We here at Bleeding Cool have written our top ten picks for the best black common and uncommon cards in the Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths Limited environment for Magic: The Gathering. Not even two weeks ago, we went over our picks for the ten best commons and uncommon in white and in blue, and today, we go over to the darker side of things!
#10. Unexpected Fangs
Unexpected Fangs is one of the many cards in this set that can provide creatures with ability counters, which, naturally, give these creatures new abilities. Thinking of this capability like a miniature form of the Mutate mechanic is sure to help people to understand the mechanic a bit better. So Unexpected Fangs is an instant-speed spell that grants a small, temporary power and toughness buff to a creature, but it also gives the creature lifeline on a more permanent basis. That seems very strong! If this were something that gave deathtouch, it would be ranked higher on this list (and we will get to that idea later in the article).
#9. Serrated Scorpion
Serrated Scorpion is a card that strikes us as something that does significant things in small amounts. It's a great little common from the set, but it isn't great enough to be at a #1 spot on the list. When it dies, it drains your opponents for two life. That doesn't seem like a lot, but it packs a punch when drafted in larger amounts.
#8. Bastion of Remembrance
Now we are getting to the good stuff. Cards like Blood Artist have traditionally been great in Limited metagame, and Bastion of Remembrance puts on a similar role. Not only does the enchantment make a great impression through its drain-on-death ability, but when it enters play, it makes a creature token so that the ability has something to work with right away. That's fantastic!
#7. Bushmeat Poacher
Diamond Valley is an older land card from the Arabian Nights expansion, the first expansion set after the original core sets came out for Magic: The Gathering. Sadly, Diamond Valley isn't legally allowed a reprint due to the Reserved List. Still, fortunately that does not preclude Wizards of the Coast from making cards that have a similar ability (so long as these cards are not functional or direct reprints, they're okay to print). Bushmeat Poacher is an excellent example of a reclamation of the design space that has been stripped by the establishment of the Reserved List, created mainly so that card collectors could retain their assets.
As for the card's utility today, gaining a ton of life off of the death of a very large creature is pretty nice. Smaller creatures dying to fuel the Poacher isn't as big of a deal, but it's still value!
#6. Void Beckoner
Like we mentioned above, ability counters are something to shout home about, but turning large creatures into value-level combat tricks through the addition of ability counter piles makes cards like Void Beckoner, an otherwise large-yet-unplayable creature, into an absolute MVP. When you cycle cards like Void Beckoner, you're discarding them, and not only do you then get to draw at instant-speed, but you also get to give a creature deathtouch permanently. That is a very strong ability to be able to grant whenever you'd like.
#5. Easy Prey
You'll see in this article that cards with cycling are by no means low picks in our eyes. Even when cards with cycling would otherwise be dead cards, they're not dead at all since they can be discarded to draw a new card. Easy Prey is an excellent example of this, like Void Beckoner before it. Even if Easy Prey can't be used late-game, you can discard it to find something potentially better from your deck.
#4. Blood Curdle
At a rudimentary glance, Blood Curdle looks like your average common-rarity removal spell. However, it's an instant and can give a creature an evasive keyword ability: Menace. Menace is strong because it's not impossible for that ability to be tantamount to unblockable in an environment filled with Mutate, another ability that encourages going taller than wide. You might just kill their second-to-last creature with Blood Curdle, and that can mean that you can squeak in just that last bit of damage when faced with a formidable blocker.
Our favorite black Limited-oriented creature in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths, Grimdancer, is up so high in our ranking because of its sheer versatility. If you need a defensive monster, give it deathtouch and lifelink. Do you need offense? Give it deathtouch and menace. Are you in a decent board position otherwise? Give it menace and lifelink. The possibilities are all there!
#2. Suffocating Fumes
Our #2 slot in this list goes to Suffocating Fumes, an uncommon-rarity minor (yet one-sided!) board wipe with cycling. Infest effects are not the strongest thing you could face against in this format, but they do manage to blunt assaults well, and even kill a few creatures besides. Furthermore, Suffocating Fumes has cycling, so even if it won't affect the opposing board-state enough to finish the opponent off, it could be discarded in hopes of finding something better.
#1. Heartless Act
The best black Limited card in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths has to be Heartless Act, which is easily the best piece of uncommon spot removal in the set. Not only can it kill creatures on the spot heedless of most any restrictions, but, in failing that, it can also weaken an opposing creature. And for its low mana cost, it's a very important effect in this environment.
What do you think of our picks for the top ten black Limited cards in Ikoria: Lair of Behemoths? How has your experience on Magic: The Gathering: Arena been while playing this Limited environment? Have you been having fun? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!