Animate Dead - Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme

Animate Dead | Illustration by Bastien L. Deharme

Are you in the market for some spells that manage those annoying creatures that keep smashing in your brains at the Commander table? Maybe you just aren’t getting enough cards in hand in a given game or want some spicy combos to get some surprise victories out of nowhere. If so, there’s an abundance of black enchantments that give you want you’re looking for.

Black’s best enchantments range from splashy combo pieces to oppressive hand and board disruption that can completely shut down some strategies. Whether you’re looking to up the mean factor of your decks or are just in the market for some mana or card advantage engines, you can find what you need with a black enchantment.

What Are Black Enchantments in MTG?

Out of the Tombs - Illustration by Games Workshop

Out of the Tombs | Illustration by Games Workshop

Enchantments are a permanent type in Magic. They’re common throughout all 5 colors as a card type that stick around on creatures as auras or passively on the battlefield producing an effect. To qualify for this list, a card needs to meet two criteria: it’s black, and it’s an enchantment on at least one of its faces.

Black doesn’t typically care to cast a lot of enchantments but instead leans on its enchantments as tools to generate value. Black as a color excels at trading resources like life and creatures for benefits or different resources.

More than any other color, black cares about creatures in graveyards, with many of these enchantments putting them there or digging them out. There are effects that put lots of cards in your graveyard or selective ones like dredge and mill tend to empower what you’re doing.

Additionally, black thrives at restricting enemy resources with hand disruption and tools to force players to lose creatures over and over. Generally, if a card’s goal is to restrict your opponent’s access to their creatures and hand constantly, I’d bring it up in a rule 0 conversation prior to a Commander game. A lot of groups don’t love playing into these kinds of effects.

#40. Mortal Combat

Mortal Combat

Mortal Combat wins the game for decks building massive graveyards; the tricky thing about winning with it is keeping it and your graveyard intact by your next upkeep if you’re playing it at sorcery speed. Flashing it in on the end step before your turn, though, can suddenly win you the game without anyone expecting it. Those decks tend to want a high density of creatures and don’t typically have an easy time flashing this in, making it a fun puzzle to build around to try and cheese out some wins.

#39. Sanguine Bond

Sanguine Bond

Sanguine Bond is limited to either combo decks with Exquisite Blood or dedicated life gain decks. In the life gain decks, it can deal massive chunks of damage when you cast Beacon of Immortality or Sanguine Sacrament like a lifegain shotgun. Alternately, Essence Warden and the soul sisters make it a machine gun, dealing 1 damage to a player each time you gain life from a creature entering the battlefield.

#38. Out of the Tombs

Out of the Tombs

Out of the Tombs is the best self-mill effect printed to date. In decks that want a big graveyard, you only need two or three turns for this to give you everything you need to get up and running, whether that’s with reanimation effects fishing out bombs or the biggest Lord of Extinction you’ve ever scene.

#37. Wound Reflection

Wound Reflection

Wound Reflection is black’s version of Furnace of Rath. It’s a two-card combo with Fraying Omnipotence to win on your end step. Add in a Scytheclaw, Quietus Spike, and a few ways to give your creatures evasion, and you’re set up to knock people out regardless of how much life they have.

#36. Black Market

Black Market

Black Market’s cost is the only reason it’s not higher on the list because it can produce insane quantities of mana in decks eagerly sacrificing their own stuff. You really want to be able to immediately put counters on it when it comes out, as you definitely want to get mana the turn after it resolves. But if you’re able to kill or sacrifice three or four creatures, this produces enough mana to quickly take over a game.

#35. Attrition


Attrition provides decks that want sacrifice outlets a tool to remove any non-black threats your opponent’s resolve. Just holding up a black with a single token ready to sacrifice prevents players from casting threatening creatures. Even just its threat of activation everyone has to respect.

#34. Painful Quandary

Painful Quandary

Painful Quandary is one of the best “no-win situation” effect Magic offers. Unlike Tribute, both options you give your opponents with this are brutal. People need to cast spells; they’re either taking an eighth of their life each time or losing a card. Playing through a Quandary is brutal.

#33. The True Scriptures

The True Scriptures

Sheoldred flips into The True Scriptures saga, which usually wins the game if it sticks. It requires a bit of setup, but most games have at least one player getting eight cards in the bin, so flipping it can be relatively consistent. You do really want all three chapters for the mana cost, but it’s nice that you’re typically going to get at least a three for one should it flip.

#32. Words of Waste

Words of Waste

Words of Waste, when combined with draw X spells, can easily strip every enemy’s hands away all at once. The cost in both mana and additional cards drawn is absolutely worth it when you can remove 12 or more enemy cards at once with it, as your opponents struggle to play with zero cards while you have a tool to keep taking them away.

#31. Death Match

Death Match

Death Match transforms every creature into a Black Dragon. In creature-less decks, it’s a way to make your opponents destroy each other’s things. In creature-heavy decks, you can use it as a way to clean up the board all at once when you create four or five tokens you don’t mind losing. I’d look to pair important creature engine pieces with protection to get the most from it.

#30. Phyresis


Phyresis highlights how busted the infect mechanic is when paired with Nekusar, the Mindrazer, Tor Wauki the Younger, and other creatures that deal direct damage. If you’re running creatures that deal direct damage or attack for ten or more damage at once, this 2-mana enchantment can turn them into a win condition stupidly early.

#29. Bitterblossom


Bitterblossom is challenging to evaluate. On one hand, 1 life for a 1/1 flying Faerie Rogue is a rate I’d pay all day. Once per turn on upkeep makes this effect challenging to justify if you don’t care about more elements of the faerie beyond it just being a body.  If you care about their type, having evasive creatures to peck at your opponents, or the life loss, Bitterblossom can be excellent for you if you’re okay with drawing it as a dead spell on turns 6 or later.

#28. Cover of Darkness

Cover of Darkness

Cover of Darkness takes creature-type decks that love building a wide board and gives them a way to connect for damage. Knights, rats, and zombies all can go from being board-stalled one minute to making a game-winning attack the next for just 1 and a black.

#27. Bastion of Remembrance

Bastion of Remembrance

Bastion of Remembrance is a 3-mana enchantment version of the best aristocrat payoffs in the game. If your goal is to drain out the table by sacrificing dozens of creatures over the course of the game or you plan to loop a single persist creature infinite times, Bastion is a win condition that’s harder to interact with than its Blood Artist and Zulaport Cutthroat competitors.

#26. Phyrexian Arena

Phyrexian Arena

Phyrexian Arena on turn 2 or 3 usually results in four or five cards for five life; at that rate, it’s insane. Its only issue is the later you draw it, the worse the effect gets. As long as it’s drawing you three or more cards, it’s probably worth running out. If you think the game’s going to be over soon, investing mana elsewhere probably is better.

#25. Call of the Ring

Call of the Ring

Call of the Ring, while slightly narrower than Arena, has two major things going for it: it’s only 2 mana, and it does more than just draw cards. Ring temptation quickly turns cheap creatures into Looter il-Kors. Black decks usually want specific cards in their graveyard to reanimate, flashback, or count towards threshold, delirium, and other graveyard quantity mechanics. These hidden upsides make Call a card a lot of black decks that plan on keeping one or two creatures around at least an upgrade over the slower, more expensive upkeep draw spells.

#24. Waste Not

Waste Not

Waste Not is the biggest discard payoff out there. Two mana makes it easy to deploy early, and when combined with wheels like Wheel of Fortune or consistent discard spells like Sadistic Hypnotist, it produces far more mana, cards, and zombies than is reasonable for its cost.

#23. Nightmare Shepherd

Nightmare Shepherd

Nightmare Shepherd plays well in decks that want to sacrifice creatures over and over but don’t plan to pull them out of the graveyard with other effects. When paired with edicts like Plaguecrafter, you get multiple enters the battlefield and death triggers per edict for crazy value while stripping away enemy creatures.

#22. Necrogen Mists

Necrogen Mists

Necrogen Mists doesn’t take many turns to rip apart your opponents’ game plans. A turn 2 or 3 Mists makes each player have to decide what they really need. When you can take further advantage of this symmetrical discard through payoffs, it becomes a problem the table has to deal with or you’ll run away with the game through sheer value.

#21. Bottomless Pit

Bottomless Pit

Bottomless Pit is rude. Random discard spells, like Hymn to Tourach, tend to lead to non-games when they deny your opponent needed lands or spells to progress with a game plan. In Nath of the Gilt-Leaf and similar discard lists, it’s a brutal effect you’re prepared to work through. Your opponents are less likely to have a good time getting around this until they’re hellbent.

#20. Revel in Riches

Revel in Riches

Revel in Riches, when it was printed, was a novel, quirky win condition you had to work to get to come together. Now, with how much Treasure has entered into Magic with effects like Dockside Extortionist and Prosper, Tome-Bound, this incidentally wins you the game by just playing good spells.

#19. The Meathook Massacre

The Meathook Massacre

The Meathook Massacre takes Zulaport Cutthroat and staples it to a Bane of the Living, both of which are effects aristocrat decks want ample access to. Having a board clear that also can just be cast out as a win condition when your engine is online is outrageous, and because it’s an enchantment, it’s going to stick around through board clears unlike the normal Blood Artists that deal damage as creatures die.

#18. Dictate of Erebos

Dictate of Erebos

Dictate of Erebos usually prevents your opponents from keeping creatures on the board while put alongside aristocrat engines like Ophiomancer and a sacrifice outlet. Flash can enable some tricky plays that shape what creatures you force enemies to sacrifice; you definitely want ample ways to trigger on your own, but in decks that can, it’s brutal.

#17. Grave Pact

Grave Pact

Grave Pact eeks out its spot over Dictate because it’s cheaper. These effects tend to work best when deployed on your turn when you can immediately trigger them, so the mana discount makes it easier to play alongside cards that trigger it like Fleshbag Marauder or Deadly Dispute.

#16. Spreading Plague

Spreading Plague

Spreading Plague, in a 4-player game, is an absolute menace. Usually, when it hits the table, no creature is going to be able to stick around longer than a single turn rotation. In Eldrazi or artifact creature-based decks, this effect can even feel one-sided as colorless creatures are unaffected.

#15. Tainted Aether

Tainted Aether

Tainted Aether can be miserable to play through as a creature-based deck. Token decks in particular can’t really function with it on the table when each creature edict Strip Mines you. If you’re playing few to no creatures outside your commander and your playgroup is cool with it, Tainted Aether is worth considering.

#14. Tortured Existence

Tortured Existence

Tortured Existence slots into any deck that plays a high density of creatures and wants them in the graveyard easily. If you’re looking for a tool to reuse sacrifice effects or loop discard payoffs like Bone Miser, Tortured Existence is the card you need.

#13. Phyrexian Reclamation

Phyrexian Reclamation

Phyrexian Reclamation may cost more per creature than Tortured Existence, but not needing to discard a creature makes it a card advantage tool instead of just card selection. It easily lets you loop sacrifice triggers you want, like Spore Frog and Sakura-Tribe Elder, making it a homerun for self-sacrifice decks.

#12. Contamination


Contamination is black’s version of Blood Moon. While it’s slightly more restrictive in that you need to sacrifice a creature to maintain it, it doesn’t just hit non-basics, making its effect brutal on even 1- or 2-color decks you put it against.

#11. Exquisite Blood

Exquisite Blood

Exquisite Blood combos with anything that deals damage when you gain life to win the game the second anyone loses life or you gain a life. There is no shortage of those effects, including Sanguine Bond and the commander Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose.

#10. Black Market Connections

Black Market Connections

Black Market Connections’s costs actually make it a somewhat difficult decision to make on each of your pre-combat main phases. Its flexibility in drawing cards, making mana, and/or creating a creature all set it above its older value engine enchantments with bonus synergies in creature-type matter decks. Over three turns, this can casually deal 18 damage to you, and as a top deck in the mid to late game, it doesn’t feel great. Early, its ability to produce mana and cards make it easy to include in any black deck.

#9. Bloodchief Ascension

Bloodchief Ascension

Bloodchief Ascension takes little to no effort to get online, and when it is, mass mill, wheel, or creature destruction effects deal massive amounts of damage. One mana for a must-answer win condition in a wide range of archetypes from mill to just black controlling archetypes is worth a high spot.

#8. Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls

We’ve seen risky life-paying effects earlier on this list, but none have the potential Carnival of Souls to both win you games or accidentally kill you. Two mana for a ritual on every creature entering the battlefield produces incredible amounts of mana. If you want to up the power of your Marrow-Gnawer or Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder decks, this spell feels like you can just covert your life into black mana.

#7. Oppression


Oppression cuts off your opponents’ resources dramatically. Decks like Tinybones, Trinket Thief are normally breaking parity on these discards with payoffs of their own like Bone Miser. Your opponents’ discards fuel Waste Not and other payoffs while halving your opponent’s options from hand. It’s brutal and cheap, and it’s monstrous in decks that want it.

#6. Recurring Nightmare

Recurring Nightmare

Recurring Nightmare at one point was considered so threatening it was banned in Commander. I don’t necessarily think it deserves to be banned, but it being a repeatable three mana Zombify that costs a creature could be truly powerful in dedicated reanimator lists. I’m rooting for it to come off the ban list, as I don’t think it’s ban-worthy levels of powerful.

#5. Necromancy


Necromancy not only mirrors one of black’s best sorceries, Reanimate, for just 2 additional mana, it’s also combo piece with Worldgorger Dragon and Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward. Flash makes it a tool to win on an opponent’s end step, which competitive decks value greatly. Fair decks are happy to pay 3 to reanimate an Atraxa, Grand Unifier or Sheoldred, Whispering One.

#4. Dance of the Dead

Dance of the Dead

Dance of the Dead does everything Necromancy does for 1 mana less but without flash. The mana discount makes it helpful to combo off as early as possible, and while the creature requiring a cost to untap is a bit of a tax in decks looking to just cheat in big attackers, that cost is absolutely worth it for a turn three It That Betrays that can swing in.

#3. Animate Dead

Animate Dead

Animate Dead trades the tapped condition, upkeep cost, and +1/+1 for -1/-0. Having the creature untapped with no upkeep cost is absolutely worth the slight power reduction when you predominately care about a large, threatening body, and is roughly the same in terms of combo potential as Dance is.

#2. Yawgmoth’s Bargain

Yawgmoth's Bargain

Yawgmoth's Bargain currently is only legal in Vintage. As it turns out, 1 life for 1 card is an insane rate that any deck that can get it on the table. Academy Rector definitely helps with that gameplan. I get why it’s banned in Commander; with double the life, you can draw twice as many cards.

#1. Necropotence


It’s crazy to me that  Necropotence is legal in Commander while Yawgmoth's Bargain and Griselbrand are banned. Necro is half the mana of Bargain and offers the same rate for cards. Commander is a format with a starting life total of 40; you can dig 39 cards deep as early as turns 1-3 with this to find access to mana acceleration and combos. It’s ludicrous, so much that it’s not only banned in Legacy, its restricted in Vintage. It can go into any deck capable of producing the triple black cost and is typically the best card in the deck.

Best Black Enchantment Payoffs

Black loves sacrificing creatures. Dictate of ErebosGrave PactBlack Market, The Meathook MassacreBastion of Remembrance, and Nightmare Shepherd all care about creatures dying.  Fleshbag Marauder has two functional reprints you can run alongside it with two additional 3 mana creatures that do nearly the same thing when they enter, all of which are three for ones on their own when they hit three opponents’ creatures.

Free sacrifice outlets like Phyrexian Altar and Carrion Feeder can trigger these multiple times as soon as they resolve, which makes them far more effective.

There are also a good number of cards that force everyone to discard cards; having a way to either break that parity so you’re not as punished by the discard, or better yet, turn the discarded cards into value, ramp up these effects power substantially.

Geth's Grimoire, Waste Not, Tinybones, Trinket ThiefLiliana's Caress, The Raven Man, and Tergrid, God of Fright all fit alongside this strategy to choke as much advantage out of your opponent’s discarding as possible.

The other major element these enchantments care about is having stuff to interact with in your graveyard. Entomb, Buried Alive, and Vile Entomber all are examples of ways to get exactly the cards you want from your deck to the bin to take advantage of with a Reanimate or Necromancy.

Looting and wheel effects like Dark Deal move cards from your hand to the graveyard that you can fish out with Phyrexian Awakening for bonus value.

Hermit Druid is a build-around consideration that can dump most of your library into your graveyard for cheap. Looking to win with Mortal Combat? This little druid can help.

All Things Death and Discard

Bloodchief Ascension - Illustration by Adi Granov

Bloodchief Ascension | Illustration by Adi Granov

Black’s best enchantments aren’t all exactly fun to play against for many. Most of the top half of this list are effects I’d mention in a rule 0 conversation when discussing how powerful your deck is and on what angles you plan on attacking your opponents. There are a few two-card combo pieces here with a lot of spells that attempt to stop players from getting to play the game by denying them mana or cards or by just winning so fast they don’t get opportunities to interact.

That disclaimer aside, there are plenty of fun and fair cards that can fit a wide range of playgroups here. Black has some sweet value enchantments that do sweet synergistic things with all kinds of strategies. Hopefully, this list has given you some inspiration, or showcased some spells you hadn’t considered before!

Which are your favorite black enchantments? Let me know in the comments below! Stay up to date with all things Magic by following Draftsim on Twitter, or join the Discord to chat about your favorite topics with fellow minded magic folks!

Thanks again, and have a good one!

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