Commander Decks are a mix of staples and cards that will support your decks themes and goals. The following is a list of white cards that I consider to be the top ten cards in their color. The list is subjective and it will differ from person to person. When it is time to construct a deck consider these cards when building your deck list.
Honorable Mention Moat
This is a reserved list card. Unless you are playing with a proxy it will set you back $500. From a play standpoint I am not sure any card is worth that much money. There is no denying the power of this card. Moat will shut down many decks. It is a global effect. Your nonflying creatures can’t attack either. The difference between you and your opponent is that you know the card is in your deck. You can construct your deck so that Moat effect is minimized. Not all decks will want this card. That and the cost are the reasons this card is an honorable mention to the top ten.
Honorable Mention Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Since Moat is a card most players can not afford there is an extra honorable mention this time. As a planeswalker Elspeth is very effective. Her +1 ability creates three tokens which helps protect it from removal. It also contains a board wipe at -3. If you can activate the ultimate ability, then a buff emblem awaits you. This is a solid collection of abilities and it synergizes best with token strategies. Although The Sun’s Champion has a little utility for most decks. It misses out on the top ten because it costs six mana to cast. Some decks will find it hard to justify the six mana. This is true when its primarily purpose is a removal to higher powered creatures and you are playing white stompy. In those situations a card like Wrath of God is plain stronger.
10 Cleansing Nova
White is the color of removal. Number ten on our list is a mass removal spell. At five mana it is a little cheaper than the removal on Elspeth Sun’s Champion. It also provides versatility for the card. It will either allow you to remove all creatures from the battlefield or all artifacts and enchantments. This versatility allows you to reset the board when things get out of hand. The ability to take out multiple enchantments is an underrated effect. You do not realize how strong it is until you need it and do not have it.
9 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
A 4/7 vigilant creature is not the best return for seven mana. It will allow you to both attack and leave it open as a defender. Her ability is what makes the mana worth it. It powers up all your creatures by +2/+2 and powers down all your opponents creatures by -2/-2. This is a four power swing which will tilt battlefields in your favor. White has a strong token theme running through it’s color pie and Elesh Norn strengthens that theme. It also removes low toughness creatures from your opponents. These creatures often either ramp or providing some sort of utility value. These cards rarely attack and make them difficult to remove outside of a board wipe. Any elfball deck that has stared down an Elesh Norn will attest to how disruptive the card can be.
Mass Land Destruction can often be taboo in commander. This is because it shuts down games and slows them down. Still Armageddon makes the list because white is a color that is short of mana ramp. If you can’t mana ramp then the next best thing is to destroy the advantage that others gain by ramping. You have it in your hand so you will be able to adjust your game play to account for it. This isn’t a card you just cast on a whim. Instead is surgically used at the appropriate moment to gain a tactical advantage.
In many cases I am willing to pay extra mana for additional versatility on the card. Catastrophe casts for two extra mana and it also provides an additional option of creature removal. When a deck wants to remove lands you don’t ever want to use that potential on a typical board wipe. Many cards do so. In this situation the two additional mana is not worth the added versatility on the card. That versatility will rarely be used. If you have room for both play both. If you must choose one, then choose Armageddon.
7 Emeria Shepherd
There are plenty of 4/4 flying angels in white. Emeria Shepherd makes the list because of its landfall ability. White does not have much of a card advantage engine. Being able to reuse the cards in your graveyard can help make up for it. When the land entering the battlefield is a plains then the permanent you recur goes straight to the battlefield. Not only is this card advantage but it is also mana ramp as you play the card for free. This ability also gets stronger in mono white decks which is the deck that needs this ability most. The biggest drawback of this card is that it costs seven mana. It is still a value. If it comes out later in the game then there will be times the shepherd is too little too late.
6 Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Avacyn is a card that can easily be a commander or part of the 99. Her ability to make things indestructible is an ability that every deck can use. Once Avacyn hits the board there are very few options where she can be removed. She provides the same protection for your other permanents. She fundamentally changes the game for your side of the field and that is a strong advantage to have. Eight Mana is slow and for the ability it is a fair price. White still has the option of using a lot of artifact ramp to speed up her casting. Such a deck can effectively cast Avacyn from the command zone on turn four often. Because of the need to build the mana ramp around it versus a discount on the card itself, Avacyn fails to make the top five. .
5 Weathered Wayfarer
The negative is that the card does not ramp you. Of course if you are looking for white cards that will ramp you there are precious few. Even Land Tax a ramp and fixing option does not ramp. It provides lands for you to consistently play each turn. What it will do is fetch any land in your deck. Every deck uses nonbasic lands if for nothing else than mana fixing. And the Wayfarer can fetch them. It can also grab staple cards Like Maze of Ith or even a combination of cards like the infamous Cabal Coffers and Urborg Tomb of Yawgmoth combo if you are playing black. The ability can only be used if you have less land than your opponent. The Wayfarer can help solve that by fetching a bounce land in order to reduce your land count.
4 Path to Exile and Swords to Plowshares.
Yes this is cheating a little so that I can highlight an additional card in the top ten. The main result of each of these cards is the same. They exile a creature at instant speed for one mana and a drawback. The drawback splits hairs a little in power. Swords to Plowshares’ opponent gains life is a little less of a drawback in a format that starts with 40 life. Path to Exile’s opponent ramps a land is a little worse.
The key to these cards strength is not just exile a problematic creature. It’s that they are so cheap in mana cost and cast at instant speed. It allows you to do other things on your turn. Then wait to target the creature until it is about to harm you. In many cases a threat of one of these cards will cause an opponent to attack elsewhere. Your opponents want to get value out of their creature and not just lose it right away. This is an advantage to you as it let’s your opponents do some of the work for you. Eventually they will need to bait the exile card out of you. For a few turns you will often have a deterrent.
3 Austere Command.
Even with 100 card slots commander decks do not have all the design space that they want to accomplish all their goals. For this reason cards that offer multiple options when you play them are of value over cards that do not. Austere Command is a mass removal card that offers those options. At six mana. I will pay the extra two mana over a basic wrath effect. This is so that when I need it I can wipe the board of artifacts or enchantments.
This card allows you to choose two of four options. This enables you to hit some of the most troublesome creatures on the battlefield. It also targets either either artifacts or enchantments to set back players that are using those strategies as well. In commander you can often clear 95% percent of the creatures on the battlefield by choosing creatures with CMC 4 or more. Finally the ability to remove multiple enchantments is crucial. Often less cards are packed in a deck that deals with these cards. Taking out two or three enchantments greatly impacts the game in your favor.
2 Smothering Tithe
White cards themselves have precious few ways to mana ramp. Smothering Tithe will ramp you. While it’s dependent on your opponent, it gives you the ability to store mana for explosive plays while fixing your colors with treasure. Depending on how many Spikes are in your playgroup will also determine how effective this card is. Players who plan out all their mana before they start their turn, will often spend the extra mana to prevent you from making a treasure.
Just as with Rhystic Study there will be turns where players want to play extra cards and will elect for you to make a treasure to do so. The good news is that making a treasure token is less threatening than drawing a card and players are more likely to let you create the treasure. Also, they need to spend two mana to prevent you from making a treasure. Even if they elect to prevent you from making a treasure it is two less mana they can spend of spells. This mana is more than the extra mana you would gain. This hinders them more than what the card would help you. This in it’s own right makes the card a win-win scenario.
1 Teferi’s Protection
There have been many games where I have heard the words “If I had one more turn I would have won.” or some version similar to it. I like to hear these words because it means that the player is engaged and having fun. However, Tefer’s Protection can change those words to “I can’t believe I pulled that off.”
There are many situations where Teferi’s Protection can keep you from taking a serious blow to your life total. It is best utilized to keep you in a game when another player is comboing off or going infinite. At this point he can take out all the other players at the table but you will still remain with an opportunity to still win the game. You will not win all the games you do this but just as in poker all you need is a chip and a card to make a comeback. Having the opportunity is far better than the alternative.
Not every deck wants all of these cards. Consider this list more as a buffet when building your decks. Peruse the list and sample from these cards that meets your decks needs.This top ten and others help to point out some of the most important criteria in deckbuilding. Versatility, powerful effects at a discount, and the ability to build explosive plays are all aspects of a card that increase it’s value in a deck. These aspects of a card will help you have what you need to win the game. But is it not just staples that do this. When building your deck look for cards that also accomplish what your deck is trying to do while filling the needs of these criteria.
If you have any card comments feel free to comment below. If you have any questions feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you as quickly as possible.