Last week, I rolled out Part #1 of my top white cards of all time, as well as a lengthy list of honorable mentions, which can be found here:
In today’s article, I’ll cut straight to the chase and round out my picks for the 50 sweetest white spells of all time.
As stated previously in Part 1, such an expansive list ends up comparing a lot of apples-to-oranges-to-strawberries (since white cards exist across nearly three decades of different format contexts) but the one unifying trait among all cards on my list is they’re all B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
Making a list is a lot of fun and I enjoyed the experience of trying to organize my own thoughts about what makes a white card sweet in the abstract. It helps me organize my own ideas and challenges me to think critically about not only what I think but also why I think it.
In truth, lists tend to be highly arbitrary opinions that attempt to rank things, but reading somebody else’s list is a) fun and b) a great way to refine your own ideas by taking somebody else’s opinion and perspective into consideration. It teaches us new ways of looking at things that we might not have considered before. So, do I expect every reader to blindly accept and agree with every single ranking on my list? Absolutely not! In fact, I would expect a ton of variation to delineate different players’ lists that reflect their individual experiences playing the game over their lifetime.
My list reflects my experience, the same as your list should reflect yours. I’m happy and enjoy sharing those experiences with the readers and would love to hear about how your own experiences playing Magic inform different card evaluations. Also, as there are thousands of different white cards out there and I’m sure I missed a few, so feel free to mention any white spells you believe are worthy of inclusion in the comments.
I see the value of creating an article series such as this one as providing a fun trip down nostalgia lane to think about some of the sweetest white cards ever made and what made them so special. Also, it’s useful as a resource that deck builders can utilize to look for ideas of cards they may want to try out.
Let’s get to it!
#50 – Cataclysm
Once upon a time, long before Once Upon a Time, white’s color identity reflected an ability to really, really wreak havoc upon anything a player could deploy to the battlefield. Cataclysm is a great example of such an effect that’s now in the present almost unrecognizable as a “white spell” in terms of its design.
Cataclysm is a neat way to start off today’s list because it illustrates a big part of white’s early color identity that has fallen largely by the wayside in the past decade. In the early years of Magic, white was the undisputed king of removal and blowing up everything and anything an opponent could deploy to the battlefield: creatures, artifacts, enchantments and even lands!
#49 – Ethersworn Canonist
Ethersworn Canonist, like Grand Abolisher, is a terrific “hatebear.” A hatebear is a cheap creature that has a disruptive ability attached to it. The ability disrupts while the body is able to use the combat step to pressure the opponent’s life total.
Canonist is still great at doing what it was designed to do: beat the hell out of Storm players.
#48 – Ranger-Captain of Eos
Bulk and value at a terrific rate. White certainly has lots of cards on my Top 100 list that are well worth searching up, not to mention Ranger-Captain of Eos’s sacrifice ability is an extremely handy way to disrupt an all in combo.
#47 – Iona, Shield of Emeria
Iona, Shield of Emeria is one of the all-time greatest “reanimator” targets. Cheating it into play not only provides a fast clock but also the ability to shut down an opponent’s ability to either remove the Angel or win the game (depending upon matchup).
Too big to be a “hatebear,” is Iona a hate Dragon? Hate Angel? Hate fatty? We used to call these types of cards “daggers” because if you stick them in the right matchup, the opponent is as good as dead.
#46 – Astral Slide
Easily one of the most fun enchantments ever printed, Astral Slide provides so much free action once it’s deployed!
Slide was a powerhouse in Standard and Block (where it paired nicely with Lightning Rift) and found a very powerful ally in Eternal Witness later on. It was also the only card I ever felt the need to ban from my house 250-card Peasant Highlander format. It says a lot about a card when it’s the literal only card that warranted a ban in a 250-card singleton format!
#45 – Ethereal Armor
We often talk about “Boggles,” but the card that shot the archetype onto the map was quietly Ethereal Armor. It’s sort of a new-fangled, upgraded Empyrial Armor variant that costs less and hits harder with the proper support.
Hexproof Auras occupies a unique space in the Modern and Pauper metagames where it preys upon players who are not prepared to deal with it.
#44 – Decree of Justice
One of the most dynamic and game-changing victory conditions ever printed. For a time, Decree of Justice and Psychatog dominated all formats as the premier victory conditions for blue-based control strategies. The beauty of the Decree of Justice was its ability to create Soldier tokens couldn’t be countered, nor could a single targeted removal spell deal with the horde of creatures it deployed.
#43 – Wall of Omens
1W for a card and a 0/4 Wall is a fantastic rate, but Wall of Omens was straight-up crazy in a format where it also provided a useful buffer for the slew of super-charged superfriends (such as Jace, the Mind Sculptor) that defined the time period.
#42 – Champion of the Parish
Champion of the Parish, in Modern Humans, is about as ferocious as a one-drop can possibly be! When facing down a turn one Champion of the Parish on the draw, an opponent had better pray for an on-curve removal spell.
#41 – Squadron Hawk
“Squawks” are the namesake of the legendary Caw-Blade archetype, one of the most dominant Standard-legal decks of all time.
The beauty of the archetype was Squadron Hawk (which is a pretty good card on its own and sees tons of Pauper play) had absurd synergy with the deck’s most broken spells: Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic.
A player could search up a trio of Hawks, use Jace to Brainstorm two back on top and then play the remaining Squawk to search them up again. What’s better than Brainstorming with JTMS? A-calling! The long chain of evasive bodies was also the perfect place to equip Sword of Feast and Famine and grind the opponent into submission.
#40 – Worship
Worship is the ultimate “Haha, you lose” card and it’s always sort of been that way ever since it was first printed. It’s one of those cards that certain strategies may be drawing completely dead to.
It’s a great example of what I call a deckbuilding tactical gambit. Worship doesn’t do anything toward actually winning the game, but it’s a card that is played with the understanding that certain strategies may not be able to beat it without a specific answer being drawn.
It’s one of those cards that rewards deck builders for understanding the metagame and the composition of how decks are being built. Worship had a breakout tournament as technology for beating UW Eldrazi, because the Eldrazi decks weren’t playing a way to remove it at the time. The Eldrazi decks of course adjusted by adding Cyclonic Rift and Gideon Jura to their sideboards once they saw what the joke was – but, for that first event where the tech broke, many Eldrazi pilots didn’t have a prayer of beating a Worship. Tactical gambits, like Worship, have always been a big part of white’s identity, dating all the way back to the first sets – Circle of Protection: Red, Conversion and Moat are prime examples.
#39 – Heliod, Sun-Crowned
An incredibly potent God, best known for pairing with Walking Ballista to power out infinite damage combos.
#38 – Selfless Spirit
Selfless Spirit is a quality Magic card in flavor and function and one of my favorite creatures printed in the past five years. It has solid stats and evasion, but the ability to sacrifice to protect a player’s entire team is incredible. Selfless Spirit also benefits from great typing and is a mainstay in any Spirit tribal strategy.
#37 – Replenish
Replenish is a relic from an age long past (Urza’s Block) when white picked up a weird combo/prison identity based on extremely powerful enchantments.
Replenish was a busted way to return a ton of enchantments discarded to Attunement directly into play in a singular power move. The deck also fostered all sorts of wacky prison combos thanks to Opalescence, Parallax Tide and Parallax Wave. A very iconic and powerful namesake card.
#36 – Ramosian Sergeant
Lin Sivvi tends to get the glory in the memories of players (largely because of the incredibly punishing way the Legend Rule worked back then) but Ramosian Sergeant was the Rebel workhorse and MVP. The card even saw second life in Extended where it paired with Whipcorder and changelings. It’s a one-drop that does a lot of work in a deck built to support it.
#35 – Containment Priest
Rarely does a card come along that makes it feel so good to play fair!
Containment Priest is the apex of hatebear awesomeness. Not only is it a card that most combo decks can’t play through, but it also has flash which allows it to come down in response to an opponent’s combo and shut it down on the spot. Blowout city!
#34 – Sun Titan
Sun Titan is the epitome of how most white mages fantasize about winning games of Magic: a giant value monster that comes down and grinds an opponent into submission in the most satisfying way possible! I have so many fond memories of using this Titan to bring back Liliana of the Veil and “Baby Jace” for value.
The true epicness of Sun Titan came from its favorable interaction with Phantasmal Image in Standard. First of all, the way the Legend Rule worked at the time allowed legendary permanents to function as Diabolic Edicts for other legends with the same name, which was incredibly important since Geist of Saint Traft and Thrun, the Last Troll both had hexproof. Phantasmal Image was actually the best removal spell in the format for dealing with both of these problematic creatures.
Esper Midrange decks would use their Images to trade off with hexproof legendary creatures in the early game and then return them to play as “freeroll” Sun Titan clones in the endgame.
Titan gets back Image, Image copies Titan and gets back another Image which copies Titan which gets back Liliana of the Veil. So much value!
#33 – Gideon Jura
I always put Gideon Jura on my list of “worst designed Magic cards of all time.” When it does what it’s supposed to do, it leads to a game state that simply repeats itself over and over again with an opponent feeling very annoyed. Also, the loyalty on the card was outrageous for the time and it wasn’t actually reasonable for an opponent to try and attack it to death via combat. It was not uncommon for Gideon to soak up 20 or more damage over the course of many turns and still never die! Also, keep in mind that Gideon Jura existed in Standard at the same time as Jace, the Mind Sculptor (which is a pretty good planeswalker to buffer for!).
With all of that said, because Gideon was so powerful (and still is!) and created one of the most dominant softlocks in Standard history, it’s clearly a sweet card. Gideon also made a bit of a comeback during Eldrazi Winter mirror matches where it was pretty devastating to force an opponent to send their team into a brick wall of favorable blocks!
#32 – Karmic Guide
Karmic Guide is one of the weirdest, most unique and most powerful white creatures of all time. First of all, it’s a white reanimator spell attached to a body (which seems a little strange…). The true beauty of the card is that it can be “blinked” in and out of play to generate more ETB triggers to bring back even more monsters (which is also a great way to put off paying for its echo upkeep).
#31 – Archangel Avacyn
When I saw the card for the first time, I was like… “what?”
Archangel Avacyn would’ve been a powerhouse midrange creature at any time. The combination of huge stats, flash, flying and the ability to flip into Bizarro Avacyn and decimate the board is crazy. She was the biggest trump card in the Collected Company mirrors that dominated her tenure in Standard. Even the threat of a flashed out Angel with 3WW was often enough to deter an attack!
#30 – Felidar Guardian
Sometimes a random Flickerwisp variant breaks an entire format!
In combination with Saheeli Rai, Felidar Guardian teamed up to create an easy-peasy infinite combo loop – sort of a next generation Splinter Twin type of interaction. The omnipresence of “Copycat Combo” culled Standard into a two deck metagame composed of Copycat against Mardu Vehicles (which both played white!).
#29 – Stony Silence
Anybody who has ever played Affinity will understand why Stony Silence is on the list. Null Rod is one of the most powerful and important sideboard cards ever conceived and templating that design onto a white enchantment (that was legal in Modern) dramatically shaped how the format looked and played. It’s also interesting that, unlike Null Rod, Stony Silence can’t be destroyed by artifact removal, which makes it more difficult for certain color combinations to deal with it.
#28 – Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is one of the best midrange, value threats ever to see print. It’s a planeswalker that creates tokens and/or chunks damage from an opponent.
White Midrange, in particular GW Token Walkers and Bant Company, absolutely dominated Standard thanks to Gideon and Archangel Avacyn both showing up in the same format and outclassing even hard control.
To this day, Gideon still sees competitive sideboard play as a “go-to” grindy value card. Aside from catching Gideon with a counterspell, it’s an incredibly difficult card to answer at parity, meaning it typically trades up (or takes over the game).
#27 – Disenchant
Disenchant is the OG. As we get closer to the top spot, it’s clear that many of white’s all-time sweetest spells came from the early years of Magic. Disenchant was by far the most flexible and effective way to deal with artifacts and enchantments for the first decade of Magic’s existence until the template was color-shifted into green (BOOOOOOO!) during Onslaught as Naturalize.
If you’ve ever played Old School (1994-95) Magic, it’s pretty safe to say that if your deck can cast a Disenchant that there are four in the 75. The card was absolutely game-defining in Magic’s early years and still very playable to this day in most competitive formats where it is legal.
#26 – Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Linvala, Keeper of Silence is one of my favorite sideboard cards to play of all time because it’s just an incredible card. It has great stats and is absolutely devastating to a wide array of strategies. I had a couple year string of tournaments where I’d travel to a Grand Prix planning to play a deck and then audible to some Abzan Midrange deck that Ari Lax was brewing and end up having to buy Linvalas. I think I ended up with like six or seven of these legends thanks to last minute audibles and leaving mine at home.
#25 – Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Few cards have more rigidly defined what can, or cannot, be done in a Standard format more than Theros’s Elspeth, Sun’s Champion.
The card was so freaking powerful that simply slamming it into play on turn six would cause entire decks to suddenly be drawing dead! It was certainly a card that was so good that it could not be ignored and completely changed what strategies were considered viable.
Not only is the card downright powerful, it’s also quite flexible, since it can function as a sweeper or a token generator depending upon the situation. If you’re looking for a great finisher and are willing to pay 4WW for it, Elspeth is about as good as it gets.
#24 – Humility
Few cards have ever caused more rules confusion than Humility. Walk up to a new judge and say, “I have a rules question: my opponent has a Humility in play…” and watch the color drain from their face.
Not only does Humility lead to a ton of complicated rulings because layers must be examined and applied to understand various interactions will play out with other global effects, but the card itself is also incredibly powerful and game-dominating in its own right. Humility is sort of the epitome of white’s weird combo prison phase of design.
#23 – Council’s Judgment
While red and black tend to have a reputation for best removal colors in the modern era, in the first decade of white in Magic was unparalleled in its ability to deal with resolved permanents on the battlefield, both in flexibility of answers (white could remove anything) and in raw efficiency of mana value. Council’s Judgment harkens back to that time. It can exile any type of nonland permanent and thanks to its unique wording, can even remove hexproof or protection cards.
#22 – Reveillark
This is easily one of the weirdest creatures ever conceived and also one of the best!
Reveillark came into being at a time when the grindy card advantage was very important and turned the game on its head thanks to its great size and ability to generate value via returning creatures to play. Its wording also allows it to facilitate many combo loops with cards like Body Double, so in addition to being sizable and aggressively costed, typically getting value once resolved, it’s also a combo threat to win the game with proper support.
#21 – Academy Rector
This is proof that anything associated with the Tolarian Academy is broken – even white creatures!
The namesake of Rector Trix, it’s pretty obvious that deploying an Academy Rector, sacrificing it and searching up a busted enchantment and putting it directly into play is insane. The card got a huge boost when Torment added Cabal Therapy to Rector’s bag of Trix since the first cast could name Force of Will and the flashback could be used as a sacrifice outlet to trigger Academy Rector’s ability.
#20 – Restoration Angel
Am I overvaluing Restoration Angel? Maybe. I kind of feel like it’s undervalued at #19 because, based on my play experiences over the years, Resto is one of the sweetest cards I’ve ever had the pleasure to sleeve up. It’s so much value and efficiency!
It blinks out creatures with ETB triggers like Snapcaster Mage or Blade Splicer. It can ambush smaller attackers with a flash block, be deployed EOT to pressure a planeswalker and can’t be Lightning Bolted. Now that was a card!
#19 – Lingering Souls
I know, I said no multicolor, but technically Lingering Souls is a white spell with a black flashback cost. It’s also undeniably sweet and I want to talk about it.
There’s so much that can be said about games and formats Lingering Souls has dominated. At uncommon, it basically ruined the entire draft format. It necessitated a ban in Innistrad Block Constructed (which is saying something considering how powerful Innistrad block actually was). It was the be all, end all of Liliana of the Veil midrange mirrors. Tom Martell won a Legacy Grand Prix with the card in an Esper shell. It’s easily the best and most efficient token spell of all time.
White has always had a unique relationship with great token cards and is probably the overall best “tokens matter” color (with green being a close second).
#18 – Smothering Tithe
It may be a little shocking to see Smothering Tithe so far up the list but it’s truly one of the most deranged Commander cards of all time. Much like Rhystic Study (which is also absurd), Smothering Tithe taxes all opponents in the multiplayer game with the unique caveat that they pay you! We’ve all heard of white Death and Taxes decks, but this card is Death By Taxes!
#17 – Baneslayer Angel
Baneslayer Angel was a shocking card when it first saw print. The stats and abilities were so far above and beyond anything players had seen before. It was an immediate game-changer because it couldn’t be raced or attacked into, which meant that answering Baneslayer was an absolute must for every single viable deck in the format. It’s also notable that the price tag on this mythic soared above $50 as everybody needed it to play Standard.
Baneslayer still sees play in UW sideboards to this day, decades after its initial release – a true testament to how pushed the card was in its time. When people say “white never gets anything good,” feel free to remind them that white got Baneslayer Angel!
#16 – Terminus
It’s only fitting that, as we approach the end of the list, it’s finally time to mention Terminus. It’s by far the best card with the miracle ability and it is the defining feature of every UW Miracle deck.
Not only is Terminus a one-mana sweeper when set up via library manipulation, it’s also an exceedingly good sweeper at answering anything. It puts all creatures on the bottom of their owners’ libraries, which means persistent or indestructible threats (such as Kitchen Finks or Marit Lage tokens) are all wiped clean from the board. Terminus was a delight to play with Counterbalance, Sensei’s Divining Top and Brainstorm all in the same Legacy deck. UW Miracles also won the Block Constructed Pro Tour! This is an all-around busted card.
#15 – Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
I’ll give Elesh Norn a deserving nod as the all-time best giant, white fatty creature of all time. Elesh Norn is the epitome of devastating once it lands, which makes it a popular inclusion in all sorts of different styles of decks. It’s a great target to Entomb and Reanimate since many decks simply crumble to Elesh Norn’s ability to shrink opposing creatures as a state-based effect. She’s also an incredible way to overwhelm an opponent on a cluttered midrange board.
#14 – Armageddon
The name sums it up. All lands are destroyed. It feels like a perfectly suitable ability for white to have in the early days!
There’s also a functionally identical spell from Portal Three Kingdoms called Ravages of War that does the same thing at the same cost and is equally devastating.
White’s biggest strength was fantastic removal and the ability to deal with everything and anything! Not even lands were safe from the destructive prowess of white mana.
#13 – Skyclave Apparition
Skyclave Apparition is certainly a new kid on the block, but the card has already proven itself to be among the most elite white creatures ever to see print. It’s ability to provide flexible coverage at a great rate makes it too efficient not to play in nearly any archetype that can support it. Apparition also benefits from great typing and absolutely dominates the three-drop slot in white creature-based strategies.
#12 – Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is the legend that really put disruptive aggro taxes decks on the map. They were always respectable, but tended to struggle against decks that were instant and sorcery-based such as control and combo. White midrange has always been great at gumming up the board and grinding an opponent out of profitable attacks, but weak to linear decks that don’t care about that particular axis of advantage.
Thalia, on the other hand, was an axis of disruption noncreature-based decks absolutely had to respect. Good luck storming of or cantripping for answers in a 18-land deck when Thalia hits the board!
Thalia’s legendary typing also came in quite handy because it could be bounced in response to a removal spell with Karakas and then Aether Vial’d directly back onto the battlefield. What an absolutely filthy good creature.
#11 – Enlightened Tutor
With white’s bountiful access to devastating enchantments (particularly out of the sideboard), Enlightened Tutor makes it very easy to quickly find the hate card or combo piece in a hurry. Tutors are great for obvious reasons. Enlightened Tutor is also a must in 100-card Highlander formats like Commander.
#10 – Land Tax
The white card advantage spell. Land Tax is a wacky card, but incredibly powerful. It has the capacity to net a crazy amount of raw card advantage in the form of Plains and a shuffle effect for the low, low price of having less land in play than another player. Land Tax also combines nicely with Scroll Rack to create a pretty savage little engine.
#9 – Rest in Peace
Debatably the best graveyard hate card of all time, Rest in Peace is an absolute powerhouse in every format where it’s legal. Not only does it exile all graveyards as an ETB trigger, but also prevents any more cards from ever going to the graveyard for as long as it remains in play. Take that Tarmogoyf!
Graveyard synergies have become such an important part of how Magic is played and a card that takes it all away indefinitely for only two mana is a game-shaping powerhouse. Not to mention, Rest in Peace also combines with cards like Helm of Obedience to form some pretty nifty killer combos.
#8 – Mother of Runes
Affectionately known as “Mom,” Mother of Runes is the best one-drop white creature of all time. Not only does Mother of Runes always threaten to protect important creatures on the battlefield, but it can also protect itself with its tap ability and thus force an opponent to commit a second removal spell in response to remove the card from play. Mother of Runes also has a ton of versatility on both offense and defense by protecting smaller blockers in combat to fog big attackers (or trade) and also threaten to make an attacker unblockable by virtue of protection from any color.
#7 – Wrath of God
DId I mention that white used to be the best color at blowing stuff up yet?
Wrath of God is one of the most iconic cards ever to see print. When I was a youngster, first learning to play Magic, I was completely blown away when my brother first cracked a Wrath of God from a booster pack. “All creatures!? WOW!” The card lets a wizard literally harness the Wrath of God to annihilate every creature in play. It’s a baller move.
When we think back to the original Alpha set, Wrath of God and Nevinyrral’s Disk are the only cards capable of clearing all the creatures from the battlefield and another sweeper didn’t come along for quite some time. White’s exceptional removal (the best in the game) and ability to clear the board were a huge part of the color’s early identity.
#6 – Stoneforge Mystic
Not only did Worldwake unleash “Big Jace” on mages far and wide, but it also brought about Stoneforge Mystic. It’s funny that while Jace’s dominance has dwindled somewhat over the years, Stoneforge has, like a fine wine, only gotten better with time! While it’s not typically true that two is greater than four, it’s certainly the case when it comes to Magic mana value!
SFM got some help on it’s journey to the top 10 sweetest white cards, primarily in the form of some incredible Equipment to tutor up from Scars of Mirrodin block, primarily Sword of Feast and Famine and Batterskull. If people were impressed with the rate of lifelink on Baneslayer Angel, they were about to be blown away by SFM for Batterskull! Umezawa’s Jitte and Sword of Fire and Ice are also pretty incredible Equipment to use in combination with Mystic.
SFM earned a banning in both Standard and Modern, but was eventually unbanned from Modern Constructed (as it should be!).
#5 – Path to Exile
A powered down Swords to Plowshares will still dominate on my list of sweetest white cards! One mana, instant, exile target creature. Get out of my game! It’s a powerhouse in every format where it’s legal because of its efficiency and flexibility, two attributes white has had with regard to removal since the very first set. It’s cool to see a functional STP variant continue to be an important player in Magic metas far and wide (as was the case back in 1994).
#4 – Moat
The mighty, mighty Moat. Now that was a card!
Magic has always been a game about creatures and few cards punish players for playing with creatures harder than Moat. If it doesn’t fly, it’s a dead draw – and thus the concept of virtual card advantage came to be. Not only did Moat answer an opponent’s cards in play, but it answered cards they would draw in subsequent draw steps for as long as the Moat remained in play.
White’s middle age identity as a prison enchantment color comes directly from cards like Alpha’s Conversion and Circle of Protection: Red but also from Legend’s Moat. All these years later and despite decades of power creep, Moat remains an absolutely devastating card that sees Legacy play.
#3 – Monastery Mentor
Monastery Mentor is such an absurdly powerful creature and the more powerful the spells you’re allowed to put into a deck, the more powerful it becomes. I think Stoneforge sort of operates on an opposite metric, where it’s only as good and impactful as a cheap Batterskull can be within a given format.
Monastery Mentor dominated Vintage before it’s restriction. I want to say that again: a white creature dominated Vintage before its restriction!
It’s still kind of bizarre to say out loud. In a format full of Ancestral Recalls, Force of Wills, Mishra’s Workshops and Bazaar of Baghdad, there was a period of time where the most broken thing a player could do was to play white creatures. Mentor is also no slouch in Legacy, especially before the banning of Sensei’s Divining Top. Two Tops and a Mentor is a lot of very big Monk tokens!
#2 – Balance
I really don’t know how controversial players will or won’t find my list, but I’m sure some will take issue with Balance not earning the top spot.
In a vacuum, Balance is the most broken white spell ever printed and has Power 9-level stats. A hall of famer once told me that Balance is the most undercosted card ever made, and backed it up by saying “at what cost is such a card correctly costed? Six? At six, it might still dominate Standard.”
The power of Balance isn’t just that it’s undercosted by four or more mana, but that it doesn’t actually “balance” all resources, only some resources (cards in hand, lands in play and creatures in play). It doesn’t equalize artifacts, enchantments or planeswalkers. So, if you build your deck around artifacts, enchantments and Balance… It ends up the case that all of the opponent’s “stuff” gets Balanced away and you get to keep everything!
For some reason, Balance was not removed from the core set in 3rd Edition Revised or 4th Edition which means it remained in print for a long time. It was restricted in Standard before it was finally removed.
Despite being the most broken white card of all time (which is undeniably sweet), I’ve opted to position Balance at number two on my list for a couple of reasons. First of all, Balance is banned from pretty much all play other than Vintage and has been for a very long time. In Vintage, where it’s Restricted to a single copy, it isn’t a particularly popular or dominant card. It has also been the case that Balance hasn’t really been legal for play anywhere in decades.
The adage: if a tree falls in the woods does it make a sound?
If a Beta Balance sits in your binder but never goes into a deck, is it still sweet? Heck yes!
I’ve cast a ton of Balances over the years because I used to play a lot of paper Vintage and there are very few cards that feel as sweet to cast as Balance.
#1 – Swords to Plowshares
Balance is the most busted, but Swords to Plowshares is, in my opinion, the sweetest white card ever printed. It hails from Alpha and set the stage for white’s early prowess for having incredibly flexible and powerful removal (alongside Wrath of God).
Swords to Plowshares is one of the Magic cards I’ve played the most in my life. I’ve always enjoyed playing White decks and a big part of that comes from my love of casting Swords to Plowshares. In terms of what it costs to cast and what it does, it’s every bit as good as a piece of Power 9 and a relic of the raw power of the early days.
Swords to Plowshares defined the early years of Magic. Creatures with protection from white (such as Black Knight, Order of the Ebon Hand, Wildfire Emissary and Ihsan’s Shade) were good precisely because they couldn’t be targeted by Swords to Plowshares.
I’ve always wondered if when Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile were brought to Standard if WOTC considered bringing back STP. It seems plausible that with a little bit of testing, any reasonable game designer would realize that Swords is simply way too good! Even with a considerably harsher drawback of allowing an opponent to find a basic land, Path to Exile still defined Standard and Modern.
Swords to Plowshares is one of those rare cards that, if it’s legal and your deck can cast it, it’s probably correct to put one into your deck somewhere because it’s just that good!
And that’s my list of the 100 sweetest white cards of all time!
When people say white is the worst color in Magic, or complain that white cards are underpowered, I think it’s important to understand that certainly has not always been the case. Different colors go up and down in power ranking over time and there’s been plenty of times in Magic history where white has been on the top. I’m sure that will be the case again one day soon as well.
In the early days of Magic, white was second only to blue in terms of being the best color (and blue was typically paired with white to make the best decks). I’ve played since the beginning so I’m a longtime fan of playing white because I like blowing up my opponent’s cards!
As a long time player, I think what I enjoy most about white as a color is that it changes the most over time. I played blue the most because it’s almost always the best, but it’s always the same: counterspells and draw cards. Whenever white becomes good, it’s typically the result of really exciting new cards that dramatically change what the identity of the color is.
White started out as a color with incredible removal and was the best at blowing up permanents in the first set and was very controlling. Then, in subsequent sets, white became a color rooted in prison enchantments that soft or hardlock the game. Later, in Mercadian Masques, it became a tutorbox weenie color. This evolved in Onslaught, where it became a cycling midrange color. In Zendikar, it all circled back to UW “good stuff” control with Path to Exile, Gideon Jura and Stoneforge Mystic. White morphed back into a disruptive prison-based color with cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben while Battle for Zendikar and Shadows Over Innistrad brought white back to midrange meta dominance with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Archangel Avacyn. Finally, Dominaria and Guilds of Ravnica facilitated the finest White Weenie deck the multiverse has ever! What a journey!
Where will the Plains take us next? I can only imagine.