When I say “blue-black,” no matter the format, the word “control” probably springs to mind. While this deck is not “not” a control deck, it really is a midrange deck. Playing plenty of creatures, some solid removal, a great late-game plan, and very little in the way of countermagic, U/B has some of the most powerful cards in Standard, and this deck looks to tap out to take advantage of them.
The best of the bunch is The Scarab God. This thing is totally busted in any matchup where they aren’t going way over the top of you. In any midrange battle or against any aggressive deck where you’ve started to turn the corner, this thing is just lights-out. You’re getting a 5/5 for 5 mana, which would already be nearly impossible for most decks to kill. On top of that, should they find a way to destroy it, it comes back to your hand from the graveyard at end of turn.
While on the battlefield, not only is The Scarab God the biggest creature in play, but it also gets to spend a few mana to start exiling other creatures in graveyards while giving you 4/4 token copies of them. That means you get massive threats, turn after turn, with all their enters-the-battlefield triggers. If that wasn’t enough, they’re Zombies, and you get to scry and deal damage equal to your Zombies in play every upkeep. What?!
Blue-black may have already had the best creature in Standard, but Ixalan brought another U/B gold card that many are calling the best card in the set. Hostage Taker will exile a creature or artifact while also giving you a 2/3 for just 4 mana. Already a great deal, you can actually cast that exiled card with any color of mana, and if you do, the opponent won’t even get it back by killing the Hostage Taker. As if that wasn’t enough, you’re playing with The Scarab God and can get Hostage Takers back from the graveyard as 4/4s. Yeah, there’s no beating all of that.
Gifted Aetherborn gives you an early battlefield presence that works well late. Anything with deathtouch is going to trade up, but it’s also an incredible blocker against cheap opposing creatures and tokens (unlike many of the 1/1 deathtouch creatures we’re used to). Being a 2/3 puts it out of range of many small attackers, and the lifelink attached means that it’s even great to get aggressive with. Once The Scarab God comes down and starts making 4/4 lifelink, deathtouch tokens, things get crazy.
Champion of Wits is another nice value card to make sure you’re hitting your curve and that your graveyard is good to go for The Scarab God. This deck is a tap-out deck with cards that will often get worse later in the game, so having a way to cycle them is awesome. Later in the game, you get to eternalize or Scarab God this thing back for another look at four more cards to really put things away.
Gonti, Lord of Luxury provides a bit more value. It’s built-in card advantage steals an opponent’s card from their deck, but it’s also able to use deathtouch to trade up for even the largest creatures in combat.
There are a number of cards in Standard that can punish a U/B deck for tapping out, but you can proactively disrupt a lot of them. With 3 copies of Duress and another 3 copies of Harsh Scrutiny, you can mess with an opponent’s curve, their counters, and maybe their entire game plan.
You also have some great removal spells. Fatal Push I no longer need to discuss the merits for, but Walk the Plank gives you a nice removal spell to kill a creature of any size (and you’re not playing Torrential Gearhulk to get punished for playing a sorcery). Vraska’s Contempt gives you an answer to planeswalker, large and indestructible creatures, and some life.
Doomfall serves as a split card to attack either their hand or board position. This can be a great way to stop a big threat or a key spell before it happens.
Chart a Course offers card advantage or just card selection, but either way it’s going to be powerful. Just 2 mana to draw 2 is a great rate, and at the worst you’re looking at an improved Tormenting Voice.
U/B Midrange gets to play the best creatures in the format and the best removal in the format. That sounds like a pretty interesting place to be!