It’s time for another Magic the Gathering color theory! Last time, I talked about MTG’s most iconic color, blue, but this time, I wanted to talk about white: The color of many iconic cards such as Serra Angel. Like I said last time, the colors of MTG each have different sets of beliefs and ideals, and each card in that color is created with these beliefs and ideals in mind. White is no different.
White wants peace, though its methods of attaining peace are rather militaristic. It believes that in order to attain peace, one must first abide by a strict set a laws to keep the peace, and second, put the majority above the individual. If the sacrifice of one means the success of the many, then that’s good. White is ultimately looking out for the greater good at the expense of individualism. It builds up huge numbers of followers through law and religion, and these numbers swear towards the ideals of white. Amass large numbers and fight for white’s ideals. If a few soldiers die in the process, that’s fine, because they’re just soldiers. So long as the end of furthering their idea of order is met, the means are justified. To say white is self-centered wouldn’t be far from the truth. This is shown by through one of white’s staple mechanics, token generation. As with blue and card draw, token generation isn’t an ability exclusive to white, but white certainly has the best. White generates more 1/1 tokens than any other color, mostly through cards that have some sort of religious affiliation or renowned war heroes. Note how even the renowned heroes such as Hero of Bladehold still aren’t referred to by name, again, showing the “just a soldier” mentality.
The tokens that are generated are nameless soldiers whose intent is to simply swing in and get damage. Because you can consistently make tokens due to effects like Hero of Bladehold and Elspeth’s +1 ability, you’re less inclined to care about your tokens dying because you can simply make more next turn. They’re just soldiers.
Keep in mind, this is not some Orwellian dystopia of a color like you may be thinking. Beings in white are in white because it’s their ideal as well, not because white is forcing them to think that. Gideon Jura, the current face of white in MTG, is literally putting the lives of the entire MTG multiverse before his own in the current story. Not because white is forcing him to, but because he believes that is what needs to be done to keep the peace. Prioritizing the many over the individual.
While white seeks peace and protection for all, it will prioritize peace and protection for its own. This is shown in its vast array of spells that either give its creatures protection from a certain color or source (A creature with protection from a color/source cannot be targeted or blocked by said color/source), or cards that give buffs to other creatures in white. The best token creation is in white, the best buffs for those creatures are also in white. At the end of the day, you’re either with white or against it, and if you’re against it, it wants nothing to do with you.
We’ve talked a lot about what white does to further itself and how it protects its people, but what about those against white? This is where the other ideal of white comes in: Law. White believes that in order to keep the peace in the world, one must abide by a strict set of laws that keep everyone safe. A lot of white’s enforcement of these laws come from religious backing. White is the color of God, angels, priests, clerics, etc. because it traditionally represents purity. Divine intervention and religious figures is how white deals with those who oppose it. Most of these abilities involve keeping the opponent oppressed in some way shape or form, be it through preventing the opponent from using certain cards, keeping creatures tapped, or simply removing cards from play.
There you have it, white’s philosophy. It used to be mostly just about protecting people and healing the weak, but as of late it has also adopted a much more militaristic, group think kind of approach to peace. A quick note, not all cards in a color symbolize everything about the color. White doesn’t have to exclusively be about furthering ideals. There are cards that just care about protecting those who can’t protect themselves, regardless of if they’re for or against white, like Gideon, for example.
As for cards that do fall in line with all ideals, there is one card that I feel symbolizes everything about white: Wrath of God.
It only has one effect, but that one effect symbolizes everything white is about. The advancement of peace for everyone at the expense of the few, through divine intervention. Wipes the board against white’s opponent, and while it also wipes white’s board, white doesn’t care because its units are expendable. The effect seems fair, but since it doesn’t cause white as much of an inconvenience as its opponent, it’s actually a move in white’s favor.