Modern Cube Cometh: White!

Written by Administrator on . Posted in Casual Magic, Cube, Modern

Welcome back to my Modern Cube construction project! It’s been a while since the introduction, so I’ll recap our parameters. The Cube will start as 450 cards, to allow for 8-man drafts with some variation as well as some more space to support more archetypes. It is going to start at 60 cards per color, with 45 lands, 50 colorless, and 55 multicolor cards, but that is certainly flexible. The Cube will be able to use cards from Eighth Edition forward, including Commander and Planechase but not Un- cards. The articles will progress in the order of WUBRG (Wooburgh, which sounds like a city inhabited by Ric Flairs or brewers named Travis…or maybe the Order of Wuberg is a group of knights sworn to protect multicolor cards?), so white is the first color on the platter.

White is typically known as both an aggressive and control color, but I need to see what cards are available to us in the format before assigning roles or archetypes to the color. On the attacking side, white-heavy aggressive Cube decks typically feature early efficient threats backed up by mana disruption. Unfortunately, mana disruption is something that has been slowly phased out of Magic over the years as being ‘unfun’; no one wants to not be able to play their spells, right? Take a look at this stellar list of cards to which this Cube will not have access:

Strip Mine
Wasteland
Rishadan Port
Winter Orb
Ankh of Mishra (in a fashion)
Tangle Wire
Armageddon/Ravages of War

That’s a lot of awesome Cube cards! As I look at cards to include, I’ll have to keep an eye out for disruptive cards to try to fill this role. The creatures in white also slant heavily towards humans, so I think Champion of the Parish is a good addition to the one-drops. Check out this list of white humans that have seen some amount of play in Cubes (with lesser-seen cards in parentheses):

Champion of the Parish
Elite Vanguard
Soldier of the Pantheon
Student of Warfare
(Gideon’s Lawkeeper)
Weathered Wayfarer
Mikaeus, the Lunarch
Knight of Glory
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Accorder Paladin
Cloistered Youth
(Daring Skyjek)
(Grand Abolisher) – disruptive enough?
Imposing Sovereign
Knight of the White Orchid
(Loyal Cathar)
Precinct Captain
White Knight
Banisher Priest
Blade Splicer
(Fabled Hero)
Fiend Hunter
(Fiendslayer Paladin)
(Frontline Medic)
Mirran Crusader
Paladin en-Vec
Silverblade Paladin
(Transcendent Master)
Hero of Bladehold
(Ranger of Eos)

See what I mean? That’s a lot of humanity! Here are other aggro cards to be evaluated for inclusion:

Other white aggro/disruption cards:

Savannah Lions
Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Steppe Lynx
Mana Tithe
Steelshaper’s Gift
Lone Missionary
Stoneforge Mystic
Eight-And-A-Half-Tails
Serra Avenger
Flickerwisp
Calciderm
Kor Skyfisher
Knight of Meadowgrain
Leonin Relic-Warder
Soltari Priest
Aven Mindcensor
Porcelain Legionnaire
Hokori, Dust Drinker
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Angelic Destiny

In addition to a potential human theme in white aggro, you have another possible side theme of tokens:

Gather the Townsfolk (also humans!)
Spectral Procession
Shrine of Loyal Legions
Sacred Mesa
Timely Reinforcements
Mirror Entity
Emeria Angel
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Elspeth Tirel
Conqueror’s Pledge
Cloudgoat Ranger
Geist-Honored Monk
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Captain of the Watch
Martial Coup (also a control card!)
Entreat the Angels

There aren’t as many token cards that look like auto-includes, but we can see where the numbers lead us as the numbers get whittled down. Let’s take a look at the aggressive and/or token support cards available to us for white mana.

Honor of the Pure
Spear of Heliod
Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Glorious Anthem
Thistledown Liege
Wilt-Leaf Liege
Ajani Goldmane

Almost all of those cards are good with non-white creatures as well, so I will certainly revisit this list as we are looking for inclusions.

Removal spells have really picked up for white in the Modern era, and some serve as great inclusions in both aggressive and control decks, while the mass removal certainly lives in the realm of control. What do we have available?

Removal Spells:

Path to Exile
Harm’s Way
Sunlance
Condemn
Temporal Isolation
Oblivion Ring
Journey to Nowhere
Wrath of God
Day of Judgment
Faith’s Fetters
Hallowed Burial
Austere Command
Terminus
Martial Coup
Unexpectedly Absent

Unexpectedly Absent is a nice recent addition, and one that wouldn’t be possible if we were sticking with a Modern-legal list for this Cube. The cards to which we gain access to are not numerous, but I think they are very impactful and add a lot to this format. As we are moving our gaze towards the control end of the spectrum, a look at the white control or finisher creatures is up next:

Weathered Wayfarer
Wall of Omens
Baneslayer Angel
Archangel of Thune
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Angel of Serenity
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Sun Titan
Yosei, the Morning Star
Pristine Angel

One of the main reasons that this list looks so small compared to the others is just a numbers game for what is required in the respective decks; aggressive decks want lots of creatures to overwhelm the opponent, while control decks want lots of spells with big finishers to mop up once the game is stabilized. The overall numbers in a Cube should reflect these deckbuilding considerations during overall construction; lots of Cubes tend not to include enough lower drops for the attacking decks. Let’s face it, Baneslayer Angel is a lot sexier than Elite Vanguard, but you really have to make a concerted effort to not just jam all the ‘most powerful’ cards in your Cube and instead focus on building archetypes and a draft format.

Of course, I cannot neglect mentioning the following cards that didn’t make it into one of the previous categories:

Gideon Jura
Sublime Archangel
Reveillark
Kor Sanctifiers
Restoration Angel

Whew! That’s a lot of cards to think about, so I think I’d like to make a list of the consensus ‘staple’ cards that should definitely be included and then go from there. Here they are:

Creatures (23)

Isamaru, Hound of Konda
Elite Vanguard (H)
Soldier of the Pantheon (H)
Savannah Lions
Student of Warfare (H)
Steppe Lynx
Stoneforge Mystic
Imposing Sovereign (H)
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben (H)
Accorder Paladin (H)
Wall of Omens
Blade Splicer (H)
Mirran Crusader (H)
Flickerwisp
Silverblade Paladin (H)
Porcelain Legionnaire
Hero of Bladehold (H)
Restoration Angel
Baneslayer Angel
Cloudgoat Ranger
Sun Titan
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Angel of Serenity

Spells (13)

Path to Exile
Mana Tithe
Unexpectedly Absent
Oblivion Ring
Spectral Procession
Ajani, Caller of the Pride
Ajani Goldmane
Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Faith’s Fetters
Day of Judgment
Wrath of God
Gideon Jura
Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

I don’t think there should be any debate about those cards, as most have been staples for white decks in Cube for years. That’s 36 cards, so we have 24 slots open. Here are some more cards that I think need to be included:

Hokori, Dust Drinker – Without all of those mana disruption spells, Hokori is the next best thing since he is a Winter Orb on legs. While a 2/2 for four mana isn’t that impressive, Hokori represents a game-ending effect when combined with early drops.

Eight-and-a-Half-Tails – A criminally undervalued card in ‘normal’ Cubes, 8.5 Tails is a non-embarrassing 2/2 for two mana, but has a huge impact when you have some mana available. Being able to protect your creatures both from spells and combat is a very good ability, even if it is a bit mana intensive. 8.5 Tails gives the aggressive white decks (those without red, especially) some later game reach that they wouldn’t normally have, especially with the lack of mass mana disruption. He’s also very good in the midrange white decks.

Kor Sanctifiers – Since we will still have very impactful artifacts in the form of equipment cards, and due to my general dislike for forgettable effects like those offered by boring cards like Disenchant, having those types of effects stapled onto bodies is a much-needed ability. The body isn’t awful as an aggro deck stopper in a pinch, either.

Cloistered Youth (H) – A 3/3 for two mana is serious business, even if it does spend a single turn being a bit vulnerable. That vulnerability doesn’t matter too much, though, as the only cards that deal with a 1/1 and not a 3/3 before turn three are a handful of Cube-worthy red spells deal less than three damage.

Soltari Priest – Virtually unblockable two power for two mana with protection built in; sounds like a deal.

Banisher Priest/Fiend Slayer (H) – For sure we want one of these cards, but which one? The more aggressive one, or the one that can block aggressive creatures effectively? What do you think? I’m leaning towardsBanisher Priest, but the correct answer might be both.

Knight of Glory (H) – Immediate impact if you have a one drop, has protection, and easier to cast than a lot of two drops. Sold.

Kor Skyfisher – A 2/3 flier for two mana is a great deal, but it does come with a drawback. Luckily, this drawback can also be a benefit: replaying lands for landfall, replaying Enter the Battlefield effect creatures, replaying planeswalkers with low loyalty or an effect you want twice. Skyfisher is too useful and unique to not include.

Grand Abolisher (H) – I think this Cube needs the extra disruption, and the one-sided City of Solitude on legs with extra spice fills that role nicely. While not great at fighting other Cube creatures in combat (like 8.5 Tails), the body is respectable.

Spear of Heliod – I’ve always felt that Glorious Anthem was almost good enough, and Spear gives that extra bit of value that I wanted. It is slightly more vulnerable than Anthem, but I think the added value more than makes up for it.

Journey to Nowhere – Since we don’t have access to Swords to Plowshares, I would like some unconditional cheap removal in the color, and Journey is the best tool for that still available.

Sublime Archangel – Another card with immediate impact, this angel is a large evasive threat that thrives on stalled ground states that can occur between non-control decks. While vulnerable to red’s burn spells, attacking for a minimum of five flying damage is a pretty big deal from a four mana creature.

Reveillark – A significantly sized flier that has a lot of interactions and value attached, Reveillark is a ‘blink’ archetype lynchpin and works very well with the ample list of smaller-sized creatures with Enter the Battlefield abilities.

That’s 13-14 more cards, so there are 10-11 spots remaining. Do you think 14-15 humans in color is enough to include Champion of the Parish? Do I need to include more humanity to make it work, since we do have a number of spots left, or would those spots be better served adding creatures like Knight of Meadowgrain? There is a list of other impactful humans in other colors at the end of the article, to give you an idea of how far the humans could reach in a two-color white deck. In general I don’t think we can have too many aggressive creatures, but I also don’t want too many WW-costed cards either. Do we need more boom-booms for the control decks, like Akroma, Angel of Wrath? Did I miss any cards that deserve to be considered for inclusion?

Please sound off in the forum, because any and all opinions will be considered as far as what to include in this Cube, even if you think the cards I’ve marked for inclusion aren’t good enough. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

May all your squares be three-dimensional!

Anthony Avitollo
@Antknee42 on Twitter
Listen to The Third Power, my Cube podcast with co-host Usman Jamil!

Other potentially relevant humans:

Black
Tormented Hero
Knight of Infamy
Black Knight
Dark Confidant
Rakdos Shred-Freak
Ophiomancer
Mogi’s Marauder
Xathrid Necromancer
Nekrataal

Red
Ash Zealot
Blood Knight
Gore-House Chainwalker
Grim Lavamancer
Hero of Oxid Ridge
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Kargan Dragonlord
Keldon Marauders
Lightning Mauler
Magus of the Moon
Magus of the Scroll
Manic Vandal
Rakka Mar
Reckless Waif
Stonewright
Stormblood Berserker
Young Pyromancer

Green
Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Borderland Ranger
Daybreak Ranger
Eternal Witness
Experiment One
Hamlet Captain
Master of the Wild Hunt
Mayor of Avabruck (!)
Noble Hierarch
Somberwald Sage
Ulvenwald Tracker
Wolfbitten Captive

Blue
Aether Adept
Jushi Apprentice
Ninja of the Deep Hours
Omenspeaker
Sakashima, the Impostor
Sakashima’s Student
Snapcaster Mage
Venser, Shaper Savant

Multicolored
Burning-Tree Emissary
Shardless Agent
Knight of the Reliquary
Skyknight Legionnaire
Shadowmage Infiltrator
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Huntmaster of the Fells
Rafiq of the Many
Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch

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