An astounding 18 decks in the Top 64 of the Baltimore Open this past weekend were of the black/white variety. That’s a ridiculously high amount. While some of them were more Eldrazi, and some were more Super Friends, all 18 were strictly 2 colors.
Considering this was the first weekend of the brand new Standard format, we may have a new archetype on our hands.
BW Control was also the deck of choice for my friend Case Kiyonaga at FNM this past week. While some of his card choices might have been the result of wanting to play with as many new cards as possible—a crime I myself have often committed in the wake of a new set—the deck performed extremely well for him. Let’s take a look at his list.
Black/White Zombie Control
As you can see, there’s only the smallest of Zombie themes, but I think Case determined that Relentless Dead was good enough on its own to warrant inclusion in the deck—getting back a Fleshbag Marauder occasionally was just gravy. Relentless Dead can block, get larger with a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar emblem, or even bring back other Relentless Dead from the graveyard. You can also sacrifice them to Vampiric Rites, but I digress! For real this time!
By now you don’t need me to tell you that Declaration in Stone is one of the best removal cards in the format. Not only does it take care of things like Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor for good, it also gets rid of any extra copies that may be littering the battlefield. All told, Case’s deck has an astonishing 16 pieces of removal, and that’s not even counting Wasteland Strangler or the planeswalkers. This being the case, I could definitely see making room for a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet or 2 in the main deck, which Case currently only has in the sideboard.
I don’t know, maybe I’m an unreasonably big fan of Kalitas, but he seems great right now (and, you know, always, for that matter), performing the same work that Declaration in Stone does when creatures hit the bin. Kalitas also does a great job at preventing Archangel Avacyn from transforming. Additionally, you can sacrifice your Relentless Dead to Kalitas, either to get them right back, get other Relentless Dead back, or get a Fleshbag Marauder back.
If you were still wondering whether Sorin, Grim Nemesis was good, you can stop now. No seriously, just go buy them and put them in every black and white deck you play. Every time I saw Sorin on Case’s board he was a nightmare, from the time Case killed his own Ally token to gain 5 much-needed life to the time he drew with Sorin, flipping over a second copy and dealing his opponent 6 damage (okay, life loss! Happy?). The fact that the planeswalker essentially starts at 7 loyalty is ridiculous. Despite the similarities between Sorin and Jace, Unraveler of Secrets/Ob Nixilis Reignited (with them all plussing to draw cards and minusing to kill things), Sorin still brings a lot of uniqueness to the table that the other two can’t touch. It’s only going to take a couple turns of decent draws to kill the opponent with Sorin, and that says a lot.
Case did mention that the Dead Weight in the sideboard should possibly be Shambling Goblin. This makes sense since you’re often accomplishing the same with the Goblin as a -2/-2 modifier would, and you can also get them back with Relentless Dead. They also get buffed by Gideon, but that should go without saying.
I have to admit that I’m not a huge To the Slaughter fan. It reminds me a lot of the punisher mechanic on cards like Browbeat where your opponent gets to choose the least detrimental outcome. There are so many creatures in Standard that you’ll never remove a planeswalker (unless they happen to have an early Jace, Telepath Unbound in play and only a Jace, Telepath Unbound in play), which essentially makes the card a bad Foul-Tongue Invocation. That being said, if you do have delirium, the card gets much, much better, but that doesn’t seem all that common.
While Case’s deck is packed to the brim with brand new cards (21 in the main deck!), I would still be remiss not to talk about Westvale Abbey. Now I have no idea how good the card was for Case since I wasn’t watching all of his matches, but even if it’s simply a worse Vitu-Ghazi the City-Tree, that’s still pretty good. I can’t imagine he was able to make that many Ormendahl, Profane Princes, but it’s worth noting that I don’t think you need to in order for the card to be good. Lands that make (or transform into) creatures are pretty good, kids. Keep that in mind.
I think there are actually a number of valid BW configurations available in Standard right now—some even including Eldrazi!—and the BW mages have some extremely powerful tools at their disposal. If you’re playing Standard in the coming weeks, be ready for the BW archetypes. Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you later.