Like Ajani’s previous deck in Duels of the Planeswalkers, Celestial Light, Guardians of Light promises to be a midrange deck which neither wins in the first three turns nor is eaten alive by decks that do. Also like that, it relies on quirky strategies that are usually dismissed as new player sins to win, and I think that’s a deck niche mono white fits perfectly.
No, there aren’t any mono white human decks out there which win by turn 3, what do you mean?
Guardians of Light definitely can compete with most other decks on a higher level, though it doesn’t build or play itself like certain other decks which do not exist. Due to Auras’ inherent problems, it must be played very carefully to avoid giving the enemy card advantage too easily. This is not an aggro deck; Its creatures are simply too weak without buffs which take forever to pile onto them. Instead, Guardians of Light tries simply to outlast its enemy through good defense, pacification, card draw, and lots of tokens.
Deck Overview: Better living through
As with about any other Aura deck out there, Guardians has about the same strengths and weaknesses. A single unchecked creature can wreak massive havoc even if it was just a measly 2/2 the last time the opponent looked at it, but at the same time, burn will eat it alive, as will certain removal spam decks.
Unless played right to avoid that, it’s easy to be drawn into massive card disadvantage. Since all the tasty hexproof guys left the deck by the time that Blue did (why, Wizards, why?) it can be extremely tough to get an Aura stuck somewhere. Sure you’ll be dandy once you do, but since so many cards in the deck are enchantments, I occasionally found myself getting creature-screwed. Why, is that not an ironic death. Five Auras on hand, nothing to enchant.
Being a white deck, it does the usual assortment of weenies, gaining life, and pulling victories it doesn’t deserve literally right out of its arse. Remember how often you wanted to slap the AI in DotP13 because of that OP Pacifism? Yeah, that’s basically how you’ll feel the entire time whilst playing against Guardians of Light.
General strategy: “Screw physics, you have magic!”*
More than any other type of deck, I think Auras depend on personal skill, of both you and your opponent. Certainly you can toss all your auras onto one creature just because you can, but what cost will you pay if it gets removed? Playing it right isn’t just a question of building and drawing the right things; You have to know which Auras will put the most pressure onto your opponent at any given time, play them and only them to minimise how screwed you’ll be once the opponent responds (and she will respond), and prevent your opponent from killing you in the process.
The creatures this deck sports are all pathetic and need buffs to hold their own in combat, but stacking all your baskets around one egg won’t get you anywhere either, except into staring down a field of angry things with only a 0/2 on your side. Knowing what aura to play on what can make all the difference between getting pwned or not. Unfortunately, that is a matter of experience and reading the cards right. Hey, I never said I’d play the deck for you, alright?
Guardians of Light deck list (by mana cost)**
60 cards, 25 Plains
- 1 Lifelink
- 4 Kor Spiritdancer
- 3 Ajani’s Sunstriker
- 2 Daybreak Coronet
- 2 Spirit Mantle
- 4 Pacifism
- 1 Greater Auramancy
- 2 Skyhunter Skirmisher
- 2 Mesa Enchantress
- 1 Pariah
- 1 Griffin Guide
- 1 Unquestioned Authority
- 1 Dawn Elemental
- 1 Ajani’s Chosen
- 2 Angelic Destiny
- 4 Armoured Ascension
- 1 Retether
- 1 Sigil of the Empty Throne
- 1 Auratouched Mage
Guardians of Light card-by-card analysis
It gives Lifelink, that’s what it is and that’s what it does. It is surprising to see exactly how much a bit of lifegain stacked onto your attacker can swing the odds in your favour. Also, it’s an Aura for one mana, so at least it will grow Spiritdancers and cycle for some new cards.
Kor Spiritdancer: 5.0
Clearly the deck’s top star. It laughs in the face of Aura’s inherent card disadvantage whether or not they resolve and even a cheap Lifelink will turn it into a monster in combat. That being said, don’t stack all of your Auras onto this card; Every player can see the target on its forehead.
Ajani’s Sunstriker: 3.0
Strictily worse than Knight of- oh shut up. It’s an eh card by itself, but you don’t have much choice as for enchantable bodies and when it does have, say, an Angelic Destiny on it, its natural Lifelink will go a great deal towards keeping you alive.
Daybreak Coronet: 5.0
Feeling weak? Take a +3 boost to power! If you’re having difficulty keeping up with it, the package includes +3 toughness! You cannot buy this in stores! Only our purely natural mixture will refresh your body, allowing you to stay alive through the blood of your ene- no no no, white lifelink, totally different thing. On top of that, awe your friends and crush your enemies through the unique power of First Strike! But wait there’s more! If you order now, I’ll throw in Vigilance, absolutely free! All of that for only two white mana plus another Aura. Ask about our two turn rate payments!
Blade of the Sixth Pride: 2.5
It’s really revolutionary, or at least it was in its first printing. Cat Rebel, offensive P/T, and of course full art. If it was that, I might play it. As is, it won’t do anything until it’s heavily enchanted, if it lives that long and doesn’t get killed in response to the aura. You can make it a handy 4/4 with Divine Favour, but that’s not the greatest card either and it’s hard to see why you should bother when the same effort with a Sunstriker will get you a 3/5 Lifelink.
Greater Auramancy: 3.5
I’ll say just one word: Yes please. The two words I’ll say are: Yes please give now. Alright, the four words… anyhow, it’s great. It prevents you from casting additional Auras onto the same target, but drastically narrows your opponent’s window to remove your creatures.
Spirit Mantle: 4.0
I’ll say five words, just five words: Protection from creatures equals unblockability. Plus being an invincible blocker. Also with the added bonus of giving Fiend Hunters the finger, which I think we can agree is a good thing.
Divine Favour: 3.0
Would be in, if there wouldn’t need be a spot for Greater Auramancy. Still, it makes any one of your dudes practically immune to burn, gives a decent patch of life, and counts as an Aura. Decent to have although boring. If you’re Tier C, might as well make the game fun while you’re at it.
The only nonland permanents in DotP14 that really matter are creatures, and creatures usually matter because they attack or block. This provides an answer to most of them without actually killing them, though abilities will remain. At worst, you negate an opposing creature and draw another card in the process.
Serra’s Boon: 2.5
It seems to be either a very expensive buff or an expensive, very weak removal. Not to mention that it’s tied to colour, so it will often end up buffing your opponent’s creature since 103% of people online seem to be playing white.
Guardian’s Magemark: 1.5
Somehow, I can’t help but imagine the “X’s Magemark” cycle as a clique of children, say, the South Park kids. In that metaphor, Guardian’s Magemark would be Timmy, the special needs kid. It missed the call that it’s supposed to give a decent keyword and ends up with only a minor buff. Instant speed is great and all, but it’s very unlikely to actually change anything.
Mesa Enchantress: 3.5
It’s far, far away from being Spiritdancer 5 and 6. Despite that, getting your card draw up is essential and the more draw effects you can stack up, the better. This also stands a better chance at being ignored since it’s only a 0/2. Still, isn’t there, like, a version of it which has shroud? And only costs one mana? Can we have that, please?
Skyhunter Skirmisher: 4.0
It is indeed a 1/1 for three mana. It also has Flying and Double Strike, so it’s rather a 2/1 that deals half its damage in first strike. With even a Divine Favour as a pump, it becomes a serious facewrecker. Now imagine this thing donned with a Celestial Mantle. Glorious.
Staff of the Sun Magus: 1.0
Somehow worse even than its predecessors in the Lucky Charms cycles. I’m actually impressed, I didn’t think the scale went any further below terrible.
Idyllic Tutor: 2.0
Great for fetching out the exact card you need in every situation. Though, I have a solution that will also help out your odds of drawing that aura, for no mana at all? Which one, you ask? Not running this tutor in the first place! Alright, it can fetch enchantments that aren’t auras, but that’s about it for usefulness. You should have enough draw engines not to need it.
Become immortal through some damage prevention, or murder your opponent’s creature with the added benefit of preventing at least a full turn’s damage. What’s not to like? Keep in mind though that it can be destroyed. Also, it has the hidden text passage, “When enchanted creature dies, if its power is 6 or more, you may say ‘Stop hitting yourself!’ If you don’t, you lose the game.”
Aura of Silence: 2.0
What do you intend to stop with that? A few Staves? Right now, this card is completely unnecessary through the lack of decent noncreature permanents in DotP14.
Griffin Guide: 3.5
Eh. It gives a decent pump and allows your dude to go unblocked against most of the game’s creatures. Perhaps most importantly, it gives you a replacement body to enchant in case things go poorly. I just don’t like it very much, because I find it boring flavour-wise. Decent either way.
Nomad Mythmaker: 2.5
Seems really strong, but isn’t. It’s fit for situations that will rarely occur and which will even then be very hard for you to survive. Besides, even if you had him in such a situation, do you think your opponent would let him live?
Unquestioned Authority: 3.5
Costs more than Spirit Mantle, but at least it’s Spirit Mantle number 3. Not that it really mattered since you’ll only start enchanting turn 3 and onwards, anyway. When you’ve got an unblockable invincible dude (preferably with a Coronet on top), does it really matter if it gets +1/+1, anyway? Every protecting enchantment matters, as does card draws.
Better than the Mythmaker, at least. Still its effect has a very high chance of whiffing, leaving you with an overcosted 2/2.
Dawn Elemental: 4.0
Granted, there are ways that most decks can deal with it. Alarmingly many, actually. Still, when it isn’t getting Last Gasped, bounced, Doom Bladed, sacrificed, or hit with any of the other ways which Zombies have to be a dick to people by killing their creatures, it serves as an infinite blocker. I wouldn’t advise swinging with it though unless it has Vigilance, since 3 damage are rarely worth giving up an immortal shield.
Seraph of the Sword: 3.0
Yeah, preventing combat damage is mostly what makes Dawn Elemental good, hence the rating, but this will die rather fast to red decks and Zombies that can’t find their Doom Blades… or Mutilates… or Fleshbag Marauders… tell me, why exactly is that deck considered fun and balanced again?
Ajani’s Chosen: 3.5
It’s a kitty. That makes kitties. In that, it’s more biologically accurate than 99% of Magic’s other cards. You won’t need the aura-switching effect too often unless it’s the only creature on the board, but it’s better than not having it, I suppose. Unless you have Vigilance on the board, you’ll be hurting for blockers when you want your enchanted dude to be swinging in. Not any more.
Healer of the Pride: 1.5
Soul Warden is great, and I might put it into this deck. This is already on the top of your curve and doesn’t trigger off of your opponent’s creatures, so it’s no more than a waste of your bloody time.
Angelic Destiny: 5.0
“The difference between Scute Mob and Angelic Destiny is that I don’t want to have sex with Scute Mob.” ~Yours truly WingspanTT.
Divine Transformation: 1.0
Look up. Look down. Those are your options. Why, Wizards, why?
Armoured Ascension: 4.5
By the time that you can cast it, it already gives +4/+4 and only grows, with flying to boot. Compared to Angelic Destiny, the First Strike rarely matters if it can be replaced with a huge size. Disappointing, coming to think of it, when everyone wants to be had sex with by Angelic Destiny. Seriously though, this thing ends games, even on a bloody Mesa Enchantress. It’s that good.
Seasoned Marshal: 2.5
Why is this included when the strictly better Master of Diversion is in the same game? I have no idea. Its effect is powerful, but too little to warrant four mana in a non-limited environment.
Okay, it’s not solid salvation on butter toast. Still, when the game has dragged on for longer than you’d like and you have some Auras in the grave, a reasonable thought because 90% of them will end up there within a single turn of being played, this allows for a nice turnaround. Think of it as an instant Eldrazi kit. When your graveyard is stocked with Auras, your dude will certainly end up being about that size.
Too many ways in this game to circumvent it, too few copies.
Three Dreams: 3.0
Will keep you stocked for a little while, but also gives a huge tell to your opponent to kill the one creature you’ll have on the field. When you’ll often miss the mana to actually use the auras, not worth it.
Sigil of the Empty Throne: 4.5
Like Ajani’s Chosen, except that it poops out 4/4 flying angels instead of mere 2/2 kitties. Even a single angel can be enough to turn the game around, so don’t dismiss it due to lack of Auras in the late game. Funnily enough, this card would actually be much better if it had the Aura moving clause of Ajani’s Chosen. Ah, vogliamo che non abbiamo. Bonus irony points if you stick Angelic Destiny onto one of its tokens.
Totem-Guide Heartebeest: 2.5
Strong body, decent effect, high cost, actually rather meh effect. Usually, you don’t want to have your creature sitting around for a turn to let your opponent keep open mana for instant speed removal because they know what’s coming!
Dawnstrike Paladin: 3.0
Needs heavy enchantment support to even dare attacking. If you stick an Ascension or Destiny onto it, you can pretend it’s a Seraph of Dawn and actually have it do some work. Then again, everything does work with one of those two enchantments on it.
Waste of mana, whether or not you pay the Buyback. In the time it’ll take you to get through to the useful creatures, they will already have killed you.
Auratouched Mage: 3.5
Ah, those born with the special gift, of seeing not the pained illusion which we call reality but the world as it truly is. Flowing, unsteady… palpable. Last time I checked, one draw’s worth of card advantage was worth about 2-3 mana, so it’s definitely resonable not only to draw but to tutor for an Aura on a 2/2 for six mana. Oh yeah, you also get to skip the Aura’s cost. Seems weak, really isn’t.
Admonition Angel: 2.5
Her effect is strong, but how high are your odds of drawing 7+ lands within a reasonable timespan? I’ll tell you, not very high, especially if you want to live to play her.
Celestial Mantle: 3.0
This plus Skyhunter Skirmisher. Think about it. Even if your dude only strikes once, this gives immense lifegain at all but the lowest of life totals. Also comes with a pump to ensure that it’s worth it. If said dude happened to be a lifelinked dude, then that dude will give you the life from its strike before the doubling effect occurs. In other words, a Sunstriker will add at least 10 life to whatever is double what you already have. Of course, assuming that you can make your dude hit. While its effects can be spectacular, its rare that it will really swing the game around by itself.
The one deck in the game where this would really come into effect doesn’t need further hosing, it needs life support. Thus, you’ll be playing an overcosted 6/6 flier. Not very useful, though it has the funny effect of making Tendrils of Corruption give each player those X life. Assuming that it isn’t aimed at Purity itself, of course.
True Conviction: 2.5
This is not the deck to have out a lot of creatures, so if you have any left by the time you play this, you probably won’t even need it.
Final Judgment: 2.0
Look, if you want a board wipe, play Dodge and Burn. Exiling is useful, but it’s simply too expensive to be of any use against decks that demand you wipe.
* If you’re curious, this is a 1:1 quote by myself. Splitting aMid the Night, chapter 18. Yes, I’m that pretentious not only to quote myself, but to do it on somebody else’s page. You know how much more pretentious I am? So much to tell you that you can find the whole thing with this link if you’re interested.
** Build itself provided by Evil Mee, so go bash her if you dislike it. Yay for slavery! I tested it though of course and it can definitely hold its own.