Kitchen Table Black Magic

For a while I felt like I was a second class 93/94 player for not having any of the power 9. I thought I’d never win a game against anyone who ran them in their decks. I realized pretty quickly that I was missing the point. The Power cards do indeed have a certain level of power though. Their high price and “Power 9” label dictate that, but they are also a piece of the game’s history, which also dictates their high prices. In addition, they’re rare!

Anyways, what I meant when I said I was missing the point was that I don’t actually care about being a champion of the game. I just think the old cards are cool and the game is fun. And that seems to be the attitude of the Oldschool community which is the greatest aspect of it in my opinion.

At some point I’ll have the power. But for now I’m having a lot of fun with what I have.

6/9 of the Power 9. These are proxies. Also, they’re not mine.

I only got into the format about 3 months ago anyway. No rush on obtaining all the powers. And I’m not the only one with a limited supply of cards and a limited supply of money. So if you’re considering getting into the format but don’t have the money for the big boys, don’t worry. It’s not about being the best. It’s about playing the cards you grew up with and the good feeling it brings.

I started primarily with Revised and Fourth Edition cards which I still use. It’s just too expensive to get right into the black borders. Never mind the Power 9. That is unless you’re a filthy rich bastard which, regrettably, I am not.

So with that preface laid out, this post is about my “Powerless”, but fun, mono black deck.

Here’s the decklist at this moment. I’ll take cards out as I acquire more Juzams, Sinkholes, and a Demonic Tutor.

4x Stone-Throwing Devils
4x Black Knight
4x Hypnotic Specter
4x Su-Chi
1x Juzam Djinn
1x Sengir Vampire
3x Royal Assassin
2x Will-O-The-Wisp

3x Sinkhole
4x Dark Ritual
4x Terror

3x Icy Manipulator
1x Sol Ring

4x Mishra’s Factory
1x Strip Mine
17x Swamp

As I mentioned in the last article, I recently acquired my first Juzam Djinn. It’s been incredibly fun playing with him. I only have one so far but I’m already scoping out the deals waiting to buy my second. And I’ll continue until I get four. And then I’ll move on to working on another playset. I’ve always got decks in mind I’m working towards. I just can’t stop. You know, cardboard crack.

The famous “Land, Lotus, Juzam” doesn’t apply to me as I don’t have a Black Lotus yet. Fortunately though, Juzam Djinn is a black card which means I can cast him by using Dark Rituals. I can do a “Land, Ritual, Ritual, Juzam”! If I’m playing with mana burn I have to take one point of damage this way. I don’t normally play with mana burn though.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
Land, Ritual, Ritual, Juzam!

The purpose of this black deck is to be effective whether or not I’m able to draw a Juzam in the first draw or last draw or not at all. I’m always able to play something as it has a nice mana curve. But is it good? I guess it is for the kitchen table. The better question is, is it fun? Absolutely. Of course, however, I’d like to make it a little more competitive if I were to play in an Oldschool tournament.

There aren’t a ton of Oldschool tournaments in the United States and when they happen, they are a two days’ drive from me at the closest. That is slowly changing. I’m considering participating in the Eternal Weekend Oldschool Tournament in October by the way. It’s in Columbus, Ohio, which would take me about two days to drive there. I probably won’t end up going. But there are some MeetUp groups that are within an hours drive to me. I’m going to start a MeetUp group in my city soon as well.

So let’s look at this black deck.

This is one of the first Oldschool decks I built back in the spring. Technically it’s an entirely different deck now. It originally wasn’t actually considered a “93/94” deck since I had a playset of Razortooth Rats in it. Razortooth Rats are from the Weatherlight set and they’re pretty fun to play and have awesome art.

Recently I took a look at some top 8 decks, black ones specifically, and tried to figure out what the strategies were. I see Su-Chis in tons of decks all the time so I figured I’d throw in four of those. The other important thing is Sinkhole. Playsets of Sinkholes are very common in decks that splash black. Then of course, the wallet-breaking Juzams.

I recently acquired my fourth Su-Chi so that playset is out of the way. I’ve bought three Alpha Sinkholes I found for a decent price. And then I have the single Juzam. I’m not sure when I’ll buy the second but it most likely won’t be any time soon. I’m still waiting on those Sinkholes. When buying cards online they can come in anywhere from two days of ordering to a month of ordering. The Alpha Sinkholes were only thirty bucks each so I almost feel like they’re not actually real.

Will they come in? I hope!!

The Demonic Tutor is on my “to buy” list. Demonic Tutor is an obvious necessity in a black deck. I just don’t have on yet. I could buy a Revised for $15 or so but I’d rather save that money and buy a black bordered Tutor later down the line. I’d spend the big bucks on it because it’s restricted. I only need to buy one. I’m not in a rush though, this deck is fun for me either way.

So let’s look at how it works.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
The offensive creatures chosen  to make a decent mana curve.

Ideally, I’d draw some Dark Rituals in my opening hand and play a Juzam or Sengir Vampire but we can’t depend on that. I won’t be able to do that every time I play the deck. A more likely, but also good, situation is playing a Hypnotic Specter off of one Dark Ritual on the first turn. I also didn’t want to rely on that because that won’t happen every time either. So I have four Black Knights and four Stone-Throwing Devils. I can play a Devil on the first turn with one swamp. The first strike ability makes them a pretty strong creature during the first few turns.

The Black Knight wouldn’t be able to be played until the second turn without a Ritual but that’s okay. He’s a pretty strong creature even if you get him out on turn two because of his first strike ability.

Then for the three mana casting cost there’s the Hypnotic Specters which are great to cast at any time in the game. But of course, the earlier the better.

Then there’s the newly added Su-Chis which I love. And there’s the Royal Assassin/Icy Manipulator combo which has actually been the strongest part of the deck.

There’s also the Will-o-the-Wisps which are obviously for defense but mostly for awesome flavor. Regardless, Will-o-the-Wisp is a good creature. When we get a little closer to Halloween I think i’ll  do a post on Will-o-the-Wisp.

Processed with VSCO with t1 preset
Will-O-The-Wisp is one of my favorite cards. Thus, it has earned a place in the deck.

Lastly, there are the Mishra’s Factories which don’t need any explaining as to why they’re in the deck, and then there are the Sinkholes. I haven’t received the Sinkholes yet, as I mentioned, but I’ve played Stone Rain and Ice Storm plenty of times so I imagine it will be pretty similar but better since Sinkhole only costs BB to cast. Land destruction is a pretty good strategy particularly early in the game.

So like I said, it’s not the best deck of all time but it’s a lot of fun. I think it’ll be even more fun when I get all the cards I need. I may not win tournaments with it but it’ll be great if I find myself at a MeetUp anytime soon!

What do you think of the deck? Leave a comment below!

7 thoughts on “Kitchen Table Black Magic

  1. Excellent article! I’ve enjoyed all your posts so far. I’ve been playing on and off since 1994 and have played in only three tournaments ever. Eternal Weekend will be my fourth. Everything else has been kitchen table magic. While I try to bring a powerful deck to a tournament, I think the kitchen table style play is far more fun. When I play we typically try to match decks up against similarly powered decks so the games are more even and enjoyable. I’m hoping there will be some downtime to play fun decks in-between rounds at Eternal Weekend. My favorite deck so far is a deck that is far from “good”, but relies on things like Enchantresses and Sylvans to draw cards, Spirit Links and Dark Heart of the Wood for life recovery, a few big baddies like Force of Nature that get even better with Spirit Link, and a couple Mirror Universes.


    1. Thanks! I’m glad you liked it! I agree, kitchen table magic is more fun. It’s way more laid back and there’s more emphasis on fun than winning which is why I love the Oldschool format so much. It’s all about playing with old cards and having fun with it rather than winning.


  2. Really enjoying your blog…glad to see more people interested in older formats for the right reasons, not just card speculators.


  3. Will-O-The-Wisp is also one of my all time favorites, such a cool art and flavor! I also love how the developers did their research when they were making Alpha – the other day I googled it and stumbled into the Wikipedia article; honestly had no idea the card was inspired on a real-world legend/atmospheric phemomenon, LoL.


    1. Ha yeah it’s a pretty cool folkloric thing that many cultures believed in. Back when I was in college I studied history and came across Will-O-The-Wisps in old literature a few times. When we get closer to Halloween I may do a post on it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s