Dominaria is a massive throwback to sets gone by, and as such has revived an archetype of those days as well: White Weenie.
For newer players who haven’t seen this archetype before, White-Weenie is a go wide deck that utilises cheap creatures to get aggressive. It’s kind of like aggro, but with much more nostalgia arond the name. It’s not like the deck hasn’t seen attempts at revival recently either. Most notably Wilson Hunter piloted a Mono-White Vampire deck with a very similar strategy to a 5-1 finish in the Standard rounds at Pro Tour Ixalan.
The easiest way to look at this deck is to simply move through the curve so you can get an idea for how it works. We open up the curve with playsets of Skymarcher Aspirant, Dauntless Bodyguard, and Legion’s Landing. The normal problem for a deck running lots of one mana spells is that they lose relevancy as the game goes on, but that’s not the case here.
Skymarcher Aspirant will have flying from as early as turn four. The previous Standard format showed just how powerful flying can be, leaving this as an acceptable top deck in any of the later turns. Dauntless Bodyguard is another two power one drop in the early game, which is exactly what this deck needs. As the game goes on however, it becomes a more obvious Blossoming Defense, protecting our most important investment and leaving something behind after a sweeper.
Finally Legion’s Landing helps us Ascend early, but has a couple more tricks. Firstly it can be an engine, winning Control Match-Ups on its own. Secondly, it gives us incidental life gain against other aggressive decks, often giving us an extra turn when we need it most. And finally it helps us reduce our land count without having a care in the world.
Moving up the curve to our two drops, we have one of the best cards in the format with Adanto Vanguard. Once again, this card will give control nightmares. It performs double duty allowing us to not only grind where necessary, but also push an advantage if your opponent stumbles. The mere threat of activation will often be enough to deter a blocker.
The Vanguard receives assistance from two other powerful two drops: Adorned Pouncer and Knight of Grace. Both of these are resistant to the best removal in the format and are good in every match up (except maybe Combo). Knight of Grace is acceptable as a 2/2 First Striker, however in my testing a lot of decks were running Black Removal and Creatures. Sure Hexproof isn’t quite Protection but its good enough.
Adorned Pouncer allows us to grind out games and gives decks with a lot of one toughness creatures (cough, cough, red aggro) real problems. An interesting point that has actually come up is that the Eternalized Cat is in fact Black, not White, turning on the Knight of Grace.
Two bodies that make up four power for three mana is good enough already. Throw a pump spell on top of that and you have a tier one card with ease. It feels like casting the Standard equivalent of Lingering Souls. It’s not flashy, but it sure gets the job done. Then take into account that 47% of our Creature base has the Knight Creature type and you have a card designed to win tournaments.
Moving onto Benalish Marshal, it’s quite easy to see why this card is good; it’s an anthem effect for three mana. Anthems are always good and normally for one this cheap you need to abide by a creature type. However, here the restriction is to play lots of white lands, something this deck would do anyway. It’s not like I’ve gone Mono-White because of nostalgia. No, I’ve done it because it’s the best, and Benalish Marshal really pushes it over the top. Enough said.
And now we have our four drops. Cast Out is our removal, and for a while it was actually Ixalan’s Binding, however testing showed me just how powerful the Cycling ability is. Once again it helps us keep our land count low without being punished. It also means we can push an advantage in the control match up, when we really don’t need that removal most of the time.
Finally, Shalai, Voice of Plenty was my choice for a four drop. There are plenty of other options out there, and all of them are acceptable. With the Meta in which I was testing the Hexproof was just too good to pass up, but don’t be afraid to experiment with this slot.
Finally the Sideboard. It largely builds itself; a little Artifact hate, a grindy Planeswalker, a way to exile the graveyard, and an answer to Aggro. However, two pieces I would recommend find a space for are Tocatli Honor Guard and Gideon’s Intervention.
The Guard plays against Standard perfectly. None of our creatures rely on an ETB Trigger to be good, but there are plenty that do. This expertly combats energy decks, and will help out in a huge range of matches. Meanwhile, Gideon’s Intervention is a good card that is even better in a fresh format. Right now Standard is particularly uninteractive since people are trying new ideas and trying to make them work. By shutting down a single card, a lot of decks become completely unplayable.
Standard White Weenie
This week I want to address the competitive nature of Magic.
Most of us play on a local Level, going to FNM and Standard Showdown, maybe a Draft or two. We do not play on the Pro Tour. So let me make a suggestion, find a deck that you love to play, not one that wins every time. I have both a UW Auras deck and a Five Colour Control deck for Standard. Auras is by far the better deck, yet I run Five Colour Control week in, week out.
Why? Because I enjoy it. Try not to get too sucked into the “win every time” mentality. Enjoy spending time at your LGS and with friends. Maybe you’ll win, maybe you won’t.
Anyway that was a bit of a deep Sideboard, but I hope you guys enjoyed the article. Feel free to pick up the deck right here. Its definitely going places. Pros like Reid Duke and Jim Davis have been giving it a go too!