Monomania – Mean-Spirited
(Aura of Silence | Art by D. Alexander Gregory)
Bringing Them Down to Our Level
Greetings, everyone, and welcome back to Monomania. In this article series we build mono-colored decks as a way to explore ramp and draw packages that are synergistic with our particular deck’s strategy, challenging staples and misconceptions about the color pie. Today, we’re examining another way to make mono-white work in Commander. This time, we’re leaning into the color’s meanest tendencies.
The seemingly abject struggle of mono-white in EDH has been topical very recently within the Commander community. While white has been the weakest mono-color option for a long time, it seems that over the last year every color except white has received interesting commander options that are tuned to our format. Urza, Lord High Artificer, Syr Konrad, the Grim, Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded, and Gargos, Vicious Watcher are all unique generals that can go toe-to-toe with powerful multi-color commanders. Sure, the new Heliod, Sun-Crowned has combo potential, but the mono-white options from the last year have all seemed bland and uninspired.
Personally, I enjoy playing mono-white, but I also recognize that there are only a handful of fun options for the command zone. Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle and Mangara of Corondor both gesture toward unique, powerful strategies that are flavorfully white, where Linden, the Steadfast Queen does not.
Hokori, Dust Drinker highlights another aspect of white that can be productive if built correctly. It won’t make you any friends, however.
Instead of putting itself ahead, white likes to bring others down. If you can’t draw cards, why not restrict how your opponents’ use their cards with Eidolon of Rhetoric and Rule of Law? If you can’t ramp, why not tax your opponents with Aura of Silence or Ghostly Prison?
Hokori, Dust Drinker is the embodiment of this area of white's wheelhouse. This is a stax commander, essentially a Winter Orb effect, and leads to a deck that aims to prevent your opponents from playing the game. As any good degenerate knows, there are ways to break the symmetry of this effect to give yourself a distinct advantage. In this deck, for example, we will rely heavily on artifact mana sources rather than lands. In fact, the lands in our deck are mostly for show. We’ll be bouncing them, sacrificing them, or pitching them to Abolish. This style of deck is extremely polarizing. I both don’t recommend building this sort of list and I don’t play it myself. With all that being said, let’s get into it and see how we’ll ruin everyone’s day.
Hokori, Dust Drinker is one of those commanders that requires an intensive ramp package. The major theme of this deck is breaking symmetry—playing so many mana rocks that the stax component of our strategy only minimally affects us.
We need white mana to cast most of our spells. For this reason, I’ve crammed as many white-producing mana rocks into this deck as I could possibly justify. Without white mana rocks, we might catch ourselves in the same situation as our opponents: with a hand full of uncastable cards. From Coldsteel Heart to Arcane Signet, I’ve included eleven mana rocks that can produce white mana.
On the other hand, we also need efficient mana rocks that can pump out a lot of colorless mana at a time. Because we’re only untapping one land a turn, we want to produce enough mana to continue on at a regular clip. This becomes even more important when our opponents will most likely point everything they have in our direction. Nobody likes the stax player. To combat the combined resources of three players, we need access to triple the amount of mana that they have access to.
Because we’ll be choking our opponents on mana, chances are that they'll be unable to cast more than one spell a turn, if they can even cast one to begin with. As such, our draw package can also break the symmetry of the game in an interesting way. If we play symmetrical draw effects, we can hopefully strand unplayable cards in our opponents’ hands.
This style of effect is exactly what we need to keep the card advantage flowing. Group Hug staples become something much more sinister here. These cards give our opponents all of their toys but prohibit them from playing with them, many to be discarded at the end of turn. The goal of this deck is to be able to play these extra cards out of our hand faster than any opponent. That is our path to victory.
Finally, here are two symmetrical card advantage effects that few people have seen at a Commander pod. Truce is being played in 219 decks, while Temporary Truce only makes it into 66 lists. Looking through their EDHREC pages, they’re both seeing play exclusively with Group Hug commanders such as Phelddagrif and Kynaios and Tiro of Meletis. While I like Group Hug, I think these two cards are much better with Hokori, Dust Drinker.
Now that we have the foundation set, let’s look at the rest of the deck. Again, I don’t advocate for building this deck. I’ve never had fun playing or playing against stax. But, if you want to be mean, and the group you know will let you get away with it, maybe play around with this commander. As always, season to taste.
Among the other notable inclusions here we have a suite of effects that drain our opponents' life totals when we strand cards in their hand. If we have the game locked down, Misers' Cage, Iron Maiden, and Viseling can be win conditions over the course of a very long game. Luminarch Ascension is probably my favorite win condition for white control decks—it's resilient, cheap, and puts a fast clock on the table.
Finally, I’ve included a few Hokori-specific removal spells such as Winds of Abandon and Settle the Wreckage. With Hokori, the lands fetched by these two incredibly potent removal spells becomes almost nonexistent. Lands are irrelevant, so a four-mana mass exile effect is well above the curve. In addition, because of how we value lands, Lotus Field, Lotus Vale and Karoo are some of the best cards in our deck. Because we only untap one land per turn, having that land be a Lotus Field maximizes our mana potential in a given turn.
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What do you all think? I’m genuinely very curious to hear about your experiences with stax. Have you played it? Does a friend play it? How does Hokori, Dust Drinker stack up? Am I evil for even whispering its name? Let me know in the comments below! Remember to EDHREC responsibly: always dig a little beyond the statistics. I’ll see you all on down the road.