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November 2, 2015

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Introduction to EDH Part 4: Mono-White

Last week, I discussed the most polarizing colour in Magic, and what some of it’s often forgotten shortcomings can be. This week we’re moving on to one of more enigmatic of the five colours, White.

Longevity, Strength in Numbers, and Playing it Safe

These are all things that describe how White plays. White is a particularly odd colour to place in EDH sometimes as it’s never particularly bad, but never particularly good. I’m going over White as my third EDH colour for this reason, as it’s right in the middle of the spectrum.

The Mighty Weenie Army

That basically sums up what Mono-White’s main strategy tends to be in many formats, including EDH. But despite the one-sided nature of things, White can pack a wallop. White is probably one of the strongest utility colours in Magic, having the most varieties of spot removal and the best field wipes. Being the only colour besides Blue to have access to actual counters in the modern colour pie using Lapse of Certainty or Mana Tithe. White also has access to a few tutors, bizarre taxing effects, and lot’s of combo happy cards.

One Crippling Issue

With such a massive slice of the pie, many new players think White is absurdly strong, if not broken. However, White has one massive problem save for a few cards and that issue is card advantage. White has almost no in-colour spells that generate proper card advantage. Mentor of the Meek and Land Tax (which is a stretch) are the only cards I can think of that come anywhere near close. Outside of these things, White must heavily rely on Artifacts or supporting colours to help it. White also has a bit of issues with ramping but that’s the spoiled Green player in me talking mostly.

White Staples
White is very much a “one trick pony” colour in EDH. Usually being a supportive colour, there aren’t a plethora of options to choose from when you only have room for 5-8 Mono-White spells in your deck. However, there are three cards that I never leave home without.

1. Land Tax

Land Tax is an utterly absurd card, it allows you to keep very questionable hands in some games because you know you’re guaranteed to have lands if you can untap with it after turn two. A hand containing a single Plains, Land Tax, and 5 4+ CMC spells is actually a snap-keep in my books.

2. Enlightened Tutor

If it’s not obvious by now, I really like tutor spells. But Enlightened Tutor in a White deck is extremely important, because it allows you to search for one of your many Artifacts that can properly generate card advantage and can keep you alive in what might become a long game. It is also very hand with Land Tax.

3. Austere Command

As I mentioned already, White has lots of field wipes and it’s one of the qualities that makes White so great. It was difficult to choose just one, but I feel Austere Command is the best one without a doubt. It’s modal abilities allow for the card to rarely be dead in your hand. Some games it can just be an overcosted Day of Judgment or Purify, but in cases where you want to keep your tokens alive and destroy your opponents’ Sol Ring and big creatures this spell is a hoot.

What Does a Good White Deck Look Like?

Unlike Blue or Black, I was not a particular fan of the Mono-White Commander 2014 deck. The deck contains many useful White staples such as Grand Abolisher, Decree of Justice and Martial Coup but in general I found the deck to be too inconsistent. It was built to focus on equipment or tokens, but lacks enough dedicated cards to make either strategy stable. As such, I’m going to demonstrate the “White Weenie” archetype that makes up quite a few EDH decks.

Head of an Army

Which Commander to use while playing White Weenies is entirely up to the preference of the player, and many people build their decks with interchangeable Commanders by having many White combat-based Legendary Creatures. When I play this deck type, my preference falls on Jazal Goldmane.

Basic Game Plan

Swarm the battlefield with all sorts of little guys, then make them really, REALLY big. In all seriousness, White makes a great entry-level colour for EDH because of the general simplicity of deck building. If you have a basic idea of how to play Magic, I believe this deck will be pretty straightforward and a barrel of fun.

Robert’s Sample White Deck

Commander: (1)
Jazal Goldmane

Creatures: (21)
Accorder Paladin
Angel of Jubilation
Archangel of Tithes
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Celestial Crusader
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Emeria Shepherd
Geist-Honored Monk
Goldnight Commander
Grand Abolisher
Hero of Bladehold
Knight of the White Orchid
Mentor of the Meek
Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Mirror Entity
Odric, Master Tactician
Precinct Captain
Solemn Simulacrum
Sun Titan
Twilight Shepherd

Enchantments: (13)
Aura of Silence
Cathars’ Crusade
Crusade
Endless Horizons
Glorious Anthem
Honor of the Pure
Land Tax
Marshal’s Anthem
Mobilization
Oblivion Ring
Quarantine Field
Sacred Mesa
True Conviction

Artifacts: (6)
Marble Diamond
Mind Stone
Pearl Medallion
Skullclamp
Sol Ring
Tooth of Ramos

Planeswalkers: (3)
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Elspeth Tirel

Spells: (19)
Austere Command
Comeuppance
Conqueror’s Pledge
Decree of Justice
Enlightened Tutor
Entreat the Angels
Gift of Estates
Idyllic Tutor
Increasing Devotion
Martial Coup
Oblation
Path to Exile
Return to Dust
Rout
Spectral Procession
Swords to Plowshares
Tithe
White Sun’s Zenith
Wrath of God

Lands (37) (10)
Drifting Meadow
Emeria, The Sky Ruin
Mistveil Plains
Myriad Landscape
x Plains
Secluded Steppe
Strip Mine
Tectonic Edge
Windbrisk Heights

Potential for Improvement

This decklist is made to provide a basic shell of the generic Mono-White archetype of this format. There are many cards that could be added to make the deck dirtier if your play group is cutthroat like mine. Such cards include Armageddon (which is particularly more rude if you have Avacyn, Angel of Hope in play), Serra Ascendant or Hokori, Dust Drinker. White is very good at locking down the board once it’s ahead, so it’s all up to you to decide how you want to do it.

See Where your Horizons Lead

Despite being a mostly bland colour to seasoned EDH players, White can actually be a lot of fun. I still throw together a deck similar to my example once every 12-18 months just to spice things up for a couple weeks. If you’re a player who enjoys this style of deck in Standard or Modern you’ll certainly find the transition very simple and enjoyable.