Hello awesome people! I hope that you are having an awesome day today! Today I wanted to look at some of the best cards that reward you for pushing into a mono-color deck in the kitchen table like Commander and then reanalyze them. In today's era of cheap dual lands, the Triome mega cycle, and countless multicolored cards printed, we have a lot more ways to play this with more than one color than ever before, so we'll look at each mechanic in turn as well as some of the best cards printed. Today we'll start with mono-White and then move to the other colors in future articles.
Ready for the Mono-White Fun Times?
Ever since Land Tax, White has been the second best ramp color after Green, and its basic land fetching is tied to someone having more lands than you - more likely in multiplayer given the reliability of ramp. We also have many that just ramp out Plains, which we are looking at today. These two are different ways to ramp out Plains. The Surveyor is a three-drop vee with crew 2 and when it swings, if that person have more lands, ramp out a basic Plains. Good stuff. The Charger is a three-drop 2/1 with flying and when it leaves the battlefield from anything - bounce, death, exiling or tucking, you search out the difference in lands from you and a foe in Plains and ramp them, and that's any Plains, not just basics. Both ramp if a foe has more.
Now let's turn to a key pair that will always ramp, but get better if a foe has more. Tithe is a one-drop instant that will grab you any Plains and then two if a foe has more lands. Nasty for just one mana, and you'll always get a Plains - note any Plains, not just basics. The Map will fetch you two basic Plains for three mana but you can (any) drop lands for free if a foe drops lands when they have more than you. It's always a two for one, just basics, and free ramp under some circumstances.
Every color has Land-Cyclers in their color from the block that introduced it. We have four in White, the best in the cycle. Angel of the Ruins is a seven-drop 5/7 with flying and then when it arrives it can exile up to two artifacts or enchantments and they won't come back, so it's double removal on a stick. Eternal Dragon is also seven mana, flies, and then can be brought back from your graveyard for five mana in your upkeep and then recast or recycled either one. See also Timeless Dragon.
White Creature Pump
Ever since Crusade there have been cards that pump White things. The problem with Crusade is that it pumps your foe's stuff as well if it's White, not good for our aggro team. Enter stuff that only pump your White things like this pair. The Honor is the best of this effect ever printed, just two mana, easier to cast than Crusade, and it pumps just your White stuff by +1/+1. The Voices is a four-drop that gives both your artifacts and White stuff a +1/+1 as long as that is the only color you control. Nice right?
Check out Armored Ascension, a single-target pump but very strong. It gives the target a power and toughness boost and flying for each Plains you control. Nasty. It's a game winner in Commander since any Commander can win with the flying and mass pump even small ones that are cheap like Loran of the Third Path, even outside of Aura and enchantment-matters decks. Although it's stronger in those since you can tutor for it and recur it. As well as Voltron brews as well seeking to kill with Commander Damage. Again, reexamine this Aura's power in two color decks with your many duals and tri-lands.
There are a few instant combat tricks that will help your team out no matter what. Check out this trio as a good example. The Cry will untap your White stuff and pump their toughness by one if they block. A mass untapper at instant speed can turn an attack of opportunity on you to devastation, as well as the toughness pump saving some of your stuff.
Brave is a one-cost that gives your White team protection from the color of your choice. That has a massive amount of usages. For example, you can give it the color of the blockers and kill someone out of nowhere, or you can protect from a mass damage spell like Blasphemous Act or they can block that color without dying. Nice. Then the Pledge is a three-cost mass pumper by +2/+2 each. That's a very strong combat trick that can result in a massive amount of dorks surviving out of nowhere and killing multiple foes out of nowhere. Also note that's a strong two power, so you can kill out of nowhere in a denser creature attack front or with tokens. Strong trio of mass White combat tricks.
Landfall Boosts with Plains
Landfall brews are regularly in Green, but every color has landfall. There was a card printed that a basic landfall trigger, and then a better one if you dropped a Plains. Any Plains, not just basics. That's this Angel. For seven mana, you get a smaller 4/4 with flying. When you drop a land, if it was a Plains? Return any nonland permanent from your graveyard to the battlefield. It's a strong adjunct in anything from planeswalker brews that had their dork attacked or ultimated, or recursion creatures. It's also strong in an artifact deck with a self-sacrifice theme like Commander's Sphere or Expedition Map as well as in enchantment decks with things like Seal of Cleansing. See how good this is with dual lands and Triomes?
There was an uncommon Aura cycle printed long ago, with Genju in each color that could only enchant a certain land. You can spend mana to make that Plains a dork, and then it has an ability, in this case lifelink and it's 2/5 sized. Then when the Plains dies, return Genju to your hand for another go around the bin. That means you have a one drop enchantment that can be cast over and over again as long as you have Plains. It's a land animating Rancor. This is very strong in a few places - toughness matters, lifegain, Spirit tribe, enchantments, and auras. It's a forgotten card you should keep playing!
One unique method of evasion that each color only offers themselves save for Green that can walk them all, is Plainswalk. It's a bit...odd...how people that know Plains better than anyone can hide in them since it's hard to see how they can hide in open air, right? Anyways, this ability is rarely printed and on just three White dorks, one as early as Legends! Sad. Remember that with the massive number of duals, a foe playing White is likely to have at least one Plains. And most players are running three or more colors, so that's a 60% chance each foe with a 3-color deck is running Plains to walk.
The Highway is a powerful 6-drop enchantment that gives your White team Plainswalk. Nasty. It's also on a harder to answer enchantment but a bit pricey. The Antelope is a four-drop 1/4 with Plainswalk and then when it smashes face you can turn a land into Plains, so in multiplayer you can walk one, then give another a Plains, attack them etc. This also works on things like Maze of Ith to Plains-ify them. Cool stuff! Also don't forget one of the most worthless cards ever printed, Great Wall, will shut this down hard.
White is heavy with lifegain, and it's bigger here than pretty much any other color. The Ritual is a five-cost sorcery that will make 2 life per Plains. Remember what I said about Plains and duals? Exactly! Then you can easily grab 10 or 14 life from one spell, and then that's amazing in a life gain deck.
The Staff is a three-drop uncommon cycle that gains you a life each time you drop a Plains or cast a White spell. With all of the multicolored cards and dual lands triggering this, it's quite capable in decks with two colors. This is free and won't require any mana or other resources to use.
Don't forget Martyr of Sands! This thing can self sacrifice for a mana, reveal X White cards, and then gain X times 3 life - it could easily gain you 12 or 15 life from one card and two total mana, as well as blocking an attacker and then sacrificing to gain a ton of life. This also is great in lifegain, sacrifice matters and small stuff getting recurred like Sun Titan as well as in other decks I am sure that you'll think of!
There was an Incarnation cycle of uncommons that were printed long ago that gave your team a keyword if it was in your graveyard and you controlled that basic land type. Two of these are iconic at kitchen table and other formats like Standard - Wonder and Anger that give flying and haste respectively. Those two are just so powerful. Then Valor gives first strike. It's harder to answer - you need graveyard answers. Green's trample from Brawn is probably considered the third best since it gives a form of evasion, and then Filth's swampwalk also gives a form of evasion, so this is probably the last in the cycle - but hey, it exists!
We have some great removal options that are enhanced by running a bunch of Plains. In Standard, the Arms is very strong and leading to Mono-White decks doing good stuff. Also note that this exiles at sorcery speed with cost equal to or less than your Plains counts, and then they gain 3 life, which matters less in casual and Commander. Because it's a sorcery, it's worse than Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile, but it's a strong option.
The Colossus is a seven-drop 5/6 one more than you'd expect. When it ETBs, you can tuck any dork X cards where that is your Plains count. Just a pair of Plains will tuck it two cards, and that's card advantage and tempo and pseudo-removal on a stick.
Another way to encourage a mono-colored deck is to feature a mass removal spell that won't hit your stuff if it's White. Enter Mass Calcify. It will destroy anything that's not White, so that means in mono-White you'll save your team minus some colorless artifacts. Then you can also kill roughly 80% of your opposing dorks too. Sure, you might not kill them all, but you'll kill most in a multiplayer game. Strong mass removal spell. This often acts as a White and cheaper Plague Wind.
In the first set, pumping mechanics were added to every color other than Green. But this became iconic in White with the printing of the Pump Knights in back-to-back sets. Each costs two White, has a 2/1 body with protection from black, pumps the front by one each two mana spent and then can get first strike for one White. These encourage heavy play of White, which happened alongside of White Knight and Crusade to defeat the most powerful and dominant deck ever designed in Necropotence. These two could not be blocked, got a boost from Crusade, and then tapped out to pump power and kill in a way that could be answered, and in a deck that was losing life to draw cards. This duo and combo became iconic in the color ever since. We even had Rainbow Knights in the made-up world of Shandalar that has protection of a random color on arrival to the battlefield, so they just did a take on this pair.
Chroma and Devotion to White
Another big mono-colored ability debuted with chroma and then pushed it with devotion that got more powerful as you have more and more mana symbols in that color. Daxos has toughness equal to your White devotion count, so that's at least two including himself plus others. Then he acts as a Soul Warden for your stuff, is legendary for the Command Zone, and has value. Heliod is a three-drop 5/5 God with indestructible that's a dork if you have devotion to White equal to 5, and he counts himself. He can also turn life gain into a +1/+1 counter on a dork or enchantment you control as well as spending two mana to give someone lifelink. It obviously plays into a life gain space.
Check out a pair of uncommon 1/2s in Reverent Hoplite and Springjack Shepherd. The first is a five-drop Solider with one White that gives you 1/1 Soldiers equal to your devotion to White. Very strong in that color. The second is a four-drop Kithkin that makes your 0/1 Goats equal to your mana cost in White with chroma. Both make tokens en masse, and the first is clearly in the same genre as the second, and they both work well together in the same brew.
Check out a chroma variant of a team pump in Light from Within. Your stuff gets a +1/+1 boost for each White in its cost. That's a double boost to our Pump Knights, but costs twice as much as Honor of the Pure, so that makes sense. It's very strong in mono-White Aggro brews.
Another key way to increase the desire for mono-White is to run dorks with high White costs that are pretty strong, Linden is a key example. She is a three drop 3/3 with vigilance that costs 3. On curve. Then when a White dork you control attacks you gain a life, so she would work as the head of a mono-White Aggro deck in Commander or a life gain one. Then the Elemental gives you a 3/3 with evasion in flying and then it cannot take damage from any source, making it an ideal blocker in mono-White Control or an attacker that you don't have to worry about dying to combat tricks or flash deathtouch bodies like Winged Coatl. Nasty pair here!
Here's another pair of 3/3 on-curve bodies. The Knight is a Glorious Anthem on legs giving your other dorks a power and toughness boost, also strong for Aggro and tokens decks. The Bird has both flying and lifelink, so it's evasive, and gains life, in one on curve dork, so that works in multiple places from Bird tribal to Azorius flying matters and loads more. It's very strong and it has great numbers for its cost. Again, you can see how these pull you to playing mono-White, especially the Marshal.
Black debuted with a "Black-mana Matters" card in Drain Life. We have just one printed ever and it's legendary for those that care. This five-drop 2/3 can X tap and only spend White for X. Then you can either gain X life or you can prevent X damage to a critter this turn. So, it's a Guardian Angel and Stream of Life in one tapping legendary dork that only wants White mana to get its ability. It's nice! I really like at the head of a fun throwback brew.
There are a handful of cards out there that have been printed that trigger when you cast a White spell. The Trapper costs four, 2/2 body, taps to tap a dork without need of mana like Master Decoy, and then can be untapped when you cast a White spell. Strong. The Gyrfalcon is a four-drop 3/3 with flying and defender and if you cast a White spell, you can attack through the defender. It's strong in a flying, Bird, and defender matter brews. The Trapper has a free untap in tapping abilities and with tapping equipment and auras and with Thousand-Year Elixir.
Crackdown hoses only non-White stuff with a power of 3 or more. So never your stuff in a mono-White deck no matter their power, or small stuff in other colors. That creature doesn't untap, so that's a powerful variant on Meekstone that won't hurt you. You can see how it encourages you to play just White. Then remember that your gold cards in your Orzhov small stuff brew won't get untapped either. It's also good in Commander Selesnya with Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa.
Our final slot is this Kithkin that changes in size based on a White factor, here your White permanents, so it's always a 1/1 since it counts itself. I love this in a deck with White tokens like Soldiers, and unlike things like Keldon Warlord it counts all White things, not just creatures. Since it has vigilance, you can get boosts with a big swing and hold back. I love it in mono-White decks that have both White dorks to support a theme and then the non-creature permanents that have that theme and color, like enchantments or planeswalkers, as win-con and way to hold up defense and play keep away. Nice way to end our article!
And there we go! I hope that you enjoyed this deep dive into all cards that encourage mono-White and how they are often playable in modern Commander decks with multicolor cards and then dual and triple lands. It's good stuff! Next week? Blue!