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By: walkerdog, Tyler Walker
Dec 23 2008 10:12am
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As something of a follow-up to DolemiteX’s article about rare-drafting, would you like to know the OTHER way to make fat stacks? Of tickets I guess, or packs if that is your preference? Well, the answer to the proposed question is constructed queues. I prefer four-man queues, simply because they’re almost always available, and tend to fit even a new father’s limited amount of time for MTGO.

These queues pay out three packs, collecting twelve tickets. Standard, Block and Extended pay out Alara currently, while Classic, Prismatic, Singleton and Pauper pay out Tempest. You need to know what queues are paying out what packs at the time you’re playing, because you then need to check the trading area to see which packs are the most valuable. Sometimes it will be more-or-less a push, but sometimes (Like right now) you’ll see a full ticket difference in pack prices. Shards of Alara packs are worth 4.x, while Tempest sits stubbornly at 3.1.

We want decks for two formats so at any given time we can jump into the more profitable format (whichever one has more valuable packs at that time). If we’re talking about Classic-legal formats, your best bet is to play some Pauper. That is because even the absolute best decks can be put together for under $20. There might be an exception to this, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head. If the non-Classic packs are more valuable, I like Block as the format to play. This is because with a limited pool, more commons and uncommons tend to be played, reducing the cost of your deck. Combine this with the fact that even your rares are still being opened at a decent pace by drafters still playing that set a lot, and you have relatively inexpensive decks.

Personally, I have been running Mono-White in Alara Block. Previously, I was running the Bant mid-range deck from a previous article, however, I got bored of it, and tired of losing to mana-screw. So, I felt like I’d play a deck that is pretty hard to get screwed by. It happens, but much less often than most Block decks. Here is the current build I’ve been with:

 

Mono White
Shards of Alara aggro/midrange list suggested by Walkerdog
Creatures
3
Knight of the Skyward Eye
4
Sigiled Paladin
4
Battlegrace Angel
4
Knight of the White Orchid
2
Ranger of Eos
4
Akrasan Squire
21 cards

Other Spells
4
Excommunicate
4
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
4
Oblivion Ring
4
Sigil of Distinction
16 cards
 
Lands
10
Plains
1
Plains
8
Plains
4
Plains
23 cards

Knight of the White Orchid

 

You might wonder why I don’t call this White Weenie, or if maybe I’m not a nit-picky douche who should just call it WW. I don’t call it that because I hate people who call any Mono-White deck with one-and-two-drops WW. No, seriously though, it is because the deck isn’t a Weenie deck. Sure, I play a bunch of small men who wilt like plastic in the fireplace to Big Men and Jund Charm… but I also run the biggest naughty School Teacher who would love to paddle your butt, Battlegrace Angel, and some rather controlling cards like Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Ranger of Eos. While we try to beat down, sometimes the manner we do so is rather slow, and occasionally we take the control roll. My sixteen small men aren’t enough to call this a REAL WW deck.

YouThat said, the deck is fairly simply. Hit your land drops each turn, vomit out men, beat down on the ground early, and then fly over the top late for the win. Some key points: If you have a wuss like Akrasan Squire and then two first-strikers on your board facing down random mid-sized guys (3/3s and x/4s), it usually is best to attack with the Squire, especially if you have enough Exalted to pump him up to a 4/4+. The reason being that two first-strikers shut down pretty much everything except for opposing flyers and first-strikes. This should be obvious, but I can’t tell you how many games I’ve stolen just by not playing horribly (letting them attack into my first-strikers mistakenly, etc) and letting my opponent throw away men and games.

Matches generally go like this: One game your opponent will play 3-4 colors of mana without a pause, and roll out silly stuff like Planeswalkers, Dragons, Beasts AND/OR ANGELS! Another game your opponent’s awful mana-base will stumble just enough that they can’t do much to slow you down, and when they go for a back-breaker like, say, Broodmate Dragon, you have a fatty attacker and an Oblivion Ring for the token, forcing them to throw away their last prayer. The other game is where "actual Magic" will be played. You have to beat them using actual SKILL. The trick for this game is typically to play for either the flying kill (much like the game where you out-tempoed them, but it takes longer, and you have to set it up better than just removing their one relevant play), or the "battering ram" kill as I like to call it, which involves a lot of mana, a (Signet of Distinction) and any creature pounding down through virtually any defense your opponent can erect.

Signet of Distinction is ridiculously silly. It really is your late-game, and is almost an X-spell. Often, once an opponent feels like they’ve stabilized, they’re happy to try to hurry up and end the game by attacking with their team into your one 1/1 or 2/2 that you have left after trading men for damage. Then you untap, pump out a +7/7 artifact, equip, and swing for the final 8-9 points of damage. It always feels like Great Justice when you manage this win, ESPECIALLY when you beat an opponent pretty low, only for them to play a stupid Battlegrace Angel of their own and start hitting you with life-linked men… and you win out of no-where.

There are a few other tricks that I’ve picked up along the way. MyNameWasBob taught me the first one, although it was in regard to Bant at that time. A lot of the time it is better to choose to be on the draw rather than the more normal play. The reason being that we have Knight of the White Orchid in both decks… which allows us to draw an extra card on our first turn, then steal back momentum on turn three by playing KotWO then your land, putting you at four lands, with two untapped… and allowing you to drop another one/two-drop. This is a crazy play, and ensures you’ll be able to play Elspeth or Angel on the next turn.

Excommunicate is important if you’re going to be on the play. In a vacuum, it’s a vanilla tempo-based sort-of removal spell. In this format it is a solid way to force damage through and more importantly, a way to "help" someone lose to their crappy mana-base. A lot of the Green-based decks run cards like Druid of the Anima and Steward of Valeron out on turn two, expecting that even if they DON’T draw land the next turn to be able to play a three-drop. Excom him to their library… and they have to draw and replay him again, and they lose a lot of value when they aren’t acting as either turn two acceleration or as a land-drop on turn two. You can continue to beat past them with a 2+ power critter, and stunt their development.

If I’m expecting to be on the draw, or I’m matched against a deck with Battlegrace Angels of their own, or Esper in general, I’ll usually side out Excom for Resounding Silence, since it’s more useful to get rid of their recursive or lifegaining men than it is to buy a little time. Decks with Sigil Blessing are another time that Silence is very useful. Make your blocks, and when they try for the blowout, remove the targeted creature for a sweet two-for-one.

The sideboard has removal for irritating threats (Angels and Artifacts), along with some Elspeth lock-out with the Knight-Captain for the mirror and the like, and Relics for Esper.  Fairly simple.

Next I’ll cover how to play each matchup you’ll encounter. For Naya: pretty simple matchup, beat-down if you have the advantage, if they have the board clogged up with 3/3s and larger, play defensively for a win with Elspeth, Sigil of Distinction and/or Battlegrace Angel. Flying and making ABSURDLY large men are you breakers here. I just played a game where I played an Angel following an aggressive start. My opponent had an Angel of his own and beat down with Wholly Thoctar to heal. I dropped a second Angel and beat with the first, healing for twelve and doing six. He beat-healed again, and then I played Sigil for seven. He scooped. Naya’s best cards against you are Sigil Blessing which can push through damage and overwhelm your first-striking blockers, and Battlegrace Angel, which lets them keep up in the race. Resounding Silence, as mentioned above, is very good at answering this concern.  -4 Excom, +4 Resounding Silence, on the draw for sure.

Esper is so pathetic. It’s a bunch of undersized creatures that are very squishy. Their only good card is Sharuum. If you win game one, you shouldn’t lose the match EVER. This is because for games 2/3, you side out your super-vulnerable Oblivion Rings and 2 Ranger of Eos and three of your Akrasan Squire for Relic of Progenitus x 3 and a 4 (Dispeller’s Capsule)/2 Sanctum Gargoyle package. You can skip the Gargoyles if you want, and even the Capsules if you prefer, but ALWAYS bring in the relics. It lets you beat down with a first-striker and they lose the advantages that Sharuum and Sanctum Gargoyles normally bring. That means they’re playing a deck of 2/1s, 2/2s, 4/4s for four (these aren’t so bad I guess), and an Artifact Lord. Not the best plan against first strike, and lifegain. Another siding strategy that I employ sometimes is to cut Elspeth and Oblivion Ring for the cards I bring in, as Elspeth doesn’t stop or deal with tons of flyers very well. Leaving her in is fine if you want to simply beat down though. -4 ORing -3 Squire -2 Ranger, +3 Relic + 4 Capsule + 2 Sanctum Garg

If Esper is pathetic, then Jund is too, but pathetic like Faeries. I mean, what rocks were being smoked with the development of (Bone What were they thinking?Splinters) R/D? I love the R/D guys, but man, ONE MANA to blow up a dude, at a cost that’s rather negligible normally, and is MORE-THAN free in the Shards it was printed in. For example, Jund can play Sprouting Thrinax, Elvish Visionary, or Sarkhan Vol to kill your guy at almost no loss to them, or even a gain to them in some situations. Not to mention that they printed TWO Pyroclasm-style effects in Jund Charm and Caldera Hellion, plus they have the best or second best fatty in Broodmate Dragon.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest… Jund is very beatable. First, they have very little in the way of early plays, letting you usually beat down. Next, you want to pressure them early, but not commit too many troops to the ground. If you can, dropping a pair of Exalted fellas to put pressure on, then equipping one with a Sigil to jack him up to a 4/4 helps beat their Pyroclasm plan. Next, keep applying kicks and punches to their face while dealing with threats they attempt to land. Removal and Elspeth are important here. Hold off an Angel until they either kill your other men, or plan a Sarkhan Vol (and you kill him). Jund loves to play Vol on turn 5/6 and then steal an Angel, attack, and Splinters one of your men with the Angel.

The deck is pretty powerful, and rather consistent. I recommend it, but even more I recommend playing Block if you’d like to turn a profit in constructed right now. This is how I’ve been racking up tix. If you have questions or input, let me know!

6 Comments

Good point by walkerdog at Mon, 12/29/2008 - 12:24
walkerdog's picture

Good point on Infest, but it's the weakest of the three (not an instant, only does "2").

WW has a fairly high power level.  You said it yourself, you're playing with a lot of the strongest cards.  Sure, going 2-3 colors might be wise, but for now, I like this build.  If I were to splash for anything, it would be Ajani.

 The bear status vs. Sorcerer is pretty much a wash.  Might lean towards sorc, but you DO block the various 1/1s and 2/2s that people attack with still, so blocking is actually relevant.

 Plus, the extra point of toughness + a Relic of Distinction with 2 counters evades the sweepers people run, demanding more spot removal.

by Anonymous(Unregistered) 65.164.244.147 (not verified) at Mon, 12/29/2008 - 06:53
Anonymous(Unregistered) 65.164.244.147's picture

Why run the Skyward Eye in a mono-white deck?

Without his pump, he's just a vanilla bear. 

Heck, I'd rather have a Caste Sorc at 2 mana in this deck, at least he's got exalted.

That extra 1/1 isn't going to make any real difference on defense, as anything you'd bother blocking with him is going to be a chump block anyway, and on offense the sorc is just as good.

Meh. by ilikefoils(Unregistered) 98.210.212.39 (not verified) at Tue, 12/23/2008 - 19:34
ilikefoils(Unregistered) 98.210.212.39's picture

The main problem with all the mono W builds is they almost always end up as weaker Naya decks. They almost never -need- the 3rd color until turn 5 and most builds now run Druid of the Anima anyway (which nobody except Jund can afford to spend removal on sadly). I mean at least your smart enough to run quads of every really good card (elsie, angel & sigil), so you've definitely got a 1-up on the average ABC player.  Then again most people still like Wooly Thoctar... sooo...

 

Anyway, I'd consider Angelsong in the board. It tends to blow people out in the mirror and the same with most Naya opponents. I know some of this may sound sort of weird, because I used to agree with people on the whole consistent mana versus extra power thing, but getting access to multiple Planeswalkers or some card advantage donk is just too good in this format. I'm all for variety though and I totally agree about the easy money aspect. I've made T8 of 5 of the daily events over the past month or so despite only playing in 1-2 aweek, due to work, with like 4 different decks.

 

If you want to see an interesting variant on the normal WW list (http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol121590), I played B/W with great success and had 0 mana problems with the deck. Just happened to get screwed by some truly insane topdecking in t8.  GL with the deck.

Usually weaker Naya by ilikefoils(Unregistered) 98.210.212.39 (not verified) at Tue, 12/23/2008 - 19:33
ilikefoils(Unregistered) 98.210.212.39's picture

The main problem with all the mono W builds is they almost always end up as weaker Naya decks. They almost never -need- the 3rd color until turn 5 and most builds now run Druid of the Anima anyway (which nobody except Jund can afford to spend removal on sadly). I mean at least your smart enough to run quads of every really good card (elsie, angel & sigil), so you've definitely got a 1-up on the average ABC player.  Then again most people still like Wooly Thoctar... sooo...

 

Anyway, I'd consider Angelsong in the board. It tends to blow people out in the mirror and the same with most Naya opponents. I know some of this may sound sort of weird, because I used to agree with people on the whole consistent mana versus extra power thing, but getting access to multiple Planeswalkers or some card advantage donk is just too good in this format. I'm all for variety though and I totally agree about the easy money aspect. I've made T8 of 5 of the daily events over the past month or so despite only playing in 1-2 aweek, due to work, with like 4 different decks.

 

If you want to see an interesting variant on the normal WW list (http://www.wizards.com/magic/magazine/events.aspx?x=mtg/daily/decks/mol1...), I played B/W with great success and had 0 mana problems with the deck. Just happened to get screwed by some truly insane topdecking in t8.  GL with the deck.

by spg at Tue, 12/23/2008 - 10:18
spg's picture

Your decklist has a lot of Plains in it =)

Pyroclasm Effects by Anonymous(Unregistered) 24.39.188.114 (not verified) at Tue, 12/23/2008 - 11:01
Anonymous(Unregistered) 24.39.188.114's picture

Actually, they printed three if you count infest.