Archfiend of Ifnir
Starting Black with a bang! A 5/4 flyer for five is just a beast, and the ability is insane in a set with cycling. I don’t imagine cycling this out much, but it is obviously good to have the option for the rare times where you are manascrewed and need something quickly.
Three mana for a 4/3 lifelinker is insane; if you have this, try to have a good amount of two-mana fodder to drop a counter on, as this is pretty tough to beat at its best size. As a 3/2 it’s still solid, but unexciting.
Wind Drakes are pretty hard to cut, even though you’re never really ecstatic to have them. Solid mid-pack pickup. Haste is nice, but not big on the evaluation.
This is a great card; even at face value it is solid, and if you can cast this plus another spell in the midgame after trading one of your creatures, it can be game-breaking.
Bontu the Glorified
I think this is the second best God for Limited, behind Rhonas. The ability makes attacking extremely uncomfortable for your opponent (as 4/6 is a huge blocker and will eat most things in the format, and you can just sac a smaller creature to activate it), and it is a solid attacker. I like this a lot.
Cartouche of Ambition
Lifelink is a pretty powerful ability, as this can make an evasive creature impossible to race. I think this is powerful enough to be worth eating the eventual 2-for-1, and obviously Trials make it much better.
A bit expensive for my taste in Draft, but should be a absolute bomb in Sealed. This is probably playable in a defensive-minded deck, but the difference between 6 and 7 mana is huge, and so at this cost this isn’t a good card in every deck.
Menace is a good keyword, making this a bit better than your random 3 mana 3/2 dork.
Just don’t play it.
This would be a mediocre card in most formats, but here with the -1/-1 counter cards this might be worth a good pick, maybe even closer to a 3.
This is a one-drop with two-drop stats AND a very relevant ability. A good card which should be picked early accordingly.
If you need a turtle, there’s one for you. Not exciting, but cards like this are playable in slow formats.
Faith of the Devoted
This is a gimmick card, which I dislike, but sometimes it will be excellent. I’d not pick this early, but be aware if the table is passing stuff like this to you and adjust accordingly – after getting this and some other “discard matters” card, you start picking up cyclers much higher.
Same thing as most one-mana creatures: too small to matter. Pass.
Rating : 3.5
Removal is always at a premium, more so in this format because there aren’t that many of them, and this prevents Embalm. This is the best black common and a good way to start a draft.
Always a good card, Gravedigger gets better in this format where you can cycle away your fatties to find mana early and return them on-curve.
This is a good card for low-curve aggressive decks only. Otherwise, stay away.
Horror of the Broken Lands
Another great black common. This thing is very, very hard to block, and can be cycled away for one mana, which is super relevant in the color. A high pick.
Lay Bare the Heart
This is one of the better discard spells for limited in a while as this takes pretty much everything, but I still don’t like it much. Too situational for my taste.
Liliana, Death’s Majesty
High loyalty, protects itself, powerful minus ability and wins the game when ultimate. Liliana checks all marks of the best Limited planeswalker bombs.
Six power for five mana across two creatures is already a pretty good rate, and once you remember that every single Embalm creature in the format is a Zombie when coming back from the graveyard, this starts to look like the really sick bomb it is.
Lord of the Accursed
Again, remember Embalm creatures are Zombies. This is a good Lord in most decks.
Not a great card. I’d only play this if I really, really needed the two-drop, even considering the small synergies available for this effect in the set (Embalm and “few-cards-in-hand-matters” stuff).
Nest of Scarabs
Even in the decks where this is supposedly good it doesn’t seem to do that much. I’d stay away.
Never / Return
Rating : 4.o
Unconditional removal that would already be great by itself, and the Aftermath side can pick up something with Embalm later on. Premium card.
I don’t like wasting time with cards like this in Limited, and this doesn’t have the same digging power as a Read the Bones. I’d avoid it.
This is the kind of card I love: a solid beater that makes life very difficult for your opponent. This is pretty hard to block properly, so it is a great card in my book.
If you can put the counters on something else this is insane and finishes games quickly. Better pick those Doomed Dissenters!
The creature is barely playable, but once you have a lot of cyclers this can be really, really good, making combat a nightmare for your opponent. I’d still not pick it very early, though.
Do yourself a favor and leave this in your sideboard.
Shadow of the Grave
This seems cute on paper, but will disappoint you. Too much setup to not do much makes it unplayable to me.
I don’t think this is very impressive, to be honest – the big 3-drops with the -1/-1 counters are less replaceable than this, and you only get the death trigger off this if you put the counters on itself, and playing it as a 2/3 is really bad.
This is an expensive trick/removal spell, but you can get some pretty absurd blowouts in combat with this.
Stir the Sands
Great card – flexible and powerful on both modes.
One mana tricks are always at least ok this is another one you can retrigger abilities and save big monsters for just one mana.
Even though I know I’ll lose to this card once in a while, I still think it is unplayable. Mediocre on turn 2, horrendous later on, don’t play it.
Trial of Ambition
Diabolic Edict isn’t impressive, but this is cheap enough that you can get multiple re-triggers with Cartouches without losing a lot of tempo, so it can become very good if you have multiple Auras.
Mind Rot has always been a decent card, and cycling is much more powerful in an effect like this. I’d always maindeck one, and maybe two in decks where cycling matters (and there’s a lot of those in black, as we’ve seen)
Wander in Death
This seems like a good card for Sealed, but I think it’s a bit on the slow side for Draft.
Deathtouch is great in Limited and this can cycle in a pinch. Sign me up!