In MTG, when it comes to the color black, you may think of removal spells, demons, and vampires. But one thing black does incredibly well is drawing cards, often at the cost of paying life. That’s part of black’s whole philosophy: sacrificing some life points to gain some other additional benefit. As such, some of the best black draw cards I’m about to mention, while extremely powerful, are also tricky to play well.
Newer players are often resistant to the idea of reducing their life total, especially from their own cards. But with experience, players learn to leverage those precious life points into a victory. I think the complexity of Magic is what makes it interesting, and it makes for a fun list!
15. Yawgmoth’s Bargain
Yawgmoth’s Bargain skips your draw step, which is a pretty significant drawback. In return, you can draw as many cards as you like in a single turn as long as you have enough life to pay. At a rate of only one life point for each card you draw, this powerful enchantment can fill up your hand quickly, and you can do it multiple times per game.
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14. Midnight Reaper
Midnight Reaper works best when your deck runs lots of creatures, specifically nontoken creatures. In a typical game of Magic, you’re bound to lose several creatures, so refilling your hand each time that happens is a great way to guarantee that you’ll always have useful cards to play.
13. Grim Haruspex
Grim Haruspex is just a better version of Midnight Reaper because you don’t lose life each time its ability is triggered. You also have the option of morphing it instead, in case you want to surprise your opponents at the last second.
12. Yawgmoth, Thran Physician
Yawgmoth, Thran Physician looks like he’s pretty powerful on his own, but there’s actually a popular infinite combo involving him and some other cards, making him even stronger than he first appears.
When Yawgmoth, Thran Physician is paired with any creature with undying, such as Young Wolf, you can continue sacrificing the same undying creature over and over again. This works because of a special rule where +1/+1 counters and -1/-1 counters cancel each other out. This means you can draw as many cards as you like, but you lose one life each time. To offset this downside, you can have a Blood Artist in play, which make your opponents lose one life every time instead!
11. Deadly Dispute
So far, we’ve seen black draw cards where you have to sacrifice life points. Deadly Dispute requires you to sacrifice an artifact or creature, which is arguably a steeper price. However, you get a Treasure token in return, which you can then use as a sacrifice for a second Deadly Dispute.
Obviously, you don’t want to be sacrificing your best artifact or creature to Deadly Dispute, but if you sacrifice something small, it’s usually worth it.
10. Village Rites
Village Rites is a worse version of Deadly Dispute in a few ways. You can only sacrifice a creature, not an artifact, and it doesn’t create a Treasure token. That being said, I think it’s slightly better than Deadly Dispute because it costs one mana instead of two, which can make all the difference in a game.
9. Undead Augur
You’ll only want to put Undead Augur into your deck if it’s a zombie deck. When you’ve got a full army of zombies to work with, you won’t be too worried if some of them fall in combat, because Undead Augur will fill your hand back up again so that you can play another army of zombies!
8. Castle Locthwain
What makes Castle Locthwain so good is that it’s a land card, so you don’t have to worry about it clogging your hand when you have more pressing matters to attend to in a game. Once you have plenty of mana and nothing to do with it, you can put those extra resources to good use and get yourself closer to drawing that card you need.
7. Sign in Blood
Sign in Blood is one of the simpler cards on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less good. Sometimes, simplicity is best.
You pay two black mana, pay two life, and you get to draw two cards. That’s it!
6. Night’s Whisper
You might notice that Night’s Whisper is almost the same card as Sign of Blood, only with minor differences. To tell the truth, in most scenarios, the two serve an identical purpose, so let’s look at how one can be different from the other.
First, Night’s Whisper has a more forgiving mana cost. Rather than pay two black mana, you can pay one black mana and one mana of any color instead. That means Night’s Whisper will fit more smoothly into a multicolor deck where you want to run colors other than black.
However, Sign in Blood gives you the ability to target a player other than yourself, meaning if a player is down to 2 life or less, you can actually use it to win the game. This situation doesn’t come up that often though, which is why I valuable Night Whisper’s flexible mana cost over Sign in Blood’s ability to target other players.
5. Dark Confidant
In terms of life loss, Dark Confidant’s cost can be pretty steep, especially if the average mana cost of your cards is high. Usually, this two-mana creature goes into decks where most of the cards don’t cost that much mana, and where the benefit of having an extra card each turn outweighs the downside of losing life.
4. Phyrexian Arena
Phyrexian Arena is a simple enchantment that does its job well. For the meager cost of one life per turn, you’ll get to draw an extra card each turn. The longer a game goes on, the more Phyrexian Arena puts you in the lead over your opponents, as you’ll have access to more options and more resources.
Once again, don’t worry about the life loss! Either your card advantage will help you win the game before Phyrexian Arena squeezes the last points out of your life total, or you can offset this life loss by playing cards that gain life.
Griselbrand is one of the most powerful creatures in Magic’s history, but its steep mana cost limits the number of decks it can go into. It’s one of those cards that usually wins the game on the spot if you can land it on the battlefield, but getting it there is the tricky part.
Many decks are built around the idea of bypassing Griselbrand’s mana cost and finding some other way to put it onto the battlefield. This is typically done with an Entomb + Reanimate combo, putting Griselbrand into your graveyard and then reanimating it. After that, you draw as many cards as you can, hopefully drawing a game-winning combo. And with its lifelink ability, Griselbrand will regain all those precious life points that you lost.
Necropotence has its downsides, but in most cases, this is a stellar enchantment to play. Even if you skip your draw step, you’ll more than make up for it with the number of cards you can put into your hand. One life per card is a small cost to pay, especially if your deck is loaded with life gain effects, which help you draw even more cards.
My main complaint is that Necropotence doesn’t put the cards into your hand right away; you instead have to wait until your next end step before you get to use it. Given how powerful this card is on its own, however, I think this is more than a fair price to pay.
1. Ad Nauseam
In the right deck, Ad Nauseam is capable of drawing a good chunk of your library, sometimes even the whole thing!
One strategy is to have copies of Angel’s Grace and Phyrexian Unlife in your deck. This lets you use Ad Nauseam to draw your entire library without losing, after which time you can play Thassa’s Oracle to win the game. Those decks will often have a few copies of Lotus Petal available in case you don’t have enough mana to play Thassa’s Oracle from your hand.
Other decks just play Ad Nauseam as-is, relying on the lower mana cost of cards in their deck. Whatever the strategy to running, as long as your deck is prepared for it, you’ll usually win the game on the spot once you play this powerful black instant.
Before you go…
As you can see, my 15 best black card draw cards in MTG will draw you plenty of cards, sometimes more than blue, but it’ll cost you more than just mana. Judging how much life you can afford to pay in exchange for cards is tricky and takes time to learn and balance in your decks.
Running a multicolor deck? See my best card draw lists for the other colors – blue, green, red, colorless, and white.
If building an MTG deck seems like a complex task to you, help is at hand! I’ve got an MTG deckbuilding guide right here that breaks it down into an easy, step-by-step process.
Want some fresh ideas for your next MTG deck? See my Fun MTG Deck Ideas & Themes list!
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- 15 Best Colorless Draw Cards in MTG
- Fun MTG Deck Ideas & Themes to Inspire You!
- How to Build an MTG Deck – Full Guide!
- How to Build an MTG Commander Deck – Full Guide!
Hi, I’m Emily, the tabletop gamer behind My Kind of Meeple. If this article helped you, I’d be honoured if you’d say, “Thanks!” with a £3 coffee on Ko-fi.