Artisan Brewery: Mono-White Combistocrats

Howdy everyone, and welcome back to the Artisan Brewery! This time around, we're going to do something we haven't yet done by focusing on mono-colored decks. One by one, we'll hit each color in classic WUBRG order (white, blue, black, red, green), but it wouldn't be appropriate to put them here unless we attached an odd stipulation, and we're doing just that: each deck will focus on doing the opposite of that color's usual builds. Today we'll be building a white deck, and before we start, I know what you're thinking: isn't white referred to as the worst color in EDH? The answer to that is yes, but when has a deck or set of cards being bad stopped us before?

When we think of white decks, the things that typically come to mind are life gain strategies, control and removal, and highly aggressive token decks. Through trial and error, we'll see that it's practically impossible to build a mono-white deck without at least a small amount of these elements, but we'll be using them in a way that's a bit outside the standard. We'll be trying to put together a deck that uses a variant on the aristocrat strategy (sacrificing creatures/permanents for value), with some combo effects thrown in. But before we get started, we should know that this is not an easy build. White lacks icard draw prominently than the other colors, which is why we usually see it at least partnered with a second color, typically black or blue. That makes it more difficult than usual to build or play a mono white deck well if we divert from the usual strategies, but as always, we'll find a way to power through it.

Fundamentals

Our commander this time is Mangara of Corondor, which allows us to remove threats our opponents put onto the battlefield, but also allows us to take advantage of some of our sacrifice and recursion abilities. We'd usually try to find a creature that fits into our theme by itself, but there isn't a good choice available. We have a lot of decent creatures available, but when looking at how we want to build this deck, Mangara seems the best overall fit. We'll gave some ways in which we can take advantage of his wording, but that's for later. For now, let's get into the basics.

We'll start out with our ramp and card draw selection as usual, but because we're building with only white, things will have to be a bit different from normal. The first is that there won't be as much of either, compared to most of the decks we have built so far, and the second is that there will be more artifacts than one-time spells. Firstly, let's be sure that we're using what is arguably the best white ramp spell, Smothering Tithe, which will let us use our opponent's draw steps to keep us at the same general pace. Alongside this enchantment, we also have artifacts that either generate mana, or reduce the cost of our spells. Pearl Medallion belongs to the latter category, allowing us to gain a large value amount over time, and the classic Sol Ring goes in the former, giving us an additional two mana per turn. Entering into the card draw, we have a few less common options, such as Inheritance, which takes advantage of the sacrifice effects we'll be running for the cost of three mana per activation. Another unusual way we can draw cards is to use our lands, such as the cycling abilities of Desert of the True, Drifting Meadow, and Secluded Steppe — or the activated ability of Arch of Orazca.

Removal is also something we should make sure to include, so we need to cover as many types as we can. We have some standards, like Path to Exile, Bound by Moonsilver, and Swords to Plowshares for creatures, but that's only one type of threat handled. Playing Return to Dust helps us with artifacts and enchantments, while Conclave Tribunal handles just about any type of permanent threat we're likely to face. We're mostly concerned with handling our own cards more than interacting with opponents, so running some shield type cards like Ghostly Prison, and Sphere of Safety help keep our opponents off our back for a little while.

No Guts No Barren Glory

Whereas our last few decks have been fairly linear in regards to strategy, this one is going to play out a bit differently and requires more overall steps. There are also more options, and more varied lines of play or nuances. We'll start out by focusing on the combo portion of the deck, even though we'll see some overlap. We're using these combos partly because the number of payoffs for a strictly sacrifice strategy is too limited to make the deck function properly, and partly because the sacrifice effects we do have access to are not strong enough by themselves to succeed, leaving us with a deck that would be hardly playable. The way we shore that up is by using another of white's less common plans, which leads us to the combos.

First up, we have a combo that made waves when the more recent of the two pieces was spoiled: Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Walking Ballista. When partnered together, we can create an infinite loop of life gain and damage. As long as there are at least two +1/+1 counters on the Walking Ballista, we can use its ability to remove a counter and deal a damage to an opponent. And, by paying two mana to give it lifelink via Heliod's activated ability, we trigger its other ability to give a creature a +1/+1 counter whenever we gain a life, and so forth and so on until our opponents life total has reached zero. Then we can simply move on to the next opponent. Obviously, this combo is susceptible to disruption since only Heliod is indestructible, but that's why we don't put all of our eggs in one basket.

Our next combo involves three cards, and the hope that we'll have a higher life total than our opponents, or at least that a portion of it will help us hasten their defeat. The first card we need is Karma, which will help us deal damage to our opponents in addition to being a part of this combo. Next up, we'll need an Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth, which will help deal even more damage to our opponents than Karma just by itself. The final piece of this combo, as well as the piece that helps keep it from killing ourselves, is Darien, King of Kjeldor. Using these three cards not only takes large chunks out of our opponents, but allows us to create a large army of creatures with which we can overrun them. We do have a few ways to make it easier to survive the effects from Karma, such as Daxos, Blessed by the Sun, which will gain us the same amount of life back that we lose, and Divine Visitation, which hastens our ability to use the tokens from Darien to kill our opponents.

Those two make up our regular combo suite, but we have plenty of combos through our sacrifice strategies that we use to get extra value. In fact, one of the cards we've already slotted into the deck has multiple uses in regards to this. Divine Visitation partners well with Darien, but when alongside Requiem Angel and any sacrifice outlet, like Martyr's Cause or Fanatical Devotion we get a practically infinite loop of tokens. Along with cards like the above Daxos, or Suture Priest, we can increase our life total infinitely. When we put them with Altar of Dementia, we also have a win condition by milling our opponents out instantly.

We also have some small synergies or combos to be able to return our non-token sacrifices to our hand or the battlefield. One of the most straightforward would be using Luminous Broodmoth and Solemnity together. Since the Broodmoth returns things to the battlefield with a counter, Solemnity causes the creatures to just return, so they can do so infinitely. These are cards that also partner well with Altar of Dementia and Requiem Angel, as well as creatures with specific abilities like Benevolent Bodyguard or Bounty Agent, as they allow us to keep using their benefits over and over.

Another powerful synergy is that between Cathars' Crusade and Cauldron of Souls. Since Cathars' Crusade puts a +1/+1 counter on any creature entering the battlefield, it negates the -1/-1 counter from Cauldron of Souls, which means we get multiple uses from the same creature, as well as enable other cards more easily. A good example of this is Unruly Mob, which gets twice as many counters as normal due to creatures both entering and leaving. Daxos can also partner well here, as it will gain us twice as much life and help us stall into a win.

In addition to the combinations of cards that allow us to recur, or take repetitive advantage of our sacrifices, we have some creatures or other permanents that are simply high value upon death or sacrifice. We looked at some of those cards in Benevolent Bodyguard and Bounty Agent, but there are several more that cover a variety of uses. There are some that remove enchantments, like Ronom Unicorn, we have creature removal from Lieutenant Kirtar, and even graveyard removal from Remorseful Cleric. We can use something like Alseid of Life's Bounty to keep some of our key creatures safe from targeted removal, or combat tricks from our opponents. In our enchantment cluster, we also have Promise of Bunrei to give small creatures, or larger ones with Divine Visitation.

Divine Offerings

Now, there aren't very many mono-white creatures or permanents that sacrifice themselves for any reason, but luckily there are other sacrifice outlets that help to shore up that low count, including ways to sacrifice non-creature permanents. Cards like the aforementioned Altar of Dementia help create a long term win condition, and others like Aura Fracture and Faith Healer give us extra steps to help stall our our opponents until we can use one of our combos. They can slo grind them out with some of our alternate conditions (we'll see those soon).

As we look at the cards that we've put into the deck thus far, we can see that one of the more apparent problems we face is the need to get our creatures or other permanents back into play. Luckily, this is something that white excels at, especially when it comes to non-creatures. Using Sun Titan or Emeria Shepherd, we can recur nearly all of our deck just by going through typical game motions like playing lands, or using our attack steps. We can use Sigil of the New Dawn to bring creatures back to our hand instead of the battlefield, or Cauldron of Souls to have them reenter without requiring specific triggers. Something like Gift of Immortality or Order of Whiteclay will let us continue to bring back some key creatures, or those that have useful or powerful enter the battlefield triggers.

Speaking of enter the battlefield triggers, since we have already seen there's a somewhat limited amount of powerful "when this creature dies" effects, we can use entering triggers as a good way to shore that up. There are a lot of solid creatures, like Inquisitor Exarch, or Extricator of Sin, that we can use to get small advantages over our opponents, or something like Fiend Hunter to help remove problematic creatures our opponents are playing. Using spells like Cloudshift, Otherworldly Journey, or Ephemerate get us some extra value from these creatures, filling some slots in place of missing sacrifice/recursion abilities.

As useful as a lot of our creatures' abilities may be, if we can only use them once, or once every few turns, we're not really getting the best value from them. Fortunately for us, there are a few artifacts we can slide into the deck to get extra uses out of these cards. Mimic Vat is perfect for a deck where we want our creatures to die, because we can keep bringing those creatures back onto the battlefield and sacrificing them again. We can also use it to have Inquisitor Exarch, etc., keep entering and using their abilities. A similar card to Mimic Vat is Soul Foundry, which uses a card in our hand instead of a death trigger, but still creates copies of the exiled creature. Minion Reflector is able to to create copies of multiple creatures, but unlike the ones from our Vat and Foundry, these tokens have to be sacrificed, which plays into our sacrifice strategy. The last artifact we have that works in conjunction with our creatures is Strionic Resonator, which we can use to get copies of the triggers we're using, and help remove extra cards with Mangara or Kirtar, or drain extra life with Inquisitor Exarch.

Filling in the Rest

When putting this deck together, even with all of these moving pieces, we're finding that we're still a bit away from a complete 100 cards. Typical removal like Path to Exile, or protection in the form of Rebuff the Wicked and Teferi's Protection help to make up the count, but we still have space for one final attempt at a highly improbable win condition: Barren Glory. This is definitely not the win condition we should go into any game with the mindset that we're going to aim for, but it's the one of which we can be proudest when we achieve it. Using some cards we've already seen, like Aura Fracture and Martyr's Cause, alongside cards like Auratog, Planar Cleansing , and a large amount of luck, we can possibly pull it off and tell the story for years to come.

That wraps it up for the first in our cycle of anti-themes! Honestly, this will probably be the lowest power and lowest winning deck of the cycle, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun trying anyway. The complete deck is right here, and if you can think of anything we missed, or just have a general opinion, feel free to comment below. See you next time!

Mono-White Combistocrats

Commander


1 Mangara of Corondor

Sorcery


1 Planar Cleansing
Approximate Total Cost:

Comments
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Such an underrated white card, works perfectly with various sac/retrieve strategies because of its wording.
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