Table of Contents:
2. Card Elements and Roles
• 2a. Persistent Cards
• 2b. Destructive Cards
• 2c. Scaling Cards
• 2d. Defensive Cards
• 2e. Trap Cards
• 2f. Global Benefit Cards
3. Artifacts and Lands
4. Additional Card Choices
5. Other Colors
6. Synergies and Strategies
7. Cards That Everyone Should Have
8. Sample Deck Lists
9. Coping with Adversity: Dealing with White's Weaknesses
The purpose of this guide is to aid you transition from regular Magic duels (i.e. 1v1 games) to the substantially different world of multiplayer Magic. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or just getting into the game, multiplayer magic is so completely unique from any other format that it could leave anyone slightly discombobulated. Cards such as Duress and Counterspell have always been staples in their time, however these "sacred cows" will be your undoing in big multiplayer games. The mechanics of multiplayer necessitates that one forgoes cheap and efficient "duel cards" in order to adjust to the increased number of opponents. Do not sink into despair though, for many of the cards most players cherish have close multiplayer brothers. Swapping Wrath of God over Swords to Plowshares in your lists will become second-hand nature for you by the end of this. Ultimately I aspire to broaden your general multiplayer card pool knowledge, in the hopes that you'll eventually be able to construct your own solid, multiplayer decks. As we delve into the various card choices that you'll have at your disposal, you'll soon discover just how many cards are nearly broken in the format. Luminarch Ascension has never seen any form of competitive play, but smart deck-builders will pick up on gems like this. Remember, cards are generally balanced for 1v1 play. As this guide progresses, we'll see many occasions where having additional opponents can cause exponential power increases in cards. After I've improved your general understanding of White's multiplayer card pool, I'll then move on to discuss general synergies and strategies. I'll finish things off by providing some sample decklists to put you on the right track to building your own, as well as briefly covering ways to cope with the color's inherent weaknesses. That way, no matter your budget, card availability, or even personal preference, you should still be able to build some solid multiplayer decks.
Before we begin, I'd like to quickly clear something up. A very big misconception that players have is that multiplayer tactics should differ greatly from duel tactics. A lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to explain to you how to handle multiplayer politics, and even how to use them to your advantage. In fact, virtually every multiplayer article that I've ever read has merely discussed the mental aspects of the format. There seems to be this preconceived notion that the way to win multiplayer games is through the mental battle and not the cards themselves. I couldn't disagree more with that frame of mind. I believe that while your card pool is different, your overall tactics shouldn't change much (if at all). Multiplayer Magic doesn't differ from duels in the sense that the players who always build the best decks with the strongest cards usually win. If you're having a hard time staying afloat in multiplayer Magic, I'd be willing to wager that the problem lies in your decks and not your tactics. Nothing will take you further in your Magic career than learning how to build a solid deck each and every time that you sit down to play. Before you submit to reading articles about becoming a political powerhouse at your tables, ask yourself if the decks that you're using are even good enough to win to begin with. That is by far and away the best advice I could ever give you. Now that that disclaimer's out of the way, let's start things off by taking a look at what kinds of cards you'll want to be playing in a Multiplayer setting.
2. Card Elements and Roles
I'd like to take this opportunity to stress the importance of playing the right kinds of cards in a multiplayer setting. The best way that I can describe a big Chaos game is by comparing it to a marathon. While everyone typically has a strong start to the event, the players who came unprepared for it tend to fall flat during the mid-game stages of the competition. It's the savvy veterans who allocated the time to train and condition themselves that will ultimately see it through to the end. With that analogy in mind, you're primarily looking for cards that will grant you the ability to stay in the game with a chance to win for as long as possible. The 6 generic types of cards that will enable you accomplish that feat are persistent cards, destructive cards, scaling cards, defensive cards, trap cards and global benefit cards. These are all critical effects that can help you go the distance and ultimately take home the win. I'll now be taking a much more in-depth look at each of these roles, as well as showcasing the relevant cards in the color. It's my hope that this will make it relatively easy to extract useful information from this guide, since it should provide you with a fairly good idea on where to turn to get relevant card choices for your decks.
2a. Persistent Cards
This sections aims to highlight cards that have resilient, repeatable and/or constant effects. In multiplayer, they are invaluable tools for many reasons. First of all, it's important not to look at resilient cards with the frame of mind: "If I were to lose my permanent, I could pay to keep it/get it back." That's a duel mindset. Rather, you should be thinking to yourself "Since I can protect/reuse this, who would bother depleting resources to temporarily hinder it?" Remember, multiplayer Magic is about taking on many other players. Wasting valuable cards and resources to briefly shut down a threat is neither efficient nor effective. Thus, resilient cards tend to stick around much longer than they probably should. With respect to repeatable and/or constant effects, they bring inevitability to your decks. While cheap and efficient single-shot effects are what you typically see used in duels, they aren't nearly as effective in big, Chaos battles. As discussed earlier, I think of duels as being "sprints" and multiplayer games as being "marathons." You need to be in it for the long haul or you'll just fall by the wayside halfway through. Repeatable and/or constant effects help you go the distance, and that's what you'll need to eventually take down the table. With that in mind, let's take a look at classic examples of persistent White cards:
Genju of the Fields: Keep in mind that you can activate this card as much as you want to stack the lifegain effect as many times as desired. It's not a static ability like lifelink is.
Angelic Destiny: White's Rancor.
Crovax, Ascendant Hero
Jareth, Leonine Titan: Good luck killing this badboy outside of Wrath effects.
Konda, Lord of Eiganjo
Akroma, Angel of Wrath
Avacyn, Angel of Hope
Elspeth Tirel: Her +2 is great in token decks, which is fairly standard given how her ultimate works, but her -2 is also fairly powerful on its own. Any Planeswalker that can protect itself has some merit, especially if it can then go on to nuke the table.
Elspeth, Knight-Errant: While you won't often be living the dream of Darksteel Forging your field, her token producing ability is very strong and protects her nicely. You could do worse than to add some of these to your decks.
Brigid, Hero of Kinsbaile
Mageta the Lion
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite: There's not much to say about this card other than "WOW!"
Sigil of the New Dawn
Remembrance: Not recursion per-say, but it basically blanks any and all forms of removal played against you. This is a very powerful card to field in your creature-based decks packed with 4-ofs, especially in hostile metas filled with mass removal and whatnot.
Enduring Renewal: Primarily a combo card. Think Ornithopter + Blasting Station.
Proclamation of Rebirth: Martyr of Sands' best friend.
Limited Resources: Easily the most hated multiplayer card of all time in my experience. Locking everyone at ~2 lands (or less) in big multiplayer games will NOT make you any friends for the rest of the night.
Grand Abolisher: Pisses the Control players off to no end.
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Glowrider: Very strong in White Prison decks.
Kataki, War's Wage
Leonin Arbiter, Aven Mindcensor: The ramp decks will hate you for these.
Rule of Law: Combos nicely with Knowledge Pool to lock everyone out of the game. If you can get ahead of your opponents on the board then it can basically seal the game in your favor. Manlands, Kjeldoran Outpost, Decree of Justice and much more all comes to mind as well as powerful support cards.
Aura of Silence
Kismet, Loxodon Gatekeeper
Humility: One of the most hilariously annoying cards of all time. People will hate you for this one.
Hokori, Dust Drinker
Angel of Jubilation: Hoses Necropotence, Altar of Dementia (any Altar) and much more while pumping up your team and providing you with a warm body.
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Magus of the Tabernacle
Iona, Shield of Emeria: This card can straight up lock people out of the game.
Chancellor of the Annex
Jasmine Seer: Good card to use in your Martyr of Sands decks with Squadron Hawks and whatnot.
Wall of Reverence
Atalya, Samite Master
Beacon of Immortality
Luminarch Ascension: Disgustingly powerful card. Assuming a turn 1 Enlightened Tutor, it's very easy to have one in play by turn 2 every game, at which point you can typically turn any excess mana into 4/4 Angels. I frequently pair it with Island Sanctuary to prevents attacks while I simply build up my army and win.
White Sun's Zenith
Sigil of the Empty Throne: Loves Flickering Ward and its kin.
Mentor of the Meek
Suture Priest: Why is White's Blood Seeker so much better o.O? This thing can certainly be annoying at times.
Samurai of the Pale Curtain: Decent graveyard hate.
Spiritual Focus: Great way to mitigate the effects of discard-based strategies. It's the "anti-Megrim."
Endless Horizons: Very nice card if enchantment hate is lacking in your meta. Makes for some very easy Goblin Charbelcher kills. If nothing else it ensures that you'll always hit your land drops and draw nothing but gas all game.
2b. Destructive Cards
These are the face-smashers; the cards that pound everyone into the ground and gain you a massive advantage in one fell swoop. Any powerful, temporary, global effect fits into this category, with the "single-shot" attribute being their most distinguishing factor. These are not the kinds of cards that are used to gain you small, incremental advantages over time. Rather, they're trying to immediately bash the table to bits. While their temporary nature doesn't make them ideal when it comes to winning marathons, you're still probably going to have to rely on them to shore up some of your decks' weaknesses. They're a "necessary evil" in that sense. While some of these cards leave you relatively unscathed, a fair number of them wail on you equally as hard as they beat on everyone else. Building around the latter effects should be an important consideration when constructing your decks, since you don't want accidentally become the agent of your own demise. While the volatile nature of these cards makes them somewhat risky, since you can't rely on them to help you out more than once, it's offset by the fact that they provide you with access to some of the strongest effects in the game. Multiplayer, as is self-evident, necessitates that you challenge a great number of foes. It would be arrogant-if-not-stupid to think that you wouldn't find yourself behind at some point in your games, and so cards like these are a great way to keep the other players in check when you find yourself on the back-foot. If peoples' armies, life totals, mana bases, etc. start to get out of hand, then these are the kinds of cards that can level the playing field or even swing things back into your favor. Every color has its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to destructive effects, so you'll just have to make due with what you have available to you. Let's take a look at some of the most prominent choices:
Test of Endurance, Felidar Sovereign: Martyr of Sands and Congregate aren't so bad when they straight up win games.
Celestial Convergence: Between Congregate and Island Sanctuary it's not that hard to meet the victory conditions of this badboy.
Near-Death Experience: Worship and Angel's Grace both spring to mind as good ways to trigger this safely.
Barren Glory: Claws of Gix and Peace of Mind anyone?
Magus of the Disk
Akroma's Vengeance: I really like this one since it can be cycled away if it isn't needed.
Mass Creature Removal:
Martial Coup: This card is amazing, and I highly recommend playing them if your meta is slow and you can afford to hold out on playing them.
Retribution of the Meek
Divine Reckoning: Very mediocre card, but very budget-friendly.
Day of Judgment, Wrath of God
Winds of Rath
Wave of Reckoning: Great if your deck is packing a bunch of low power, high toughness creatures.
Myojin of Cleansing Fire
Hour of Reckoning: I would state the obvious but you know what type of deck this things belongs in.
Mass Land Removal:
Armageddon, Ravages of war
Open the Vaults
Enchantment and/or Artifact hosing:
Cleanfall, Tempest of Light, Patrician's Scorn
Cleansing Meditation: Obviously amazing if you're looking to keep your own enchantments around.
2c. Scaling Cards
In this section, I'll highlight cards that scale directly off of having more players around. That is, the more players that are in the game, the more powerful that they become. The two types of scaling cards are the "true scalers" which benefit from having more players around and "semi-scalers" which benefit from having many more targets to choose from. An easy way to think about it is that Verdant Force (a true scaler) will produce more creatures every circuit in a 10 player game than it would in a 8 player game, but something like Rise from the Grave ( a semi-scaler) will only ever revive a single creature. You'll always appreciate having a bunch of awesome targets to choose from, but the card doesn't become wildly stronger or anything. These are prime examples of cards that are (generally) useless in duels that have suddenly become incredibly powerful due to the increased number of players in the game. If anyone started to read this guide in order to find the true multiplayer cards that are deliberately designed to be played in big Chaos games, then look no further. These are some of the first cards that you should be looking to invest in, especially if you're just starting to build up a collection of powerful, flexible, multiplayer cards. They'll always be relevant threats, regardless of the number of foes you'll be facing. Keeping all of that into consideration, let's take a look at what we have to work with:
Soul Warden, Soul's Attendant, Auriok Champion
Honor the Fallen: Good hate card if people in your area love graveyard-based strategies.
Rewards of Diversity: Good in some metas, horrible in others.
Gideon's Avenger: One of your better beatdown options.
Crescendo of War: I LOVE this card in aggro decks with a fair amount of token generators. It's so stupidly powerful that it's not even funny.
Congregate, War Report
Righteous Cause, Patron of the Kitsune
Land Tax: Godly card in multiplayer. Pair it with Scroll Rack and you have yourself an Ancestral Recall every turn. You haven't lived until you opened with "Mox Diamond, Land Tax, go" on turn 1.
Knight of the White Orchid, Gift of Estates
Survival Cache: Drawing 2 cards and gaining 4 life isn't that bad all things considered. White doesn't exactly have many great ways to draw cards.
2d. Defensive Cards
As the name suggests, these cards ward-off other players, encouraging them to direct their attention elsewhere. Their purpose is to keep you alive for as long as possible by using whatever means necessary. This all stems back to coming prepared to go the distance and completing the marathon, which often entails protecting your own personal space from any would-be delinquents. While many of these cards may seem marginal at first (often times being 1-for-1 trades), it's important to remember the mental aspects of multiplayer. Making the "you gain nothing from attacking me" argument to 4 people, even if it's implicit, essentially makes your defensive cards 4-for-1 trades should they successfully stave off any would-be attackers. The fact that death and/or retaliation is assured goes a long way to protecting you, and shouldn't be underestimated. As you will soon see, the cards listed below range in terms of mana cost and level of protection that they offer. Picking the ones that will work best for your decks should be based off of a combination of their weaknesses and your own personal metagame. That is, try to pick the ones that will protect your deck when it's at its most vulnerable stage of development, given what you expect the other players to be doing at that time. With that general guideline in mind, you should have plenty of options to mull over:
Abu Ja'far, Alaborn Zealot, Loyal Sentry
Aegis of Honor
Greater Auramancy: Incredibly solid card in your White Control decks with a heavy enchantment focus.
True Believer, Leyline of Sanctity, Ivory Mask, Imperial Mask, Spirit of the hearth
Island Sanctuary: One of my favorite cards to pair with Luminarch Ascension. There's no need to draw cards when you can produce a flying armada to crush everyone with.
Beloved Chaplain, Mistmeadow Skulk
Pariah: Stuffy Doll and Darksteel Myr both say hello! Toss Pariah's Shield into the mix and you have one annoying deck.
Solitary Confinement: Incredibly powerful card if you have a draw engine around to support it. Mind's Eye comes to mind for example.
Mangara of Corondor: Stupidly powerful card to pair with blink effects such as Karakas. You can bounce/blink Mangara while the exile trigger is on the stack to protect her while still exiling an opposing permanent.
Vow of Duty
Worship: Amazing with resilient creatures such as Darksteel Myr.
Wall of Nets: My favorite White wall by far.
Lieutenant Kirtar, Mine Bearer
Ghostly Prison, Windborn Muse, Norn's Annex
Defiant Vanguard: Yes, he can tutor for more copies of himself .
Haazda Shield Mate
Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker
Moat, Magus of the Moat
Reverence: Meekstone/Marble Titan + this = win!
Cho-Manno, Revolutionary, Commander Eesha, Dawn Elemental
Knight-Captain of Eos
Archon of Justice
Darien, King of Kjeldor
2d. Trap Cards
Trap cards punish your opponents for making uninformed decisions, unaware of the impending consequences of their ill-timed actions. Their distinguishing factor is that they typically abuse some sort of instant-speed effect to catch them off-guard and promptly discipline them for their ignorance. A select-few can only come out at sorcery-speed, however the overwhelming majority of them can "get" people at any time. While these cards will rarely-if-ever have a devastating effect on the board, their primary use is to put your opponents off-balance. You're not using these cards because you expect them to win you games; you're using them so that people will stop screwing with you when you appear to be defenseless. The idea is to let them know that you are never open, no matter how little you may appear to have on your side of the table. It's assumed that you're not to be trifled with, since there's no telling what could all be lurking in your hand. This should hopefully set you up later in games to bluff a defense, which means that the effects of trap cards tend to span far beyond the game at hand. Keep in mind that psychological warfare can be an important factor when it comes to consistently winning games in a multiplayer setting, and so every little edge that you can acquire helps. A word of caution though; I wouldn't rely on having your opponents "play scared" against you on a regular basis. Don't assume that just because you blew someone out once that you'll never have to put early-game defense in your decks ever again. If you fail to deliver on your promises too often then you'll quickly become known as the person who "cried wolf." That being said, it'll still sometimes be the best shot that you'll have at winning. Anyways, let's take a look at what awaits our unwitting foes:
Stonecloaker: This is the definition of a trap card in my mind. It can come out of nowhere to hose a Reanimate deck, but can also protect your own creatures from removal spells or come down as a surprise blocker to take something out. It's worth noting that it can always bounce itself, which can allow you to strip graveyards of vital resources over time.
Angel of Salvation
2f. Global Benefit Cards
These are the kinds of cards that benefit everyone at the table. It's that simple. Unlike destructive cards, these ones attempt build players up rather than focus on dismantling them. I typically hate fielding these kinds of cards in a multiplayer setting unless I have a very good reason to include them in my decks. You're almost required to be building around these cards in order to justify their inclusion in my mind. It's simply far too likely that you'll wind-up distributing the wealth equally otherwise. That's just not a spot that most players should aspire to be in. As such, I wouldn't advise investing into these kinds of cards unless you're willing to build around them, or alternatively if you're one of those people who legitimately want to have fun and create crazy board states and help other players win. I'm not trying to sleight those people or that playstyle mind you; it's just not conducive to winning the game. The overall focus of this guide has always been to help you become a more competent deck builder so that you can win more multiplayer games, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone when I express my dislike for overly casual, well-intentioned tactics. I hope it's clear that I'm speaking from a competitive frame of mind with respect to these types of subjects. Anyways, let's take a gander at exactly what we have to work with:
3. Artifacts and Lands
Each color has its own various strengths and weaknesses, and so one of the best ways to enhance what it already does well or shore up areas where it struggles is to turn to colorless solutions such as artifacts and lands. At the end of the day, even though these types of cards could care less about the color(s) of the deck that they're in, it's still very easy to associate certain artifacts and lands to certain colors. The point here is that I'm not trying to create a blanket list of powerful multiplayer artifacts or anything, but rather to showcase the ones that naturally pair with the color. Everything listed will serve an important role in one way or another, and will hopefully shed light on some powerful synergies and strategies that you may not have previously considered. Keep in mind that many of these cards may not be multiplayer cards in the traditional sense, but they bring such a high degree of consistency and/or power to decks that I feel compelled to mention them anyways. The available options include:
Karakas: Combos extremely well with Mangara of Corondor, but is generally strictly better than a basic plains as long as you only throw 1 of them into your decks. It can protect your own Legends or threaten to bounce others', so there's very little reason not to play one if Legends are played in some way, shape or form.
Emeria, the Sky Ruin: Having 1-2 of these in your decks is almost never a bad idea. It provides you with a powerful late game recursion engine, which is always welcome in a multiplayer setting.
Kjeldoran Outpost: Provides a constant stream of bodies at the cost of a land drop. It's a decent way to add inevitability to your deck, especially if you're already running with equipment such as Skullclamp and Bonehoard.
Kor Haven: Maze of Ith that doesn't untap the attacker; meaning that it's not free to force your opponent to use it. I like this card a lot in meta where small numbers of big creatures is the mainstay.
Mistveil Plains: Awesome recursion engine, especially in decks with Squadron Hawk. As long as you always keep a hawk or two in hand, you'll basically never run out of threats to play. Throw in some good equipment (Skullclamp, Batterskull, Bonehoard, Umezawa's Jitte) and you have yourself one scary deck.
Serra's Sanctum: Bonkers in enchantment-based decks (obviously lol). I've seen this card do stupid things with Luminarch Ascension before.
Flagstones of Trokair: Perfect for those Limited Resources/Armageddon decks.
Scroll Rack: Combos with Land Tax (and Endless Horizons to a lesser extent) to create an Ancestral Recall every turn.
Isochron Scepter: White has a wide variety of Silence, Swords to Plowshares and Holy Day effects that it can throw on a Scepter to cause some serious grief.
Goblin Charbelcher: One of the best White win conditions ever printed. Between Land Tax and Endless Horizons, emptying your library is almost trivial, at which point this card is a point-and-click WMD.
Crucible of Worlds: Believe it or not, the color that has access to Armageddon sometimes needs a bit of help recurring its lands. It's a great addition to any deck that's looking to globally disupt mana bases.
Skull of Orm: One of the few cards in the game that can continually recur enchantments. While the cost is fairly steep, it can still be a worthwhile 1-of in your enchantment-based decks.
Phyrexian Processor: Makes a powerful addition to any lifegain-based deck that you're building.
Panoptic Mirror: Isochron Scepter on steroids. How does a Wrath of God every turn sound?
Knowledge Pool: Combos nicely with Rule of Law effects to lock everyone out of the game. If you can get ahead of your opponents on the board then it can basically seal the game in your favor. Manlands, Kjeldoran Outpost, Decree of Justice and much more all comes to mind as well as powerful support cards.
White, in general, can tutor-for and abuse equipment better than any other color. Most true White mages will thus have a fair amount of equipment at their disposal. The best ones, in my mind, include cards such as:
Sword of X and Y (Sword of Light and Shadow for example)
Thorn of Amethyst, Sphere of Resistance: Compliment your Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Glowrider Prison strategies.
Trinisphere: Great way to lock players out of the game should you stick an early Limited Resources, and also pairs wonderfully with Armageddon.
Tangle Wire: Stunts early board development like no other.
Smokestack: Incredibly powerful card to field in disruptive decks that generate a large number of permanents (creature tokens for example).
Darksteel Myr, Creepy Doll: Combo well with your Pariahs and Worships.
Mind's Eye: Brings a solid draw engine to a color that lacks it otherwise.
Bargaining Table: Same idea as Mind's Eye, only the card is much worse.
Candles of Leng
Jayemdae Tome: The definition of a mediocre card in my mind. Not too cheap, not too expensive, no downside, no amazing upside, just a moderately playable card.
Well of Lost Dreams: Solid draw engine for your dedicated lifegain decks. It seems especially powerful if you have a whack of Soul Warden variants that give you many opportunities to spend small amounts of mana to draw cards.
Angelheart Vial: Pseudo-Sun Droplet that draws you cards.
Illuminated Folio: While costly and revealing, I still enjoy playing with this card in general. Paying 1 mana to draw a card is incredibly powerful given how miserable Red's card draw is.
Well of Discovery: Remember when mana burn was a thing? I miss those days... Oh well, at least we get treats like this now.
4. Additional Card Choices
Let's face it; I've only started the list of the playable White cards. Just because a card doesn't meet one of the arbitrary requirements that I've previously established, that doesn't outright prevent it from being an amazing card to field in a multiplayer setting. I mean, I'm not exactly going to call Ancestral Recall a bad card because it "doesn't scale" or whatever. An amazing card is always going to be worth playing, regardless of the number of opponents that you're facing down. I'm not going to list every playable card in the color here or anything, just ones that I could see myself playing in some decks. I'm still trying to keep you on the right track when it comes to building your decks after all. So, after some reflection, I came up with:
5. Other Colors
As much as I'd like to think that a color can stand on its own, there exist many Gold cards that are tailored for multiplayer play that can often times provide it with some much needed support. Because Gold cards are harder to cast relative to mono-colored ones, you typically get more bang for your buck when you field them. As such these gems will not only enhance the tactics you've already become familiar with, but will likely upgrade the power level of your decks to the next threshold. This is all too important in multiplayer, where you'll constantly be barraged by a horde of powerful threats all barreling down at you from you stiff opposition. It's difficult to express a general use for these kinds of cards, and so I can't give a much more specific description of what Gold cards will bring to your decks. The best advice that I can give you is to simply peruse the list as you build decks of the corresponding colors. You just may find a diamond in the rough. Relevant Gold cards, in my mind, include:
White + Black:
Souls of the Faultless
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Ghost Council of Orzhova
Divinity of Pride: Solid in your lifegain decks with Serra Ascendant and whatnot.
Evershrike: Good with Spirit Loop and the like.
Agent of Masks
Vish Kal, Blood Arbiter
Angel of Despair
White + Blue:
Wall of Denial
Mirrorweave: Great in token decks. Swing with an army, and turn your unblocked creatures into massive threats.
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Enchanted Evening: Cleansing Meditation anyone?
Godhead of Awe
Venser, the Sojourner
Bruna, Light of Alabaster: This card bears a striking resemblance to Zur the Enchanter in my mind. They clearly belong in the same types of decks. While I dislike Auras as a general rule, you certainly wouldn't exclude this card from your Azorius/Esper, Aura-based decks.
Ith, High Arcanist
White + Red:
Basandra, Battle Seraph
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight: This card is stupidly powerful in decks packed with Angels (Guardian Seraph), Chandra's Spitfire, Earthquake, Molten Disaster and Fault Line.
White + Green:
Wheel of Sun and Moon: Good if your meta is fond of mill strategies.
Knight of the Reliquary
Sigarda, Host of Herons: Decent hoser when it comes to thwarting Grave Pact decks and such.
6. Synergies and Strategies
Now that we've gone over the most prominent multiplayer card choices, it's high time we start piecing some of this information together to start building decks. The goal of this section will be to discuss general synergies that can be applied to various decks/deck types rather than discussing specific combos or interactions in great detail. In multiplayer games more-so than in duels, the sum of the parts has to be greater than the whole. It's the only realistic way to win the game given the incredible opposition that players are likely to be facing. I'm going to be taking simple, easy-to-understand concepts, and start incorporating what I've been discussing into them. That is, I will show you how to put a multiplayer spin on a strategy that you already know and love. Full decklists will come later, since I'm still trying to drive home the idea of thinking about things from a multiplayer perspective at this point in time. You need a solid plan to defeat a large number of opponents, and that won't come intuitively to everyone at first.
One of the most popular styles of White decks to build tends to be Enchantress decks that feature a ton of enchantments, Mesa Enchantress and Serra's Sanctum among other cards. The goal of the deck is typically to stick some of draw engine (Mind's Eye isn't a bad option) and proceed to play enchantments until it wins. While the deck may seem linear and boring, it's far from it. They're typically intricate and powerful, which makes them very fun to pilot more often than not. They offer a great number of advantages to people willing to invest in them.
One of the most appealing aspects of playing enchantment-based decks is their ability to withstand virtually any pressure than exerted on them. Burn? Leyline of Sanctity. Creatures? Solitary Confinement, Island Sanctuary, Ghostly Prison, Norn's Annex, Moat and Humility. Spot removal? Greater Auramancy. Mass removal? Replenish and Open the Vaults. Regardless of what your opponents throw at you, you'll always have answers to their threats. No matter how they beat you down, you'll always find a way to build yourself back up. Resilience is key to most successful multiplayer decks, and that's the definition of an Enchantress deck in my mind. Just keep your metagame in mind while you build your deck and virtually nothing will be able to stop you.
The other powerful aspect of an Enchantress deck is how quickly the deck grows out of hand over time. Between cards like Luminarch Ascension and Sigil of the Empty Throne, it will almost always produce more threats than people can find answers for. All the spot/mass removal in the world won't save them. This is especially true if you toss Flickering Ward into the mix, as it combos so insanely well with Sigil of the Empty Throne and Mesa Enchantress. As long as you're sitting behind a Solitary Confinement, Moat or Island Sanctuary, it should be basically impossible for you to lose the game. Just protect your permanents with cards such as Greater Auramancy and Replenish and the game is all-but yours.
What I like most about Enchantress decks is that you can easily tune them to crush your own personal meta. People love their creature decks? Focus on the Ghostly Prisons, Humilitys and Moats of the world that will keep them at bay. People playing burn decks? Get those Leyline of Sanctitys, Story Circles and Aegis of Honors in there. Discard decks causing you trouble? Spiritual Focus and Leyline of Sanctity are your friends. For every threat out there you have an answer, and so you can always tune the deck to beat the pressure that you think/know that you're going to be facing down. That adaptability is so strong in multiplayer, and is one of the main reasons why I like the color as a whole.
If there's any color that cares about equipment, it's White. Be it tutoring for or abusing them, the others just can't match what it brings to the table. As such, it's very easy to build powerful-yet-resilient aggro decks that feature a number of powerful equipment that will help them dominate the mid-late stages of the game. Having personally survived the Caw-go era of Standard (don't worry if you don't know what I'm talking about lol), I have a fair amount of experience playing with these styles of decks. Thus, I can hopefully provide you with some useful tips and tricks when it comes to building and playing them.
Warm Bodies Matter
The quantity of creatures in these decks is much more important than their quality. Baneslayer Angel doesn't need a Sword of Fire and Ice to be powerful, she's already going to hold her own. You're mostly looking to throw as many warm bodies on the table as possible by ensuring that you'll always have a steady stream of them going. Many cards come to mind for that. Squadron Hawk (+ Mistveil Plains), Kjeldoran Outpost and Mobilization can all create a constant flow of bodies for you to toss equipment on. Add in the fact that they're all small enough to Skullclamp, and you have yourself some powerful enablers. Remember, Bonehoard is probably going to kill in 1-2 hits relatively early on in most metas. You don't need a good body to put it on, you just want something at your disposal at all times. Select cards that are going to provide you with a constant stream of threats and you'll be well on your way to taking home the W.
Field the Right Support
For every good support card out there, there's about 5-10 really bad ones that you might trick yourself into using. Do yourself a favor and don't fall for any traps. Strong equipment based decks will field strong support cards such as Stoneforge Mystic, Stonehewer Giant, Puresteel Paladin and Steelshaper's Gift. I don't really want to harp on this for too long, since this is basically just my way of pointing out the really good cards that you should be using. Other equipment tutors are probably much slower and weaker, and are unlikely to bring as much utility to the table. The best decks play the best cards, and these are some of the ones that you should be using if possible.
Play the Right Equipment
Vulshok Morningstar was a good card in Mirrodin Limited, but it has no place in a multiplayer setting. If you're serious about winning games then you'll have to use the best cards for the job. Good equipment, in my mind, consists primarily of cards such as Umezawa's Jitte, Batterskull, Skullclamp, Sword of X and Y (Sword of Fire and Ice for example) and Bonehoard. While other cards can work too, these are all game winners as far as I'm concerned. Resilience and power matter a lot, and that's what equipment such as these can bring to your decks. I wouldn't blame you for using Darksteel Plate, Lightning Greaves and Argentum Armor, but they're not cards that I personally find worthwhile most of the time.
If the strategies that I previously discussed are completely new to you, this one should hopefully comfort you like a warm blanket. White is a classic Control color (it has Wrath of God, what else can I say?) and brings a vast array of tools to play around with. No other color can hose creatures better in my opinion, making it the perfect foil to those aggro-filled metas. If you're looking for a deck that will just take over the game and force people out of their comfort zone, then mono-White Control (MWC) should be at the forefront of your mind. As always, I'll provide some useful tips and advice to anyone looking to build this style of deck, and highlight as many relevant cards as I possibly can.
Have a Game-Plan to Win
As much as I want to talk about Wrath of Gods, the more important matter at hand is figuring out a way to win the game. As good as White is at stabilizing the field, it really sucks at putting the nail in the coffin. What you need are strong ways to go about winning the actual game, which is no small feat in multiplayer. One option that I really like is pairing Endless Horizons and/or Land Tax with Goblin Charbelcher. It's a fast, easy and effective way to take down big multiplayer games. Land Tax is just awesome in general, and also combos well with Scroll Rack. Control decks love drawing cards, and so an Ancestral Recall every turn is nothing to scoff at. Both it and Endless Horizons also help you hit your land drops, which is never a bad thing either. Another strong contender, in my mind, is White Sun's Zenith. It brings so much inevitability to your deck, and the fact that it can be played at instant speed is just amazing. You can often create 12+ power worth of creatures that can't be killed at Sorcery speed. I'd recommend playing at least 1, since I've never been disappointed with the card. Beyond that, you're mostly looking at token producers. Sacred Mesa is a classic, but both Luminarch Ascension and Mobilization can do work. I really like Luminarch Ascension in multiplayer though, as I continue to find myself amazed with the card's power. It's by far and away the strongest of the 3, so I'd look to use it whenever possible (given the choice).
Global Effects People!
As good as Swords to Plowshares is, it doesn't bring much to a multiplayer setting. Stopping one creature from one player won't take you very far after all. As such, you should be trying to fill your deck with as many global removal spell and protection effects as possible. Humility (+ Righteous Cause), Wrath of God, Day of Judgment, Ghostly Prison, Island Sanctuary and more are all capable of thwarting each opponent. Do not rely on something like Dawn Charm that, again, will stop one combat phase from one opponent. You need to be thinking of big, grand effects will still be impactful despite the increased number of players that you'll be facing down. Develop a solid game-plan that will keep you alive long enough to establish one of your win conditions, and pray that it's enough to lock up the game for you. If a card in your deck isn't going to dramatically increase your ability to survive, you should immediately question its inclusion. It's probably not doing enough to warrant that slot.
Keep the Candle Burning
One of the biggest weaknesses of WMC decks is that they typically lack good draw engines. As such, they can peeter out and die over time if you're not careful with them. My advice would be to incorporate a card advantage engine to your deck if at all possible. Mind's Eye certainly comes to mind, as do the aforementioned Land Tax (+ Scroll Rack would be ideal) and Endless Horizons. Even if you're not drawing cards with them, you're still thinning your deck and hitting your land drops. Inheritance can work well too, especially in slower metas where you have plenty of time to build up and removal is abundant. It's very easy to sit behind something like Ghostly Prison or Island Sanctuary and draw cards as creatures die after all.
Prison/Stax deck is basically a way to ensure that you'll never have friends for as long as you live. Ok, that's an exaggeration, but I can promise you that you won't make any new ones playing a deck like this. A good Prison deck will abuse mana denial to lock your opponents out of the game by preventing them from ever playing their relevant spells. White synergizes extremely well with that strategy, as it brings a fair amount of useful tools to work with.
An essential component of a good Prison deck is its plan to lock people out of lands. The best card for the job, in my mind, is Limited Resources. While duel decks tend to have a fair number of 1-2 CMC spells that they can throw out to still win the game, I typically find that multiplayer decks are unable to win with so few resources. There will obviously be exceptions, I won't deny that for a second, but by-and-large you should be fairly well protected once this thing hits. Balance (+ [c]Zuran Orb[c]), Armageddon and Ravages of War are both amazing options as well, and are much stronger if the game drags on and people are able to get lands into play before you play a Limited Resources. Smokestack is another big player, since it's such a good way to lock people at nothing. I love pairing it with Tangle Wire, Elspeth, Knight-Errant and other such token producers that provide you with fodder to sacrifice to it while you lock people at 0 lands.
Insult to Injury
Even though you have a good plan to lock people out of lands, you should still think long and hard about ways to further cement your lead. Crucible of Worlds and Flagstones of Trokair can both help you recover from your own destructive effects, leaving you high and dry while the others flounder and drown. Trinipshere + Limited Resources on turns 1-2 can all-but seal the game, especially if you're the only person playing artifact mana such as Sol Ring. Magus of the Tabernacle, The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, Ghostly Prison and Humility can take creatures out of the equation (more or less), at which point there isn't much left that people can do to stop you. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, Glowrider and Lodestone Golem are other potential candidates as well, since they're going to further cement your position while also acting as win-conditions.
Taking Home the W
The last component to consider is your actual win condition. This depends wholly on the makeup of your deck, but it can be narrowed down to a few cards. Mishra's Factory (and any manland for that matter) is a strong candidate in decks with Humility since it bypasses its effect (trust me on this one). Luminarch Ascension is another goody, especially if you run with Limited Resources. 2 mana nets you a 4/4 flying angel every turn, which should be more than enough. Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Elspeth Tirel are both solid options in decks with Smokestack, since they fuel your sacrificial requirements nicely. The aforementioned creatures work nicely too, since they beat down while also putting out some serious disruption.
Before we begin I want to make something perfectly clear; I hate pointless lifegain. If you're randomly including lifegain effects in your decks then you're probably just making them weaker. Whenever I add it to mine it's because I have some plan for that life. Maybe it helps me win the game, or maybe it helps me crush my meta filled with burn decks. Either way I'm not blindly adding it and hoping that it works out. Ok, rant over! There are some fairly power multiplayer lifegain spells, and there will be times when you'll want to use them. Just remember that many of the "good" lifegain spells are actually fairly marginal in a multiplayer setting, and that many of the "bad" ones wind up being amazing. This is no time to be reaching for our Rest for the Wearys, we need to be digging for our Congregates.
Martyr Proc, Soul Sisters
The stronger options for multiplayer lifegain, in my mind, include a small number of key spells. The first set of cards, dubbed the "Souls Sisters," includes Soul Warden, Soul's Attendant and Auriok Champion. As the number of players increases, these creatures tend to gain you exponentially more life than they would in duels. The simple of act of playing creatures is enough to gain you throngs of life over time. I've seen these creatures get completely out of hand when left unchecked. Another popular strategy is to pair Martyr of Sands with Proclamation of Rebirth. The Martyr can very easily gain you a massive amount of life every turn, and can then easily be recurred by Forecasting Proclamation of Rebirth. It's worth noting that the Soul Sisters are also 1 CMC cards, which makes the two strategies synergize nicely. Jasmine Seer is another decent form of lifegain, and can also do a lot of work with respect to keeping you healthy. Since some of these cards care about having a hand full of cards, it's important to support them with relevant draw spells. Squadron Hawk comes to mind as a nice "draw 3" that also puts 4 bodies into play over time for your Soul Sisters, and is easily one of the best options at your disposal. Survival Cache works well too, since it's basically a Divination that gains you 4 life. Well of Lost Dreams and Mind's Eye aren't White cards, but they will draw an absurd number of them. Inheritance is your last good option in my mind, since it pairs well with the constant death and rebirth of your weenies (namely Martyr of Sands). Finally, Ranger of Eos is a great "tutor" in this style of deck, since he fills your hand and nets you 2 relevant bodies.
Other than the Soul Sisters, none of the cards that I've discussed gain much in multiplayer. They're just "good" lifegain cards (more or less). What we need to consider are more ways to take advantage of the increase number of players. Congregate, Shattered Angel, Righteous Cause, Celestial Force, Moonlit Wake and War Report can all gain you obscene amounts of life in big multiplayer games. While none of these cards are great in duels, you better believe they're strong in big multiplayer FFA games. If you're not looking to build an engine of sorts (think Martyr of Sands + Proclamation of Rebirth) to constantly gain you life, then ensure that you lifegain spells will be powerful enough to stand on their own.
Lifegain Wins Games
Now that you know how to gain life, the real question is "what do I do with it?" The simple and best answer is that you should just use it to win the game. Ajani's Pridemate and Serra Ascendant (2HG powerhouse) both come to mind as creatures that will convert that lifegain into a straight up game win. Serra Avatar works too, but she's kinda slow and awkward at times. Still, none of these cards have anything on Test of Endurance (and Felidar Sovereign to a lesser extent). I like it when my deck wins the game when it achieves its gameplan. Having a bunch of life doesn't matter if you can't seal the deal somehow, which is why I always encourage people to incorporate an actual "win" card whenever possible. You can still lose at 100 life. Trust me; I've seen it happen a lot. Don't fall into the trap of playing to draw the game out. Losing "slower-than-normal" is still just "losing". Play to win.