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Everyone loves the Diabolic Tutor:

Get me something wonderful

But how many tutors is too many? If I'm running a mono-black or black-heavy deck, is there any reason to not just put in four Tutors? What are the possible downsides?

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Diabolic Tutor is a classic example of a weeder card: a card that seems really good to a beginner, but much much less appealing to an experienced player. – corsiKa Oct 24 '14 at 19:57
up vote 19 down vote accepted

There are two basic reasons to use a tutor:

1) You have a card that you want more than 4 of, but there is no similar substitute available.

2) To be able to have a 'toolbox' of 1-of answers to different types of threats.

So what is the card in your deck that you wish you could have more than 4 of? What are possible substitutes for it in the format you're building for? Is using a turn and extra mana to get at it preferable to the substitute card? The primary reason not to put in a tutor is if your deck can reliably deliver on its designed win condition without needing access to more than 4 of a particular card.

Toolbox decks are usually meta-game haterators, so it's tough to talk about them in the abstract. Mono-black isn't usually known for it though. Toolbox tutors are more often things like Birthing Pod searching up creatures with desirable enters-the-battlefield effects.


Diabolic Tutor specifically, your biggest challenge on that one is how it impacts your mana curve. What are the 5-drop cards in your deck you're tutoring for that you must hit on T5 in order to win? What 4-drop card are you giving up the opportunity to play on curve in order to tutor for something that comes out next turn?

Turn 4 is not a good time to be making a play that doesn't impact the board state. Turn 4 is the kill turn for aggro decks in Standard/Modern that got a half-decent starting hand. Tapping out for a tutor also communicates a lot of information to your opponent. e.g., The only reason you tapped out for 4 in mono-black standard and played a tutor instead of an Obliterator, was to go tutor for an Obliterator. They will do everything they can to be ready for it next turn!


In decks for big multiplayer games, go for it, play all the tutors you can. When games regularly go over 10 turns, getting what you need late is more important than playing on-curve early.

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100% agree for your last line. I don't have a black Commander deck that doesn't have both Demonic and Diabolic tutor. There's no reason not to. – corsiKa Sep 21 '12 at 17:45

This question is almost too broad. It depends entirely on your deck, doesn't it? If your deck is a fast black aggro that plans to overwhelm with creatures by turn 5 then obviously taking time out to tutor up a card is an unacceptable loss of tempo. If on the other hand you're running a combo where you can't afford not to have drawn all your pieces by turn 5, then some kind of tutoring will be a necessity.

I do think Diabolic Tutor is a well-costed card: 4 mana and a card is a sizeable investment to make, to the point where it may very well not be worth it in any fast environment of finely tuned decks. It's more likely to be worth it in slow formats like Limited (where you plan to win by drawing your bombs) or possibly, as mentioned, Multiplayer - though I would caution that alerting your opponents that you just drew the best card in your deck may increase your chances of them viewing you as a threat!

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I'd say it's the other way around. When is it worth wasting 4 mana worth of tempo for the gain of exchanging one card in your hand for one from your deck? I think you need a good reason even to run Demonic Tutor.

But as always in MtG it's situational. What do you want to accomplish? How have you planned to win/not lose? We can give the best suggestions if you provide a decklist.

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Definitely disagree about demonic tutor. The fact that diabolic exists shows that demonic tutor is a broken card, which means you should probably be playing it if allowed. – corsiKa Sep 21 '12 at 17:44
@corsiKa You can't argue like that. Do you think Garruks companion is an auto include because it's better than Grizzly Bears? I've hardly ever seen any tier 1 constructed decks Diabolic Tutors, and almost all of them was in Block. There's a huuuuuge difference between demonic and diabolic since when you hit 3-4 mana you can play tutor for a cheap spell and cast it the same turn. Say you play a fast aggressive proactive deck. You goal is to disrupt your opponent and threat him with fast guys. Something in the lines of Suicide black or Team america... – AndSoYouCode Sep 24 '12 at 10:49
Against slow decks you'll have to win fast (before they manage to take control) and against fast(er) decks you need to stop them fast or race them for the win. This means it's a huge deal to spend a whole turn not doing anything affecting the board (or your opponent). Since it's constructed and you're only playing quality cards it's often more important that you do something right now, and something next turn, than only doing something better next turn. – AndSoYouCode Sep 24 '12 at 10:49
We'll just have to agree to disagree then. Just because you draw him doesn't mean you -have- to play him. But it does give you 4 copies of whatever you need in your deck, for very very cheap. – corsiKa Sep 24 '12 at 15:01

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