(Note1: This Primer is geared for casual players with no cards before Revised and for beginning players, and focuses on the mono-color white weenie deck. Adding power cards is a simple exercise outside the basic white weenie structure.)
When I want a simple but effective deck, I turn to white weenie. It's simplicity is deceptive, however, as white weenie is one of the most versatile archtypes in Magic history and has won tournaments at various points.
I once played a casual
game like that went like this:
Turn 1: Plains, Savannah Lion
Turn 2: Plains, Attack, White Knight
Turn 3: Plains, Attack, Savannah Lion, Order of Leitbur
Turn 4: Plains, Attack, Armageddon
I soon won the 4-way multiplayer game after that.
It is not just the diverse abilities of white's small creatures that define white weenie, however. White is the most solid color to play by itself as it has the most well-rounded supporting spells. A mid-game trick such as Armageddon shows that this archtype emphasizes flexibility aside from raw power (unlike the narrower spells that accompany red, green and black weenies).
One unique class
of supporting spells further sets white weenie apart: the Disenchants.
Today, white weenie can easily sideboard in fifteen cards that destroy
artifacts and enchantments if it needs to, and is lethal against most combo
and lock-based control decks (including Humility-, Moat- and Abyss- based
decks but excluding a few that are unaffected by Disenchant, such as Pande-burst
and the old Academy decks). In Tempest-era Type II, the ability to call
on 4 Disenchant and 4 Aura of Silence against the weenie's nightmare, Cursed
Scroll, was key, and WW's bench only deepened with later sets and Abolish
and Seal of Cleansing.
White weenie is an enduring archtype simply because it does not rely on any specific card or cards (though some tricks such as Armageddon are now classic cards yet still legal in Type II). The deck is defined by a special structure. When your white deck follows this structure, it plays like any white weenie deck from the first versions to Rebel decks. It also follows that you can build a white weenie deck out of leftover common cards from the last Sealed Deck tournament, and still capture the power of white weenie.
The structure is
8 removal spells
8-12 other "tricks"
My present deck goes
something like this:
Rakso's Casual White Weenie deck
Creatures (18)The White Weenie
4 Savannah Lions
4 White Knight
4 Soltari Priest
3 Warrior en-Kor
1 Paladin en-Vec (or Zhalfirin Crusader)
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Seal of Cleansing
Creature enchancing "tricks" (5)
3 Crusade or Army of Allah
2 Reverent Mantra
Other "tricks" (8)
1 Enlightened Tutor
3 Land Tax
3 Scroll Rack
1 Zuran Orb
1 Mox Diamond
1 Strip Mine
1 Kjeldoran Outpost
With this strategy, the basic white weenie must have at least 2 power for 1 or 2 mana (thus, the 2/1 for W Savannah Lion is the classic weenie). 1-mana 1/1s do not have the power to make a difference quickly enough (thus, the lowly Soltari Foot Soldier's Shadow ability is not as useful) while more expensive creatures may not enter the fray quickly enough. Weenies with powerful abilities are exceptions, but the fact remains that even a deck with twenty medicore 2-power 2 mana creatures such as Fresh Volunteers and Youthful Knight can be effective.
reason for the "2-power for 2" rule is the fundamental Magic rule of never
playing more resources than needed. Fearing spells such as Earthquake,
Balance and Wrath of God, the WW player tries to keep no more than two
or three creatures on the board at a time. (Playing more is called "overextending"
and having them destroyed by just one powerful spell can swing the game.)
Two 2-power creatures can maintain pressure on an opponent without overextending
the resources of their controller.
Playing the white
Not much has to be said. Play two or three creatures then keep attacking and use your other spells to deal with anything the opponent plays that warrants a response. Very rarely will you play a non-creature spell before your creatures (usually Land Tax, but Seal of Cleansing is appropriate in some cases, such as vs. Trix).
A common newbie mistake is to stop attacking once the opponent plays a powerful blocker (such as the protection from white Wildfire Emissary). If, say, the opponent is at 6 life and one has three Knights in play, one should still attack. You will lose one Knight per attack, but enough will get through to deal exactly 6 damage. Most situations are more complicated, but you must always project the damage an all-out rush can do (especially with Cursed Scroll, Army of Allah or Reverent Mantra).
WW is not a defensive deck even if its weenies have powerful defensive abilities. If one is not attacking with some creatures, it is only to tempt the opponent to open himself up and attack, while in the mean time flyers and/or shadow creatures whittle away at the opponent's life. As a slower opponent regains control of the initiative and as WW's position deteriorates, one is even better off risking an all-out attack despite the possibility of a powerful foil such as Wrath of God, since one is lost if the opponent has the card, anyway.
Still, a temporary defensive stance can provide offensive openings later on. One important WW defensive skill is the gang block. Remember that you can block a single creature with many weenies all at once, and this is more complicated in WW due to protection, redirection, first strike and other combat abilities. The idea is that by blocking a 3/4 with two 2/2s you are able to trade a 2/2 for the 3/4, then attack with the survivor.
Sometimes, especially when your life total is not critically low, you will opt not to block, since killing one 2/2 with an instant or a timely Giant Growth means you lose both blockers to the attacker. Other times, it is simpler to chump block, or to sacrifice a lone blocker to a larger creature to keep yourself alive while the other weenies attack.
(A more comprehensive
guide to the white weenies is included in the appendixes.)
WW Removal spells are the basic non-creature component of the deck and can be divided into creature removal and artifact/enchantment removal.
The basic WW creature-removal spell is Swords to Plowshares, and it is the most powerful creature removal spell in the game. It can kill nearly any creature in existence for 1 mana and removes the creature from the game as well (important against regenerating creatures, and others such as Academy Rector, Nether Spirit, Ashen Ghoul, and key creatures of Recurring Nightmare decks). The life gain is rarely relevant, since removing an important creature is worth it (and the opponent will lose the life when you attack, anyway). However, remember that when desperate you may remove your own creature and gain life. Swords to Plowshares must be used sparingly because WW decks often have little creature removal. Play it at the last possible moment (usually right before an opposing attacker's damage is assigned) and only against targets your creatures on the board cannot handle (for example, a Prodigal Sorcerer may be a necessary target even if it is just a 1/1). When using it to remove recurring creatures such as Nether Spirit, note that an opponent can kill his own creature in response to prevent it from being removed from the game (for example, use up the counters on a Spike Weaver and use Recurring Nightmare to return it into play later on), so play around such opportunities (wait till an opponent is tapped out, for example).
Unlike black, white has no other reliable cheap creature-removal spell. The closest are Pacifism (does not kill the creature), Last Breath (useless against larger creatures) and Exile (useless against creatures that use abilities instead of attacking). If additional removal is required, artifacts are often brought in. These are commonly Cursed Scroll and Masticore, though Aeolipile, Torture Chamber, Rod of Ruin, Serrated Biskelion and Serrated Arrows are also playable in casual games.
The exception is
Balance, and it requires careful play to maximize it. Balance is normally
played as a fallback in WW when it finds all its creatures somehow eliminated,
as this spell will then kill all the opponent's creatures. (Try not to
be too obvious when setting this up, though. Hold back your lone Savannah
Lion, for example, to block against two Juzam Djinns instead of curiously
attacking with it, as the intelligent opponent will let it through unblocked,
and your Balance will only kill one Djinn.). However, when Balance
is played, because WW has cheaper spells and plays faster, Balance often
forces an opponent to discard and lose land as well. If one has very few
or no cards in hand, a well-timed Balance can force an opponent to lose
his cards (and since Balance does not affect artifacts and enchantments,
Tax/Rack or a single Rebel searcher can quickly rebuild one's advantage).
The classic combo is Balance + Zuran Orb, which forces both players to
lose all their land, a position WW can recover from more quickly. (However,
note that after Fifth Edition an intelligent opponent is allowed to counter
Balance after the WW player has responded to his own Balance by sacrificing
all his land).
It can be argued that Disenchant is the most powerful common spell in the game, and it is often all the WW player needs to cover this part of the deck. The only question is whether to use Disenchant or Seal of Cleansing.
The Seal's advantage is that it can be used later while spending the mana now (important for decks that spend a lot of mana every turn, such as Rebel decks), and that it cannot be discarded or countered later on (important against decks such as Trix in Extended). It also frees up one of the seven card slots in your hand (important for decks with the Land Tax / Scroll Rack combo, but hardly important for others). The main and largest drawback is its zero surprise value, so one should not use Seal of Cleansing unless one of the advantages above is required. The other drawback is that the opponent can Disenchant the Seal before playing a key artifact or enchantment. Of course, decks using a token Enlightened Tutor will do well to use one Seal of Cleansing, so that they can use the Tutor for the Disenchant effect when necessary.
Do note that Seal of Cleansing and Disenchant can be used to kill artifact creatures (including pesky Mishra's Factories). Other choices can be used as needed, such as Aura of Silence against enchantment- or artifact-heavy decks and Abolish in extremely fast WW decks. When even more firepower is needed, specialized spells such as Dust to Dust and Peace and Quiet are available.
Again, the ability
to bring in up to 15 extra Disenchant variants during tournaments is a
key strength of WW. Normally, however, the WW deck only has 2-4 Disenchants,
so they must be used sparingly (do not, for example, Disenchant a Mox before
your opponent plays a Nevinyrral's Disk or Moat).
The average WW can run only 18 to 20 land, though it must run more if using Armageddon (to allow for faster recovery), Cursed Scroll (because this needs 5 mana to be effective; 2 to cast the spell drawn and 3 to use the Scroll) or Rebels (because they need a lot of mana).
A more important detail is the amount of white mana, not the number of mana sources. This is because many key WW spells need two white mana to cast and drawing colorless mana early in the game can slow one down. Note that Chanpheng's deck listed below has 24 lands, but could not use less since 1/3 of these did not produce white mana. A minimum of 16 white mana sources should be included, and even then, this may not be enough to allow you to consistently play a knight and a Savannah Lions or Land Tax on your third turn.
The most important nonbasic lands are Strip Mine and Wasteland. Since one has cheaper spells, one can use these to disrupt an opponent and slow his defense, or to destroy lands that slow your own offense such as Maze of Ith and Mishra's Factory.
A classic WW nonbasic land is Kjeldoran Outpost, which generates 1/1 creatures that help the deck when it runs out of cards. This land can generate emergency chump blockers, a stream of 1/1s to gang block, or simply a 1/1 at the end of the opponent's turn to expand one's army until it has enough soldiers to attack with. Do remember to tap the land sacrificed to Kjeldoran Outpost for mana before sacrificing it, which is very useful when monitoring a Land Tax. Also note that destroying Kjeldoran Outpost effectively destroys two lands, which makes it unreliable in other decks (but WW can run with two Plains).
Another classic nonbasic is Mishra's Factory, which provides four extra attackers that survive effects such as Wrath of God and Nevinyrral's Disk. Remember to cast spells before setting aside mana to activate the Factory, though. Also remember that it is an excellent blocker after Sixth Edition, as it can tap to turn itself into a 3/3 after it blocks a creature. (Remember this, even when playing without it, as a 3/3 can block and kill almost every commonly played white weenie.) A recent Type II substitute is Forbidden Watchtower, which is a stronger blocker but weaker attacker. Unlike Mishra's Factory, this produces white mana.
A powerful but lesser-used land is Thawing Glaciers, which can be too slow for many WW decks or less powerful than Land Tax. It is important for more mana-hungry decks such as Rebels, and gives Scroll Rack another way to reshuffle the top of the library. When playing this, be sure to play Plains first so that the Thaws do not stall the offense.
Serra's Sanctum is a curious card I like to include in decks that use Land Tax and Scroll Rack. It is the only white land that produces more than 1 mana, which is important when using Land Tax and very powerful late game in a deck with Land Tax, Seal of Cleansing and Crusade. However, its drawback is that it can be awkward in the early game if one does not draw a Land Tax or two Plains (one generally wants to play the creatures first then play the enchantments while attacking).
The Sanctum's cousin Gaea's Cradle provides a more straightforward boost to the Rebel deck's offense, but is useless to normal WW decks.
Note that all lands that come into play tapped must not be used in WW, because they slow the deck. Most WW decks have important first-turn plays from Land Tax to Mother of Runes to Ramosian Sergeant for Rebel decks.
In casual games,
the white Legendary Lands are fun. Karakas bounces Legends (not other legendary
permanents, just Legends) including your own, which is great under Sixth
Edition rules. Kor Haven is better for an offensive deck than Maze of Ith
because it does not stop the blocker from dealing damage and does not untap
the attacker, though it is mana intensive.
These are the 8 to 12 "open" slots of the WW structure, and often end up being the differentiating factor in the deck. The classic "trick" is Crusade, which pumps up the weenies, but various Type II weenie decks have used the most powerful white cards available, from Cataclysm to Parallax Wave.
Crusade is the most overrated WW card ever printed. It grows more and more powerful as more creatures are played, but the WW deck should not have more than 2 or 3 creatures in play at a time. Three 2/2s and two 2/2s backed by a Crusade still deal the same amount of damage, but a Crusade cannot do anything by itself (meaning that if an opponent has two Lightning Bolts, the player with the third 2/2 instead of the Crusade can still attack). Note that Chanpheng's World Champion deck below does not use Crusades. However, it does make creatures sturdier in combat and protects them against permanent removal abilities such as Cursed Scroll and Masticore and sideboard cards such as Dread of Night and Massacre. After Pro Tour Chicago 2000, Alex Shvartsman opined,
"For example, I would have lost one match on Day 1 to a guy with a lot of mana and a pair of Pyre Zombies… except that the game lasted for a while and I had two Crusades in play, so they could not off my guys easily at all."
He used Crusade despite the large number of Rebel decks in the tournament (Crusade gives an opponent's white creatures +1/+1 as well). He explained, "I think Crusades are worth it and only sideboard them out in the mirror." Most other WW players did not use Crusades, however, including Kai Budde, who won the last game of the finals with an WW's classic Armageddon.
Crusade is powerful; the WW player just has to recognize that it is best used in decks that can play more creatures more quickly. Decks using the Tax/Rack combo such as the sample deck at the start of this article are examples. In that particular deck, Crusades enhance the power of Serra's Sanctum and makes Kjeldoran Outpost very dangerous as well. This aspect of Crusade was seen in Rebel decks that could quickly search for large numbers of smaller Rebels.
The closest alternative to Crusade is Glorious Anthem, which does not affect opposing white creatures and affects the nonwhite creatures of its controller. However, the extra mana in its casting cost can be crucial for WW. A more classic alternative is Jihad from Arabian Nights, which gives a 2 power bonus instead of 1, but is very difficult to keep in play. A few others are obscure and mediocre, with Ice Age's Call to Arms being an awkward and weaker Jihad and Tempest's Gerrard's Battle Cry simply costing too much. A better "classic" alternative is Army of Allah, which provides a temporary advantage unlike Crusade. With its surprise value, this common can deal 6 extra points of combat damage (quite enough to kill an opponent), or allow first strikers to kill larger blockers. The Ice Age common Morale was the original weaker but easier-to-find cousin, but Vision's Warrior's Honor and Mercadian Masques's Ramosian Rally with its alternate casting cost have superseded it as the budget replacement. Unlike Army of Allah, these can also be used outside combat to save creatures from damage effects.
Crusades and Glorious
Anthems were used to maximum effect in the 1999 US Nationals, due to a
loophole with the obscure Waylay. Creating tokens after end of turn effects
were checked allowed them to survive and attack the following turn. Thus,
Waylay was nicknamed "White (Ball) Lightning" during the short time that
this trick was legal.
WaylayIn fact, Waylay so thouroughly dominated the environment during the time the trick was legal, that Kyle Rose won the 1999 US National Championship with it. His decklist, for the curious:
UnCommon, Urza's Saga
Put three Knight tokens into play. Treat these tokens as 2/2 white creatures. Remove them from the game at the end of turn.
Errata: Play only during combat. ; Put three 2/2 white Knight creature tokens into play. Remove them from the game at end of turn. [Oracle 99/07/28]
Flavor Text: You reek of corruption," spat the knight. "Why are you even here?
The three tokens do have summoning sickness. This means they cannot attack unless you have an effect that allows them to ignore summoning sickness. [D'Angelo 98/11/20]
Before the errata, you could play this card during a player's End of Turn step and let the tokens live through the following turn. It can now only be played during combat. [D'Angelo 99/07/29]
Artist: Greg Stapes
Note the increased number of 1/1s partly to avoid having too many 2-mana cards.
Kyle Rose's Waylay White
1999 US National Champion, Type II
4 Mother of Runes
4 Soul Warden
4 Soltari Foot Soldier
4 Longbow Archers
4 Soltari Priest
4 Warrior en-Kor
2 Glorious Anthem
3 Field Surgeon
2 Wrath of God
Land Tax + Scroll
This is the most powerful combo available to WW, and gives it something all other weenie decks (after Necropotence was restricted) lack: card drawing. This usually requires a Zuran Orb to work best. It can also fit into any white deck, not just WW.
The combo's nickname, "White Necro" is apt. Eric Taylor commented, "I think that if you put the Buehler Lauerpotence deck side by side with the Buehler 1.x Tax/Rack deck you will see they are really the same archetype, one using Necropotence as the card drawer, the other using Land Tax."
The combo works by keeping one less land than the opponent, then using Land Tax during upkeep. The three lands can be turned into three new cards by using Scroll Rack, and the three land on top of the library are reshuffled away next turn when Land Tax is used again.
The combo was introduced
in the first Extended environment. After a high-profile win using a Necropotence
deck, Randy Buehler won the North American Extended Championships with
a Tax/Rack deck:
Early Extended Tax/Rack WW, Randy Buehler
North American Extended Championship Winner
4 Savannah Lions
2 Gorilla Shaman
4 Soltari Priest
4 White Knight
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Swords to Plowshares
Card Drawing (7)
4 Land Tax
3 Scroll Rack
4 Mox Diamond
1 Kjeldoran Outpost
2 Gaea's Blessing
3 Aura of Silence
2 Suleiman's Legacy
2 Honorable Passage
2 Sand Golem
Note that the low number of creatures and larger number of mana slots is misleading, given the deck's card drawing power and the large amount of removal. Eric further explains, "When you go "Land Tax" its the same as "going Necro." That is if you look at a Necropotence deck it will seem to have too few creatures. You might have 8 or 9 creatures, so it looks like you can't go beatdown with it. Eric continues:
However, once you play Necropotence, and start drawing 3 or 4 cards per turn, all of a sudden you have plenty of creatures, so if you have more than that you will begin having too high of a creature density after you "go Necro." A Land Tax deck works the same way, in that you might have 12 or so creatures, which don't seem enough as a typical white weenie will play 20 or more creatures, but once you "go Land Tax" which means Ancestralling each turn it is plenty.
When your creature density is so low you can't really play Empyrial Armor, because with only 12 creatures in the deck if you play 4 armors that's 3 creatures for each armor. Basically you need a relatively low creature density so when you go into Land Tax mode you don't have too many creatures. However, having such a low creature density also makes it difficult to play creature enchancers, which is why good Necro decks and good Land Tax lands play as if they are weenie decks but they almost never play enchancers like bad moon, crusade or empyrial armor.
The deck also demonstrates the power of Tithe (discussed later) which let Buehler supplement the deck with red removal and Firestorm, which meshes well with Land Tax and was also a prominent feature of his previous Necropotence deck. Tithe also allowed the splash of Gaea's Blessing, which allowed Buehler to reuse certain spells (such as Wasteland against control decks, Swords to Plowshares against creature-heavy decks and Disenchant against certain combos) and try to draw them again with Tax/Rack. At worst, Gaea's Blessing allowed him to reshuffle with Scroll Rack when no Land Tax was in play. A year later, however, Eric commented:
I asked Randy to try out Gaea's Blessing in the sideboard only (this is definitely not a main deck card) so he would be able to deal a bit better with control decks. In retrospect I think the Blessing is a mistake, and it would have been better to sideboard specific creatures to win against various deck archetypes instead of this recycler, but at this point, it's impossible to say for sure how the deck should have been played as it's impossible to test ideas in a tournament setting for that card mix.
Note that this deck's Extended environment was far more creature-heavy than the present, and was much slower (yes, Trix did not exist then). An important difference between this Extended deck (Land Tax is banned in the present Extended) and Type I decks is that Mox Diamond is unrestricted in Extended, but restricted in Type I. Mox Diamond allows a Tax/Rack deck to use the combo even with just one land.
As Buehler wrote
Early playtesting revealed that cards like Wildfire Emissary, Phyrexian Warbeast, Armageddon, and Empyrial Armor, which sound like they should be good in this deck, are in fact way too expensive. The key is to be able to operate on virtually no land so that you always win the Land Tax war. Eric Taylor drove this point home by explaining how he was able to beat PT-Jank when he qualified for LA with a Tax/Rack weenie-bolt deck. Eric's deck could operate efficiently on two lands while the Jank player would eventually accumulate a hand full of Frenetics (Efreet), (Suq'Ata) Lancers, and Cursed Scrolls. At some point the Jank player has to put down a third land, let you Tax, cross his fingers, and lose. The addition of Mox Diamonds to the Tax/Rack deck does not change this fundamental interaction, it just means that the Tax war occurs at one land (or zero) instead of two.
Individually, the Tax/Rack cards are already powerful. Scroll Rack does not draw new cards, but allows the player to replace less useful cards (such as surplus Plains) with fresh ones. Effects that reshuffle from Tithe to Thawing Glaciers to Rebels make the card much more effective.
Land Tax has been a staple since the days WW stood up against Necropotence, with Land Tax countering devastating random discards such as Hymn to Tourach. Playing the Tax should be carefully timed since it may interfere with the offense, but a first-turn Land Tax over a Savannah Lion can be justified when playing second against a slower deck. Whether or not one has Scroll Rack, one should draw as many Plains as possible, and discard the rest. The WW player needs very few Plains to run, and does not want to draw Plains later in the game. With Scroll Rack in the deck, one should draw or discard all but three Plains from the library. Finally, note that though it is thought of as an anti-discard buffer, Land Tax is also the nightmare of the land destruction player, especially those playing red or black and without enchantment removal.
Outside casual play,
however, Eric commented:
Land Tax decks have never worked in Type I. Land Tax is as broken as Necropotence in 1.5 or 1.x but in Type I you have so many different ways to refill—Windfall, Wheel, Yawgmoth's Will, Bargain, Necro—that the power of the Tax/Rack to draw 3 cards every turn isn't enough given everyone has Moxes and it's hard to guareentee you will have less land. It seems like you should be able to win with it, but so far nobody has been successful.
Other regulars on Beyond Dominia disagree, however, especially after the restriction of Necropotence. Many of the card drawers mentioned affect both players, but are still easily splashable in WW (see Tithe below). Gorilla Shaman is also splashable to handle opposing Moxes. A solid white WW deck can still have a powerful engine with Tax/Rack to compete, assuming it does not splash colors (and the strongest non-Trix Necrodeck was proven to be Michael Long's mono black 1999 Invitational deck, showing that Necropotence is more powerful than even Ancestral Recall), and maintain a very stable mana base that cannot be disrupted by Dwarven Miner and Wasteland.
In any case, note
that one only needs 3-4 Plains to use the Tax/Rack engine. However,
one will be unable to remove the surplus land from one's library.
Destroying all land in play is advantageous to WW because it has Land Tax available and because it needs to draw less land to recover. Ideally, one plays Armageddon when one has a stronger creature force than the opponent and especially when the opponent has no creatures (though one may Armageddon when the board is empty to stall the opponent as well). Be careful of sacrificing land to Zuran Orb however, because the opponent can counter Armageddon after the lands are sacrificed.
Finally, cards like Armageddon are the reason why players should not play more land than needed. Even if the opponent does not have cards like Armageddon, holding extra Plains in hand gives the impression that you have more threats in hand, and helps against random discard effects such as Hymn to Tourach.
potent cousin, Wrath of God, is used by slower WW decks to reset the board
if the opponent gains a creature advantage, but it is normally counter-intuitive
since weenie decks will usually have more creatures than the opponent.
Pooh's Gun, Sean Mc Keown (known as "Gandalf" during his stint at Beyond Dominia)
Ninth place due to tiebreakers, 1998 New York State Championships, Type II
(From the team that brought you the Stupid Green Deck... Team Pooh's Gun!)
4 White Knight
4 Soltari Priest
2 Soltari Monk
4 Warrior en-Kor
3 Paladin en-Vec
4 Tradewind Riders
4 Mox Diamond
4 City of Brass
1 Reflecting Pool
2 Adarkar Wastes
3 Sleight of Mind
Sean "Gandalf" Mc Keown further demonstrates the flexibility of WW. He splashed blue into the basic structure to take advantage of a powerful weenie base and Armageddon. After reviewing the draft of this Primer, Sean described the deck and explained,
"It took advantage of one other thing that you didn't include as an interesting idea, despite all of your talk about Armageddon. This deck did the usual W/R trick, but with an addition of Blue for the power of Tradewind Rider to further break combo decks and control decks' backs."
Splashing colors will be discussed below with Tithe, but here one notes that the red is significant not just for extra removal, but for Pyroblasts to disrupt the dreaded Academy decks which were rising in popularity in the Urza's Saga Type II of the time. (The deck was Type II, and could not use dual lands and Tithe, however.)
Sean further explains:
This is my very own Pooh's Gun, which was able to win 4-5 State Championships tournaments and become a Dojo Deck To Beat within 2 weeks of my playing it. I finished ninth on tiebreakers with itCursed Scroll
As to how the deck came about... like the rest of my decks, I had a lot of decks I was testing, and I kept losing to 'the big deck', so I got pissed off and designed a deck that wouldn't lose to it anymore. With the other big decks expected to be Hatred, Sligh, and Counter-Phoenix, the creature base was right on, as were the rest of the cards in the deck, especially considering how big of a problem Tradewind Rider was for a lot of decks, especially Tradewind with Armageddon. It was my first delve into an anti-combo aggro- control deck, though looking back I guess a good Merfolk deck would have been truly savage :)
However, the Meltdowns (in the sideboard, against Academy's cheap artifacts) never proved functional, and were frequently replaced with instant-speed answers. Mana Leak was almost worth it, but Memory Lapse was what finally made it into the SB, as "just about anything that's Instant speed" was the consideration as soon as I realized how completely ineffectual Meltdown was at solving the problem.
Obviously, this card is not for use with Armageddon and Tax/Rack, though it is usable with Land Tax. Weenie decks packing this should also have a little more land than normal weenie decks and consistently reach 4 or 5 mana by midgame.
Note that because
it is one of few reusable abilities available to WW, it can be considered
similar to card drawing. It is the simplest and most effective trick available
to any Post-Tempest weenie deck, including White Weenie (that is, any deck
not relying on funkier engines such as Armageddon, Empyreal Armor and Tax/Rack
should almost automatically pack the Scroll).
These spells often boost the power of creatures directly, such as Empyreal Armor, but are more dangerous to play than Crusade because if the creature dies two cards are lost instead of one. An opponent can also kill a creature with damage in response to Empyreal Armor (with a Lightning Bolt, for example) with the same result. Empyreal Armor, however, is very powerful with Land Tax and was paired with Cataclysm in past winning Type II decks.
Other enchantments are weaker; even Brillant Halo which returns to hand after the creature it enchants is killed, and Vision's Sun Clasp which can be returned to hand. Other casual favorites that boost power and toughness include Blessing and Serra's Embrace. A few instants mimic these effects, and the favorite is Righteousness which gives any blocker +7/+7 (and Gallantry, the cantrip equivalent). With Righteousness, do note that it is useful only when blocking, something the WW deck should not ideally be doing. Also note how fun it would be to give a creature +7/+7, though. If short on cards, one can even fill in the enhancements in one's WW structure with cards such as Tawnos' Weaponry for a surprise effect, and still have a playable casual deck.
A different type of enchantment is Spirit Link, which can be played on an opponent's creature to negate its attack damage. It is more commonly played in decks with fewer creatures, but can be tried out with shadows. It is not very good in WW since the enchanted creature can still block.
Perhaps one of the most flexible creature enchantments is Cho-Manno's Blessing a playable version of a concept as old as Ice Age's Prismatic Ward and Mirage's Ward of Lights. Note that it can be played as an instant to counter spells aimed at a creature or as a surprise during combat, but you may want to play it when an opponent is tapped out to reduce the chances of having the creature killed in response to playing the Blessing.
Of course, the most
basic rule of playing creature enchantments is to make sure you have enough
creatures to play them on in the first place! Some decks such as those
using Tax/Rack may use a lower creature count to make room for more tricks,
so creature enchantments are not usually a good idea there.
Enlightened Tutor was restricted in Type I because it could power insane combo decks, but when it was first introduced in the Mirage block, it was a mediocre WW card. It causes a WW player to lose his next draw, which is crucial for an aggressive deck, and not worth the ability to fetch just a Crusade, Empyreal Armor or Land Tax.
It must be noted
that later expansions made Enlightened Tutor far more flexible. The modern
WW deck can use it to fetch Land Tax or Scroll Rack for the combo, Seal
of Cleansing for the Disenchant option, or Masticore as a creature or creature
remover. It can also fetch various other tricks when present such as Worship
or Story Circle, or even more obscure tricks such as Aeolipile.
An alternative to Armageddon, this one is somewhat trickier. Normally, this should not be as useful since an opponent's creature might be larger than one's best white weenie. Decks constructed around Cataclysm get around this, however.
The most popular version uses Empyreal Armor and shadows, and aims to have a large unblockable attacker post-Cataclysm. Other decks try to abuse Tax/Rack, or play Mishra's Factory and artifacts such as Phyrexian War Beast or Masticore to end up with three creatures instead of one after Cataclysm.
Note that unlike
Balance, Cataclysm does not affect cards in hand, and cards such as Land
Tax and Tithe can help the WW player prepare.
This is similar in philosophy to Armageddon, and is another classic weenie card. WW functions well under this as it has cheaper spells, though it should not be used with Tax/Rack, Cursed Scroll, Rebels, or creatures with activation costs such as pump knights. It is best played immediately after an opponent casts an expensive spell.
A similar but newer
alternative is Tangle Wire.
The power card of more recent WW decks, this card essentially removes three opposing creatures for two turns, which can be all a WW deck needs. It can also remove a friendly creature to save it from an opposing spell or after damage has been assigned to an opposing creature. Note that unlike Cursed Scroll, it is useless against creatureless decks, but provides a powerful swing when played on a board filled with creatures. (But beware of having this Disenchanted at an awkward moment.)
Parallax Wave combos
with Monk Idealist to remove four creatures from the game at the cost of
four mana each turn.
More useful than the original spell with its "pitch" concept (Scars of the Veteran from Alliances), this card can instantly protect any or all creatures from an opponent's spell. It can be devastating when used to make all of one's creatures unblockable, especially in a deck with Tax/Rack or Rebel searchers.
The surprise value of the alternate casting cost is especially important, almost giving white a Force of Will. Explaining his Post-Invasion Type II Rebel deck, Alex Shvartsman explained,
"It is CRUCIAL to be able to cast Mantra for free. You usually spend it in the first few turns when you are tapped out. The deck does not want Cho Manno's Blessings, does not have room to play them, and does not want to keep 2 mana untapped to save a creature instead of tapping out to search."
Reverent Mantra can be played to save just one creature if needed, and Alex's deck was quite willing to use it to protect a crucial Ramosian Sergeant on the first turn, just to keep WW's momentum.
An older equivalent
with a similar function is Alliance's Martyrdom, and this protects the
player from damage as well. It should be funny in a casual deck with en-Kors.
Worship and Pariah
These two have a similar function, which is to save the player from the last point of damage. Both work well with protection creatures, though Worship also works well with Rebel searchers. Pariah is best played on an en-Kor.
Though both are negated by mass destruction and loss of life effects, they have their individual drawbacks. Worship still leaves a player at 1 life, which can be awkward if suddenly Disenchanted. Pariah prevents all damage, but is more vulnerable since the enchanted creature can be taken out by non-damage effects or by a source of colorless damage such as Cursed Scroll.
Pariah provides an additional trick in that it can be played on an opposing creature to negate the opponent's next attack and kill the enchanted creature. Pariah is also the favorite WW trick of Shadow, owner of Beyond Dominia (Actually, my favorite WW trick is to play SGD instead, though Pariah is kind of fun, very flexible. --Shadow =).
These are highly
defensive cards that do not fit into the normal strategy of WW, but are
powerful enough to justify a random slot or two, if desired, especially
in a casual or more control-oriented deck.
This fills in a slot that would be filled by Worship or Pariah, as it is another flexible and highly defensive card. Note that it ties up mana and does not affect artifact sources, however. It can be powerful against mono-color decks and decks with only one source of damage such as Nether Spirit and Morphling.
Like Worship and Pariah, it is a defensive card that does not fit into the normal strategy, but is powerful enough to merit a random slot or two, especially in a casual or more control-oriented deck.
The predecessor of
Story Circle as the all-purpose Circle of Protection was Legends' Greater
Realm of Preservation. Note that Story Circle (and Runes of Protection)
differ from CoPs in that they are activated only by white mana.
A classic companion of weenie decks, this shuts down decks with higher-power attackers, though the big creatures can still block. A deck with Meekstone plays without Crusade but can still use pump-knights, which are unaffected by Meekstone.
The soul of the mono-white Deck Parfait control deck designed by Raphael Caron aka K-Run that captured the imagination of Beyond Dominia regulars, this is nevertheless useful in more conventional WW decks. It is more powerful than Kjeldoran Outpost as it produces flying tokens, but requires an upkeep of 1W in a deck not designed to generate large amounts of mana. However, it is similar in use to the Outpost.
A few more token
producers exist for WW such as Spirit Mirror.
This is another defensive card that is only useful when one is about to die. Though one Orb has been a token in many casual and even competitive decks since Ice Age, this card does not contribute to the WW strategy, except to provide a panic button. The exception is when using Tax/Rack, as this ensures that the opponent cannot simply stop playing land to stop the combo.
A basic rule is not
to play the card until you need it, in case of something like a Nevinyrral's
Disk or Gorilla Shaman.
Though a powerful anti-red card, it can simply be used to save a creature or to negate a large chunk of damage, and can be powerful if timed right. Honorable Passage is preferred to its cousin Shadowbane since dealing damage is more important to WW than gaining life.
The original alternative
was Reverse Damage, and though fun, this does not fit in with WW's strategy.
Similar in purpose to Honorable Passage, this is the most efficient variant of Healing Salve ever printed. It can be powerful if timed right in a board filled with creatures.
An old but cute Alliances card, this simply ensures that the next cards you draw can attack and block. It is best used in a deck with diverse abilities, so you can fetch your dead shadows, Mothers of Runes, or larger blockers as needed.
Peace of Mind
White weenie is not normally concerned with life gain, but players using Land Tax may want to have fun with this obscure uncommon (swap 3 Plains for 9 life). Ivory Tower is another casual option, though a slower one.
(although this is
a powerful anti-RecSur sideboard, and a desperate WW sideboards this against
the deck which is practically all creatures and hopes to gain the edge
with its Crusades)
Honor the Fallen
A deceptive rare, this card is not used for life gain. It is white's most powerful weapon against decks that use the graveyard, and allows white weenie the flexibility to remove Squees, Shard Phoenixes, Nether Spirits and Ashen Ghouls at instant speed.
White's nastiest anti-discard measure after Land Tax. Mangara's Blessing and Sand Golem are more classic foils. Of course, WW, with its cheap spells, protection from black and fast-emptying hand holds its own against discard decks even without help.
The new split cards bears mention, since some players used this Disenchant variant with an altered land base to allow WW to play with Giant Growth without sacrifice card slots. In casual decks, this would probably be accompanied by green's more powerful Rancor.
Hey… why not try
it in a casual deck?
Set: Arabian Nights
Errata: Players play a subgame, using their libraries as their decks. Each player who doesn't win the subgame loses half of his or her life, rounded up. After the subgame, players shuffle their subgame decks and return them to their libraries. The subgame has no ante, and using less than the required number of cards is legal. [Oracle 99/09/03]
No, this card is more annoying than you imagine :-(
If a card is removed from the game (from Disintegrate or whatever) in the sub-game it is shuffled back in before returning to the main game. [Jackson 00/04/19] (REVERSAL)
The player who chose whether to go first or play first in the parent game gets to make the same choice in the sub-game. [Oracle 98/07/01]
At the start of the sub-game both players draw their initial hand (usually 7 cards. If one player has fewer cards than required, that player loses. If both have fewer than required, both players lose. [Oracle 98/07/01]
A player with less than 0 life cannot lose life as a result of the sub-game since half of their life total is considered to be zero. [Oracle 98/07/01]
Events in a Shahrazad sub-game do not trigger abilities in the main game. And continuous effects in the main game do not carry over into the sub-game. [bethmo 98/12/11]
The subgame is part of the main game. [Oracle 98/07/01]
Type 1 tournaments (see Rule D.13) banned this card from 94/01/25 until 99/10/01; Type 1.5 tournaments (see Rule D.14) banned this card until 99/10/01.
Artist: Kaja Foglio P/T: N/A Released: 12/1993
Some WW decks ran this and a total of 30 lands or cards that fetched lands (including Tithe and Land Tax) because of the card advantage, library thinning and the synergy with Cursed Scroll. Like Land Tax, its natural companion is the Mox (even Mox Diamond, which can be played first-turn to power Tithe, which fetches land to be played next).
In Type I, however, Tithe shines because it can fetch dual lands that count as Plains, making WW the weenie deck that best accommodates splashed colors (aside from green). Ideally, it should be played as soon as drawn or immediately before the next untap, but it can also be played in response to your own Wasteland or Strip Mine (when you may have one less land than the opponent for a short time).
Mirage fetch lands such as Flood Plain are an excellent complement to Tithe as they fetch dual lands. Use them during your upkeep to slightly decrease the probability of drawing a land. (You can even use off-color duals or a misleading choice of fetch land to bluff the opponent, as shown below, though you risk being vulnerable to cards that affect non-basic lands. The bluff can become more complicated when you actually use cards of that color in your sideboard but none main deck, such as the Gaea's Blessings in the deck of Randy Buehler cited above.)
The most logical
color to splash is red because of White's deficiency in the creature removal
department. Earthquake also combos well with protection creatures and en-Kors,
and a Firestorm backed by Tithe or Land Tax can clear the other side of
the board or kill the opponent outright. In fact, WW decks splashed with
red and other colors are specifically known as Jank decks, and are usually
Justin Gary, 1999 World Championships
Top 8 in Extended
4 Savannah Lions
1 Soltari Monk
4 Soltari Priest
4 Warrior en-Kor
1 White Knight
1 Paladin en-Vec
2 Phyrexian War Beast
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Swords to Plowshares
4 Cursed Scroll
2 Aura of Silence
3 Flood Plain
4 Mishra's Factory
1 Aura of Silence
1 Blood Moon
3 Red Elemental Blast
4 Sanctum Guardian
1 Swords to Plowshares
This is the last WW deck I played before the Philippine Extended season began, which emphasized synergy with Earthquake. Note that splashing colors makes WW slower, which showed against faster and commonly played Sligh decks I hoped to beat. (Looking back, I regretted not playing my Cursed Scrolls and Masticores, too.)
Rakso's Extended White Weenie
4 Soltari Priest
4 Paladin en-Vec
4 Warrior en-Kor
4 Frenetic Efreet
4 Swords to Plowshares
3 Seal of Cleansing
4 Mana Leak
1 Honorable Passage
4 City of Brass
2 Mox Diamond
1 Seal of Cleansing
3 Mana Short
1 Honorable Passage
Blue is an old favorite, but mainly allows Mana Leaks (and Annuls, in addition to Disenchants). Sleight of Mind and equivalents are an old favorite and combo well with protection creatures, as seen even in Chanpheng's World Championship deck (WW decks with Sleight of Mind are nicknamed Sleight-Knight decks). Naturally, the power cards of Type I are in blue.
Splashing other colors is beyond the scope of this primer, but the basic idea is to use nonwhite spells that require only one colored mana and cover areas where white is weaker. This may even include creatures, such as evasive flyers such as Frenetic Efreet. The tradeoff is a less consistent mana base and a vulnerability to cards such as Wasteland and Price of Progress.
A good example of
really juiced-up WW is Nicolai Herzog's from the 1999 Invitational in Kuala
Lumpur, where one even sees elements of the Zoo engine (note Aura of Silence
was used against the broken Academy decks of the time):
Type I White Weenie, Nicolai HerzogAppendixes:
1999 Magic Invitational (Kuala Lumpur)
4 Savannah Lions
4 Soltari Monk
3 Order of Leitbur
3 Order of the White Shield
1 Gorilla Shaman
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Aura of Silence
1 Ancestral Recall
1 Time Walk
1 Mystical Tutor
1 Vampiric Tutor
1 Demonic Tutor
1 Wheel of Fortune
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Forsaken Wastes
1 Black Lotus
1 Mox Ruby
1 Mox Jet
1 Mox Pearl
1 Mox Diamond
1 City of Brass
1 Strip Mine
2 Seal of Cleansing
1 Diabolic Edict
1 Circle of Protection: Black
2 Swords to Plowshares
1 Aura of Silence
1 Price of Progress
2 Null Rod
1 Red Elemental Blast