Thursday, April 25, 2013

Marvelous Modern – Getting into it – White Staples

By: Dale Pon

When one thinks of White in Magic, words such as ‘law’, ‘order’, and ‘justice’ all spring to mind. White is characterised by removal such as spot removal and board wipes, controlling cards, as well as token producers and numerous other creatures with varying abilities.

The premier White spot removal spell in Modern is undoubtedly Path to Exile, since the ultimate White spot removal spell, Swords to Plowshares, isn’t legal or balanced for Modern. Even the drawback of Path to Exile (i.e. the exiled creature’s controller gets to search for a basic land put it into play tapped) is usually negligible (except when your opponent is severely mana screwed/ colour screwed). Condemn and Oust are sometimes used, as additional spot removal, but they still don’t even come close to the power level of Path to Exile. Oblivion Ring can also be regarded as spot removal which can also deal with pesky creatures as well as permanents such as Planeswalkers, Artifacts, and Enchantments.

Most of the times you want to remove a little more than just one creature and this is where board wipes/sweepers come in handy. The classic board wipe is Wrath of God, and its subsequent, slightly nerfed version (i.e. without the “can’t be regenerated” clause), Day of Judgment; while a newer incarnation of a board wipe is Terminus, which in some cases (particularly against indestructible or regenerating creatures) is actually better than the destruction of the creatures.

White also has a reputation for being a major culprit when it comes to control, and in Modern it is no different. Cards such as Rule of Law and Silence all make sure your opponent can’t do as much as he/she would like to, while Angel’s Grace and Phyrexian Unlife allow you to just say “No” (even if it is just for a short while).

As far as my previous vague statement of “other creatures with varying abilities” goes, I am referring to the numerous useful White creatures out there. Amongst them, those with ETB (Enter The Battlefield, for those who don’t know all the jargon) triggers such as Blade Splicer (2 bodies for 1 reasonably well-costed card is generally a good thing), Stonecloaker (the bounce as well as the graveyard hate at instant speed is rather nifty), Wall of Omens (a wall which replaces itself), Squadron Hawk (which stalls an opponent for a rather annoyingly long time), Sun Titan (who doesn’t love a 6/6 beater which brings stuff back nearly EVERY turn) Flickerwisp and Restoration Angel (giving the ability to reuse any ETB trigger again, as well as tricks with cards such as Mangara of Corondor to make stuff permanently disappear). Other White creatures which I think of as being staples due to their efficiency are: Mirran Crusader (a 2/2 double striker for 3 mana with protection from Black and Green, yes please!), Baneslayer Angel (a 5/5 flying, first-striking, lifelinking mofo with protections from stuff that is sometimes relevant), Silverblade Paladin (MOAR double strike), Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (annoying the crap out of burn and control players since 2012), as well as Auriok Champion (gains life and has protection from the 2 removal heavy colours).

Loam Lion
and Steppe Lynx are seen prominently in Zoo-like decks, where Steppe Lynx can dish out as much as 4 damage a turn in conjunction with fetch lands; while Martyr of Sands, Soul’s Attendant, Soul Warden, and Serra Ascendant are all seen prominently in Martyr Life/Soul Sisters. Creatures such as Aven Mindcensor and Leonin Arbiter all help in taxing and annoying any opponent who uses any search spells or fetch lands (which is the vast majority of Modern players).

Token creating spells which deserve a mention are Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession, while others such as Midnight Haunting, Raise the Alarm, and Gather the Townsfolk all see some play once in a while.

There are several White cards that I haven’t mentioned which are staples, and this might be due to them being covered when I eventually get to writing about sideboard staples.

Until next time!

Thanks for reading.