Last time, I introduced the Pauper Cube format in my first-ever Legit MTG article. In the upcoming weeks, I plan to do a color breakdown of a typical Pauper Cube and discuss strategies and color pairings. I will proceed in the typical WUBRG order, and then discuss artifacts and utility lands. That means we will start this week with the color white!
What does white want to do in Pauper Cube? I will break this question down into four sections: The Aggressive Plan, The Defensive Plan, Repeatable Effects and Card Advantage, and White Color Pairs.
The Aggressive Plan
White commons in the Pauper cube are cheap, efficient threats, often with evasion. If left unchecked, the White Aggro player will simply overwhelm the board with cards like Elite Vanguard, Stormfront Pegasus, and Raise the Alarm. One of the most simple strategies is assembling a board of many small creatures and using a mass pump spell like Borrowed Grace or Fortify to win the game on the spot. Sometimes, however, the opponent can just play some big blockers and stop these strategies in their tracks. What can we do then?
Evasion is a powerful tool that allows white aggressive creatures to continue providing pressure in the mid to late game. Unlike aggressive creatures in red decks, white creatures often have to attack your opponent for the full 20, as there are few white spells that deal direct damage. To make up for this disadvantage, many white creatures have abilities that make them harder to block, such as flying or shadow. The white two-drop slot of a Pauper Cube should be filled with evasive creatures like Leonin Skyhunter, Daring Skyjek, Soltari Trooper, and the new Amonkhet addition of Gust Walker.
While evasion represents one way to pressure opponents after they have stabilized, another strength of the color white is the ability to flood the board and “go wide” with many creature tokens. Gather the Township, Battle Screech, and Triplicate Spirits are each ways to make many creatures for the price of only one card apiece. This way, you can outpace your opponent and make sure you always have more creatures on the battlefield.
The Defensive Plan
Another advantage of the color white lies in its ability to gain life and protect its creatures. Against aggressive strategies, the cards Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant can gain tons of life and put you out of the range of burn spells like Lightning Bolt or Flame Rift. These Clerics pair well with token-making and help you win racing situations, giving you the ability to attack with your creatures without having to worry about leaving blockers back.
While blue’s bounce spells can only stop creatures temporarily and red’s burn spells can only stop creatures with low toughness, white uses enchantments to permanently stop opposing threats of any size. Cards like Arrest and Bonds of Faith can thwart your opponent’s best creature, regardless how big. Cards like Oblivion Ring and Faith’s Fetters can even stop noncreature threats that might be hard to deal with, like Equipment or Aradara Express.
If your opponent tries to remove your creatures, you can use white’s array of protection and blink spells to make sure they will not succeed. Feat of Resistance and Prismatic Strands can turn combat into a nightmare for your opponent. Whitemane Lion and Otherworldly Journey can surprise your opponent in response to removal spells, like Doom Blade or Flame Slash. Remember that when a creature is no longer a legal target for a spell, the entire spell gets countered. If your opponent tries to Repulse your creature and you give it protection from blue in response, your opponent will not get to draw a card! In a similar way, if your opponent tries to Lash Out your creature and you save it in response with Whitemane Lion, there will be no clash and no damage dealt to you!
Repeatable Effects and Card Advantage
In a Limited environment like Pauper Cube, easy ways to get ahead of your opponent are reusable effects and cards that trade one of your cards for two (or more!) of your opponent’s cards. Each color has its own versions of these effects. Repeatable effects in white are the tappers Gideon’s Lawkeeper and Goldmeadow Harrier. These creatures can be used every turn to keep your opponent’s best creature locked down. Instead of a one-time effect like Doom Blade, these innocuous 1/1s can shut down a small creature in the early game and switch over to a larger creature later in the game. Other repeatable effects include the previously mentioned lifegain triggers of Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant, the recurring lifegain of Recumbent Bliss, and the ability to Retrace Cenn’s Enlistment over and over again.
White’s card advantage often comes in the form of token production. Raise the Alarm and Gather the Townsfolk trade a single spell for two creatures. Triplicate Spirits trades a single spell for three creatures! Cards with flashback, like Prismatic Strands and Battle Screech, will guarantee card advantage. If you use a Prismatic Strands to stop a Lightning Bolt and flash it back to stop a Searing Spear, you have traded a single card for two of your opponent’s cards. If you accumulate enough card advantage, you will often win the game, as your opponent will run out of cards before you do.
White Color Pairs
Each color in Magic has four color pairs (two friend pairs and two enemy pairs). For white, the friend pairs are WU and GW; the enemy pairs are WB and RW. All color pairs can be supported in Pauper Cube with multicolor cards and cross-color synergies.
White and blue are colors known for their flying creatures. You can pair quick white aggressors like Mistral Charger with value-oriented fliers like Stormbound Geist, Mist Raven, and Aven Surveyor. Another strategy that makes use of white and blue involves combining creatures with enters-the-battlefield effects with effects that rebuy or blink your own creatures. Casting a single Mulldrifter or Aethersnipe can often be enough to swing the game in your favor, but imagine the card advantage created when you use a card like Momentary Blink, Kor Skyfisher, or Silver Drake to reuse these cards!
Green and white share a love for swarming the board with small creatures. Nest Invader, Saddleback Lagac, and Kozilek’s Predator combine well with white’s strategy of dumping a bunch of tokens onto the board and pumping them up with a Fortify-style effect. Additionally, green enchantments, such as Armadillo Cloak and Elephant Guide, pair excellently with white’s evasive creatures. Putting a green Aura on a creature with flying or shadow is a great feeling! Finally, green and white are the colors needed to assemble the infinite combo of Midnight Guard and Presence of Gond if you are lucky enough to draft both halves.
White and black can combine to create a super-fast aggressive deck. Between white’s evasive two-drops and black’s impactful one drops, like Carnophage or Night Market Lookout, a white-black aggro deck will be able to come out of the gates quickly. These colors complement the aggressive strategy with enough removal and hand disruption to get the job done. If aggressive play isn’t your style, you can combine white’s lifegain cards with black’s life loss cards and grind your opponent out with removal, card advantage, and life-drain. Cards for this strategy include Basilica Guards, Pillory of the Sleepless, Blind Hunter, and Stab Wound. Finally, white’s ability to create many tokens pairs well with black’s willingness to sacrifice its own creatures. Black cards in this strategy include Carrion Feeder, Mortician Beetle, Plagued Rusalka, and Falkenrath Noble. Their white counterparts could be Doomed Traveler, Loyal Cathar, and Cenn’s Enlistment.
This is arguably the most aggressive color combination in the whole Pauper Cube. Play out fast creatures and use burn spells to take down blockers and then finish off your opponent! Cards like Scorched Rusalka, Goblin Bushwhacker, and Kruin Striker play well with a token strategy, while the red enchantments Impact Tremors and Raid Bombardment improve white’s creatures by turning them into repeatable sources of direct damage. Rally the Peasants and Rally the Righteous are extra Fortify-effects, and drive home the combined goal of red and white to take a small swarm of creatures and throw them at your opponent as quickly as possible.
Thanks for reading! See you next week when we cover the color blue.
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