Conquering the Commander Cube: Cards For Your Cube--Black

Justin Fanzo • August 24, 2023

Scheming Symmetry | Illustrated by Seb McKinnon

Greetings, Commander players! Today we continue our series Cards For Your Cube, this time covering black cards. As the name suggests, I'll be providing recommendations for cards that are flexible, well-balanced, and interesting that players will want to draft for their cubes. I'll also include some unique and unconventional cards that don't normally see play in other contexts but might work well in a cube. I'll also be taking budget into consideration, generally avoiding cards that cost more than $5 (at time of the article's writing). Each article in the series will include 20 cards along with blurbs offering context and explanation where needed.

Let's jump in!

1.) Go for the Throat

An inexpensive, yet effective removal spell.

2.) Midnight Reaper

A powerful but fair form of card draw.

3.) Dread Return

A well-balanced form of recursion that can be leveraged for extra value with its flashback cost. Unlikely to be abused.

4.) Morbid Opportunist

A balanced source of card draw that cannot be abused due to the limitation of his ability only triggering once per turn.

5.) Tragic Slip

An excellent form of conditional removal that requires players to fulfill the morbid criteria in order to be effective.

6.) Painful Truths

This card is an excellent choice if you take my advice from the article on balancing your cube that suggests sticking to three colors for your commanders. In five-color decks this card ends up being incredibly powerful, probably disproportionately so for a cube.

7.)  Shriekmaw

The nice thing about this card is that it scales well with games. It can be played early on for its evoke cost as a removal spell, but later in the game it can be played as a hard-to-block creature that also gets the enter-the-battlefield removal trigger.

8.) Unearth

A more narrow form of recursion with cycling to assure that this doesn't end up as a dead card in hand, especially after any graveyard-clearing effects.

9.) Murder

An excellent removal choice for low- to mid-power cubes.

10.) Stitcher's Supplier

An excellent card for graveyard strategies. Note that it triggers upon entering the battlefield and dying, thus potentially offering extra value.

11.) Dream Devourer

This card doesn't need to be paired with foretell strategies to offer tremendous value throughout games. It also helps to protect players' cards from discard and hand theft abilities.

12.) Custodi Lich

Another card that doesn't require to be paired with the named ability (in this case the monarch ability) in order to be immensely valuable. This card is a setup and payoff engine all by itself. It introduces the monarch ability into the game, and then it offers removal on top of the standard card draw effect that monarch already grants.

13.) Sudden Spoiling

This card can be a powerful wrench to throw into the cog of player engines, or it can also be used for combat tricks to remove commanders and other powerful creatures on the board.

14.) Curtains' Call

This card gets discounted based on the number of opponents a player has. In most cube environments, this card will cost 3 mana to cast instead of 6.

15.) Blood Pact

A quintessential piece of card draw in black.

16.) Scheming Symmetry

Normally I'm not a big fan of tutor cards, but I make an exception for this card for the reason that it requires political maneuvering and calculation in deciding which other player to let tutor for a card. Also, this card will generally be less powerful in a cube environment, as players are less likely to have game winning combos--especially 2- or 3-card combos--so tutors in general are generally going to be less powerful.

17.) Underworld Connections

A great piece of black card draw on an enchantment. The tap ability helps to assure that the card will not be abused.

18.) Ob Nixilis Reignited

Ob Nixilis is a flexible planeswalker that can be used to draw cards and deal with creature threats on the board.

19.) Sorin the Mirthless

This Sorin adds value in the form of card advantage (with the added cost of paying life), and its ultimate is powerful but not necessarily game-winning, which is right where we want to be for a cube environment.

20.) Mask of Griselbrand

Synergizes well with lifegain strategies, but is also good on its own, provided that players have powerful creatures to wield it.

Final Thoughts

That concludes our list of black cards to consider for your Commander cube! Hopefully you found this article useful, and let us know if you have any recommendations of your own. Next time we will be back with our next color guide: red. Until then, best of luck in constructing your cubes!

I'm an avid gamer with a passion for game design and both critical and creative writing. I've been playing Magic: the Gathering for over 15 years, and I've been playing the Commander format since its official adoption by Wizards of the Coast in 2011. My articles focus on vorthos deck building, designing decks for overlooked commanders, and designing commander cubes.