Last updated on February 16, 2021
Heliod, Sun-Crowned | Illustration by Lius Lasahido
Mono White is a big bomb of a deck. Gaining life against those pesky mono red decks while being surprisingly strong against everything else in the late game. The deck does suffer a little against Ugin ramp decks, but those are becoming less and less common with Dimir and Gruul taking over the metagame.
Mono White currently sits at an average win rate of about 58% in BO3, making it a solid tier 1.5 pick. In BO1, on the other hand, win rates of 60% or higher are prevalent, and it’s one of the strongest decks in the format.
So let’s dive in.
Alseid of Life’s Bounty | Illustration by Magali Villeneuve
Giant Killer x2
Selfless Savior x3
Alseid of Life’s Bounty x3
Speaker of the Heavens x4
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun x3
Luminarch Aspirant x4
Linden, the Steadfast Queen x2
Lurrus of the Dream-Den x2
Heliod, Sun-Crowned x3
Skyclave Apparition x3
Legion Angel x2
This deck’s strategy revolves around some very oppressive interactions. It’s an aggro deck at its core but it easily stands its ground in the long game because it can get massive lifegain combos going. We have lots of solid creatures with various ways to give them protection or indestructible, often making it difficult for your opponent to deal with your board state.
Of course, a well-timed Ugin, the Spirit Dragon means you’ll likely lose given you don’t have access to counterspells. Still, with a metagame shifting towards aggro and midrange, Mono White has a lot of very favorable matchups.
First we have two amazing 1-drops: Alseid of Life’s Bounty and Selfless Savior. Both of these are great at protecting your important creatures. Alseid especially combos well with Heliod, Sun-Crowned, making it more powerful each time it gains you life.
We have another 1-drop in the form of Speaker of the Heavens. It’s yet another card that goes hand-in-hand with Heliod, allowing you to gain life rapidly and start pushing out 4/4 angels every turn.
Finally, we have a hybrid card that can be either a cheap creature or a removal spell: Giant Killer.
Daxos is a great blocker. Not only that but it also gains you a ton of life when it’s on the battlefield. Each single life you gain may not seem like much, but it’s a great bonus! Luminarch Aspirant combos nicely with all the other low mana creatures by buffing them early on. Sometimes you can even put those +1/+1 counters on Luminarch itself if you expect removal and protect it with Selfless Savior. Keep in mind that by turn 4, this card can turn a 1/1 into a 4/4 if it goes unimpeded. That’s almost Gruul-territory levels of power.
Finally we have three copies of Glass Casket, our semi-removal spell for the early game. As I mentioned before, this deck will likely gain you more life than your opponent can deal in the late game. Getting there is the hard part.
Let’s talk about Heliod, Sun-Crowned. This card is insane. It gives you counters and it gives lifelink to big creatures. Heliod is kind of the glue that binds this entire deck together. Sadly, it’s locked at three copies since it’s a dead draw if you’ve already got a copy on the battlefield.
If it does land, though, it’s extremely difficult to deal with. Keep in mind that this is an enchantment as long as you have less than five devotion to white. If your opponent tries to use a card like Extinction Event to get rid of it, you can always sacrifice Alseid of Life’s Bounty or Selfless Savior to try and get your devotion under five. Turning it into an enchantment will allow it to dodge this type of removal with ease.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den hardly needs any explanation. With so many 1- and 2-drops in the deck, you’ll almost always have something to bring back. Try to make sure you can land your Lurrus with a Selfless Savior already on the board because having the Savior puts your opponent in a soft lock. They’ll be unable to remove Lurrus if they don’t have any exile effects. Just keep bringing back your little dog each turn, and you’ll be reviving stuff for a long time.
Skyclave Apparition is starting to see more play. I personally use it a lot in Modern and I’m glad it finally has a solid home in Standard decks, too. This card functions as removal in our deck for non-land permanents.
Emeria, Shattered Skyclave | Illustration by Matt Stewart
Next we have Linden, the Steadfast Queen. Always make sure you hold Linden back if you think your opponent might kill it in a block. Having the life gain trigger in combination with Heliod, Sun-Crowned is extremely potent, sometimes turning mere 1/1s into beefy 5/5s in the same turn. Thanks to Castle Ardenvale, which fits well thematically, we tend to have a lot of creatures to trigger this card’s effect.
In similar fashion to Glass Casket, Banishing Light also functions as a designated removal spell. In a creature-heavy meta, it might be best to simply run extra copies of Glass Casket instead. As you might have noticed, though, the sideboard has a couple of Archon of Sun’s Graces that combo nicely with enchantments.
Maul of the Skyclaves is heavily underrated. We already mentioned it as an aggro combo piece a few times. This is sort of our white Embercleave. It’s not as powerful, but it still equips to your creature right away. The flying especially comes in handy. Put this on a lifelink-er and you’re in for a lot of fun.
Since Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Luminarch Aspirant tend to build towards giant creatures, not having access to trample can be problematic. With this card you can dodge most chump blockers in the game. Also blocks will usually be in your favor thanks to first strike.
Legion Angel is a great answer against decks that run single-target removal thanks to its ability to duplicate itself in-hand by fetching a copy from the sideboard. While not an amazing creature for its cost, this ability is great and makes sure you don’t run out of gas against a board wipe.
Instants and Sorceries
Emeria’s Call will rarely be cast for its effect. It’s more of a “bonus” land in case you end up in a long haul and need a way to impact the game.
The Chop Down side of Giant Killer is very important in the current metagame. Losing to an Embercleave turn is unacceptable. So is Zareth San, the Trickster looting your graveyard. Right before you take lethal, it’s time to chop those ugly creatures down.
Other than Emeria’s Call, we run only one other utility land: Castle Ardenvale. A land that can help create tons of 1/1 creatures to put pressure on your opponent. This is especially useful with a Linden, the Steadfast Queen and Heliod, Sun-Crowned combo, especially since each attack will grow the power of your creatures thanks to the combined triggers.
Let’s dive into the mulligan step. The most important point of the game for you:
- Make sure you have three lands. A lot of our strategy revolves around getting Heliod, Sun-Crowned on the board or using cards like Skyclave Apparition. As tempting as it may be to keep a two-lander, don’t;
- You need a decent curve in hand. Make sure you have at least a 1- or 2-drop that can curve into a 3-drop. Having either Alseid of Life’s Bounty or Selfless Savior is great protection, but not a must if you have a card like Luminarch Aspirant.
Archon of Sun’s Grace | Illustration by Matt Stewart
This deck’s sideboard is unique because it can very easily change strategy from being aggro-centric to playing midrange or even control. Thanks to powerful cards like Elspeth Conquers Death in combination with Archon of Sun’s Grace, you can catch your opponents off-guard with your sudden switch in play style.
The cards to replace depends on the matchup. Most of these are targeted at having a favorable matchup against control, so your creature removal will tend to be taken out first. Like Glass Casket and Giant Killer. Trimming down Legion Angel is another viable target. I’d cut Maul of the Skyclaves before touching the creature-base, but Linden, the Steadfast Queen is likely the first to cut in some matchups.
Since we run so many enchantments, Archon of Sun’s Grace is great against slower matchups that want to go into the late game. It usually replaces Glass Casket against non-creature decks. Replacing one of your Legion Angel copies is also an option.
Elspeth Conquers Death is a bit of a flex slot, and I rarely side it in. But you can change your mode from aggro to midrange/control with ease against slower decks.
Destructive Control Matchups
Idol of Endurance is a solid tech against control decks that rely on destroying your creatures. These decks are generally slow enough for you to put this down and bring back threats every single turn. Combine it with Lurrus of the Dream-Den and you’ll rarely run out of gas.
Artifact and Mono Red Matchups
Heliod’s Intervention is great against decks that stack up on artifacts but can save your life against mono red decks as well. Side this in against decks that run Doom Foretold to clear their board of fuel.
Protection and Closing
There’s a single copy of Fight as One in the sideboard. A great surprise combat trick. Sadly, you don’t want to flood out on these since we’re navigating an aggro deck, but having one in hand ready to save some creatures is amazing. We have a decent split between humans and non-humans as well so you can likely protect two creatures at once. On top of that, the attack bonus can help close out games.
Dimir Rogue Matchups
Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis is our graveyard tech against Dimir rogue decks. Being able to bring this back with its escape cost can ruin their strategy entirely.
Seasoned Hallowblade is the perfect card to stack counters given by Luminarch Aspirant or healing triggers from Heliod, Sun-Crowned. You can also put Maul of the Skyclaves on this creature later on in the game with less worry of it being removed.
Elspeth, Sun’s Nemesis | Illustration by Livia Prima
The deck is pretty solid. A perfect mix between aggro, lifegain, midrange, and post-game one, even having access to some heavy control elements. The deck shines the most in BO1 thanks to the large percentage of mono red decks, but it has its share of amazing matchups in BO3 as well.
Feel free to tinker with the number of creatures in this deck. Sometimes I tend to go for a 4-4 ratio for Selfless Savior and Alseid of Life’s Bounty in a meta that relies heavily on single target removal. All in all, I’m pretty satisfied with the deck and hope it doesn’t trigger a cascade effect of Ugin decks returning. While Dimir rogues is annoying to face, it’s keeping those top-end control decks in check for smaller decks like this one to succeed. Since we tend to go quite wide, it puts a lot of pressure on Dimir as well.
If you enjoy these types of decks, be sure to let me know in the comments down there! As usual, you can also head to our Discord for a longer chat. I’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you’re an Arena player and you haven’t tried our stellar MTGA tracker Arena Tutor yet, you need to get on that ASAP.
Linden, the Steadfast Queen | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast