White is one of the five colors of mana in Magic. It is drawn from the plains and embodies the principles of morality and order. The mana symbol for White is represented by a sun. On the color pie, it is allied with green and blue, and is enemies with black and red. White seeks peace through structure.
White puts value on the group, the community, and its civilization as a whole. White's ultimate goal is peace—a world where everyone gets along and no one seeks to disturb the safety and unity that White had worked so long to forge. To govern and protect its community, White makes use of and puts value in a number of broad concepts; morality (ethics, religion), order (law, discipline), uniformity (conformity), and structure (government, planning).
In White's belief, there is little grey area in morality (as morality is defined, clarified, and guided by rules of ethics) and thus very little room for straying from the path. White does not focus on the individual, but instead on the whole. Individuals are indeed encouraged to act on behalf of White and stop those who oppose it, even inside its own borders, but their personal views and feelings are often disregarded and even discouraged in a manner, in order to preserve the health and bond of the group. To expand on that note, while Red can be perceived as an advocate of the underdog (the individual who stands against the group), White does stick up for the minority and feels that it deserves fairness as much as everyone else.
One can view White as a literal "Ivory Tower." On the surface, one sees strength, fortitude, elegance, and purity. Underneath, however, these qualities represent an inherent rigidity. There is little room for change, there is little flexibility, only the iron dictum of the initial design. To those inside the tower, this is as it should be. To those on the outside of the tower, this attitude smacks of fascism, a lack of individuality, and oppression.
Leaving that analogy, White cannot afford to allow the individual much power in its jurisdiction, for the individual inherently holds its own well-being and satisfaction above all else. This is dangerous to White's way of life, and thus White uses more tangible civil laws so that individuals do not disturb the whole with their ambitions (Black) or their craving for freedom (Red). This shows that White is very concerned with the society it watches over, in that the good of society is much more important than the rights and welfare of a single individual. Socialism is also a firmly White doctrine, imposing numerous laws which are good for society at large. The phrase, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few", certainly applies to the White way of living. This again implies that any dissident will be dealt with swiftly so that no opposition can form within the White society (where such a "cancer" is most dangerous and most difficult to remove).
To defend itself from such an occurrence, White creates a deeply entrenched political system, a bureaucracy charged with enforcing rules and regulations, in order to prevent much changing of the ways of its society from within. White is typically very open and honest about what it is doing and tends to enjoy the displaying of its laws for all to see and to obey without question. The fact that these laws are so widely available and so often reminded justifies White, in its opinion, to enforce them to any degree they deem fit and to warrant the punishment of equal veracity. White is also very defensive and chooses to strike only when struck first or when a significant threat is posed. However, it has been known to stretch this belief with the reasoning that a preemptive strike is the best way to defend itself — "the best defense is a good offense" one might say.
White also holds balance and conformity in high regard in order to maintain its society, likely based on the functions and workings of its enemies. Conformity, if disregarded, can result in potentially destructive diversity and individuality. While not a clear problem to most, it is a worry on White's mind, because it fears that diversity and individuality will cause tensions between people and make people uncomfortable with one another due to the fact they are no longer definitively united. Regardless of whether or not these fears and suspicions are grounded, White finds it smarter to not risk harmony by allowing potential harmless nonconformity. Balance, though not synonymous with Conformity, is important for much the same reasons. If one citizen excels above the others, the others will desire to become something more (or worse, feel inadequate and suffer a loss of morale), which also leads to others fearing for the loss of their own positions with the threat of being replaced. White attempts to prevent this not only through Conformity and Balance but through intolerance for nonconformity. Of course, White's enemies are not expected to play nicely, so sometimes the scales need to be balanced by force.
White is not a prejudiced color; instead, it is proud to the point that it is elitist. White sees itself and its people as "the chosen people", better than everyone else. White believes itself to be the best because it fights on the side of righteousness. White sees everyone else as unclean or incorrect in some manner and seeks to defend itself from those impurities, as opposed to persecuting and leading an otherwise unjustified assault on them. White doesn't discriminate against anyone directly (like Black; Engineered Plague and other effects) nearly as often as it spends time promoting its own. In doing so, it may even promote its enemies if they happen to share similarities. Shared Triumph is a good example of this, as is Celestial Crusader and the Radiance mechanic.
White's strengths lay in two areas — its ability to handle laws and its organization. An explanation of the latter, White's ability to organize enables it to grow incredibly efficient, which explains certain differences in-game between cards like Leonin Skyhunter and Foul Imp or Veteran Armorer and Sell-Sword Brute, as well as a plethora of one-mana removal spells. This is also an argument for Wrath of God and similar effects being in White, whereas other colors have a difficult time doing things with such ease. An explanation of the former, White's ability to create laws is one of its primary attributes, but its strength lays in its ability to work and defeat its opponent under these laws when others cannot. In the case of another law being formed or even White's own laws working against it, White is the best color at enchantment destruction, granting it the ability to abolish them should it prove necessary and further illustrating its strength at handling laws.
Other strengths that White features to a lesser-extent (without the assistance of another color) are its numbers and strategies. White uses Religion and its concern for and control over the group to motivate large numbers of creatures to fight for its cause, allowing it to outnumber the opponent. To White, the loss of one person in an attack is irrelevant if it allows several others to succeed, further expressing White's lack of concern for the individual. In terms of strategies, White is a great military strategist due to the discipline it implements in its troops, but it is much more skilled at defensive strategies. Its offensive strategies are rarely focused upon, and most manners that White uses to support offenses are equally, if not more useful in supporting defensive strategies. (See Glorious Anthem and Warrior's Honor.)
White's weaknesses lay in multiple areas but at different scales. Its first weakness is its lack of appeal to the individual. White will attempt to make an argument for its ideal and goal to a large group of people, and it is likely to succeed. However, making the same argument to an individual would result in "So... what do I get out of this?" It's far more difficult for White to appeal to a single person, as it forms its strength through unity, so to compensate for this weakness it ignores that idea and tries to appeal to as many people at once in hopes of them disregarding their own self-interest in exchange for the support and desires of the community.
Another one of White's weaknesses is its lack of creativity. It can grow xenophobic to the point that it will not tolerate differentiation of any kind, even condemning such innovation or individuality as blasphemous or evil in hopes of turning the community against it. It does so in order to protect the group and keep it under its jurisdiction, in certain fear that differentiation can only serve to destroy everything White has built and worked toward. This makes White very slow to react to new threats. White's rigid structure also accompanies this weakness, handicapping White as much as it does its enemies. If xenophobia does not set in or stand in the way of change (even changes potentially beneficial to White and the group), then law, structure, and traditional will.
Misconceptions and Controversies
A common misconception is that White stands for Good and that it is a fact without a doubt. Granted, if you take a random lot of White cards and compare them with Black cards or Red cards, they will likely give off more of a "Good" feel than the others. However, by taking the time to really look into what White is based upon, then you will see that White is not always good. Takeshi Konda from the Kamigawa book cycle was a prime example for a White antagonist, obsessed with the mysterious disk he held and bringing his nation glory, but losing sight of the individual; his very own daughter. In many sets White has been an antagonist in the form of law enforcement, government, or a cult (the Azorius Senate, Consulate and Ojutai, respectively), or as visionary antagonists who commit atrocities for what they believe to be morally correct (the aforementioned Konda, Elesh Norn and Nahiri).
White doesn't always stand for "Good", but it invariably stands for "Good" in its own mind. However, when taken to the extremes, White's ideals clearly cross the lines of morality: Stalinism for example, as a system based around order, imposing numerous laws and restrictions which can end up being oppressive for individuals, but good for society at large, is very White in essence. Dictatorships are military institutions and follow strict codes of law placed upon their citizens, though few would call dictatorships "good".
A white card is defined as any card that has in its mana cost or any card that has a white color indicator . White is an inherently defensive color. One of these defensive mechanics is Life Gain. This comes in the form of life gain directly to the player, life gain to a creature (also known as healing), and damage prevention. Examples of cards that do this include: Healing Salve, Heart of Light, and Healing Hands. Furthermore, White can be quite rough on attackers, which all of its newer removal targets. Cards that exemplify this include: Chastise and Condemn. White is also the foremost color of protection, show in cards such as White Knight, Paladin en-vec and Absolute Grace. White also features defensive enchantments that again punishes attackers, such as Teferi's Moat and Worship. White is the bane of enemy enchantments, which serve to prevent White from having its way. This comes in the form of Demystify, Erase and Scour and more. White also uses "taxing", which are spells that stop an opponent from doing something unless they pay a price. Examples of this are Kataki, War's Wage, Ghostly Prison, and Archangel of Tithes. As the most political of colors, White also uses rule-setting enchantments that change how the game of Magic is played. Cards like Rule of Law and Humility do this. White is also, historically, the global resetter, which means that it has the ability to reset the board so that all sides have an equal playing ground. Cards like Wrath of God, Armageddon, and Balance show this mechanic, which comes in many different forms.
White's army is made up of small individual pieces, which mechanically explains why White has the smallest (weenie) creatures. The color can, however, use its organizational skills to build a massive, united whole. Most of the mechanics that white creatures have made them work better together. These mechanics include First Strike, Vigilance, and damage prevention. It also includes what Mark Rosewater calls "Rangestrike", which is ": deal damage to target attacking or blocking creature", and boosting from creature to creature (: Target creature gains +X/+X).
- First strike and double strike (shared with red)
- Flying (shared with blue and black)
- Lifelink (shared with black)
- Vigilance (shared with green)
White has more life gain spells than any other color. This include spells that cause you to gain a set amount of life (Angel's Mercy, Sacred Nectar), or to gain life equal to a number of permanents or cards (Peach Garden Oath). Spells or abilities that would double a player's life total (Beacon of Immortality) appear exclusively in white, as do creatures and creature tokens whose power and toughness are dependent on a player's life total. This mechanic is helped by the mechanic Lifelink, which causes life gain whenever a creature deals damage.
Vigilance and untapping permanents
To evidence the resolute nature of soldiers and other creatures in white, the ability of creatures to not tap when attacking has existed since Serra Angel in Alpha. Besides having vigilance, a number of white cards allow a player to tap (Blinding Mage) or untap (Rally the Troops) creatures.
Despite the fact that white is a defensive color, numerous white creatures and spells have beneficial effects when a creature is attacking. White (along with red) is the primary color of combat abilities, due to it being the traditional home of Soldiers and Knights. Since first strike and double strike are combat abilities, they appear frequently on white cards, particularly Soldiers (Fencing Ace) and Knights (White Knight). Besides first strike, double strike, and vigilance, many block-specific white or white-red abilities (such as Exalted) reward a player for having creatures in combat. Another extension of the combat ability is that white is more likely to deal with Equipment (i.e. weapons and armor) than any other color. White's combat abilities favor a "weenie" strategy of small but efficient creatures, though white also has many Angels or other large creatures, and indeed has the second-most flying creatures after blue.
In contrast, to combat bonuses awarded, a number of spells, such as Chastise and Rain of Blades, target the opponent's attacking or blocking creatures with abilities (destruction and damage) that would normally be found in other colors. White also has the most effects that forbid creatures from attacking (Pacifism, Arrest).
- This permanent can't be blocked, targeted, dealt damage, or enchanted by anything [quality]
White has more cards that grant protection from something than any other color. Most of these are either protection from black (White Knight), protection from red (Silver Knight), or protection from a color of the caster's choosing (Ward Sliver). There are several enchantment cycles in white that grant protection either to a creature as an aura (Green Ward) or as a global enchantment to prevent damage from a source of a selected color (Circle of Protection: Blue).
A disproportionate number of white cards deal with enchantments, in both good and bad ways. While certain white cards (Sphere of Safety, Mesa Enchantress) reward you for the number of enchants that you control, other cards (Demystify) clearly establish white as the color of enchantment destruction. Early in Magic's history, white also laid claim to artifact destruction (Disenchant), but this was later shifted to red and green.
Just as black has -X/-X effects and red has +X/+0 effects, white has +0/+X effects. Beginning with Castle in Limited Edition Alpha, a card that caused one or more creatures to increase in toughness appeared in every Core Set through Magic 2014. In recent sets, +0/+X effects have been supplanted by +X/+X effects such as Glorious Charge.
After Green, white has the most spells or abilities that put one or more creature tokens onto the battlefield, a propensity that has become much more common in recent sets. Common tokens include 1/1 Soldiers (Alliance of Arms), 2/2 Cats (White Sun's Zenith), and 4/4 Angels (Decree of Justice).
Beginning with the card Swords to Plowshares, white has had more cards than any other color that exile (remove from the game) creatures or other permanents, though this is sometimes bled to black. In recent sets, this has been extended to permanents that exile other permanents upon entering the battlefield (Oblivion Ring), but return the exiled permanent to the battlefield upon the destruction of the exiling permanent. White shares flickering (the ability to exile permanents temporarily, but return them to the battlefield at the next end step) with blue.
An outgrowth of the theme of justice within White, white has an inordinate number of board wipes in comparison to other colors. Examples of board wipes include Wrath of God, Armageddon and Akroma's Vengeance.
Interactions with other colors
White and Green
White and Green converge due to what represents their common enemy: Black. Black represents the disregard for harmony, the need of the individual, and at its worst, selfishness. White enjoys the companionship of Green because Green agrees that life and harmony are important. White also enjoys the idea of an agrarian society, which serves to employ many of White's citizens while simultaneously feeding everyone, further encouraging the idea of selflessness and extending it to a concern for nature as well. Green also values other White ideals, such as peace and tranquility, which White strives to work toward. White and Green both seek to protect Order, though of different forms. White can see that Green cares as much for the denizens of the forest as White is concerned about its people, and most fascinating of all, Green puts as much emphasis on spirituality as White, though it is admittedly more free-form than White's religion.
White and Blue
White and Blue join to quell and control a common enemy: Red. Red fights for personal freedoms, for the right to express its emotions, whether it be through screaming as loud as it can or through a pen or paintbrush. This threatens both Blue and White's ways of life because together they find common ground in thought, planning, and discipline both in the form of self-restraint and rules. White enjoys the company of Blue because of its thoughtfulness, its recognition of the importance of law, structure, and rules, and its ability to plan for the future. All of these traits are undoubtedly useful for White's society, and thus it values Blue's assistance. Blue would prefer things to be done in a quiet, neat, and orderly fashion, and though it may lack the warmth that White would occasionally like to display, such is the price it pays to control its citizens and to prevent them from getting too comfortable. White seeks peace and Blue seeks prosperity, together with falling hand-in-hand for what they believe to be the common good of the people. White and blue together may represent wisdom.
White and Black
White respects Black on several different issues, some obvious and physical, and some not so apparent. White respects Black because it puts importance on religion — Black individuals are not necessarily godless, and thus not without aim or sense, like Red. Black's faith also demonstrates loyalty and a desire for self-improvement — aspects White can relate to. They, too, are fighting for the values they believe in, and that deserves acknowledgment and respect. White respects Black's affinity for sacrifice: the grim necessity for death in order to achieve one's ultimate goal. White also understands Black's stance in terms of its conflict with Green, Parasitism vs. Interdependence, working together as opposed to leeching from others. While within its walls, White encourages cooperation amongst its citizens and will work together with allies, but on larger scales outside of the community, it understands that in order for its nation to win another nation must lose, the grim facts of life that Black has already grown well-accustomed to.
White and Red
White respects Red for the simple similarities that the two share. White can see that Red is very driven and that its followers are willing to die for the cause it fights for and can relate because White's followers can be equally zealous and will proudly die in the name of Religion or Morality. White is fascinated by Red because it shows respect for the power of numbers and the group, while Black stands alone and for itself. Red also has a "strike first, ask questions later" mentality that White can understand, because it recognizes a preemptive strike as an effective strategy for self-defense. White also respects Red because of the importance it places on emotion because White wants to show its followers that it cares and is concerned for them. White is also aware of the dangers of inaction and realizes that to achieve peace, it must prepare for war — truths that Red embraces. As such, most white-red cards deal with combat abilities; nearly all white-red keywords (first strike, double strike, battle cry, battalion) are combat abilities.
White versus Black
White and Black do battle on several premises that divide them; many of which are obvious, some of which are more subtle. In Black, White sees a foe who spits on the moral laws that White proudly displays, making a strong statement about itself and where it stands. In White's opinion, Black selfishly disregards morals for its own benefit and must be destroyed lest Black set a dangerous example for White's impressionable citizens. This is not the only issue at hand, however, as Black and White despise one another not only because of what they fight for but how they act. Black's amorality and dishonesty mean that Black uses underhanded tactics in fighting, while White fights with honor and respect. White sees Black as deceitful, malignant, and believes it to be a cancerous seed, while White believes itself to be open and honest. However, the most subtle but most intrinsic difference is Black's value in the needs of the individual over the needs of the group, which flies directly in the face of all that White holds dear. After all, how will White ever maintain and uphold a civilization if it must tend to the whims and needs of every citizen within its borders, one at a time? To White, the idea is absurd, and Black's believers must be vanquished.
White versus Red
White and Red clash on simpler, but much less recognized grounds. White looks at Red and sees an enemy that does not respect civil laws and does as it pleases with little regard to the rules and well-being of the community, let alone itself. Red is unnecessarily aggressive and its brash and unthinking action often leaves White's citizens injured, homes burnt, and crops ruined. As a contrasting defensive figure, White will not tolerate such action. In combat, White favors strategy, structured ranks, and planning while Red prefers not to plan ahead and to strike without warning or lines, before the opportunity leaves. Red claims to be an advocate of Freedom, but in White's ears, the word is synonymous with Chaos. White believes that if Red is to be allowed the freedom to express its often radical and inherently selfish emotions, it will incite similar emotions in others within White's community, leading to unrest, or worse, insurrection. If White is to ever achieve Peace and Order within its community, the forces of Chaos must be destroyed.
White versus Green
Like all allies, differences rarely surface but will surface nonetheless. Between Green and White, the conflict is thinking versus feeling. White believes that Green should spend more time thinking about its actions and not act so brashly at times. Green acts based on instincts (a word White generalizes as being almost synonymous with Emotion), which will heed to no law and knows nothing of morality. Green would rather have a fun party than die for a noble cause. This ruffles White's feathers because Law and Morality are fundamental to White's working. If Green were to have its way, only the strongest and the fittest would survive, and the weak and those with no natural purpose would be consumed. This goes against White's interest in giving everyone a fair chance, no matter what the size. White is also more concerned with law in the abstract. White can be dogmatic and hard-nosed, which tends to step on Green's toes. While Green appreciates the protection and safety that law affords, it isn't interested in the subtle bureaucracy that comes with it. Green is only concerned with law and morality as long as it applies to everyday life.
White versus Blue
White and Blue do not always see eye-to-eye either. The conflict between the two is interdependence versus parasitism. White is very interested in working with the community in order for it to prosper and succeed, but what Blue sees when it looks at the community are merely subjects to be observed and notes to be recorded. The people are merely a means to acquire the knowledge Blue seeks and it's not particularly concerned about them beyond that. This upsets White because it believes that Blue should be more actively involved and open about its projects, but Blue is secretive and often deceitful, which makes White even less comfortable. Above this, Blue sees value in the individual and in doing things (and keeping things) to itself, but White feels that putting any value in the individual can only serve to devalue the group. Also quite notable is that Blue puts the most importance on facts, data, and solid information, which makes it the most scientific (and thus arguably the most secular) color. White puts importance in Religion, which can be used to fervor its own with zeal and purpose while maintaining moral and civil order, but White fears that if Blue were to have its way, the community would be entirely comprised of non-believers. This is simply intolerable.
- Angels (iconic creature) 
- Avatars (shared with black)
- Aven (shared with blue)
- Catfolk (shared with green)
- Dragons (specialised iconic in places like Kamigawa, Tarkir and Plane of Mountains and Seas)
- Loxodon (shared with green)
- Giants (shared with red)
- Humans (characteristic creature)
- Kirin (previously shared with other colors)
- Rhox (shared with green)
- Vampires (shared with black and red)
- Antelopes (shared with green)
- Birds (shared with blue)
- Cats (shared with green)
- Camels (shared with green)
- Elephants (shared with green)
- Elk (shared with green)
- Hyenas (shared with green and red)
- Thrull (shared with black)
- Zombies (exclusively on Amonkhet)
- Archers (shared with green)
- Clerics (shared with black)
- Knights (shared with black and red)
- Monks (shared with blue)
- Samurai (shared with black and red)
- The white mana symbol was altered to be more defined after Ice Age.
- White was the first color to contain a card with an alternate win condition (not counting potential auto-loss effects, such as Lich): Divine Intervention
- This card is also unique in that it creates a tie game.
- Highest converted mana cost of white spells (legal): 10
- White Creature with highest combined power (legal/non-token): Avacyn, Angel of Hope (8/8)
- Also has the highest combined power and toughness among white creatures.
- White Creatures with the highest toughness (legal/non-token): Indomitable Ancients
- Most expensive White card: Alpha Edition Wrath of God ($1,800.00 U.S. as valued by Starcity Games)
- Most expensive White card not from an early core set: Legends Moat ($1,200.00 U.S. as valued by Starcity Games)
- Monty Ashley (May 26, 2011). "The History of Mana Symbols". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (February 03, 2003). "The Great White Way". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (July 13, 2015). "The Great White Way Revisited". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Randy Buehler (February 07, 2003). "The Past and Future of White". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (August 13, 2014). "I'm a bit confused on the actual idealogies of the five colors. Is there any way I could get a quick summary of them?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Doug Beyer (May 27, 2013). "Thoughts on Archons". A Voice for Vorthos. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (February 17, 2019). "How big an issue is it if three colors all shared...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (February 19, 2019). "How big an issue is it if three colors all shared...". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Mark Rosewater (June 5, 2017). "Mechanical Color Pie 2017". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Magic Arcana (February 06, 2003). "White mana symbol". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mark Rosewater (March 15, 2015). "Characteristic and iconic creatures for each color?". Blogatog. Tumblr.
- Monty Ashley (May 26, 2011). "The History of Mana Symbols". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Scryfall (September 27, 2020). "Now that The List cards are in the wild, we've discovered that some were printed with a totally new/old white mana symbol.". Twitter.