January 14, 2019

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EDH Staples: White

In a format where your commander decides almost every detail of your deck, talking about staples feels strange. In fact there are examples of cards that could be considered “strictly weaker” than others that gain power with the right build (ie: Diabolic Intent vs Demonic Tutor in an Aristocrats style deck).

So in order to alleviate all your worrying, this article will only cover spells that can go into any White deck, and only the cards that will increase the relative power of those decks. I am purposely avoiding overly expensive cards that do not vastly empower your deck here. I want to showcase affordable and effective additions to the majority of your decks. Even if you don’t put all of these cards into one deck, they are all fantastic additions to your collection. They will see play, one way or another.

Often dubbed the weakest colour in the format, White has a pretty tough rap to break through. But don’t let that dissuade you! Below are both Stock Staples that are tried and true, and Spicy and Powerful cards that are more infrequent.

Stock Staples:

Swords to Plowshares

The first thing you will learn about White in Commander is that it is the best in terms of removal. There are amazing unconditional answers here that are hard to recover from. The second thing you will discover is that... well, that's pretty much all that White excels at. Still, the power of these cards are nothing to scoff at.

Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile are two of the most powerful spells in Magic, with the former being only a few dollars at most. Recursive abilities run rampant in EDH, so exiling is exceptionally important. Return to Dust and the new Crush Contraband are two for ones that never fail to find a target with mana rocks and enchantments everywhere. Universal exile based removal is also in abundance, with Oblivion Ring and Banishing Light, though these are lower on the power scale.

Continuing on the Removal train, board clears are the bread and butter of White control strategies. Day of Judgment is a few dollars and will solve nearly any arms race where you find yourself lacking. Austere Command is only a few mana more and can hit different boards in different ways, giving you some advantage when the dust settles. Though aggro decks tend to want to avoid having too many of these effects, there is an argument for having one within the deck regardless. There will always a use for them at one point, so one might be enough.

Though not known for its tutoring effects, Open the Armory is a cheap addition to any deck running at least two equipment cards. Lightning Greaves and Sword of the Animist being very reasonable in any deck. In addition Steelshaper's Gift is a more expensive version for less mana.

Spicy and Powerful:

Rest in Peace

Someone somewhere started spreading the idea that sideboard strategies are unknown in Commander, and for some reason people believed them. Though competitive players know otherwise, there are many players who overlook this aspect that White provides. After all, it is known as the “Strongest Sideboard Colour” in Modern, and many of those cards are just as powerful here.

Rest in Peace absolutely shuts the door on graveyard decks, and deserves a slot in your 99. Now you might be thinking, “Hey Arca, you said any deck!” Well, White decks tend not to use their graveyard as much as others. But if you're worried take this perspective in mind: RiP is a must answer card with an extremely relevant enter the battlefield ability that will absolutely gut some of the decks you are up against. If you have board advantage, it can blank a deck for enough turns for you to win. Play it 100%.

Speaking of hating common EDH strategies, Spirit of the Labyrinth and Rule of Law will shut down the average Blue player in a pinch, while being easy to play around. White doesn’t really draw many cards or storm off, and so your cards tend to hurt your enemies tons more than they slow you.

Luminarch Ascension is criminally underplayed. I absolutely love my two mana Angel Generator. Played early or late, it functions to check your opponent’s hands for enchantment removal, and if not - it's 4/4 flying time. 1.25 full turns around the table is enough for a four player pod, with one full rotation being enough for a five player game. You’ll quite honestly forget you have other spells to cast while you pump all your mana into this enchantment.

Finally something I always forget exists is Darksteel Mutation. This is your Commander Killer. With the tuck rule long gone, transformation is the only effective answer to dangerous commanders. Though other versions of this effect exist, this remains as one of the more powerful ones. It renders the transformed commander indestructible, which prevents many forms of creature destructions, like board clears, from ruining your plans and returning the card to the command zone.

Top Ten White Cards for Any EDH Deck:

  1. Swords to Plowshares
  2. Rest in Peace
  3. Luminarch Ascension
  4. Path to Exile
  5. Return to Dust
  6. Spirit of the Labyrinth
  7. Darksteel Mutation
  8. Open the Armory
  9. Austere Command
  10. Rule of Law