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Jun 08 2015

A Casual Guide to Generals: Part 3 – Mono White Commanders

This is the last part in the series for mono-white generals, which will bring us up to a total of 70 by the end. White clearly has a good depth to it when it comes to generals and has a decent selection of archetypes too. Here are the remaining choices:

Oriss, Samite Guardian EDH Deck

Oriss, Samite Guardian

Cool artwork in the Future Sight frame, and a cool flavour link to the past. However, that is where the good stuff ends for Oriss. She has a better version of Orim, Samite Healer‘s ability but better doesn’t make for good, it’s still tapping to prevent damage, it still costs you 3 CMC to get Oriss on to the field and she is still a 1/3. She does have another ability called Grandeur, but since it relies upon multiples of the same card it is actually of no value at all in EDH. Another card to avoid all together.

General Grade E

Oyobi, Who Split the Heavens

Boy oh boy is this expensive: 7 CMC for a 3/6 Flying Spirit is rough on the mana cost. It does, however, come with the static ability to get a 3/3 flying Spirit Token creature every time you cast a Spirit or Arcane spell, which can be really rather powerful if it is built into the correct deck. Like the other legends that care about Spirit or Arcane cards, Oyobi can be great in a tribal deck that includes some Arcane spells, and can be good heading said deck too. However, he is very expensive to get onto the field, and even when he is there you have to cast more spells to make him feel worthwhile. Mediocre overall, there are better choices even for a Spirit deck in white.

General Grade C-

Pang Tong, “Young Phoenix”

Pang is another underwhelming legend from Portal Three Kingdoms, being a pretty dreadful 1/2 for who’s only other ability is a poor targetted combat trick that gives a toughness boost… that comes with a timing restriction, meaning you cannot use it at instant speed. There really would have to be some hoop jumping to make this usable and it’s really not worth the effort, either as a general or as part of the 99. Pang Tong is just bad, give him a miss.

General Grade E

Patron of the Kitsune

What does the Fox say? Well he says don’t play this guy as your general! For the privilege of paying you get a-not-awful 5/6 that you can cast as an instant for less by sacrificing a Fox creature, and he has whenever a creature attacks you may gain 1 life. That may mean a decent amount of life gained, thus making him a not terrible general to head up a dedicated lifegain deck; the Fox Offering clause is still junk though, as there are only 20 on colour foxes in all of Magic, so i doubt you are playing him for that. To sum, he is an okay Lifegain general, but that’s a pretty niche strategy, so on the whole avoid.

General Grade D+

Pianna, Nomad Captain

I feel like we saw a much stronger version of this card earlier with Kongming, “Sleeping Dragon” who granted the Anthem effect all the time rather than just to other attacking creatures when attacking. Pianna is 1 CMC cheaper and comes with the same body, but in no way is that convincing me to chose him as my general. One half of his type line is a somewhat poorly supported tribe so there is no draw there, and overall he just isn’t powerful enough to have as your general. Might make the 99 though.

General Grade D

Radiant, Archangel EDH Deck

Radiant, Archangel

So here we have a 3/3 Legendary Angel with Flying & Vigilance for which is a pretty good start I would say: a big(ish) flyer that can attack and block is a pretty good start and the price isn’t too outrageous. To compliment this body, Radiant she gets +1/+1 for each other creature with flying on the battlefield. Note that isn’t just that you control. This can get her big, real big! With a correctly built deck, or against a board full of flyers, Radiant can become big enough that she can be taking players out in only a couple of hits with Commander damage. This makes her a great Voltron style general and one of the best choices for an Angel tribal general, with a lower CMC than either Akroma, Angel of Wrath or Avacyn, Angel of Hope. A pretty cool choice of general I think!

General Grade A-

Raksha Golden Cub

Well now, here we have what has to be the best choice for a Cat tribal general! I freely admit that is a narrow area of excellence, but I am sure there are folk out there who love their kitty-cats in Magic. Raksha gives us a 3/4 Vigilance body for which is expensive and very definitely over costed. What he also brings to the table though, is that he grants all Cats you control +2/+2 and Double Strike as long as Raksha is equipped. Yikes! That really does give those cats a strong punch. One pair of Swiftfoot Boots or Lightning Greaves later and all those janky cats just became really scary. I cannot see a huge amount of application for Raksha outside of Cat tribal though, as he is very expensive and without the mass of cats to buff he really doesn’t look like a value package to me.

General Grade B

Rashida Scalebone

Rashida looks an interesting card to me. I do not think she makes a good general, I will get that out of the way straight off. The effect she brings to a deck is far too narrow to make her worth building a whole deck around, even with good tribal support and a respectable 3/4 body for her 5 mana cost. She could make a great addition to a deck that plays in a dragon heavy meta, or with some creature type changing shenanigans she could become a removal machine. None of this helps her cause as a general though, I’d avoid her in that role completely.

General Grade D-

Rashka the Slayer

Homelands strikes again! Rashka is a 3/3 Human Archer for 5 () who comes with Reach and the ability to become a 4/5 should she be blocking a black creature. Yep, that is as exciting as she gets. Too narrow and unexciting to build a deck around, and not strong enough to bother with anyway, at least in my eyes. She might find some application in the 99, but even here I think there are probably better choices.

General Grade D

Reya Dawnbringer

There are expensive generals and then there is Reya Dawnbringer. At a cost of she has to be one of the most expensive generals available, so the bar for her to be worthwhile is pretty high. Her 4/6 Flying body certainly doesn’t make it on its own, so how does her ability measure up>? Well… It doesn’t quite make it for me. At the beginning of your upkeep she can return a card from your graveyard to the battlefield, which is certainly a very cool ability, and can enable some reanimator strategies. The issue is with her being mono-white these can only be white or colourless creatures, which limits its usefulness. I can see her being a great addition to a B/W Reanimator focused deck, but on her own she isn’t quite powerful enough for me to justify her massive cost.

General Grade C

Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant EDH Deck

Rune-Tail, Kitsune Ascendant

A flip card that enters the battlefield flipped in EDH, Rune-Tail look s oppressive at first glance, especially for the low, low cost of just . but then you realise he doesn’t make things indestructible, just prevents damage to your creatures. Whilst this is strong it isn’t oppressive, and just makes for a commander that gives you a string advantage at the cost of being able to deal commander damage. I can see this being something that could go into a Token or White Weenie strategy (like many of the previous choices), but I am not so sure I would want it as my general in either of those. Due to the flip nature of the card, there aren’t tribal pulls for this card, it comes across far more similar to the Theros block gods than like a normal creature. Overall, this might be an interesting choice as a general from a rules point of view, and the effect is pretty good but I would prefer others to head up my deck.

General Grade C+

Sensei Golden-Tail

Hmmm a 2/1 for 2 CMC that allows other cards to become a Samurai with Bushido 1. That is exactly as useful and effective as it sounds, which is not very, even when you realise you can stack multiple instances of Bushido. The effect is too slow (requiring Sensei Golden-Tail to tap to add the counter) and in the end not really powerful enough to make much of a difference. He might be worthwhile running in a weenies deck as one of the 99, or in a Samurai tribal deck that is likely going to be light on Samurai, but I don’t think I would bother building a deck around him.

General Grade D+

Sidar Jabari

A 2/2 human knight for with Flanking and the ability to tap down one creature an opponent controls when Sidar attacks is not the kind of thing that comes to mind when I think of a Legendary creature in MtG. He is over costed by modern standards and not the kind of thing that is worth making the general of your EDH deck. Pretty much Legendary in name only, Sidar is one to avoid.

General Grade D-

Soraya the Falconer

Soraya has undergone some fairly major adjustment in her Oracle text, making the Falcon clauses apply to all creatures with the Bird type. This makes her a pretty useful general if you want to run mono-white Birds tribal (which in itself is a very narrow niche), especially as her Banding ability is repeatable and not too expensive. Soraya can certainly claim a place in the 99 of a tribal Birds deck, with something like Kangee, Aerie Keeper as the general (yes I built that deck 😀 ), and for a Homelands Legend is surprisingly useful. Overall a less than optimal general, but considering the age of the card and the bad reputation of the set she is from, not a terrible choice.

General Grade C-

Takeno, Samurai General

It is only writing this series that I realise how many mono-white Samurai legends there are! The Kamigawa block was certainly a fertile ground for EDH general choices. So how does Takeno look compared to the rest? Of the other 5 mono-white Samurai general candidate, 3 of them score a grade in the D range, and one manages a C-, so that doesn’t exactly look like stiff competition to me. Takeno himself delivers a 3/3 body for 6 CMC which is expensive, but he does have Bushido 2, and gives all other Samurai you control +1/+1 for each point of Bushido they have. So for a Samurai heavy deck, Takeno can make a pretty decent general, boosting all your other Samurai and making for a potentially hard hitting army. For any other purposes Takeno is a pretty poor general, offering little to recommend him.

General Grade C

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben EDH Deck

Thalia, Guardian of Thraben

Thalia is a general that offers something very different from many of the other mono-white generals, in that she is played primarily to disrupt your opponents ability to cast non-creature spells. Early on, the extra mana they have to pay can really play havoc with their plans, and later on it pushes up the number of turns it takes to cast a board sweeper, enabling a Weenie Rush strategy time to build, amongst other things. The fact that Thalia is also a Soldier means she has excellent tribal support, and can slot right into that strategy with her low summoning cost. The addition of First Strike to her is gravy, but useful gravy none the less. As a part of the 99 Thalia would be too unreliable to build around, but having her available as a general means the disruption is on hand straight away, and so this makes her a good general choice.

General Grade A

Tivadar of Thorn

A Legendary creature with Goblin hate built in? Does this make for a good general? Well a 2/2 First Strike, Protection from Red Human Knight for is a nice package, and one I would think about including in the 99, especially if I played in a red heavy meta. But with Tivadar there is more: when he enters the battlefield, he destroys a target Goblin. It is this extra bit that makes him special: in a specific match up he could be deadly. So how to assess his worth? Well he makes a good general to hate out one colour which may or may not be good depending one what you play against. However i think this probably comes down on the side of “too narrow” to really be worthwhile, so I am going to say I would probably not bother.

General Grade C-

Yomiji, Who Bars the Way

I have a decklist in which Yomiji plays a vital role; however he certainly isn’t the general of that list. A 4/4 Legendary Spirit for 6 CMC (note the lack of flying) is not brilliant, but not truly awful either. What he does in addition is whenever a Legendary permanent you control (other than Yomiji) is put into the graveyard from the battlefield, it is returned to its owners hand. This can be a fantastic ability in a Legends Matter deck, making your permanents hard to get rid of. However, making him the general means that it limits the deck to mono-white and that robs the deck of a huge portion of its power. Worth adding to a deck that is stacked full of legends, less useful when used as a general to the point where I don’t think I would bother.

General Grade C-

Yosei, the Morning Star EDH Deck

Yosei, the Morning Star

Yosei represents another general choice if you want to build a deck that disrupts your opponent, a la Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. In this case he costs quite a bit more, clocking in at 6 CMC for a 5/5 Flying Dragon Spirit, which is highly respectable. In addition to more than useful body, when he dies, target player skips their next untap step, and you tap up to 5 permanents they control. If you are able to keep on recurring Yosei that can get pretty nasty, pretty quickly, locking opponents out of any meaningful play whilst you carry out what ever strategy you have paired with disruption. As a concept that is quite interesting to build around, and so could make a very interesting general. Yosei could also be included in a deck headed up by Thalia to increase the level of disruption available. It’s an expensive card to play, and adding the every time you have to recast makes it more so, but could be worth the effort.

General Grade B-

Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior

Another of the Portal Three Kingdoms’ Legends, and another with Horsemanship, Zhang Fei is a 4/4 Human Soldier with Vigilance and evasion with Horsemanship, making him quite a neat package even if he does cost . However he is rather to vanilla to make him worth building around, as he brings nothing to the table that isn’t done either better or cheaper elsewhere. Another that might be a decent 99 inclusion in a Soldier tribal deck, he isn’t really general material.

General Grade D+

Zhao Zilong, Tiger General

I have just dismissed Zhang Fei, Fierce Warrior as a general choice for not doing enough, and now we have Zhao Zilong who does less for only a small reduction in summoning costs. For all the reasons I gave for Zhang fei not being worthwhile Zhao Zilong is also not worthwhile. In fact the weaker body means he really isn’t worth including in the 99 in my opinion, as he is mostly a defensive creature, and Zhang Fei manages that better, so I would avoid all together.

General Grade D-

Zuberi, Golden Feather

We reach our final general in mono-white and it certainly adds something slightly different to the mix right at the end. Here we have the only entry on the list to use if you really want to go Griffin tribal, with a 3/3 Flying Griffin for that gives all other Griffins +1/+1 (including those controlled by your opponents). I think it is fairly obvious that this isn’t what you want as general as it’s overcosted, boosts any Griffins your opponents might have and is far too niche to make a good general. This final entry is another to avoid.

General Grade D-

And there we have it! That brings us to the end of all of the generals currently legal for play in mono-white for EDH. There are some really good ones in that selection, but there are far more bad ones. It is fairly obvious that white does several things well, although many of the legends on this list would probably fare better as one of the 99 in a multi-coloured deck list.

If I were to reveal my favourite entry on mono-white it would be Lin Sivvi, Defiant Hero but I guess thatis fairly obvious by now. What is your favourite? Any thoughts on the grades? Let me know in the comments below. Next time we will move on to blue, the next part of WUBRG.

2 comments

  1. Kuchisama

    Uhm, Pang Tong? Just who is this guy? Might he win the award for “Worst General of all Time”?
    Wow, Portal obviously really brought us the crème de la crème of creatures… 😉

    1. Gareth Hughes

      Heh, yeah Portal really didn’t do White any favours… I know there are some Portal cards that command insane prices, but they certainly aren’t the mono white ones.

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