Haupsdeck Distress

Finally getting to play a deck is a pleasure. I started teching on my own take on Monoblack Distress in November last year, and yesterday I finally got the last pieces of the puzzle for a solid 60-card maindeck. Apart from my very first deck - which was a pile of Sea Serpents, Erg Raiders and Phantasmal Terrains - building decks in 93/94 has always been measured in months or years for me. Yeah, it goes faster once you've gathered a few staples, but it's still not a speedy process. Them Sinkholes, Icy Manipulators, Rituals and Demonic Hordes will still be a visible expense.

They can actually be pretty hard to find as well; for each one of these there are e.g. more than four Unlimited Lotuses printed.
The idea of my latest pile is that of black Distress; make most of your opponent's removal useless, count on them having no more than 4 Disenchants, and bleed them out in the long game with control elements and slow damage. The strategy was first popularized by Daniel "GaJol" Nilsson after his top4 at BSK 2012, though his deck was more into Warp Artifacts and didn't use e.g. Pestilence nor as much mana denial.
Haupsdeck Distress. No holds barred.
The ideal start is a Ritual or Lotus into Underworld Dreams, and then just follow up with Sinkholes, Icy Manipulators and Relic Barriers for control. Pestilence combo well with the Factories, as you can activate them after Pestilence has dealt damage to keep the enchantment in play.

There's definitely some work to be done. For one, I need a sideboard. Current sideboard is something like 4 Glooms, 10 Swamps, and an altered Disenchant. I would like to play Hypnotics or Juzams in the board to take in after the opponent has sided out a majority of the creature removal. Having a transformational sideboard is also a solid excuse to complete a playset of Juzams. Need them Juzams.

As for the maindeck, the most glaring omission is The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale. Turns out that they are kind of expensive. If I get me a Tabernacle or four, I could use them for a future Mana Vortex deck, so it isn't a complete silver bullet aquisition. If you haven't seen Heiner Litz last article on Mana Vortex decks at Eternal Central btw, I highly recommend giving it a read. Heiner is one of the pioneers of Old School tech across the ocean, and has contributed with reports and articles both for this blog and at EC.

Just checked the price for Tabernacle at Starcity Games. Seven hundred bucks. Might have to settle for Paralyze in that slot for the foreseeable future. I also noted that Chas Andres just posted an article about Old School Mtg at SCG. Pretty cool. I'm not much of a fan of Magic finance, but Chas Andres is still my favorite Magic writer, at least as far as writing skills goes. I don't have SCG premium, but every Wednesday his articles from a month back go live for everyone, and every Wednesday I read about what happened in Magic finance five weeks ago. I'm really not interested in speculating on Dragons of Tarkir cards, and I don't play sanctioned non-eternal formats, but the dude really can write. Looking forward to read the article in a month.
Solid keep and solid game drink.
So, the Distress deck. I think my next acquisition for the deck will be an Alpha Cyclopean Tomb. Very powerful card and sweet flavor. I do own the card in Unlimited, but something about the aesthetics hinders me from playing a single white-bordered card in an otherwise BB deck. That is a pretty funny thing with 93/94 btw; had I owned the Scrublands or Badlands to splash a color in the deck, I'd most assuredly would have played the Unlimited Cyclopean Tomb, as most of my duals are white-bordered as well. Instead I go "budget" and play mono colored, but that opens a whole other bag of snakes. Now I want an Alpha Cyclopean Tomb and a playset Beta Hypnotic Specters.

On that same note, pretty much the only reason for me to play Demonic Hordes in the deck is that I happen to own it and it has a sweet misprint in Alpha, where the black mana symbols in the rules text have been exchanged for 'B's. It is a solid card and it can give a few wins, but it is usually a bad idea to give your opponent a target for their Swords to Plowshares.
Worth it.
So what's next? I originally planned for Project M to have the Power Artifact / Monolith combo. Now that Power Artifact is unrestricted, I might try to rebuild the deck to fit the combo. I also have some plans for a Lich/Mirror deck and a Martyrs of Korlis pile. I guess my focus should stay on the duals though. I'm up to 23/40 now, and it woul be cool to unlock the 40/40 duals achievement.
Good 'ol land, Lotus, Icy is twarted by Shatter.
But first I'll crush the meta with my new Distress deck. It is awesome to play, and I highly reccomend testing the strategy. If you want to go black but still want to turn creatures sideways, I otherwise recommenced checking out this post on monoblack from last summer or Axelsson's monoblack from Kingvitational 1.


  1. Nice mg, I really love the Alpha Icy's and the Alpha Hordes too! 8D


  2. If you order cards from starcity games, do you have to pay import taxes? The taxes can be very high on expensive cards I believe

    1. I recommend ABU Games. In my opinion the best US Shop and shipping with Fedex extremely fast and cheap (at least to Germany. 5 USD for Fedex Priority and every order I did with them so far arrived after 3 days). And what is really nice: for every card they have scans available in the shop.

  3. thanks for promoting my article. Nether Void would certainly fit in this deck nicely. Are you sure about the Pestilence Mishra's Factory combo? I believe it doesn't work.

  4. Why is this deck called Distress? Instead of Black Dreams, or Howling Hole, or something?

  5. @Freddyvis: Haven't bought from SCG, but I have used CardKingdom and ABUgames on multiple occassions. Both have worked great. Got my package stuck in custom once (when I bought from ABU), but I think that was a rare exception. Never experienced it with Cardkingdom.

    @Heiner: Thanks for finally breaking Mana Vortex ;) Yeah, Mishra and Pestilence should work. Pestilence checks for creatures at the beginning of the end step, while Mishra stops being a creature in the cleanup step after that.

    @Dominic: The original creatureless monoblack list played at BSK 2012 used 4-offs of both Underworld Dreams and Warp Artifacts, along with Haunting Winds and other enchantments (and a maindeck Skull of Orm). The idea was that multiple small clocks in the form of enchantments would be very hard to handle, as most decks have (at most) 4 cards that can destroy them in a playset of Disenchants. I picked Distress as the name for the deck when I wrote about it, mainly because it's the opposite of the word Tranquility (which of course destroys all enchantments) and because it describes the feel of the deck pretty well. Also, it sounds kinda cool :)

  6. Very nice monoblack control!
    Can i suggest you
    -2 pestilence - 1 howling mine
    +2 nether void + 1 black vise
    Post board any sort of sweeper like addictionals disks/abyss or hellfire to fight aggressive creature decks and of course 4 juzams :-)

  7. I think we have similarites in deck building :) Step 1, get idea, step 2, get cards, step 3, build deck, step 4, deck sucks. Go to step 1. :)

    On the plus side, I got lots of nice cards :)



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