever created. The only problems with this card is that it requires you to exile a land to use it, and it affects your opponents lands as well as your own. This however could be offset if you use Snow-Covered Lands and your opponent does not, simply because of the fact that your Lens requires that the lands being tapped for extra mana be of all the same name as the land that was exiled when the lens was played.
Gauntlet of Power — Similar to the Lens, except that it pumps your creatures, and pumps your mana. It like the lens also affects your opponents. However unlike the Lens it doesn’t specify based on name of a land. It instead specifies based on whether the land tapped was a basic or not as well as the color of the creatures in play.
Now your land acceleration and mana acceleration lists may differ from the examples listed above, as there are plenty of options available to black decks. However the lists above are very solid examples that can be used to establish the base of an Ob Nixilis EDH deck.
Ultimately some of you may be asking, “Well how does Ob Nixilis connect if your opponent has creatures on the field?” which is a very good question. This question can be answered by using some or all of the following cards:
Sword of Fire and Ice & Sword of Light and Shadow — These two allow you to get past most of the creatures in at least 2 to 4 of the colors of Magic. The only color that these do not help you with is Green, the fifth and final color of the game. Maybe some day their will be an Equipment similar to these Swords that helps against Green, but that day is not now.
Loxodon Warhammer — What is better than a 12/9 creature with trample? One with lifelink! This hammer will not only give your General (or any other creature it is equipped to) a boost in the face, but it will give it trample, and lifelink at the same time, making him into a force to be reckoned with against most EDH decks. Add to the fact that this, the Sword of Light and Shadow, and the decks General all gain life, and you can assume you are going to have quite the edge unless your opponent is able to push through 21 General Damage before you are able to.
Profane Command — The advantage of this card is that it is a modal card that lets you choose two options when it is successfully cast. One of those options is to give X creatures fear where X is the mana you pumped into it when you cast it. This can bypass many of the blockers in EDH.
Shizo, Death’s Storehouse — This card like the Profane Command allows you to give a creature fear. Unlike the Profane Command it is limited to Legendary Creatures. Fortunately Black has a huge surplus of really good Legendary Creatures from which to choose, many of which have a decent synergy with this deck. This includes your General, whom you continually are making larger with the landfall mechanic. Additionally, if worse comes to worse, you can always just use this card as land destruction against another players Shizo, Death’s Storehouse.
Filth — Giving all of your creatures Swampwalk is really nice. Especially if there is an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in play as that means that you can in effect attack all of your opponents unhindered unless they too have a Filth in the Graveyard or other swampwalking creature in play.
Thrashing Wumpus / Bane of the Living — As a means to deal with Tokens and other small creatures, Bane of the Living is incredibly useful as a surprise tactic. However Thrashing Wumpus has the advantage of being reusable over the course of a game, which is something Bane of the Living usually cannot do without the aid of something like Oversold Cemetery.
Mutilate — Serves much the same purpose as Bane of the Living. The advantage of Bane of the Living, Mutilate, and Thrashing Wumpus, is that all three of these cards can kill creatures without really risking the loss of your General so long as you have caused a landfall trigger on your General at least once or twice in the game.
Now as this is a ramp deck, there are numerous Black ramp targets that are all very useful to the deck. Some of these are alternate win conditions, others of these are more along the lines of utility cards.
Maga, Traitor to Mortals — This is a major alternate win condition. Maga is often considered one of the best Generals available to Black. However in this deck it serves primarily as a back up win condition for those games where Ob Nixilis is destroyed to many times to make recasting him a viable option.
Korlash, Heir to Blackblade — Another alternate win condition that is able to swing games in your favor quite heavily. The fact that Korlash has regeneration, coupled with the fact that he gets bigger with the more swamps that are in play, makes him quite a potent force to be reckoned with. He plays incredibly well with the Landfall mechanic. The unfortunate part is that in EDH it is impossible to use his Grandeur ability.
Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet — Serving the roles of both an alternative win condition and a targeted removal spell, Kalitas is perhaps one of the most interesting cards available in Zendikar. He isn’t too small, and isn’t too large. He doesn’t have any built in evasion, but his removal is quite potent as it not only removes a creature, but nets you one yourself.
Reiver Demon — Like Kalitas, serves the role of alternative win condition as well as the role of removal spell. The difference is that this card is what one would describe as a mass removal spell. Ramping into this card can be quite game breaking.
Myojin of Night’s Reach — If left unanswered (read uncountered) this card can singlehandedly swing games in your favor in a multi-player environment. It is perhaps one of the best discard engines available in multi-player games. It isn’t nearly as good in 1v1 games, but is still quite potent.
Mind Twist — Another incredible discard spell. This one is banned on the French banned list, and many other 1v1 banned lists (Unoffical 1v1, one day we’ll get to that topic – MtGCP). However in multi-player this card can set another player back so far that he is going to be the victim of all the other players. Either that or it will piss that player off enough to cause political talks to get your deck executed.
Beseech the Queen — An exceptional card to use in conjunction with Landfall. This card makes the Landfall mechanic into something really worth abusing as it in essence means you can fetch just about any card in your deck with a casting cost equal to the number of lands you control or less. Which is quite potent.
Decree of Pain & Plague Wind — These two are mass removal spells that have to be ramped into. Sure the Decree could always be cycled, but to get its full effect you want to be ramping up to hard cast it. The advantage of cycling the Decree is it gives you instant speed mass removal. The advantage of hard casting it is that it gives you mass removal that also serves as massive card advantage. Likewise the Plague Wind only affects the creatures of your opponent, thus it serves as a form of card advantage in and of itself. Both cards are incredibly powerful, but also incredibly expensive mana wise.
Basic Deck Structure:
- Kalitas, Bloodchief of Ghet
- Korlash, Heir to Blackblade
- Maga, Traitor to Mortals
- Myojin of Night’s Reach
- Reiver Demon
- Solemn Simulacrum
- Thrashing Wumpus / Bane of the Living
- Twisted Abomination
- Crucible of Worlds
- Extraplanar Lens
- Gauntlet of Power
- Jet Medallion
- Journeyer’s Kite
- Loxodon Warhammer
- Mana Crypt
- Sol Ring
- Sword of Fire and Ice
- Sword of Light and Shadow
- Ancient Tomb
- Cabal Coffers
- Crypt of Agadeem
- Fetch Lands / Panorama’s
- Ghost Quarter
- Lake of the Dead
- Temple to the False Gods
- Terrain Generator
- Terramorphic Expanse
- Thawing Glaciers
All told, Ob Nixilis decks are really animals that appeal to a wide swath of the Magic the Gathering community. There are things about this deck type that will appeal to just about all three of the psychographic profiles. Timmy’s will find the deck engenders the play of some of the splashiest cards in the game. Spikes may find that the deck can be streamlined and customized to the point where it is among the most competitive of decks in existence. And Johnny’s are likely to discover an amazing amount of synergies and even possibly combo’s that can be played in this deck. It all depends on what one’s ultimate intentions happen to be as to what one will build.
By far and away what I have shown here in this article is only one possible way of building an Ob Nixilis deck. I can guarantee you that there are at least five or six different ways if not more of building this deck in a theoretical way. And beyond that the deck is even further customizable to the point where one list while following basic premises will likely have huge amounts of variance from another list.
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