With around 1,500 potential commanders, there is no shortage of cards you can use to lead your EDH decks. Some, however, have risen to the top as the format has developed, and secured their positions as format favorites. Each color pair has its own distinct identity, and there are commanders that embody that identity, or parts of it, in ways that have made them immensely popular generals. Today, we’re looking at the top white-black commanders – for more detailed information about any of these decks, check out EDHRec’s page on top white-black commanders!
10. Aryel, Knight of Windgrace
We’re going to kick this list off – of course – with a representative from the very best tribe in Magic: Knights. Most Knights decks tend to be Mardu, but if you don’t want to add red then Aryel is the perfect candidate for a white-black Knights deck. Almost all the hits are in white-black, anyway: Valiant Knight, Knight Exemplar, Knights’ Charge, the list goes on. Aryel’s abilities are quite powerful too and useful regardless of whether you’re ahead or behind. Having recurring commander-based removal is pretty sweet, and with all the lords in Knights decks, the tokens she makes don’t usually stay 2/2s for long.
9. Lurrus of the Dream-Den
You might be most familiar with Lurrus as not just a companion, but the best of the lot – but this card has also ended up having quite a successful career as a commander as well. Lurrus decks are, naturally, extremely low to the ground, and tend to play cards that can sacrifice themselves for fun and profit. Seal of Cleansing, Kami of False Hope, Angelic Renewal, Dauthi Voidwalker – all these cards synergize magnificently with Lurrus. It gets better, though: you can keep using Lurrus to recur Kaya’s Ghostform, making your commander extremely difficult to kill.
8. Felisa, Fang of Silverquill
Typically, +1/+1 counter decks are found in green-white, but Felisa is here to change that. She offers such a powerful payoff for piling counters onto your creatures, that it’s well worth jumping through some extra hoops by playing black in order to power them up with counters. Besides, black has some pretty sweet +1/+1 counter cards: Necropolis Regent, Fain, the Broker, Skyclave Shadowcat – and that’s in addition to all the usual suspects from white like Cathars’ Crusade, Mikaeus, the Lunarch and Felidar Retreat. Pile counters onto your creatures, sacrifice them to Carrion Feeder and all of a sudden you’ve got a massive army of flying 2/1s.
7. Thalisse, Reverent Medium
Similar to +1/+1 counters, white-black isn’t necessarily the first color combination you think of when it comes to token decks, but with Thalisse, you can very much make these decks a reality. Sure, you lose Doubling Season and Parallel Lives, but you get Kaya, Geist Hunter, Teysa Karlov and a whole bunch of ways to profit off the death of your tokens, such as Pitiless Plunderer, Zulaport Cutthroat and Cruel Celebrant. Of course, you still have all the bonkers white token generators, plus things like Intangible Virtue and Hour of Reckoning – and you get to play one of the sweetest cards ever printed: Lingering Souls.
6. Orah, Skyclave Hierophant
Clerics have a long history in Magic. They’ve been around forever, and you might not realize that some extremely powerful cards from over the years are, indeed, Clerics. Orah is here to unite the tribe with his recursion ability, and that’s just where the synergy starts. Clerics allow Taborax, Hope’s Demise to draw you cards, Righteous Valkyrie to gain you life and buff the team and Rotlung Reanimator to generate 2/2s. Orah makes Doomed Necromancer bring back two creatures, and breaks the symmetry of Demon’s Disciple. Besides, there are just some generically powerful Clerics you can play: Mother of Runes, Priest of Forgotten Gods, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician and more.
5. Killian, Ink Duelist
I’m certainly not the biggest fan of bogle-style decks, where you slap a bunch of Auras onto your creatures, but you’ve got to hand it to Killian – he’s strongly positioned to enable this strategy with his cost-reduction mechanic, which synergizes further with point removal spells. Casting expensive Auras like Sage’s Reverie, Unquestioned Authority and Angelic Destiny for two mana less is huge, and even without a suite of hexproof creatures to put them on, there are plenty of ways to ensure you don’t get blown out. Umbra Mystic, General’s Enforcer, Mother of Runes – you can keep an enchanted Killian alive very easily.
4. Karlov of the Ghost Council
White-black is famous for being the color combination most likely to enable life gain decks, and one of the best commanders to do so is undoubtedly Karlov of the Ghost Council. Karlov decks work best when they’re filled with lots of ways to gain a little bit of life (rather than few ways to gain a lot of life), with cards like Soul Warden, Soul’s Attendant and Authority of the Consuls. Be sure to include a stack of other cards that trigger whenever you gain life – Heliod, Sun-Crowned, Voice of the Blessed, Well of Lost Dreams – and you’ll be swimming in value very quickly, not to mention exiling everything in sight with Karlov.
3. Athreos, God of Passage
We’ve already got across a cheap, recursive white-black commander with Lurrus, but Athreos is an even more popular choice for anyone wanting to play creatures over and over and over again. Athreos is an incredible commander in any sacrifice-style deck, allowing you to punish your opponents if they don’t let you constantly recur creatures as you sacrifice them. Interestingly, Athreos is the most popular commander for Shadowborn Apostle decks, as they like to play white cards such as Immortal Servitude, Remembrance and the mighty Edgewalker, which makes the Apostles free!
2. Teysa Karlov
But when it comes to sacrifice-style decks, Teysa Karlov is on another level altogether. Doubling all your death triggers is huge, and supercharges all your Zulaport Cutthroats, Blood Artists and Bastions of Remembrance. Not to mention heavyweights like Junji, the Midnight Sky, Butcher of Malakir or Open the Graves – doubling the triggers from these cards is absolutely nuts, and will very quickly leave your opponents in the dust. On top of all this, there’s a neat little token subtheme that runs through most Teysa decks, enabled by cards like Requiem Angel and Hallowed Spiritkeeper, and Teysa also buffs those tokens!
1. Liesa, Shroud of Dusk
The most popular white-black commander is, of course, one most commonly associated with life gain decks. Dinging opponents for two life whenever they cast a spell adds up very quickly, and the symmetry of this effect is very easily broken when most of this deck gains you extra life. From Soul Warden to Beacon of Immortality, Liesa decks gain massive amounts of life, and punish opponents as they do so with cards like Vito, Thorn of the Dusk Rose, Sanguine Bond and Vizkopa Guildmage. Opponents will struggle to keep up with the combination of their life loss and your life gain – and then when the time is right, you can just burn out the table with Debt to the Deathless or Exsanguinate, and that’s the game!