This is a question I've been trying to figure out for the past couple weeks, and I believe I've come up with a pretty reasonable answer, or at least considered the matter from enough angles to provide you with some well-informed reasoning (and lots of data) to help you decide the matter for yourself.
This week I'll start by discussing how I see standard post-states, followed by a discussion of what each of the various successful Blue-White decks have in common and the motivations for diverging in the ways they diverge from each other. I wrap up the discussion of Standard with my current Blue-White list.
Standard after States
Wolf Run Ramp - 21
Twenty-One. Yep, that is the number of Wolf Run Ramp decks that won their respective State (or Provincial) Championship, and this is only accounting for about 80% of the total results (some have not yet been tracked down). Out of the 54 winning decks accounted for thus far, 21 is approximately 39%. Those are Jund, Faeries, and CawBlade-like numbers! Granted it is still early and States is not nearly as reliable an indicator as a pro tour when it comes to evaluating just how good the best deck is. Nevertheless, the next best finishers were not even in the same ballpark! This leads me to believe, at least for now, Wolf Run Ramp stands alone as the sole Tier 1 deck of the format. Given this, let's consider if it's reasonable to play anything other than Wolf Run Ramp.
The following archetypes each won three, four, or five championships and were each fairly well represented throughout most of the tournaments:
Solar Flare - 5 Mono Black Infect - 4 Township Tokens - 4 UB Control - 4 Red Deck Wins - 3
An interesting thing to note is that each of these five archetypes is fairly solidified. There is not a whole lot of variation between lists. What I take from this is that if one of these archetypes starts putting up numbers of the Wolf Run magnitude, it will be due to its positioning in the metagame (which at this point pretty much just means how well it does against Wolf Run Ramp). In contrast, there was a wide variation among Blue-White decks, which suggests to me a much greater likelihood that the best Blue-White deck simply has not been discovered yet (or at least agreed upon). Unlike the above five decks, a Blue-White deck has a reasonable chance of rising to Tier 1 status for reasons other than simply being well-positioned in the metagame but instead for being the most powerful deck in the format (or tied for it).
If our goal is to figure out the best deck in the format, we can sleeve up Wolf Run Ramp and be done with the matter. This is a strategy I would recommend for anyone with limited time to play test but wants to show up with a deck that will at least not get outclassed all day, and who doesn't mind battling mirrors extensively. But if we're not content with this strategy (and I certainly am not), then we have a couple of other avenues to explore.
One other avenue to explore is to consider which of the five decks mentioned above had the largest increase in popularity (and success) relative to the previous week. The deck that clearly stands out is Monoblack Infect. It was more or less non-existent until the weekend of States. Township Tokens was also relatively under the radar until States. If you believe either of these strategies is better than their four wins suggest, it would be a reasonable decision to explore one of those decks. This is especially the case if you believe you have (or can have) a good matchup against Wolf Run Ramp.
I would not recommend pursuing Red Deck Wins, unless you are a die-hard burn mage. Historically it has been the case that red decks flourish early on in a new format before all the ‘better' decks get discovered and properly tuned. Then they tend to drop off until a particular weekend where enough people have forgotten they exist (and have subsequently been skimping on hate for red), at which point an opportune moment arises to take a tournament by storm. Then the following weekend not a single red deck does well because once again everyone has remembered its existence. Red's weekend was a few weeks ago in Indianapolis, and it's still recent enough to be on people's minds. I'd recommend putting away the burn spells for at least a few more weeks.
Those playing Solar Flare and UB Control know whether they should continue. If you're having success it is because you know the deck well and have been tuning it to your liking from the time you first picked it up. My recommendation to these players is to make sure you have enough tools to beat Wolf Run in the main as well as post-board. If you're not already on one of these decks, I would not recommend getting on now. My opinion is that Blue-Black is the stronger of the two but that both are on the decline. Going over the top of Wolf-Run requires a level of commitment that makes many of your Tier 2 matchups significantly worse. If you load up on counter-magic, what happens when the opponent plays an early attacker? If you Overload on removal, how are you beating Primeval Titan and Garruk, Primal Hunter? Sure, “that's what sideboards are for,” but I just don't see enough incentive to play either deck unless I know exactly what I'm doing in each matchup. Did I mention green creatures can't be targeted?
This leaves us with one last option to explore - Blue-White. As I said, this is the one avenue that has had reasonable success with a variety of different builds. Instead of treating each as its own distinct archetype, as deck cataloguers are forced to do, I find it more instructive to consider the major axes at play and to what extent each build utilizes such axes. By considering the matter in this way, we're in the best possible position to answer the question, “Which Blue-White build is best?” So let's now consider what these primary axes are and to what extent each of the successful Blue-White decks utilized each.
If we consider the entire spectrum of Blue-White decks (not even including Solar Flare) as one far-reaching archetype, then it clearly outperformed all non-Wolf Run decks by at least double its next closest rival. It would be a bit foolish to do this, however, since for instance Puresteel and UW Control are vastly different decks. Nevertheless if we consider each of these decks alongside one another, some interesting overlaps and similarities surface. Let's do that.
Puresteel and UW Aggro ran the fewest lands (between 23 and 24), followed by tokens (25) and the more aggressive blade variants (25). Then on the high end of the spectrum, the more controlling blade decks, the UW Planeswalker deck, and the UW control deck each ran 26 lands. As would be expected, the more aggressive builds ran fewer lands and the more controlling builds ran more lands. No surprise so far. The more interesting part of studying this axis is seeing exactly where each deck falls along the mana spectrum.
Also considering the lands, each build ran a full set of Glacial Fortress and Seachrome Coast (obviously), and each ran an amount of Islands and Plains proportionate to the man requirements of the specific build (again, obviously), but the key questions arose as to which ‘special' lands should be included. The two most controlling builds were split between Inkmoth Nexus and Ghost Quarter. The Sun Titan variant opted for Ghost Quarter whereas the Planeswalker version opted for a potential blocker. The blade builds would likewise opt for Inkmoth Nexus due to its ability to yield a sword, except for Magby who played 3 Moorland Haunts and no other colorless lands.
This fact attests to the strength of Moorland Haunt in any deck that can support it. Among the decks that opted to go with Moorland Haunt, the ratio of Haunts-to-Creatures was as follows:
The control builds that ran seven or less creatures rightly opted out of running Moorland Haunt and instead ran Ghost Quarter or Inkmoth Nexus for the reasons already stated. Dedicated Tokens is an interesting position because it runs so few creatures (just Blade Splicer and Hero of Bladehold), has no good use for Inkmoth Nexus, yet values even a single Moorland Haunt activation so highly that it is willing to run multiple copies for the chance of that happening. The UW Aggro builds have plenty of creatures to fuel the Haunt (and to even fuel multiples simultaneously) and have no real reason to play Inkmoth Nexus, so their decision is rather easy. The builds with the biggest decision, however, are those running equipment, especially the swords.
Jabczynski's Giest-Blade build ran only 11 creatures, so he would only realistically be able to activate the land once or twice, and not until later in the game after his few creatures died, and this also requires his creatures actually dying (and not getting exiled with Oblivion Ring or whatever). For his deck, equipping a sword to an Inkmoth Nexus for three turns in a row is a reasonable win condition whereas activating Moorland Haunt multiple turns in a row is not. Thus in his build the Nexus is definitely better than Moorland Haunt.
Hahn and Horsley followed that same logic, but each decided a single Moorland Haunt was good enough to merit inclusion in addition to the four copies of Inkmoth Nexus. It also appears they each counted the Moorland Haunt as a spell instead of a land since they each ran 26 total lands, in contrast to the 25 ran by Magby and Jabczynski. I like this a lot because even with 10-13 creatures, the utility of the first Moorland Haunt is very high as you will likely, albeit eventually, activate it once or twice or even three times. Drawing multiples would cause you either to flood (if you count them as spells) or have insufficient color-specific mana (if you count them as lands), so having 5 colorless lands, all of which provide fodder for the swords, sounds exactly right to me in these builds. Puresteel follows similar logic.
Here's a short rule of thumb: If you're running swords, run 4 Inkmoth Nexus and 1 Moorland Haunt. If you're not, then run 3-4 Moorland Haunts, unless you're running less than 8 creatures, in which case run Ghost Quarter instead. The only two decks that are failing to follow this rule of thumb are the dedicated token deck and Magby's mage blade deck.
The token deck should certainly not be running Ghost Quarter over Moorland Haunt. Rather, it should be running more creatures! Geist of Saint Traft stands out to me as the most obvious inclusion as it is the most played creature among the ten winning UW builds (in 7 of the 10), and it produces a white token when it takes (thus gaining both the enchantment bonuses). I understand the three-spot is a bit clogged as is, but this is a card I cannot see myself not playing, unless I'm playing a Consecrated Sphinx deck.
Magby on the other hand fails to follow this rule simply because he is playing Sword of War and Peace when he probably should not be. I know it doesn't have synergy with Snapcaster Mage, but Honor of the Pure still looks better in the deck than either version of the sword.
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Comparing the Creatures
I'm a bit surprised Doom Traveler only saw play in the Puresteel build, though he is admittedly best in that archetype. With Monoblack Infect on the rise, I expect his popularity to increase. He is great at protecting your Mirran Crusader (and everything else) from sacrifice effects such as Liliana of the Veil and Tribute to Hunger. He is also a fine clock in conjunction with Honor of the Pure or with Hero of Bladehold's battlecry bonus. He can chump block a Thrun, the Last Troll or a Dungrove Elder and rebuy himself, and then Moorland Haunt can rebuy him again, essentially giving you three-fourths of a Squadron Hawk at a fraction of the mana investment. And unlike with Squadron Hawk, drawing multiples does not equate to skipping your draw step (at least not exactly).
Champion of the Parish, and to a lesser extent Elite Vanguard, are necessary evils to playing a non-Puresteel aggro build. They each are great early, and provide fuel for Moorland Haunt later, but the more I play various incarnations of Blue-White, the more I dislike both of them. We've all been spoiled by Figure of Destiny, Student of Warfare, and Steppe Lynx. The one-drops were so good and so important. Now they are so… vanilla, and incapable of getting past a blocker on their own. Gideon's Lawkeeper can help with the latter, but this just means you're playing a pile of mediocre one-drops that rely on each other to be able to do anything. White's power is centered around the three-drop, and so the last thing I want to be doing on turn 3 is having to choose between (a) not attacking with my one-drops so I can cast my sweet three-drop or (b) waiting to cast my sweet three-drop so I can use one of my one-drops to tap his blocker to get my other one-drop through for two points of damage. Doomed Traveler is the only one-drop I'm seriously considering playing in Blue-White nowadays.
Despite running two copies of Angelic Destiny, Horsley opted against running Grand Abolisher. Stiver ran one Angelic Destiny main and another in the board, and had both his Grand Abolishers in the board. Grand Abolisher is the sort of thing I'm generally happy to be doing on turn 2. On the play, he can make it such that your sweet three-drop always resolves, and oftentimes your four-drop as well (if they don't have the Doom Blade ready in hand). On the draw, he is a de facto must-counter spell since not countering him means not being able to counter anything (unless you kill him on your ensuing turn, which makes him a must-kill creature - either way makes him good). Silvercoat Lion can usually get through unscathed when attacking alongside the blocker-magnet of Saint Traft, which is a play that often comes up when you're running four copies of the legendary Spirit cleric. And once Honor of the Pure comes down, Silvercoat Lion becomes Watchwolf. And when he dies, it's more fuel for the Moorland Haunt.
People are cutting Hero of Bladehold in order to make room for Angelic Destiny, and I don't like the call. I understand that Angelic Destiny is the preferred win condition, but the residual value of Hero of Bladehold is way higher. For instance, when either four-drop sticks around you win, but when answered, Hero turns into a 1/1 (or with Honor of the Pure a 2/2) flyer, thus yielding you card advantage while an answered Angelic Destiny yields card disadvantage. Sure, it's good when your sweet three drop (Mirran Crusader or Geist of Saint Traft) is about to attack, but Hero is pretty sweet there too (though admittedly not quite as sweet). I'm not saying don't play Angelic Destiny, but 4-2 or 4-3 in favor of Hero feels better than the reverse, which appears to be the opposite of conventional wisdom right now.
Snapcaster Mage is a card I've been trying hard to make good. I think with swords his value goes up a lot, but without them, he is not worth it, and I don't think swords are the way to go with Blue-White. He's not good before turn 3 (even with Gitaxian Probe), and turn 3 is when you start getting all your sweet white spells online. I would leave Snapcaster in the other color combinations for now.
Consecrated Sphinx! Ah, yes, good old Consecrated Sphinx. If you're an aggro or mid-range Blue-White deck, I prefer Sun Titan as he can get back any number of your sweet three-drops. Realistically though, unless you're a Timely Reinforcements + Day of Judgment style control deck, you don't want any six drops in your deck. Here's a trick for when you're playing against Consecrated Sphinx. During your draw step after you draw your card, with the Sphinx ability on the stack, play Act of Aggression targeting the Sphinx. Then when the Sphinx' ability resolves, the opponent has to choose whether to decline to draw the two cards or to draw them and allow you to draw four cards. So far my opponents on Magic Online have failed the skill test more often than not, and the play has resulted in Ancestral Recall for me on multiple occasions.
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Comparing the Spells
Nine out of ten of the builds ran Oblivion Ring. This is not surprising as it is an almost universal answer to anything, stopping creatures and Planeswalkers alike. Sorcery speed and the ability to get removed are both relevant drawbacks, and the fact that it occupies the most contested slot in the curve is also a bit unfortunate. Nevertheless it's in nearly every list for good reason.
Day of Judgment and Timely Reinforcements are the cards that mark the transition from mid-range to control. They represent a staunch decision, “I am NOT the beatdown!” Each are great against the more aggressive decks, and Day of Judgment is certainly fine against Wolf Run Ramp, but I don't know that trying to go over the top of Wolf Run Ramp and UB Control with these tools is the best decision. Without Stoneforge Mystic or Squadron Hawk, there really isn't enough incentive to play a pure control deck. The inevitability simply is not there. Even against Solar Flare, how do you expect to grind them out? I suppose I am speaking from a position of less experience playing control in the current format than aggro, but the sweet three-drops to me are the best incentive to play white, and they are far better utilized in a more aggro-mid-range build than in a more controlling build. There is a window to go underneath all these decks and yet not get blown out by mass removal, so why waste time durdling with conditional token generators (maindeck) and board sweeps when you can be protecting your cash cow with Mana Leak or actually winning the game.
Most of the other things I have to say about the spells I've already talked about in the previous sections, so let's move onto the sideboard options.
Comparing the Sideboards
Every single deck ran some number of Timely Reinforcements in their sideboards. This is the sort of thing I was talking about when warning against playing RDW right now. Not only did they run some number, but between main and sideboard, they each ran at least 3 copies! I've attempted running fewer, and then I get paired against a red deck where all I need to do is find a Timely Reinforcements and I'm reminded just how important the card is in the matchup. Not only did the players come prepared with life gain and blockers but also with Celestial Purge. With mono black infect on the rise, I expect this card to rise even more in popularity. I generally only want two in my board since oftentimes it's Inkmoth Nexus or Phyrexia Crusader that's the problem and the Purge doesn't really do anything. Nevertheless there more than enough good targets to merit having and bring in a couple.
Surgical Extraction, and in Jabczynski's case - Purify the Grave, saw more play than I would have expected. I suppose if you're playing a slower version of Blue-White, especially one with Snapcaster Mage, you need a way to combat Solar Flare. I'm not sure if you bring it in against Chandra's Phoenix. My intuition is that you would not want to. In the more aggressive decks, however, I see no good reason to do so. Against Solar Flare you would much rather have a Negate or a Mana Leak since that stops Day of Judgment or Unburial Rites or whatever six-drop they have while graveyard hate only prolongs your death.
Finally, Flashfreeze saw a decent amount of play. I expect this was largely a response to Wolf Run Ramp, but also perhaps had something to do with the abundance of RDW during States (compared to now). If you want to play the counter-game against Wolf Run Ramp, Flashfreeze is solid, but if you want to beat down, Mana Leak is still better because it counters Wurmcoil Engine. You have to be able to answer Thrun, the Last Troll, and if your plan is to get rid of him with Day of Judgment the turn after they play him, then you're not going to be able to counter their Garruk Primal Hunter or Green Sun Zenith for another one. Again, playing the control game here just sounds terrible to me compared to playing Mirran Crusader and watching as they frantically try to muster a respectable game plan, slowly watching as that glimmer of hope in their eye withers away.
For those interested, here is my current Blue-White list for Standard:
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