B/W Control with Kaladesh

New week, new Standard deck. Last week I covered U/B Control—today, I’m going to explore another control deck: Black-White. I figured that even if Torrential Gearhulk is a broken card, the rest of the deck was pretty mediocre, and white can offer better cards overall—foremost of which is Archangel Avacyn, who dropped in popularity but is still a powerhouse, especially in a format dominated by Smuggler’s Copter. And just like U/B, you have to play a plethora of removal, and black-white is perfect for that.

B/W was an established archetype before the rotation. Read the Bones and Languish were great there, but now we find ourselves without an efficient draw spell card and without good mass removal. On the other hand, mass removal isn’t as good in a format dominated by Vehicles. Let’s look at the possible replacements.

Cataclysmic Gearhulk

This card is pretty bad. It’s easily the worst Gearhulk of the cycle. Letting your opponent decide what to keep is very bad, considering that they almost always have an artifact and a creature. It combos pretty well with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, but that’s it.

Noxious Gearhulk

Without Torrential Gearhulk around, this card is an easy inclusion here, sharing the 6-mana slot with Linvala, the Preserver. Having Liliana, the Last Hope to bring this back is a pretty big deal.

Harsh Scrutiny

I was pretty high on this card last week, but after playing with it, I’ve decided that a split between this and Transgress the Mind would be optimal. The deck is already packed full of removal spells, and nowadays there aren’t that many creatures with a relevant enters-the-battlefield effect such as Tireless Tracker or Reflector Mage. Hence, I want more answers for annoying cards like Nissa, Vital Force.

Filigree Familiar

Some lists were running this little guy, though I think that even if it buys time it’s underpowered for a deck like this. Also, your 3-drop slot on the curve is already bottlenecked by removal and planeswalkers.

Immolating Glare

This is a new entry since it never saw play in the previous Standard format, though here it is a totally playable removal spell that perfectly suits the aggressive metagame. It’s the only removal spell, after Grasp of Darkness, that you can play on turn 2. You can play Blessed Alliance, but the ability to decide which creature to kill, in my opinion, is better than the escalate modes.

Ob Nixilis, Reignited

I was never too high on this card, but now that Read the Bones is out, you need a way to get card advantage and a Phyrexian Arena is definitely what you want. It’s a little overcosted, but you have plenty of early plays and you need win conditions.

Succumb to Temptation

You need a replacement for Read the Bones, but this card and Live Fast are not even close. Being an instant is pretty useless, so I would advise against playing this card.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar

I’m not sure if Gideon deserves a slot in the main deck or if he should be sideboarded in against slower decks. He’s definitely not a good 4-drop against aggressive decks, but can let you gain enough tempo to reach the late game.

Ruinous Path

I chose to leave this removal spell in the sideboard because I don’t think there are many planeswalkers around, and because I want to play instants to deal with Vehicles. If you need to remove a planeswalker, you have Transgress the Mind or an end-of-turn Archangel Avacyn. That’s only two answers but, again, I don’t expect to see many planeswalkers.

Anguished Unmaking

This card used to be a must-play in every B/W deck list, but don’t think you need to remove any permanent that’s not a creature in game 1—hence, it’s fine not to play this card anymore.

Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

This is an insane card and everyone is aware of that, but right now it’s even more powerful right now since we keep seeing decks with Harnessed Lightning and Fiery Temper, rather than real removal spells. Untapping with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet will almost certainly bring you a victory in a deck with this many removal spells.

With all that brainstorming in mind, here’s the list I’ve settled on. It’s pretty heavy on removal spells so there’s the risk of having too many dead draws if you face a control deck, but I expect the format to be more aggressive.

Black-White Control

I wouldn’t board in Fragmentize against Smuggler’s Copter—I have it here for decks like Aetherworks Marvel, Aetherflux Reservoir, Panharmonicon, and decks like that.

Flaying Tendrils is another interesting one. Again, I wouldn’t board this in against R/W with Depala and Inventor’s Apprentice, but I would board it in against Bomat Courier and Scrapheap Scrounger.

Lost Legacy is a must for World Breaker decks, and can pull double-duty against control when you have to board out your removal spells.

The deck is only decent, but it’s a good answer for the aggressive metagame we’ll see over the coming days.


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