Last updated on December 4, 2023
Myrel, Shield of Argive | Illustration by Ryan Pancoast
White has long been hailed as one of (if not the) worst colors in Commander given its lack of card advantage and ramp. But recent releases have helped address these weaknesses, and any mono-colored deck has a weakness or two in Commander.
So, let’s explore what white has to offer. After all, this is the color with some of the best removal, planeswalkers, and stax pieces in the game. It’s also got plenty of creature-based strategies to play to the board with.
Is white as bad as they say? Let’s take a look!
What Are White Commanders in MTG?
Zeriam, Golden Wind | Illustration by John Tedrick
White commanders are legendary creatures with white as part of their color identity. They don’t have to be mono-white; Kenrith, the Returned King is every bit as white of a card as Odric, Luminarch Marshal.
For this list I’m focusing on mono-white commanders only. White tends to get a bad rap as anything more than a supporting color in Commander, and I want to use this to highlight some of the interesting mono-white cards available.
I’m ranking these cards based on power, but uniqueness also plays a role. Limiting yourself to a single color gives your decks some weaknesses, but it also allows you to explore niche strategies that may not be present in multicolor combinations and could encourage intriguing build-around decks.
#51. Mageta the Lion
White’s good at building a robust board of creatures but can also play a controlling game. Mageta the Lion gives you a repeatable board wipe in the command zone if mono-white control is your style. Sometimes, the threat of activation is enough to make opponents hesitate. They’ll sandbag threats, giving you plenty of time to build up your win condition.
#50. Heliod, God of the Sun
Heliod, God of the Sun does a great job enabling an aggressive, go-wide strategy by letting you attack without worrying about the consequences of a crackback and providing you with an undercosted, indestructible attacker. The main drawback is that’s all it does. It can help build your board, but its activated ability is pricy. Still, this is an excellent commander for somebody looking to get into building simple decks.
#49. Kytheon, Hero of Akros / Gideon, Battle-Forged
We all know the pain of playing an aggro deck and not having a turn one play, no matter how many 1-drops you added. Kytheon, Hero of Akros ensures you never feel that pain in Commander. It’s a good aggressive option that flips into a fine planeswalker, and it’s the best commander for Gideon Tribal. Problem is, it falls a little short in the late game.
#48. Abdel Adrian, Gorion’s Ward + Far Traveler
Abdel Adrian, Gorion's Ward and Far Traveler make a powerful combination for an enters the battlefield deck. As long as you can attack or tap Abdel, you’re guaranteed a flicker that makes tons of soldiers and gets you a bunch of ETB triggers. This one-two punch shows off what backgrounds can do, even in a mono-colored deck.
#47. Zeriam, Golden Wind
Lots of niche creature types have a commander to lead them into battle. Zeriam, Golden Wind commands the Griffins from the sky. As far as niche creature commanders go, Zeriam is pretty solid. It gets out of control quickly and works well with the abundant anthems white has like Intangible Virtue and Glorious Anthem.
#46. Djeru, With Eyes Open
White has some of the best planeswalkers in the game, and Djeru, With Eyes Open gives superfriends a great leader. Commanders that tutor cards are always powerful since they find the best answer or threat to a given situation. White protects planeswalkers quite easily with a solid board presence. Djeru adds to that board, making it a powerful piece for a midrange planeswalker deck.
#45. Celestial Kirin
Our first venture to Kamigawa gave us plenty of interesting commanders, and Celestial Kirin has some interesting utility. Getting to repeatedly pinpoint wraths gives this card a lot of potential. You’ll want to watch your mana curve so you always have something relevant to cast and destroy things with. This works especially well with white’s various indestructible effects like Make a Stand.
#44. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit
White has plenty of +1/+1 counter synergies under its belt. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit enables these strategies by giving out counters like Oprah gives out cars. This is a house with other Tarkir cards like Abzan Falconer and Elite Scaleguard to bulldoze your opponents and set you up to build a thematic, plane-based deck.
#43. Daxos, Blessed by the Sun
Daxos, Blessed by the Sun isn’t quite Soul Warden in the command zone since it doesn’t trigger off your opponent’s creatures. But it’s close, and you get dies triggers. This is a fine lifegain commander since you’ll gain plenty of life for simply playing the game, and it’s plenty cheap. The main issue that holds Daxos back compared to other life-gain commanders is that it doesn’t pay you off.
#42. Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens
While Celestial Kirin is a destructive Spirits commander, Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens is an aggressive Spirit commander. If you can untap with this card, you swarm the board with large, flying tokens. This card does cost a lot of mana but offers a commanding board presence to back itself up.
#41. Odric, Master Tactician
Aggro decks have two major hurdles in Commander. You have to deal 120 or so damage to win the game, and you need to close out the game once everybody’s built up massive board states of powerful cards. Odric, Master Tactician closes out games with ease. This is one of white’s best closers to turn a wide board into a lethal force and works incredibly well with other creatures with first strike to pick off small creatures while you’re working to find lethal.
#40. Nadaar, Selfless Paladin
Nadaar, Selfless Paladin is the perfect commander for your inner D&D player. Venturing into the dungeon gives you a lot of flexible value throughout a game since you have your choice of dungeons and routes to take through them, and those decks only get better once you’ve completed a dungeon. This is a great commander if you want to play with a new, niche archetype.
#39. Losheel, Clockwork Scholar
Who said white didn’t get card draw? Losheel, Clockwork Scholar is perfect for the commander player who can’t let go of their precious artifacts, no matter the colors they’re playing. This is a great commander for an aggressive artifact strategy since you can freely attack, and it keeps the gas flowing. This works well with Myr and Arcbound strategies.
#38. Linden, the Steadfast Queen
A key feature to look for in a strong commander is one that provides steady value without a mana investment. Linden, Steadfast Queen grants an abundance of lifegain with ease. This is especially strong with abilities like Heliod, Sun-Crowned and Dawn of Hope that care more about individual life gain triggers than the amount of life gained.
#37. Rick, Steadfast Leader
Not all Magic players are fans of Universes Beyond cards, but you can’t deny that Rick, Steadfast Leader is one of the best commanders for Human Tribal. Humans have always been in Magic, so there are thirty years of cards to draw from to assemble the best team. You get stax pieces like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and aggressive options like Thalia's Lieutenant, all tied together by a flexible commander that can be aggressive or defensive depending on what the game asks of you.
#36. Lyra Dawnbringer
Angels are another creature type with a long and storied history in Magic. They’re often large flying creatures, and Lyra Dawnbringer makes them bigger. This can be a good commander for Angel Tribal, especially if you're playing against aggressive decks relying on damage to win. You can’t race a Lyra, which could make this an interesting pick if your meta sports the likes of Torbran, Thane of Red Fell or Ojer Axonil, Deepest Might players.
#35. Kemba, Kha Regent
Kemba, Kha Regent sits in an intriguing place for an equipment commander. You generally want equipment commanders to help you cheat on the equip cost of cards, but this one helps out another weakness in those decks. You’ll often make one large creature with equipment decks that can be vulnerable to removal, but Kemba allows you to go wide in case somebody answers it.
#34. Baldin, Century Herdmaster
White is no stranger to defensive bodies with more toughness than power, and Baldin, Century Herdmaster exploits that design to its fullest by making your Giant Ox hit like a Colossal Dreadmaw. It’s even a lord that helps close out games. White’s got several effects that buff the toughness of creatures like Lumithread Field and Builder's Blessing that help you hit even harder.
#33. Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
Nobody likes taking damage, and Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker gently encourages your opponents not to damage you else they reap terrible consequences. You can build a stax deck around this commander that encourages your opponent to turn their attention elsewhere, bolstered by similar effects like Ghostly Prison and Karmic Justice.
#32. Thalia, Heretic Cathar
White gives you lots of strong stax commanders that disrupt your opponents in different ways. Thalia, Heretic Cathar goes after their mana. This is especially strong against higher-powered decks with bunches of fetch lands. It also enables aggressive creature strategies by preventing blocks. It doesn’t look like much but provides solid disruption for little mana.
Protection is one of the most broken mechanics in Magic. Preventing your opponents from interacting with your game plan is a huge advantage. Eight-and-a-Half-Tails is another commander whose threat of activation simply prevents your opponents from trying to interact with you. This works well with some of white’s color-hating cards like Glare of Heresy and Pentarch Paladin for more offensive options.
#30. Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Nahiri, the Lithomancer gives you another equipment commander all about cheating on mana. You don’t need to pay for equipment or equip costs with this walker. Unlike equipment commanders that only get around equip costs, Nahiri works well with expensive equipment like Kaldra Compleat and Batterskull.
#29. Nils, Discipline Enforcer
Nils, Discipline Enforcer is great for generous players who want to spread some love around the table. White has a bunch of effects like this that spread counters around your opponents’ creatures like Noble Heritage and other taxing effects like Archangel of Tithes that combine well with this commander to stop your opponents from attacking you unless they want to devote their entire turn to the attack.
#28. Darien, King of Kjeldor
White is fantastic at making tokens, and Darien, King of Kjeldor makes a massive army. Unless your opponents decide to stop dealing damage to you, which also works. This is a massive deterrent, and it's hard to race this deck once you stack up a bunch of lifegain effects like Soul's Attendant and Daxos, Blessed by the Sun. Darien also makes soldiers, which are a well-supported creature type in white.
#27. Boromir, Warden of the Tower
I’m usually not a fan of commanders that want to sacrifice themselves, but Boromir, Warden of the Tower has an important ability that automatically counters (a white counter?!) some decks' entire strategy. This is Boromir at his best, and you could do with a much worse leader of your white EDH deck than this selfless soldier.
#26. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Speaking of white soldiers, Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is a classic white weenie card that makes a fine disruptive piece. Playing it on turn two causes serious psychic damage to a table whose mana accelerants have been put a turn behind. It works great as a commander in a stax deck or a soldiers deck and is one of the best cheap white commanders.
#25. Odric, Luminarch Marshal
Odric, Lunarch Marshal is another iteration of Odric that closes out games quickly, except it can be even faster than its predecessor. Making your creatures unblockable is good. Giving them flying, double strike, and lifelink is better. White has no shortage of cards with keyword soup like Akroma, Angel of Wrath and the humble Healer's Hawk to outvalue your opponents every combat.
#24. Hokori, Dust Drinker
If your friends thought it was bad when you occasionally drew Winter Orb out of the 99, wait until they see it in the command zone. Hokori, Dust Drinker is a fantastic stax commander that questions how your opponents will win without lands. You’ll need a solid strategy to back it up so you don’t just needlessly extend the game; building a good board presence before denying your opponents' mana is generally a solid strategy.
#23. Sram, Senior Artificer
Sram, Senior Edificer doesn’t help you cheat the cost of your equipment like some of the other equipment commanders we’ve looked at, but it gives you a solid source of card advantage. It’s also got lots of potential as an Eggs commander, using cards like Second Sunrise with Krark-Clan Ironworks and 0-mana equipment like Bone Saw to pop off.
#22. Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant
Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant is just an enchantment since they flip as soon as they come into play. This is a rather match-up-dependent commander. Preventing your creatures from taking damage matters much more against red and black decks than say, a blue deck. That said, it still gives you a bunch of pressure since you can freely attack without worrying about what blocks look like.
#21. Gandalf the White
Gandalf the White is a unique character and flash really means a lot for many of the cards in legendaries or artifacts matters decks. Gandalf has virtual haste if you play it on the last opponent’s end step before your turn. Yes, it’s no surprise if Gandalf is coming from your command zone, but the additional flicker trigger is massive, well supported in white, and a worthy ability of a wizard that needed to evolve to compete with Saruman.
#20. Ao, the Dawn Sky
A big weakness of white creature strategies is wrath effects that clear the board and undo your hard work. Ao, the Dawn Sky gives you some resiliency to this by getting permanents when it dies. Spot removal buffs your team more. This is a flexible card to helm an aggressive deck and does a lot of work with white reanimation effects like Angelic Renewal and sacrifice outlets like Ashnod's Alter.
#19. Sephara, Sky’s Blade
You should always respect a commander that can be played at a discount, and Sephara, Sky's Blade can cut a whole six mana from its cost if you have fliers to spare. This is a much broader card than some of the other angels we’ve looked at since it protects all your flying creatures, making it a great commander to lead cards like Serra Ascendant and Kinjalli's Sunwing in an aerial assault.
#18. Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Some cards make you work to break the symmetry of powerful effects. Others, like Avacyn, Angel of Hope, just do the thing. Giving all your permanents indestructible makes Avacyn white’s premiere mass land destruction commander. Follow it up with a Ravages of War or Armageddon, and you’ve got a won game and three fewer friends.
#17. Evra, Halcyon Witness
Every color needs a Voltron commander, and Evra, Halcyon Witness wastes no time in one-shotting players. Your opponents can’t let this slip past their defenses or you’ll easily kill them, so your greatest priority is getting Evra into the red zone. You’ve got cards like Mother of Runes to get through, and you can exploit the power-life switcharoo with cards like Children of Korlis and Soul's Grace to make sure our opponents can’t get us on the crackback.
#16. Bennie Bracks, Zoologist
Paying mana for your commander is so 2011. Bennie Bracks, Zoologist is practically free since you’ll want to spit out a bunch of tokens anyway. The combination of “free” and card draw makes Bennie a great tokens commander. It works well with cards that let you make tokens on your opponents' turns, like Mirrex and Smothering Tithe, to draw multiple cards in a turn cycle.
#15. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
If you’re playing an expensive commander, you need to make sure it has an immediate impact in case it’ removed. Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite warps a board immediately. It’s a great tokens commander even though it doesn’t make tokens because it makes your board so large while clearing away small blockers. The white praetor also works as a finisher in a stax shell.
#14. Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle
Who doesn’t love convoluted combo loops with artifacts? Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle is a great commander for Modern players who miss playing with Krark-Clan Ironworks. This is a combo-enabler through and through that makes your opponents question why they aren’t running more graveyard interaction.
#13. Celestine, the Living Saint
There are multiple ways for lifegain decks to pay off, and Celestine, the Living Saint pays you off with reanimation. It does lots of work with white cards that sacrifice themselves, like Ranger-Captain of Eos and Selfless Spirit, while making it hard for your opponents to remove your creatures. It’s a great commander to grind out your opponents in an extended game.
#12. Adeline, Resplendent Cathar
Adeline, Resplendent Cathar is one of white’s best token commanders. It produces tons of pressure since it makes tokens for attacking each opponent, even if you only declare attackers at one. Such consistent creature generation works fantastically with a bunch of white cards like Goldnight Commander and Cathar's Crusade that reward you for putting creatures into play.
#11. Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation
It’s known that Magic's head designer Mark Rosewater and a ton of Magic players love to double their counters and tokens. Ojer Taq, Deepest Foundation does more than double them and goes in a lot of the same decks Anointed Procession does. The tokens get out of hand in a hurry. The range of cards that provide tokens in white are super accessible from the efficient Captain of the Watch, to the world champion caliber Decree of Justice, and the humble Gather the Townsfolk.
The temple side of the deepest foundation is as easy as battalion, and a token maker can help you quickly rebuild from a board wipe.
#10. Preston, the Vanisher
Kicking off the top ten white commanders is Preston, the Vanisher. It may look cuddly, but this guy’s hiding a suite of infinite combos up his sleeves, in his hat, and pretty much everywhere. This card goes infinite if you sneeze funny. Preston is also unlimited value with cards like Felidar Guardian and Restoration Angel that can flicker a bunch of creatures.
#9. Halvar, God of Battle / Sword of the Realms
Our crowning equipment commander is Halvar, God of Battle. It comes out on top because it doesn’t just cheat equip costs; it also lets you use auras and provides your creatures with extra keywords. It can be a great Voltron commander or a simple support piece, so the cards in the 99 get the job done. It can even be a piece of equipment in a pinch if you’re desperate.
#8. Oswald Fiddlebender
Birthing Pod is a fantastic build-around card that presents deck builders with tons of choices and options. Oswald Fiddlebender brings that flavor to white, except it upgrades artifacts instead of creatures. This is a wholly unique commander. White doesn’t have anything else like Oswald. It works well with stax effects since it can find the perfect answer but could be an equipment commander or just a value engine. This guy can be whatever you want as long as it involves artifacts.
#7. God-Eternal Oketra
White wants to play to the board but can have trouble breaking through board stalls. God-Eternal Oketra ensures that never happens to you. It’s a great answer to control decks since it makes tokens on cast, minimizing the usefulness of countermagic, and is practically impossible to remove. It works great with cards you can repeatedly cast, like Whitemane Lion and Kor Skyfisher.
#6. Mangara, the Diplomat
Mangara, the Diplomat is a stax commander that doesn’t inhibit your opponents as much as it benefits you. Most commander decks play multiple spells, so Mangara is an easy source of card draw that encourages your opponents not to attack you unless they want you to have even more cards. White has a bunch of other effects that let you profit from your opponents' game actions, like Monologue Tax and Smuggler's Share. It’s like a finger trap: the more they play the game, the more rewards you reap.
#5. Myrel, Shield of Argive
Myrel, Shield of Argive is my choice for the best Soldier commander in mono-white and one of the best white commanders. It’s an army in a can. One attack is all it takes for it to get out of control. It pairs well with various soldier lords like Rescue Retriever and Valiant Veteran, giving you an incredible board presence.
#4. Mondrak, Glory Dominus
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the best tokens commander in white is the one that’s Doubling Season in the command zone. We’ve looked at plenty of white cards that make tokens on or above rate. Cards like Myrel and Adeline, Resplendent Cathar only get better when their tokens are doubled. Coupled with white’s fantastic token support in cards like Intangible Virtue and Hour of Reckoning, Mondrak is a devastating commander.
#3. Giada, Font of Hope
White doesn’t get the best mana ramp, but Giada, Font of Hope gives the color a rare mana dork. The mana is limited to angels, but that’s no concern for such a powerful angel commander. Angels are historically expensive, so giving them a guaranteed dork that pumps them is great for the tribe. Giada pairs well with cards that produce multiple Angel tokens like Entreat the Angels and Divine Visitation to make a board that swells out of control quickly.
#2. Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines
Once upon a time, they said Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines would break Commander. They cried for a ban in the streets. And it’s good. Creatures with ETB abilities are some of the best in the game. Shutting that off while doubling your ETBs makes your porcelain mom among the best stax commanders in white. You can cook up some interesting infinite combos with an Elesh Norn Commander deck and grind your opponents into dust with value.
#1. Heliod, Sun-Crowned
Topping the list is Heliod, Sun-Crowned, sitting almost as far from its first iteration as possible. The greatest strength of this commander is its infinite potential: Walking Ballista and Triskelion easily kill a table when combined with Heliod and its abilities.
It’s also a fantastic payoff for life gain. Heliod triggers off each instance of life gain, so cards like Soul's Attendant and Soul Warden can distribute tons of counters in a single turn cycle. Lifegain is one of the best-supported archetypes in Magic, and Heliod is the best life gain commander thanks to the constant stream of value and combo potential.
Best White Commander Payoffs
One of the best payoffs for being mono-white is the removal. White has access to the best permanent removal in the game with cards like Path to Exile, Lay Down Arms, and March of Otherworldly Light to deal with permanents forever. It’s also home to many great wraths, from the generally good Wrath of God to more specific board wipes like Hour of Reckoning and Winds of Rath that protect your board.
White also offers an abundance of protective spells like Teferi's Protection and Make a Stand that keep your board safe from opposing wraths and removal. This resiliency makes it hard to get through white’s board states. White also has cards that let you phase your permanents out, like the Protection and Clever Concealment, which feels more relevant than ever as Wizards keeps printing board wipes that exile rather than destroy.
Why Is White Bad in Commander?
White is the weakest color in Commander because it lacks reliable ramp and card draw, often leaning on artifacts to help get the job done. It’s also a very aggressive color focused on small creatures. Those strategies tend to suffer in Commander, where you play three opponents instead of one and everybody wants to play big, flashy spells. Cards like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben get outclassed when everybody’s end game is some form of Maelstrom Wanderer.
Are Mono-White Commander Decks Good?
Wizards of the Coast has certainly printed tools to help white in Commander in recent years. The ramp is never going to be as good as other colors, but cards like Archaeomancer's Map and Loyal Warhound help, and cards like Welcoming Vampire and Tocasia's Welcome help give the color reliable, if limited, card advantage.
White decks can also draw on some of the game’s oldest archetypes, like soldiers and lifegain. There are also plenty of combos running around in the color. It’s also got plenty of resilient tools and the best interaction to help it grind a lot of decks. A solid mono-white deck with a good pilot can hold its own in most pods.
Can You Play Brutal Cathar in a Mono-White Commander Deck?
No, you can’t play Brutal Cathar in a mono-white Commander deck. The front side of the Cathar is white, but it’s transformation, Moonrage Brute is red. Color identity includes the front and backsides of the card. Brutal Cathar’s color identity is red-white, not mono-white.
Can You Play Blind Obedience in Mono-White Commander?
Yes, you can play Blind Obedience in mono-white Commander decks. The white-black hybrid symbol in the extort ability isn’t a part of the card’s rules text. It’s reminder text of how the extort ability works, much as some creatures with flying remind players that the creature can only be blocked by creatures with flying or reach. Because the white-black symbol is reminder text, not rules text, it doesn’t affect the enchantment’s color identity. It’s a mono-white card.
Can You Run an Urborg in a Mono-White Deck?
Yes, you can play Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in your mono-white Commander decks. While cards with basic land types like Swamp have the color identity associated that land, Urborg is not innately a Swamp. It also doesn’t have any black mana symbols in its textbox, so it’s a colorless card.
How Many Lands Should Be in a Mono-White Commander Deck?
A good rule of thumb is to run 35-38 lands with a handful of mana rocks, probably about 8. That gives you plenty of mana sources in your opening hand without worrying too much about flooding later.
The number of lands you want to run in your mono-white decks can vary a lot based on how low your curve is and how many mana rocks and other ramp pieces you’re running. An aggressive deck with a low curve plays a lower land count than a controlling one with a higher curve.
Bennie Bracks, Zoologist | Illustration by Eric Deschamps
White has had a contentious history in Commander. It’s a great support color but rarely the star of the show because of inherent weaknesses that don’t line up well with the format's explosive power and high life totals. However, recent years have seen an uptick in cards to help balance white, helping it keep up with the other colors.
This help, coupled with support from some of the game’s longest-established archetypes, makes white a formidable color in the right hands. Who’s your favorite mono-white commander? Do you think the color is worth playing in Commander? Let me know in the comments or on the Draftsim Discord.
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