04.03.03 - White Weenie
This series of articles will be devoted to the most basic deck designs in PEZ. The articles will analyze the decks, teach you the basic building blocks and analyze the most attractive cards to put in your own builds. The point is not to build the decks for you but to give new players a feel for the deck and experienced players a list of odd cards that I think may prove to be Ďgood techí in the hands of a witty rogue. A lot of this is a list of card names (I will try to go from the usual choices to the most unusual) Ė including full card text would land me in an asylum Ė use www.crystalkeep.com (this is the official PEZ source for rulings, rarity, and card text) to find full card text for cards that interest you. I hope you enjoy them and please post the decks you build on our Peasant Magic Archive!
The Basic Peasant Part 1 Ė White Weenie
White Weenie has been around forever and it crops up time after time. In PEZ it is a perennial staple Ė it fits well into a fast creature environment and it is historically strong against both Black and Red. Basically, the theory behind White Weenie is simple. Pack 20 to 30+ creatures into your deck, all with casting cost 3 or less, and beat on your opponent. While White doesnít have the kind of high power low cost creatures that the other colors have access to, it makes up the difference in that its creatures are efficient. They are efficient because almost all of them come with useful abilities that make them hard to kill or hard to block.
The main difference between PEZ and standard WW (White Weenie) is that PEZ lacks one of the key ingredients that makes WW a top deck. Historically, that ingredient has been Armageddon (or Cataclysm and now Glory). Basically, it always had a card that would hit the table and keep the opponent from regaining their feet after a blistering early game. While this is a problem for the PEZ versions, the fact that most other aggressive decks in the format flounder after the first few turns keeps things from getting out of control. In addition the deck presents enough threats to make things lively for non-creature based decks.
As stated above, the core of WW is 24-30+ creatures (or spells that act like/create creatures) with casting cost of 3 or less. Normally, there will be 4 or less 3 cost creatures. White can get away with this since its first and second turn drops are just so darn good. Picking the most efficient creatures for your deck is what will win you games. Historically, WW has included as many or more 1 drops as 2 drops but this doesnít seem to be the trend in PEZ especially since the 2 drops are much more powerful.
Backing up the creatures are a very select group of spells. Normally this would include methods to pump the creatures (Crusade and Army of Allah are the classics) since your creatures lack the power of other colors. This may also include spells to protect your creatures, grant evasion, to thin your deck (especially of land), and of course removal.
As for land, most WW builds include somewhere between 14 and 21 land. While Plains are the obvious (and most important) choice, some of the non-basic lands are particularly attractive.
Things to Keep in Mind
WW can fit into many different forms. It can be undeniably aggressive Ė focusing on evasion abilities and quick damage pumps. It can also be more defensive Ė focusing on a swarm of hard to kill critters and death by a thousand cuts. Here defensive doesnít mean to turtle up and stall. And, of course, it can be anything in between. Choose where you want to fit into the spectrum before you start building and you will be doing yourself a big favor! The key to defining your deck will be your non-creature cards and your Uncommons, make sure the creatures you choose fit into the scheme.
While land is necessary for any deck, it is a great disadvantage to many WW builds. After the first couple lands hit the table they tend to be useless to you. Try to find ways to minimize the amount of land you top deck, or find a way to use that land to your advantage.
WW prospers because it is almost as aggressive as decks like Sligh, Stompy, and Suicide Black but it is much more flexible and adaptable than these other decks. While you should not ignore the aggressiveness of your card picks, keep in mind that your deck needs to be designed to take advantage of Whiteís strengths (flexibility and utility) and not to hide its weakness (damage dealing).
Also remember that protection equals evasion. While granting protection from a color is a great defensive coup, it also prevents your creatures from being blocked and is therefore a very admirable ability.
Uncommons will, to a large extent, define the nature of your WW build. Just as an author must set the tone, mood, and voice for their writing your choice of Uncommons will do the same for your deck.
Swords to Plowshares has been in these decks since the beginning. At 1 mana it fits the mana curve perfectly and can be used both aggressively, to remove a blocker, or defensively. It is also widely consider to be one of the most powerful spells that White has access to. It is always a solid choice for WW and can be considered one of the Ďdefaultí Uncommons for the deck.
Mother of Runes is the other Ďdefaultí Uncommon. Not only is the Mother a potential attacker but she only costs 1 and grants protection which is one of the best abilities for a deck like this. While many players feel Swords to Plowshares is always better than the Mother others like a 2:3 split or simply prefer the Mother overall. I am one of those players who prefers the Mother of Runes. First, the Mother of Runes, while not a permanent solution, does everything Swords can do and is generally more flexible and provides greater utility. The downside, of course, is that she can be killed with creature removal so she is easier for some decks to deal with.
Battle Screech is commonly used in WW both in standard and in PEZ. The reason is card advantage. While Battle Screech is beyond the standard mana curve of the deck, it is a single card that nets 4 creatures all of which have flying. The downside is that because of its cost, most games against other aggressive builds will already be decided by the time it is played and many control decks (especially Black) wonít see a few easily killed 1/1ís as a threat.
Enlightened Tutor is a great choice for very specific builds. If you use either of the next two cards you should seriously consider playing Enlightened Tutor. Likewise, if you play Empyrial Armor or CoPís this card really adds consistency to your deck. If you donít rely on Enchantments, however, this card will do nothing for you so this card will determine the rest of your deck if you include it.
Land Tax has been in WW from day 1 and for good reason. One of the down sides of such an abbreviated mana curve is that after playing 3-4 lands the rest are useless draws. Land Tax solves the problem by allowing you to prune the land from your deck at a prodigious rate. The extra benefit of Land Tax is that it acts as a super powered fuel source for Empyrial Armor. Instead of the Armor granting a minimal bonus, within a turn or two it will make the creature +10/+10 (since you donít discard down to 7 until the end of your turn).
Story Circle/Charm School are the ultimate in main deck CoPís, you never have to wonder what color your opponent is playing. Very few decks in PEZ have any good ways to remove enchantments and each of these cards reads ďI winĒ in an absurd number of matches. Including 4 really weakens the rest of the deck but throwing in 1 with 3 Enlightened Tutors has always seemed like a good deal to me. If you have good posture and a good hair cut Charm School is always the better choice.
Angelic Voices has not, as far as I know, been included in any PEZ decks to date. Basically, it is an expensive Crusade (which started as the key card making WW possible). Many decks have a hard time dealing with Enchantments and this one makes all your creatures harder to kill and better to beat with. Because of the 4 casting cost this is a less aggressive pick for WW in PEZ. If you are a bit of a gambler and you may wish to go with Jihad. The boost from Jihad is more significant but you will have to play around its disadvantages.
Pegasus Stampede has also seen little play, which is surprising since I generally consider it to be better than Battle Screech. While 1/1 flyers may not be the beeís knees in most match-ups, the card is lightning fast compared to Battle Screech and puts those extra lands to some use.
Icatian Priest is yet another unknown but a possibly interesting pick. At 1 mana he is nice and cheap and he turns all of your creatures into potential pumping creatures. This is a great way to manipulate combat math and maybe save some creatures from damage. It is also a good sink for extra mana but really only for the higher land builds.
Knight of Dawn is about as aggressive as you can get in your Uncommon slot. As a 2/2 for 3 he fits in the mana curve and his ability to gain protection makes him a lasting threat. Very defensive decks may also utilize him as a key win mechanism. Voice of All has a similar effect on the game although she is more costly and harder to keep alive. For those who like the aggressive idea and want to take it all the way try Wishmonger in your builds (but include damage prevention and life gain as a back-up).
Cleansing is the closest PEZ can get to Armageddon. Since it doesnít automatically destroy all land it isnít nearly as good but the damage dealing potential is interesting. I donít think this card stands up well in an environment where many other decks could care less about land but it may have some potential.
The Common Critters Ė 1 Drops
Soul Warden is as close to a Ďmustí as any card gets. The life gain off this card can be excessive to say the least and is almost always enough to net an extra turn or two without holding back blockers. It has been a standard in WW since it was printed and for good reason!
Benevolent Bodyguard is more of an aggressive pick as opposed to a defensive one, contrary to what most people think. Particularly good to grant evasion, this card is also useful for keeping other more important creatures on the board. A solid all around inclusion for all most all varieties of WW.
Soltari Foot Soldier is another aggressive choice since Shadow is about the best evasion available. All the Soltari receive the most benefit when global pump or Empyrial Armor is in play. Likewise, Soltari are not advantageous in very defensive builds since they will rarely be useful as blockers.
Deftblade Elite is the newest kid on the block and one of my personal best picks. In the mirror and against Green he is invincible and as a blocker he can be amazing stopping the best creatures in the format as well as trample damage. While mostly defensive, he also can help out an offense by tying up key blockers and letting an attack slip through. He fits in most decks.
Nomads en-Kor is another very strong pick with a bit more defensive flavor. By trading damage around, especially with a Mother of Runes in play, he can be nigh invulnerable. He is not as useful in decks that lack 2 and 3 toughness creatures or other damage prevention abilities.
Tundra Wolves and Serra Zealot are identical cards for the aggressive players. First Strike means that they can help eliminate early drops by the opponent. Because their usefulness decreases as the games go on they are not suited to more defensive builds.
Mtenda Herder seems to see less play than the Wolves or Zealot but is, in my opinion, superior as an aggressive pick. Flanking means he trades with 2 toughness creatures and acts as First Strike against 1 toughness. This allows him to remain potent for an extra turn or two when compared to the Wolves or Zealot.
Suntail Hawk is one of the very rare first turn evasion creatures. This pick is the choice if you feel you need the aggression of the Soltari Foot Soldiers but want to keep you blocking options open. As with all evasion creatures, this is a good aggressive pick.
Icatian Javeliners are like mini-Tims and one of Whiteís only sources of direct removal. While they can be useful for many WW builds, seriously consider them if you are running enchantments as a way to deal with Elvish Lyrist and similar cards. The downside is that they are 1 shot wonders.
Tragic Poet is only for the decks that rely on Enchantments like Angelic Voices or Empyrial Armor. In these decks she is required to protect your win conditions and should not be ignored, whether main deck or sideboard. Without an Enchantment base, leave this one in your shoebox.
Glittering Lynx and Clergy of the Holy Nimbus are, in my opinion, underused. Against other aggressive creature decks like Sligh or the mirror, a first or second turn Lynx or Clergy represents a huge tempo advantage. In the mid-game, it is rarely worth the opponentís effort to kill one of these guys off - oh, they are also annoying as heck. They do represent a fairly defensive choice but combine well with cards like Nomads en-Kor.
Devout Harpist is especially useful in the Empyrial mirror but also against a variety of other decks. The Enchantment removal effect is fairly limited but it remains in play to be used turn after turn. If you are worried about Empyrial Armor, Ďdillo Cloak or others consider this card.
Tireless Tribe is one of the most defensive picks available but, for a 1/1, he is darn hard to kill. He serves as a means to dump excess land as well as generate threshold for the small number of cards that need it. Also consider him, and other pitch permanents, in decks with Battle Screech to nullify the Casting Cost disadvantage. He is probably a no go in aggressive builds but shines in matches against Stompy and Sligh.
Charm Peddler is the poor manís Mother of Runes. If you really like the Mother of Runes but canít fit her into your deck, Charm Peddler may be the way to go.
Dedicated Martyr is another defensive pick with life gain potential. If you are worried about the survivability of your deck maybe this guy is for you. If you are looking at specific match upís and Black or Red bother you, consider Honorable Scout instead.
Funeral Pyre will become important if Roar of the Worm or Wonder decks start to catch on. Regardless, this spell produces a 1/1 Flyer for only 1 mana and itís not like your deck has any recursion. The only downside to this card is that it is not an early game drop since your graveyard starts off empty.
The Common Critters Ė 2 Drops
Knight of the Hokey Pokey may seem odd as most players havenít had much experience with Unglued but this is probably the number one 2 drop for WW. A 2/2 First Striker with damage prevention is too good to pass up. Even better if you can dance. While less aggressive than an evasion creature the 2 power and First Strike still make this an aggressive pick while the damage prevention makes him attractive for less assertive builds.
Order of Leitbur is a more aggressive pick than Knight of the HP because of the pump ability and Protection from Black; a classic pick for these decks. The 1 Toughness makes him less attractive for defensive builds and makes him very vulnerable to a whole host of cards.
Soltari Trooper is also very good on offense, with Shadow and 2 power. This card is awful as a defender so donít look to include him in defensive builds. As with all Soltari, and too a lesser extent all evasion creatures, he fits best in decks that can keep him pumped up.
Mesa Chicken is yet another stellar pick from Unglued. You canít get much better than a 2/2 Flyer for 2 mana. A very solid pick overall that leans towards the aggressive builds because of evasion.
Temple Acolyte marks the first truly defensive pick of the 2 drops. Because this is a Portal card many people arenít familiar with it but it is a very solid pick. At 2 mana you gain 3 life and get a 3 toughness blocker out on the table. While many aggressive decks will look for the harder hitting 2 drops, this guy is perfect in most of the less aggressive builds.
Steadfast Guard and Alaborn Grenadier are both nice since they are 2/2 and neither taps to attack. This makes them perfect targets for cards like Empyrial Armor or Protection effects. Taking advantage of whatever the Enchantment is on both offense and defense basically doubles its effectiveness. Very aggressive decks will prefer evasion but these cards could help out most other builds.
Standard Bearer is absolutely amazing in most PEZ match-upís especially against Stompy. He is very defensive and while he normally just provides a 1 turn speed bump, with damage prevention and protection he can really ruin some decks over the long haul. While even aggressive decks may want to sideboard him in against Green he is best in decks which can extend his life span.
Patrol Hound is really overshadowed by a number of the other aggressive picks, although the 2 toughness can be a nice advantage in specific match-upís. Still you should be looking for a better pick unless you make use out of threshold in which case you may want to include a few copies.
Crimson Acolyte and Obsidian Acolyte have seen some main deck play in PEZ if only because both Black and Red are such major parts of the environment. It is up to you to decide how important Red and Black hate will be for you but nobody does it better.
Freewind Falcon and Duskrider Falcon are solid all around picks as both Evasion and Protection creatures. This means that they strike a good balance for decks that want to be ready to beat Red or Black but donít want to weaken the overall force of the main deck. As 1 toughness evasion creatures these are a slightly more aggressive choice.
Welkin Hawk offers a host of benefits which makes this card a solid all around pick. As an evasion creature he provides a nice, though slight, aggressive advantage. His real strength is in the fact that he can generate card advantage as well as deck thinning.
Phantom Nomad is a poor choice for many decks if only because he just acts as a road bump for two turns. If you are playing any pumping Enchantments (like Empyrial Armor or Angelic Voices), however, he becomes amazing. Anything that can pump his Toughness makes him invulnerable to any amount of damage. This makes him a strong pick for the less aggressive decks that include these Enchantments as well as a strong card when paired with the en-Kor.
Monk Realist is simply nice as a form of Enchantment removal. While he canít deal with the troublesome Artifacts in PEZ, he is pretty good in the Mirror match and deserves a strong look especially in the Sideboard.
Master Decoy and Benalish Tracker are generally used for defensive measures but can also serve as offense to sneak attackers through. While both of these cards can be pivotal in the right match-upís their primary goal is to tie down decks with few large attackers - In PEZ that is usually a Blastoderm which is immune to their ability anyway. Still some decks could see good use from these guys so donít discount them.
Trained Pronghorn is useful as the 2 cost version of Tireless Tribe. The card combines well with the en-Kor and with threshold cards as well as being useful for the defensive builds especially against Stompy.
Mystic Familiar and Mystic Visionary are on the very short list of Threshold cards. In all builds, the Familiar is preferable with equal power, higher toughness, and protection post Threshold.
The Common Critters Ė 3 Drops
Devout Witness probably deserves the rare 3 slot for most WW builds. Its ability to handle the key Enchantments in the format as well as Mishraís Factory and Yoation Soldier is very impressive. Very aggressive builds should avoid this card as they should focus on winning before the opponentís cards become an issue.
Soltari Visionary is more limited than Devout Witness but is a much more aggressive pick. 2 power and evasion is the highlight here while the Enchantment removal serves as a nice extra.
Phyrexian War Beast is a very aggressive pick being larger than anything else available to WW, a deck that can ignore this cardís disadvantages.
Yoation Soldier provides a colorless attacker against CoPís but is more useful as a 4 toughness blocker. The fact that he doesnít tap to attack is what makes him playable. A decent pick for defensive builds.
Troubled Healer provides a way to make use of those extra lands. Overall a very defensive card but very strong for its role in the deck.
Auramancer is only for decks with key Enchantment where he can become a very important addition to either main deck or side board.
The Common Kill Cards
Army of Allah seems to be the card of choice for many PEZ players. It is an instant surprise and capable of dishing out a lot of damage fast. If they are able to control your swarm or they have Prismatic Strand this card becomes instantly ineffective. There is also almost no defensive utility to this card.
Empyrial Armor is my preferred win-mechanism. While it is much more predictable than AoA it establishes a clock and lets you focus and control the game much more effectively. The downside is that it is vulnerable to Enchantment removal and Maze of Ith.
Ramosian Rally has some of the advantages of AoA while allowing for some defensive flexibility. This makes it very attractive as Stench of Decay gains popularity.
The Rest of the Commons
Prismatic Strands is totally and completely broken in this format and you should have a very good reason for including less than 3 copies in your deck. I am at a loss to describe any downside to this card even for aggressive decks. It saves you, your creatures, provides combat tricks, and each copy does all this twice.
Congregate was the standard before Prismatic Strands with typical life gains above 10 and gains of 20 or more are not entirely uncommon. With the rise of Control Black it is not as strong but can still be a powerful card for WW.
Disenchant is useful, especially from the sideboard, against a whole host of threats. While it isnít a creature, which is bad in WW, it is so much better at its job than any other spell that it will always remain a viable pick.
Serrated Arrows is the bane of a large portion of the environment and is especially deadly in the Mirror match. Compared to the speed of the deck this card is very slow but many players would feel that speed is a small price to pay. A serious contender in all PEZ decks and especially in WW. It is also one of the few forms of creature removal.
Renewed Faith represents a large enough life gain to matter when hard cast and a useful way to generate threshold and thin your deck when cycled. I would consider this card for many WW builds as a solid all rounder.
Aura Fracture is probably the best Enchantment killer in the format. If you have worries, this card may very well be your solution.
Holy Light is an amazingly powerful card in this format. The downside is that -1/-1 is most effective against WW, and this card doesnít affect White creatures (which is at least good for you). Still it is an instant so it can act as mass removal or as a combat trick in some matches, possibly strong coming out of the sideboard.
Cho-Mannoís Blessing can be card advantage when cast as an instant and supplies creatures with both offensive and defensive bonuses. This is a personal favorite though it hasnít seen much play (since space is limited). For those seeking protection, Floating Shield and Ward of Lights serve similar purposes.
Although slower Reaping the Rewards is a possibility for decks to make use of their land. As a scaled down version of Zuran Orb it is almost as annoying and it can really keep you going for an extra few turns when needed.
As with most decks, Basic lands will form the base so Plains are obviously the most important land.
Strip Mine is very much overpowered in PEZ and may soon be banned or restricted (or suffer some other fate) but for now it is hard to go wrong with this card. Removing key lands can be critical against some decks like Coffer King. It is also important to remove Maze of Ith in decks that rely on Empyrial Armor. Against all other decks it provides a tempo advantage. A very good card, especially in aggressive decks. Less useful against other aggressive builds.
Desert is great as creature control and especially the opposite of Strip Mine - it is perfect against other aggressive builds in this format. Overall, however, it is less useful than Strip Mine but better for decks with higher mana curves.
Mishraís Factory is one of my personal favorites. It is perfect for this deck as it is both a land and a creature. A very strong pick, less used than Desert but probably a much better card.
Mixing it Up
There are a lot of things you can do to make WW a little different. The most obvious change is to ignore the creatures above and focus on a Rebel them. Johnny Lai argues that the only way to be successful with WW is to use a Rebel build. I wouldnít go that far but the man has done so well at so many PEZ tournaments with his Rebel decks that I canít totally ignore the statement.
The advantage of Rebels is in their consistency and the ability to pull just the right creature for the job. The disadvantage is that they are slower than traditional WW decks and also constrain your deck building. I will leave the choice up to you. Remember that you donít have to make a complete Rebel deck. Consider using a 4-7 fetching Rebels to pull creature cards like Nightwind/Thermal Glider or Steadfast Guard that are important to specific matches.
Just as you can focus on Rebels: Soldier and Cleric decks are also possibilities. In past articles I have made some references to these builds and WotC keeps printing up new and better cards for these tribes. Have some fun and experiment with these builds.
Also, consider splashing other colors. So far, Green has been splashed into some WW builds mostly for access to Armadillo Cloak, which is one of the most powerful creature enchantments around. Red can be used for access to direct damage; Black also serves a similar purpose granting access to either removal or discard. Blue can be added for bounce, card drawing, counterspells but the best of Blue is probably Mind Bend followed by a close second in Shifting Sky. While these cards do eat up the Uncommon slots, they also provide an interesting way for White to take advantage of all its color specific cards.
Well that was a lot of ideas thrown out into a loose framework. If you are a new player and want some deck advice, e-mail me. If you are an experienced player try to take some of the cards here and break out of the WW mold. Next week I will go over Sligh so I will catch you then!
Jason Chapman - firstname.lastname@example.org
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