But B/W is isn’t dead. Far from it. Instead, we just need to evaluate some other approaches. Black and white offer some of the most powerful creatures in the format, many of which combat the aggressive slant Standard has taken. With tons of lifelink and other life gain, B/W has no issue racing!
Aerial Responder, or Vampire Lighthawk as I like to call it, is the real deal. Being able to play both offense and defense makes this the perfect card for racing. With opponents playing creatures like Inventor’s Apprentice, Servant of the Conduit, or Reflector Mages and Spell Quellers, Responder can do double-duty and threaten to run away with the game. It’s slightly undersized, but its effect on the early game is massive, especially when backed with any pump or removal spells.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet is not a new one, but it still has the same impact on any board. Not only can your opponent no longer trade profitably, but cards like Haunted Dead, Scrapheap Scrounger, and Primal Druid lose a ton of their value.
Gisela, the Broken Blade has seen some play sparingly in B/W decks, but mostly as one of very few legendary creatures. When your opponents are forced to use removal spells on Kalitas and Responder, they’ll have fewer answers left over for Gisela. If it dies, you have Bruna, the Fading Light there to not only bring her back, but to meld into an unbeatable force.
Thalia’s Lancers will help put together both pieces of the Gisela and Bruna combo, can be returned with Bruna herself, or find a Kalitas in the matchups where it’s going to really shine. It can also get these next few legends when the time is right.
Archangel Avacyn saves your team, can sweep the board, and keeps attacking for 4 with vigilance after ambushing your opponent. The card is still nuts.
Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim can gain you critical life and trigger Archangel Avacyn. With so much life gain in the deck, hitting Ayli’s “ultimate” at 30 or more life is attainable. Ayli is also a 2/3 deathtouch for only 2 mana, so she’s priced to move—and makes Sylvan Advocate look pretty silly.
Linvala, the Preserver is a great way to come back from behind. If they deal with all of your lifelink creatures and are able to present a superior board, Linvala can completely reverse that. Two giant flying creatures and 5 life make for a tremendous swing.
Always Watching is a card I’ve never seen in a B/W shell, but we’re also not accustomed to such a midrange version. Combined with Ayli, a 3/4 vigilance deathtouch is going to be extremely problematic early in the game. Gisela becomes nearly unbeatable, and even though Aerial Responder already has vigilance, the extra point of power and toughness is valuable.
With a few awesome removal spells thrown in there, such as Declaration in Stone, Immolating Glare, and Stasis Snare, B/W Midrange has lots of weapons to attack on both fronts. With resiliency in giant creatures, many of which can gain life, and the power of Always Watching to let you play both offense and defense, this could be a force in the metagame.