Now that the full Core Set 2021 has arrived, we can start looking at the cards that may have an impact on standard. Looking back on Core Set 2020, the set overall had a limited impact on the top tiers of standard, so I expect Core Set 2021 will have a similar impact on competitive play from new cards in the set. What may have the most impact are the reprints?

Today, I will look at white cards. Traditional, white is one of the weakest colors in Magic. Over the course of the 2019-2020 season, white has played a supporting role in several top tier decks. Core Set 2021 does offer a few cards that may push white into a larger role in standard. During Theros season, an attempt was made to create a competitive Mono-White deck. The deck made it to the lower tiers of competitive standard but did not perform well against the Top Tier decks.

Mono White Wennies?

One of the most popular white arc types is Mono-White Aggro. Core Set 2021 provides several additions that could help Mono-White Aggro become a more competitive deck. The first key piece is planeswalker Basri Ket.

What makes him a good addition is his plus one ability to give a +1/+1 counter and indestructible to a creature and his minus two ability to create a 1/1 white soldier token for each nontoken creature that attacks. This can quickly create an army of 1/1 white soldiers if Basri Ket goes unchecked. His ultimate for minus six gives you an emblem with “At the beginning of combat on your turn, create a 1/1 white solder creature token, then put a +1/+1 counter on each creature you control.” While I do not expect this to happen often. It will create a large powerful set of creatures that should win most games.

The second potential addition is Basri’s Lieutenant. This human knight has vigilance and protection from multicolored.

His abilities make him worth considering in a knight or Mono-White deck. When Basri’s Lieutenant enters the battlefield, he put a +1/+1 counter on target creature you control. Then whenever Basri’s Lieutentant or another creature you control dies, if it had a +1/+1 counter on it, create a 2/2 white Knight creature with vigilance. This gives white a creature that provides a similar protective effect to the one that Anax Hardened in the Forge provides for Red. The four mana cost does makes him hard to get into play early in the game. This might limit his usefulness, but if standard remains slow he might just do the trick.

Mono-White get a good one drop in Speaker of the Heavens. For one white mana, you get a 1/1 white human cleric with vigilance and lifelink.

These are good abilities that make it a playable card. What makes it better than playable is its other ability. Speaker of the Heavens can tap to create a 4/4 white Angel creature token with flying. It can be activated only when you have at least 7 life more than your starting life total and only any a time you could cast a sorcery. White has many ways to gain life, so getting to 27 should not be difficult. Getting a 4/4 white angel with flying for free is a great ability. Once rotation occurs, this card should get better because the amount of removal in the format will decline.

The fourth card is Glorious Anthem. For three mana, you get an enchantment that gives creatures you control +1/+1.

This is the same ability that Benalish Marshall has that made Mono-White a competitive deck last year. Standard does have ways to destroy an enchantment, but it is much easier to destroy a creature. I expect some of the players that had success with Mono-White in the previous season to take a shot at making Mono-White a viable deck in the upcoming standard.

If Basri’s Lieutenant does find a place in a Mono-White Aggro deck then Basri’s Solidarity is a good option for the deck. Basri’s Solidarity gives each of your creatures a +1/+1 counter. This works well with Basri’s Lieutenant’s ability to protect creatures. It also puts more power on the battlefield for a low mana investment. I think that other decks may want to give it a try as well. Maybe the Mardu Knights deck or another aggro deck that splashes white will find a place for it.

The other white cards that have potential do not fit well into a Mono-White Aggro deck. I expect them to be tried in mid-range and control decks. The first is a former All-Star reprint in Baneslayer Angel.

Baneslayer Angel was a dominate card in standard when it was first printed in M10 and M11. Her key word abilities make her one of the most powerful cards in Magic history. The question is how she will stake-up against the higher power level of current cards. Having first strike makes her a power blocker that gains life. Flying gives her evasion as an attacker that can easily finish games. The question is whether there will be a deck that can best utilize these abilities.

Dogs get a lord in Pack Leader.

This 2/2 dog gives other dogs you control +1/+1 and whenever Pack Leader attacks, it prevents all combat damage that would be dealt this turn to Dogs you control. I expect dog lovers to build around Pack Leader. We have seen similar cards play a key role in other aggro decks. The power level of other dogs in the format will determine how successful the deck is overall.

From Shadowmoor, we get the reprint Runed Halo.

This enchantment gives you protection from a card. Against decks that rely on cards like Expansion//Explosion, it can shut down the most powerful card in a deck. I think it will at least see sideboard play and could find a place in main decks if the top decks rely on one or two key cards to win games.

Another important reprint is Containment Priest. This 2/2 human cleric has flash and prevents a nontoken creature from entering the battlefield if it was not cast. Flash makes it very powerful because you can wait until your opponent activates an ability or cast a card that brings a creature into play that was not cast. This will prevent it from entering play and will result in the card being exiled.

This might be the most important white reprint. It prevents creature cards from being searched up and placed on the battlefield like Winota does. While Containment Priest might not be an idea aggro card, it might be a good fit in an aggro deck that wants to prevent uncast creature cards from entering play. It also should shutdown the cat oven combo because feeding the cat a food token is not casting it. It will be interesting to see how players use this card.

A hidden gem in white might be Angelic Ascension. For two mana you get to exile a target creature or planeswalker and create a 4/4 angel for that creature’s controller. This happens at instant speed, so it can happen in response to an attack or be used to take down a larger creature. Using Angelic Ascension to exile a card like Uro is an important option by making it something that can more easily be dealt with that Uro. It can also be a great save option against decks that use spot removal. After your opponent uses a card like Heartless Act or Dire Tactics to remove a creature, you cast Angelic Ascension to replace it. This can be a game changing effect. It will be interesting to see how players use it.

The final white card I want to look at is Mangara, the Diplomat. One of white’s biggest problems is its inability to general card advantage. Mangara provides a way to general additional cards, but it is dependent on your opponent attacking with two or more creatures.

This makes Mangara a good card against aggro decks, but he has limited value against control and combo decks. I think Mangara has a place in sideboards, but I think he will have a hard time finding a place in main decks unless aggro becomes a larger part of standard.

White has some interesting cards in Core Set 2021. How important to standard these cards will depend on how the format adapts to the release of Core Set 2021. These cards have potential, but that may not be realized until cards like Teferi, Time Raveler and Wilderness Reclamation rotate out of the format.

Until next time, good luck finding your win condition!