Most experienced Magic: the Gathering players who play Commander a lot will tell you that mono-color decks simply aren’t as strong as multi-color ones. If you’re worried about the prospect of building a multi-color deck and having to concern yourself with constructing a sophisticated mana base, though, this can seem intimidating.
Two-color decks are an excellent step up. They’re powerful, popular, and much easier to build than, say, a four-color one. And out of all the two-color options out there, black and white is one of the most interesting in terms of flavor.
Interested in the guild of Orzhov? In this guide, we’ll show you some of the best MTG black white commanders that you can consider making the stars of your next deck.
Why Go Black White?
Individually, the colors of black and white in Magic represent decay and healing. That’s what makes this color combination so delightfully flavorful if you’re not concerned purely with mechanics. Bringing them together represents the corruption you can find in seemingly pure places.
This color combination is called Orzhov. Orzhov decks tend to interact well with your graveyard, bringing spells back from the great beyond or even preventing your opponents from doing the same. Some other common strategies with this color combo include generating tokens or manipulating your life total.
While likely not the strongest two-color combo in the game, Orzhov can still be immensely powerful. There are also plenty of Commander options to choose from, so you’ll have no shortage of play styles and strategies to experiment with by choosing black and white.
If you want to learn more about the color combinations and their strengths, read our guide to the MTG names for color combinations. We cover every combination in the game and provide a bit of information on what they each excel at.
Best MTG Black White Commanders
Teysa Karlov is absolutely stacked with power. Not only is she affordable in terms of mana, but she tends to be somewhat budget-friendly, as well.
Let’s dissect her strengths. Her first ability, which causes abilities triggered by death to trigger twice, is powerful enough by itself. It calls to mind popular cards like Panharmonicon. There are tons of options to experiment with as far as triggered abilities go.
But then her second ability, which gives all your creature tokens vigilance and lifelink, is added as a bonus. To be clear, either of her abilities make her an excellent Commander…but the fact you get access to both makes her an absurdly powerful choice.
At just two total mana – one white and one black – Karlov of the Ghost Council is extremely affordable. You’ll be able to consistently get him out onto the battlefield early on in the game.
Once he’s out, he becomes an overwhelmingly oppressive force for your opponents to deal with. He gets two +1/+1 counters every time you gain life – something that white specializes in.
Later on, you can pay one black and one white mana to remove six of those counters from Karlov and exile any of your opponents’ creatures. If you’re worried about sacrificing that many counters, don’t be. All you need to do is gain life three times to earn them right back, which is easy enough to do with lifelink and white spells.
When Lurrus of the Dream-Den was released, it swiftly broke the Vintage and Legacy formats, earning the ire and outrage of players around the world. After its release, the rules for Companion had to be changed, otherwise getting Lurrus out on the battlefield was simply too easy.
So, what makes Lurrus such a strong option for your Commander? First, it’s flexible. It costs three total mana, two of which can be paid with either black or white and one of which can be paid with any color. That means if you’re not drawing not enough of both colors, you can make do with whatever you have to cast Lurrus.
Next, it allows you to cast any permanents from your graveyard as long as they have a converted mana cost of two or less. This isn’t a problem – there are tons of cheap spells you can stack your deck with. Lurrus essentially turns your graveyard into a second library.
As we mentioned in our list of the best MTG blue black commanders, god cards have been consistently popular. Not all of them are as strong as Athreos, God of Passage, though.
Athreos essentially protects all your creatures from death. Opponents can pay three life to prevent this from happening, but if they won’t, your creature simply goes back to your hand when it dies. No need to try and pull it from your graveyard.
Tribal builds are among the easiest Commander decks to make, provided the tribe in question has abundant support. Humans are one such tribe that has plenty of support, so it’s easy to craft a deck around them.
General Kudro of Drannith is a solid choice for a Commander in such a deck. He’ll give all your humans a modest +1/+1 bump in addition to exiling cards from opponents’ graveyards whenever one of your humans enters the battlefield. This is some solid graveyard hate.
Breena, the Demagogue
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to include a link to purchase Breena, the Demagogue, so we’ve put a picture of it up instead so you can see what we’re talking about. What makes this Strixhaven card extraordinary is that it’s so political.
Orzhov isn’t normally a political color combo. With Breena, you’ll get the political interaction because it encourages your opponents to attack each other instead of you.
As we mentioned earlier, one of Orzhov’s strengths is that it can easily make tokens. If this is a strategy you want to build a deck around, consider using Thalisse, Reverent Medium as your Commander.
In a nutshell, she’ll give you twice as many tokens, with the ones she creates being 1/1 white flying spirit creatures. Make the most use of her by packing your deck with cards that make as many tokens as possible.
Control is key when it comes to Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim. She lets you pay to sacrifice a creature, and you gain life equal to said creature’s toughness. Once you get 10 more life points than what you started with, you can activate her second ability to exile a nonland permanent.
Exiling is the most powerful removal in the game. Unlike merely sending something to the graveyard, exiling a card makes it impossible for your enemies to use that card again.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that Ayli only costs a single white and black mana. You should be able to get her out onto the battlefield reliably early on.
Casting spells is the core of Magic: the Gathering. It even has magic in the name. So, if you have a card like Kambal, Consul of Allocation, which makes it hurt to cast spells, you’ll effectively dominate the table.
Kambal is fairly straightforward. Whenever an opponent casts a noncreature spell, they’ll lose two life and you’ll gain that life. Against decks that aren’t creature-heavy, he’s extremely oppressive, and we can guarantee everyone will want to get rid of him. Be prepared to protect Kambal from targeting.
White is particularly strong with enchantments, which have historically been rather unimpressive. With Daxos the Returned, you can turn enchantments into a force to be reckoned with.
The more enchantments you have, the better here. Daxos gains an experience counter for each one you cast. Once you have a solid amount, activate his second ability to create a black spirit enchantment creature token which has a power and toughness equal to Daxos’s experience counters.
The fact that you can do this over and over again is insane. With enough enchantments, you’ll be able to build an army of beefy creatures.
Is Orzhov Good in EDH?
Orzhov may not be the most powerful color combo you could use, but it’s still got an amazing presence. It can be an excellent combination to work with in Commander/EDH.
We’re fond of saying that it’s not necessarily the colors that matter, though. Most often it is your skill at deckbuilding and using cards appropriately that matters.
What is Orzhov?
You know that Orzhov is black and white based on this post. Unless you’re familiar with the story underlying Magic: the Gathering, though, you might be curious about where the color pairing got the name.
The name Orzhov comes from the Orzhov Syndicate, a guild from the plane of Ravnica. Although it’s much more complicated and nuanced, the Orzhov Syndicate is kind of like a corrupted church. Their darker elements are symbolized by the color black, and their desire for tradition is represented by the color white.
We strongly recommend trying as many color combinations as possible if you’re new to the game. Each combination has its own unique flavor and playstyle, and you never know what you’ll like the most until you’ve tried a bunch of them. Orzhov can be a powerful starting point for you if you’re not sure which combo to try next.
Need help building your Commander deck? Be sure to read our brief guide to the MTG Commander deck ratio so you understand how to build the basic framework for it.