Magic 2011 Set Review – White


It’s set reviewin’ season again, and this time with fewer reprints. M10 had many more functional reprints, which really weren’t that interesting to talk about, and instead I have, well, a good number of cards that still aren’t that great but at least are new! There actually aren’t that many dull cards, which is good, even though I’m not a fan of the whole lifegain theme white seems to be pushing. Offering plenty of minor incentives is just what people needed to get fully trapped, since lifegain has always been a popular theme. That in and of itself isn’t a problem, but when you have a very popular theme that is also not good at all in Limited, I imagine you end up with plenty of disappointed players. It’s like [card ajanis pridemate]Ajani’s Pridemate[/card] promises that if you draft around him, he will be awesome, then he gets [card lightning bolt]Bolt[/card]ed and you are stuck with a bunch of lifegain cards that get you nowhere.

That little rant aside, white gets a few interesting things. [card baneslayer angel]Baneslayer[/card] is back, and is obviously still at the top of the heap, with nothing coming very close. There are the usual White Weenie cards that aren’t going to get there, and there is a very interesting Leyline to take a look at it. Without further ado, here is the grading system:


5.0: Multi-format All-Star. Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Tarmogoyf.

4.0: Format staple. Bloodbraid Elf. Baneslayer Angel.

3.5: Good in multiple archetypes, but not a format staple. Raging Ravine. Oblivion Ring.

3.0: Archetype staple. Sprouting Thrinax. Goblin Guide.

2.5: Role-player in some decks, but not quite a staple. Rampant Growth. Divination.

2.0: Niche card. Sideboard or currently unknown archetype. Celestial Purge. (Bear in mind that many cards fall into this category, although explanation of why is obviously important)

1.0 It has seen play once. One with Nothing. (I believe it was tech vs Owling Mine, although fairly suspicious tech at that.)


5.0: I will always play this card. Period.

4.5: I will almost always play this card, regardless of what else I get.

4.0: I will strongly consider playing this as the only card of its color.

3.5: I feel a strong pull into this card’s color.

3.0: This card makes me want to play this color. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 100% of the time.)

2.5: Several cards of this power level start to pull me into this color. If playing that color, I essentially always play these. (Given that I’m playing that color, I will play this card 90% of the time.)

2.0: If I’m playing this color, I usually play these. (70%)

1.5: This card will make the cut into the main deck about half the times I play this color. (50%)

1.0: I feel bad when this card is in my main deck. (30%)

0.5: There are situations where I might sideboard this into my deck, but I’ll never start it. (10%)

0.0: I will never put this card into my deck (main deck or after sideboarding). (0%)

Ajani Goldmane

Constructed: 2.0

It has been awhile since the more peaceful Ajani has seen play, and I don’t expect that to change in the near future. In BW Tokens, he was as good as gold, and by far the most important card in the mirror, but ever since [card]Bitterblossom[/card] and [card]Spectral Procession[/card] left, he has had no friends to play with. I suppose he might port over into new Extended, but he was legal there regardless.

Limited: 4.0

The only thing holding Ajani back is that you really need a couple creatures in play for him to be absurd. With just one guy he is fine, but vulnerable to them killing that dude and bashing, and he obviously does almost nothing on an empty board. Still, he is a windmill slam first pick, and one of the better cards in the set.

Ajanis Mantra

Constructed: 1.0

I will not play bad lifegain in my Constructed decks.
I will not play bad lifegain in my Constructed decks.
I will not play bad lifegain in my Constructed decks.
I will not play bad lifegain in my Constructed decks.

Limited: 0.5

M11 probably doesn’t have the cards for a super aggressive deck, at least not one so aggressive that you would want Ajani’s Mantra against it. It is nice having the option though, since there have definitely been formats where a card like this would have its place in the sideboard.


Ajanis Pridemate 

Constructed: 1.0

Check and Mate.

Limited: 1.0

Without a couple different ways to gain life, the Pridemate is just about unplayable, since Glory Seeker isn’t something I ever want in my deck. If you run short on playables, you could do worse, but for the most part you want to avoid this guy.


Angelic Arbiter 

Constructed: 1.0

If you pay seven mana for something in Constructed, it better be just about unbeatable. Angelic Arbiter doesn’t protect itself and doesn’t really even stop them from doing what they want to do. Baneslayer this is not.

Limited: 4.0

Its stats alone would merit a high rating, and the ability is pretty crushing in any sort of race situation. At worst it buys you a turn without attacks, since presumably they cast some sort of kill spell and pass the turn back, though it will clearly do better than that in most situations.


Armored Ascension 

Constructed: 1.0

For an aura to ascend into Constructed, it has to do something pretty special, like [card eldrazi conscription]grant +10/+10[/card] and be [card sovereigns of lost alara]searchable for free[/card], or [card control magic]possibly gain control of the enchanted creature[/card]. Giving a guy +3/+3 for four mana is not remotely interesting.

Limited: 3.0

Not my favorite card, but if you are playing 8+ Plains and have a solid amount of creatures you won’t cut it often, and it gets much better the more evasion guys and/or Plains you have. If you lack a solid finisher, Ascension provides some punch, though don’t be afraid of siding it out against excess bounce/removal.


Assault Griffin 

Constructed: 1.0

I wouldn’t worry about being assaulted by Griffins in any upcoming Constructed tournaments.

Limited: 3.0

3 power fliers are always welcome, at only four mana, you get to start the assault pretty early. White’s fliers got a lot more aggressive since M10, and Assault Griffin is the leader of the pack (at common).


Baneslayer Angel 

Constructed: 4.0

Baneslayer’s popularity may have waned slightly in the past few months, but she is still the best five mana creature by a long shot. Almost unbeatable on the board or in a race, though still vulnerable to every removal spell, it would take some doing to unseat Baneslayer from her perch atop the format.

Limited: 4.5

She might as well read Protection from Limited Decks, since the opponent is in the same “removal or no” bind as in Constructed, except with 0-3 pieces of removal instead of 12-16. I would be pretty happy if I never had to face one of these in my M11 career.


Blinding Mage 

Constructed: 1.0

You would have to be blind to the realities of the format if you even considered putting this in a 60-card deck.

Limited: 3.5

Tappers have always been awesome, and the trend continues in Blinding Mage. Don’t pass him for much, since he is by far the best removal white gets.


Celestial Purge 

Constructed: 2.0

I was almost tempted to rate this differently, just to see how many people would point out the fact that I used [card]Celestial Purge[/card] as an example of a 2.0, but I resisted. Purge is a solid but unexciting sideboard card, and I’m sure will continue to Purge red or black permanents in a mediocre fashion until M11 rotates out.

Limited: 0.5

Purge is one of the better sideboard cards you can grab, so I would take it over mediocre playables despite its low rating.


Cloud Crusader 

Constructed: 1.0

The return of Skyhunter Patrol will see about the same amount of Constructed play the original did, which means that a few lucky copies might have “Wrath“ scribbled on them as a quick proxy.

Limited: 3.0

The Crusader beats slower than Assault Griffin, but does win most fights. I suspect you would still rather have a 3 power guy more often than not, but it will be very deck dependent. The Crusader certainly is better in flying mirrors, but if your deck is set up to race and is light on removal, the extra point of power is more important. You really just need to figure out if you are a blocking deck or attacking deck, and choose based on that; a control deck wants the Crusader and a beatdown deck wants the Griffin.



Constructed: 2.5

As has been said many times, Path to Exile is better but Condemn still has a place. Any deck planning on attacking will choose Path every time, but if you are pure control, you might as well not give them an extra land. Condemn also makes the [card]Spreading Seas[/card]/[card]Tectonic Edge[/card] plan much better in UW, since Path always worked against that whole idea but was too good not to play anyway.

Limited: 3.0

Most conditional removal of this sort can be awkward if your opponent figures out you have it and doesn’t attack, since you are stuck keeping the appropriate mana up. Luckily, Condemn costs so little that not only is that not a factor, they are way less likely to read you for it to begin with, since it isn’t like you are passing on turn four with four mana up and an exaggerated sigh, like when you want to [card]Divine Verdict[/card] something. Even aggressive decks will want this, since it isn’t like you can avoid being attacked in Limited.


Day of Judgment 

Constructed: 2.5

How far the mighty have fallen. Wrath isn’t even a solid archetype staple, since the only deck that really plays it is UW, and even then it isn’t a centerpiece. Too many of the best cards in Standard are resistant to or fully immune to Wrath (Sprouting Thrinax, Bloodbraid Elf, Vengevine, planeswalkers), making Day of Judgment the worst it has ever been.

Limited: 3.5

I am actually way less impressed with Wraths in Limited than most people. In my experience, getting full value out of them is tough, since you either telegraph terribly, take way too much damage to get an extra card or two, or stall the board and end up killing an equal amount on both sides. Sometimes it can be ridiculous, and there are many situations where Wrath is the only card in the format that works, but in the majority of games it isn’t as ridiculous a Limited bomb as people seem to think. To put it in perspective, in 10th Edition (not M10) Limited, I took Vulshok Morningstar, Icy Manipulator, and Confiscate (among others) over Wrath of God. I’m not saying its bad, but it isn’t the end-all be-all (well, that kind of is what it does, but you know what I mean).


Elite Vanguard 

Constructed: 1.0

Besides a brief stint in the Boros deck of last year, Vanguard work has pretty much dried up in Standard. Noble Hierarch, Goblin Guide, Steppe Lynx, Wild Nacatl, and enters the battlefield tapped manlands have made it a tough world for prospective 1-drops, and even the elite sometimes don’t cut it.

Limited: 1.0

Despite being much more aggressively costed, this is really still just a [card]Glory Seeker[/card], which makes it unfit for service in the vast majority of decks. I know I would be unhappy if I had to do battle with this in my 40.



Constructed: 1.0

Oblivion Ring may not be strictly better, but it is so close to it that the distinction is meaningless.

Limited: 2.5

Excommunicate isn’t an auto-play, but it always gets you the card back, so there isn’t much of a downside to playing it. Regardless of how aggressive your deck is, trading three mana for their draw step + the casting cost of the creature is a fine deal, and becomes insane if you manage to nab a stray aura. Every now and then it is straight up Time Walk, which certainly makes it sound better.


Goldenglow Moth 

Constructed: 1.0

There are better ways to fight red decks, or really do anything that this is trying to do.

Limited: 0.5

Like Ajani’s Mantra, but way worse. I have to admit that I did side this in once during an M10 draft, and it wasn’t the worst card in the world. It was against a super-aggressive Jackal Familiar mono-red deck, so if that is a deck in M11 this might be a niche SB card.


Holy Strength 

Constructed: 1.0

Being holy just doesn’t pay like it used to.

Limited: 1.0

This is an extremely borderline playable, and a reasonable sideboard card. If you know they have no bounce or [card]Doom Blade[/card]-like removal, giving a flier pants is not a bad idea. The card still isn’t good, but it is at least defensible as a way to blank some of red’s removal.


Honor of the Pure 

Constructed: 2.0

It has been awhile since I’ve seen one of these in play, and I’ve even watched some of Cedric’s matches in the meantime. Much like Ajani Goldmane, Honor is a solid card with no support, and therefor no home. The payoff is even lower than Ajani, making it that much less likely to see play.

Limited: 2.5

I wonder what kind of card you need in order to make Honor of the Pure good? If such a type of card exists, I would speculate that you would want at least seven to make Honor interesting, and more than that is purely bonus.


Infantry Veteran 

Constructed: 1.0

Who says Mono-White doesn’t have access to Noble Hierarch? Wait, this doesn’t tap for mana? Never mind.

Limited: 2.0

I played with Infantry Veteran fairly recently, since MTGO had some Mirage-Visions-Weatherlight draft queues up. He is awesome in any deck that is somewhat aggressive, and pretty bad in very defensive ones. I would say that most decks will want him, even if they don’t look super aggro, just because he makes attacking so much more effective.


Inspired Charge 

Constructed: 1.0

I want to come up with something clever, but I’m finding no inspiration. At least we aren’t charging per joke here.

Limited: 1.5

Combat tricks are much better when they make your guys survive, and this won’t be enough most of the time. It also costs four, which makes it fairly obvious. On the plus side, it potentially can do a ton of damage, so evasive decks probably want it more as a finisher. Charge is going to end plenty of games, so be aware of it and take it high if your deck is prone to racing.


Knight Exemplar 

Constructed: 1.0

The more I think about it, the less likely it seems that Knight Exemplar is going to be good enough. Making other Knights indestructible doesn’t really matter, since they are just going to make an example of this instead. It does stop Day of Judgment pretty well, but that isn’t a big concern right now, and the vulnerability to spot removal is just too big.

Limited: 2.5

Without any Knights, the Exemplar is just a slightly-harder to cast 2/2 First Strike, and one that your opponent may overvalue. Always playable, it doesn’t take many Knights to increase its value, though I don’t think I would take it very highly.


Leyline of Sanctity 

Constructed: 2.5

Despite the higher rating than most sideboard cards get, I don’t think the Leyline will make the jump to maindeck play. The effect here is pretty brutal against some decks, and I suspect will serve two purposes. The first, and most obvious, is to protect you against red burn spells. Starting with a Leyline changes the game dramatically, and will force red decks to kill you strictly with creature (and Earthquake) damage. White decks now have two brutal sideboard cards against mono-red (Kor Firewalker obviously being the other), and though red decks have options to deal with either, if they chose wrong you get a free win. Kargan Dragonlord might surge in popularity now, since he beats either of these sideboard cards quite handily, a fact both red pilots and those who wish to beat them should keep in mind.

The second use of Leyline of Sanctity is against combo decks that target in order to win, such as Tendrils decks in Vintage/Legacy or Oath of Druids decks in Vintage. Particularly important to note is that these decks tend to rely on Duress/Thoughtseize as protection against control decks, so siding in a card that they have to remove and stops their disruption is very powerful. Normally, hate cards like Arcane Lab, Runed Halo, Stifle, and Mindbreak Trap fail, because they only solve the kill card, but don’t actually hinder the game of the combo deck. Ad Nauseam is just going to Duress you three times before they kill you, and all the Stifles and Mindbreak Traps won’t really stop that. The Leyline does though, and that is why I think it might have a shot where all the similar cards failed. It won’t do the job by itself, but it lets you save your counters for their few bounce spells, since you can actually ignore anything else.

The typical Leyline disadvantage is the tension between having enough copies to get it free (since casting it against red, for example, is likely to be mediocre) and the drawback of drawing multiples of a card that you really only want one of. For a Leyline to overcome that, it either has to be decent when hardcast or completely shut them down when it comes in for free (see: Leyline of the Void against Dredge), and I think Leyline of Sanctity does that well enough.

Limited: 0.5

If your opponent has so many Fireballs and Corrupts that you actually worry about getting hit by them, Leyline isn’t gonna save you. On the other hand, if the mill deck ever comes together, this actually might be something you could contemplate siding it. It will probably disappear long before that because of its rarity, but you never know.


Mighty Leap 

Constructed: 1.0

It isn’t much of a leap in logic to conclude that this will never see Constructed play.

Limited: 3.0

I usually don’t like Giant Growths all that much, but Mighty Leap does multiple things, and does them well. It not only has the normal combat trick utility, but it also is a solid finisher. Angelic Blessing is the best card in the world when the opponent is in range, and pretty much a stone blank when they aren’t, so getting to play a Blessing that is useful all the time is mighty good.



Constructed: 1.0

Narcolepsy has only seen play because blue has no good removal options, a problem white most certainly does not share.

Limited: 3.5

Almost unconditional removal that is easily splashable has never gone out of style; there hasn’t been a Limited format yet where Pacifism or its variants haven’t been awesome.


Palace Guard 

Constructed: 1.0

Palace Guard can block any number of creatures in Constructed, as long as that number is zero.

Limited: 1.5

Horned Turtle that can sacrifice itself to Fog is useful card to have if you are planning on killing them with fliers, though there are definitely going to be white decks that aren’t interested in this.


Roc Egg 

Constructed: 1.0

The flavor rocks, but that’s about all this has going for it. Trying to break Rukh Egg was something I spent some time on in my youth, and this card captures that flavor perfectly.

Limited: 2.5

This is a lot like Tuktuk, though clearly not quite as good. It provides a solid disincentive for them to not attack you on the ground, which is never a bad thing. Even it not dying isn’t all bad, since it can hold off a 2 power guy indefinitely, and using removal on the 0/3 is beyond terrible for them.


Safe Passage 

Constructed: 1.0

I said this was unplayable last time, and was clearly wrong, since TurboFog used it to some minor effect, but this still doesn’t feel like a Constructed card. I guess even having a niche effect like this is useful sometimes, even though I have always thought that decks that played this were essentially unplayable to begin with.

Limited: 2.5

I probably underrated this when I reviewed it for M10 (for authenticity’s sake, I’m not looking at my old reviews of all the reprints), since it is much more than the Fog it looked like at first. It can always trade for at least one card, and if you are tricky (or they are sloppy) you can get multiples. Worst comes to worst, you can use it as Fog in a race. The fact that it counters the new Overrun and Fireball quite handily is not a bad thing either.


Serra Angel 

Constructed: 4.0

Playing offense and defense at the same time, Serra Angel is the go-to finisher for any modern Keeper deck, “modern” of course meaning 1995.

Limited: 4.0

One of the classic power uncommons, Serra tends to dominate boards like few other cards do, smacking them for four a turn and holding off most of their army. There aren’t many cards I would pass this for.


Serra Ascendant 

Constructed: 1.0

Yes, EDH, etc. I don’t even think it’s that great there, since EDH decks tend to either do more powerful things than play essentially vanilla creatures or they are built solely for multiplayer, where slamming a t1 Ascendant is sure to draw a giant bull’s eye on your head.

Limited: 1.0

Nip Gwyllion was passable if you had a bunch of Edge of the Divinity’s, but still not very good. Serra Ascendant is pretty unimpressive, and trying to make the life gain deck work is a sure way to lose a draft.


Siege Mastodon 

Constructed: 1.0

He could learn a thing or two from Goblins”¦they might mostly be terrible, but they sure know how to run a siege!

Limited: 1.0

Nobody in history has been happy to play Siege Mastodon, but it still blocks 4/4s all day long.



Constructed: 1.0

This still isn’t an answer to cascade, and now with Leyline of Sanctity, it is losing what little market share it had left.

Limited: 0.0

As awesome as yelling SILENCE at your opponent would be, there is no place for this card in a Limited format.


Silvercoat Lion 

Constructed: 1.0

I still don’t get how a Glory Seeker and a Lion are deemed to have the same stats. One is a LION and the other is some dude off the street.

Limited: 1.0

Trying to find the silver lion-ing on this cloud is a waste of time; the card is bad, and there is no way around it.


Solemn Offering 

Constructed: 1.0

Any hope of this seeing play (not that there was much to begin with) was dashed by War Priest of Thune and his pesky “card advantage”.

Limited: 0.5

The classic sideboard Naturalize is always something you want, though still a low priority.

Squadron Hawk

Constructed: 2.0

Screwing around with a bunch of 1/1 fliers seems like a giant waste of time, but any card which draws you three cards for two mana is worth investigating. The problem you have to overcome is that those three cards are the aforementioned 1/1 fliers, but if you can solve that you may have a winner. Triggering Vengevine is cute, but Ranger of Eos just does that better, and any sort of plan involving Jace and Brainstorming is just ridiculous. If you are Brainstorming with Jace, you don’t need fodder; you are winning anyways!

Limited: 1.0-3.0

Unsurprisingly, Squadron Hawk’s Limited rating is going to vary quite a bit. I wouldn’t play a lone Hawk, but two is fine, and three or more is quite good. Two is the most common case for consideration, and at that point I think the Hawk is worth the slots. 2WW for two 1/1 fliers (and only one card) is more than acceptable, though you do run the risk of drawing both and being pretty unhappy. Once you have two, any additional Hawks become high picks, likely over Wild Griffin or Stormfront Pegasus (though I think I would still take Assault Griffin and Cloud Crusader over more Hawks). An additional bonus is that you are likely the only player at the table interested in Hawks, so tabling them is a definite possibility.


Stormfront Pegasus 

Constructed: 1.0

Small aggressively-costed fliers are no match for cards like Steppe Lynx, Plated Geopede, and Putrid Leech. In fact, Stormfront Pegasus isn’t even aggressively costed anymore, though it would have been years ago.

Limited: 3.0

On the other hand, you can’t go wrong with aggressive fliers in Limited. Even controllish decks will play this, since it trades with their flier at worst, and might just kill them if you play it turn two.


Sun Titan 

Constructed: 2.0

I don’t have high hopes for this particular member of the band. He is doomed to play bass while Primeval Titan and Grave Titan fight over the mic, since getting a small permanent back is just not sexy enough. Yes, getting back O-Ring is pretty sweet, but how often does O-Ring actually hit the bin? Opposing O-Rings are the most likely answer, and Sun Titan doesn’t help there. As for getting back Tectonic Edge or a fetchland”¦that isn’t my idea of an exciting six-drop. Just play Sphinx of Jwar Isle or [card]Baneslayer Angel[/card] at that point, since Sphinx dodges removal and Baneslayer flat wins the game if they don’t have it. Sun Titan does neither.

Limited: 4.5

All the Titans are just absurd in Limited, and this is only worse than the Grave and Inferno varieties. Gravediggering a small guy every turn is hard enough to beat with a 6/6 Vigilance attached, and worst comes to worst you start pulling out Terramorphic Expanse.


Tireless Missionaries 

Constructed: 1.0

It’s a good thing they are tireless, since they will be waiting for quite some time if they expect to see Constructed play.

Limited: 1.0

White has all these really bad lifegain cards, which only serve a purpose against super aggressive decks, the likes of which I am skeptical of seeing. Please don’t try and draft the lifegain deck. I know people will, and they will not be pleased with the results.


Vengeful Archon 

Constructed: 1.0

Oh, look. Another infinite-mana white creature that doesn’t protect itself or even really impact the board that much when it hits. It is telling how you would rather have Baneslayer Angel much of the time, even if they both cost five mana. Certainly not all the time, but when you are far behind, Baneslayer is actually better than this guy. Of course, the Archon costs two more mana, so it is a moot point, but it is interesting how high Baneslayer is on the power scale.

Limited: 4.5

Seven is a lot more than six, but Vengeful Archon shuts down the board completely. Bashing for seven and making it impossible to try and race is worth every penny, and M11 is certainly slow enough for you to survive until he comes out. Some decks would rather have a Stormfront Pegasus or the like, but early in the draft you should slam the bomb rare and build a deck capable of surviving until it hits the table.


War Priest of Thune 

Constructed: 2.0

This guy is a tight little package, but he faces some decent competition. In older formats, Qasali Pridemage is easy enough to cast and better on just about all fronts, so don’t expect to see the War Priest kicking Pridemage out of Zoo. In Standard, it is hard to justify playing War Priest over Oblivion Ring, though a deck that is maxed out on Ring might want War Priest over Kor Sanctifiers, if that card is still getting played. At first I thought this was just an upgrade over Kami of Ancient Law, which was a fine card, but the drawback of not being able to slam this guy turn two is pretty big. The Kami got to beat for a few turns before killing something, making it a much better bet, offensively.

Limited: 2.0

Adding the “may” part is a big game, since now white (which has a good common enchantment) can maindeck the War Priest without fear. It doesn’t always make the cut, but randomly nuking a Mind Control, Pacifism, Ice Cage, or whatever is a big enough upside to justify playing it. Unlike Glory Seeker, War Priest is a great lategame card against some decks, so if you draw it later you can usually just hold it, and a bear on turn two is usually fine.


white Knight 

Constructed: 2.0

Protection is a powerful ability, and even if White Knight is currently doing nothing, there is no reason to assume that is always going to be the case. If Nantuko Shade somehow ushers in some sort of aggressive black deck, White Knight may be the guy for the job (I’m not holding my breath on either possibility though).

Limited: 3.0

A good beater and a good blocker is worth the somewhat awkward casting cost, and every now and then you will play against a heavy black deck and just destroy them. Protection seems like a not very good mechanic, to be honest, since it either does absolutely nothing or is absurdly powerful, and I don’t think that is a good way to balance cards.


Wild Griffin 

Constructed: 1.0

It feels like there is some Family Guy joke here, but I don’t have the desire to find it.

Limited: 3.0

This is slightly worse than Stormfront Pegasus, though not enough worse that I would downgrade it a whole half-point. White has a ton of fliers, and I would be surprised if the vast majority of white-based decks didn’t have flying as a central part of the plan.

Top Five Constructed Cards for white

5. Sun Titan
4. Condemn
3. Leyline of Sanctity
2. Day of Judgment
1. Baneslayer Angel

Sadly, white got nothing all that new and exciting. It got to keep Baneslayer Angel, which is certainly a better card than most colors get, but past that I see mostly reprints (Day of Judgment, Condemn), a sideboard card, and a card I am not very confident will see play. Leyline is the most interesting of the bunch, just because of how drastically it might change certain strategies (I am most interested in its effect on Duress-based combo decks, unsurprisingly), though I really don’t think it can make the jump to maindeck play.

Top 5 Commons for Limited

5. Stormfront Pegasus
4. Cloud Crusader
3. Assault Griffin
2. Pacifism
1. Blinding Mage

A pretty self-explanatory list…removal, removal, flier, flier, flier, just like white usually does it.

Join me tomorrow as I continue with blue, and explain just how I knew about Mana Leak in advance


94 thoughts on “Magic 2011 Set Review – White”

  1. Should have copy/paste your M10 review. This article said nothing. Sigh. Not your fault… M11 is just boring :-/

  2. I actually had a lot of fun playing a mono-white lifegain deck with 3 pridemates, 3 mantras, 2 moths, 3 missionaries, 2 elixirs, and 1 ajani at my prerelease draft

  3. I ended up playing 4 color green with a good color fixing and a few scry guys in my sealed pool. Black was unplayable for me, but I would have gladly gone 5 color green based control if there had been so much as one Doom Blade in it. White was splashed after Blue for me, red being the least of the colors for a splash with only 3 cards (Inferno Titan, 2 Lightning bolt… Can’t complain about that).

    With the 5 cards I splashed in white, you ranked them at a total of 17.0, so I’m quite interested in how the rest of the reviews go. (Angelic Arbiter, Serra Angel, Condemn, 2 Assault Griffin.) I was very greedy in my deck building, but I basically had to be because otherwise I wouldn’t have had removal of which to speak, and the most consistent deck would have involved 6 2/X dudes for 2 and a bunch of just worse cards. Mana screw only cost me one game, and I was actually able to play all my spells in that game too… Just drew 4 of the 5 white cards before I drew a single Plains, and they happened to be IN A ROW (Got Sylvan Ranger right after the Plains, which got me the second one). I was essentially one turn too slow to come back at that point, but my deck put up one heck of a fight non-the-less.

  4. I was hoping for nice analysis, a lot of puns and bashing of bad cards and you didn’t dissapoint. Keep them going for the rest of the set.

    I had that reaction against lifegain and Ajani’s Mantra. However, in sealed, I was playing red and after my opponent played it in turn two he won about 10 life over the course of the game, making impossible for me to finish him with blazes and flings. Considering the amount of flyers white has, it also helps with the race. I guess it could be the 23th card of the sealed deck at least.

  5. I feel like sun titan is powerful in a fauna shaman deck, and possibly deserves a 2.5-3 constructed rating

  6. Yep, exactly the same 5 cards I’d rate in limited and drafted while others were busy drafting lifegain cards instead of aggressive fliers. Picking up 3 pacifisms is definitely good times. Can’t wait for blue review.

  7. “Its stats alone would merit a high rating, and the ability is pretty crushing in any sort of race situation. At worst it buys you a turn without attacks, since presumably they cast some sort of kill spell and pass the turn back, though it will clearly do better than that in most situations.”

    I had this guy in my prerelease sealed pool, and can tell you that while he is quite good, if they Doom Blade it and pass the turn back, you get to do a mental fist-pump because the guy that would have kept them from attacking you is in the bin and they just Jedi mind tricked themselves. (Incidentally, flashing this guy in to block via Leyline of Anticipation while they stare at their removal spell in hand is priceless.)

    And Re: Goldenglow Moth – “I have to admit that I did side this in once during an M10 draft, and it wasn't the worst card in the world.”
    I suspect that it actually would have been the worst guy in the world, as it wasn’t in M10.

    Happy to see that the Hawks limited rating is going to get put in later, as it’s one of the cards that I’m most interested in seeing your feelings on. A side-draft saw someone draft Squadron Hawks.dec to great effect, backed up by an Honor of the Pure and a few Inspired Charges, but I’m still not sure how often this can be expected to work out.

    Keep up the good work.

  8. I think you underrate Elite Vanguard. With enough help, aka aggressive heavy white cards, it may find a home.

  9. Infantry Veteran + Elite Vanguard >>>>> Jackal Familiar + Raging Goblin.

    T1 Elite Vanguard/Infantry Veteran
    T2 Stormfront Pegasus
    T3 Wild Griffin
    T4 Cloud Crusader/Assault Griffin
    T5 Serra Angel

    Vanguard + Veteran brings limited 1-drops MUCH closer to a standard desireable weenie-rush curve. Yes, all the 2+ drops fly, but the speed advantage of the 1-drops makes the aggro build even better, especially with the lack of real removal in the format.

    Also, Inspired charge is this deck’s Overrun/Trumpet Blast. It is not just another “combat trick” – it’s “Combat Trick + ‘get there'” condition. Hoard of evasive men at common, all in white + Inspired Charge… seems good. The WW isn’t even a factor, really, because the deck is majorly white-heavy (10-11 plains, because Veteran/Vanguard need to hit T1).

  10. Sun Titan is a beating in limited. Roc Egg is pretty descent as a late pick-up, particularly if you have a way to abuse it (Blood Throne Vampire, Sun Titan, Disentomb).

  11. You hit Serra Ascendant on the head. The most exciting thing about the card for most EDHers is the fact that he costs 1 mana so you can play him and still have counter mana up.

  12. i feel like you missed the fact that armored ascension gives the creature flying. Still was fun to read and i always look forward to your set reviews.

  13. I got blown out by Squadron Hawks + Honor of the Pure today. If no one else is drafting that archetype it’s incredibly powerful.

  14. serra ascendant isn’t that terrible of a card. wound up with her in my sealed pool over the weekend and being as my pool geared me into a GW deck with fauna shaman to tutor up creatures. Brindle boar and elixir of immortality had me swinging with the 6/6 flying lifelink several times for some very good success. the deck wasnt geared toward gaining life but instead being a fast aggressive beat fest with garruks companions and white fliers. but with just 4 cards in the deck that directly gained life she was very playable.

  15. Just wanted to let you know Silence doesn’t target your opponent so Leyline of Sanctity doesn’t affect it at all.

  16. Question about Angelic Arbiter.

    You said that if they use a removal spell on it then they would pass, possibly implying that they would not be able to attack because they used a spell that turn to kill the angel. If the angel is not in play wouldn’t the ability simply not have affect anymore? I imagined if you played a mainphase removal spell on Angelic Arbiter then you could then attack since it is off the board. I may have read your analysis wrong, but I would appreciate it being clarified. Thanks!

  17. I heard tales about how the lifegain moth is absurd when you use it to group block, but I think that’s kind of marginal…

  18. Chris P: See the rating guidelines. Baneslayer is surely not a ‘multi-format all-star’.

  19. I used to think M11 was the worldwake of core sets, which I think it is for constructed.

    For a cube it’s tits though which is fun.

  20. Yes, comments are right and lsv is wrong, you can doom blade the arbiter and then attack.

  21. I don’t know, not liking slivercoat and elite vanguard in limited seems kinda silly, given that 2 power guys trade fairly well in the set, and are generally worth 4+ damage if your opponent doesn’t have any good blockers i.e. from having no 2 power guys that aren’t evasive.

  22. So you wouldn’t always play Baneslayer Angel in limited if you cracked one? Even as a P3P1 I’d do everything in my power to pick up some other good white cards and make it possible.

  23. In slight defense (but not overall validation) of Silence, I was able to play it against an opponent playing Red at the start of his turn when he was top-decking, and saved myself from taking the Fireball to the face for 10 damage (while I was at 9 life) that he had just drawn (thank goodness it isn’t Instant speed), and then swung for lethal with double Serra Angel on my turn… so, it won me that game, and the match, as it otherwise would have been a draw.

  24. newager, sounds like you had a shit sealed deck. 4 colors…

    And there is a limited rating for Squadron Hawk..

  25. 2 lands >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Jackal Familiar + Raging Goblin

    after that curve a random blocker and a 2/4 spider or 2/4 drake or 2/3 bird is the end of your race and gameplan 😀

  26. “I am actually way less impressed with Wraths in Limited than most people.”

    Oh, I’m so glad you said that. I’ve been arguing as much for years, but now you’ve said it people might actually believe me. 😉

  27. Any chance for the other articles, you could type the card names (either below or above the picture of the card).

    I print these out to read on the train etc, without pictures (for easier printing). Without card names typed, I can’t see which card you’re talking about with each comment.


  28. For everyone that’s hating on LSV, I have a wonderful idea.

    Conley Wood’s article on this same site. Before you rant out at a guy doing an ENTIRE SET REVIEW hours after the cards come out and playing with them, try doing it yourself. That’s 235 cards across multiple spectrums of play styles and having to come up with puns each and every set release.

    Head hurt yet, good, so bugger off.

    BTW, thanks for providing a funny guide to the community and here’s to hopin you’ll keep it up. I got the 3 pacifism in sealed dream and crushed as a side note.


  29. Agree that fauna shaman+Sun Titan is a bit absurd. Some of us @ Yotta have been brewing 2 and 3 color lists for the last week now and the combo can net some amazing card advantage all while implementing a nice toolbox against the field.

  30. “Not my favorite card, but if you are playing 8+ Plains and have a solid amount of creatures you won't cut it often, and it gets much better the more evasion guys and/or Plains you have.”

    Good that the Ascension itself grants evasion.

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  32. @Wraths in limited:

    I think the point of them being overrated is valid, however, I still think they are head and shoulders above “good” (i.e. 3.0 / 3.5) solid cards (i.e. removal or a solid dude).

    The reason is that they answer said cards (well creatures). Baneslayer, arbiter, dragons, they are all p good bomb cards… and wrath buries them all. Incidentally, it kills everything else on the board. Maneuvering this to your advantage is up to you.

    If I somehow open a pack with a (foil) wrath and a baneslayer, economy aside (let’s say it’s not keep what you draft, you draft rares at the end, I’d pick the baneslayer, it will flat out win games while wrath just resets the board.

    However, if I open wrath and pacifism, or wrath and a blinding mage, I’m taking wrath…

    my $.02 cents…

  33. I feel Leyline of Sanctity may see some maindeck play in T2, since in addition to completely hosing RDW it also nullifies Blightning, Consuming Vapors, Gatekeeper, Jace’s +2 and -12, Gideon’s +2, Vengeant’s -7, etc. etc.

  34. I played white/blue/red control and silence was pretty good, gained an extra turn to play my chandra or my flyer dragon to win, and this happened more often than not, since I placed 2nd out of 40 people.

  35. Jonathan Fisher

    If your silence was a good spell you probably would have still done as well if not better since you can draw it at any point instead of “needing” it in your hand early. LSV seems to rate things in some respect to the relevance of drawing a card at any point in the game. “Will this card be good drawn on any turn or do I need it in my opener to do anything?”

    It’s been talked about before but it’s a problem with people only seeing “best case” scenarios and not being able to consider the worst case and what is usually even harder to figure out and at the crux of all card evaluations along with synergy imo, the “median case” aka how good a card will be on average.

    You can see this when people try to explain how awesome cards like elite vangaurd are on turn one…

  36. White has solid fliers at every cost so you can make one heck of a U/W skies deck in M11 with an amazing curve.

  37. i’m not sure if i agree on the squadron hawk comment. Ranger of eos might be better but that won’t be in the format for long, something you don’t really seem to consider in your reviews. Also ranger of eos isn’t to good in non-naya decks as grabbing hierarchs and birds is not always so exciting.
    Squadron hawk also has the big advantage of letting you discard vengevine’s when played on turn 2. Offcourse this is a 2 card combo and hence not that reliable but it’s quite good when it does happen. Flying is also quite good in standard so the 1/1s are definately not that useless especially if you factor in something like sword of vengeance

  38. Goldenglow Moth mini-comboes with Maze in M11 Limited-don’t forget, if you happen to have a Maze.

  39. @ Jim Storrie – Unless your combo is giving them four life for having the stones to attack with Goldenglow Moth, it doesn’t. You can’t remove your own creatures with Mystifying Maze.

    Other than that, pretty accurate review. I don’t agree with every rating of course, but I appreciate the work put into it and it was, like most things on this site, worth the read.

  40. @Mystrin: You didn´t get it. Jim blocks an attacking creature with Moth, gains 4 life and then uses Maze on the attacking creature, thus gaining the life and saving the Moth.

  41. I must say that my own ratings are really much like LSV. Even though I played with Silvercoat Lions, Infantries, Pridemate (with about no way to gain life), Elite Vanguard and the likes… I was not happy about it. I ended up being paired all day against slow decks and I won the whole thing thanks to my 2 bombs : Ajani Goldmane and Sword of Vengeance.

    Like many players already told, consistency and synergy are often better than raw power. I had a few cheap flyers and some dumb red dorks with bolts and outrage.

    Oooh, and pridemate made it to 3/3 when my opponent condemn one of my flyers.

  42. What does it take for Glory Seeker type cards to be good for an aggro draft deck? My understanding is that the set mainly needs to have a critical mass of aggro guys. White has the best aggro guys and blue has too few, but black and red have a good #.

  43. Puns are fun, but explanations of what makes a card “bad” or “terrible” are better. Yeah, I know I’m a n00b, but still …

  44. regarding your sun titan rating, what if you built an engine and a bit of a toolbox for our titan? sphinx of lost truths would serve three purposes: digging, fueling sun titan, and a 3/5 flier to boot.

  45. @JackG

    The Leyline doesn’t stop opposing Silences, the Leyline replaces Silence for fighting storm decks.

  46. Really think you underrate bears here. A 2/2 for 2 is solid, and helps get in for early damage before your assault griffins take over. Obviously you never take a silvercoat over any of white’s aggressively costed fliers, but if you’re drafting an aggressive deck, you really want to have something to do on turn 2. As for Ajani’s pridemate, it’s a beating in BW decks if you can pick up multiple child of nights (another card that is a fine 2 power for 2 mana, with an ability that I think is worth more than the 1 toughness). Other than Child, I can’t really think of anything at common that I’d want to play that gains life, though I may be missing something.

  47. What’s the definition on “constructed” and “limited”. which one is for type II (standard). thanks

  48. @Orgg: “Constructed” means you construct your own deck. The Constructed formats are Standard, Extended, Legacy, and Vintage (and EDH, etc.)

    “Limited”, as in you’re limited to what you open or get passed, is Sealed and Draft (and Cube, etc.

  49. @ Jonathan Fisher

    You summed up my feelings on Silence perfectly. For every game Silence seems like it’s awesome, there will be numerous where it is just a mulligan. Buying time to play your bombs is a sketchy proposition at best; imagine if the Silence was another creature to block with or whatnot. I suspect that getting 2nd of 30 or whatever has more to do with the bombs than the Silence.

    @ Armored Ascension

    I know it gives flying, but if you have more evasion guys then your deck is more aggressive as a whole and more in need of a finisher like Ascension. I do see how it was unclear, though I promise I knew what the card does!

    @ Morningstar/Confiscate

    My bad, I guess that was 9th edition, though my comments still stand.

  50. @ Gec – clearly you don’t deal with much in the way of swarm tactics. About the only thing a heavy aggro deck loses to, easily, is a deck with 2-3 pyroclasms. If I have 4 two-power dudes on the board and you have one 2/4 flier, you still take damage every turn. Plus, Mighty Leap + Inspired Charge, both of which are at common, deal with your 2/4 quite nicely.

    In a removal-light format like this one, one of the best ways for dealing with bombs is to not let your opponent reliably get to their bombs in time to stabilize. It’s hard to answer that type of swarm when your deck doesn’t do anything relevant until turn 4.

  51. I almost stopped reading after seeing the .5 limited rating given to the Ajani’s Mantra. It’s not my style at all to play with this card but unfortunately for Luis’s assessment I have seen what this card can do in this format. Control/Mill type strategies have a lot to work with in this limited environment and when you add multiple mantras to the mix, it is actually overwhelming. Making cut and dry assessments about cards before you and others have actually played with them some, will probably make you look silly on a number of counts.

  52. The pridemate isn’t unplayable in limited. It could find itself a comfortable spot in the two drops of an aggressive W/x build. I don’t see a point in these types of articles. I guess I read them so I can see where I disagree with people. People shouldn’t have to have a successful player break it down for them.

  53. One thing to bear in mind with Day of Judgment is that it’s backbreaking alongside Cudgel Troll, another already strong card. That combination blew several games wide open at the release for me – wipe their board and keep my 4/3 regenerating beater? Don’t mind if I do!

    Won’t happen often, but worth noting.

    Amusingly, in one of those matches it’d turned into a massive board stall, and I had an active Garruk on 5 counters – DOJ the board, regen troll, make a beast, play two guys from my hand, Overrun FTW with Garruk the next turn. Pretty nuts. =)

  54. Although it had only gotten to that point thanks to Vengeful Archon locking me out of combat, and my splashed Fireball to off it getting stopped by Safe Passage. That was just the first game and lasted about 25 minutes!!

  55. White is such a disappointing colour for constructed play. 5 decent cards that could see play?!?! Come on wizards you can do better!!!! Or not…

    I have to admit I do like the common flyers for limited play. 🙂

  56. I actually feed like a 5-mana 7/7 flier (with an upside, rather than a drawback) would be pretty solid in constructed… Maybe that’s just me, though.

  57. @moderation1185 LOL. You are losing a piece to hit your opponent for some damage and you are considering only a situation that it’s the best possible for your deck and the worst for opponent’s one.
    If you don’t play on your first turn your 1drop that’s going to be like a land once drawn. If you play that on your first turn, turn 2 good creature (landsearching-elf, scryinghowl examples) from your opponent and it kills the vanguard. Than you are going to need a lot of support to pass against a 3/3 artifact, a 2/3 or a 2/2 first strike. I’m talking about ONE of them, not exactly the best situation ever.

  58. Join me tomorrow as I continue with Blue, and explain just how I knew about Mana Leak in advance"¦Join me tomorrow as I continue with Blue, and explain just how I knew about Mana Leak in advance"¦

    liar, where is it, you promised!!!!!1!!!!!!

  59. I’m curious about what you mean when you say “Silence doesn’t stop Cascade.” You can use it to stop the second (Cascaded) spell by casting Silence in response to the trigger going on the stack… but otherwise, yeah, Silence isn’t a 1-mana counter-anything-OMGWTFBBQ White spell.

  60. I disagree with your assessment of Siege Mastodon in limited. I was always happy with that guy in my pool (in the uber slow M11 at least). It’s very good against B/G, R/G, and B/R decks in limited, especially B/R, as they really can’t attack into it.

  61. Dude, everytime I read anything from someone who “knows” Magic I realize that they always come off as miserable elitists who hate new things and despise anything that isn’t absolutely flawless. Reading this, you’d think every card was crap, same from the last time I read it. It’s depressing to be honest, no one enjoys newer stuff.

  62. Can someone educate me? Why would a card be horrible for constructed and then awesome for limited or vice-versa? What makes these two formats play so differently? I have read the wikipedia about the formats, but it doesn’t really tell me why there are these huge differences in gameplay. Either a card is good for the mana cost, or not… right? Obviously not.

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