Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
White and Black Cards in Magic
Mixing white with black creates one of my favorite Magic blends, combining the martial power and enchantment removal from white with the graveyard revivals and card searches from black.
Both colors also specialize in the lifelink ability, offering several troops that restore your health as they deal damage, and they provide many late-game angels and demons to harass foes with. But with dozens of contrasting cards available, which units reign supreme? These are the ten best black/white duos in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Divinity of Pride
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Divinity only accepts colored mana, so colorless resources from artifacts like "Sol Ring" can't contribute, but his mixed symbols accept either black or white mana, adjusting to your current production.
For five, you get a 4/4 spirit with both flying and lifelink, a fair bargain. But if you have at least 25 life, Divinity also gains +4/+4, going from sturdy to dominating. Thankfully, lifelink and the higher life totals of commander format empower this ability, making Divinity a prime threat in EDH.
9. Athreos, God of Passage
Athreos is one of the best and cheapest god cards in the game, only needing three mana yet possessing incredible 5/4 stats. However, he doesn't count as a creature until your devotion to black and white reaches seven, meaning you'll need five more symbols (added to his own) to fulfill the threshold (Divinity can help with this).
But whether he's a creature or just an enchantment, Athreos is indestructible, and whenever another creature you own dies, he returns it to your hand unless a chosen opponent pays three life. Thus, your foes must constantly pick between losing health or replenishing your hand—take advantage of the trait with self-sacrificing creatures like "Burnished Hart."
8. Souls of the Faultless
A 0/4 isn't amazing for three mana, especially when it needs specific colors and carries defender, preventing it from attacking. However, Faultless compensates with a stellar effect: whenever it suffers combat damage, you gain a corresponding amount of life while the attacking player loses as much.
This triggers even if Faultless dies in the fight, scaling well against late-game eldrazi or other behemoths; if your opponent swings with them, they'll have to pay a price in blood.
7. Karlov of the Ghost Council
This legendary creature works well as both a commander and a regular deck member. For his low price, Karlov carries a fair 2/2 stats, but he gains two +1/+1 counters whenever you gain life! Use black and white's numerous health-regenerating abilities to quickly empower your spirit advisor.
Additionally, by spending two mana and removing six of these counters from himself, Karlov can exile another creature. An expensive ability, but nice to have available, especially since it operates at instant speed and doesn't require tapping.
Two power and two toughness don't impress on a three-cost unit, but Edgewalker bestows an amazing effect that reduces the price of clerics you cast by one white and one black mana. This can potentially discount units by two (including repeated copies of Edgewalker, although EDH uses singleton rules), but note it only works with colored resources. In other words, a cleric only needing white mana wouldn't enjoy the benefit of the black reduction.
Still, you'll be casting your ministers for either one or two less resources, both fierce cutbacks that quickly assemble your team.
5. Revival // Revenge
One of the best split spells in the game, you choose whether to cast Revival or Revenge when you play this conjoined card. Fittingly enough, Revival offers an excellent graveyard recovery, returning a creature with CMC three or less from your discard pile to the field.
Alternatively, if you can afford Revenge's increased price, you get to reduce the life of an opponent by half (rounded up) and double your own life total. In short, you've got two handy effects that can scale to your current mana output.
4. Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim
Legendary Ayli only needs two mana but arrives with impressive 2/3 stats. More than that, she wields deathtouch, meaning she'll give at least as good as she gets in combat.
Stopping there, you'd already have a great card, but then Ayli goes above and beyond by offering two activated abilities. By spending one mana and sacrificing a creature, you gain life equal to its toughness, and by spending three and sacrificing one, you can exile a non-land permanent if you have 10 more life than your starting total. Both are nice add-ons, and they combo well with Athreos's death-related effects.
This inexpensive sorcery reveals an opponent's hand, then lets you exile any non-land card from it. Comparatively, many of the best black discards only cost one mana, but they send the unit to the graveyard, not into exile, and often restrict you to only one or two card types.
Thus, you're paying slightly more for the benefits of added options and exile—more than worth the added resource. And don't overlook the advantage of seeing your opponent's entire hand, gaining useful tactical knowledge of their upcoming plays.
2. Deathbringer Liege
Liege has one of my favorite mana costs in the game, having enough colorless slots for rainbow decks or colorless mana while containing mixed black/white symbols that adapt to your current lands and fulfill devotion requirements.
More than that, Liege strengthens other white and black creatures you control by +1/+1 each, and if a unit possesses both hues, they get +2/+2! Liege's own stats are a modest 3/4, but he can tap a creature whenever you cast a white spell and destroy a tapped creature when you play a black. Four free bonuses in one make for an excellent support unit.
1. Gerrard's Verdict
Castigate is great, but falls just short of this awesome discard. Verdict uses two mana to force an opponent to discard twice. Additionally, you gain three life for each land trashed this way.
Now, you don't get the benefit of a seeing your foe's hand, but that's a nitpick for the unrivaled discard prowess and potential lifegain on a two-cost spell. A staple in my own black and white commander decks, Verdict is surprisingly cheap for a top-tier card, costing well under a single dollar!
Extort, the Black and White Ability
In addition to today's cards, black and white command the unique extort ability. When you control a permanent with extort and cast another spell, you have the option of paying an additional white or black mana. Doing so drains one life from each opponent while granting you an extra health, a small but appreciated bonus.
Not all extort spells actually need black and white mana, like the above "Blind Obedience," but the symbols in their extort trait means your commander must include both black and white to employ them, so be sure not to mistake their color identity. But for now, as we eagerly await more extorters and black/white duos, vote for your favorite grayscale card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill