Staples of Modern 2018: Top 5 White Spells

In Friday’s article we went over the Top 5 Artifacts and today we are kicking off color week. We will be moving through the color pie beginning with white today. In the meantime though make sure to participate in our giveaway in order to net yourself a free copy of one of today’s list items.

The following cards have been ranked by dominance rating using data from This is calculated by multiplying the percent of decks they appear in by the average number of copies that appear in said decks. For frame of reference, a card that appears in 25% of decks as a two of will have a 0.5 dominance rating. For a hypothetical, 100-player tourney this means that there would be 0.5 copies of said card per player in the room. These cards have had their mainboard and sideboard dominance ratings summed when applicable. Cards with a mixed color identity have been excluded from the results.

#5 Champion of the Parish / Thalia’s Lieutenant: 0.31
This year was huge for the Humans deck and ever list begins with four copies of the Champ. However, Thalia’s Lieutenant holds that same status and therefore shares the spot. Both of these creatures grow out of hand very quickly in a deck that is nearly just mana and Human creatures. It is common for Champion to attack on Turn 2 and Lieutenant often helps it do so by granting it an additional counter. These cards are key to the success of Humans in Modern.

#4 Thalia, Guardian of Thraben: 0.39
Another Human and arguably the best one ever printed, this pretty lady earns her spot. Her status as a legendary creature does limit the number of copies you want to play and therefore her dominance rating. However, her taxing effect is powerful to the point that Humans decks run three of four anyways and she also appears in off-tribe decks as a potent hate card. She is a multi-format all star and benefits creature decks greatly.

#3 Rest in Peace: 0.43
There is little that I can say about Rest in Peace that I have not said previously. Sideboard hate like this is a key reason to play white in the Modern format. It likely should be played in every non-graveyard abusing deck that can cast it. The vast majority of Modern decks run graveyard hate or fear it and RiP is the best option for the former. Some decks are careful to only use the graveyard lightly to reduce the effectiveness of RiP though.

#2 Stony Silence: 0.44
Much of what can be said for Stony is true of RiP. However, Stony is a more unique effect as weaker, colorless alternatives do not exist. It is so effective against artifact decks that Aether Vial decks run it despite the recoil. Phoenix decks can adapt to care less about RiP lately but this is not possible against Stony. Artifact activations are so central to artifact strategies that decks like KCI will always fear Stony.

#1 Path to Exile: 1.00
Path is far and away the best white card in the Modern format. A dominance rating of 1.00 means that at your average Modern tournament there will be as many Path to Exiles as there are players. It was a Top 5 mainboard card but its rating has been boosted for this list by sideboard usage. It is as dominant as any other two white cards in the format combined. It may have a drawback but the ability to instantly exile a creature, regardless of size, for just one mana makes it the best strict removal spell in the format.

These dominance ratings and the resulting graph were quite lopsided. Regardless, it was very representative of white’s slice of the color pie. We see efficient small creatures and interactive spells designed to be symmetrical. Apart from the Top 3, the dominance ratings for white cards are somewhat low. However, that Top 3 contains two of the Top 5 sideboard cards and the second most played mainboard card in the format. We will return tomorrow to take a look at the best blue spells. For now though, if you want a shot at getting a Champion of the Parish make sure to participate in our giveaway this week.

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