Hey kids! Long time no see. In case you’ve missed me (admit it Mr. Becker, your life is now complete again. Too bad you don’t write more, or my life would be as well.), I’ve been chained to the basement of StarCity Games, forced to grade cards until my eyes bleed. I guess that’s how I missed our break-in a few weeks back – too many blisters on my eyes.
Anyhow, you don’t care about Mr. Ben Bleiweiss, Magic Card Manager of StarCityGames.com. You want to hear from Ben Bleiweiss, the guy who made a bet with the Magic community regarding a certain 180 White cards – and then only made good on half his promise to explain off his abysmal failure. Sorry folks, today you get an entirely different Ben. You get inquisitive Ben, curious Ben, but most of all… Ben a la mode.
Let me set the record straight once and for all: I’m not writing for MagictheGathering.com anymore for two reasons. The first is that I’m horrible with deadlines, and made poor Aaron Forsythe crazy by submitting virtually every article for a year way past their due time. It’s still a bad habit of mine (just ask Ted, who is sure to fill in some witty editorial comment here), and it’s entirely my fault. While I felt my work was consistently top-notch for that site, it’s not fair of me to bend rules and deadlines to fit my own schedule. My bad.
What’s the second reason? Randy Buehler hates me.
Why do you hate me, Randy Buehler? What have I ever done to you? I invite you to draft out of my big draft box at every event, and you shun me. All I did was write one little stinky Magic article that you disapproved of, and suddenly I’m treated like a leper in a mosh pit.
You see, I wrote an article last year which named 180 White cards, and I”guaranteed” that all of them would be played in the upcoming Extended format, else I would write one hundred words per card not used. [Actually, that was two years ago now, but as Ben said, he has problems with time. – Knut] There were a number of cards on that list which obviously had no chance of seeing play (Angel of Mercy anyone?), but the list was literally culled by taking every White cards which had shown up in a top 8 decklist for the past five years at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour (including block events), and throwing them all into one pile (and then adding in Onslaught). The goal was twofold: nobody had been discussing Extended at the time, and White was really, really bad. So bad that nobody was playing it, and the joke was”how could Ben say all these White cards would be played when White was so horrid?”
Obviously Randy didn’t get the joke. In Randy’s February 7th column of 2003, he wrote all about how White was going to change. To quote:
“So there you have it – a (partial) vision of White’s future: small but efficient creatures that work together to form a powerful swarm, game-changing enchantments that set the rules of the game, powerful mass-destruction cards with which to”balance” the game, the best fliers, the best life gaining, the best enchantment removal, the third-best creature removal, the third-best artifact removal, defense, protection, combat tricks, and don’t mess with White or White’s boys. We’re both exploring new territory and also strengthening existing areas and we’ll make sure that White does indeed make a comeback.”
Ladies and gentlemen, these were foul lies. You see, deep within his black and evil heart, Randy Buehler still hates me. Through this hatred, he has sworn a solemn vow to castrate White at every available opportunity. You think I’m joking? Let’s take a look at the current state of White.
The main theme that tied together all three sets of the Onslaught block was tribes. There were quite a few tribes: Elves, Birds, Soldiers, Zombies, Beasts, Wizards, Clerics, Goblins, Slivers and Dragons were the main tribes. Of these, three were White: Clerics, Soldiers, and Birds. It’s no coincidence that these three were the weakest tribes in Constructed, and were ill-conceived in Limited from a White standpoint.
Iain Telfer brought up an interesting point (or at least I think it was Iain – if it was someone else, I apologize for misattributing this observation) to me a while back. To quote Randy:”Small but efficient creatures that work together to form a powerful swarm.” Let’s see how this was achieved:
You had a one-mana soldier who could sacrifice any soldier to add a White to your mana pool.
You had a one-mana soldier who could sacrifice other soldiers to give a creature +1/+1.
You had a soldier which gave other soldiers haste and reduced their mana costs.
You had a soldier who could tap to deal damage equal to the number of soldiers in play.
You had a soldier who could tap to deal a point of damage to any creature, and would untap whenever all these other sacrificing soldiers went to the graveyard.
You had a soldier who could make three other soldiers when it came into play, and could use these soldiers to deal two damage to any creature or player.
You had a soldier who got +2/+0 for each other attacking soldier when it attacked.
Now substitute”Goblin” for”Soldier” in every situation above. What did White have?
A 4/5 Angel that had built in Spirit Link.
A 5/5 Dragon that could act as a recurring Tithe.
A 2/2 Knight which had first strike and protection from Black.
A 2/2 Knight which had first strike and protection from Red.
A 6/6 Angel which cost eight mana.
A 4/7 Giant Cat Legend.
A 3/3 flying Elemental for WWWW.
It’s great how all of these creatures have built-in synergy, and can work together as a tribe to achieve greater results. But wait, am I being unfair? Surely those Soldiers and Clerics and Birds all worked together in the end, didn’t they?
Soldiers which don’t interact with other soldiers: Aven Farseer, Cloudreach Cavalry, Crowd Favorites, Daru Cavalier, Daru Lancer, Deftblade Elite, Dragonstalker, Glory Seeker, Gustcloak Runner, Gustcloak Sentinel, Gustcloak Skirmisher, Ironfist Crusher, Liege of the Axe, Lowland Tracker, Noble Templar, Stoic Champion, Swooping Talon, Sunstrike Legionnaire, Trap Digger.
Soldiers which interact with other soldiers, but not because these other creatures are soldiers: Aven Liberator, Gustcloak Savior, Wingbeat Warrior, and Whipcorder.
Soldiers designed to work specifically with other soldiers: Aven Brigadier, Catapult Master, Catapult Squad, Frontline Strategist, Gempalm Avenger, Grassland Crusader, and Pearlspear Courier.
Soldiers which leech off other soldiers: Aven Warhawk, Daru Stinger.
Good thing Wizards was dedicating White to be the color of small creatures working together for a common good! Otherwise, you might have the best weenies in Type Two for the color being Savannah Lions (Lion), Silver Knight and White Knight (Knights), Leonin Skyhunter (Cat Knight), Whipcorder (Soldier Rebel), Suntail Hawk (Bird), True Believer (Cleric), Tundra Wolves (Wolf), and Weathered Wayfarer (Nomad Cleric), none of which have the slightest bit of synergy with one another! (Exception: Whipcorder can allow your other non-synergistic creatures to attack).
I imagine the following exchange:
Silver Knight:”Quick, jump on my shoulders!”
Black Knight:”What shoulders?”
Whipcorder:”Come on guys, attack already!”
(A Horde of Elves overruns White’s army of Babel)
Wow, enough about the Soldiers – how about them birds and them clerics?
Birds were a half-assed tribe to begin with, and most of White’s birds are bird soldiers anyhow. Clerics? Let’s break down White clerics versus black clerics in Onslaught block:
White clerics of note: Battlefield Medic, Daru Spiritualist, Nova Cleric, Planar Guide, Starlight Invoker, True Believer, Weathered Wayfarer
Black clerics of note: Cabal Archon, Cabal Slaver, Doomed Necromancer, Headhunter, Rotlung Reanimator, Shepherd of Rot, Vile Deacon, Withered Wretch, Bishop Desmond Tutu.
Just as a note: Black’s clerics have more synergy on their own than all of White’s soldiers put together. And what the heck was up with Daru Warchief? Why couldn’t he have cost WW1 instead of being at the mid-top of the Soldier curve? ‘Nuff said.
Game Altering Enchantments
Game Altering Enchantments which altered the game over the past twelve months: Astral Slide, Circle of Protection: Black, Circle of Protection: Red, Glorious Anthem, Ivory Mask, Karma, Mobilization, Sacred Ground, Story Circle, Worship.
Game Altering Enchantments which altered nothing special over the past twelve months: Aurification, Circle of Protection: Blue, Circle of Protection: Green, Circle of Protection: White, Circle of Solace, Convalescent Care, Force Bubble, Noble Purpose, Righteous Cause, Rolling Stones, Rule of Law, Sanctimony, Shared Triumph, Sigil of the New Dawn, Sphere of Purity, Words of Worship.
Game Altering Enchantments which weren’t reprints in a base set: Astral Slide, Mobilization.
Powerful Mass-Destruction Spells
Akroma’s Vengeance, Solar Tide, and Wrath of God are the only cards which fit this bill. Coincidentally, previous sets all averaged about one to two Wrath effects a block as well (Rout, Winds of Rath, Catastrophe, Cataclysm, Kirtar’s Wrath, Purification, etc). However, previous cards of this nature would destroy creatures without the chance of regeneration. The newest versions only destroy, so you can regenerate away from a Solar Tide. On top of this, artifact removal was taken away from White, and given to Green instead. Disenchant out, Naturalize in.
The Best Enchantment Removal
Green: Elvish Lyrist
White: Nova Cleric
Green: Creeping Mold
White: Tempest of Light
Don’t Mess With White Or White’s Boys
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Karona’s Zealot? Zealous Inquisitor, I guess?
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The Best Lifegain
Repeat after me: lifegain sucks. It sucks. It really, really sucks. Renewed Faith was good because it cycled. Healing Salve is bad because it does not cycle. Radiant’s Dragoons was good because it also was a 2/5 body for only four mana. Gerrard’s Wisdom is no longer good. Congregate is good in Limited, but only because Saga matches could stalemate. It’s not good in Constructed. Nobody could get Words of Worship to work in Constructed, because lifegain sucks. Who cares if White is best at lifegain? That’s like claiming to be the best in the world at chugging Zima.
In fact, what special abilities are usually associated with White? Does not tap to attack (useful), First Strike (Red), Lifegain (Green), weenies (Red, Green, Black), artifact removal (no longer White), enchantment removal (Green), Angels (useful), flyers (Blue, Black), searching for lands out of your deck a-la Land Tax (Green), damage prevention (useful).
What White needs are some new themes that aren’t shared or co-opted by other colors. Let’s be honest: White is the least flavorful of all the colors in Magic! Red is goblins and dragons and chaos and blowing things up and doing damage. Black is sacrificing life or cards or permanents to get great effects. Blue is about stealing and countering and drawing cards. Green is about creatures, creatures, and more creatures. What is White?
Honestly, if you took away Decree of Justice right now, there would be virtually no White. U/w control wouldn’t exist in Standard. Neither would MWC, or any White-based Urza decks. White was the least played color in the top 8 at States this year, White was virtually absent from both pre and post banning Extended (give or take the Dump Truck deck), and White drafting in Mirrodin is almost always a losing proposition, because you have to split creatures, Equipment and spells three ways, since so many creatures require Equipment to be optimal!
I don’t know what mechanics you could invent for White to give it flavor, but for the love of god R&D, please think of them soon!
It’s a year since Randy promised that White would get better, and obviously White sucks just as badly as ever. It’s number five out of five colors in Type 1 (yes, even Green gets more play than White at this point), T2, and Extended. Without Decree of Justice, White wouldn’t have seen play in block most likely, as Slide/Rift decks would have entirely rolled over and died to Goblins. White wouldn’t be seeing any play in T2 right now without Decree. White does have the best flyers now (Exalted Angel, Eternal Dragon, Dawn Elemental, Decree of Justice tokens, Akroma, Angel of Wrath), but White’s always had this number of quality flyers in the past (Angels, Dragons, etc). In Torment, Black got Sengir Vampire back. In Judgment, Green got Erhnam Djinn back. White? Guided friggin’ Strike. Something is seriously wrong here folks!
On behalf of the entire Magic community, I ask Randy Buehler to please stop taking his hatred for me out on the color White. I understand that you might have some residual anger from my 18,000 words article from over a year ago, but it’s far past the time to misappropriate those emotions to make White the worst color in Magic. I have nothing at all against you Randy, and I just wanted to say that I love you and would be willing to bear your children if you would make White a viable color again – and for strategies other than those that revolve around Decree of Justice.
In fact, go right now to www.magicthegathering.com and log onto Randy’s forum for today. If you’re as unhappy with the state of White as I am, cut and paste the following polite yet stern letter:
“Dear Randy Buehler,
A year ago today you promised us changes to White. We’re still waiting for these changes. White is still the weakest color in Magic, and we want justice! Please don’t let your hatred of Ben Bleiweiss and his white article let the entire color suffer for all eternity. Go to http://www.starcitygames.com/php/news/expandnews.php?Article=6519 to see just why White isn’t up to snuff in today’s Magic world.
(Your name here)”