Have you ever wanted a deck that just didn't care about the burn matchup? Me too. Reminiscent of Soul Sisters, Standard has a mono white deck that wants to gain all the life. And I mean all the life. With strong and efficient creatures that synergize with our lifegain theme, we have a powerful, consistent deck that has one of the best draw engines in the format.
In this list, we are running a playset of Leonin Vanguard, Ajani's Pridemate, Adanto Vanguard and Reslendent Angel; we have a couple Lyra's thrown in for good measure.
The powerhouse for this deck is Ajani's Pridemate. If you are unfamiliar, this thing can easily get to a power level that rivals or surpasses power levels like Ghalta. The Pridemate is a removal target. Your opponents will do everything they can to get rid of it early because it can take on that demanding presence. By focusing so much on this creatures, your others will be able to stick for a little while longer.
Adanto Vanguard is an interesting include, but to me it makes sense. At first, I tried Famished Paladin, on attack it ends up being the same power, but the paladin just felt a little lack luster. By being able to pay some life (something you'll be able to do most often without issue) to give it indestructible, you'll have a resilient, hard hitting two drop to sync in some great damage to your opponents.
Leonin Vanguard is an aggressive white weenie. By triggering at the beginning of combat on your turn assuming you have a couple of other creatures, it gets +1/+1 and gains you a life. This incremental life gain is great for our various synergies and makes this a great aggressive one drop for us, especially that in a board stall, the ability still triggers.
Resplendent Angel is probably our best payoff for our life gain. As a 3/3 flyer for 3, its already a very mana efficient card, and with all of our life gain triggers, it is possible to trigger its end step ability without even attacking. But, even if we can't, she still facilitates her own ability by giving you a late game mana sync to give her +2/+2 and lifelink. Being able to get a 4/4 angel token with flying and vigilance for just the paultry requirement of gaining 5 or more life in a turn? Seems quite deece.
We are also running a couple Lyra, Dawnbringers in the deck as well. Directly comboing with Resplendent Angel, all of the other angels enjoy a beautiful +1/+1 and life link. Lyra's "Baneslayer" stats makes it a wonderful top end to this otherwise respectable deck. Its one of the most feared cards in Standard for a reason.
As I mentioned before, this deck is running one of the best draw card engines in the format. The combo of Fountain of Renewal and Dawn of Hope is just glorious.
Being such an early combo to get online, given that they are 1 and 2 drops, they can easily skirt past the control match up and get your engine up and running before your opponents have the opportunity to counter. After that, you can out draw them and eventually overtake them from your card advantage. On top of that, Dawn of Hope has the ability to be a late game mana sync, allowing you to go under those control players and flood the board with 1/1 lifelinkers.
If you don't find the Fountain of Renewal, another great one drop is Ajani's Welcome. There isn't a ton to say about this little enchantment. It comes down on turn 1, and gives you 1 life for a creature hitting your side of the battlefield. By having one or two of these down, an Ajani's Pridemate has the added benefit of immediately seeing 1 or 2 counters when it enters, turning it into an immediate threat. Ajani's Welcome is one of those cards that also combos really well with Resplendent Angel, as you can pump out a bunch of 1/1s from Dawn of Hope late, and potentially gain enough life to get an angel (all without attacks!).
Another "engine" we have is Ajani, Adversary of Tyrants. It allows us to continually buff our creatures, or to return to the battlefield many of our 1 or 2 drops that might have been removed. And if you are able to ultimate with it, you just win the game will all the life gain synergy. If unanswered, Ajani will take over the game.
We have a pretty standard removal package for this deck. Three Seal Away, and Two Ixalan's Binding.
The biggest complaint I can see some people having is that the removal is a little light. This is true; normally I like a little more than what's here. However, I expect our creatures to really dominate the board. They will outclass most of the creatures in play right now, and for the ones they can't or if they are playing other problematic nonland permanents, use your removal. That being said though, we do have some extra pieces in the sideboard that can help deal with problematic creatures.
The mana base is pretty straight forward, just 22 Plains and 2 Field of Ruins. If you are in a meta with a lot of Hexproof, you can try running Detection Tower over Field of Ruins to provide some extra support to remove those pesky creatures.
For added removal against creature matchups, we have Settle the Wreckage and Bounty Agent. Settle the Wreckage is especially important against GB Ghalta, getting rid of many of the hexproof creatures that can exist in variants of that deck. Bounty Agent is really great (and recurrable with Ajani!) to deal with those powerful legends that can sometimes dominate a game.
Against control, we have a few options depending on the matchup. For discard or removal heavy decks, we have Ajani's Last Stand providing a way to power through damage. It especially feels great to discard an Ajani's Last stand to a Nicol Bolas or Plague Rats ETB trigger. We also have Shalai, Voice of Plenty and even Ashes of the Abhorrent for that removal heavy matchup. Ashes of the Abhorrent also is great against counter burn or Jumpstart decks, preventing spells from being cast from the yard all together.
Against planeswalkers and other activated abilities like Doom Whisperer's surveil ability, we also run a couple Sorcerous Spyglass. Invoke the Divine is there for the white enchantment removal or other troublesome cards like Experimental Frenzy. Depending on your meta, you could run Cleansing Nova instead, as it is a much more flexible spell against a wider range of decks.
I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out. I think it has some fantastic answers to many of the big players in the meta right now, as well as some great staying power. I'd be really interested in seeing what Orzhov can bring to the table to further weaponize our life gain synergies. But for now, I'm enjoying all of the life, and am happing drawing myself to death with my draw engine.