13 White Spells to Stun Your Enemies

A Magictation by Mikeal Basile

“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection–thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.

Here are my top thirteen white spells to stun your enemies (I mean, friends). I wanted to focus on cards people don’t typically play, and that have surprising effects for white. Catching your playgroup off guard with an underplayed spell that seems outside the range of your color’s abilities sounds amazing, right? Tossing your spell onto the board after announcing it, watching your friends listen to your summary, seeing them squint at the card in confusion, grabbing it from you in disbelief, is priceless. I’m going to count down my top thirteen underappreciated white cards I’ve stumbled across while perusing my own collection.  

#13

Surprise Deployment

Although Surprise Deployment can be difficult to utilize in mono-white strategies, this is a solid and tricky effect. This card has strong value, even when in a mono-white deck. After all, artifact creatures are not white, so I love the idea of using it to drop a Duplicant into play, exiling an opponent’s creature, and then returning the Duplicant to your hand, only to cast it again later for even more value. Try popping in Grim Poppet to spread around some -1/-1 counters, or you can drop Meteor Golem in to get rid of a troublesome permanent. Myr Battlesphere seems nice with this, and so do all the non-white Gearhulks too! The ability to abuse ETB (enters the battlefield) triggers is pretty sweet, and when you add on the instant clause it really is an underappreciated card.

#12

Guilty Conscience

When Guilty Conscience was first released I thought it was odd, but interesting. When Stuffy Doll was printed, I thought this card was seriously underrated. Give a Guilty Conscience to a Stuffy Doll, and kill an opponent instantly. Otherwise, you can drop this on an opponent’s creature to keep it off you. Most likely, the worst result is taking one hit from the creature in question. It does not work as well on creatures with larger toughness, but those are not usually the creatures you are worried about blocking. Keep in mind that this is any damage the creature deals. Also, Guilty Conscience is the source of the damage, so death touch creatures will not auto kill themselves. 

#11

Chronomantic Escape

White is known for protecting itself. Since Alpha, we have had the Circles of Protection representing white’s ability to be a turtle, using its shell like a shield. Chronomantic Escape is a fun little spell that does not cost very much to suspend, and it happens to throw a monkey wrench into people’s plans. It is a great position when you are immune to attacks for two or more turn cycles. This card makes your opponents struggle to set up a turn to try and kill you. Granting yourself a turn to tap out, attack someone else, and leave yourself open to attacks without fear of reprisals is great! Combining this card with wrath effects and other fog effects can buy you plenty of time. The best part is when it gets cast the second time, and people finally realize that it is not going away, continually helping you escape attacks. 

#10

Blessing

Breathing fire is a blessing in white. Prior to M14, Blessing had not been reprinted since 4th edition. I remember it being reprinted, and I was excited to play with it again. I had memories of being beaten down by pumped up, blessed White Knights. Blessing is an enchantment, so you can get two-for-oned, but it is worth it. This can be played on turn two, but is more than likely coming down later on and being used to immediately pump your creature. It can make your creature a removal magnet, but it provides more damage than people were expecting from you. Pick up a Revised or 4th edition one and enjoy the old school art and white borders!

#9

Cho-Manno’s Blessing

Cho-Manno’s Blessing is another notable blessing card in white. Oddly enough, this was not the first time white had access to an instant speed enchantment. In Mirage, Wizards made several enchantments that could be played as instants which left the battlefield at the end of the turn, just like instant effects. Ward of Lights does the same thing as Cho-Manno’s Blessing, but if you play it at instant speed it does not hang around like Cho-Manno’s Blessing. This is not super surprising for people, as white has plenty of effects like this, but unlike the other effects, this one stays around. You can effectively counter people’s targeted removal, or use it to offensively punch a creature through blockers. You can also wait until after blockers are declared and use it to win combat. The angles and versatility on this card put it a step above the average enchantment. Be wise about when to cast this blessing, and you will easily get card parity or more.

#8

Truce

While sorting, I came across numerous Homelands cards, and I found a white draw spell. No, seriously, a white draw spell. This is a group hug style card, but it is white card draw. Breaking the symmetry of this card is easy when dipping into black or blue with cards like Notion Thief or Narset, Parter of the Veils. Honestly, it is not necessary to break the symmetry. Drawing two extra cards before your turn, in a white deck, can often give you the last pump spells you need to push through for lethal damage. Maybe it even gets you the board wipe you desperately need to save everyone! The extra cards you have given opponents do not matter if you are winning the game. Also, it is fun giving people an opportunity to play more cards. Playing politics is a real thing in Commander, and this spell could allow you to build early alliances.

#7

Blinding Light

While tapping things in white is not new, tapping mass quantities at once with Blinding Light is too powerful to ignore. This card comes from Mirage, and it is just as deceiving as the set’s name. Blinding Light allows us to punish certain decks. Now, there are times that this could be a do-nothing card, but since people seem to malign mono-white in Commander, it will probably tap a few creatures down at the least. People do not expect you to be able to mass tap their creatures. Ivory Giant does the same thing, but for a ridiculous amount of mana, if it is not being suspended. Dawnglare Invoker is similarly mana intensive. Meanwhile, Bond of Discipline gives you a similar effect, but it costs two more, and getting lifelink for that investment means you are not casting another pump spell this turn. If you happen to have a spirits deck, then I would opt to also include Aether Shockwave. Now, the other fun part of doing this is also casting things like Righteous Fury, Sunblast Angel, or Guan Yu’s 1,000-Li March. Granted that is nine mana to pull this trick off, so it is a bit of a reach. Executing this little synergy is difficult, so casting Ivory Giant off suspend is probably more conducive, but Blinding Light combined with one or two pump spells can be game ending. Just imagine Blinding Light into Kytheon’s Tactics, Valorous Charge, Borrowed Grace, Army of Allah, Fortify, or even Rally the Peasants. People expect pump spells, but they don’t expect you to be tapping down all their blockers. 

#6

Patrician’s Scorn

Being able to tap out, and then wipe out all enchantments for free with Patrician’s Scorn is sweet. Patrician’s Scorn can even be cast before your turn if you chain a removal spell or other instant along with it. You can flash in a Stonecloaker, pick up that Archetype of Courage, and then wipe out all enchantments before your turn too.  People never seem to see this coming. So the next time the blue mage counters your first spell, you can blow up all their enchantments as payback! Patrician’s Scorn is seriously underappreciated, and enchantments in Commander have been getting out of hand. I harbor such contempt for them, I cannot help but scorn them all.

#5

Favorable Destiny

Now, aside from having some pretty sweet flavor and interesting art, Favorable Destiny is a card Wizards could have been reprinted in a Theros block. Playing this card means you are destined to surprise people with its effectiveness.The card works to make your enchanted creature untouchable, provided you have at least one other creature in play. The added buff, if your creature is white, is also nice. This is great in commander-centric decks and enchantments-matter decks too. Buff and shroud for only two mana is very powerful. Try this out in an enchantress style deck that runs Tuvasa, the Sunlit; Heavenly Blademaster; or Eidolon of Countless Battles. The effect this card grants is criminally underrated. So use it, and give yourself a more favorable destiny!

#4

Spirit en-Dal

Before you complain, no, Spirit en-Dal is not a spell, but what I am referring to is its forecast ability. This is a spell-like effect. Giving creatures shadow is powerful, and giving powerful commanders or buffed creatures shadow can be game ending. Getting this effect every single turn for two mana is just bonkers. If you ever have a deck that needs to punch damage through, then just give your big attacker shadow! I have seen people playing plenty of other spells that grant this effect, but those spells are not infinitely repeatable for a mere two mana! I love Rogue’s Passage, because it only takes up a land slot, but it’s mana intensive. Spirit en-Dal only costs us two mana! It is not technically a spell, so it is much harder to counter, and usually resolves without issue. Giving your Snapdax, Apex Predator shadow sounds pretty good, right?

#3

Illumination

Just know that you have to announce Illumination using your best Minions impression: “ILLUMINATION!” I promise your friends will be stunned, and then everyone except the caster will definitely appreciate the jest. People might anticipate you playing Mana Tithe and play around it. But what happens when they do, and then you go ahead and unconditionally counter their bomb artifact or enchantment spell? I’ll tell you: befuddlement, anger, and an appreciation for your sneakiness! Hey, the wound does not bite that deeply; you are giving them life. People usually underappreciate this life gain, but I would not want you to underappreciate this formidable white counterspell. 

#2

Inheritance

Inheritance, a little enchantment from Alliances, gives us conditional card draw in white. It is probably best in some sort of Aristocrats black white build, but it could have a home in a white or Selesnya tokens deck too. Paying three to draw a card is not great, but it is better than getting nothing for each creature that chumped, got sacrificed, or otherwise killed on the battlefield. Having three extra mana to draw can be hard to come by, but if your mana curve is low enough, this could be the enchantment that allows you to keep pace with the larger and more swingy decks in Commander. Since this card is underappreciated, people tend to let it sit out which allows you to get value out of it fairly quickly. It would be fun to combine this with Cathodian and Su-Chi, but that is just my inner Ashnod speaking.

#1

Jabari’s Influence

This is my favorite white spell that I came across while organizing my cards during quarantine. It is an instant, and I love using those to surprise people, and the idea of stealing someone’s creature, permanently, in white is just nuts. Yes, I am aware of the incredibly mana intensive Evangelize. It is cool, but it is no instant, and the Buyback cost is steep. Jabari’s Influence is sweet in that this card is totally unexpected. While most people expect you to kill a creature, they don’t expect you to steal their creature. There is a flavor points win if you manage to play this while controlling either Sidar Jabari or Sidar Kondo of Jamuraa. This is such a fantastically underappreciated and surprising card. Enjoy the new resources you gain while using it! 

Honorable Mention:

Dawn Charm

This spell’s effects are a bit atypical, but that is because it is color-shifted, as that was a theme in the Planar Chaos set. I think it is too obvious of an inclusion for a list like this, but it is very versatile and can surprise people with both the fog effect and the counter spell. It is a very conditional counterspell, but that is mitigated by allowing you to either fog or regenerate a creature. The flexibility of this spell makes it a nice inclusion. I did not feel it was technically very surprising, as this set was full of cards like this. However, it can be a very fun card to stun your friends with.

I recently spent many hours combing through my collection and reorganizing it to optimize my Commander deck building process. During this time, I happily rediscovered many cards. These cards did not make the cut for many of my dozens of sixty-card decks. However, as I have been refocusing my collection and my energies on the Commander format, I have been enjoying falling in love with all these jankarific cards that people just do not expect. I love to spice my decks with cards like these, and if you think there are a few I missed out on in this list, then please let me know in the comments! I would love to hear about cool synergies and interesting plays you have surprised your playgroups with. 

Commander Deck Building Inspiration

A Magictation by Mikeal Basile

“Magictating” is defined as getting into the zone with your Magic the Gathering collection–thinking, planning, organizing, reminiscing about past games, and imagining future games. It is a combination of hard thinking about the game and calm meditation, reveling in the joy it brings you.

Greetings, fellow Magictators! I love thinking about Magic the Gathering’s Commander format, and if you are reading this, then so do you. I am going to outline my method for brewing a Commander deck. I’ve been playing this game at the kitchen table for over two decades. It helps to be aware of your process while building decks. My deck building process has been something I’ve always enjoyed, and I’d like to share my ideas and approaches with you. Commander decks can be lumped into three major areas of inspiration: commander, theme, and archetype. They certainly overlap as you continue through the initial building and refining stages of deck building, but I feel that if you are aware of your initial inspiration, then your deck building process will go much more smoothly in the long run.

INSPIRED BY NOSTALGIA: “Does this card work well with my commander?”

Commander-inspired decks focus on the commanders. Before Wizards started printing cards with the Commander format in mind, the commanders for my decks were usually legends from the Legends expansion with which I had a nostalgic connection and wanted to try building a deck around. My Adun Oakenshield, Angus Mackenzie, and Nicol Bolas decks were all designed to have my commander in play. These decks are constructed to maximize the commander’s abilities, and usually lean toward a “commander-centric” design. “Commander-centric” decks function the best when the commander is in play. Things don’t go super smoothly without the commander. Another more recent example of a commander-centric commander would be Gavi, Nest Warden. Magictator’s Tip–protect your commander with Lightning Greaves, Swiftfoot Boots, Spectral Shroud, Cloak and Dagger, Darksteel Shield…you get the idea. Now that your leader is safe, you can proceed to win target game!

SPURRED BY THEME: “How does this card advance my theme while helping me win?”

Themes can be equally inspiring. I usually start by asking myself which theme I want to build around. Can I build a Tribal Drakes deck? How about a Landwalk deck? Flying? Deathtouch? Islandhome? These decks tend to develop around the mechanical theme, and the commander comes later on or jumps out during the initial build process. For example, I stumbled across Radiant, Archangel while building a white fliers deck and suddenly had my new commander. These decks can be very creative, and that’s because you are forcing yourself to move within these self-imposed restrictions. Commanders for these decks can easily be swapped for others in the same color identity. These decks are about as far from commander-centric as you can get. So, when we begin designing decks based on themes, we tend to stumble upon a commander later on.

MOTIVATED BY ARCHETYPE: “How will I win games? Aggressive creature development? Controlling Spells and Card Advantage? Janky Combos?”

Archetypal inspiration is centered on traditional tournament archetypes such as Aggro, Control, and Combo. Commander decks often follow these same lines, but in a more grandiose fashion. Usually I am inspired this way by a resounding defeat. When my buddy Andrew destroyed me with a grindy, controlling, value driven deck, I was thoroughly inspired to build one like it. I hate losing, but certainly sparked some inspiration for me to build a quality archetypal Control deck like it. Archetypal decks require you to focus on what they need: creatures, control spells, or combo pieces. The commanders for these decks tend to come in at the end. Sometimes they fit nicely into the overall plan as a complement (Goreclaw, Terror of Qal Sisma in aggro decks), and other times they actually enable the combo (Maga, Traitor to Mortals), or allow the deck to close games it has successfully controlled (Azor, the Lawbringer). 

BINDER SEARCHING: “What rares and mythics do I have to start this deck with?”

After becoming inspired, it’s time to get cards pulled for building the deck. Picking out all the rares and mythics in the colors, themes, and/or archetype of your deck allows things to form as quickly and efficiently as possible. I separate these into two piles: a definite pile and a maybe pile. At this stage I may have way more than I need, but I wait to make cuts until later. Having a larger selection allows you to stumble across interesting synergies.

THE STAPLES: “What cards do I need to include so I can actually play Magic?”

Staples aren’t as exciting as the rares, but you need them. If you fill your deck with fun and powerful spells that don’t hit on the things staples provide, then you don’t actually get to play much Magic. The staples are what allow you to hit the 10’s jackpot: 10 ramp spells, 10 draw spells, and 10 answer spells. This balance of effects can be found on flashy spells, but are usually more along the lines of Sol Ring, Swords to Plowshares, Kodama’s Reach, Demonic Tutor, Counterspell, and Faithless Looting. Depending on the deck, I’ll include around 20-30 creatures on average, but it really depends on the deck. For example, an archetypal Control deck may run as few as 10 creatures. You’ll notice these numbers don’t add up to 64. The numbers to include for the rest of the 34 cards depend on the type of deck you’re building. Aggro? Pack in the creatures! Control? Wraths please! Combo? Tutors!

SPICE IS NICE: “What cards will no one expect and still help me to win?”

I started playing in 1995, and I’ve been spicing up my decks since my first trip to my local game store. Odd-ball cards that people won’t expect in your deck are the cards you need to hunt down. These are cards like Outmaneuver, Meddle, Strands of Night, Reverent Silence, and Miraculous Recovery. I love that moment after I play an underappreciated card and everyone at the table asks, “Wait, what does that do?” Spice up your deck, and I promise you will find your Commander games are even more fun.

MANA MATH: “Which 35 lands should I include?”

I often run 35 lands, but if my mana curve is mostly in the 5 cmc range or higher, then I up the land count. I generally don’t play fewer than 35, as I hate to mulligan. The fewer colors your deck has, the simpler this process is. I start with trying to meet the color requirements for my deck, and I use a simple method. Count up the number of each colored mana symbol and look to provide double that number of sources for each color in the deck. If this doesn’t work, then I just look for the ratio between colors and divide the sources that way. Give priority to colors that you need early on in your mana curve. The more colors you have, the more you will need to invest in rare lands. Buy them! I am always buying and trading for these, as there is no better investment in Magic than rare lands. 

WORK IN PROGRESS: “What happens when the deck isn’t perfect?”

As you know, it takes time and money to build a great deck. It is better to have a deck that is playable now than to have a deck that is perfect. Have something in your deck as a place-holder and keep thinking about potential replacements. I enjoy the feeling of swapping out subpar place-holder cards for superior ones. This work-in-progress mentality allows me to continually adjust and refine my deck. Borrowing ideas from online deck lists can help you get started with ideas and create shopping lists, or it can help you round out and finish your own creative style. Continual thought and tweaking is key to a solid deck, and playing through its inadequacies can be incredibly enlightening. 

ADVICE: “Make your Commander deck today!”

You can always go online and copy a premade deck list, but for me Magic is more about time spent “Magictating,” using my brain and creative energy to make something new. Identifying your inspiration, combing through your binders, utilizing staples, and spicing your own deck is extremely satisfying. Inspiration is personal, and it is the key to fun and creative deck building.