White and Black is the color pair of orzhov in MTG


The Orzhov guild from Ravnica is the colors of white and black, providing a multitude of different strategies from lifegain to life drain effects, aristocrats to tribal themes and wraths to graveyard recursions.

Orzhov is the color combination of white and black and is named after the Orzhov Syndicate in Ravnica. Orzhov commanders are often engine or wincon pieces, unlocking the whole decks strategy faster and more reliably.


Orzhov decks focus on a strong late game, and the ability to level the battlefields with a multitude of wraths and removals allows the Orzhov players to answer any threat on the battlefield.

Strengths and Weaknesses


Orzhov colors provides access to the best reanimator colours, best removal colours and very strong card advantage due to having black and lifegain to pay the price of different options. Lifegain is often undervalued in commander, but especially in the lower powered games, the continous, small lifegain can make a huge difference if the player is not targeted, keeping the orzhov player easily in the 30+ hp till the very end game.


Orzhov decks often lack the fast mana ramp and is relying on the artifact mana rocks. Many of the Orzhov themes also need a fair amount of permanents on the battlefield to make a difference.

Orzhov themes

Illustrated by James Ryman


Aristocrat decks are a combination of sacrifice effects, reanimating and value creation. Wincons revolve around multiple triggers, either from dying, ETB or cast triggers.

Lifelink: Illustrated by Terese Nielsen


Lifegain is one of the the most popular themes in EDH. Multiple triggers to gain life and value received from the lifegain triggers are really fun to follow as a player. Often lifegain is combined with another theme, +1/+1 counters or creature tokens, as pure lifegain is often not powerful enough to win the game.

Isochron Scepter: Illustrated by Mark Harrison


Combo decks are control heavy decks, running a heavy amount of card draw or tutors. If the decks get to assemble the combo pieces the game often ends in an infinite combo.

Reanimate: Illustrated by Johann Bodin


Reanimate decks brings back creatures from the graveyard straight to the battlefield. The reanimated creatures are often expensive to cast, like demons, and are complete haymakers compared to the reanimation costs.

Barony Vampire: Illustrated by Daarken

Vampire tribal

Vampire tribal is second most popular mono black tribal. Eternal vampire have a multitude of different commanders available and different game plans, too. One vampire tribal can focus on full combat with lord effects, other focusing on life gain and life loss and third can focus on stealing other players creatures.

Orzhov decklists

Felisa, Fang of Silverquill, Illustrated by: Sara Winters

Orzhov counter aristocrats: Felisa Fang of Silverquill

Felisa is an interesting commander combining death triggers and counters. Orzhov has relatively low amount of counter synergies (except in mono white) but has high amount of death trigger synergies.
Karlov of the ghost council how to build lifegain

Karlov of the Ghost Council: cEDH or casual?

I wondered how to build a lifegain EDH deck and after some time ended up with Karlov of the Ghost Council as the commander with voltron and life drain sub themes.