Big White at Montebello

Some cards I simply like. They might not be in the highest tier, but they often lead to interesting games and "good Magic". Cards like Sindbad or Guardian Beast. Or Witch Hunter.

I'd been looking for a home for Witch Hunter. During a peak of covid-reclusiveness in 2020 I wrote a single-card post about him, but still had no deck carved out. 'Cause if we want to enable Witch Hunter, we want to build a deck where landing him seems like a natural part of midgame - a deck where Witch Hunter is somehow inconspicuous and not a lightning rod for removal. It's reasonable enough to construct a deck where Flying Men or Sindbad or some other one- or two-mana spell fly under the radar, but incognito four-drops demand a bit more effort.

Let's start by paving the road. There are some really solid utility 1/1s in White.

King Suleiman not pictured, but not forgotten.

Three-drops look good if our goal is to stick a four-drop. And if we accept that combat is a phase, there are a few other guys at three who can swing rather than preach or dig.

Yeah, this looks like a thing. How on earth would anyone beat Yotian Solider? Dude is basically a Moat for three that deals the opponent one damage each turn. Let's try mono-white, and with a high curve. No room for Savannah Lions or White Knights or other puny summons lesser wizards enjoy. It is time to go big.

So this seems like a no-brainer.

As we want to play high-toughness creatures and Preachers, Diamond Valley looks sweet.

Basics and big spells means Land Tax is good. And with Land Tax on the menu we mise well make room for Armageddons. Or maybe it is that we start with Geddon and make room for Land Tax. Regardless, synergy!

Big White means big spells.

Here's a guy I play far to rarely. His death-drawback only triggers when he goes to the graveyard, so we don't have to fear common removal like Swords to Plowshares (and, of course, Personal Incarnation can't really be killed by burn spells). The only real dangers are Chaos Orb and Nevinyrral's Disk, and we should be able to play around those reasonably well.

Speaking of ways to play around Orb and Disk.

We need a lot of cheap, early removal as we don't start affecting the board until turn three of four.

As for the sideboard, I've come to really appreciate Karma. It offers another angle of attack, and I'd be willing to sleeve them up against almost any deck that plays black as even a tertiary color. Just pinging one a turn can be enough, and if we're dealing two or more it gets very hard to race. Might even be maindeckable.

And I almost never leave home without two pairs of zero-mana The Dark spells these days.

The mana base is kinda basic; around 27 mana sources total divided something like this:

  • 14-17 Plains
  • 3-5 Moxen
  • 4 Mishra's Factory
  • 1 Strip Mine
  • 1 Library of Alexandria (unless you are a true gentleman)
  • 1 Sol Ring
  • 1 Black Lotus
  •  0-1 Karakas 1-2 Land Tax. The deck functions reasonably well without Moxen, but without them we might want to add some more early removal (upping the number of Disenchants/Divine Offerings, possibly adding a few Spirit Links) as we get a bit slower out the gate. Though if you have them I would certainly play them, as they work well with Geddon and Land Tax (and with all the expensive spells). But it is not like the Mana Vortex deck where they are crucial for the deck to function.

Big White, MonteBello version.

I first got to try out the deck at a tournament in Oslo; Trygve's Montebello Djinn Fest. Trygve has become an organizer of repute here in the Norwegian capital, and last summer he chased away his family to gather a group of nerds in his home to sling cards.

And drink gin, can't have a djinn fest without gin.

The crew.

The place.

Yeah, this is the good stuff.

It is unfathomably amusing getting paired against ErhnamGeddon when you run maindeck King Suleimans.

Bjartnes contemplating how to beat my third Yotian Soldier. Moat with upside.

Our beloved Daniel Ewald (co-organizer of The Plague and all-round good guy) keeps playing a Su-Chi that keeps getting chased away by a Witch Hunter.

A beardless Mg lands an old Audun Døssland combo: Preacher + Diamond Valley.

But the best combo, the real "achievement unlocked" of the Djinn Fest, belonged to Ole, with his Chains of Mephistopheles + Knowledge Vault shenanigans. Now that's going deep into the oldschool mire. Like, there can't be that many people even among the reader's of this blag who knows exactly how Knowledge Vault even works. So managing to build a deck around it and run it all the way to the finals is some proper wizardry. Hat's off Ole.

Big White also managed to Top8 the Montebello tournament somehow, but was shown the door after facing The Deck in the quarterfinals.

As for updates, while I really liked the Yotian Soliders, it's possible that Thunder Spirits are better maindeck. I boarded in the Spirits almost every game, and having another answer to early Hypnotic Specters is really useful. The fact that Thunder Spirit dies to Lightning Bolt mostly means that there's one Bolt less for a Preacher or Witch Hunter later. Jalum Tome wasn't that exciting either, so I think I'd rather go full on Jayemdae here. I did have a tweak on the deck for PastaCon 2 later in the summer, where I also went from three to five Moxen.

Big White, PastaCon version. No top8, but did reasonably.

Can't say which is the most correct build of the two, there might be a third version that ties the thing together. Or a fourth, or fifth. There's still a lot to explore on the shores of imagination.


  1. Oooh I see we are dropping legends spoilers! Sweet!


    1. Hehe, yeah, it seems like there's no end to that spoiler season. /Mg

  2. Witch Hunter ll: Return of Su-chi. I'd watch it!

  3. Dude, so sweet. Been reading the blag lately, and just loving it. I play Legacy mostly nowadays, but I have a retirement plan of moving my magic cash into Old School unlimited staples eventually. Hoping to be able to play a proper Old School tournament someday. However, at the moment, not many Old School players where I live. Seems like Europe is the place to be for that.

    Someday I might have to take a trip to my ancestral homelands and cast a couple of Armageddons.

    Thanks for the post!

    Give me a shout if you're ever in Japan near Osaka.

    1. Thanks man, very happy to hear that you enjoy it! /Mg


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