Saturday, 20 June 2015

Picklist for White Weenie

Savannah LionsAfter having done the top draft picks in cube and found it to be a fun but somewhat arbitrary analysis I wanted to try and do a pick list for an archetype. A kind of rough guide to best and most important cards in an archetype so that in a draft you can prioritise better when you have some direction. White weenie is one of the purest and thus simplest archetypes and so it is a good starting place for me trying out this new idea. All of the ratings on this list are contingent on your other picks and so I will try and describe what cards will shift other in which direction on the list. Much of it is about getting the right balance of threats, removal and utility that fit into the curve distribution you want. I find I am picking to curve more often than I am picking based on pure power and that is very much the case with white weenie.

The ideal curve for the deck is roughly 9 one drops, 7 two drops, 5 three drops and 3 four drops with 16 lands. You can mix this up a fair bunch and the deck will still be fine. 6 - 8- 6 - 4 would work and might even be better if it was with more optimal cards than you can manage with the ideal curve I suggested. Five drops are fine too, I avoid them if possible but they are not a disaster. This immediately should tell you that when going white weenie you should be looking to pick up one drops over most other cards when possible, there simply are not going to be enough of them physically in the cube you are drafting to reach the quantities you ideally want if you let them pass by. Sure there are low odds on other people taking your one mana 2/1 once you have established yourself as a aggro white drafter however there are plenty of packs that don't have anything playable for people and there are plenty of picks where you will not see the booster again.

Elspeth, Knight-ErrantKnowing your curve is all well and good but you also need to know what kinds of spells you want to put in onto your curve and the optimal ratios of those cards. Predominantly white weenie wants threats, infact it is a common pitfall of the construction that people wreak there consistency by not being threat dense enough. White weenie creatures are not hugely exciting, especially the cheaper ones. It is all to easy to get sidetracked by powerful cube cards and not have enough substance to win games. I like at least 16 actual threats in a deck. This will include some non creatures and it pretty much excludes a couple of dorks. Mother of Runes and Gideon's Lawkeeper can be pumped and equipped and be used to apply damage but they are not often going to be doing this, especially Mother. At best I would consider them half threats and only then if I have the relevant things to buff them with. One power from a card isn't getting it done. Spectral Procession and Elsepth, Knight-Errant are both fine to call threats however all of the mono white Ajani incarnations would not count as a threat. Crusade effects and equipment are not threats either(excluding Batterskull).

I like around 2 pump effects, either equipment or global pump. You can go more, 3 is usually fine and 4 can work if you are really careful about it. Then you want some removal, not that much is suitable so you tend to play all the good stuff you can get your hands on and make do with what you can when you inevitably fall short. I think 4 removal spells is about right, more isn't going to hurt if it is good and doesn't hurt your threat count. The remaining 2+ slots I like to dedicate to disruption, card advantage, game enders or utility. Armageddon is a fantastic finisher, Mana Tithe can do a lot of work. Land Tax is immense and so forth.

Splashing colours is something to consider as well, assuming you are not playing any double costing cards, one drops of the splash, and have at least as many ways to produce a colour as you have total symbols of that colour you are comfortable splashing things in white weenie. Green and blue don't offer you much you are that excited for but it can happen. Usually it is because you are fighting over the white and are a little short on playables rather than because you wanted too. This is usually fine and a good way to get out of a bad spot. Red and black are the splash colours of choice. Black gives you some juicy removal, card advantage and token themed card and is by far and away my most common splash. Red gives you some token potential and burn! I find red dangerous and all too often end up as a Boros deck rather than a white weenie with a red splash. Boros is potent but is ideally built differently to white weenie and is less reliable on the mana base. I shall try and indicate the kind of times I will consider picking up speculative splash cards or enablers in this list. Usually how it happens is when you get those boosters with no on colour or colourless playables at all and you take the land or the potential off colour sideboard card or whatever. For the purposes of this list I will assume that you have no splash cards or enablers at all. Certain things obviously rise up the ranks rapidly as soon as you can or it looks like you will be splahsing that colour.

With this vague structure in mind here is how I would prioritise the cards assuming somehow I had none of them when picking but also know I am going white weenie. Firstly I take the cheap all star water carrier cards that go in almost every kind of white deck. Then I take the high power bomb cards or niche cards I really want. Then it is the cheap core archetypal cards for my deck and then finally it is the higher CMC dorks and support cards. So, starting at the top with the cream of the picks:

Path to Exile1.   Path to Exile - premium removal that will be taken almost instantly by any other white player.

2.   Swords to Plowshares - not as good for white weenie as Path but generally the better card and still plenty good enough in the deck any any other to pick on sight.

3.  Elspeth, Knight-Errant - One of the most powerful white cards most people will be happy to pick up. Acts as a threat, a pumper, and a brutal finisher.

4.   Umezawa's Jitte - Not only is this a great card in your deck but it pretty much wreaks you as well and is easy to play in most decks and colours. Don't pass one of these. If I get a pack with two of these top four cards I am likely to try and take something else and avoid white weenie letting the person on my left deal with it. Pump, removal and a game ender.

Umezawa's Jitte5.   Wastelands - White doesn't have much disruption and so anything half good it can find is a big win. This is exactly that, with so many one many 2 power guys you can deeply abuse slower decks with the Wasteland, not to mention all those free wins courtesy of the screw. Slightly devalues WW and other high colour intensity cards.

6.   Stoneforge Mystic - Somewhat of a speculative pick, I take it this high early on in a draft or when I have at least one juice equipment. Later on in a draft without any equipment this falls off drastically and has little value.

7.  Council's Judgement - A bit clunky and slow compared to the premium creature removal in white but highly effective none the less. One of the few cards you actively want to play that deals with non-creature, non-land permanents and something also very sought after by control decks. It is not the power of Judgement in your deck that makes it a high pick, it is the combination of it being good in most white decks and the relative difference between having it or having Revoke Existence or Oblivion Ring in your deck.

8.  Mother of Runes - One of the few white cards that can close out a game and break stalemates. She makes spot removal bad against you and combat good for you.

9.  Sword of Fire and Ice - Picked highly because it goes in a lot of other decks, goes up in value if you have Stoneforge or down as you increase your number of other equipment.

10. Armageddon - Can be picked lower down if the cube also has a Ravages of War but most don't and so this is a brutal and unique finisher that is the bane of many archetypes.

11. Soldier of the Pantheon - Your premium one drop no fuss dork. One mana, lots of value with no stipulations or maintenance. The life is minor, the protection from gold is very much not.and will usually do a lot of work for you holding of bombs and sneaking past Baleful Strix. This is the kind of card you want to make turn one EVERY game, if you don't pick them up highly then you won't be doing that and it won't matter so much about your nice equipment, good removal and disruption.

12. Land Tax - One of the few card advantage tools white has access to and pretty well suited to the archetype. Incredibly powerful but harder to play in decks with more colours so I will occasionally risk trying to wheel a Land Tax.

13. Student of Warfare - Although not nearly as good as even a Savannah Lions as a one drop if you have any sort of follow up plays however the student is a real game breaker and scales wonderfully well with the game giving you options and being mana efficient. Part one drop, part serious threat.

Figure of Destiny14. Figure of Destiny - The other Student of Warfare and so close overall in so many ways.

15. Isamru, Hound of Konda - Better with Karakas, worse than most one drop humans if you have Champion of the Parish.

16. Mardu Woe-Reaper - Very comparable to Isamru, sometime the effect will be useful but most of the time you are just throwing it out as an Elite Vanguard.

17. Dragon Hunter - A situational and marginal effect but at least not one that is lost if you lead with it on turn one. As you can see, getting the redundancy in the deck is important hence the high pick rating on these low powered cards.

18. Gideon's Lawkeeper - Greatly underrated card, half a threat half a removal spell and a one drop to boot. The first tapper is great, the second is less value, doubly so the more things like Mother of Runes you also have picked up. Higher value when you are light on creature removal.

19. Valorous Stance - Solid cheap instant removal that does what you need it too and doubles up as a counter to removal effects. Higher value when you are lacking  Path and  Plow.

Sublime Archangel
20. Sublime Archangel - Another underrated card and a complete beating. My ideal three 4 drops would be this, Armageddon and Elspeth. She comes down and does a big chunk and then threatens huge evasive damage the following turn if they cannot immediately deal with her. At winning games she does a lot more work than any of your 3 drops threats and she is more likely to be picked up by other players than most of your threats.

21. Elite Vanguard - No frills but usually comparable to the better versions, still does the thing you are playing it to do.

22. Champion of the Parish - Very potent, easily the best one drop when you have the humans which white typically does when you get enough threats just because it is the most common type. One of the most likely one drops to come back round however and very poor when your deck is sub par. You are picking it high to get the right count of playable one drops mostly.

23. Thalia, Guardian of Threben - A killer disruption card come decent two drop body. While she is brutal against a lot of decks there are some where she will hurt you more than them. She is better in the non-token themed decks but still usually played in everything. She slowly and smoothly gets lower on the list as your spell count and non-creature threat count increases.

Hallowed Spiritkeeper24. Karakas - Usually has targets in your opponents deck and is almost entirely painless to play yourself. The more legends you have the better it becomes but only slightly, most of the value is in what you can bounce of your opponents.

25. Hallowed Spiritkeeper - A potent body that gives you great wrath effect protection which white is vulnerable to. It scales well into the late game and gives you great evasion too. Easily the best three drop threat.

26. Loyal Cathar - Good again against mass removal. Lower on the list for each non-white producing land you intend to play but otherwise one of the most reliable two drops.

27. Savannah Lions - Most cubes don't even run the poor cat any more, it has been outclassed. You still need to be picking it up over most things if you see it and have not reached your desired level of cheap cards but it is where you start to not massively want those cards in your deck.Things like Boros Elite, Icatian Javelineers, even Suntail Hawk can be picked and played and even be good if built around well however they are not in most cubes any more and will not be featuring on this list. These sorts of cards can all be roughly considered to be around here.

28. Skullclamp - Somewhat of a risk in white weenie. It is best in lists with token generators however those also tend to have global pump effects which stop you being able to clamp things at will. It is not that often you want to be getting rid of threats either. A very very powerful card that is well suited to white weenie but very hard to play and build with correctly. Mostly higher up on the list because it is more playable in other colours and archetypes. Consider more as a card advantage spell than a pump card.

29. Precinct Captain - A solid and threatening stand alone two drop. Better with global pump effects and worse with non white producing lands.

30. Brimaz, King of Oreskos - The big Precinct Captain and quite a lot more monster for the mana. You take the two drops over this kind of this to a point because there are fewer high quality ones you can pick up. Make no mistake though, Brimaz is better than almost all of them.

31. Seeker of the Way - A nice solid two drop that is easy to play. It is picked over WW cards when you have things like Wasteland and obviously scales up in power as Thalia scales down in power as you increase your non-creature count.

Rishadan Port32. Rishadan Port - A useful Wastelands style card that is a little mana intense and annoying for your W only cards but otherwise very strong in the archetype and also highly picked by other players.

33. Silverblade Paladin - A cheap card that allows you to dominate the board easily. A little vulnerable, no bonus value or evasion are the drawbacks for this dork but when he is good he is brutal, a kind of mini Sublime Archangel.

34. Gather the Townsfolk - A fairly wet two drop that scales very well with global pump effects and prowess trigger cards. Also very good if you have Champion of the Parish. Even without Champion Gather is better than Raise the Alarm as it is not unheard of to get 5 dorks instead of 2 while instant does very little for you in this deck. One of the harder cards to draft and is scales more wildly with the other things your deck has in it.

35. Knight of the White Orchid - A solid two drop body that can get you card advantage, even a little bit of ramp. Much better on the draw and somewhat of a slot filler rather than doing something you are desperate for. If you are splashing and have the right Plains/X dual lands then Knight goes up in value a lot because of its fixing potential.

36. Lingering Souls - The first speculative splash card I would consider picking up. It is playable without access to black and very good even if you just get a couple of ways to fix. Any other black card would require substantially more fixing to play, I would want 4 ways to get black to play a Vindicate, maybe five to play a Dark Confidant.

37. Raise the Alarm - Just a slightly weaker Gather, great in tokens, a little limp otherwise.

38. Cataclysm - The poor mans Armageddon is much harder to build with. It has some perks and can be better but is certainly much more work to do. A big perk for the card is that it takes down planeswalkers while doing most of an Armageddon. The creature removal aspect can be useful but can also be very awkward should they have managed to resolve a Titan, not that Armageddon solves this but still. Also very nice if you have a smattering of useful artifacts and enchantments. If I don't get the Geddon I will try and play this, I have played both which is good if you are set up to do so.

Spectral Procession39. Spectral Procession - Very powerful but a little awkward. Lots of good cards have weak synergies with it and it is a three drop. Non-white mana sources are obviously very bad for this card. Prowess triggers and global pump scale well with it, one of the best possible consecutive plays in white weenie is Procession followed by Ajani Goldmane.

40. Unexpectedly Absent - A fine all round utility removal spell. Gives good tempo but doesn't fully solve problems on the cheap and is weak against enter the battlefield effect cards. Scales up a bit in value the more mana disruption effects you have and the fewer alternative removal cards you have.

41. Linvala, Keeper of Silence - A solid flying threat that deals with all those pesky little utility cards you can't afford to waste removal on. A lot of decks fold pretty hard to this naughty card. Sometimes thought it is just a medium sized flier, which is often enough on the back of loads of aggression.

42. Monastery Mentor - A fine three drop that nets you some value over time. Very strong in the token slant deck but fairly weak when you have less than 8 triggers (which you should have less than to get the threat count needed most of the time).

43. Honour the Pure - Very potent in the deck but useless to anyone else and the icing on the cake so to speak. You can have a plenty good deck without the card, even the effect. Lots of things pump dorks and you don't even need to do that to win. Much more important in the decks with lots of token generators and a good count of one drops.

44. Mana Tithe - A fine filler card but one to be careful of as it isn't a threat and can wind up dead. Best with other mana denial effects.

45. Spear of Heliod - Some perks over Honour but overall slightly weaker and doing much the same thing.

46. Mono white Ajani - I have lumped these together because few cubes will run more than one of the three that currently exist. All are fine cards but all fall into the category of pump effects of which you cannot have more than 4 of and usually want more like 2. Global pump is cheaper and safer and equipment is more direct. An Ajani in your deck will usually be fine but I typically find that there are things I would prefer to have in those higher slots. Goldmane is certainly brutal in the tokens decks and Caller of the Pride can offer some much needed evasion if you lack it. Steadfast is the best in a vacuum but hard to get loads of value from.

47. Flicker Wisp - A nice evasive threat with some utility. Usually it is killing a token or preventing something from blocking as you don't have that many cards with enter the battlefield effects to get triggers from. Better than Monastery Mentor and Spectral Procession in a vacuum.

48. Kami of Ancient Law - As with the Savannah Lion fir one drops I use this to represent the baseline of white two drops that can be found in cubes. Accorder Paladin, Knight of Meadowgrain and other filler two drop bodies. Some are situationally much better than others but broadly speaking they are filler. Some try and fill these slots with hoser cards, some like the utility. Basically you should be picking these generic lower powered two drops over a fair number of cards when you are not yet upto the right ratios for your curve.

Glorious Anthem49. Glorius Anthem - Possibly even worse than Crusade, I think 3 of these is pushing it anyway but still, very comparable to Spear. Pick low and don't play too many but very potent.

50. Blade Splicer - A top rate three drop that doesn't do that much of much for you other than be good value for mana. Improved with Flicker effects, pump that effects non-white cards and Cataclysm but really there are better things you want in your limited three slots.

51. Cursed Scroll - Surprisingly good in white weenie where your removal is not well suited to clearing out little chaffy dorks. Also fine as a way to punch through late game damage in a stalemate. Very much a late game card and one to avoid if your curve is looking too high.

52. Scrubland - Before any speculative splashing can occur you need the lands and so for the most part I will pick those up before any other potential splash cards. As there are not that many cards that you will splash for nor even that many lands you can easily splash with it is well worth taking note of what has passed you by as too much means the speculative lands are not going to offer you much exciting.

53. Godless Shrine - Basically a scrubland, we don't much care about being shocked.

54. Vindicate - Solid removal that keeps you super safe and robust while also contributing to any manabase disruption. Sufficiently good late game to be played on a fairly light number of black sources. With even a little black fixing this jumps a decent chunk up the picks.

55. Cloudgoat Ranger - One of the better five drops offering evasion, flicker synergy, massive board presence and great synergy with global pump.

56. Mox Diamond - Much better with Land Tax and mass land destruction effects. Good with a splash colour too. Without such things I will avoid playing it as it is too inconsistent and you cannot easily afford the card disadvantage.

57. Restoration Angel - A tricksy annoying card that typically doesn't get you much value from the effect in this archetype. Fine as a filler four drop finisher but not very exciting.

58. Hero of Bladehold - Very powerful but lacking evasion so is rather win more. Better in token decks but plenty good enough in a vacuum. Low pick because you are very limited on four drops and this is doing nothing other cards are not doing, generally I just prefer a flier.

59. Any White Sac Land - sac lands are good, they will fix and thin and generally be valuable cards. For splashes they are fairly poor unless you get the appropriate shock or dual land however at which point they become lovely.

60. Batterskull - This card is all over the place in pick order. You really don't want to play it unless you get Stoneforge. If you already have the Stoneforge there is very little you pick over this ever. If you do not then it is a very speculative pick indeed. Early on I would pick Baterskull much higher than this while later on I would likely pick it lower than this.

61. Disenchant - A card you can maindeck and often do if you have no other removal cards that can hit what a Disenchant does. Hopefully it will sit in your sideboard but it is one of the nicest cards to have there.

62. Other good BW fixing - This is pain lands, scry lands and check lands.

63. Sorin, Solemn Visitor - Not quite as powerful as Elspeth but the next best thing if you can cast it. A very potent pumper and threat. Slightly better in token based decks but just always good. If I have the black sources already this jumps wildly up the pick order.

64. Baneslayer Angel - Big and scary, evasive and stuff too. Thing is you can get more value or do more with a 4 mana angel you have a hope of casting on curve.

65. Balance - Not a card you can really abuse but situationally it will do vast amounts for you. It is a good card to bring in against unfair decks, bad matchups or main deck if you just have a bad deck. A lot of the time it is killing half their land, all their hand and wrathing your team. Not ideal but still pretty hot for 2 mana.

66. Revoke Existence - Or Seal of Cleansing or whatever not quite as good as Disenchant effect, nice to pick up, much less so if you get the Disenchant.

67. Ranger of Eos - Another acceptable four drop that can get some utility and power with the likes of Lawkeeper and Student of Warfare. Sadly the 3/2 is pretty pathetic

68. Bad BW fixing - This is like the bounce lands, the life lands and can include the filter lands if you are not playing any swamps.

69.Dark Confidant - One of the last black cards I am eager to splash for. Being a two drop it is a little rougher on the mana base but it is immensely powerful and offers something you struggle to get elsewhere.

70. Dismember - An acceptable card to take with or without a black splash although the latter makes it that much easier to stomach. When you are light on creature removal this is the best off colour option.

71. Lightning Bolt - Just so good if you see one it is potentially a strong signal and if not just a nice part of an option.

72. Go for the Throat - You need to be black for this one obviously but it is quite acceptable generic removal when you are.

72. Plateau - As you can see, I much prefer the black splash.

74. Sacred Foundry - Might as well.

75. Tanglewire - Usually just a side board card against decks you fear you can't beat. Better with more mana denial effects but normally you are too slow to be able to close out a game off the back of Tanglewire.

76. Top Quality Burn - This includes most of the single red one and two mana cards, Chain and Burst Lightning, Incinerate, Lightning Helix and most notably Arc Trail. Not only is the last card a beating against you but it is the kind of removal white is worst at. Even with good mana and few white removal spells you likely don't want much more than 4 burn spells.

77. Good RW fixing - as per the black.

78. Perphorus, God of the Forge - Well worth splashing for in a token slanted deck, really hard to beat once in play and gives the deck a whole new dimension.

79. Bad RW fixing - again.

80. Young Pyromancer - not quite Dark Confidant but good in a token theme deck and one of the few dorks you might splash for. Sadly works badly with Honour the Pure.

81. Grim Lavamancer - Because of what he brings to white this is one of the few one drop non-white cards you can play in white weenie.

I almost never hate pick with white weenie, there just isn't anything that brutal against you. Yes, you hate wraths but you can't hope to hate on them, there are too many. This is a deck that rewards discipline. Pick the cheap white cards you will play, then look at other stuff. I will almost always take a white/x land over a card I will never play and I will then take an unplayable white card over some kind of hate pick in another colour. Arc Trail is the only card that is at all worth hating and even then there is a small chance you will play it yourself! Cutting the white is best early where you want to squeeze people out of it and send a strong signal.

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