White is the best color again!
Welcome to the world of Craig Wescoe, a world where 80% of the color pie is a support color. Between Declaration in Stone, Silkwrap, Stasis Snare, Dromoka's Command, Reflector Mage, and Anguished Unmaking, white has a monopoly on the best removal spells in the format. What other color can efficiently deal with a transformed Westvale Abbey? Who else has so much unconditional removal?
Today I'm going to share six different white decks as well as a bonus pair of Silverfur Partisan decks that are way too much fun to leave out.
This deck has gotten a lot of attention lately and for good reason. It's powerful and takes full advantage of several powerful cards from Shadows over Innistrad. Always Watching is one of the better Glorious Anthems printed in recent years and Thalia's Lieutenant is a big reason to play a lot of humans. Reflector Mage is probably the best human in Standard and arguably the best overall creature too, so getting it into the human tribal deck is a top priority.
There isn't much else offered by blue, so the splash is light. Dragonlord Ojutai works great with Always Watching, but we don't want too many high casting cost creatures in a white weenie deck and Archangel Avacyn is another one of the best creatures in Standard, so I ended up with just one Dragonlord Ojutai in the sideboard along with a few Dispels for Collected Company.
Declaration in Stone is one of the best removal spells in Standard and Thraben Inspector is quietly the best one-drop. This deck doesn't have a lot of room to deviate from the mold because so many of its cards are clearly the best at what they do. Consul's Lieutenant provides the third anthem effect (in addition to Always Watching and Thalia's Lieutenant). I chose Archangel of Tithes over Gideon, Ally of Zendikar because of its synergy with Always Watching. We can get her attack trigger while always having her tax opposing attackers, and six toughness keeps her outside of just about every non-white removal spell. This is the early frontrunner for best white weenie deck of the format.
If you want to go a little bit bigger, you could add Dragonlord Ojutai and Silkwrap or Stasis Snare to the main deck, but then Thalia's Lieutenant gets worse and you'd likely be better off switching out blue for black, ending up at something like this:
Last season I was the only pro player championing this deck. The only important card it lost with rotation is Wingmate Roc, which is easily replaced by Archangel Avacyn. Lots of players are talking about this deck now. The white removal spells exile creatures and then Wasteland Strangler puts those creatures back into their owner's graveyard to give another creature -3/-3. Wasteland Strangler is really the only "synergy" card that ties the deck together. It is otherwise just a collection of many of the best cards in Standard. Some people go even more controlling by taking out Wasteland Strangler and Knight of the White Orchid in favor of more maindeck Planeswalkers and either Languish or Descend upon the Sinful. At that point you're a control deck though.
This version is a little different and mixes together some elements from the W/U Always Watching deck with the W/B Strangler deck.
Archangel of Tithes is good against B/R Vampires since it is a big flying body that taxes their mana. Without Always Watching, it still dies to Lightning Axe, but if we have a land untapped we can sacrifice the angel to Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim in response and gain five, which is huge against vampires. Archangel Avacyn is also great against them—it blocks everything and effectivelys counter any of their burn that targets a creature. This deck is especially well-positioned against vampires but not so good against ramp. If you expect a lot of ramp and not a lot of vampires, then I'd recommend going with the U/W Humans list over this deck.
People seem to have forgotten about Arashin Foremost. With many of her nemeses rotating (Siege Rhino, Anafenza, the Foremost, Mantis Rider, Wild Slash), she is suddenly one of the best three-drops in the format as long as you can support her with enough warriors. Boros offers just enough warriors to make her good (Dragon Hunter, Zurgo Bellstriker, Hidden Dragonslayer, Reckless Bushwhacker). Always Watching works great with all these small aggressive creatures, and especially with double strike. Another especially potent combo with Always Watching is Goldnight Castigator. Cast the enchantment on the third turn and then the angel on the fourth turn and immediately attack with a 5/10 haste vigilant flyer! It won't matter that your opponent's creatures deal double their damage when you have a 5/10 flying blocker for them!
Another approach to The Warrior tribe is to go green instead of red. There are more playable green warriors than red ones. Den Protector can be an early beater or a late game card advantage card. Duskwatch Recruiter plays a similar role. My favorite combo is playing any of the early drop warriors (Dragon Hunter, Den Protector, or Duskwatch Recruiter) and then follow it up with a third turn Arashin Foremost to attack for four damage with double strike. Then on the fourth turn you play Surrak, the Hunt Caller and attack with all three creatures, targeting Surrak with Arashin Foremost's attack trigger, making it a total of 16 damage. That's 20 damage by the fourth turn while only casting three cards the entire game! If that's not enough, Tajuru Warcaller can come down the following turn with haste, dealing something like a million total damage!
Instead of going fast and big with double-striking hasty warriors, you can go wide with a token-based strategy. Always Watching doesn't work with tokens, but Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar do! Hanweir Militia Captain is another way to pressure an opponent by going wide. Westvale Abbey is also a way to utilize all these tokens. Since white's removal spells exile, I included a couple copies of Blight Herder as a big token generator, but it's possible that more copies of Archangel Avacyn are still better. Archangel Avacyn can be a liability in this deck since she kills all our tokens when she transforms.
This next deck is based around a sweet creature that hasn't gotten much attention yet: Silverfur Partisan. Old Silverfur does a lot of work in this deck, beyond getting hair all over the furniture. If we have two copies on the battlefield, we can use Dromoka's Command to put a counter on one and have the other fight something (say, an opposing Jace). Since Dromoka's Command targets both wolves, they each trigger twice. This creates four 2/2 wolves, in addition to getting the effect of Dromoka's Command. You can likewise generate wolves with Slip Through Space.
If these interactions aren't cool enough, my favorite is how Silverfur Partisan interacts with Center Soul. Let's say the opponent targets Silverfur Partisan with a removal spell. Silverfur's ability triggers, making a Wolf Token. Then we cast Center Soul targeting Silverfur Partisan, making another Wolf Token and protecting Silverfur Partisan from the removal spell. Then on our upkeep Center Soul Rebounds and we get to target Silverfur Partisan again, making a third wolf. That's three free wolves just for countering the opponent's removal spell!
Since many of the spells we want for Silverfur Partisan also work great with Thing in the Ice, I added that to the deck. Center Soul counts as two spells for Thing in the Ice since you cast the spell when you Rebound it.
This version goes Temur instead of Bant. You lose Reflector Mage and Dromoka's Command but you gain Expedite and Zada, Hedron Grinder, as well as Arlinn Kord.
This deck can go crazy! If you have Silverfur Partisan and Zada, Hedron Grinder on the battlefield and you target Zada, Hedron Grinder with Slip Through Space, the spell copies and also targets Silverfur Partisan, which then makes a Wolf Token and draws two cards (one for each Slip Through Space). Then you can cast Expedite targeting Zada, Hedron Grinder, which copies the spell twice, targeting both wolves. This then triggers Silverfur Partisan's ability twice. When everything resolves, you get two extra wolves and draw three cards. Then if you found another spell, say another Slip Through Space, you can target Zada, Hedron Grinder again, which copies the spell onto Silverfur Partisan and all three Wolf Tokens. This triggers the Silverfur Partisan ability four more times, which results in four more wolves (seven total) and drawing four more cards. It gets real insane real quick. Even if the opponent has a way to wipe your board, you now have a full grip, so you can just rebuild and do it all over again .
The two most established white decks are W/U Humans and W/B Strangler. There is also W/G Megamorph, but all three of these decks are on everyone's radar. If you want to play something a bit less expected, go with one of the other six decks I talked about. If your primary goal is to win, then the first two lists are tuned enough to win at any level of competition. If you'd rather earn style points and gather a crowd, I'd go with one of the last two lists. If you think you know the missing piece to one of the four decks in the middle and you can bring them up to the level of the first two decks, let me know and I might use your tech at the Pro Tour in Madrid in a couple weeks! So which deck are you bringing to Week 1 of Shadows over Innistrad Standard?