Autumn is my favorite time of year. I could have said “fall” is my favorite time of year, but I’m feeling pretty inadequate at the moment, so I opted for the slightly longer word to make myself seem slightly more intelligent. This technique, of course, is used by no other writers, especially not other writers on this site. And if it were used by writers on the site, it certainly wouldn’t be to such an extreme degree that it actually obscured meaning.
I digress. I was trying to ramble a little bit about my favorite season and somehow spin it to segue into the topic at hand (which is, of course, cardboard lions). I’ve always loved autumn weather, and since I graduated college, there is no longer the nasty side effect of added responsibility associated therewith. In fact, school turns into a positive, as it means the annoying children of the world are not only off the streets, but also suffering. Algebra homework and mandatory-attendance pep rallies build character. Gooooooooo Sailors!*
For me in particular, fall also means pumpkin ice cream at the Stone Cold Creamery; shameless repetition of any AFI song that mentions leaves; and, most importantly for y’all, selling out most egregiously. You see, Uncle Tim isn’t back because he loves you. Uncle Tim actually finds you kind of annoying. But times are tough, and Uncle Tim needs cards for States. Thus, it seems only fitting that I talk about Standard with Time Spiral.
I’m supposed to be a “Limited master,” but I actually have a handful of Constructed credentials in the past few years. I was the one who decided it might be a good idea to put Wildfire in Tron for Pro Tour: Honolulu. Yes, it was I who designed the template that also included playing 4 Keiga as the only creatures and six signets to give you the chance to accelerate to a Wildfire fast enough to keep Zoo from killing you. Additionally, I gave Star Wars Kid the deck that he played to a Top 4 finish at PT: LA 2005. This one’s not nearly as impressive, since I just Gerry Thompsoned** a John Fiorillo list, and since Star Wars Kid was already pretty familiar with the deck and skilled at playing it. I was also on the crack team of experts that thieved Rogier Maaten Gifts Ungiven skeleton before PT: Philadelphia and tuned it into the masterwork with which Gadiel won the tournament. I personally went 3-2 at that tournament before scooping to Big Oots, which I did because I found playing the deck just that insufferable.
I have a deck that I like a lot for States already, but I’m not going to write about it***. Ideally, I would have kept it a secret until Worlds, but I have a big mouth, and the Japanese will have figured it out by then anyway. Unlike other authors could probably do (as far as I knowÂ—I don’t actually read anything except my own archives), I’m not going to lie to you and say this is my finest work. I will, however, keep you posted on everything but my finest work. I shan’t be merely “phoning it in.”
Today, we’ll be putting White Weenie under the microscope. That sounds almost pornographic, but I have to remain loyal to my “no deleting what I’ve already written” ethic. Rather than running the trite-and-true technique of giving a decklist then explaining card choices, I shall be examining card choices and then giving a decklist. It is in this manner that I remain avant-garde. I have to prove that I’ve earned the right to wear this lip ring, after all.
I’m not exactly sure why WW was the first deck I was inspired to build. It probably had something to do with the brutal efficiency of its creatures, particularly some of the new (and old durr burr) options that Time Spiral has to offer. You can’t honestly tell me you looked at Knight of the Holy Nimbus and didn’t say, “Boy, would I like to get me some a’ that!”
The biggest loss to any deck playing efficient white beaters was, of course, Isamaru, Hound of Konda. A deck like this simply cannot forgo turn 1 plays entirely, and Isamaru made tapping a Plains on turn 1 a source of pride and not embarrassment. Fortunately, we still have Savannah Lions; unfortunately, four of those isn’t nearly enough. The problem is, after those, there aren’t any one-drops that we actively want to play. We’ll probably have to settle for eight total, which isn’t enough to ensure a first turn play, but should be enough to give us one a fair amount of the time.
Pickings are slim. Ignoring garbage like Boros Recruit and Dedicated Martyr, we have:
They used to play this 36 years ago, but the only way for this deck to thrive nowadays is supreme aggression. Soul Warden allows you to start the game at 22-28 life or whatever, but it also means you’ve played a scintillating Mons’s Goblin Raiders. Next!
This is quite a powerful card, but we want to be attacking, not disrupting our curve to gain a dubious variety of card advantage. Next!
A creature that can still deal damage (in a way) once the opponent plays a Grizzly Bear. It is possible, though I don’t think likely, that these are the ideal fifth to eighth one-drops. Only testing will tell for sure.
Once it loses its spear, it’s just an Eager Cadet. Eager Cadet sucks. Granted, I have plans to augment this on turn 3 or after, but to play this over Suntail Hawk and Infantry Veteran would mean the spear could be somehow relevant.
If you drop this on turn 1 on the play, your opponent will not play a turn 2 Ohran Viper. That’s a guarantee. He would have to somehow kill this and then play an Elf off the same land. On the draw, your opponent will have to remove this before playing Dark Confidant. Other nice targets include Savannah Lions, Soltari Priest, Looter il-Kor, Magus of the Scroll, Wood Elves, and… uhhhh… Norin the Wary. Sure, the opponent might be able to Shock the Javelineers before they can perform their civic duties, but that’s one less removal spell for your real creatures. Don’t discount this man entirely just yet.
A very slow clock, but evasion is evasion. It’s probable that this is the second-string one-drop of choice, as it’s much more effective than the Javelineers on later turns.
There is an abundance of quality creatures at the two-slot. In fact, there are so many gooders that we don’t even have to consider playing Kjeldoran Outrider. I know I want to play Knight of the Holy Nimbus. It smashes through assorted Vipers and Court Hussars, and your opponent can’t even trade an elephant token with it unless he’s got mana to spare. It’s rather inefficient for the non-White colors to remove it in any way.
I also certainly would like to play Soltari Priest, and that should be self-explanatory. In case it’s not self-explanatory, Soltari Priest can’t be blocked, and Red removal can’t kill it. Make sense?
Eight two-drops is certainly nowhere near enough, so we’ll need another. As you’ll soon find out, it’s quite the conundrum. Here are the possible options:
In an undefined metagame, I’m not sure about the importance of maindeck enchantment removal. In pre-rotation Standard, many decks were leaving Kami of Ancient Law in the board, as its primary application was against Heartbeat. For now, we’ll leave this in the board, because it seems like it would just be a Glory Seekers in most matchups.
Since the deck is currently mono-White, the Mistral Charger isn’t worth considering until we have the full amount of Leonin Skyhunters.
Flanking just isn’t enough to cut it. This creature is more powerful than most two-drops, but – as it lacks the “doesn’t die” clause of the Holy Nimbus – we’re left wanting a more powerful tacked-on ability on our bears.
I think the Rebel-searching mechanic is actually too slow for this particular deck. If we had a Ramosian Sergeant, I could easily see playing that. However, on turns 2 and 3, this doesn’t do much, and we may not even hit land number four on turn 4. On turn 4, we’d prefer to be attacking with our two-drop, not holding it back and giving the opponent a little more time. Additionally, the only Rebel that stands well on its own is the Knight of the Holy Nimbus; I’m not sure I’d want to play Outrider en-Kor just as an added incentive to play Amrou Scout.
Orzhov Guildmage is right out. Of the remaining three, Azorius Guildmage trumps the other two. Originally, I had included four of those in the deck, but I’m not sure its somewhat costly ability is enough to make up for its lack of evasion in a deck that’s tight on mana. I may reconsider this in the future.
Two power, two toughness, and flying, all for two mana. That seems very good, but for the time being, I’d like to look at…
White Shield Crusader
For now, I consider this the superior option. Compared to the Skyhunter, there are obvious pros and cons. The one toughness is only a big deal if you have a Glorious Anthem in play, as there aren’t any popular one damage effects in the environment. I suppose if you anticipate rampant Pyroclasming, you should play Skyhunter over this. The White Shield Crusader has protection from Black, which could be quite relevant if people pursue Smallpox and other mono-Black builds. (I realize pro-Black doesn’t save it from Smallpox itself, but it’s possible you’ll have another guy to sacrifice to that, and most of the cards in the deck won’t be able to touch the Crusader). The tiebreaker is actually the power-pumping ability, as it gives you something reasonable to do with excess mana if you end up a little flooded.
Beyond these, the creatures I’ve chosen to play are Paladin En-Vec and Serra Avenger. Despite the probable popularity of Red and Black, Paladin En-Vec is probably somewhat weaker now with the weakening of B/W decks and the introduction of Ohran Viper and Call of the Herd. That’s why I’ve opted to only play three and to board the fourth. I hear nothing but good things about the Avenger, so it seems proper to give it a spin.
There really aren’t a lot of solid mono-White options for spells, but we don’t need that many, as this is primarily a creature deck. I had a few spells in mind, and they should fill out the deck nicely. The first is Gelid Shackles. In an aggressive deck like this, we won’t have to worry excessively about keeping snow mana open, and barring enchantment removal, this is basically Swords to Plowshares. There are really no disincentives to playing Snow-Covered Plains other than Freyalise’s Radiance and Zombie Musher, so we can just toss those in the deck. I also intend to play Glorious Anthem to quicken the clock a little bit, but it’s possible that Bathe in Light is superior.
The card other than Gelid Shackles that I’m excited about (insofar as one who experiences virtually no emotional range can be “excited” about a small piece of cardboard) is Griffin Guide. It’s not quite as big a bonus as provided by Moldervine Cloak, but it makes the enchanted creature considerably harder to chump. Also, if an opponent Wraths away a Cloaked creature, you can get the Cloak back, but it costs you a card. The Guided creature will leave a 2/2 in its wake that’ll be ready to attack next turn. I’m not saying this is better than Cloak, but due to the evasion provided, there’s actually a chance that it is.
That leaves the deck lookin’ somethin’ like this:
- 4 Savannah Lions
- 4 Soltari Priest
- 4 Suntail Hawk
- 3 Paladin en-Vec
- 4 White Shield Crusader
- 4 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
- 3 Serra Avenger
If we look at the mana symbols, we see that it’s pretty impractical to have lands that don’t produce White mana, or that produce White mana for some additional cost. Ideally, we wouldn’t hit the six mana needed to fire off a Mouth of Ronom anyway. Flagstones of Trokair is amazing. The only fathomable reasons I could see for not playing four in a deck with White are for a Scrying Sheets engine, or the desire to keep a healthy number of lands in your deck for expensive spells and buyback and what have you. In a deck like this, they’re basic Plains that just might increase the spell ratio in your deck at some point in the game. Pick these up before they become far too expensive.
The sideboard is an interesting specimen, since we really don’t know what we’ll be playing against. As mentioned earlier, I see no reason not to include the fourth Paladin. If we don’t play Ronom Unicorn, we should play Disenchant, since who knows what kind of nonsense people will be packing?
Other options to consider:
One of the most devastating color hosers of all time. Can you even imagine doing this to a Char? I think we’ll want to include these.
The combo-stopper. I don’t think this is the deck or format for this card, though. If testing reveals that this deck is too slow to defeat a clunky, tutorless Enduring Renewal/Wild Cantor/Storm deck, then the deck should probably not be played at all.
The Dodecapod really only has the one use, so your decision to include this in your sideboard hinges on how popular you think Smallpox and/or Rack decks will be. Personally, I wouldn’t play this, or I’d run the ol’ Japanese technique of boarding in one and drawing it every time, almost as though I were cheating or something.
This kills Bob and Elves and such, and it renders Ohran Viper basically useless. The Arrows are much better against this deck than in it, obviously.
I realize that the Stuffy Doll is rather “loose,” as Chambers would say, but it gives some much-needed range against a control deck. If you sneak it in while the opponent is tapped out, he could be entering a world of pain. That said, this would probably have to cost 1 less to warrant more serious consideration in this particular deck.
Both fine cards, but what would we board them in against, really? They seem inferior to Pacifism in this case.
This couldn’t possibly be the preferred answer to a Wrath of God, could it?
The go-to card to give an aggressive deck staying power against a control deck. It’s probably better to fight Wrath indirectly with this than directly with Ghostway.
A tentative sideboard would thus be:
4 Honorable Passage
1 Paladin En-Vec
3 Bottled Cloister
An obvious bonus for playing mono-White is that the mana is pristine. You’ll never draw the wrong type of land, and you’ll never take a single point of damage adding a “mana” to your “pool.” Naturally, the main drawback is lack of flexibility. To somewhat hypocritically use a Floresian term that I mentioned briefly in the “Stuffy Doll” entry, mono-White, by definition, lacks “range.” If you have an empty board, your opponent can tap out without being the least bit worried about dying on your turn. If your opponent has some way of halting your attack step, you have no alternate route to victory. You can see that you also suffer a little bit in the sideboard department; there just weren’t that many options to consider.
A solution could be to combine elements of this deck with some from the WW/u list Flores presented on Friday. I wouldn’t play Drifter il-Dal; I’d probably stick with Griffin Guide over Unstable Mutation; I think I’d try out Azorius Guildmage; and I’d fiddle around with the manabase a little bit. That gives us a deck that looks something like:
- 4 Savannah Lions
- 4 Soltari Priest
- 2 Suntail Hawk
- 3 Paladin en-Vec
- 3 Azorius Guildmage
- 4 Knight of the Holy Nimbus
- 3 Serra Avenger
These lists may not be optimal, but hopefully they suggested some strong cards that you hadn’t considered. Even if WW isn’t up your alley, these should be nice decks to playtest against. If you do play with the mono-White version, I’d be thrilled to hear how the White Shield Crusader performs compared to Azorius Guildmage or Leonin Skyhunter.
Before I sign off, I’d like to proceed with my trademark section that I like to call…
The Kitchen Sink
This is the part of the article where I demonstrate my awareness of pop culture and assert my heterosexuality by talking about sports and hot chicks.
Obligatory Cheesecake Section
As you may have guessed, I don’t believe in the concept of “too old.” Even if I did, I’d never admit to being too old for this.
Sometimes, highlights are all it takes to rekindle interest.
In a word, wow.
Yet another tasty dish.
And sometimes, you just have to keep it simple.
[JelgerW] 3:22 Turn 4: MikeMcD.
3:22 MikeMcD plays Forest654400558,439:.
3:22 MikeMcD plays Autochthon Wurm620837758,461:.
[jeroenr] oh thats di suited ichikawa kelly kapowski tucklies
[Riptide_] i hope a tank runs me over
[RHat] your mom is fat
[psamms] are you surprised?
[RHat] no lol
[psamms] lol pwned
GT: So then i was thinking
GT: You could probably survive for days eating nothing but your own poop
GT: And you’d eventually get used to the taste
Knutson: what are you talking about?
GT: Don’t act like you’re above this
GT: Anyway I’m going to hike the Mojave Desert next weekend
GT: You’re welcome to come
Knutson: okay but i’m bringing a picnic basket
[StrWrsKid] i swear this vexing sphinx deck is the best ever
[StrWrsKid] i’m playing it at worlds no matter what’s in time spiral!
[RHat] from what i’ve heard
[knutedit] i think rhat means “terrible”
[StrWrsKid] f the naysayers man
[StrWrsKid] i’m bringin vexyback
Timothy J Aten
a.k.a. Ryusei the etc. etc.
noehcnoen on MTGO
pballer1987 on AIM
ACTUALLY [email protected]
* Yes, as I live on the lake, my high school mascot was actually a “sailor.” Our school colors were purple and yellow, the latter of which they called “gold.” The high school is on a street called Sailorway. I could probably make all that up, but it’s actually the truth.
** To “Gerry Thompson” a list is to copy it, change 3-4 cards, then pass it off as “your” deck.
*** Sorry, Marty. This isn’t my secret tech.
Post-Signoff Nonsense: More Songs You Don’t Care About
I haven’t gotten around to making an actual list, but here are a few songs from my theoretical “Best Modern Rock Songs of 2000 and After.” Even if you’re one of those nerdy kids who’s, like, actually heard the new Bob Dylan CD, you may find something you enjoy in here.
At the Drive-In “One-Armed Scissor”
Finger Eleven “Thousand Mile Wish”
Sleater-Kinney “Funeral Song”
The Shins “Pink Bullets”
The Stills “Love and Death”
The White Stripes “The Air Near My Fingers”