Monday Brews – B/W Lifegain

Welcome back for another helping of Monday Brews and this time around we are going to be trying out Black White Lifegain!

Lifegain decks as a concept are not popular to the more competitive player, however in standard we currently have the main star of Horsin’ Around: Crested Sunmare! (Sorry Bojack). Core 19 has provided a lot of tools to make a lifegain deck with win conditions in Ajani’s Pridemate and Resplendent Angel, a great enabler and an anti-aggro card in Shield Mare and even a removal spell with Nightmare’s Thirst.

With aggressive red decks looking to dominate standard, lets take a look at the deck looking to stop them in their tracks.

BW Life-gain

Maindeck Sideboard
4x Ajani's Pridemate
4x Famished Paladin
4x Resplendent Angel
4x Shield Mare
4x Crested Sunmare
2x Lyra Dawnbringer

4x Nightmare's Thirst
4x Vraska's Contempt
4x Trespasser's Curse

2x Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants

4x Concealed Courtyard
4x Isolated Chapel
3x Shefet Dunes
1x Scavenger Grounds
5x Swamp
7x Plains
3x Kambal, Consul of Allocation
4x Duress
2x Invoke the Divine
3x Settle the Wreckage
3x Authority of the Consuls

The aim of our deck is to maximise the number of lifegain triggers we get from our sources. This not only grows our pridemate to ridiculous sizes, but means that we can receive a 5/5 horse token on our turn and on our opponent’s turn. With the exception of Resplendent Angel, it does not matter how much life is gained in one turn, just that life was gained. Once one of our threats survive, we should be very favoured to snowball the game and close out matches very quickly.

Lets take a look at the card choices.

The Removal

Nightmare’s Thirst + Vraska’s Contempt – While Vraska’s Contempt is ubiquitous with the standard format, Nightmare’s Thirst is not something that would appear on the face of it to be a strong removal spell. In the early game, this card is just as powerful as Fatal Push, removing relevant threats in Earthshaker Khenra, Glint-Sleeve Siphoner and Bomat Courier without any help. In the midgame, combined with one of our lifegain sources this can be used to take down a lot larger prey such as Hazoret the Fervent.

The Pay-offs

Crested Sunmare + Ajani’s Pridemate + Resplendent Angel – The core of the deck, they quickly overwhelm our opponent by creating indestructible 5/5 horse tokens or making 4/4 evasive angels.

The Sideboard

As our maindeck is focused on beating creature decks (and red decks especially), our sideboard is mostly devoted to beating combo decks and control decks. The 4 Duress means that we can either resolve our key threats or remove sweepers from their hand before they get to play them.

Kambal, Consul of Allocation is included as a nod to its effectiveness in Modern, being able to punish control decks by discouraging them from casting their counter spells or draw spells. It also has a use in standard in being very effective against the Mono Blue Paradoxical Outcome deck, making it very difficult for them to combo off with it in play.

Invoke the Divine is mainly for W/U control, removing their Seal Away, Cast Outs or Torrential Gearhulks. It can be brought in against the slower B/R deck which has Scrapheap Scrounger and – more importantly – Heart of Kiran as targets.

Settle the Wreckage and Authority of the Consuls are for the aggressive The Flame of Keld builds of the mono red deck, where every piece of lifegain matters as well as slowing down their clock.


While I have ultimately provided a B/W Version of the lifegain deck to provide interaction with our opponents, you could easily adapt this into a Mono-White version and forego the interaction for a more consistent manabase. The second colour is essentially free so I feel that we should be utilizing that.

So if you’re into your lifegain and lots and lots of triggers, hopefully this is the deck for you. Let me know how it goes and hopefully, it’ll be your opponents with the long face!

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