Card: Dark Depths | Art: Stephen Martiniere
What are the first things that spring to mind when you hear these words? Expensive. Unattainable. The Good Ole’ Days. This is likely enough reason for one to dive into a cheaper format such as Pioneer or Standard. Even Modern, though those days may be behind us.
Today I bring you a deck tech on Mono-Black Depths, a list that has been making the rounds on MTGO and paper. While you can undoubtedly brew an expensive version of this, the budget-minded version I am reviewing here is one that my 12-year-old son and I built.
The first time out in his hands, it went 2-1-1, taking down Sultai Control and UW Bomberman along the way.
So, without further ado, onto the deck!
Plan of Attack
Like any deck using Dark Depths, the object is to get Marit Lage onto the battlefield, a 20/20 flying creature with indestructible. Marit Lage is a formidable creature with limited amounts of interaction to deal with it.
Nearly any brew containing Dark Depths contains ingredients to cheat your way around removing the ice counters, and this deck is no different. Marit Lage brings her friends Vampire Hexmage and Thespian’s Stage to the party. Both offer low-cost ways to get Marit Lage into play. You will not find anything in this deck above CMC 2, aside from Leyline of Sanctity / Void, which we never hard-cast.
If your opponent has ways of dealing with Marit Lage, such as Unsummon, Diabolic, or Sudden Edict, this deck is not without options. We also brought along Urza’s Saga.
With the number of artifacts in the deck, an unchecked Urza’s Saga can quickly multiply and grow construct tokens, overwhelming your opponent in only a couple of turns.
Because we only use one color, we are hamstrung in our ability to interact in specific ways. Thankfully, black brings us several tools that help level the playing field. Duress, Thoughtseize, and Hymn to Tourach aid in disrupting our opponent’s hand. Additionally, we have a few creature interaction spells, and while not ideal, they do the job well enough to clear the way for our friend Dauthi Voidwalker.
This deck has a limited amount of card advantage, so we have included Sign in Blood and Dark Confidant to gain an edge. We also have Expedition Map to help us search for the lands we need to get Marit Lage onto the battlefield.
The last piece may look odd, and that is O-Naginata, which is a sort of poor man’s Shadowspear and great for getting around chump-blockers in a grind.
How to Play Budget Mono-Black Depths in Legacy
So, how does this deck play? It moves quicker than you’d think. A turn-one Dark Ritual into a Thoughtseize or Duress, followed by a Hymn to Tourach can be devastating for your opponent. The four copies of Thespian’s Stage and Expedition Map work well to get Marit Lage onto the battlefield with consistency.
In practice, Vampire Hexmage is not often the primary enabler for Dark Depths, but if faced with an early Wasteland, it could be the difference maker.
Further, Pithing Needle has not been the source of much success. Two primary deck copies are enough to deal with whatever your opponent may throw at you. It’s also easy to fetch up with Urza’s Saga should the need arise.
Similarly, Dark Confidant is included as a source of card advantage. While nothing costs more than CMC 2 in this deck, a few rounds of getting dinged usually have you wanting to Eliminate it yourself if the match grinds on.
Our budget brew contains 15 swamps, but other versions will include Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. While this helps turn Dark Depths and Thespian's Stage into mana, it’s effectively a dead drop in the early game and not a considerable aid in moving you closer to a potential win on turn three or four.
If you have the money, a set of four is nice but not necessary to power through if you are truly sticking to a budget.
There is nothing extraordinary about the sideboard. Some versions of this deck will run the Helm of Obedience and Leyline of the Void combo, which in their own right are a game-winner, but not necessary to grind your way to a win with this deck.
Four copies of Nihil Spellbomb are cheap insurance. With the number of graveyard-reliant decks running around the format, being able to interact with Murktide, Reanimator and Uro may save you a turn or two.
Further, an extra copy of Eliminate or an Edict can help thin the opponent’s battlefield. Leyline of Sanctity is another nearly required spell to help protect against decks like Burn and anything else that will thin your hand. Lastly, Plague Engineer is an excellent way of dealing with Elves and Humans.
Budget Mono-Black Depths vs. the Meta
Right now, Izzet Delver is at the top of the heap in Legacy. This deck can offer a competitive matchup, and I recommend subbing in extra Eliminates or Edicts to deal with Delver and Murktide. A Spellbomb in hand could be the difference between winning or losing to Murktide.
Similarly, Elves move quickly, and dealing with an early Craterhoof Behemoth can be difficult. Having an Eliminate or Edict in hand to deal with early elves may give you enough time to get Marit Lage out to defend against Craterhoof or swing in the air for lethal.
Similarly, an early-turn Plague Engineer could give you the edge you need to deal with Elves or Humans. Packing your deck with Edicts in the mirror match will force your opponent to make tough choices when deciding what to sacrifice.
Another card to be wary of is Wasteland. Being picky about when you crack your Thespian’s Stage could mean distinguishing between an Urza’s Saga or Dark Depths route to the win.
Cost and Upgrades
As I have mentioned, there are plenty of places to upgrade this deck. According to the Moxfield page, the deck we have built is valued at around $380. Not bad for an entry-level Legacy deck that punches above its weight.
If we were to start making upgrades, the easiest place to start is swapping out two to four swamps for Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. This immediately turns your already deadly copies of Dark Depths, Urza’s Saga, and Thespian’s Stage into another helpful resource. If the game turns into a grind, you'll have heaps of mana to work with four to six turns down the road.
Further, additional copies of Dauthi Voidwalker and Dark Confidant could be swapped out for any hand disruption or creature elimination spells. This is more a subjective want as either way, the cards you choose will deliver value depending on which deck you are up against.
The other win condition possible with this build is Helm of Obedience / Leyline of the Void. Helm can be a salty buy these days, but if you have the bank, it’s another valuable addition to the existing strengths.
Although, it could leave a bruise if you draw it up with a Dark Confidant and don’t have the Leyline to pair with it. As with the Voidwalker and Dark Confidant recommendations, swapping out hand disruption or creature removal would be the ideal place to start for these additions.
Lastly, trading in Shadowspear for O-Naginata is a clear upgrade. In the grand scheme, both perform well against an opponent throwing chump blocks in the first turn or two after Marit Lage hits the battlefield. A tool to deliver the damage is a good backup in a grind fest.
Hopefully, I have helped to polish up the reputation of what is possible in Legacy. While not a Tier 1 deck, this brew has made some waves recently and, in the hands of an experienced operator, can take down your local game store’s weekly tournament. Additionally, the look on your opponent’s face with a turn two or three Marit Lage is classic!
Thanks for reading.
What do you think of this Mono-Black Depths list for Legacy? Want to see more budget Legacy brews in the future? Let us know in the comments below or on social media!
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