The Beautiful Struggle: White Weenie Versus the World

The forums keep swearing this deck is good. The testing results from our writers seems to indicate otherwise. So which side if right and what does Mark Young add to this debate? The answers are only a click away and include additional discussion about Mono-Blue, Big Red, and Tooth and Nail.


So, as I start this article we’re counting down to April Fools’ Day. Ever since I started reading StarCityGames.com, I’ve loved the AFD shenanigans that go on here; I still remember how The Ferrett was able to snooker a large portion of the gamer population with a heartfelt (and totally false) letter announcing his resignation.

Now that I’m on this side of the curtain, I definitely wanted to contribute to the tradition myself. You should know by now that this year’s gimmick was to simply have each author parody himself/herself, thus faking out those readers who might have expected us to imitate other people. A nice premise, although we got owned by magicthegathering.com’s “premium” joke. [I take full responsibility for choosing a poor gimmick this year. – Knut, sad]

Usually, I’m really good at mocking myself, but this time it didn’t work so well. I had started with this premise…

[knutedit]: hold it right there chief

[mm_young]: wassup Ted?

[knutedit]: the beautiful struggle thing. time’s up

[mm_young]: huh?

[knutedit]: terrible column name has to go

[knutedit]: market research says that every time it’s on our home page, it costs us one MILLION dollars. right, mini-me?

[StarWarsKid]: Yup.

[mm_young]: it’s not that bad. it’s about the constant battle each player faces to eliminate mistakes and improve his game…

[knutedit]: shut up. forsythe and BDM were laughing at me about it for the entire weekend in Atlanta

[mm_young]: hey it beats the s*** out of “Latest Developments”

[knutedit]: you were just thinking of how masterfully Tim Aten made fun of it

[mm_young]: there’s no way you could have known that!

[knutedit]: i find your lack of faith disturbing

[mm_young]: <gasps for air>

…and the rest of the article would be some sort of spoof where I try to find a new column title, fail, and then finally quit Star City in shame. I had to give the article up because I found out that when people realized I was not actually quitting Star City, they would descend upon Virginia in angry mobs and lynch Pete and Ted.


Actually, I had a serious case of writer’s block, could not think of enough funny stuff to follow up on that premise – hell, I wasn’t even sure the premise was funny – so I trashed the article. But, I wanted to get that out there, just in case people thought I was taking myself too seriously.

White Weenie Versus the World

All right, ya got me. I was wrong.

I endured quite a bit of criticism in the forum world for my White Weenie decklist in Getting Jittery, but I didn’t think it was that bad. The problem was – as it often is with these sorts of things – that I hadn’t done enough testing yet.

The whole idea of having a Steelshaper’s Gift toolbox seemed quite nifty in the mirror and against Big Red, but as soon as I got enough games in against Mono-Blue Control and Tooth and Nail, I realized that it was far too slow. Against Mono-Blue especially, you have to come roaring out of the gates with no time to be tutoring for equipment, or else you just roll over to Vedalken Shackles.

So, I returned to the forums and looked at some of the decklists that were sent to me. There were a lot of good ideas to be had there. This led to me producing:

Ze White Weeniez v2.0

4 Lantern Kami

4 Suntail Hawk

4 Tundra Wolves

3 Isamaru, Hound of Konda

4 Samurai of the Pale Curtain

4 Leonin Skyhunter

2 Hokori, Dust Drinker

4 Raise the Alarm

4 Otherworldly Journey

3 Umezawa’s Jitte

4 Glorious Anthem

4 Chrome Mox

16 Plains


4 Auriok Champion

2 Worship

4 Tershi’s Grasp

3 Eight-and-a-Half Tails

1 Hokori, Dust Drinker

1 Plains

It’s likely that there should be a 17 land/3 Mox mana split, because drawing multiple Moxen can make grown men cry. However, I was getting some ridiculous starts against Mono Blue with a full set of Moxen and so I am loathe to part with any of them. I also considered cutting the Moxen and Tundra Wolves and instead going with a full set of land and Aether Vials, but as we’ll soon see, countermagic isn’t the weenies’ biggest problem.

I only know two people who don’t scoff at the Tundra Wolves – the guy who showed it to me, and me – but I stand by that decision. They work so well against so many decks. Even unequipped and lacking any Glorious Anthems, the Wolves can still rumble with some of the format’s most popular creatures – guys like Eternal Witness, Hearth Kami, Sakura-Tribe Elder, Genju of the Spires – and live to tell the tale. Savannah Lions can get in quite a bit of damage against a goldfish, but as soon as any of those creatures hits the table, the Lions can’t do any better than trade … definitely not what you want from your creature set.

The Versatile Otherworldly Journey

I had previously been enamored with Test of Faith as a combat trick, but all I needed was one game versus Oblivion Stone and I saw that Otherworldly Journey was the preferable instant. The Journey can also do such useful things as destroy a Genju (when the animated land is Journeyed out, the enchantment is destroyed – you knew that, right?), retrieve men seized with Vedalken Shackles, remove blockers or Platinum Angels for the win … it’s much more of an all-purpose card than I originally gave it credit for.

The sideboard still probably needs work, but I’m sure about the Hokori and Plains, which come in against Mono Blue and Tooth and Nail – the Plains because the main deck’s mana base is a little too iffy to support the three-Hokori set you are boarding into. 8.5 Tails seems like savage tech for the mirror, and in other matchups too (he could protect your guys from Shackles, for instance).

I set up a gauntlet for the little White men to run through, with obstacles in each of the classic categories of Control, Combo, and Aggro-Control. Each matchup was a series of ten pre-board games; I wanted to test post-board games but there’s only so much I can do before grad school homework calls my name. Here’s how the matches came out:

Control: Mono-Blue

4 Wayfarer’s Bauble

4 Mana Leak

4 Condescend

4 Hinder

2 Rewind

4 Thirst for Knowledge

3 Inspiration

3 Echoing Truth

4 Vedalken Shackles

2 Genju of the Falls

4 Blinkmoth Nexus

2 Stalking Stones

20 Island

Because Mono-Blue is fairly popular in this area, I took Kyle Boddy list and switched his two copies of Keiga (which will rarely, if ever, resolve in the mirror) with a pair of Genju. The two decks went 5-5 with each other, although the White army won its games in such decisive fashion that it felt like the record should have been 6-4 or 7-3.

One thing about the matchup is that it is highly die roll-dependent; the side that played first went 8-2 in this series. This is because the White deck is lacking a long-term answer to a turn 3 Vedalken Shackles, but the Blue deck is facing a very fast clock and is lacking a spell which was a staple of CMU Blue and other mono-Blue decks of yore: Force Spike. That imbalance can lead to some very lopsided starts. Witness this game:

T1 – WW (on the play) – Land, Mox imprinting Lantern Kami, Leonin Skyhunter.

T1 – U – Land, Wayfarer’s Bauble.

T2 – WW – Swing for 2, miss land drop, Isamaru, Suntail Hawk.

T2 – U – Land, go.

T3 – WW – Swing for 5, land, Glorious Anthem.

T3 – U – Condescend for 1, land, go.

T4 – WW – Swing for 5, land, Glorious Anthem.

T4 – U – Hinder, land, go.

Since it had to tap out every turn for a counterspell, the control deck suffered from an inability to use its Bauble or cast any card-drawing spells. It did not draw a fifth land in time to cast and activate a Shackles on the same turn, and died shortly thereafter.

One final note is that the Genju are atrocious in this matchup, because it’s one of your few reliable blockers, but Samurai of the Pale Curtain prevents the return-to-hand ability (if a land were to die while chump-blocking, it never goes to the graveyard because of the Samurai’s replacement ability, so the Genju’s triggered ability never triggers). Eventually, I switched back to Keiga for my mono-Blue build.

[Note: as I was putting the finishing touches on this article, Boddy had to go and make radical changes to his list, based upon Gabriel Nassif French Regionals build. I didn’t have time to test against that deck, but just looking at it suggests that it shores up some of its weak spots in this matchup, with Moxen to match the weenie deck for speed, and Thieving Magpie to block or draw cards as needs be. I also recently saw people running Spire Golem locally, which is another quality blocker that the White deck doesn’t like to see. Just some important details that you should keep in mind as the format evolves.]

Combo: Mono-Green Tooth and Nail

4 Tooth and Nail

4 Sylvan Scrying

4 Reap and Sow

4 Wayfarer’s Bauble

4 Eternal Witness

3 Sakura-Tribe Elder

3 Oblivion Stone

3 Mindslaver

2 Viridian Shaman

2 Platinum Angel

1 Darksteel Colossus

1 Sundering Titan

1 Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker

4 Urza’s Mine

4 Urza’s Power Plant

4 Urza’s Tower

1 Boseiju, who Shelters All

11 Forest

It was the opposite situation for the White deck here: it was on the losing side of a 6-4 score, but the losses were so crushing that it felt more like 7-3 or worse. At this point I decided to give T&N, which I called “a goofy little deck” in the forum for my last article, a bit more respect.

This is due simply to the blazing speed of the Tooth deck. I really hadn’t been aware of this until the day before I decided to test it, when I was informed via IRC that the Tooth decks these days can cast their signature spell on turn 4. This requires you to draw the following before turn 4: two different Urza lands, a Forest, one of the group {Tribe Elder or Bauble}, one of the group {Sylvan Scrying or Reap and Sow}, and a Tooth and Nail. Then…

T1 – Forest.

T2 – Urza piece, Tribe Elder, use Tribe Elder for Forest.

T3 – Urza piece #2, Reap and Sow for the final Urza piece.

T4 – Tooth and Nail with entwine.

The O-Stone Catch-22.

The Tooth deck was able to carry this off in only two games out of the ten (both of which it won, derf), but that was okay, since resolving a turn 3 Oblivion Stone is baaaaaad news for the White deck, Urzatron or no. The Stone discourages the opponent from increasing pressure by committing more weenies to the board; but if the White deck doesn’t keep increasing the pressure by committing to the board, it’s simply giving the combo deck more time to resolve its namesake spell. Catch-22.

The aggro deck did win four games, mainly due to the inherent instability of a combo deck that lacks any ways to tutor for its key spells. In all of its losses, Tooth and Nail was either slow in assembling the Urzatron or unable to draw its signature spell. In one game the Green deck activated Oblivion Stone twice and still lost, simply because the white deck was holding Raise the Alarm back each time, while a certain seven-mana sorcery never showed up. Now that I’ve eliminated the equipment toolbox, the White men are more than fast enough to punish such draws.

Aggro-Control: Big Red v2.0

3 Genju of the Spires

4 Hearth Kami

4 Slith Firewalker

4 Arc-Slogger

4 Pyrite Spellbomb

4 Volcanic Hammer

4 Magma Jet

4 Stone Rain

4 Molten Rain

1 Hammer of Bogardan

3 Chrome Mox

21 Mountain

This deck got a serious overhaul after a testing session in which the old version proved far too slow against T&N and Mono-Blue. The Red deck from Getting Jittery went 5-5 against the weenies, and I figured that the new version could do no better, since all of that land destruction can’t remove cheap creatures.

Boy, was I wrong. The Red deck hung up a 7-3 win in the series. Turns out that the White deck loses a lot of its game against Red when it is unable to tutor up a Sword of Fire and Ice at will. All the Red deck has to do is survive until Arc-Slogger resolves, and at that point it is almost impossible to lose.

The Moxen were not so relevant for the Red deck in this matchup, although in one game they allowed for a turn 1 Slith Firewalker on the play. Thanks to Magma Jet clearing the way, said Slith grew large enough to sit back and chump-block Samurai of the Pale Curtain until Arc-Slogger entered play. Other cards that I thought would be bad, the Red land destruction, were actually quite useful in the matchup as the aggro deck is running a very low land count. Between Hearth Kami, burn, and LD, the White deck finished two of its losses without a single permanent on the table.

So how did the weenies win? Double Glorious Anthem by turn 4 in one game, an active Jitte against a three-land draw from the Red deck in another game, and the following start in game 3:

T1: Land, Mox, Raise the Alarm.

T2: Land, Suntail Hawk, and Otherworldly Journey on Hawk in response to a burn spell – a massive blunder from the Red deck, since the burn spell could have just targeted a token, which can’t be Journeyed.

T3: Glorious Anthem. The 3/3 Hawk went all the way when the Red deck drew several LD spells in a row.

If your only hope in a matchup relies upon manascrew, resolving double Anthem by turn 4, or bad play from the opponent, you’re not going to win too many games. How could the White deck improve upon this? Well, running Sword of Fire and Ice instead of Jitte is a possibility – I was thinking of doing that anyway, since the Sword is not legendary and thus can be drawn in multiples. I’m starting to sour on the Jitte just a little bit; sure, it’s powerful, but unlike Skullclamp it cannot instantly change a position from “neutral/lost” to “winning,” especially as it gets more hype and people prepare for it.


It’s said that the longer a format goes on, the more it favors the control decks over the beatdown. Witness the current Extended, where it took longer than I had expected, but Psychatog eventually reigned supreme.

I don’t see Standard varying from that trend at all. The White Weenie deck can accomplish some things, and probably has more game now that it has since the days of Lin-Sivvi and friends. However, against the wide-open sort of formats that you’ll see at the Philly LCQs next month and Regionals in June, I can’t imagine this sort of aggro build fighting its way to the top.

This is not going to be some sort of “My Fires” series – since Zvi is writing for this site now, I’ll leave that to him. Next time, I plan to go a little more rogue for y’all with some of the multicolor decks that you can try in this format.

So until then, here’s hoping you get to follow Raise the Alarm with Glorious Anthem.

This article written while watching “The Magnificent Seven.”

mm underscore young at yahoo dot com