Hello Folks! I hope you are having a good week thus far!
Today I wanted to look at the best cards out there that rock both Blue and Black, but nothing else! From the split-ness of Spite // Malice to the gold of Lim-Dul's Vault to the hybrid of Dimir Guildmage, there are a number of powerful and iconic cards in this color!
Please note that this list is not based on color identity, but the actual color of the card instead. Consider Probe. It’s a Blue spell with a Black kicker. For Commander, that has the color identity of Blue and Black, sure, but it ain’t both colors. It just exists in one, Blue. Also note that these are cards from a casual kitchen table eye, not for Standard, Modern, Legacy or Vintage abusiveness. A card which is extremely good in one of those formats and dominated still has to carry over here, and not all cards do. This is a distinct metagame, with its own rules and structures. Multiplayer! Commander! Silvered-bordered craziness! Cubes! Pauper! There are a number of styles out there that folks are playing, but away from the competitive Constructed tables, what is the best?
Let’s take a look!
Before we get started, there are around 176 cards that are both Blue and Black and nothing else. How many of them have I not played with? Just six! 1
Let’s begin with a little honorable mention action.
Honorable Mention: Spite // Malice & Silumgar’s Command
Blue and Black love having options. When you are a color that really tends to be more about answers than problems, then you need the right answer. How do you best have those? Cards like Spite // Malice and Silumgar's Command fill in the holes. Spite // Malice can either counter or kill anything not a land or a Black creature, it never stays in my hand for long. Silumgar's Command is great with four separate options, three of which are card advantage, and fourth of which often is. Counter something and kill a ‘walker. Kill a creature and destroy a ‘walker. And bouncing has a lot of flexibility as a way to survive removal or blocks, adding a useful tempo element, reloading a creature with a powerful enters-the-battlefield trigger, dealing with auras and so much more. These sorts of cards ooze card options.
10. Consuming Aberration
Blue and Black don’t often have big beaters that hit powerfully and win the game quickly. Consuming Aberration is one of the notable exceptions. As you cast spells, you mill cards from your foes’ libraries until you hit that land. And you will be surprised at just how often one or more opponents are going to dig four or six cards deep and make your Aberration +9/+9 from one spell. It’s so effective for multiplayer because it mills each opponent and grows based of all of the opposing graveyards, not just one player’s. Even if someone is Tormod's Crypt’ed or Bojuka Bog’ed and devoid of a graveyard, it’ll still bring the heat. ABE-rration On!
9. Sphinx Summoner
Ah yes, the heavily reprinted Sphinx Summoner. The Sphinx Summoner has a lot of great things going for it. Firstly, it’s a 3/3 flyer that can do stuff at the kitchen table. Much like the similarly priced Shriekmaw, it has a built-in level of evasiveness, 3 damage, and brings card advantage. Here you get a free tutor for an artifact creature. And since you are playing an artifact creature to drop this, you’ll always have other targets. It’s amazing in a dedicated artifact deck that likes the colors. Outside of those it’s still strong. You could get Solemn Simulacrum or Baleful Strix and similar cards all day long. You can also abuse the crap out of its ability in your colors. Self-bounce? Reanimation? Blink? Cards like Ghostly Flicker come to mind as ways to get a lot more value from your Summoner of Sphinxes.
8. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Ashiok has proven to be a pretty interesting card at casual games. In casual duels, it certainly can dominate quite ably, with the exiling of cards from the library being a more efficient method of milling, since they can’t come back with reanimation or give someone threshold. Being able to put an exiled creature card onto your side of the battlefield is pretty nifty as well, and it’s where Ashiok really lives. You almost never get to ultimate level, but it’s there if you want. Ashiok thus plays nicely with a lot of common mechanics in their colors, such as control or milling. Note that Ashiok also works well with the Eldrazi that want to put cards your opponent owns that are exiled into their graveyard for a powerful effect.
There are multiple cards in color with Ashiok that are going to love to use those exiled cards for various powerful effects, like Wasteland Strangler or Ulamog's Nullifier. Ashiok is going to invade your dreams tonight . . .
You might wonder why Recoil is here. Stop wondering. No bounce spell gives you the ability to be a Vindicate if the conditions are right (No cards in their hand when you cast it). Unlike most modern bounce spells, it works on any permanent, including lands. It’s not card disadvantage. It’s so powerful that it has never really been reprinted in this powerful form despite the obvious combination of those two abilities. It really makes a Waste Not or Megrim sing. It’s a great spell, and one of the best bounce options you’ll find anywhere.
6. The Scarab God
There is something palpably valuable in a card that has a strong stick-to-it ability. Something that lingers. Something that hangs around turn after turn, providing value. Academy Ruins. Genesis. Volrath's Stronghold. Most of the Gods. Planeswalkers. These sorts of cards give you a long-game value that gains cards and power over time and can really impact the board.
It’s no wonder that The Scarab God wound up being the best of the three in Hour of Devastation.It has a stronger long-game. We know it’s power. Because it drains the life of every opponent as a free upkeep trigger, and converts that to scrying, you’re always using it to set up your card draw. It provides a clock and hits players from a different angle than they might normally protect with damage prevention or combat protection. You can’t Maze of Ith life loss. And then The Scarab God can exile a bunch of opposing creatures over time, thus providing gentle removal and pushback against the huge graveyard abuse that’s common in the kitchen table metagame, all while giving you a powerful 4/4 body. Oh, and it’s a 5/5 creature that comes back after it dies. It’s reactive and proactive, it kills and sets up draws, and it works beautifully in a Zombie deck, although it doesn’t require it. Long May The Scarab God Rule!
5. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
There are a few different Tezzeret planeswalkers in Blue and Black, but this one is clearly the top of the heap. Why is Tez, AOB so good? Well let’s look! Firstly, Tez is card advantage. The +1 draws an artifact each time you use it, and since you are digging five cards down, you almost always find something useful. Sol Ring! Lightning Greaves! Myr Incubator! Don’t forget that Tez fixes mana bases. I have used him to get Ancient Den or Great Furnace to ensure I had those colors. Darksteel Ingot? Mox Diamond? Gilded Lotus? And then you can get anything from strong artifact creatures to powerful artifacts like Mind's Eye or whatever else flips up. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you put it in your deck, it’s worth getting. And then you can go wide by swinging with 5/5 dorks that don’t have the “until the end of turn” clause attached. I like going wide with Armillary Sphere. Note that Tez can also turn an artifact creature into an artifact creature, so you can make that cool Silver Myr a 5/5 death machine. And he’s a win-con as well with the ultimate. How is that not the 5th best card in this color combo?
4. Dragonlord Silumgar
We all know how good Sower of Temptation was during its run in Standard when it stole a creature for as long as you controlled the Sower. It was an immediate and permanent entry to all things kitchen table, and remains a card with a strong cachet for everything from Commander to multiplayer to control fodder in duels. Sower works. So it’s no surprise that Sower’s big daddy, Dragonlord Silumgar, would be as good as it is.
But why? What does our good Elder Dragon Lord add to the table? Firstly, you can steal a ‘walker as well. That is a useful addition to how powerful the Dragonlord can be. The option to steal their Sarkhan Vol, their Karn Liberated or even their Garruk Wildspeaker is pretty potent. You can use the loyalty ability immediately, and keep it as long as your Dragonlord is around to keep it Seduced with Power. And maybe a little gold.
Another powerful addition to the conversation is the size of Dragonlord Silumgar. The major issue with Sower is that you can kill it easily, thus getting your stuff back. The Dragonlord can’t be killed with a Shock or Lightning Bolt Effect. It’ll take a much bigger kill spell to answer the Dragonlord. The result of these various additions makes Dragonlord Silumgar one of the most powerful Dimir cards ever created.
In Silumgar’s name you shall reign.
3. Sygg, River Cutthroat
If you like drawing cards, the allow me to introduce you to your next best friend. Card advantage players? This here is Sygg, Cutthroat by the Rivers. Where Sygg shines is the cheap 2-drop casting cost. You can easily cast him with the hybrid mana option, and you can even run him in Mono-Blue, Mono-Black, , or whatever. He comes down fast and delivers a strong value turn after turn. I find Sygg to be especially potent in multiplayer, and Commander specifically, where lots of people lose 3 or more life a turn, and it’s constantly triggering at the end of any turn in which someone was smashed in combat for three. You can certainly “Encourage” life loss by attacking. The only thing keeping Sygg at bay from the #1 spot is the “end of turn” delay on it. Also note that you only draw one card, not one card for each opponent that lost 3 or more life. Those limitations hurt, but it’s still a Whirling Dervish of Card Drawing Emancipation that will liberate those card drawing qualms from your senses as you draw an ever-impressive stack of cards.
2. Mind Funeral / Glimpse the Unthinkable
Now there is a trick to milling cards. Unless they win the game on the spot, or they have some addition to the card, (such as the milling added to the countering of Induce Paranoia) the vast majority of these cards are card disadvantage. However, these two sorceries are powerful at winning the game given the massive amount of card milling that is about to happen. Glimpse is usually game over in almost any Limited environment where you have 40 cards. Playing it in multiples is just mean. It’s exactly the sort of card you want to Twincast, Mirari or Uyo, Silent Prophet to get a few additional triggers. Glimpse is basically a cheap Searing Wind in a lot of environments. That’s why it’s one of the most expensive casual-only sorceries in the game. And don’t sleep on Mind Funeral either which can often dig so deeply that you can slip past Glimpse in power. It’s a fun and powerful card that also has a hefty pricetag. My casual people know what’s up!
1. Sire of Stagnation
Eldrazi for the Win-Razi! Clearly Sire of Stagnation is in the upper-tier of cards in casual play. A six-mana investment yields a 5/7 butt making it harder to kill with damage dealing removal or in combat. Meanwhile anytime a foe drops a land, they give you two cards and exile two of their own. That’s palpably powerful. The Sire is a strong entry in the vein of Consecrated Sphinx. Note that the trigger is when a land enters the battlefield. So if an opponent drops Terramorphic Expanse and then cracks it for a Mountain, you get two triggers, they exile four from their library and you draw four cards. We all know how much people in casual land just adore their land fetching. So a Kodama's Reach or Cultivate, a Hour of Promise or similar effect is going to get a bunch of cards. You can search your library and give them lands with a few effects like Yavimaya Dryad. It also adds an interesting layer to something like a Veteran Explorer or New Frontiers.
But even without all of that synergy, with land fetching, there are enough lands coming out to play that you can expect to see a lot of triggers. Most casual players are willing to trade a couple of exiled cards from their library to add another land to their fat stack, and you net cards quite often. As I mentioned earlier, there are a number of cards that can use the exiled cards as fodder for various effects in addition to just milling folks.
Now we shall bow to our Eldrazi Lord.
And there we have it! I hope you enjoyed this little trek through all things dark and soggy. So how did I do? Anything I missed? Anything you forgot about? Just let me know!
Previous Color Pair Top Tens:
1 The cards I haven’t played are Contraband Kingpin, Disciple of Deceit, Spatial Binding, Flooded Woodlands, Haunter of Nightveil, and Merrow Grimeblotter. I don’t ever recall playing against the Grimeblotter or Woodlands, but the others have been played against me.