White Weenie: The Breakdown

Unfortunately, this one missed the deadline for pre-States, but Dave still takes a look at White Weenie. Y’all know how it did by now.

It has been said, to a fair degree of accuracy, that the only things that would survive a nuclear holocaust would be cockroaches and white weenie decks. White weenie was the first monochromatic deck that would actually considered playable – and as long as there has been an environment with lots of white bears-on-steroids-type creatures with nifty abilities and white’s usual bag of tricks, then white weenie decks have usually been somewhere near the fore.

And now we have post-Odyssey Standard, and we’ve got what I consider to be two viable decks that are already being discussed to death, and God forbid I don’t horn in on it: Straight white weenie and what is generally termed”WW/r,” for lack of anything anywhere close to imaginative for a name; white weenie with more than just a splash for red for burn and Apocalypse’s best W/R spells.

The model for both decks is pretty much the same as white weenie decks throughout the ages: drop a few small critters, power ‘em up with enchantments and proceed to steamroll opponent, throwing in some good spot removal for good measure.

The times may change, the people may change, but the song remains the same.

So what do you put in the latest white weenie concoction?

Devoted Caretaker: A 1/ 2 for one mana isn’t new, but one with such a game-breaking ability is, unless you consider snow-covered forestwalk”game breaking.” Foiling the likes of Boomerang, Urza’s Rage and Disenchant, the Caretaker can do a very good job of protecting the permanents on your side of the board and rendering much of your opponent’s cards moot. The question is, how well does a card that seems more at home in a Solution-style control deck fit in with what is clearly a very aggressive beatdown deck? Given that it can get pretty big with the likes of Glorious Anthem and Divine Sacrament, would you rather have a vanilla bear for extra beatdown or a creature who really doesn’t want to beat down once the board gets busy?

I’m not really all that sure right now. But I’d like to find room for him, otherwise the deck is definitely hurting for a one-drop.

Boy, I wish Tithe was back in Standard. I loved that card.

Spectral Lynx: The regeneration ability is really more of an afterthought. The pro-green is what we’re going for in a field that’s going to have a lot of U/G and R/G decks in them. Beast Attack is a very good card on defense, but it’s worthless against Lynx beatdown.

If the deck is running a source of black, like City of Brass or even basic swamps, then maybe the regen ability will come in handy. Otherwise, it’s just gravy.

Longbow Archers: Remember when 2/2 white creatures with first strike were pretty normal? Now, the Archers are pretty much the last of their kind, and not even with pro-black. The block-flyers ability is pretty much an afterthought to this deck; it shouldn’t be doing much in the way of blocking. Still, with first strike, it’s among the first to stay back and guard the home front if needed be.

Two power for two mana is what we’re looking for, and the first strike just makes it all the better. But we also have…

Patrol Hounds: At worse, it’s a 2/2 bear. Discard a card, however, and you’ve got first strike… Which I guess is okay. But given that we’re not concerned about reaching threshold in this deck, this one’s basically here because it’s a bear and that’s it. I’m not sure if you’ll always have the extra land sitting in your hand to ditch to this guy.

Pianna, Nomad Captain: “Sing me a song, you’re the Pianna man…” Well,”Billy Joel,” with his built in Crusade-on-the-attack ability makes any army pretty darn impressive on the attack. Get a Pianna in play with a couple of other creatures and a Glorious Anthem and you have a very impressive offensive force.

Unsurprisingly, that tends to make Pianna the target of various removal effects once he hits the table. So it helps to have an extra copy or two in the deck somewhere.

Lieutenant Kirtar: Well, he flies, which is good, and he’s only three mana for a 2/2, which is also good. Then we’ve got his Exile-like ability. Which, like Pianna, puts a big bull’s-eye on his beaked face.

It does require having the additional mana open, but if you’re running Devoted Caretaker, you’ve going to be playing with mana open anyway. It’s the only way the deck has to get rid of fatties like Shivan Wurm and opposing Lynxes. Hey, it’s no Swords, but we play what we can get.

Second Thoughts: You should have third and fourth thoughts before even considering putting this in the deck. Too darn expensive. By the time you get to five mana, you should have the game in hand.

Mystic Penitent and Mystic Crusader: You get a 1/1 no-tap-to-attack dude and a 2/1 pro-black and red critter, then you hit threshold and they fly and get +1/+1. Not bad.

The trouble with these two cards is that you’re depending upon reaching threshold in order for them to get good. And this deck tends to either have won or lost by the time you’ll even get a whiff of threshold. Mystic Crusader, I knew Paladin en-vec, Paladin en-vec was a friend of mine, and you are no Paladin en-vec.

Disenchant and Aura Blast: In what figures to be an environment just chock full of annoying enchantments, like Opposition, Yawgmoth’s Agenda and Glorious Anthem, you’re gonna want to have something to deal with them. Well, we’re in luck, as white’s the color to deal with enchantments on a spot basis, always has been. The question is, Disenchant or Aura Blast (or both)? Disenchant gives versatility, the more limited Aura Blast is a cantrip. Given that broken artifacts are not exactly overrunning the environment, Aura Blast in the main deck might be better over Disenchant.

Pacifism: Quite simply, with no Swords to Plowshares or Exile available in the format anymore, there are some creatures white simply can’t deal with as they are. Like big, annoying, combat-clogging walls of the 0/7 variety, or big, blue flying djinns of the 5/6 variety. Reaching into the vault, we find… Pacifism.

Rizzo is not as crazy as he might seem.

So maybe your opponents end up bouncing their own creatures to get rid of the Pacifism. Gives you an extra turn, at least, and with a deck that wants to operate on a very short clock.

Glorious Anthem and Divine Sacrament: Well, Crusade was judged to be”too powerful,” and, alas, it didn’t make it into 7th Edition. However, there are two equally good but slightly more expensive spells available. Glorious Anthem is a more localized version of Crusade that encompasses all of your creatures regardless of color (see, who said WotC was insensitive?). However, Divine Sacrament is essentially a true Crusade (white critters get the +1/+1) only that really gets ugly once threshold is reached.

Now, here’s the trouble with that: First off, it affects your opponent’s creatures as well — not a big thing if your opponent is playing R/G, but not fun in the mirror. Secondly, there’s a very good chance you’ll win (or lose) the game before you even get a whiff of reaching threshold.

That being said, I’d advise running four Glorious Anthems main, and if you must have the Divine Sacrament, put it in the sideboard.

Sheesh, that’s a lot of white. What happens when we add red to the mix?

You get a better deck, that’s what.

Dega Disciple: Obviously, this fits in the W/R model, and it’s a damn fine one-drop in that configuration. Make my creatures even bigger for only one red mana.

Goblin Legionnaire: Hey, if Dave Price calls this the best bear ever, who am I to argue? Again, two power for two mana (and also a white creature), with the potential to deal four damage in a turn, and once in a very, very great while, you may actually use its white ability (just don’t forget it’s there).

You’ll never be unhappy to draw him, even if he turns out to be a three-mana Shock.

Goblin Trenches: You get a couple of Glorious Anthems or Divine Sacraments out, and this just becomes truly sick. Two 1/1s for a land aren’t bad. Two 3/3s for a land tend to be harbingers of victory. Just watch out for Wash Out – that’s a real hoser, eh?

Orim’s Thunder: Okay, let’s take a Disenchant, make it a little more expensive, but make it possible to kill creatures with it. Think that’ll fly? Yeah, probably.

Some may argue that Aura Blast or Disenchant is superior to Orim’s Thunder since they’re cheaper. Don’t believe it. The versatility and two-for-one nature of this spell make it worth the extra cost, and you don’t have to pay the kicker if you don’t want to.

Order/Chaos: Okay, removing an attacking creature from play, a la Exile, is good. Preventing all those annoying wall from blocking, a la Falter, is also good. So why isn’t Order/Chaos good in this deck? Too damn expensive, that’s why. Falter is good at 1R. Exile is good at 2W. Bump up the cost and it’s just too pricey for a white weenie deck that only has one four drop in the whole shebang.

Flametongue Kavu: Conventional wisdom seems to be that this may be the defining card of the current standard environment. It’s been around for over eight months now; I don’t need to waste a paragraph expounding its virtues. The most expensive spell in the WW/r deck and well worth it.

Also worth noting that as a red and only red card, it’s immune to Wash Out set to white, which otherwise can totally wreck this deck.

Volcanic Hammer: The good news is that it’s three damage for only 1R. The bad news is that it’s a sorcery and doesn’t come with any cool Incinerate-style extras. Still, that much burn for that little cost is a deal in the current Standard.

Urza’s Rage: Now we’re talking. You want some burn to splash, how about three points of uncounterable love? Take out Finkel or just go to the dome for the last three. This card is an absolute must in WW/r. If you aren’t playing it in your deck, I will come over to your house and slap you silly until you see the light. Beg, borrow, or steal as many as you can get.

It’s no Swords to Plowshares, but it’s as close as you can come in this environment to guaranteeing something dead on arrival.

And one brief note on sideboard options:

Circle of Protection: Red and Sphere of Law: I get in arguments over which is superior. Working for the CoP: It’s cheaper and stops all red damage cold. Against it, it requires having mana to activate. The Sphere of Law requires no activation cost, but is much more expensive.

Against weenie red decks, like Sligh, the Sphere shuts them down cold. Against decks with higher power red creatures like Skizzik and Flametongue Kavu, the Circle of Protection is the better choice.

Since I feel that there will be more R/G”Rocket Shoes” style decks than Sligh decks at States, I’d go with the CoP: Red. Feel free to disagree.

Accordingly, this is my current version of WW/r:

4 Dega Disciple

4 Longbow Archer

4 Goblin Legionnaire

4 Spectral Lynx

3 Pianna, Nomad Captain

4 Flametongue Kavu

4 Glorious Anthem

4 Urza’s Rage

3 Goblin Trenches

3 Orim’s Thunder

4 Forge[/author]“]Battlefield [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]

3 City of Brass

1 Rith’s Grove

5 Mountain

10 Plains

White weenie with a splash of red has some definite advantages. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it’s very solid against much of the field. It does have a glass jaw to certain cards and decks… Fortunately (or unfortunately), those cards generally are in decks that no one is playing much these days.You could do a lot worse than going back to an old standby. Like try to make Dark Ponza work. It’s a solid deck that a lot of people will be using at States. Like I said last time, either have it or be prepared for it, ‘cause it’s going to be out there.

Dave Meddish

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