You come to me on the day my daughter is to be married, and you ask me to evaluate black cards. Unbelievable.
Shadow of Mortality
Hey, look, it’s Death’s Shadow at home! Unfortunately, this card is exponentially worse than Death’s Shadow, and especially in a 100 card singleton format, building your deck in a manner that can abuse the cost reduction consistently is practically impossible and not worth the payoff of what is otherwise a vanilla 7/7. If you’re not building around the cost reduction, you need to be at 8 or less life for this card to be castable on rate, and as such will be a dead card in every other scenario. Don’t play this!
Angel of Suffering
This is a rather exciting card to look at- it’s Black’s take on a Platinum Angel stapled to a relevant, on-rate flier (Do keep in mind that 3 toughness is less than you think!). However, thanks to us playing Gladiator, this thing can buy us much more time compared to its use in constructed. Expect to see and play this in Angels decks or decks that rely heavily on taking advantage of the graveyard- it’s a very powerful card that’s definitely worth playing should your deck be built in a way to fully maximize what it can do for you.
This handsome gentleman not only brings an aggressively costed 3/2 statline for 2 mana, but he comes with the ability to recur himself from the yard as a hasty beater to do whatever you please with before it dies and draws you a card. Unlike most “pay life, do a thing” cards, where the life loss is negligible compared to the mana efficiency, paying two life each time you do this can add up. However, in the aggro or aristocrats decks that this will play best in, the pressure that a 3/2 with haste every turn that keeps finding you cast provides makes it more than worth the price.
The floor of this creature is that it’s a 3/3 deathtouch that reanimates a smaller creature for you on death, which, on its own, is quite the good card. This chic cleaner comes with the upside of fixing your hand via looting, filling the yard, and growing itself into an even more relevant body that can get better and better creatures back once it’s finally gone. While perhaps a bit slow for decks with an aggressive tilt or little to no synergy for their own creatures dying, controlling decks, Aristocrats, and counters players are going to find themselves loving the Launderer.
An absolutely fantastic card. Similar to the Body Launderer, a 3 mana 2/3 with menace and lifeline is already the sort of creature that at least makes your ears perk up. Serving as a sacrifice outlet that surveils for you and acts as a card draw engine in the late game pushes this vampire over the top into being what will surely be a control all star. The new “five or more mana values” threshold is not as hard to meet as you think it might be- Sanguine Spy helps feed your graveyard alongside the many card advantage pieces like Ransack the Lab that black excels at taking advantage of. These upsides don’t mean “put this in every black deck”, but one ought to seriously consider including it in most of them.
Grisly Sigil is a very strange removal spell. At face value, meeting the “noncombat damage” threshold might seem like an irrationally high bar to clear. However, so long as you pay the Casualty cost, Grisly Sigil will always manage to meet this threshold thanks to the Casualty copy resolving first and pinging your target for one. What this means is that, in the average use case, you can deal four total damage to a creature, or, crucially, a planeswalker, while also gaining life. That’s quite a bit of bang for your buck! The downsides to consider here are the fact that you essentially will never be happy casting this without copying it and that it’s a sorcery, so you can’t necessarily take as much advantage of your creature fodder as you typically might like to. With that being said, Grisly Sigil is a solid inclusion that brings you quite a bit of value if you can properly manage the relatively fiddly setup, and is certainly a reliable budget option.
Unfortunately, the new take on Hideaway has not managed to do this card any favors, as this enchantment is quite simply far too slow for far too minor of a payoff. Twenty cards in a graveyard is not necessarily unachievable, but unless you’re in a deck that is designed to self-mill, it will not happen with any sort of quick-enough consistency in normal gameplay. To that end, treat this card as a 3-mana do-nothing that might net you a free spell five or six turns in the future. There are infinitely better things you can be doing on curve, and getting this out in the late game has far too little impact to justify waiting for the chance to untap with it.
Cut of the Profits
While this card can read like it promises to be Black’s take on Blue Sun’s Zenith, it’s probably best to treat it like a worse version of Deadly Dispute. Firstly, you’ll never want to ever cast this without paying the casualty cost unless you have an empty board and are hellbent. With that in mind, if you cast it Cut of the Profits for x = 1, you’re paying 3 mana, a relevant creature, and two life to draw 2 cards. x = 2 leaves you four mana in the hole to draw four cards and lose four life, which is probably the closest thing to a sweet spot for this card. X = 3, the upper limit of what you’ll feasibly do with this card on a regular basis, charges 5 mana and 6 life to draw 6 cards. For a sorcery that carries so many additional costs, it frankly seems like your Cut of The Profits is too low to make taking the gig worth it.
If for some reason you have 9 mana and a creature sitting around, you can go ahead and cast this for its Casualty cost to find your Thassa’s Oracle and Tainted Pact. Yay? The only way you’re ever happy casting this is when you win the game outright that turn with the cards you tutor- a scenario that is highly unlikely for a 5 mana sorcery.
Evaluating this card is pretty simple. Multicolored aristocrats decks will rejoice, and 5 color janklords will name this card as the godparent to their children. A good rule of thumb here is that you’re happy with this card by the time you’re regrowthing at least 3 cards.
Shakedown Heavy is another in a long line of undercosted bodies that come with a downside for you or the ability for your opponent to lock it down until they’re able to deal with it- think Bloodvial Purveyor or Gitrog, Horror of Zhava. So, let’s evaluate the body and how the downside looks. A three mana 6/4 menace is fantastic, full stop. The downside is that you’re at a net tempo loss for a turn by having your opponent turn it into a Phyrexian Arena. So, yeah, it’s pretty good. “Big body or cards” is a tried-and-true way to build Midrange, and it is never not useful to have an extra card each turn in Control. Don’t forget that you’ll still get attack triggers!
Mono White Aggro is one of the most powerful and most frequent decks you will see across from you at the table in Gladiator, and Whack will kill just about any white creature it targets. That’s about it for upside. Downside wise, it’s a four mana sorcery for anything other than a white creature, and -4/-4 is not a relevant enough effect to justify the cost and casting restrictions when Green Stompy and Aggro decks are running rampant and Blue control decks have a good density of finishers. Compare this to Ray of Enfeeblement, which has a harder time killing things but is much cheaper and an instant while still having utility as a trick. Until we get to a point where 70% of the meta are Mono White, Whack doesn’t have much of a future.
That’s about it for Black cards in New Capenna. Someday, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you, reader, to do a service for me. But until that day – accept this article as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.