Target opponent draws a card.
You gain 7 life.
Printings View all
|Starter 1999 (S99)||Uncommon|
|Portal Second Age (P02)||Uncommon|
Combos Browse all
|Commander / EDH||Legal|
Latest Decks as Commander
3 months ago
TL;DR: The pre-text is LONG. Sorry about that, but there's a lot to unfold about the subject. If you just want to skip down to the suggestions I brainstormed, go below the first set of 3 lines.
It is no secret that the Commander community for a long time has regarded white as one of the weaker colors in Commander, especially as a monocolor. Many have pointed their fingers at how well the color achieves mana ramp and card draw/advantage.
White actually do have a small slew of card advantage and ramp cards or cards that in essence cheats the requirement for mana.
White has raw card draw in Mentor of the Meek and Dawn of Hope, although hidden behind a requirement in form of a trigger. Both are triggers that are fairly easy to achieve but not without costs. Not to forget Sram, Senior Edificer (and Puresteel Paladin) - but again behind a trigger requiring a very specific type of deck building. White has additional card advantage through regaining access to cards once lost, like through a Sun Titan getting back small permanents, or Nomad Mythmaker, Order of Whiteclay, or Bishop of Rebirth.
White has ramp in form of Knight of the White Orchid and Kor Cartographer and pseudo card advantage in good ol' Land Tax. The knight has a requirement that you need to be behind to actually ramp, and that aspect goes again in many of white's attempts to imitate ramp and card draw. White can only catch up, they cannot get ahead. These aspects are most recently seen through Verge Rangers (pseudo card advantage - not ramp, you don't get access to more lands than 1 per turn) and through Cartographer's Hawk. There's also Oath of Lieges but that is a symmetrical effect and may as well just benefit some of your opponents as much as it does you.
White can cheat the requirement for mana in a few instances, like casting Resurrection on a higher costing creature, an aspect they share with black and often a favorite when the two are paired. Where they differ is that black usually does it for less mana at another resource expense, and that black has different means to get those creatures out into your graveyard to set it all up. White has none of these opportunities/advantages.
This thread mainly aims to discuss white getting card draw/advantage in the Commander format and how they would achieve it to fit their color identity, but we can talk about the Commander format in general as well. To clarify, the topic is aimed at discussing how white could get card draw/advantage and not really whether or not they should - do feel free to voice your opinion for or against but please keep it limited and instead focus on how card draw could fit into white's color identity. It doesn't necessarily have to be from a place within the current color identity, but could be exploring new design space that hasn't been seen before.
Let's examine how other colors achieve card advantage:
Blue is super easy and the main color that achieves it, they usually do it straight as an investment for the specific purpose of gaining more resources; Concentrate. Blue also has access to looting options where they draw cards and discard cards (or the other way around); Merfolk Looter / Tolarian Winds. Blue also has the largest collection of cards with Flashback, so even once Blue uses a resource from their hand, they can do it again from their graveyard; Deep Analysis - although these cards are usually more costly than their non-flashback peers.
Black is also relatively easy as they imitate blue's investment but at an additional cost; Night's Whisper. As previously stated black can also access their graveyard like white and reuse mainly creatures that have died or otherwise put into the graveyard (from say an Entomb) by using Animate Dead or Zombify. Black's ability even goes beyond their own graveyard and dip into their opponent's graveyard. Black also have some aspect of self-discarding, usually as a symmetrical effect that aims at harming their opponents while still being able to access the cards they lost themselves; like Cunning Lethemancer.
Red is relatively new on this block, as they have for a long while had many of the same issues as white. Red did however have cards that looted (drawing and discarding cards) in the concept of picking up the strongest of a larger selection of cards - this is also called card filtering as you don't get an advantage in resources, only the selection. However red also has a selection of cards with flashback or activated or triggered abilities from the graveyard. With the introduction of impulse draw - so named from Act on Impulse, where red exiles a number of cards from the top of their library for the ability to play those for a limited time. Thus red has achieved temporary card draw.
Green is one of the richest colors in the color pie at the moment, having access to a lot of control cards, protective measures, card advantage, ramp and swingy plays. It is no wonder to me how green is one of the stronger colors in Commander. Green has access to some very strong card advantage cards that fits right into the slow format of Commander. Rishkar's Expertise is a favorite as it combines the Commander format's slow pace, green's affinity for big creatures, and a powerful swing in resources, all in one card. Another is the ability to draw from creatures being cast or entering the battlefield. Outside the slow Commander format, you don't really see these types of cards, but within the format they are strong and valuable. Green also has access to the most flexible way to reuse cards from the graveyard through Eternal Witness, Greenwarden of Murasa, Road of Return - road and Myth Unbound are even commander specific benefits that makes casting your commander cheaper, within the color with the most access to mana acceleration. So the color that needs it the least has ways to reduce their mana demand on casting their commander. I would argue this aspect should have been placed within white and/or blue more than in green. Black is getting in on it with Netherborn Altar, so in the future we might see the other colors circumventing the commander tax in some fashion.
White has very few card draw cards (the best of which are mentioned above) and all are locked behind some kind of condition that is not insignificant, compared to something like Beast Whisperer.
It would seem white lacks behind quite a bit in this aspect. When a color cannot do something itself or not very well, they usually seek toward artifacts to fix their issues. Here you can utilize Mind's Eye or Loreseeker's Stone or Arcane Encyclopedia or Book of Rass or Endless Atlas or Skullclamp or Tome of Legends to name a handful of the better variants. What most of these have in common is that they are expense to cast or maintain or require some specific deck building choices to function.
If the general consensus of Commander players are to be taken into account along with the perceived strength of each color, it would seem these artifacts are not enough to help white overcome its lack of card draw. Furthermore white's other strengths doesn't seem to have enough impact to offset this lack.
The general argument I have seen against providing white with card advantage is; it breaks the color pie, white can utilize artifacts to fix their weaknesses to some extend, white's strengths comes from mass land destruction, taxing (Thalia, Guardian of Thraben) and hatebears (Aven Mindcensor). Again I don't really want this thread to be overshadowed about arguing for/against White getting card draw into their color identity, let's just assume white eventually will get card draw - how would that look like?
Brief discussion on the counter arguments Show
- It breaks the color pie
Drawing cards is an essential part of the game's core mechanics. All other colors have come up with a fashion to draw cards that is now implemented into that color's design. Keeping white from attaining their seat in the circle seems like playing favorites.
- White can substitute through the use of artifacts
I already listed a good bunch of the better variants of artifact draw up above and one of the main problems is that artifact card draw is expensive, it is slow, or it requires a specific deck building design. Another issue is simply critical mass of card draw. You need a handful of cards to draw you cards in Commander to consistently have a chance to get to them during a game. The time between investment and break-even in terms of input versus output makes artifact draw vulnerable to removal / counterplays that say a Divination isn't.
- White's strengths comes from mass land destruction, taxing and hatebears
This is a paraphrased argument but somewhat sums up what I hear as the main strengths that are somewhat unique to white. Mass land destruction is seen by many as a break in the social contract that many players of the Commander format adhere to. It slows down the format and can only be leveraged if you're significantly ahead on the board - something that might be hard considering white doesn't have card draw nor ramp.
Hatebears and taxing are indeed some of the stronger and more unique aspects of white's color pie, but it does have an issue. Being the person who limits your opponents can often be seen as dragging others down to your level - a premise that not many players are interested in enduring. You can be seen as an nuisance or hindrance rather than attempting to leveling the playing field so white has a chance. This is often seen as a negative impact and it is persistent. If an opponent blows up your Mana Reflection you might dislike that player for a while, but the deed is done. You might even have ways to get it back or replace it with a Mirari's Wake. If that opponent instead plays a Copy Enchantment they effectively pulls themselves up to your level, but it doesn't have a negative impact on you, so you might not care (too much). If that opponent instead played something like Damping Sphere, you're repeatedly reminded that that opponent hinders your Mana Reflection. You're more likely to target the latter player; for one because if he dies, you can use your Mana Reflection again, and two you might build up more "resentment" (strong term but in context of an opponent in a game) towards him than someone who would blow it up.
That's at least my 2 cents about the counter arguments.
I really like the way WotC incorporated card draw into red, as impulse draw feels red but it is card draw and it helps red smooth out some edges it may have in especially multiplayer formats, such as Commander.
So, if we assume white is eventually going to get card draw, how would it look like? Here's a couple of ideas for concepts on how to incorporate a card draw mechanic with white flavor.
Good ol' taxing. We already have Smothering Tithe, so something similar to Rhystic Study could be a possibility. It could be an aura you put on a land, so whenever it is tapped that opponent pays mana or grants you card draw. It doesn't necessarily have to be mana that is taxed, it could also just be the action/trigger itself that is the tax.
A taxing example Show
Gathering Support at Court
Whenever one or more creatures attack you, draw a card. If three or more creatures attack you, draw two cards instead.
Warring / "spoils of war"
White is the most militarized color that deals in organized military strategy, being the main color for the creature types Soldier and Knight. White is often associated with combat and attacking as well. Perhaps it should be used to its advantage and provide some means to acquire card draw - figure it a substitute for roleplay wise gaining lands / trade routes / power / intelligence.
Example of war "spoils" Show
Kelmar, First Scout
Legendary Creature - Human Soldier
Whenever a creature you control attacks, put a Scout counter on Kelmar.
Remove two Scout counters from Kelmar: Draw a card.
I actually really like the idea of this one, although it may be harder to properly accomplish.
White has before had trades happening like Armistice and Bargain. There's also the advocates and Benevolent Offering but they are not unique to white and is a set mechanic. It's been a while since this was part of white's color pie, but it could be again.
Example on trading Show
Target opponent creates two Food tokens.
Until end of turn, Clue tokens you control have ", sacrifice this artifact: Draw a card."
Choose two. You may choose the same mode more than once.
It would be more flavorful with gold tokens, but I think from a design perspective, treasure tokens are the less broken variant. Initially I would have the second mode be "draw a card", but a 2 CMC draw 2 with a slight downside is simply too good.
I could make it 3 CMC to have it reflect a Divination with downside but being more flexible. I think this is more fitting and it has more cross-over potential.
The reason for using Clue token is because Clues are already a thing, enabling some cross-over synergy - and I know Clues are incorporated through the Investigate mechanic and haven't before been referenced directly. Clues fit white in the sense that they gather intelligence/reconnaissance - being the more military styled color, white shares with green the most mentions of scouts/rangers.
However just generating Clue tokens would result in 2 mana spent per card draw in addition to the initial 2 mana investment to get the clue tokens, that would be too inefficient by itself as a 6 mana draw 2. I think a 4 cost draw 2 with slight downside (or political influence) in white is acceptable, with the possibility to build more Clue synergy within white.
I guess this suggestion ended up as a double suggestion by also suggesting Clue tokens should be integrated more with white. This particular card example aims to solve both of white's most pressing issues in multiplayer formats, but it is still slow and inefficient enough to not have any kind of impact outside casual formats.
The flavor is there, as white is a color of community and peace, so trading seems like a natural byproduct. I really like the political aspect from this mechanic when considering multiplayer formats.
An alternative to direct card draw; you choose a card type (instant, sorcery, creature, land, artifact, enchantment, planeswalker) and then look at top X cards of your library, you may reveal a card of the chosen type and put it into hand, put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
This reflects the Commune with Nature (which is a green card I know) but it seems to fit white's color pie as the more religious color, to ask the gods/divine/faith for a boon and maybe it is answered, maybe not. Obviously you can deck tech to increase your chances but the idea is a card draw that is not guaranteed. Under the right circumstances it can be stronger than a card draw as it may filter.
Example on Divination Show
Boon of the Gods
Choose a card type, then look at the top four cards of your library. You may reveal a card of the chosen type from among them and put into your hand. Put the rest of the cards on the bottom of your library in any order.
Cleric of White Fields
Creature - Human Cleric
At the beginning of your upkeep Divine 1 - (Choose a card type, then look at the top card of your library. You may reveal a card of the chosen type and put it into your hand. Put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.)
Just a few examples to show you can scale it. The deeper your dig, the higher chance to hit your mark. But no matter how high the Divine factor is, you only ever get one card - unless you trigger Divine multiple times; "Divine 1, then divine 1" - as you would "Scry 1, then scry 1".
Honor the ancestors
I really wanted to create some kind of mechanic that allowed white to dump cards into their graveyard, to synergize with white's inherent ability to generate card advantage through recurring permanents, especially low CMC permanents. As it stands white needs to cast those smaller permanents and have them put into the graveyard from the battlefield - thus making these recurring effects a lot more narrow than their black and even green brethren, who can more easily set up these beneficial plays. But it doesn't seem very much like a white thing to self-mill, ala Surveil, nor do they discard. For white to have this particular synergy you would have to make them gain it without much prior precedent.
One thing that seemed sort of within the flavor of white would be to honor the ancestors, remember the history, keep to the traditions. I think you could work that flavor into some kind of mechanic that could work to white's advantage.
Examples on Honoring the Ancestors Show
Creature - Human
When ~ enters the battlefield exile the bottom five cards of your library, then put any number of permanent cards from among them into your graveyard.
Crypt Attendant has first strike and vigilance as long as there are four or more creature cards in your graveyard.
Call on the Past
Exile the bottom five cards of your library, then put any number of permanent cards from among them into your graveyard. Put a permanent card with converted mana cost up to X plus 2 from your graveyard onto the battlefield under your control.
The latter can even double as mana ramp. It's not guaranteed and TBH an interesting little interaction. It's obviously not an evergreen mechanic as such, and will require some meaningful synergies to be made within the product. The mechanic could also just double as a downside, like;
Creature - Giant
When ~ enters the battlefield exile the bottom ten cards of your library, then put any number of permanent cards from among them into your graveyard.
Without any actual benefit it just removes a large portion of your deck, especially dangerous in limited. Any synergies with graveyard interactions can just be a benefit, but the card itself reads as a downside effect. These cards are usually also more interesting when dealing in constructed formats because you can turn the downside into an upside.
Anyway, that's just what I brainstormed for. Like I said before I really liked the flavor on red's card draw and I want white to get something similar. Do you like any of my suggestions or think you can refine them? How would you give white card draw that is flavorful?
3 years ago
3 years ago
Okay so like int3r4ct said, I'm definitely going to build this deck. Cards like Caged Sun, Extraplanar Lens, Dragon's Claw, Ruination, Blood Moon, Braid of Fire, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, Gauntlet of Might, Gauntlet of Power, Mox Ruby, Fire Diamond, Sun Droplet, Iron Myr, Bargain, Coalhauler Swine, Basilisk Collar, and I could go on all day. But definitely basilisk collar. Any ideas for other cards (I'd definitely like to keep it at at least 50-60 mountains though)?