Login | Register


All times are UTC - 7 hours


It is currently 2019-Oct-16 5:51 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-12 8:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: 2011-Feb-07 3:37 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Danbury, CT
I've built a quite a few different black and white decks over the years, and I keep running into the same problem. B/W is really good at two things:

1. Playing board wipes

2. Making swarms of little creatures

The problem is 1 and 2 don't jive. Generally, decks that want to Wrath a lot also tend to have lots of big stompy creatures, which puts you on the big deck ramp n' draw plan. B/W's not very good at that game, since it's weaker at the ramp game than other color combos. Meanwhile, if you're on the swarm plan, it's hard to get good value out wiping the board constantly.

Any thoughts?

_________________
The deck-o-pedia


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-12 9:00 am 
User avatar

Joined: 2012-Feb-07 4:15 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Kemev wrote:
I've built a quite a few different black and white decks over the years, and I keep running into the same problem. B/W is really good at two things:

1. Playing board wipes

2. Making swarms of little creatures

The problem is 1 and 2 don't jive. Generally, decks that want to Wrath a lot also tend to have lots of big stompy creatures, which puts you on the big deck ramp n' draw plan. B/W's not very good at that game, since it's weaker at the ramp game than other color combos. Meanwhile, if you're on the swarm plan, it's hard to get good value out wiping the board constantly.

Any thoughts?

I personally find you don't need too many board wipes... BW is the single best color combo for spot removal.

Another thing I love about that color combo is that white and black like to gain life and black likes to spend life, so I constantly load my deck with as much lifelink/drain/pro-white Swords as possible and then fill in as many gaps as I can with effects like Necropotence or Sign in Blood


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-12 8:58 pm 

Joined: 2008-Jan-25 2:34 pm
Age: Drake
Location: Houston
Ditto Uktabi. My black/white deck uses Sanguine Bond for the kill most of the time, and is filled with life gain, drain effects, and life for cards effects. It has been very effective. It runs very few creatures, and lots of wrath effects.

Another option is playing as a board control deck for the beginning of the game, then following up with angels and demons as finishers.

_________________
Deadeye Navigator, Consecrated Sphinx, Prophet of Kruphix, Cyclonic Rift...be a pal and just don't play them.

* This symbol means it is a joke.


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-13 1:59 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
There is one other thing B/W is good at. I'll call it "life manipluation", which is generally represented by four basic effects:

Gaining life
Paying for things with life
Causing life loss
Draining life

Obviously some of those things are better than others - life gain is, in a vacuum, one of the weakest effects in EDH, giving that it A) doesn't proactively help you win, B) doesn't impact the board, and C) is often mooted by General Damage.

However, when life gain is simply part of a synergy, or is attached to effects or spells you'd otherwise want, it's fine.

Draining life tends to be weak as well, as most effects only hit one target/player. However, we all know Exsanguinate is a certified game winner, and Death Grasp is pretty not-bad as well. One problem is that Orzhov itself - specifically the Ravnica guild, not the color combo as a whole - have a very incremental "bleeder" them.

Especially the Guildpact version, Orzhov really just wants to gum up the board, pillow-fort a bit and slowly bleed it's opponent to death a point or two at a time. The problem here is, these cards and mechanics were calibrated for 20-life, 1v1 style of play, and 99% of the effects are way too weak for multiplayer.

Extrort is definitely a bit better and scales well in multiplayer, but there are only a few extort cards you'd really, honestly want to be running. So extort is more of an incidental benefit rather than a main theme to focus on. I imagine a lower-powered, or removal-light meta would allow for this strategy to flourish if you were able to build up a critical mass of bleeder and extort cards all at once, but otherwise, this sort of deck would just require you to overextend into a sweeper. Not cool.

Finally, paying for things with life instead of mana is kind of a big deal for Black - getting creatures, cards, etc in exchange for a few life points is actually a pretty good deal. This is where all the life gain and life drain stuff comes in handy. You can recoup all the life you spent on the cards you drew with Phyrexian Arena for instance, and if you're sapping that life from your opponents, so much the better.

Obviously translating this theme into a linear strategy is going to be difficult for the reasons mentioned above. Generally it's best to focus on another theme and supplement it with the life manipulation stuff as needed.

This is why I liked Vish Kal so much. Yes, he was expensive, and often made a huge target of himself and/or his controller, but he intersected all of the B/W "things" nicely. He had lifelink, killed creatures, and gave you a sac outlet for all those tokens B/W is so prone to making.

Ghost Dad 2.0 is also a pretty decent General if you want to avoid the tokeny stuff as much as possible and just focus more on draining everyone's life, but he is unfortunately one of those "target opponent" cards, not "each opponent".

However... while it is all well and good to talk about what B/W can do, my experience tells me it is even more critical to talk about what B/W cannot do.

No matter what mechanical focus or theme I adopted, all of my earliest attempts at building B/W for EDH met the same obstacles: I was almost always behind the rest of the table in either: cards in hand, mana on the board, or both.

B/W and R/W both share the same glaring weaknesses: a dearth of ramp and draw options. Boros can often work around the ramp issue because it really wants to play lost of little, low-cost, high-impact spells so it can afford to stumble on mana now and then. Orzhov on the other hand, tends to be much more mana-hungry in my experience. Especially given that none if it's options for General are particularly cheap. Mana rocks, Land Tax, and of course the good ol' Sad Robot/Burnished Hart combo are obvious go-to's and the one-shot Knight of the White Orchid and Tithe can situationally help as well. Trouble is, every time I have a Land Tax or Knight in my opening hand, I win the friggin' die roll and going first kinds screws those cards up.

Meanwhile, finding ways to draw cards that aren't slow and painful has always been a chore as well. Sure black has a million Phyrexian Arena effects these days, but if ALL of your draw options cost you life you simply go from being rich in life, poor in cards to being rich in cards, poor in life. Sure you can add life gain effects to offset this, but you risk ending up with a deck trapped in a loop of paying life to draw cards that gain you life to allow you to draw more cards that gain you life... etc, etc.

To put it simply, B/W does actually have quite a few options for ramp and draw, but the issue is that most of them aren't as good as what some of the other colors have, but the strategies the color pair wants you to pursue, as well as many of the colors' best cards and commanders, really punish you if you forsake the ramp/draw packages.

So, all of this tends to lead to the same result - no matter which particular theme or strategy you choose to focus on, B/W decks tend to eventually wind up being pretty generic "good stuff"-y decks, or risk falling apart at the first sign of concentrated opposition.

_________________
The Command Zone (my MTG Blog).
Commander 2015 Set Review


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-13 2:27 am 

Joined: 2013-Jan-07 1:45 am
Age: Dragon
Yeah, I agree. There's an interesting life-gain, life-spend deck you can make. Which is pretty strong and you can kind of slide between a focused combo build and a less-focused, more of a "life gain value" deck.

On the other hand, there's a lack of interesting generals. Most of them are token-based, or just bad. One outlier is triad of fates, which is possibly its own deck, but, actually is probably just a worse version of Teysa, Orzhov Scion.

I like W/B as a pillow-fort combo, too. There's a ton of strong white defensive cards, and actually several nice black ones too. That can stretch into prison or stax, which is another good strength of these colors.

so: W/B is good at:

1) tokens
2) wraths
3) life-gain / life-spend
4) control
5) pillow-fort
6) prison-stax

of course... I mostly gave up and usually just add a 3rd color.

I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of ramp or (as someone suggested) card draw. Most non-green colors are bad at ramp. And white has weathered wayfarer, kor cartographer and oath of lieges, so white's better than most. And black has the 2nd best card draw; particularly there's been great recent ones like dark prophecy and grim haruspex; and if you want to rely on sorceries there's the suite of night's whisper, ancient craving, ambition's cost, promise of power, as well as several less efficient variants.

_________________
Decklists:
Kothophed (mono black control, ETB abuse)
Teferi, Temporal Archmage (blue pillowfort superfriends)
Glint-Eye Nephilim (combat tricks, card draw, & creature pump)
Oloro Upkeep Tribal (enchantment-based control)
and more:Decklists


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-13 6:27 am 
User avatar

Joined: 2011-Feb-07 3:37 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Danbury, CT
thaumaturge wrote:
So, all of this tends to lead to the same result - no matter which particular theme or strategy you choose to focus on, B/W decks tend to eventually wind up being pretty generic "good stuff"-y decks, or risk falling apart at the first sign of concentrated opposition.


Yeah, I generally agree... but is there a way to fix it?

The hang-up I get with the B/W enchantment-based life-resource/fort/stax decks is that they're almost always worse in straight B/W than they are in either Esper or Bant. The tri-color decks get you a lot more options for draw, ramp, and choice of general.

_________________
The deck-o-pedia


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-13 6:39 am 

Joined: 2013-Jan-07 1:45 am
Age: Dragon
Kemev wrote:
The hang-up I get with the B/W enchantment-based life-resource/fort/stax decks is that they're almost always worse in straight B/W than they are in either Esper or Bant. The tri-color decks get you a lot more options for draw, ramp, and choice of general.


Yeah. I like Oloro a lot. But, as an interesting challenge, try building the life-resource/fort/stax deck in green-black instead. 1) You get a lot more enchantresses, and 2) trying to play almost creatureless in green/black is something pretty different. I vote for pharika as the general.

_________________
Decklists:
Kothophed (mono black control, ETB abuse)
Teferi, Temporal Archmage (blue pillowfort superfriends)
Glint-Eye Nephilim (combat tricks, card draw, & creature pump)
Oloro Upkeep Tribal (enchantment-based control)
and more:Decklists


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-13 6:51 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Kemev wrote:
thaumaturge wrote:
So, all of this tends to lead to the same result - no matter which particular theme or strategy you choose to focus on, B/W decks tend to eventually wind up being pretty generic "good stuff"-y decks, or risk falling apart at the first sign of concentrated opposition.


Yeah, I generally agree... but is there a way to fix it?

The hang-up I get with the B/W enchantment-based life-resource/fort/stax decks is that they're almost always worse in straight B/W than they are in either Esper or Bant. The tri-color decks get you a lot more options for draw, ramp, and choice of general.


Yeah, this is why even though I dearly loved my Vish Kal deck, I morphed it into Oloro when those decks came out. That's one way to fix it. The other way to "fix" it is to make the best out of what you can with just B/W and settle for that, knowing it's not "optimal"... Restrictions breed creativity, according to MaRo, right?

But, again, this is why B/W decks tend toward goodstuffyness - you have to use sub-par options for things like ramp and draw, so you tend to want to offset that power imbalance by including really powerful spells as well.

That said, not everything in those colors is terrible. You still have access to Solemn, Hart and a slew of mana rocks, plus the obviously amazing though situationally, sometimes dead Land Tax.

Speaking of LT, my Vish Kal deck had to really good draw engines in the form of Land Tax + Scroll Rack, and Bloodghast + Skullclamp. And, thankfully, three of those four cards were good by themselves, but Bloodghast was pretty terrible without Skullclamp around.

Then of course I did use a smattering of the obvious staples such as Phyrexian Arene type stuff, though unless I could stick it early even Arena was too slow to really be good. Topdecking it when you really just need to dig like mad for an answer is a pretty big Feel Bad.

Read the Bones was printed well after the deck became Oloro, but if I were in B/W today, it'd 100% make the cut for sure. I don't like Night's Whisper/Sign in Blood much, but the Scry 2 really does make a big difference in my opinion.

Oh, and for a while Griselbrand was pretty much the answer to basically ALL of Vish Kal's problems, save the Ramp problem, but alas he didn't last long. I'll never forget the one time I got to Scroll Rack for 36...

Anyway, TL;DR, I guess the best answer I can give is to play whatever options you have, bolster the power level in OTHER areas with more powerful stuff, add whatever "Theme" cards you want to whatever space is left, and just kinda roll with it? That's basically what I did, and while Vishy was never my most winningest deck, it wasn't strictly terrible. It was a HOUSE if it lived until the really, really late game, and with basically 99% of the best removal in the game in those two colors, it was pretty good at surviving.

Most of my loses simply came from awkward, slow draws where I drew late game gas early, and got flooded with a mix of sweepers and tiny things like Blood Arist late. Drawing Scroll Rack with only 1 card in hand, etc.

EDIT: Oh, yeah, how could we forget? Reanimation is also a huge thing in Black and White gets a pretty fair shake at it too - Karmic Guide anybody?

_________________
The Command Zone (my MTG Blog).
Commander 2015 Set Review


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-13 8:53 am 

Joined: 2013-Aug-20 4:37 am
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Boston
With white's strength in generating tokens and black's powerful effects that require sacrificing creatures, B/W has another synergistic area. You can lump in all of the dies trigger stuff in black as well. Black Market loves it when you cast Increasing Devotion.


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-13 8:56 am 
User avatar

Joined: 2012-Dec-03 3:16 am
Age: Elder Dragon
When I think of w/b I think of attrition. Ain't nobody better at cleaning the board of permanents and crushing with big angels and demons.

_________________
Shabbaman wrote:
The usual answer is "the social contract", but I guess that is not what you are looking for. Try house rules.


With perfect mana, reasonable removal, disruption, and card advantage, we're back to pitchforks and torches. And it's about to get worse for those who do not enjoy the game as Richard Garfield intended, playing as few win conditions as possible and prompting concession after all hopes (and spells) are lost. - Shaheen Soorani


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-19 8:35 am 
User avatar

Joined: 2011-Nov-16 1:14 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Prague, Heart of Europe
There is another strategy available: Enchantress. No, really! I mean it. Think about it: so far, I've seen mentions of Necropotence, Black Market, Phyrexian Arena, Sanguine Bond. Add things like Debtor's Knell, Animate Dead and friends, Attrition, Grave Pact, Doomwake Giant, Painful Quandary, Wound Reflection and you begin to see that black does have something to offer in this regard.
You may lose green draw engines, but you retain Academy Rector, Idylic Tutor (and gain access to black ones, if that's your thing), Replenish, Mesa Enchantress, Starfield of Nyx and more.
Unfortunately, there isn't a general for this yet. I've tried to solve this by building a house-ruled deck around Evershrike and it freaking ROCKS!!! (link through my sig, if you're interested). It's atypical by being Aura-based, but I'm convinced a B/W enchantments is a viable archetype already. So Wizards, all we need is a good commander. Please? :)

_________________
I could be wrong. I'm just not in the mood.
tempesteye wrote:
In my early teens I was a Timmy.
In my late teens I was a Spike.
In my 20's I was a Johnny.
Now, I just like to play.
'Active decks' list here.
Currently hiring servants for my palace, made from my own walls of text.


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-23 3:48 pm 
User avatar

Joined: 2011-Feb-07 3:37 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Danbury, CT
thaumaturge wrote:
The other way to "fix" it is to make the best out of what you can with just B/W and settle for that, knowing it's not "optimal"... Restrictions breed creativity, according to MaRo, right?

But, again, this is why B/W decks tend toward goodstuffyness - you have to use sub-par options for things like ramp and draw, so you tend to want to offset that power imbalance by including really powerful spells as well.


I guess this is my beef. I want to build EDH decks like I build RPG characters; I want them to be mechanically strong but also thematically rich. The B/W decks I've tried so far have been lackluster on both.

Antis, I really like your Shrike list though. I've been trying to think through a way to make it work with Ghost Council of Orzhova and work in some spirit/arcane stuff. Tallowisp and Evershrike seem like they should be friends right?

_________________
The deck-o-pedia


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-24 2:38 am 

Joined: 2008-Nov-30 12:36 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Kemev wrote:
I guess this is my beef. I want to build EDH decks like I build RPG characters; I want them to be mechanically strong but also thematically rich. The B/W decks I've tried so far have been lackluster on both.
I get you. I'm not as theme-driven as many of you, but I still appreciate it - that is why, in my original Vish Kal deck, I had a Yin Yang / Life-Death thing going on...

For starters I had to have EXACTLY the same number of Black and White cards - obviously artifacts and W/B cards counted as neither/both respectively, but for every White creature I added, I had to have a Black creature. For every white non-creature I had to have a black non-creature.

Since Black/White are sometimes mirrors, sometimes opposites I tried really hard to pick pairs of cards that either were mirror images or direct opposites. For example, if I had Wrath of God, I had to have Damnation. Adding Blood Artist meant adding, I don't remember, Suture Priest maybe? Kokusho and Yosei would be a possible pair, and for Karmic Guide you could add Shriekmaw as the opposite or maybe Puppeteer Clique as a sort of mirror.
I also tried to really focus having the number of creature with lifelink be equal to the number of creatures with deathtouch, and other things like that. In short, the Yin had to be balanced by an equal amount of Yang, so to speak.

I managed to actually make this work - for every destroy effect there was a resurrection effect, for every lifegain effect there was a lifeloss effect, and for every white card there was a black card - usually an opposite or mirror of that card but not always. I still managed to make almost all the concessions I needed toward utility/goodstuff like adding the ol' Land Tax/Scroll Rack and Bloodghast/Skullclamp draw engines, etc. Eventually the nubmers got out of whack as they kept printing really neat Orzhov cards and I managed to keep the White card/Black card balance intact but the other things like destroy/reanimate got out of balance.

_________________
The Command Zone (my MTG Blog).
Commander 2015 Set Review


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Puzzling out B/W Decks
AgePosted: 2015-Jul-24 10:31 am 
User avatar

Joined: 2011-Nov-16 1:14 pm
Age: Elder Dragon
Location: Prague, Heart of Europe
Kemev wrote:
Antis, I really like your Shrike list though. I've been trying to think through a way to make it work with Ghost Council of Orzhova and work in some spirit/arcane stuff. Tallowisp and Evershrike seem like they should be friends right?
Thanks! :) Tallowisp is a good point, I should get me one of those. Hmm...shame Ghost Council doesn't trigger Spiritcraft when you blink it.

With GCoO, I'd certainly play Yosei and Kokusho. Horobi could be fun, as he turns all Auras into spot removal. Erratic Portal to recast Spirits. Some Theros creatures like Spirit of the Labyrinth, maybe? I'm not sure if Ghostblade Eidolon&Co. would trigger Celestial Kirin if you cast it using bestow, though. Judge? :) Oh and you HAVE to run Divinity of Pride in that, or I'll slap you. Yes, over the internet! :)

_________________
I could be wrong. I'm just not in the mood.
tempesteye wrote:
In my early teens I was a Timmy.
In my late teens I was a Spike.
In my 20's I was a Johnny.
Now, I just like to play.
'Active decks' list here.
Currently hiring servants for my palace, made from my own walls of text.


Top
 Offline Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 7 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 24 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: