Top Ten B/W Cards of All Time!
Hello folks and welcome back to my post-Dominaria Top Ten Epic List of Best Color Combinations.
I was writing this list and knocking out entries over a few months. Now we have just three chapters to go! I wanted to wait until after spoiler season and such, and now we’ll finish with three straight weeks of these lists to conclude everything.
Today I wanted to continue to move from my least favorite enemy color combination () through to my favorite (). Today we are stopped off in the middle at . At the end you’ll have a chance to check out the previous editions of this series as well.
So today I want to look at the best cards of all time for kitchen table play.
For purposes of counting as a Black and White card, it needs to be just Black and White, with hybrid, gold, aftermath, or split cards and such all counting. But something with the color identity Black and White does not count. A card like Arvad the Cursed will certainly count, but one like Spectral Lynx won’t count:
By the by, I have played:
There are roughly 110 cards out there. Of them, I have played all but seven!1
It’s important to point out that this color combination is one of utility, not always sheer power. It answers things. It has mass removal effects like Culling Sun as well as things like discard, graveyard removal, recursion and more. Its two-color cards tend to focus on being helpful rather than dominant, so while the color is very deep with tools and such, you aren’t going to find as many obvious powerhouses here for our list today.
So, what are the best cards for casual or multiplayer or Commander?
10. Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts
I still think Teysa is one of the best cards ever printed for multicolored, casual, Commander and whatever you are looking for, compared to her actual price on the secondary market. She’s amazing. Due to protection from dorks, she is unblockable and will always swing for four damage. That’s powerful stuff. Then her vigilance allows her to stay back to block, and she will always survive blocking a creature. That simultaneously makes Teysa both perfectly efficient on offense and perfectly efficient on defense. Teysa is perfect. She is great.
Oh, and she’s a No Mercy on a stick. Did something hit you for damage? Then it’s going to die! And it’ll make you a 1/1 Spirit flying token for free for your trouble. Teysa combines one of the best enchantments ever printed in No Mercy with a perfect force of nature. Teysa is a perfect card. I just wish she’d have cost six mana, but she’s still amazing.
9. Obzedat’s Aid
Let’s face it. Black and White is all about recursion. And cards like Immortal Servitude above show just how good it is. But the best Dread Return or Beacon of Unrest or Resurrection effect ever printed is Obzedat's Aid. There’s an obvious and simple reason why. You can recur any permanent. I love bringing back a powerful planeswalker that my foes had to work hard to take out. I have brought back a key fetch land to crack open another color of mana in my Five Color Cromat Commander deck. I have recurred a powerful dork, useful artifact, and an enchantment such as Sylvan Library. It’s a great reanimation effect because it has maximum versatility. You can recur any permanent from your graveyard to the battlefield. Nothing is better.
8. Necromancer’s Covenant
The Necromancer's Covenant may not have the cachet of casual tables, but it’s a strong addition to any deck because it brings a few favors to the party. Don’t sleep on the value of just exiling all of the creatures in someone’s graveyard. The kitchen table is a place that loves to abuse graveyards, and you need tools to answer that abuse. Even if they aren’t, abusing their graveyard you can exile a bunch of dorks to remove the likelihood of anything hitting later.
In addition, you will get a number of 2/2 Zombies with lifelink for your trouble. Don’t make the mistake of assuming this is a card that needs to be in a Zombie deck to be good. Sure, it’s better in a Zombie deck! But it’s perfectly fine outside of it in giving your stuff a little lifelink boost.
The card also has a lot of in-color synergy to abuse, like Living Death that recurs all creatures out to the battlefield. Ah, Darryl, did you creatures get exiled? So sorry! I guess you don’t get anything back. It’s also a perfect follow up to mass removal like Wrath of God or Damnation as a way to get a bigger effect and make an instant army. It loves #5 on the list and similar effects too. It’s an awesome card. If you aren’t playing it, I have to wonder why? I run it in my Commander Cube and folks adore playing with it.
7. Vindicate / Utter End / Anguished Unmaking
Ah yes, removal! This trifecta of removal is among the best removal out there. Vindicate is the grand-daddy, and there still is little you can’t do with it. Despite costing an additional mana and not working on lands, Utter End tends to be the better card these days due to its instant nature and exiling effect. And Anguished Unmaking slides right alongside these wonders. You can also look at Mortify or Necrotic Sliver or something for other options. But these three are great, and you find them doing yeoman’s work all the time!
That’s why you’ll see at #6 . . .
6. Angel of Despair / Ashen Rider
Removal on a stick is just as useful as removal generally. There are a lot of things you can do with it. You can abuse it with in-color blink effects like Cloudshift or Glimmerpoint Stag. You can reanimate them with in-color effects like Unburial Rites or Beacon of Unrest. We have a lot of great options for you to abuse these guys.
But you know what?
We don’t need them. Angel of Despair is iconic and great even without a lick of synergy. It flies. It has a big butt. It Vindicates on arrival. What more could you even want? Even without the glitz and the glimmer, these two forces are going to destroy (exile) something key on arrival and stick around for swinging and blocking from above.
What’s not to like here?
5. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
The good thing about Sorin is that you get a cheap, 4-drop ‘walker with a solid long game. His +1 is no joke, making you a solid 1/1 lifelinking Vampire every time you use it to upgrade his loyalty. The best part is that -2 though, getting multiple emblems that make you feel like you are playing Maraxus in Arena League. That sort of untouchable Glorious Anthem effect is powerfully evocative.
4. Debtors’ Knell
There is a ton of synergy that you can run in order to get the best value out of the Debtors' Knell and the ongoing sweet card advantage it brings to the battlefield. I like stuff like Karmic Guide or Sun Titan for pure value, but you could also lean toward things like Angel of Despair, from above, or Nekrataal or something big like Avacyn, Angel of Hope or another forceful beater. As long as you can put it into your graveyard, you can Debtors' Knell it out! For example, Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre is a no go: sorry. But Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger is fine, it doesn’t have the ”if this is put into the graveyard from anywhere, instead shuffle” trigger.
They are so awesome!
Note a keyword in the Knell of the Debtors. “In a graveyard.” Not from your graveyard, but any one you want! I’ve been giving you examples from your own deck, and internal synergies. And they work! But this works wonders with your foes’ stuff as well. Giving you the chance for one free recursion every one of your upkeeps from any graveyard is pretty rock-tastic, and thus, the high ranking on today’s list!
3. Sorin, Grim Nemesis
Sorin, Grim Nemesis is my 2nd favorite Sorin, with Sorin Markov barely hitting at #1.The Nemesis of the Grim is pretty dire for your foes, as well. His +1 is one of the best “draw a card” abilities that any ‘walker has. The massively effective combination of card advantage and hitting people for life loss is powerful clock. He begins with six freakin’ loyalty, so you get to seven easily enough and thus can be hard to answer with normal attacking or damage. Also note that his -X can be used immediately, or later, to take out planewalkers or dorks early, using his high loyalty for good effect. Frankly, I’ve never ultimate-d him, because I’d always rather kill something or draw cards and drain life from various effects, but it’s nice to know that you have a big effect that could win the game in one hit. This Sorin is Grimly Good.
2. Athreos, God of Passage
Not all of the two-color Gods were created equally. In most of the Theros Block two-color combos, they either hit lower on their list or missed it completely. Phenax, God of Deception wasn’t anywhere near my Top Ten list for , because it’s not that good. (Although The Scarab God hit, for you God fans out there). Similarly, in my Top Ten List, Ephara, God of the Polis, which is a pretty good card, hit #10, but no higher. And that’s my key point — the Gods don’t tend to be as high as Athreos.
That’s how good Athreos is.
Athreos is cheaper than most of the other options out there. He still has all of the things you want from a Theros God, like indestructibility. But his ability is key! In any 20 life game, like normal casual or multiplayer, the 3 life tax means it creates a strong tension between people who don’t want to die and people who don’t want you to have a recursive loop. Lower level stuff tends to get past Athreos and the Life Party. For example, I have seen someone pull out a lot of their remaining basics by looping Sakura-Tribe Elder during the game. But the pressure of a free Raise Dead really pushes folks deeply.
Even in a 40 life format (*cough* Commander *cough*), Athreos tends to be a great long-game clock that also nets you good stuff here and there, at least in the early game. It comes down fast enough to be a game-changer. Athreos is good enough to break board states open. It’s brilliant against a board wipe spell. If one player cast Damnation and wiped the board and you lost 5 other creatures, what are they going to do? Give them back? Take 15 life? Give you the two worst back and take 9 life instead? You get the point.
1. Kaya, Ghost Assassin
I honestly don’t know if anything will ever unseat the power of Kaya from the top spot on this list. She has locked this in as well as any entrant on most lists. Look at the power and flexibility of her! Syphon Soul? Syphon Mind? Blinking? All three of those are powerful effects in a battle at any kitchen table, and you can immediately use all three! Five loyalty with a four-mana ‘walker? Kaya is going to be one of your best friends!
She’s amazing. She works perfectly in virtually any deck that has the colors!
I love Kaya. I have called her one of the best planeswalkers ever printed for casual, used her as key cards in decks as far away as Oath of Kaya up through a Commander deck just yesterday. She’s that rocktastic! There is nothing that Kaya can’t do! Kaya is always going to be your best ally.
And there we have it! I hope you enjoyed our little trek through all things !
What did I miss? Where did I go wrong? Anything in here you forgot about? Let’s toss it in and get to town!
And as always, thanks for reading my article.
P.S. — Oh, as a quick FYI, most readers out there know that I have published more than 1000 articles on MTG. That’s a lot of articles! I began doing a Throwback Thursday post on my Facebook page where I link to an older article of mine that I still like, and then give you a quick paragraph of context about it. Check it out! Also, feel encouraged to add me as friend. If you have invested time in reading my articles then you are my friend. So add me!
Did you like this top ten list? Want to read more? Great! Here are my first seven two-color lists for you to check out:
1 I have not played Start // Finish, Campaign of Vengeance, Drana's Emissary, Executioner's Swing, Maw of the Obzedat, Purge the Profane, or Unraveling Mummy. I am not counting the three cards from Dominiaria either.