MtG: In the Spotlight: WHITE (Modern Format)

Dear readers and fellow M:tG enthusiasts!

In the “Modern” times of the Magic: the Gathering Customizable Card Games, the color white has brought us many great and powerful cards such as the staple…

… and older white cards that were and are still quite potent in the past have been replaced with arguably or strictly inferior alternatives, such as…

…instead of the classic Crusade and…

…instead of good-old Swords to Plowshares. The latter is about half the price of the new Path to Exile now by the way.

So having always been a passionate White Weenie player, the color white has a special place in my M:tG heart. In this article I want to showcase what the very same color can do in the Modern Format (which includes all sets since the new card layout was introduced with the 8th Edition at the 10 years Magic anniversary back in 2003) by showcasing 3 decks as you know I like to do quite a lot.

Our first deck will not be a typical White Weenie, although it certainly has “weenie-esque” traits as it is basically a creature rush deck swarming the field with small guys and pumping them with one or two single cards like Honor of the Pure as seen above. All that in Modern Format and built on a budget.

So as always, I will present you with my decklist and then follow up with my thoughts and comments on the deck:

Exhibit A: The Phantom Menace (Modern Format):

Creatures…11

4 x Doomed Traveler W

4 x Twilight Drover 2W

3 x Phantom General 3W

Sorceries…15

4 x Gather the Townsfolk 1W

4 x Lingering Souls 2W

4 x Spectral Procession W/2 W/2 W/2

3 x Hour of Reckoning 4WWW

Enchantments…12

4 x Intangible Virtue 1W

4 x Honor of the Pure 1W

4 x Oblivion Ring 2W

Lands…22

4 x Orzhov Guildgate

4 x Terramorphic Expanse

10 x Plains

4 x Swamp

About the Deck:

Yes, this is a Token Rush deck as I would describe it, built on a budget and whilst technically Modern Format legal, clearly intended for casual play – a fun deck so to say.

So about the actual deck: You got only very few actual creature cards but a ton of sorceries which produce a ton of creature tokens, mostly 1/1 flyers with the exception of the 1/1 non-flying humans generated by Gather the Townsfolk. Combine that with 11 cards that give all your tokens +1/+1 (4 Intangible Virtue, 4 Honor of the Pure, 3 Phantom General –  more on those cards later) and you’ll have a more or less huge army of more or less threatening creature tokens in like no time!

The few creatures you have all have abilities that go well with the token rush theme.

Doomed Traveller is a 1/1 for instance who spawns a 1/1 flying spirit creature token when he dies, which is pretty amazing once we get to the actual “creature token support” that is found so bountifully in this deck as we are going to see.

Twilight Drover has two abilities which go hand in hand and are great support for the overall theme of the deck. Whenever a creature token leaves play, you get to put a +1/+1 counter on the Drover. Then for just 2W and without having to tap him, Twilight Drover makes two 1/1 Flyers if you remove a counter from him. Getting two small flyers repeatedly is pretty awesome when seen in the context of this particular deck.

Phantom General is the last “real” creature in this deck and probably least efficient. He is a 2/3 creature for 3W that gives all your creature tokens +1/+1. He is quite overcosted in my opinion, even with his ability, but I added 3 copies still to have another way of boosting all my tokens’ power and toughness.

Besides the not even a dozen actual creatures you have, as mentioned before, an array of Sorceries that spawn lots of tokens. Lingerning Souls creates four 1/1 flyers for 3WB (if you add up the normal and the flashback cost) while Spectral Procession (probably the most potent token generator at your disposal) spawns three 1/1 flyers quite possibly at as small a cost as WWW. Gather the Townsfolk is the oddball token generator as it does not make 1/1 flying spirits but rather two 1/1 human tokens at the cost of 1W. The cool thing about Gather the Townsfolk however is that you will get 5 of these little humans if your life total is equal to or below 5. That can be handy and turn the tide in your favor.

Besides the token generation sorceries I added three copies of Hour of Reckoning. This totally overlooked “crap rare” from Ravnica: City of Guilds is a great addition to the deck in my opinion, as you can reduce its cost down to WWW via Convoke and it can serve as a great field swiper leaving all your (boosted) creature tokens unscathed.

When we look at the enchantments in the deck, I am running a playset of less creative but always good to have Oblivion Rings, your one-stop-solution to get rid of a bothersome non-land permanent as well as 2 x 4 creature boosters: Those are the well-known Honor of the Pure, which has been shown above, giving all your white creatures +1/+1 and the more obscure but in this deck very potent Intangible Virtue. The latter costs the same as Honor of the Pure (1W) and gives all your token creatures +1/+1 and, and here comes the awesomeness, the Vigilance ability on top of that (meaning your tokens won’t need to be tapped in order to attack).

If you have just a single copy of one of your many creature boosters out (I list them again: 3 x Phantom General, 4 x Intangible Virtue, 4 x Honor of the Pure), a single Spectral Procession for instance will give you a little army of three 2/2 flyers, swinging in for 6 damage soonest and maybe being untapped and ready to block after that if you have Intangible Virtue out, and that at the mere cost of WWW. Pretty cost-efficient if you ask me.

Well that about wraps it up about this fun budget deck idea of mine. Actually, I see great potential in this humble deck design of mine and, as most of the cards included in it are dirt-cheap, have already ordered all the cards i need to assemble it. I for one am looking forward to see how “The Phantom Menace” will perform in real life!

Moving on, the next deck is kinda the anti-thesis of a white weenie/creature-rush deck; a monowhite control type of deck. Now in “Modern times” white control often comes in the form of enchantments. Having realized this I came up with the following deck:

Exhibit B: The Banisher (Modern Format)

Creatures…13

3 x Hero of Iroas 1W

4 x Mesa Enchantress 1WW

3 x Fiend Hunter 1WW

3 x Celestial Ancient 3WW

Instants…8

4 x Emerge Unscathed W

4 x Path to Exile W

Enchantments…17

4 x Journey to Nowhere 1W

4 x Arrest 2W

3 x Oblivion Ring 2W

3 x Banishing Light 2W

3 x Prison Term 1WW

Lands…22

4 x Sejiri Steppe

4 x Kabira Crossroads

14 x Plains

About the Deck:

The latin saying “nomen est omen” is very true for this monowhite control type of deck, as it is all about banishing permanents, especially creatures – exiling those by various means that is. Let us run the numbers before I elaborate more on the strategy I have in mind for this deck: The deck runs no less than 24 ways of either “shutting down” or exiling a Creature (those are 3 x Fiend Hunter, 4 x Path to Exile, 4 x Journey to Nowhere, 4 x Arrest, 3 x Oblivion Ring, 3 x Banishing Light & 3 x Prison Term). Out of those 24,  6 cards banish any permanent (3 copies of each of the already “classic” Oblivion Ring and its newly-released duplicate  Banishing Light), thankfully including those pesky, new Planeswalker cards…

So I noticed that most of my creature and/or permanent removal comes in the form of enchantments. In an effort to profit from that fact, I built this deck. So first off, the most important part of the deck. Lo and behold our potent draw engine:

Mesa Enchantress will draw you a card each and every time you play an Enchantment. This deck is almost 1/3 Enchantments and so the Enchantress will replace your every Journey to Nowhere, Oblivion Ring or any other of your (creature) removal enchantments with a fresh, new card in your hand. That should generate some massive card advantage in your favor.

Continuing with the creatures, let us have a look at Hero of Iroas:

Well first of all he is a decent weenie-type creature with 2/2 at the cost of 1W, has the (in this deck mostly irrelevant) heroic ability and, and this is why I am running him in this deck, he reduces the cost of your Auras by 1. While only 7 of my 17 enchantments are auras (4 x Arrest and 3 x Prison Term) I think this still warrants running 3 copies of the hero.

Fiend Hunter is a creature with in-built creature removal, as you may exile any one target creature when he comes into play. When Fiend Hunter leaves play, the exiled creature is returned to play. You are getting this awesome effect on a 1/3 body for just 1WW.

Lastly, Celestial Ancient is supposed to be my “killer”/win condition, being a 3/3 flyer for 3WW that puts a +1/+1 counter on each of your creatures whenever you play an enchantment, superbly ineracting with the enchantment theme of the deck and profiting greatly from the high enchantment percentage in this particular deck. Of course I could skip the Ancients and just run Elspeth, Knight Errant instead using her second ability on one of my creatures each turn, but I somehow refuse to play with Planeswalkers in any of my decks. Call me stubborn, but I’d rather stick to old-fangled win-conditions…

Moving on to the non-creature cards, I would like to first of all mention a  tiny instant with a great effect which I have grown very fond of lately:

This is your answer to anything that would do harm to one of your key creatures and I have found myself ordering multiple playsets of Emerge Unscathed as I want to run it in several of my decks at the same time. This can really be a life-saver for your important creatures such as your Mesa Enchantress or Celestial Elder, giving a creature protection from any one color – instant speed – at the cost of W. The really cool thing about Emerge Unscathed is its Rebound ability, which lets you cast it again during your next upkeep – for free! This is kinda a one-two punch combo thing as you can protect one of your creatures on one turn and then give the same or another creature protection from one of your opponent’s creatures’ colors so it will be unblockable for the turn. I think this is a really great card and will serve well in this deck in protecting your key creatures, acting in many ways quite alike a white counterspell for the mere cost of 1 white mana.

The other must have instant is Path to Exile, which I have shown you at the outset of this article.

Besides the creatures and instants I am running a lot of creature and permanent removal in the form of enchantments as I have mentioned before:

Journey to Nowhere exiles any creature at the cost of 1W, Arrest shuts down a Creature completely (the enchanted creature cannot attack, block or activate its abilities) for 2W and Prison Term does the same with the option to move it onto another creature that enters the battlefield (in case the opponent plays a more threatening creature than the one you put Prison Term on initially)  for 1WW while Oblivion Ring and Banishing Light exile ANY target non-land permanent that might bother you at 2W.

On a closing note, I am running 8 “comes into play tapped” lands with useful effects, as this is supposed to be a slow, control-style of deck that can afford things like that. The lesser useful of the two special lands is Kabira Crossroads, which nets you 2 life when it comes into play. Now the other one could be really useful I reckon: Sejiri Steppe gives protection from any one color to one of your creatures for the remainder of the turn it entered the battlefield. This can be quite neat in stalemate situations as you can give your Celestial Ancient for instance protection from an opponent color so it will become unblockable for one turn in the best case scenario.

So much for “The Banisher”! My gut feeling tells me this one could do quite decent even in a more competitive setting. On to our next and last white deck, which is the least “budgety” of the three decks presented in this here article:

Exhibit 3: Power to the People (Modern Format)

Creatures…22

4 x Champion of the Parish W

4 x Elite Vanguard W

4 x Knight of the Holy Nimbus WW

4 x Banisher Priest 1WW

3 x Mentor of the Meek 2W

3 x Angelic Overseer 3WW

Instants…4

4 x Emerged Unscathed W

Sorceries…8

4 x Gather the Townsfolk 1W

2 x Increasing Devotion 3WW

2 x Hour of Reckoning 4WWW

Enchantments…4

4 x Honor of the Pure 1W

Mana-Sources…22

3 x Chrome Mox 0

18 x Plains

About the Deck:

This deck is inspired by a deck I played in the Magic 2014 App for Android, contains many cards from the Innistrad block, which pretty much came and went without being noticed by me, as I had been occupying myself more with the Yu-Gi-Oh TCG at that time I guess, and is about one lesser known and supported creature type – the very race the humble author himself belongs to: Humans.

It is again a creature-rush type of deck, “weenie-esque” you may call it. Basically I saw these two cards and in that instance I knew I wanted a human-tribal deck:

and

While Champion of the Parish is an amazing first turn drop, growing exceedingly large the more humans you play and best followed up by the two human tokens generating Gather the Townsfolk, Angelic Overseer is not a human at all but an angel but acts as the trump/killer-type creature in my take on a human deck. You can see why for yourself above…

This deck shares quite some cards with the other two decks presented in this article, such as Gather the Townsfolk and Honor of the Pure which I also run in my token rush deck and Emerge Unscathed as in the “Banisher” deck. I run them for similar reasons, but let me still go through my card choices for my human deck one-by-one:

  • Champion of the Parish: An amazing first turn Creature that will grow ever larger the more human creatures you play. Best followed up by Gather the Townsfolk, which will give Champion a lasting +2/+2 boost and you two 1/1 humans.
  • Elite Vanguard: The uncommon, human Savannah Lion who happens to be a human. Just a 2/1 for W. If you happen to have a Chrome Mox handy, you can pair this one with Champion of the Parish to get a 2/2 and a 2/1 on your very first turn.
  • Knight of the Holy Nimbus: Has the old-fangled Flanking ability but what makes this 2/2 for WW really awesome is that he regenerates everytime he would be destroyed, unless an opponent pays 2 to shut down the Knight’s regenerative powers for one turn. Your opponent will most often not be able to pay the 2 mana early on, but even if they can it will be quite taxing on their resources, which makes this an amazing 2 drop. And yes, Knight of the Holy Nimbus is a human as well!
  • Banisher Priest: The 2/2 version of the 1/3 Fiend Hunter as the Priest exiles any one target Creature for as long as he remains on the field. I prefer him in this deck over Fiend Hunter as I like the extra +1 Power in this case.
  • Mentor of the Meek: Technically not a Weenie as he his converted casting cost is 3 and his stats are a meek 2/2, this one is a great, great draw engine, and I think a great deck needs a great draw engine. So whenever a Creature with Power 2 or less enters play when Mentor is out, you can pay 1 to draw a card. Just imagine playing Gather the Townsfolk and having 2 more mana to spare. Then the card would basically say “3W: Put two 1/1 human creature tokens into play and draw 2 cards”. Mentor becomes more powerful in mid- to late-game, when you will be able to afford to pay some extra mana for some extra cards.
  • Angelic Overseer: This one is the killer card in the deck and the only non-human in the deck. As you can see above, Angelic Overseer is a formidable 5/3 flyer for 5 mana. As long as you control a human though he’ll get a deadly combination of Hexproof and Indestructible, which pretty much makes the Overseer invincible (except if your opponent causes you to sacrifice a creature á la Cruel Edict – but then again you’d have a puny human to sack most of the times…). Lots of humans and the human token generating Gather the Townsfolk etc should ensure that the Overseer will get its awesome bonuses for sure.
  • Emerge Unscathed: I am running this one for the same reason as I run it in the Banisher deck presented above: To protect a key creature from harm and to give your most powerful creature protection from a color the turn after you cast it from your hand for free via the awesome Rebound ability.
  • Gather the Townsfolk: I think I don’t need to explain this in detail once again. Just generate two 1/1 human tokens or five of their kind if you have 5 or fewer life.
  • Increasing Devotion: This one generates no less than five 1/1 humans and can be cast from your graveyard for 7WW via flashback, then generating double the number of human tokens (10). Just imagine this with the 1 white mana Champion of the Parish, who would get a lasting stats boost of no less than +5/+5.  Also making five seperate tokens will give you a formidable army with a total attacking power of 10 (!!) if you happen to have a Honor of the Pure out.
  • Hour of Reckoning: This one is already familiar to us from the creature token deck we looked at initially. I think it is a pretty great combo with your mana human creature token generating cards and Angelic Overseer. If your position on the battlefield is less fortunate but you still have at least a human token and Angelic Overseer in play, you can unleash Hour of Reckoning which will A) leave all your tokens unharmed and B) leave Angelic Overseer unharmed as well as she has indestructible if a human is on the field. This is a great way to break stalemates, so I thought running 2 Hour of Reckoning would be a good plan.
  • Honor of the Pure:  Everything has been said about that one already: Gives all your white creatures +1/+1 and goes very well with your token generators Gather the Townsfolk and Increasing Devotion.
  • Chrome Mox: Just speeds up the deck. If you have no clue what a Chrome Mox is, please educate yourself here.

Well, that concludes my “white in the spotlight” deck/strategy article. I think I covered quite a bit of what the color white can do for you in the Modern Format – from weenie to monowhite control with a twist – and hope you had a good read and enjoyed the article. Who knows, maybe I will be covering other colors and what they are capable of in Modern and/or Casual Format soon as well.

For now I will leave it at that, thank you for reading and, as always, wish you

HAPPY GAMING!

Yours,

Andi

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