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The Color Wheel and Legacy: White

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Today we'll continue our exploration of Legacy and the Color Wheel, moving onto the series’ second installment. You’ll find all the White cards you can comfortably prepare to see in Legacy, alongside the most prominent decklists harnessing the color.

SERIES INDEX

  1. The Color Wheel and Legacy: Intro
  2. The Color Wheel and Legacy: Green
  3. The Color Wheel and Legacy: White

THE COLOR WHEEL AND LEGACY: WHITE

White as a color is easy to define, judging by the fact that you can simply grab a handful of White cards and get a feel for what White is about. To be clear, White puts value in the group, the community, and its civilization as a whole. White's ultimate goal is peace, harmony, and perfection — a world where everyone gets along and no one seeks to disturb the bonds of unity that White had worked so long to forge. To govern and protect its community, White makes use of and puts value in a number of broad concepts; morality (ethics, religion), order (law, discipline), uniformity (conformity), and structure (government, planning).

-MTG Salvation Wiki

White’s Role in Legacy

White holds ownership over the best removal in the format: Swords to Plowshares & Path to Exile. Arguments can be made over which spell is the “best”, but the overwhelming consensus is that Swords to Plowshares gets the nod over Path to Exile in most decks, with Path serving as Swords 5-8. As it turns out, a basic land is far more valuable of a resource than a few points of life in most matchups.

White creatures are rarely extolled for their vanilla—plain and boring, not necessarily White—bodies. You’ll find relevant utilities attached to nearly every White creature worth its weight in salt, such as:

White also likes to:

As the strongest removal in the format requires nothing more than a single source of White, it's fairly easy to work in a couple of on-color duals in order to reliably cast a Swords to Plowshares. White also gets along well with Green, as the combination of the two produces the beefy land tutor Knight of the Reliquary, the combo and Force of Will hoser Gaddock Teeg, and the artifact/enchantment hate of Qasali Pridemage. Mixing White with Blue offers the classic Meddling Mage, which can shut down entire decks unprepared for needing to remove a creature.

Stoneforge Mystic has been drawing a ton of attention lately, as it can search up some amazing equipment and cheat around counterspells in order to get it on the field. Umezawa's Jitte, Sword of Fire and Ice, Sword of Light and Shadow, and, more recently, Batterskull make for excellent targets that can single handedly reverse the course of a game. The ways to play Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull deserve an article on its own. Absurd things can come from flashing in a 4/4 blinkable lifelink creature for 2.

Currently, the most competitive mono-White deck is Death & Taxes. Beyond the Stoneforge Mystic package, the deck also takes advantage of cards like Flickerwisp or Mangara of Corondor and Karakas, alongside the instantability Aether Vial, and the way the triggers resolve on the stack.

White Cards You’ll See

First, what I believe to be the top five White cards currently seeing play in Legacy:

I'd also recommend watching Magic TV's Top 8 of the Week: Best White Cards. Tristan Shaun Gregson and Luis Scott-Vargas' review of the colors is a little more holistic in that they include cards that are either banned or no longer see play in Legacy, but I'd still encourage you to watch it as it's some good entertainment. They also discuss the top 8 walls after reviewing White, which is a fun list to consider.

For those unable to watch Youtube at work, here's a spoiler.

  1. Swords to Plowshares
  2. Balance
  3. Armageddon
  4. Land Tax
  5. Stoneforge Mystic
  6. Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero
  7. Wrath of God
  8. Replenish

Whether Swords to Plowshares should be ranked above Balance is debatable, as Balance is easily regarded as one of the most powerful cards of all Magic history. But it's their list. So it goes.

Anywho, onto the most common White cards you may run across in any particular meta. Keep in mind that there are always players digging up uncommonly played cards, so this list is by no means absolute. It should, however, help familiarize you with the cards you are most likely to see.

Creature

Non-creature

Multicolored

White-producing Land

The following cards should also be included: Jötun Grunt; Kataki, War's Wage; Orim's Chant; and Serra's Sanctum.

White Decks

You will (likely) find White cards in four styles or types of decks:

  1. Knight

    Knight of the Reliquary, Path to Exile, and Swords to Plowshares are the White cards you're most likely to run across in any of these decks.

    Zoo (G/W/R aggro) is a deck where you play a creature and turn it sideways. If there's a creature blocking the way, Zoo has an arsenal of Red and White removal spells that will clear the path. Red offers burn and spot removal alongside the frustratingly good Grim Lavamancer.

    Bant (named after the Shards of Alara shard) opts to play Blue over Red in order to support a counter package, sometimes running the Natural Order/Progenitus package or one to two Elspeth, Knight-Errant. Bant occasionally veers into more of a tempo strategy, packing Stifles and Horizon Canopy to earn the title of "New Horizons".

    The Rock and Junk combine Black, White, and Green in order to make use of discard and disruption. Black and White also offer the destroy-anything power of Vindicate.

  2. Stoneforge

    Stoneforge Mystic is one of the new kids on the block. It's also really, really, really good. It's safe to say that these decks exist in order to take advantage of her cheating tutoring.

    Cards Stoneforge is willing to put into your hand:

    and any other pet equipment someone may want to tutor up.

    Then she will Vial/cheat it into play at instant speed, working around counters.

    Another exploit people have been recently taking advantage of is equipping a Mirran Crusader with good equipment. Doublestriking with a Batterskull (12 damage, +8 life), Umezawa's Jitte (8 damage, netting 2 counters), Sword of Fire and Ice (8 damage, +2 cards, two Shocks), and so is fairly absurd. Not to mention Mirran Crusader is already pro-Green and pro-Black...

  3. Prison

    Mono-White Stax is (used to be?) a deck that attempts to lock the other player out of being able to do anything, whether that be attack, keep a permanent around, or have fun. Ghostly Prison and Magus of the Tabernacle are the key players in this strategy.

    You'll find Moat and other cards like Solitary Confinement in Enchantress and decks that utilize the Thopter Foundry/Sword of the Meek combo, effectively locking an opponent out of the game.

  4. The Rest

    I promise I'm not being lazy by just lumping the rest of the decks into a category conveniently called "The Rest". It just happens to be that they're all around the map, so it'd be a little silly to consider each archetype its own classification.

    Sometimes people want to run one color. Sometimes people realize they would like some removal. Splashing White for Swords to Plowshares is easy enough, especially when all you need is a single White source in order to utilize the best removal in the format.

    We also have decks like Cephalid Breakfast utilizing en-Kor cards, TES splashing White for Orim's Chant, and maybe someday new Affinity brews slinging Dispatch.

Show All Decklists
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Knight

Zoo by John Kubilis
Top 8 at Grand Prix-Providence 2011 (Legacy)
Providence, Rhode Island, United States on 2011-05-29

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Bant Aggro by James Rynkiewicz
1st at Grand Prix-Providence 2011 (Legacy)
Providence, Rhode Island, United States on 2011-05-29

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New Horizons by Mike Hawthorne
Suggested on 2011-05-26
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The Rock by Ian Ellis
Suggested on 2011-06-03
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Junk by David Paschal
13th at a StarCityGames.com Legacy Open tournament
Louisville, Kentucky, United States on 2011-05-22

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Stoneforge

Death and Taxes by Daniel Payne
10th at a StarCityGames.com Legacy Open tournament
Orlando, Florida, United States on 2011-05-15

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U/W Stoneforge Mystic by Owen Turtenwald
Top 8 at Grand Prix-Providence 2011 (Legacy)
Providence, Rhode Island, United States on 2011-05-29

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B/W Discard by Joe Bernal
4th at a StarCityGames.com Legacy Open tournament
Louisville, Kentucky, United States on 2011-05-22

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Prison

Enchantress by Adam Baxter
14th at a StarCityGames.com Legacy Open tournament
Louisville, Kentucky, United States on 2011-05-22

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White Stax by Desmond Ng
Australian Nationals (Legacy) on 2010-07-23
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Counterbalance/Thopter Combo by Monti Andrea
Tarmogeddon 4 - Padova (Legacy) on 2011-04-10
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The Rest

U/W Landstill by Gerry Thompson
2nd at a StarCityGames.com Legacy Open tournament
Orlando, Florida, United States on 2011-05-15

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Cephalid Breakfast by Orrin Beasley
13th at a StarCityGames.com Legacy Open tournament
Atlanta, Georgia, United States on 2011-04-03

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TES by Liam Kane
3rd at a StarCityGames.com Legacy Open tournament
Los Angeles, California, United States on 2011-03-27

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Until Next Time…

GP Providence was a good time with great people. Piloting BUG Disruption (Team America with Bob over Stalker), I ended up out after Round 7 on Day 1, losing to Merfolk twice and U/W Standstill in game three moments from going to time. Merfolk has never been a very favorable matchup, especially upon mulligan, so I wasn't terribly crushed over my losses. You don't always have Deeds when you needs it.

I'll have the next installment of The Color Wheel and Legacy up soon.

Relating back to Magic TV's ranking of the top 8 White cards, how would you rate Balance in terms of overall power within Magic?

Doug Linn mentioned to me that he's had some serious discussions on whether Balance or Ancestral Recall in the second best card behind Black Lotus. I'd love to hear some of your thoughts on this, as I'm sure the debate has been going on at kitchen tables for over a decade.

Until next time!
Tyler Tyssedal

Bonus! White Cards Banned in Legacy

3 thoughts on “The Color Wheel and Legacy: White

  1. This is an excellent series! I don't have much more to add yet, but as someone who has been getting more and more into Legacy, this is something I'd have appreciated having access to from the start. 🙂

  2. Great article. I just got into Legacy a month or two ago and have been piloting a mono-white aggro-midrange deck. Though I would have loved to see this as my first primer, it's still a helpful resource. Thanks!

  3. I’ve been playing on and off for years now and I found this very helpful in narrowing down my options to exactly what I needed to complete my sideboard. Thanks for understanding the true nature of what we need as deck designers.

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