If you’re looking to build a white Commander deck, you can’t miss our rundown of 20 essential white cards. These are the most flexible and often best cards in their class, and will fit into pretty much any strategy or archetype. They’re perfect to add to your collection.
White is a great color to play with in Commander, and it’s only getting better. It has some of the best removal in the format, plus plenty of interaction, mana generation and card advantage, to boot.
As we’re discussing white cards in this article, some “honorary” white cards won’t make the list — but you should be playing them anyway. I’m talking MDFCs like Sejiri Shelter and Emeria’s Call; Pearl Medallion and Idol of Oblivion; that sort of thing.
Let’s dive into these 20 cards, which I’ve ordered by mana value for ease of reference.
Blacksmith’s Skill is the premier white protection spell when it comes to single targets. It can protect anything — be it Enchantment, Creature or even Planeswalker (though it won’t stop combat damage).
If you deploy a lot of engine pieces, or high value targets, Blacksmith’s Skill is right up your street. It’s mostly better than the likes of Faith’s Shield, which I’d still consider running alongside it in mono-white. Once you add other colors, you have more options.
There are plenty of decks where I take Ephemerate first over Blacksmith’s Skill, and that’s because in creature heavy decks, having your protection essentially double up as value is too good to pass up.
You can save a high value target from removal with this spell, but more than that, it gives you way more than one mana of value — particularly because of how good the Rebound effect is. If you have a Karmic Guide, Skyclave Apparition or Knight of the White Orchid in play, you’re laughing.
Land Tax is phenomenal, and the fact that it’s basically a free Ancestral Recall every upkeep is kinda nuts. Yes, the cards you draw will always be lands… and yes, no matter how well you shuffle your deck after, you draw another land way too often because variance hates you.
However, this enchantment still offers some of the best card advantage available in the color. Filtering basics out of the deck improves your draws, and throwing them into the graveyard can set up some big plays.
Path to Exile
There are three one-mana removal spells in white worth playing, and picking one to headline this slot in our list was hard. Owing to the prevalence of catch-up ramp (Archaomancer’s Map, Deep Gnome Terramancer, Keeper of the Accord and the emergence of Archivist of Oghma), Path to Exile just about takes the spot. I’ve also been playing some aggressive decks lately and giving life to opponents is sometimes awkward.
That said, both Swords to Plowshares and Dispatch are more than playable, and I think which you pick first will depend largely on what your deck is trying to do. There are decks where I find Path to be worse than Swords — decks where I am overkilling on damage or have alternate win conditions.
If you add another mana, there are plenty more effects. Contraband Livestock is probably slept on, and Crib Swap is solid in creatures-matter lists.
Esper Sentinel is white’s best source of consistent, on-board draw in Commander, and that’s because Commander players are greedy. That said, keep in mind that historic bias means the same player who doesn’t pay for Rhystic Study might pay for your spiky dude, and it will be super annoying. Thankfully, +1/+1 counters, equipment and team-buffs can ensure opponents won’t want to pay the… ten.
Esper Sentinel pips both Archivist of Oghma and Deep Gnome Terramancer to a spot on this list, and it’s because the latter two cards both require opponents making deckbuilding decisions we can’t control. They are much higher variance than Sentinel, and while great cards, aren’t as essential as the rest of what’s on the list — especially since a good Sword of the Animist or Mask of Memory can fill those gaps quite nicely.
Stoneforge Mystic is one of my favorite white cards ever, and yes, it’s because I’m a shameful equipment slut. Two mana to tutor any equipment, a creature to wear it and the ability to cheat it in, avoiding most counterspells? Yes please!
Steelshaper’s Gift and Open the Armory are perfectly viable alternatives, and you’ll probably run them alongside this Kor two-drop if you’re going all in on the theme. If you’re just running some value equipment, SFM is probably the best bet — though keep in mind Open the Armory can get removal in the form of Darksteel Mutation or Ossification.
Though Loran of the Third Path is finally the Reclamation Sage white deserves, it’s still sorcery speed. For that reason, Cathar Commando will always be my number one baddie for dealing with disenchantable permanents.
Flashing this baby in feels great, and white loves bringing back mana-value-three-or-less bodies from the bin. What more do you want?
Selfless Spirit continues to be an absolutely stellar card. A 2 mana investment when you can afford it, rather than constantly holding mana open, is well worth the price of entry. Having this buddy sat on the board will give virtual card advantage by the bucket load, too, and will force opponents to spend removal to solve your failsafes.
That is always an opportunity to blow them out with a protection spell from hand. It’s also perfect for wearing equipment to help you get set up.
White is spoiled for choice when it comes to protection spells, and even some of the cheaper options like Eerie Interlude and Your Temple is Under Attack are more than playable. Teferi’s Protection takes the cake here, though, as it’s easily the best in slot. Phasing your board out while leaving you immune to life total changing is the ultimate safe button.
Depending on your deck, you might also want to look at Clever Concealment, Flawless Maneuver and Cosmic Intervention — the latter of which is a lot of fun with fetchlands and mass land destruction, or board wipes when you run a lot of strong EtB effects. Most decks will want one to three effects, and if you can do so, playing Teferi’s Protection as your first pick is often the correct choice.
This little Map is such a strong game piece for white, and I find myself wanting it in every deck nowadays. Three mana to grab two lands out the deck is fine, but the ability to drop lands in as a catch-up, Burgeoning effect is what takes it higher.
When combined with Path to Exile, Winds of Abandon and Settle the Wreckage, you’re putting a lot of lands into play. It’s also flickerable with Teleportation Circle, which is neat.
Never look a gift elephant in the mouth. It’s a 3/3, and unless you didn’t skip leg day, you’re probably a 1/2 on a good day.
Generous Gift is probably close to an auto-include for me in white decks. It’s like Beast Within and Chaos Warp. It answers basically anything, and that flexibility is great. There’s nothing more to say.
For many years, white had been crying out for good removal tied to EtB effects. 2020 was a turning point for the color, and Skyclave Apparition is one of the best cards available in the color nowadays.
Most things you want to remove in the developing game are four or less, so Skyclave gets the job done. The token they get is negligible in comparison to the target staying in exile, and you can flicker or recur this body easily.
White has slowly been accumulating card draw options over the past few years, and at the time of publication, I think white can draw a reasonable amount of cards — especially if it can chain the right engines together (looking at you, Skullclamp).
Tocasia’s Welcome is my current pick, for a couple reasons — mainly that it triggers off of tokens, and because it triggers on opponents’ turns, and because enchantments tend to stick around longer than creatures. Welcoming Vampire is a good option, too, but Tocasia’s is the best in slot for me.
A reasonable amount of time, you’ll have to discard cards in a game of Commander. Whether it’s because you filled up on Land Tax or Mask of Memory triggers, you’ll eventually have to pitch something.
Sevinne’s Reclamation is the card you want here, because Flashback is sick. A one off Sun Titan trigger can help you ramp or recur key pieces, and getting a double shot at it from the bin is hard to top. Recommission and Brought Back are similar options and will be good in decks that want them, too.
I separated Akroma’s Will from the other protection spells because it’s ostensibly a finisher, first. White struggles to close games, and though a well-time Brave the Elements can sometimes get you there, it’s the True Convictions and Sigarda’s Summons of the world that you need to get the table kills.
Akroma’s Will gives you a one shot version of the effect that can also be used modally as a protection spell in a pinch.
Any list of top white cards isn’t complete without everyone’s favorite, groan-inducing enchantment. While Smothering Tithe can be tiring to play (with and against), you can’t argue against the power of this card. It gets even crazier with wheels and token doublers, but even at face value, it’s a bonkers mana engine.
If you’re truly tired of being asked if you pay the (2), there’s an easy way around that: just agree with the table that you’ll get the token unless someone says otherwise. It’s far easier to walk back creating a token than drawing a card off of Rhystic Study, afterall.
Solitude is in desperate need of a reprint, and if we don’t get one in Commander Masters, it’s gonna be a while yet, I’d imagine, til we see one. Unfortunately, it’s earned its price tag: Solitude is incredible.
Getting unconditional Swords to Plowshares on a creature is huge, especially because you can always cast it for the alternate cost. Evoking it is never that bad, precisely because white decks are built to use the graveyard most of the time. Brought Back feels especially gross for opponents, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg on ways you can increase Solitude’s power.
Sun Titan ages like a fine wine, and even in today’s Commander metagame, where manacurves continue to come down, Sun Titan always finds a home. Repeatable recursion is just good, and Sun Titan gets it done.
It can also be used in many combo loops, which is handy, too. Karmic Guide is another white reanimator creature that very nearly made it to the list, but given we only have twenty slots, something had to be cut.
Both are excellent, and if you’re leaning into reanimator, you should also play one of my favorite cards of all time, too: Emeria Shepherd. Seven mana is a big ask, but in combination with Sun Titan, Karmic Guide, Burnished Hart, Solemn Simulacrum and Fetchlands, you can recur your whole board constantly.
In years previously, this slot would have undoubtedly been Avacyn Angel of Hope. The thing is, a whopping eight mana for indestructible isn’t what it used to be, and we all know how receptive people aren’t to mass land destruction and Worldslayer wins. Avacyn eats removal consistently, so she’s not quite as good as the card I want to name: Serra’s Emissary.
Emissary is the perfect white curve topper. If you choose protection from instants, she keeps your board safe. If you choose sorceries, Blasphemous Act won’t have any effect.
Really, though, we’re picking creatures. That way ours are unblockable, and we don’t take damage from an opponent’s attacks. This has way more utility than Avacyn, and works both offensively and defensively.
Ascend from Avernus
The final spot on the list is white’s mass reanimate spell, Ascend from Avernus. Far easier to cast than the clunky Marshal’s Anthem, often cheaper than Triumphant Reckoning and Brilliant Restoration, and most importantly — it brings back creatures.
This is a monumental addition to white’s toolbox, and it allows non-black W/x decks a mass reanimate.
And there you have it — the 20 Essential White Commander Cards. While there are some other phenomenal options, these are the ones I think are most universally good, and will help be the glue in your decks.
The astute among you will notice the lack of board wipes on this list. That’s because, of any color, white has the most options when it comes to picking one. There will always be a correct one for your deck, so it’s hard to fit one on this list.
If there was one? It’d probably be Austere Command.
What are your essential white Commander cards? Let me know on Twitter.
Kristen is a lover of both Limited and Commander, and can most often be found championing the Boros Legion when called upon to sit down and shuffle up. As a member of the Commander Advisory Group, Kristen lives and breathes Commander. When she’s not playing Magic, she works as a freelance writer and editor in the UK.