Mono White Ramp/Draw

Commander (EDH) forum

Posted on March 12, 2021, 1:23 a.m. by enpc

I see this topic come up every few months, so I thought I would create a sticky'd thread about it since there is a lot of repeat in the coversations.

What're your opinons of mono white? do you think it's in a healthy place right now? do you think it needs more ramp? how would you go about adding ramp to white so that it's still white?

What about card draw? What're your thoughts on the current card draw capabilities that white possesses? is it in a happy place or does it need more?

I'd love to keep the conversation going here to try and preserve as much context as possible. So tell me (and everyone) what you think!

griffstick says... #2

It's kinda in line with mono blue in ramp. As they both relay on artifact for ramp and its card draw is still below acceptable. It has its card draw in the form of weak strategies like play small creatures or gain life or play equipment. Mono whit has one good card draw card, that card is Mesa Enchantress . This card in a enchantment deck is like Beast Whisperer in a creature deck. Sadly though that's the only mono white card that draws this well. Theres others that support enchantments and draw well but they care about aura enchantments instead. Mangara, the Diplomat is a good direction for mono card draw because it doesn't make you build a deck a certain way to draw cards. You simply play it and it will draw you cards. Better than a Howling Mine . And speaking of Howling Mine , mono white could definitely have symmetrical card draw. Isn't mono white all about Balance anyway?

March 12, 2021 1:59 a.m. Edited.

plakjekaas says... #3

Mono white is fine as is. There's plenty of ramp in mono white, it's probably the second best color at fetching lands out of your library with cards like Knight of the White Orchid , Boreas Charger , Keeper of the Accord and such. Oh and Smothering Tithe of course.

Card advantage comes in less obvious ways, but there's plenty to be found. From flickering Thraben Inspector to fetching lands out of your deck with Land Tax , Gift of Estates or Tithe , to using small creatures with Mentor of the Meek , Bygone Bishop , Ranger of Eos and Recruiter of the Guard , to recurring creatures and/or small permanents with Sun Titan , Resurrection , Bruna, the Fading Light  Flip, to equipment with Sram, Senior Edificer and Puresteel Paladin . And don't forget that Wrath of God is also card advantage if you use it well. There's also more obscure stuff, like using lifegain + Dawn of Hope , or Martyr's Cry on your own board of tokens, or Armistice , Pursuit of Knowledge , Inheritance for slightly overpriced sources of repeatable carddraw.

There will always be a slight imbalance in the colors, there will always be one that needs to work a little harder than the others for the same results. There's plenty of colorless cards to support any deck and make it playable nowadays, and I personally wouldn't like it much if white would be homogenised with the other colors to stop the masses from complaining. We have been doing so for years, it's pretty much a meme at this point. I know people who complain about it without ever having tried to play a mono white deck. Wizards could colorshift all the good green carddraw cards to white the upcoming year and that probably wouldn't fix it, and make the game a lot less varied and interesting in the process.

I embrace the adversity and challenges that come with mono white commander deckbuilding.

Your mileage may vary.

March 12, 2021 5:25 a.m.

griffstick says... #4

I like where they are going with ramp. Verge Rangers and Brought Back and a few other good cards we have gotten recently have been what I think white needs for ramp. I always thought that mono white ramp could look like this

March 12, 2021 10:10 a.m.

edengstrom1 says... #5

I think that mono-white can ramp just fine. In fact, Smothering Tithe is one of the best ramp cards out there and can get out of hand quickly if it's not removed. It will rely on artifacts like blue and red do, but I don't think it is much worse than some of the other colors.

It is the worst at drawing cards and it isn't really that close. Even red has a plethora of Outpost Siege , Faithless Looting and Wheel of Fortune effects that it can use for card advantage or selection. However, it does seem like they are trying to give white more options, and I assume that we will see more cards coming in the next year or so.

White does have great removal/interaction though, so that's something.

March 12, 2021 11:21 a.m.

can ramp... provided everyone else is. All the "catch-up" cards like Cartographer's Hawk , Boreas Charger , etc. only work when your opponents are putting extra lands into play--so if you're playing against non- decks or just by happenstance play in a game where rocks are the way, well. You're up a creek.

I would say there's a difference between having good cards in a certain subrequirement of the game and meeting that requirement. Smothering Tithe is busted as all hell, but you move down the list of the next best "White" ramp cards and they're all colorless.

Which brings me to my next point... just because has access to Mind Stone et al. doesn't mean that it's good at ramping. It's exactly average at ramping at that point, and it doesn't go much farther than that.

Now. Card draw. White isn't very good at it. The distinction to make here isn't whether or not there are cards in that say the actual words "draw a card" on them--rather if those cards are playable or not. Thraben Inspector sits at a solid 1% of decks according to edhrec (all stats following are from the same source), Land Tax is doing well at 9%, but is certainly limited as far as draw goes. Tithe is--and to be fair it's expensive, but that's part of the issue--in 1%. Mentor of the Meek is in 9% again. I would feel comfortable positing that that one is the best singular piece of card draw in the color, so it makes sense. Bygone Bishop & Ranger of Eos =1%. Recruiter of the Guard is faring well at 5%. Sun Titan rests its weary head at almost 20%, although it may be more fair to place that card in the recursion category (yes, a form of card advantage, but it doesn't put more cards into your hand). Resurrection died a while ago. 0%. Bruna, the Fading Light  Flip and Sram, Senior Edificer are commanders so their stats are represented differently. Not sure about them. Puresteel Paladin , 3%. Relying on an archetype that's innately underpowered and focus-requiring to draw cards isn't the best, either. I'm not looking at Wrath of God because you're silly if you say that's ever going to be put into your "card draw/advantage" pile while building a deck. Dawn of Hope =4%. Martyr's Cry , 0%. Same with Armistice . Pursuit of Knowledge as well. Lastly, Inheritance --yep, 0%.

March 12, 2021 1:27 p.m.

RambIe says... #7

The trick to fetching in white is to sac lands before the check hits the stack
Example: crack a Evolving Wilds and while its on the stack activate Weathered Wayfarer
But for ramp white really excels in returning artifacts of 3 cmc or less to the battlefield, so you can abuse cards like Wayfarer's Bauble
The same is true for card vantage

March 12, 2021 3:58 p.m. Edited.

hejtmane says... #8

I would like to see white get more scry.

March 13, 2021 5:56 a.m.

King_marchesa says... #9

I think that you could easily make a balanced white card that says

Bounty of the Fields {w}{w}{2}

You draw 3 cards. Each opponent gains 2 life.

This is basically whites’ harmonize. I think that white also has the potential to ramp.

Idk what to call this card {w}{2}

Search your library for a basic land card and put it onto the battlefield tapped. If a plains was tapped to cast this spell, search you library for an additional basic land card and put it into your hand.

March 13, 2021 7:58 a.m.

King_marchesa says... #10

Tithe needs a reprint really badly. Is it on the reserved list?

March 13, 2021 8 a.m.

RambIe says... #11

I respectfully disagree
I think if a card serves a function way outside the normal of a color it should be limited and hard to get
Instant speed tutoring upto two lands for one mana, is off balance even for green.

March 13, 2021 8:11 a.m.

RambIe says... #12

If woc took all this advice and started printing mono white spells that tutor lands to battlefield, what would happen to green?
also if white was given the priority for ramp and draw, boros decks would be dam near unstoppable and even bodyslam the best simic decks

March 13, 2021 8:22 a.m.

plakjekaas says... #13

Omniscience_is_life and are those percentages of mono white decks? Or all possible decks running white? Because nobody who's allowed to play Read the Bones will consider a Martyr's Cry for their card draw. It's a lot easier to play with statistics than it is to play magic.

I did explain how I thought white is the underdog, the colour that needs to work a little harder for the same results, because the color is better suited for 1v1, and low played % can mean several things. Not only that the card is bad, it could also mean people don't want to work harder. It could mean the cards are less available, or unknown.

Plus, white is uniquely equipped to make sure it's opponents have more lands in play, with Path to Exile , Winds of Abandon , Karoo , Guildless Commons , Oath of Lieges etc.

King_marchesa I'm afraid Tithe is a reserved list card, yes. Gift of Estates is close though.

But if you're advocating a white Harmonize and Cultivate , do you really want to play white? Or do you actually want to play Simic, without the image of evil and overpoweredness that has accompanied these colors recently? Because if you don't want to play equipment (which has gotten a massive power boost with Commander Legends and even broke onto cEDH as an archetype because of it), or weenies, or lifegain, why do you want to play white? And if you'd rather play Cultivate or Harmonize but in white! but don't lose access to Wrath of God , Sun Titan and Swords to Plowshares , why not play selesnya? The color system works on colors both exploiting and complementing each others' strengths and weaknesses, and not every color is meant to do everything. If you want to Cultivate , play green, it's ok to play green.

Colorshifting with a white twist just to give the color access to the same staples that the other colors have, is not a solution that would fix white. It would make white just feel like the other colors, pushing out the actual interesting white cards to make room for green "light" gameplay.

March 13, 2021 2:05 p.m.

plakjekaas they are percentages of all decks. But the very fact that no one would play any White draw spells if they didn't have to is a pretty good signifier that the color is struggling.

Read the Bones is in 12% of all decks, btw.

People shouldn't have to work harder, because that means you're playing poorer. Scathe Zombies is worse than Walking Corpse for the very reason that you have to "work harder" (pay more mana) to cast it.

The thing with those cards you mentioned that disrupt the land equilibrium is, from the top:

  1. Path to Exile is not going to a smart cast in the early game most of the time, unless you're in cEDH (in which case you're not going to be playing Cartographer's Hawk )--so it doesn't really put you behind in lands in the time when you actually need to be ramping. Same with Winds of Abandon , if not more so.

  2. Karoo is steadily falling out of favor in EDH, due to the vices of it entering tapped and making you vulnerable to being two-for-one'd with a Ghost Quarter or other.

  3. Guildless Commons is colorless. Nothing uniquely White about that one.

  4. Oath of Lieges is designed specifically as to have no one player be at a land disadvantage during their turn. Unless you flash in a Stoic Farmer with a Vedalken Orrery then you're going to have a hard time making that combo work.

And the issue with all those cards is there's an innate issue with giving lands to your opponent. The reason you're trying to ramp in the first place is that having lands in play is a powerful thing, especially when you have more than your opponent.

March 13, 2021 3:03 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #15

And if you want more lands in play than your opponents, you play green. It's a concession of the color. Red, black and blue also don't put extra lands in play, save for silly things like Dreamscape Artist .

I'm not against helping white, but just copying the other colors is not the way. I wish they made a Mangara, the Diplomat -like card that gives you a treasure whenever an opponent had a second land enter the battlefield this turn, punishing fetch lands and green ramp. You know, a white way to deal with it, punishing players for trying to get ahead, like Rule of Law and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben do. You could even give it a fun play-on-words name related to Land Tax . Price it right, so it won't ruin modern/legacy though.

March 13, 2021 4:51 p.m.

griffstick says... #16

That's last point you made is exactly what white should be doing more of. Smothering Tithe is the example of everything else white could do to match what other colors are doing. Every color has a way of drawing cards and ramping better than white does. So much so that it's nearly non existent. Even wotc acknowledges that every color needs ramp and card draw. Going forward white needs those problems to be addressed because its falling far behind.

March 13, 2021 8:08 p.m.

King_marchesa says... #17

Ramble very true.

March 13, 2021 8:16 p.m.

Brobraam says... #18

Kor Cartographer ramps lands
Inheritance card draw is semi cheap: 1 mana to put down but a bit expensive cost to draw a card (3 mana per dying creature).

May 6, 2021 4:41 p.m.

WillofForce says... #19

And then they made Archaeomancer's Map .

May 10, 2021 8:57 a.m.

Coward_Token says... #20

I think baseline EDH rock ramp is fine for white, drawing is another matter.

Alms Collector exists and is worth mentioning

Some custom cards I've made on the topic Show

May 22, 2021 7:52 a.m.

Coward_Token says... #21

I'd also like to see more efficient card-neutral/advantage removal like Grasp of Fate and Dismantling Wave

May 22, 2021 8:31 a.m.

Guerric says... #22

Personally I think mono white is by far the weakest color in edh, and the gap is only growing with the great new Boros commanders we've had out recently and some good mono-red options as well. I say this as a white player who has tried many times to make a mono white commander deck that I like, only to be always disappointed and to take it apart.

The problem is not really ramp imo. White actually has more ramp than most other non-green colors with cards like Kor Cartographer and Boreas Charger , and, as others have said, they can use the same mana rocks and Sword of the Animist style cards that other colors use.

I don't think the problem is really overall direction either. One thing they have done in recent sets with cards like Cosmic Intervention , Semester's End , Unbreakable Formation , and Teferi's Protection giving white more ways to protect a board state at instant speed, which it often needs in commander. Its always had the best removal, and it also has recursion and some great new lifegain synergies with one great new commander in Heliod, Sun-Crowned .

The problem is absolutely and overwhelmingly an abyssmal lack of card draw. The only helps to this in recent years have been Sram, Senior Edificer and Mangara, the Diplomat , but these are few and far between. Recenty Ari Nieh, the new guy representing white on the council of colors was on Tolarian Community College, and he expressed some of the prior thinking on card draw in white that has led to these problems. In short, an example of what they thought card draw was is God-Eternal Oketra . While a great card, Oketra clearly doesn't draw cards, but they reasoned that the fact that it produces big tokens was basically the same thing. The fact that developers whose job is to make this game actually thought that just shows how far away they are from understanding our format. Apparently Mark Rosewater has had a change of heart recently, and hence why we have Mangara, but there's a long way to go. Every other color can draw cards on its own without support of another color if need be, but its real tough in white.

May 25, 2021 8:34 a.m.

Guerric says... #23

I just wanted to add one more point which I think others have made here in part, namely, that playing mono-white effectively in commander essentially sits behind a paywall. Since good cards for doing basic things like ramping and draw are so few and re-printed so seldom, one is essentially required to invest in pricey staples such as Smothering Tithe , Land Tax , Archaeomancer's Map , Extraplanar Lens , Enlightened Tutor , etc. This kind of creates a class system where anyone can afford to play degenerate decks in green on a budget, but mono-white players pay through the nose to play what are still frequently second rate decks. This is one thing the luminaries at WoTC really need to get through their heads, since it actually goes against some of the values they claim to care about. And as others have said, as has been seen recently with Boros, if you actually print good mono-white commanders that people want to play, people will play mono-white.

May 26, 2021 3:14 p.m.

Coward_Token says... #24

Friends don't stop friends from proxying (well, at least not at the kitchen table)

May 26, 2021 3:20 p.m.

plakjekaas says... #25

It's pretty much the other way around though. Because white is hyped up as "the worst color in commander ever", when good white cards come along, there's such a huge run on them that they become expensive, not the other way around. Archaeomancer's Map is a rare in commander 2021, there is no reason at all for that to be more expensive than, say, Reinterpret . And when there's no green ramp player at your table, the map is about as good as Gift of Estates , because players won't have more land in play than you do, to generate extra land drops.

May 27, 2021 12:56 a.m.

golgarigirl says... #26

I would argue Archaeomancer's Map is miles better than Gift of Estates . There are few instant/sorcery synergies in white. Outside the potential to keep dropping lands in the right situation, Map is also an artifact that sits on the board. There are so many artifact synergies in white that often times it ends up being card draw (Trading Post), more ramp (if you recur it, KCI it, or even just use it toward Affinity) or even reanimation (Teshar) in many of the decks that run it. Similar for staples like Land Tax in the right build, though Tax is just efficient, and a monster when it comes to deck thinning...if white can't draw more cards, it might as well make sure the cards it does draw count.

The cards wouldn't be expensive if they weren't effective pieces for many decks, and clearly they are. A card has to be useful before people want it. White has the staple 'paywall' because there are ineffective substitutes for the staples we often think of.

June 10, 2021 12:57 a.m.

WillofForce says... #27

You can also blink Archaeomancer's Map for more value unlike Land Tax or Gift of Estates .

June 14, 2021 9:01 a.m.

plakjekaas says... #28

The point wasn't that Gift of Estates was in any way better than Archaeomancer's Map , I just tried to say the Map isn't 30$ vs 0.50$ better than the Gift, for how well the "put a land into play"-clause on it plays out in actual games.

June 14, 2021 9:47 a.m.

hejtmane says... #29

Whites best card draw is still artifacts

June 14, 2021 10:16 a.m.

RambIe says... #30

Lol, and then this happened Esper Sentinel

July 14, 2021 3:46 p.m.

RambIe ‘tis but one card!

July 14, 2021 3:47 p.m.

RambIe says... #32

But there can only be one!!! But omg as a turn 1 play.... with all the rockers in my play group he could easily draw me 5 cards by turn 2

July 14, 2021 3:53 p.m. Edited.

plakjekaas says... #33

It's technically still an artifact :p

July 14, 2021 3:58 p.m.

RambIe says... #34

Bah! Your right.

July 14, 2021 4 p.m.

Guerric says... #35

I do think Esper Sentinel is moving in the right direction, we just need more of this type of effect, and it already needs to be reprinted because like anything that draws cards in white, it is pricey in real-world money. When I spend money on my decks, it never feels good to do it on ramp and draw, those should be the cheap cards so that we can spend money on fun ones! I do think taxing card draw is a great way to go for white though. Taxes has always been true to color, and Rhystic Study is really off-color by today's standards.

July 20, 2021 2:58 p.m.

wereotter says... #36

I think white doesn't need to find a way to copy every other color with more ramp and draw. Colors need to be able to balance each other out, and rather than allow white to do the same thing, I think white should stick to its flavor of being the color that forces people to play "fair" magic.

To that end, I think Balance should be unbanned and we need more cards like it. Force that green-white deck that's been drawing its whole deck and putting down 4 lands per turn to be back on the same page as everyone else. I also think they need to expand this. Maybe a white enchantment that says something like "If a land would enter the battlefield, and it wasn't the first land that player played from their hand this turn, exile it instead" and one that say "Players can't draw more than one card per turn" Make these effects universal so decks containing white can't abuse cards like Collective Voyage or wheel effects.

August 18, 2021 1:21 p.m.

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