4 Minister of Inquiries
4 Champion of Wits
2 Sunscourge Champion
4 Angel of Invention
4 Chart a Course
4 Strategic Planning
4 God-Pharaoh's Gift
2 Search for Azcanta
2 Cast Out
4 Glacial Fortress
1 Hostile Desert
2 Ipnu Rivulet
3 Irrigated Farmland
2 Jace's Defeat
1 Search for Azcanta
2 Sunscourge Champion
1 Thopter Arrest
1 Ixalan's Binding
1 Settle the Wreckage
3 Angel of Sanctions
The strategy to this deck is actually pretty straightforward, although it requires careful piloting. The deck is built around God-Pharaoh’s Gift, a powerful seven-mana artifact. This deck draws a lot of cards, at the cost of discarding a lot. But that’s fine. First of all, you want to discard your Gifts to bring them back with Refurbish. Then, a lot of creatures in this deck have Eternalize, which means you can bring them back as 4/4 Zombies. God-Pharaoh’s Gift will allow you to Eternalize a creature for free at the beginning of each combat, too. They gain haste, as well. Pretty sweet stuff.
Minister of Inquiries is a 1 / 2 one-drop that makes energy. But we don’t care so much about the energy, except what the energy allows us to do: mill cards from our deck. We want to get our bigger creatures in the yard so we can Eternalize them or bring them back as Zombie tokens with the pseudo-Eternalize of God-Pharaoh’s Gift. The fact we can bring Minister back as a 4/4 later is actually pretty cool, too.
Champion of Wits is already a decent creature by drawing you 2 cards for 3 mana and giving you a 2/1 body, although you then have to discard 2 cards. His Eternalize cost is 7 mana, but we’re rarely going to be paying that in this deck. He’s going to draw you 4 cards more often than not. You’ll have to discard 2, then, too, but it just keeps the deck moving.
There are two mainboard and two sideboard Sunscourge Champion. He gains you life, which is nice. Also, he’s only four mana to Eternalize, gaining you 4 life when he comes back as a Zombie token. This is a guy you’ll actually Eternalize on purpose sometimes, too. The two sideboard copies come in against aggro decks, I’d say. Great creature!
The last creatures in the mainboard are a playset (four copies) of Angel of Invention. This card is good enough to hard-cast, and even though 5 mana looks bad on a 2/1, she has Fabricate 2. Making two 1/1 flying tokens is pretty sweet. You can use the Fabricate to give her 2 +1/+1 counters, but that’s not really what you want to do most of the time. She also gives other creatures you control +1/+1, so those tokens are effectively 2/2. With Gift, though, this becomes a 4/4 token that still has Fabricate. That’s very, very powerful, and really is why Angel of Invention is in the deck.
Chart a Course is great at drawing cards, and if you’ve attacked with a creature that turn, you don’t have to discard a card. But most of the time, you want to! Strategic Planning lets you dig through three cards, choose one, and throw the other two in the yard. The one spell that really makes the deck is Refurbish: 4 mana to bring back an artifact card from the graveyard. It’s pretty darn good. Then, there are two copies of Fumigate to clear the board and gain you some life in the process! God-Pharaoh’s Gift we’ve already gone into, and it’s the heart of the deck.
Search of Azcanta is a pretty cool Legendary Enchantment. Each turn, you get to look at the top card of your deck. Then, you can choose to throw it in your graveyard. In this deck, this is pretty much good as drawing a card in this deck. Once you have seven cards in your graveyard, it flips into Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. This land taps for Blue mana and also has a neat ability to let you dig through four cards to find a nonland, noncreature card to add to your hand. The other three cards go to the bottom of your library. This helps you keep your engine going. It’s a sweet card.
Lastly, there are two copies of Cast Out. This 4-mana enchantment helps you deal with a problem nonland permanent until it leaves the battlefield. Or, you can cycle it for a single White mana. It also has Flash, which is neat.
The mana base is pretty straightforward. We’ll look at Hostile Desert and Ipnu Rivulet, however, because they’re pretty important in this deck. Hostile Desert is a cool little manland. For only 2 mana, you exile a land card from your graveyard and the Desert becomes a 3 / 4 Elemental creature until end of turn.
Ipnu Rivulet is a Desert that can sacrifice itself or another Desert to put the top four lands of target player’s library into the graveyard. You’ll usually use this on yourself, of course.
For the control matchup, there are two copies of Jace’s Defeat and three copies of Negate, so you can land your key spells. There’s also a third copy of Search for Azcanta to speed the deck up against aggro. Disallow is a nice catch-all counterspell that also stops activated or triggered abilities.
Thopter Arrest is another removal spell that deals with artifacts or creatures. It’s actually pretty good in a mirror match to remove an opposing Gift from play. Ixalan’s Binding serves a similar purpose, but it also keeps your opponent from playing other spells with that name. Settle the Wreckage absolutely wrecks aggro decks by removing all of their attacking creatures from play. The downside, putting a bunch of basic lands into play, really isn’t all that bad.
Three copies of Angel of Sanctions are also good for catching up with quicker decks. They also have nice synergy with Gift, as not only do they have an ability similar to Eternalize in Embalm, but they’re a good target, as well. Being able to exile something when they enter is huge, too. As we already mentioned, the extra two Champions help keep your life total up against quicker decks.
My Impressions of White/Blue Gifts
I love this deck! Yeah, Mono-Red Aggro is pretty darn fast, but this deck has the tools to keep up and come back. It’s pretty overpowering when it really gets going. If you can get two or more Gifts in play, this deck really can start hammering away, especially with the Angels and Thopter tokens. Sure, this deck can run out of gas, but it’s usually going to do enough damage before it does. This is an extremely competitive deck.
Sadly, I think this deck is way, way too slow for Modern. Plus, there’s too much graveyard hate in Modern and other Eternal formats for this deck to be reliable. That’s not to say that graveyard-based decks don’t work - they do - but this strategy, while a lot of fun, just isn’t going to cut it in that format. I hope I’m proven wrong, because I love this deck. It could still win out of nowhere, I suppose.
This will probably be one of those artifacts of past Standard formats, but it’s a strategy that’s so much fun to watch in action and even more fun to play.