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By: gwyned, gwyned
Sep 01 2014 12:00pm
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I. Introduction

While the stereotypical favorite color for Magic pros might be Blue, when it comes to Standard Pauper, White is clearly the dominant color. I've been the host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge for almost 20 seasons, and time after time, season after season, White-based decks always seem to make the list of top contenders in the metagame. Indeed, it seems that every time we are on the cusp of another rotation of Standard, players celebrate that the dominant White deck will finally be dethroned, only to see another rise to take its place. But why is White so good, especially at Common? That's what I want to explore today.

II. Why White?

It doesn't take much analysis to discover why White is arguably the best color in Standard Pauper. Just take a look at what White has access to within its slice of the color pie, even at Common: life gain, cheap removal, combat tricks, protection, tokens, enchantments, and enchantment-hate. Mix these elements together, and you have quite a potent force. Let's look more closely at how these different factors play out:

A. White is fast and efficient. White tends to have efficiently-costed, cheap creatures, many of which have significant abilities - Flying, Lifelink, Vigilance, and First Strike, just to name a few. Indeed, many new keyword abilities find their expression in White at Common. This gives White the ability to flood the board with a large number of relevant attackers very quickly, making it quite difficult for an opponent to keep up. While not as large as their counterparts in Green, White's creatures tend to be much more relevant.

B. White specializes in combat. For a color that focuses more on a good defense than a good offense, White it surprisingly effective at combat. It always has access to Power and Toughness boosting tricks, which sometimes even affect all of your creatures. White's removal focuses on combat by removing a creature's ability to attack or block or destroying the creature entirely once it has done so. It can also sidestep removal, giving its creatures color protection or preventing the damage in some other fashion. While not as overtly aggressive as Red, White's more defensive nature means it's typically more effective.

C. White has a diversity of options. There are very few effects that are outside of White's reach. It has good creatures, evasion, removal, enchantment destruction, combat tricks, creature protection, lifegain, and even some graveyard recursion. About the only things it can't do is counter spells, destroy artifacts, or deal direct damage. This means that there is very little an opponent can do that White doesn't have an answer for, even if that answer is simply to quickly overwhelm him or her with creatures. While not as specialized as Blue, White has game against almost any strategy.

Given these factors, is it any wonder that White continues to be so good, season after season? Most of the time, it's fair to say: if you're not playing White, you're probably doing it wrong.

III. Why White, Illustrated

As I mentioned earlier, this dominance of White is not a recent phenomena. To illustrate this point, let's take a look at three 1st place decks from different seasons of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge.

A. BW Midrange from MPDC 14.06


This particular decklist was the ultimate in value, taking advantage of the recursive abilities of Kor Skyfisher and Glint Hawk and splashing Black to generate repeatable card-draw and graveyard recursion. Squadron Hawk also provided additional card advantage, while Kor Sanctifiers provided some powerful Artifact and Enchantment hate while also putting a relevant creature on the battlefield. With 16 Flying creatures and a ton of card advantage, this list was a midrange powerhouse, able to easily flex roles between Aggro and Control based on the matchup and the flow of the game. It epitomized the strengths of White - it was fast, efficient, and flexible.

B. White Weenie from MPDC 19.08

White Weenie
1st place by JoseOllero in MPDC 19.08
Creatures
4 Attended Knight
4 Avacynian Priest
4 Chapel Geist
4 Doomed Traveler
4 Loyal Cathar
4 Seraph of Dawn
4 Sunspire Griffin
4 War Falcon
3 Keening Apparition
35 cards

Other Spells
4 Pacifism
4 cards
Lands
17 Plains
4 Haunted Fengraf
21 cards

Seraph of Dawn


While the previous deck specialized in raw card advantage, this White Weenie build instead focused instead focused on developing a massive force of efficient and relevant creatures. Attended Knight, Doomed Traveler, and Loyal Cathar provided value with an extra creature, while Chapel Geist, Seraph of Dawn, Sunspire Griffin, and War Falcon attacked in the air for massive amounts of damage. The deck gained utility against Enchantments with Keening Apparition, and could neutralize an opponent's threats using Pacifism and Avacynian Priest. While not quite a true Weenie deck due to the strength and cost of some of its more powerful creatures, this deck utilized that same axis of attack with efficient and powerful creatures that could quickly overwhelm an opponent.

C. White Weenie from MPDC 26.01


And now, to the current metagame. Compare this list to the previous, and the similarities are obvious: cheap, efficient creatures and ways of generating card advantage, particularly with the recursive abilities of Auramancer and the card advantage of Heliod's Pilgrim. It can also protect its creatures using Gods Willing, remove an opponent's creatures with Pacifism and Celestial Flare, and deal with opposing Enchantments utilizing Keening Apparition. Both Hopeful Eidolon and Syndic of Tithes provide some welcome Lifegain into the mix. But the real powerhouse is Ethereal Armor, which can single-handedly transform any creatures into a formidable threat. This final list is a good hybrid of the other two; it uses few creatures, but has more options at its disposal, and can generate plenty of card advantage along the way.

In each case, you should have noticed how each deck was built around one or two powerful White cards. With powerful cards like Kor Skyfisher, Squadron Hawk, Seraph of Dawn, Auramancer, and Ethereal Armor, is it any wonder that White continues to dominate?

IV. Conclusion

So there you have it: White is the color to play in Standard Pauper. In closing, let me remind you that you can check out all of my previous articles here on PureMTGO by clicking here. I also publish over on my blog on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and encourage you to keep up with all my projects there. You can get a sneak peek at any of my videos before they go live here at PureMTGO.com over on YouTube.com. Simply search for "gwyned42," select one of my videocasts, and click the Subscribe button. You can keep up with everything I'm doing on Twitter at the username gwyned42; check out my profile here and click on Follow. Finally, I am the host of Monday Pauper Deck Challenge, which is a weekly PRE featuring a Swiss tournament in the Standard Pauper format, with prizes awarded for the Top 8 finishers thanks to the sponsorship of MTGOTraders. As always, if you've never checked out MPDC, I encourage you to browse over to PDCMagic.com for all the information and then come join us at 2:00pm EST / 6:00pm GMT in the /join MPDC room.

Thanks for reading. See you next time.