One of the first things you must ask yourself before constructing a deck is what color(s) to play. With many different color combinations and possible strategies, it’s hard to know where to start. This article is one of a five-part series that will take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of each color. Today we will be focusing on white. If you are looking for more about the philosophy of each color, you can look here, but this article will cover the mechanics.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into what white brings to the table:
- Creatures: Typically, white creatures are low-cost but high-value, such as Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Leonin Arbiter, and Monastery Mentor. Many of them have great stats for their CMC value or have a high impact ability, and sometimes, they have both! White also has access to late game threats in cards like Baneslayer Angel, which are able to tip the tide of battle in your favor.
- Tribes: The main tribes of white are humans and angels. While they both fill different roles, I feel that if a tribal strategy is your goal, humans have more support overall. There are cards which reward you for playing humans such as Thalia’s Lieutenant, Champion of the Parish, Increasing Devotion, and Gather the Townsfolk; and finally, cards that will make your growing army that much scarier, such as Odric, Lunarch Marshal and Hero of Bladehold.
- Creature Removal: White has access to some of the best removal spells in the game, such as Swords to Plowshares, Path to Exile, and Journey to Nowhere. Many of them allow you to remove a target creature from the game completely, regardless of their power and toughness. Additionally, there are other high impact removal spells in the form of enchantments, such as Pacifism, Bound in Silence, and Arrest, which render creatures useless.
- Board Wipes: Here is another place where white really shines. It has some of, if not the best, board clears in the game. With cards like Wrath of God, Rout, and Martial Coup, you’ll have no problem keeping your opponents from building their forces. Additionally, while it doesn’t necessarily get rid of everything for good, cards such as Hallowed Burial are enough of a setback to possibly swing the game in your favor.
- Artifact Removal: Another ability that white is fairly adept in is dealing with artifacts. While it is not as good as red or green, it does definitely have some powerful options available. Disenchant, Fragmentize, and Abolish are just some examples of impactful artifact removal spells. Some of them even have the added bonus of being able to take out enchantments, too.
- Enchantment Removal: Although white doesn’t have many cards that specifically deal with enchantments, many of its spells can target both enchantments and artifacts.
- Protection: One of white’s greatest strengths is to grant protection to a card. If one of your permanents has protection from something, it cannot be blocked, targeted, dealt damage, or enchanted by what it is protected from. Usually, this protects them from a specific color or colors, but there are other cards such as Tattoo Ward which give protection from specific types of spells.
- Lockdown Cards: White is plentiful with lockdown cards. These types of cards either prevent entirely or make it very difficult for your opponent to do certain things such as stopping them from attacking (Ghostly Prison), stopping the activated abilities of artifacts (Stony Silence), and making it much harder to use any non-mana, producing activated ability (Suppression Field).
- Exiling: Although they tend to have some drawbacks, white also has some cards capable of exiling most permanents. The color is filled with instant and sorcery spells that exile cards. However, there are additional exile spells that take the form of enchantments like Oblivion Ring and Banishing Light. There are also cards that take the form of creatures such as Mangara of Corondor, which allows you to remove any permanent from the game completely with no way of it ever coming back.
There are, however, some downsides to playing white:
- Little to No Card Advantage: While white does have access to a few cards that provide some advantage, they usually come at a high price or require certain conditions to be met, such as Mentor of the Meek. While there are some tutors such as Enlightened Tutor, Steelshaper’s Gift, and Heliod’s Pilgrim, they are too narrow to supplement white’s aforementioned lack of card draw.
- The removal has drawbacks: This includes some of the cards I have mentioned as being good. Sure, Path to Exile and Journey to Nowhere can get rid of almost any creature, but in doing so, they can be easily undone, or can even give your opponent an advantage.
- Susceptible to board clears: Many white decks win by “going wide” with creatures, and can be easily defeated with either a board clear or a mass bounce.