White Cards That Should See More Play in Commander
- Ryan Scicluna
Playing 99 singletons means great variety, but there are always ways to improve the Commander experience further, especially when it comes to the most-maligned color. The recent reprint of Rebuff the Wicked inspired us to look at some underutilized white cards and talk about why they should see more play in EDH.
Time Spiral Remastered gave us a number of notable reprints. I immediately got excited about a particular white card originally from Planar Chaos that should definitely find its way into more Commander decks. Rebuff the Wicked is a super efficient counterspell that works against any spot removal that targets your stuff. A lot of opponents will not expect such an effect in white, and protecting a key permanent in a format based on, well, legendary key permanents sounds sweet. It should be an automatic include in a lot of white-based strategies.
This got me thinking of other underplayed white cards that deserve more attention from the Commander community. Here is a purely subjective list of white cards, in no particular order, that, in my opinion, should see more play in Elder Dragon Highlander.
Severely underplayed Benevolent Bodyguard is another alternative to the much more popular Mother of Runes and Giver of Runes. The main difference is that the Bodyguard offers but a one-time use. An advantage the Bodyguard has over the other cards, though, is that you can activate the ability immediately, unlike the other two, which need to tap to give protection. This makes the Bodyguard faster and doesn't give your opponents time to react.
If playing on a budget, it might be difficult to find cheap removal in white. Giant Killer // Chop Down can get rid of any problematic creature with power 4 or more as an instant, with the option to come down as a tapper afterward. The card provides a large amount of utility at a very cheap cost. In the right situation, the ability to tap a potential blocker can even win games.
Similarly to Giant Killer, Angelic Ascension can remove any problematic creatures at instant speed with the only downside of giving the creature's controller a 4/4 Angel. Beast Within and other similar cards see way more play because they can hit any permanent, but I have come to the conclusion that giving my opponent a token is often far better than helping my opponent ramp. As a result, I am considering replacing Path to Exile with this card, depending on the deck. Granted, Angelic Ascension costs one more mana. However, in the right context this will be much more useful, for example if you run a "pillow fort" strategy or one with a lot a board wipes or if someone else at the table does the latter.
Sometimes destroying a permanent does not accomplish much, especially if your opponent has ways to bring it back from the graveyard. As a temporary solution, Unexpectedly Absent is a good way to stall and help you try to find another way to get over an obstacle. Alternatively, it can give you the opening to stop someone from going off or a way to finish an opponent before they get to draw that permanent again.
If enchantments are something that you struggle against, then let me introduce you to Nova Cleric: a simple one-mana creature that can destroy all enchantments on the battlefield. You can use the card somewhat politically by holding the players with the most enchantments hostage, forcing them to help you out until you no longer need them.
Wood Elves is a green creature card that sees a ton of play, and Kor Cartographer is a more expensive white alternative. It lets you find a Plains and put it onto the battlefield tapped. If you play an Aristocrats strategy in white or could use ramp but don't have access to green, then the Cartographer will be a good utility creature. You get a land and then you have a body to sacrifice or block with as well.
Palace Jailer introduces the monarch mechanic into a game while also getting rid of a problematic creature. You can also use this card to forge alliances: if people don't want the exiled creature to return to the battlefield, they may be incentivized not to attack you and simply allow you to keep the monarchy. Of course you yourself should have some ways to protect the throne too.
Call the Coppercoats
If an opponent has gone and created an infinite number of tokens or is going all out to finish you off with a bunch of creatures attacking you, Call the Coppercoats can literally save you from certain defeat—unless those creatures have trample. This spell lets you even out the playing field by creating a number of 1/1 Soldiers equal to the number of creatures any number of target opponents control. Either used as a defensive spell or as an offensive one to create an army of your own, Call the Coppercoats is a seriously underplayed card.
Gift of Estates
Technically not ramp, Gift of Estates helps you get Plains into your hand and ensures you won't miss land drops. You probably won't play this card if you have access to green, but if your deck is struggling to hit land drops, you might want to consider this two mana spell. Something to point out about this card is that it allows you to get any Plains, meaning you aren't limited to basic lands but can also pick up duals with the Plains subtype.
White rarely gets to reanimate creatures without specific costs or limitations. Marshal's Anthem can bring back any creature from your graveyard while also buffing your creatures going foward. The multikicker ability on this card makes it very flexible and scales well with the game's progress—especially useful in order to recover after board wipes as it can bring back more than one creature.
As I mentioned earlier, graveyard recursion in white is hard to come by without any restrictions. Miraculous Recovery reanimates one of your creatures and puts a +1/+1 counter on it. Five mana might seem costly, but the fact that you can do this at instant speed means that the Recovery can save you from a finishing attack, give you a surprise blocker, or ensures you get to untap with a key creature active again following mass removal.
Descend upon the Sinful
Exile effects can get rid of a lot of problematic cards that are indestructible. Exiling creatures also prevents their recursion. This ruins a lot of graveyard strategies, which are quite popular in Commander. Descend upon the Sinful exiles all creatures on the battlefield, with the additional upside of possibly leaving a 4/4 Angel behind, all at a very reasonable mana investment.
Debt of Loyalty
Imagine someone wiping the board and somehow you end up with the best creature still standing. Debt of Loyalty is an instant that can regenerate any creature, but the best part is that you gain control of that creature (if it indeed uses the regeneration shield). So when someone tries to get rid of a powerful creature, whether it's yours or your opponents', for three mana you can save the target and take control of it. Debt of Loyalty may not be cheap, but it still is an unexpected effect, especially coming from a monowhite build.
White is the color of mass removal and tokens, and a good way to use these two attributes together is Fanatical Devotion. It's a cheap enchantment that will help you protect your best creatures, allowing you to sacrifice one creature to regenerate another. The effect comes in handy in particular when you or someone else casts a board wipe, at which point you get to retain the stronger half of your team.
Other "White" Cards to Look At
The following list consists of mostly artifacts that are pretty good in monowhite or white budget builds. True, technically not white, but I think that white is the color that can benefit the most from such tools.
Dowsing Dagger / Lost Vale is an equipment that can flip into Lost Vale, a land that taps for three mana. Accessing such a tool helps white keep up with other decks that have no problems to ramp. White often fields combat-based strategies anyway, and being able to equip this and swing into an open player early can really push you ahead. Other players may even want to help you flip that land if you help them out in another way, say by removing a particular permanent that is disrupting them. As a result, this can introduce a political element that many people underestimate.
Paying two to draw a card doesn't sound great; however, in a monowhite strategy you need all the card draw you can get. Endless Atlas is an artifact that I always include in budget monowhite decks. When playing in a budget meta, games tend to be a bit slower than usual so having the option to draw cards in such a restrictive pool of cards is very good.
Treasure Map / Treasure Cove is another card I have started liking more and more especially in budget builds. The ability to filter the top card of the library so that eventually you can flip the artifact into a land while creating Treasures is so underrated. This whole process might seem slow, but since it is not that mana intensive, it does not really affect your ability to go about your business in the meantime.
Oketra's Monument reduces the cost of white creatures while also creating a 1/1 token with vigilance when casting any creature spells. We can consider this ramp for creature-heavy monowhite decks, and the tokens fuel such strategies quite well as well. Both these attributes make this monument a card that should see more play in white-based decks.
Mask of Memory
The fact that white decks need all the help they can get when it comes to drawing cards should make Mask of Memory see more play. Most white decks rely on combat damage to win games or either gain some form of advantage. Mask of Memory lets you draw two cards and discard one if you manage to deal combat damage, so that's a perfect fit. Again you can maneuver politically here, by asking a player to let your creature deal damage—after all, you might draw an answer to a threat with which the whole table is struggling at the moment.
This list is by no means exhaustive of every white card that is underplayed or underrated. Here I presented some white cards that in my humble opinion get overlooked but should be put in more decks, especially budget decks or white decks that need something extra to be able to keep up with other colors. This list is also shaped by the meta I play in, so if any card listed here is not so underplayed in your group, let us know down below.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.