Hi! I’m Plad or PladCladNinja. I have played a variety of aggressive decks in Gladiator, but my favorite is Mono-White Aggro. I have piloted the deck to multiple 5-0 finishes in the weekly Gladiator Tournaments and second place in the Gladiator Season 5 Top 16.
The Game Plan
There are many avenues to victory that can be explored. The deck primarily aims to win by leveraging low-cost threats which deal as much damage as possible in the first three turns. The deck also uses “anthem” effects, increasing all of your creature’s power and toughness which allows you to take advantage of your surplus of small bodies to win the game.
Key Card Categories
Low-cost creatures are the backbone of any good Aggro deck. The ability to pressure your opponent from the very start of the game is incredibly powerful because you start the game on the front foot, and removing your threats often uses mana that would otherwise be used to develop your opponent’s board. This list runs a suite of creatures with two power that cost only a single mana such as Isamaru, Hound of Konda, or Skymarcher Aspirant. Additionally, it plays cards like Selfless Savior and Alseid of Life’s Bounty that can sacrifice themselves to protect a more valuable creature.
While effects that deal with problematic cards on the opposing side are something that every deck should have, White has some of the best removal to offer. Swords to Plowshares, Fateful Absence, and March of Otherworldly Light are all examples of efficient and versatile removal spells.
Creatures with flying, or “Fliers,” are critical to the success and prevalence of the Mono-White Aggro archetype. When playing against other creature-based decks, the game can often turn into a board stall, with neither player being able to attack the other profitably. However, this deck’s access to creatures with flying allows it to still do damage to the opponent in these scenarios. In addition, dealing the final points of damage can often be tricky once the defending player presents a few good blockers, but our aerial armada can often fly over and finish the game. Even smaller fliers like Healer’s Hawk and Shaile, Dean of Radiance are consistent sources of chip damage.
“One Card Engines”
There are a few cards in this deck that can generate an almost game-winning amount of advantage with little to no supporting pieces. One of the most notable cards is Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, who can create a small army and become a massive threat in just a couple of turns. Lurrus of the Dream-Den can bring back a one or two drop every turn, allowing us to attack or block with impunity. Lurrus also pairs especially well with creatures that sacrifice themselves to give protection such as Selfless Savior and Dauntless Bodyguard.
White Weenie has been the butt of many jokes for playing creatures with one power and one toughness, but rest assured that this list only plays the most premier small creatures. Esper Sentinel is by far the best of these low-statted creatures, pairing very advantageously with our Equipment because it allows us to either tax our opponent or refill our hand. Speaking of Equipment, remember Healer’s Hawk? Evasion pairs well with power buffs because the additional damage can be dealt to the opponent’s life total. Lifelink is also a keyword that synergizes with Equipment because more life is gained per combat.Legion’s Landing makes a lifelinking Vampire and transforms into a land that provides additional mana and threats. Inchblade Companion is a recent inclusion to the deck that has impressed me. It’s only a basic attacker in the early game, but later on, it can be Reconfigured, turning into a token generation engine that can take over the game, as well as a very good Ranger-Captain of Eos target.
Ranger/Ranger-Captain of Eos
Ranger of Eos and Ranger-Captain of Eos both share an ability, allowing you to search your library for one or two creatures with mana value one or less, and, depending on the matchup or board state, the choice can be difficult. The go-to options are Giant Killer, Stonecoil Serpent and Mikaeus, the Lunarch. You will almost always want to opt for Giant Killer when playing against creature decks since both halves of the card are very useful. When playing against Control, Mikaeus and Stonecoil Serpent will be more useful because you want threats. Faerie Guidemother, Selfless Savior, and similar protective creatures can also be useful targets when the board state calls for it.
Cards that limit your opponent are taxes. This is so important to Mono-White Aggro that another name for the archetype is Death and Taxes. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is very powerful against Control and other decks with a lot of non-creature spells because it will often set them a turn behind while having a minimal effect on us. Tithe Taker and Paladin Class both make our opponent pay more for actions they take on our turn. Elite Spellbinder allows us to look at our opponent’s hand and make one spell cost two more. This can be game-winning if the opponent is relying on a wrath or blocker to stabilize. Esper Sentinel will make our opponent pay extra or draw us cards.
Mono-White Aggro will often have an advantage against aggressive creature strategies due to creatures with flying and superior removal. The other most popular Aggro decks include Mono Red Aggro and Mono Green Aggro. Mono Red will have a very difficult time against Mono-White. While Red has access to a lot of cheap removal White’s life gain will often keep victory out of reach. Mono Green is also a favorable match-up but not to the same extent as red. While green has reach and large creatures, their removal is very clunky because it requires you to have a creature and leaves you vulnerable to getting two for oned.
Midrange decks are usually creature decks that play more top-end and removal. Popular Midrange decks are Golgari or “The Rock,” Gruul, Boros, Selesnya, or Orzhov which are all 50/50 or 40/60 matchups in favor of the Midrange decks. While Mono-White can go faster than Midrange decks, they play a variety of cards that allow them to stabilize. Other types of Midrange decks are Blue-based like Bant or Grixis. These decks are better matchups for White because they are similar to Control decks but play fewer wraths, removal, and counterspells.
The matchup against Control will mostly be metagame dependent. Currently, the deck to beat is Tainted Pact and Thassa’s Oracle Combo, so many Control decks have been cutting wraths and removal in favor of counterspells to hedge against that deck, meaning Aggro has a better matchup than when Mono-White and Mono-Green were at the height of popularity. The color combination of the deck also has an impact on who is favored. Dimir Control is the worst matchup because the removal and wraths can take the form of -x/-x which will kill cards like Adanto Vanguard and makes Unbreakable Formation useless. Azorius has access to the most wraths, exile effects, and lifegain so that is a 50/50 matchup. Izzet is also a 50/50 matchup. The wraths and removal are damage-based which does not get through protection spells like Sejiri Shelter or Alseid of Life’s Bounty. However, Izzet has a plethora of one-mana removal spells such as Lightning Bolt or Shock which can easily take out white’s smaller creatures.
Combo decks have many forms in Gladiator but the most popular and the type I have significant experience playing against are decks built around the Tainted Pact and Thassa’s Oracle combo. Almost all of these decks play a Control shell with more tutors and the Combo instead of classic Control win-conditions. They will also run less single target removal, as they are not looking to one-for-one you into the late game. I approach this matchup similarly to playing against a Control deck but more aggressively because they can always set up a win regardless of my board, and once they have the Combo assembled we have no way of interacting.
Now that you’ve got the idea of the deck, and hopefully picked up some tricks, I hope you will consider playing a few games with it or building your own version! Good luck with your games and have fun.
73 is the 21st prime number. Its mirror, 37, is the 12th, and its mirror, 21, is the product of multiplying 7 and 3.