2011 Core Set Review – White

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by Kelly Reid

White gets the first "Buy" rating of the set, since mythics had none.  It also gets a ton of EDH power, as well as the return of a core set staple in slightly modified form and a potential sleeper in a popular cycle. 

A quick refresher on pricing:  $1 cards are bulk rares (and get no rating), $2 cards have niche use or casual appeal, $5 have some tournament use or are popular casual cards.  $10 is a very heavily used rare.  Rares above $10 are not regular occurrences in sets containing mythic rares.

Angelic Arbiter kicks off White's selection in M11.  There's no chance this sees competitive play, but it's sure to be an agonizing card in EDH.  Irrelevant.

Day of Judgment is back, and low usage combined with reprinting to lower its price to the $5 range.  The card is widely available and in low demand, but could regain value.  Hold.

Leyline of MC Hammer. Can't Touch This.

Honor of the Pure is finally down to the $2 range where it belongs.  Mono White isn't close to tier 1 right now, thus the card is just a niche role player. Sell

Knight Exemplar is a very fun card that finally establishing Knights as a relevant creature type.  The card'll be popular, as all tribal cards seem to be, but will eventually settle as a $2 rare.  Sell.

Leyline of Sanctity is one of Doug's favorite cards in the set, it would seem.  It has far-reaching implications, even as far as to be an effective counter, on occasion, to Leyline of the Void in Legacy!  Clearly, that won't be it's main role, but it shows you just how powerful starting the game with Shroud can be.  Given its niche and potential power, $5 seems accurate.  Hold, because heavy tier 1 use could raise the price and it has no real danger of declining.

Serra Ascendant is a card that Chapin discussed a bit in his most recent article, in an effort to raise the overall quality of set reviews.  Serra Ascendant has a ton of potential, and can play quite a few reviews.  Ignoring EDH, it seems that a defensive deck using Perimeter Captain, Wall of Omens, Soul Wardens, Lone Missionary,and other such efficient, powerful life-gain cards can easily protect a 1-drop 6/6 lifelinking flier.  It isn't far-fetched to consider the angel-in-training as a great control finisher?  At $3 or so, it could be a bargain.  Buy.

Silence is a utility man, a role-player, a narrow use card.  These cards are meant to be $2, and they are. Sell.

Vengeful Archon is a really sadistic card, capable of punishing in big-deck formats.  Tier 1 play is not in the discussion, so you'll be able to find a foil copy in a generous dollar box. Sell.

Don't forget to check the mythic review article here!

Kelly Reid has been playing Magic since Revised Edition, when his first purchase was a starter deck and a Scrye magazine.  He threw away the magazine and kept the price guide.  Years later, he founded Quiet Speculation, the first website dedicated to the financial side of Magic: The Gathering.  Preferring to leave strategy to the professionals, Kelly writes about potential sleepers, undervalued cards, and trends as well as covering a wide breadth of theory articles.

Kelly's work has been published across the Internet, including Star City Games,The Starkington Post, ManaNation, MTGO Academy and soon,  He has appeared on the Top 8 Magic podcast, the Yo! MTG Taps podcast, and Evan Erwin's Magic Show in addition to having his decks featured on  As editor and content manager of Doubling Season, Kelly will be covering a wide variety of topics.  His main competitive format is Standard, and he prefers to leave the Eternal formats to Doug and Jonathan.

14 thoughts on “2011 Core Set Review – White

  1. I'll throw a red flag up on the Leyline. It's not going to see play in Legacy-not even the one deck where it really fits in (Enchantress) will play it , since they already have something better (Solitary Confinment).

    If the card would get played, it would only be a metagame response to Oath of Druids in Vintage. As such, trade for foils if you can get a good deal, but this card strikes me as very bad for Type 2 play. Four mana is the critical turn of type 2, and this is an extremely underwhelming play at that turn.

  2. @Jonathan
    What decks would Mono White Stax want it against?

    Clearly you don't want it against Merfolk, Goblins, Lands, New Horizons, NO Bant, or CounterTop Thopter, as they have no spells that target opponents that matter in the matchup.

    You could play it against Zoo to prevent them from burning you out, but there are better sideboard cards that you would prefer to have first.

    It would be fine against Reanimator and Storm combo, but you should already beat Storm Combo, and Reanimator hasn't proven itself to be a deck post MT banning. And even in these cases it seems like it is merely "fine" and not great.

    Am I missing something?

  3. @Joe
    You already beat most of those decks that you listed. The only troublesome matchup is Merfolk, depending on the build. But you obviously would not board it in against them.

    I want it against the mono red matchup and the mono black matchup. Hymn to Tourach wrecks me all day long.

    I mean you could be right but it's worth exploring the implications. Unless you are instantly right with every snap judgement you make. 🙂

  4. @Jonathan
    I'm not making snap judgements, I'm asking what decks you would want Leyline of Sanctity against. The decks I listed are the ones that have a significant presence in my local metagame and in the wider US metagame (as evidenced by SCG tournaments) – I don't think you would want it against any of them.

    There's no real presence of mono-black or mono-red in my metagame, so I honestly didn't even consider those options. It seems like a reasonable thing to at least consider in both of those cases, although I'm unsure whether there are better sideboard cards or not. But these aren't widely played decks, so unless you have a particularly skewed local metagame they don't seem worth wrrying about.

    It still doesn't seem impactful though in "normal" Legacy metagames – it just doesn't hose any of the mainstream decks sufficiently to seem justified as a sideboard card, and as Robert points out the one deck that it might make sense to run miandeck (Enchantress) already has a superior card (for their purposes).

  5. I wasn't thinking Enchantress for this card. I was thinking the White Leyline would be strong good side board choice for Zoo. It provides a turn 0 answer for Tendrils of Agony and Goblin Charbelcher.

    Check out the latest TMI from Starcistygames. All of the top decks with Wild Nacatl had 3-4 Mindbreak Traps sideboard!

    So it becomes a question whether Leyline is better than Mindbreak Trap. I'm not certain that it is, but the fact Zoo can play it turn 0 to dodge discard from ANT seems pretty good to me.

  6. @Joe
    I understand your position. This is where I am coming from as a Stax player. I have a pretty good matchup against most of the decks that you listed. I hate catching bad beats in the early rounds of a tournament. I always face at least one mono red deck and the matchup is miserable. I already run 3 Sphere of Law in the sideboard so it makes sense to cut those and another slot for 4 Leyline. This protects me from blow-outs in the early rounds and allows me to beat up on Tier decks in the Top 8, where the Leyline probably sits on the bench.

    I appreciate the thoughtful discussion. Keep it up!

  7. @Jonathan
    It sounds like your metagame is infested with Burn decks – my condolences 🙂

    Is Sphere of Law a better sideboard card for Stax against Burn than Warmth would be? Seems like a very similar effect for 2 mana less. Sphere seems better against Keldon Marauders, Sulphuric Vortex, and Goblin Guides, but otherwise they seem comparable. Maybe the dealing with Vortex by itself is worth paying 2 more mana …

    Your rationale certainly makes a lot of sense, and it sounds like a good solution for your particular connundrum.

  8. I think people might be missing one of the major applications of the White Leyline for Legacy – Dredge decks will be boarding this in, because it stops (in no particular order):

    Ravenous Trap
    Tormod's Crypt
    Bojuka Bog
    Relic of Progenitus

    A quick check of shows the following as the most popular anti-dredge sideboard cards in Legacy over the past 3 months: Relic of Progenitus, Tormod's Crypt, Ravenous Trap. All three of which are stopped by Leyline of Sanctity.

    So basically, Dredge decks (which were held in check by easy-to-cast Graveyard hate: A zero mana artifact, a one-mana artifact, a land, and a 0-cost spell that pretty much can be cast at any time) will have a ridiculous sideboard option, making Leyline of the Void pretty much the only viable turn 0-1 option to shut down dredge post-board. Moreover, Dredge can aggressively mulligan to their Leyline – good luck to other decks who want to go down to 4/5 cards looking for Leyline of the Void game 2.

    – Ben

  9. @Ben
    I don't think Leyline of Sanctity is quite as good for Legacy Dredge as you're making it out to be.

    Legacy Dredge isn't able to mulligan super aggressively, the way Vintage Dredge can, because they still need to put together an enabler, a dredge card, and mana to cast the enabler. If Dredge is willing to SB 4 Leylines you have a 40% chance of seeing it in your opening 7, a 61% chance of seeing it in your 7 or your 6, and a 73% chance of seeing it in your 7, 6, or 5. Are you willing to mulligan to 5 to get to your anti-hate cards? What if you mulligan into a Leyline but no enablers or no dredge cards? Are you keeping then? And, of course, any Leylines you draw subsequently will be dead cards.

    Additionally, your opponent may end up playing different hate cards than you expect. Relic of Progenitus works just fine under Leyline of Sanctity – the tap ability was already irrelevant in this matchup because Dredge always had the ability to get chaff into its graveyard. Faerie Macabre has been on the upswing as an anti-graveyard SB card. And of course there is still Leyline of the Void. The nightmare for the Dredge player is when your opponent brings in a bunch of different hate cards – what do you do if your opponent brings in a Crypt, a Leyline, a Relic, a Trap, and two Macabres? Are you willing to mulligan aggresively to a Leyline of Salvation if it only shuts down a third of the hate cards? Do you bring in 4 Leylines AND pithing needles AND bounce?

    Leyline of Salvation may be good against unprepared Legacy players that simply add 3 Crypts to the SB and call it a day, but against the savy players it's not going to be an effective anti-hate option, and those are the players you wanted to shore up your matchups against in the first place …

  10. @Joe
    With Legacy Dredge I mull to 5 without blinking; I've mulled down to 4 and won on turn 2. Without LED.

    The tap ability of Relic can make me play differently. Against a slow-ish Blue deck I will simply draw and discard dredgers instead of casting spells. The relic stops that line of play completely.

    I hadn't even considered this for Dredge, but you're right of course. It is also helpful against ANT because it protects my draw spells from Duress. The SB data you've presented match what I have experienced.

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