Drana.

Everybody wants to be the "bad guy" every once in a while....

Yeah, I know we have talked about the color ethos of Black and how it is not inherently evil. From a player's perspective though, Black embodies all of the tropes we have come to expect from popular culture's portrayal of horror. Some times it just feels good letting go and playing the "big bad guy" and that is what this deck does best. Death, Decay, a little blood and gore? It's all there - let's take a look.

Swamped.

Drana's mana base may seem simple - Swamps... and a lot of them, but the design is a little more complex than first blush. Many mono-black decks in other formats are content to run a regular mana curve - but this is EDH - and this format says "go big or go home" so Drana is out to prove that green doesn't own the concept of ramp. This is "Big Black". In this build we are going to run the biggest creatures and most expensive spells ever summoned or designed by black mages; so we need to put a structure in place to support them.

Green ramps through "mana dorks" and by tutoring basic lands into play. Black ramps by increasing its basic lands' efficiency - not its number. Cards like Crypt Ghast, Nirkana Revenant and Liliana of the Dark Realms all provide a solid engine to double (or in Liliana's case quadruple) production from each swamp you tap. Magus of the Coffers, Cabal Coffers and Crypt of Agadeem are more focused inclusions, but provide great support to the first three selections. Together this block of six make a potent package to fuel big black, and with six in the deck odds are you will see one in your opening hand or the early game. That is, of course, without mentioning all the tutor shenanigans in this slice of the color pie. Demonic Tutor anyone?

Ramp. Swamp style.

Ramp. Swamp style.

Big Black.

The battlefield stinks of swamp. Now what? Get crazy casting the biggest, nastiest stuff you can find. Sheoldred, Whispering One and Reiver Demon are two huge creatures with evasion and their effects make a statement when they hit the board. Including big splashy spells is fun too - Rise of the Dark Realms is a late game win condition and In Garruk's Wake is a powerful, one-sided wrath effect. Go to "Magical Christmastime-land" and combine the card with Sheoldred and lock everyone else out of the fun.

Splashy effects are usually for more casual formats. Their high casting costs are a turn off for our friends playing in the fast paced worlds of Modern and Standard, so you can usually find them on a budget; but if you find any of these too expensive feel free to change these selections up with your favorite big black threat. The classic Lord of the Pit / Breeding Pit combo maybe?

What do you do when you have all the swamps?

What do you do when you have all the swamps?

Mandatory pain.

Black is the king of forcing life loss - both as cost to reward and as a punishment of opponents. The Drain Life effect goes all the way back to Limited Edition Alpha, but Gray Merchant of Asphodel is a much more efficient version of the effect that forces the loss of life without the "burden" of damage mitigation.

As Black sees life as just another resource to manage, there is no better use of it than to draw cards. Use Ob Nixilis Reignited, Greed and Phyrexian Arena to generate card advantage and keep fuel in the tank for all that mana you are generating.

This will only hurt a little....

This will only hurt a little....

Voltron-ish

No discussion of Drana in EDH would be complete without mentioning a "Voltron" build. I already have a Voltron Commander in Dragonlord Dromoka, but Drana is a completely valid selection if you want to go that route - and many EDH players prefer to. I do include a fair share of equipment in this deck, and you can't deny she is very efficient with a weapon in hand. I call this build "Voltron-ish" for that reason; and while Drana plus equipment is an awesome combo, there are plenty of ways to win with this deck with Drana out of play entirely.

That being said, O-Naginata and Loxodon Warhammer are cheap selections to raise her power - and the warhammer has the upside of evasion and lifelink. Fireshrieker doubles damage for a cost of five (three to cast and two to equip) and is a staple of Voltron builds. Nightmare Lash and Lashwrithe are unique to mono-black Voltron, but they are oh so broken running thirty swamps. Finally... I always include Shizo's Death Storehouse in black EDH builds as a bit of extra evasion. The card has no cost to you as an include. It doesn't come into play tapped and it produces black mana. About the worst thing you can say for it in this deck is that its not a swamp. 

Clear the decks. Here comes Drana.

Clear the decks. Here comes Drana.

So that's Drana - She is a mono-black house in EDH and I think she is severely underrated. Mono-color builds are a lot of fun and very cost effective with their cheap mana bases, so give this one a whirl. I think you will find it enjoyable for a spooky Fall night.

Until next week, let yourself be a little evil at the Magic table. Your playgroup will forgive you. Eventually....