[MTGS Classic] White Border Wonderland

With Lorwyn just over the horizon, your Standard-legal deck is soon to become rubble. Here's a casual format to tide you over until Lorwyn's legal.

In the pimp-deck scene, using white-border cards is seen as a crime. Black borders are cool and white borders are ugly, or so they say. Ever had a pesky white-bordered card in an otherwise decent deck? And despite your greatest effort, you have never found a suitable replacement?

White borders are reserved for pure reprint sets. And nowadays those sets are labeled "for beginners". According to Wizards market researches, only a small fraction of players actually like white borders.

But this group does exist and those people valiantly defend the white-bordered world. They appreciate the clean border a card has when it is mint (on a related note, would you rather trust a doc in a white coat or in a black one?). They point to nostalgic values of those cards - after all, most of us started playing with a white-bordered core/beginner's set). And I am going to present to you a new casual format, White Border Wonderland!

  • You are only allowed to use white-bordered cards. No alterations, the cards have to be printed that way by Wizards (see sidebar)
  • This format uses the Legacy banned list. After all this is a casual format. We want to play with old cards but not with broken ones
To my knowledge currently there are the following WB sets out there:

Core Sets
  • Unlimited
  • ...
  • 9th Edition

Beginner Sets
  • Quick Start Set Rivals
  • Introductory Two-Player Set
  • Portal Three Kingdoms
  • Starter 1999
  • Starter 2000

Reprint Sets
  • Chronicles

Box Sets

  • Anthologies
  • Battle Royale
  • Beatdown
  • Deckmasters

  • Salvat/Hachette cards
  • Spanish Book Promo Misprints
Over the years a lot of casual formats have been made up but few of them ever made the jump from house rule to a popular variant. Let's see what it takes to be successful:

New idea(s)
Well, "border matters" is certainly a new concept. OK, not entirely if you acknowledge the existence of silver- and gold-bordered cards.

Tired of playing the same cards again and again? Or even worse, playing against the same cards time and time again? Fear not! In the white border land there are no Jittes.

Chance to make new discoveries
In the present age of net-decking there is not much left for the average player to discover. Since we have a new card pool altogether, cards need to be reevaluated in a new context. Not only that, most block mechanics do not exist. The few exceptions are left to the reader to find and exploit.
Additionally there are cards that you certainly did not know were printed with white borders. Encountering obscure printings should also qualify as making a discovery.

Considering that in general there is much more demand for black borders, this format shouldn’t break your budget.

Appeal to new players (to avoid the derogatory term "n00b-friendly")
As already mentioned block mechanics (including complicated keywords) will not come up that often. As a bonus, new players can play with their cards without any problems, assuming that the average beginner starts with a Core Set product.

Something that makes it irresistible
You DO find white borders sexy, don't ya? Otherwise there is no point in reading this.

Phew, now even most pessimistic persons should agree that we should at least give it a try. Smile

Card Pool

As already hinted at White Border Land has a rather unique card pool (with a size of around 1800 cards at the time of this writing).

The main part consists of the Core Sets which can be further divided in older ones (up to Classic Sixth Edition) and the modern ones (starting with Seventh Edition). While the earlier sets contain real powerhouses such as Sinkhole, Swords to Plowshares, Berserk and various tutors the newer ones have nice utility cards like Intruder Alarm, Wildfire, Gravepact that beg for a deck build around them. Mana bases should not be a problem - if you do not have any original dual lands in your possession, you can take the Ninth Edition painlands as a substitute. In a pinch you can even use the Invasion taplands since they are found in the Eighth Edition.

In the beginner sets category, Starter '99 has Grim Tutor, but this card would be much happier included in a competitive deck. Piracy on the other hand could be usable in an casual environment. Time Warp can also be considered for control decks.
Portal Three Kingdoms (or 入門版 三國志) offers Legendary Creatures and the keyword Horsemanship, which most of the time reads "unblockable".

The box sets are sort of special, and I presume Wizards intended them that way. They each contain playable decks (well almost playable). You will note some banned cards (Strip Mine, Land Tax) and foils (that are not allowed by the virtue of their black-borderness).

Battle Royale provides four 40-cards decks instead of two 60 card decks. When we just look at their contribution to the overall card pool, we get the following gems: Hymn to Tourach (Anthologies), Reanimate (Battle Royale), Ball Lightning (Beatdown) and Contagion (Deckmasters).

Those lucky enough to live in Spain not only have a more than nice climate but also access to those Salvat cards. To those who never heard of them, the cards are distributed though along with a Magic Encyclopedia. Each issue contains a booster with 12 predetermined cards so that after 5 issues you have a complete deck. So far there have been a Rat deck, Elves, R/W Spirits, Slivers (!!!), Ninjas and Zombies. WOW!
I have also heard that both French and Italian version exist (distributed through Hachette Presse?).

Sample Decklists

Now we have gone through the theoretical part it is time for deck samples. I have made the following with two goals on my mind. First, the deck should be a budget deck, so you won't find more rares than necessary and no expensive ones. Secondly, cards should be easy to get hold off. That is, appearing in more recent set and/or were printed in more than one set.

Each deck gets a short description along with suggestions to improve them.

R/G Land DestructionMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
11 Forest
11 Mountain

4 Volcanic Hammer
4 Stone Rain
4 Pillage
4 Demolish
4 Rampant Growth
4 Creeping Mold
2 Wildfire

4 Llanowar Elves
4 Goblin Gardener
4 Magnivore

This deck is pretty straightforward. You make sure that your opponent does not get to build up his mana base and burn away everything that slipped through. Then you drop a Magnivore for the win (Standard players should really be familiar with this kind strategy).

You can be improve this list by making the mana base more reliable, just add some Karplusan Forests. You may also need more Wildfires to deal with Aggro decks. Plow Under is also a card that is worth consideration.

White WeenieMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
22 Plains

4 Suntail Hawk
4 Infantry Veteran
4 White Knight
4 Longbow Archer
4 Leonin Skyhunter
2 Serra Angel

4 Pacifism
4 Glorious Anthem

4 Disenchant

White Weenie just wants to drop the critters and attack, so if you want to improve this just replace the weaker creatures with better ones. Savannah Lions are an auto-inclusion if you have them. Using Crusade in place of Glorious Anthem would make this deck faster. Pacifism is actually decent removal but you may want to use Swords to Plowshares instead.

Another option would be an Equipment-based Weenie instead of the more traditional approach I have taken here. Unfortunately your choices are rather limited with just Vulshok Morningstar and Loxodon Warhammer available.

U/B ControlMagic OnlineOCTGN2ApprenticeBuy These Cards
12 Island
12 Swamp

4 Phyrexian Arena

4 Force Spike
4 Counterspell
4 Unsummon
3 Boomerang
4 Terror

4 Duress
3 Diabolic Tutor

4 Ravenous Rats
2 Mahamoti Djinn

Counter or kill their threats then play Mahamoti Djinn. As with the LD deck above you should first try to improve the mana base. Since the Phyxexian Arenas can cost you a chunk of life, you can cut the Boomerangs and one or two lands for Bottle Gnomes or Consume Spirits.

This list lacks a reset button to maintain board control. The first choice should be Nevinyrral's Disk, and Evacuation is also a viable choice against creature decks.


Now it's your turn! Dust off your WB cards, build a deck and have fun! Drop me a line or comment in the forum to let me know how this format works for you.


Posts Quoted:
Clear All Quotes