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Two Takes on White/Blue in the New Standard

The entirety of Eldritch Moon has been revealed now, and there are plenty of awesome new toys to play with. There are a lot of white and/or blue cards that stood out to me, so today I’ll present 2 lists for that color combination.

The first deck I brewed up features multiple 2-card combos along with blue card filtering. It contains as many as 8 new cards from Eldritch Moon, so let’s go over them.

Lone Rider

The unflipped case of a 1/1 for 2 mana is obviously terrible, but with a bit of work, Lone Rider can turn into an undercosted 4/4 with a ton of abilities. It’s the type of card that I love to brew with—in the right deck, this could be really powerful, but it’s not easy to pull it off.

So where it could fit? The first idea I had was a deck with 4 Lone Rider, 4 Thalia’s Lieutenant, and 4 Always Watching. With such a deck, an Ojutai’s Command plus 2 of the remaining 11 cards would yield a transformation if it would survive combat for a turn. This felt a little too ambitious, and an aggressive Human deck wouldn’t be interested in lifelink anyway.

So next I looked for single cards that could transform it right away. The best one I found was Ojutai’s Command. It’s playable by itself, but it’s particularly great when you can counter a spell and transform Lone Rider. Or, if you have Lone Rider in your graveyard, you can build your own turbo Loxodon Hierarch at instant speed.

So Ojutai’s Command seems like a great fit. But that by itself isn’t enough. I want my deck to have at least 12 cards that can transform Lone Rider, preferably ones that aren’t card disadvantage (like Peace of Mind). Before Eldritch Moon, you had Artful Maneuver, Healing Hands, and Linvala, the Preserver, all of which are fine, but I wouldn’t want to draw multiple Artful Maneuver or Healing Hands in my opening hand.

Another thing that I want for a Lone Rider deck is looting effects. Jace is a start, but I’d like more. Looting effects allow me to ditch Lone Rider when I can’t transform it and for Ojutai’s Command recursion.

Fortunately, Eldritch Moon has everything I want.

Blessed Alliance

Blessed Alliance can take down an attacker and transform Lone Rider in the process. Alternatively, you can cast it on turn 3 to obtain It That Rides as One immediately.

More generally, I like the flexibility that the new escalate mechanic offers. The main mode of interest on Blessed Alliance is the sacrifice of an attacking creature, which is a playable effect akin to Celestial Flare. But the secondary mode of gaining 4 life shouldn’t be underrated, even putting aside any Lone Rider shenanigans. As Faith’s Fetters, Warleader’s Helix, and Sphinx’s Revelation have taught us, adding life gain to already-reasonable cards makes them much better.

Finally, Blessed Alliance can untap 2 creatures, which is not super valuable, but it’s a nice bonus that can sometimes come up. It could untap Dragonlord Ojutai to give it hexproof, produce 2 surprise blockers, or even get another Jace activation. I love all the options.

Wharf Infiltrator

This is like a Looter il-Kor on steroids. After all, in the current Standard, this hits through Sylvan Advocate, Lambholt Pacifist, Tireless Tracker, Duskwatch Recruiter, Reflector Mage, and so on. Sometimes you’ll run into a stray Hangarback Walker, Plant token, or Thraben Inspector, but most of the time your opponent won’t be able to block it. Looter il-Kor won Grand Prix Florence 2007, and looters with upside always pique my interest.

To blue decks, Wharf Infiltrator offers another 2-drop discard enablers besides Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. This means that triggering madness or returning Drownyard Temple becomes a reliable path. And I haven’t even mentioned the ability to generate 3/2 creatures. That’s a card advantage generating engine right there, and you get a token whenever you discard a creature card from anywhere —not just its own ability. So even if you can’t attack, you can for instance discard Lone Rider to Jace and still get value.

But ultimately, the main value of looters lies in their ability to filter your draws, and that’s particularly important when you’re assembling 2-card combos. So let’s turn to the next one.

Gisela, the Broken Blade

This mini-Baneslayer Angel is weak to Reflector Mage and other removal, but if she lives then she can dominate a game. Opponents can’t realistically attack into her, and the 8-point life swing she provides is nothing to sneeze at, especially when she transforms Lone Rider in the process. The good news for Gisela is that Fiery Impulse is currently underplayed, and if you lose her to Dromoka’s Command, then you will at least gain some life.

It pretty much spells it out on the card, but Gisela wants to be put in a deck together with Bruna.

Bruna, the Fading Light

Bruna is perfect if you can return Gisela and meld into an abomination that practically spells game over. The resulting Brisela prevents your opponent from casting Declaration in Stone, Ruinous Path, or Reflector Mage and is thus really hard to kill. A preemptive Declaration in Stone on Gisela could be annoying, but you can always safely discard her to a looter to get around that.

Either way, no one is racing an evasive 9-power lifelinker with vigilance. Well, except for Emrakul. I guess there’s always a bigger fish.

By the way, the fail case of returning a lowly Reflector Mage is still decent for 7 mana. Another excellent creature to return, if you haven’t found Gisela yet, is the following:

Thalia’s Lancers and Geier Reach Sanitarium

If you have enough time, then Thalia’s Lancers can actually assemble Brisela by himself: get Bruna, chump-block, cast Bruna, return Lancers, fetch Gisela. Done! As I said, that takes some time to set up, but my deck includes enough life gain cards to buy the time.

Other reasonable lines to take with Thalia’s Lancers include fetching Linvala, the Preserver to set up for an on-curve 6-drop. Finally, in contrast to Time of Need, Thalia’s Lancers can search for any type of legendary card. Eldritch Moon has a perfect legendary land in Geier Reach Sanitarium, which you can fetch if you’re stuck on mana. Coincidentally, that land synergizes nicely with Wharf Infiltrator. I love it when all parts fit together.

Spell Queller

This card has no particular synergy in the deck. It can’t even counter an Archangel Avacyn that threatens to eat It That Rides as One or Gisela. But even with that restriction, I expect this to be one of the best cards in Eldritch Moon. It is truly pushed: one mana cheaper than Mystic Snake, a relevant body compared to Fiend Hunter, and super annoying to play against. 

Most cards that see play in Standard cost 4 mana or less, and even delaying them for a turn before your Spell Queller dies is a huge temporal boost. What’s more, if you exile Negate or something similar, their spell may be useless when Spell Queller dies. And if your Spell Queller lives, then you’ve gotten an insane amount of value that is worth much more than 3 mana.
But let’s just build a deck.

Gisela Rider

It’s still in the brewing stage, including a variety of 1-of spells for Jace flashback options. It also doesn’t have a sideboard yet. But the overarching goal of the deck is to stall until you can assemble Brisela, and all the life gain spells and card selection build toward that goal.

While this deck is capable of assembling sweet combos, I don’t think it takes maximum advantage of Spell Queller. I think that honor goes to a deck that is built to operate at instant speed. Bant Company may come to mind, but I’m thinking of a deck without any sorcery-speed spells whatsoever.

Flash Spirits

That’s right. No Mausoleum Wanderer, Selfless Soul, or Nibilis of Frost. Those Spirits are nice, but I wanted to build a mono-flash deck. If you’re the type of player who likes to have all the information before making a decision, then you will likely enjoy this deck.

Besides fitting with the overarching strategy of this deck, Spell Queller also has synergy with 2 other cards.

Rattlechains can protect Spell Queller from removal spells, which is valuable when there’s a powerful spell hiding under it.

Essence Flux can blink it, which allows you to upgrade an exiled Nissa to an exiled Gideon, for example. Another cute corner case is that you could blink Spell Queller in your main phase, giving them back a Nissa on your turn, and then you attack that Nissa before they have a chance to spread counters on their team.

All in all, Eldritch Moon contains lots of sweet new cards, and I’m excited about trying some of them in these white-blue shells. But what’s your first take on these cards? Is Lone Rider too unreliable? Is Gisela too fragile? Is Spell Queller really as good as I think it is? Let me know, and share your brews in the comment section below!

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