The entirety of Gatecrash is now spoiled, and the prerelease is just days away. Like every Magic player, I've gone over the full spoiler many times this week. These are untested cards and the prereleases will be an unfamiliar environment for everyone. So the best preparation is a thorough examination of the cards in order to separate the metaphorical wheat from the very literal chaff. Just as I did for Return to Ravnica, I'm going to be sorting through every card in this set, color by color, and rating them. So without further ado, here's part 1 of Gatecrash white.
Aerial Maneuver - Veteran Magic players, those who have experienced the very-regular multicolor block phenomenon since the first of them, will recognize this card as Daring Leap, minus the blue mana symbol. Of course, that cost change makes Aerial Maneuver, unlike Daring Leap, not objectively terrible. This has good offensive and defensive applications in Limited; I like how the first strike can deter blocking even by flying and reach creatures on the attack, and allow your groundpounders to swat down - or at least hold off - an air attack on the block.
Angelic Edict - This one is not almost a reprint, it is a functional reprint. This is exactly Iona's Judgment, and serves all the same purposes that card did during Worldwake. It's removal with one option that will always be good and one that will conditionally save your ass from various combo decks. I liked it back then, despite how expensive it is, and I think I'll continue to like it. If you're running white control, best to pack some of these.
Angelic Skirmisher - That modal triggered ability makes my Melvin design-nerd side all tingly. Obviously, some of the ability choices are more useful than others. If you're picking vigilance, for example, you are on the defensive and things are probably not going well for you. But that's the beauty of Angelic Skirmisher - she's not just a finisher for when you're ahead, she might be able to turn things around for you. First strike is of course ideal for forcing a last push through pesky blockers that might otherwise trade and diminish your army, and lifelink certainly seals the ahead-in-the-life-race deal. All in all, she's everything you could want out of a six-mana white flier.
Assault Griffin - Those first two might have been a near-reprint and a functional reprint. This one is a straight reprint. It's all you expect from a Limited common. Flying is always relevant in that format, but those stats are very unimpressive for four mana and white. Regardless, it's Ravnica, so a few Griffins are expected (they're like the pigeons of that plane).
Basilica Guards - If there are any lingering doubts that Orzhov is the straight-up defensive control guild this should banish them from your mind. 4 toughness is a fat enough booty to hold off most Limited threats that arise in early-to-mid-game, and defender is rarely going to be a relevant drawback in pure Orzhov decks anyway. The beauty of extort, though, is that the cost is white/black hybrid, which means that other white decks, even hyperaggressive Selesnya and Boros, can use this to hang back and block while simultaneously drinking up your opponents' sweet, sweet life essences with extort in addition to your weenie or midrange army's face-smashing.
Blind Obedience - The comments I had about this card when I first spread the word of its previewing still apply very much. The static tapdown ability is mere gravy on a big bowl of control ice cream, to disgustingly mix food metaphors. Basically, you will play this because it is the sole noncreature extort card in the set, and hence the extort card that is the least vulnerable to removal. Every color can deal with creatures, but two colors have absolutely no answers to enchantments and one of them can only put them away temporarily. Once this drops, it'll be making your opponents suffer for the entire game.
Boros Elite - This is an extremely good card, and yes, I realize that it will start out as and continue to be a vanilla 1/1 for one white mana. Those stats are positively horrendous for white, the best small creature color (we do not wish to talk about the terrible days of Eager Cadet). Even though that battalion ability theoretically won't go off until turn four or later, in red/white, the Boros color combination, you have access to small creatures with haste. Suddenly that 1/1 for one isn't such a bad investment because it's now a 3/3 for one and all other Boros Elites that you drop won't have too hard a time swinging for 3 either. This will be the foundation of Boros decks in Limited and Constructed. Expect them.
Court Street Denizen - The odd thing about this is that even though tapping creatures is a very white effect, the fact that it's almost always going to be at sorcery speed makes it kind of red-feeling in execution, since in practice it's almost always going to be used to prevent blocks. Still, it's a nice way to get extra value out of your creature drops, its stats aren't too bad given it has a free triggered ability that manipulates combat, and hey, you might be able to prevent attacks with it too if you have flash creatures.
Daring Skyjek - Like Boros Elite, this card gets incredibly strong when its battalion ability gets triggered. Unlike Boros Elite, it's got pretty damn good stats to begin with. Blade of the Sixth Pride numbers are still really good (and, in fact, any 3-power creature for three mana is bound to turn heads). But then you swing with it and two other creatures, no hard feat in a white weenie deck, and it's evasive. This will be the most commonly-seen creature in two-mana slots in Gatecrash Limited, period. And you know Constructed Boros decks are going to want to fill that mana curve spot with something strong as well.
Debtor's Pulpit - There is a huge amount of beloved original-Ravnica cards that R&D could have referenced for the white entry in the Gatecrash enchant-land horizontal cycle. For some reason, they picked Cyclopean Snare. I can only stare in disbelief and ask "why?" I literally cannot see anyone running this card in any situation, Limited card pools be damned. This is not worth five mana in any universe. It's barely worth three. If this is meant as a commentary on the state of organized religion as being expensive and useless, then it's a work of genius. As a Magic design, it's merely a terribad card.
Dutiful Thrull - The Boros have their one-drop built to attack en masse and conquer. The Orzhov have one designed to block en masse and annoy. This is a 1/1 for one with a one-mana regeneration cost, which means this is going to be able to chump a lot. And I mean a lot. Regular removal probably won't cut it to kill this little guy, because face it - Orzhov is a control archetype, they'll have open mana. It is the duty of these Thrulls to make sure you can't fight back while their controller extorts the living crap out of your life total. I'm not going to make another crack about organized religion here but I feel like these things are as annoyingly irrepressible as door-to-door Bible salesmen.
Frontline Medic - "READY TO CHARGE! GET ZEM! RAUS, RAUS!" Now that that TF2 joke is out of my system, I just want to say that this gets the award for Most Unsubtle Hoser in Gatecrash. That everybody-is-indestructible battalion ability would be completely awesome on its own, and a 3/3 for three mana is extremely good in white, a color that historically doesn't do so hot in terms of midrange creatures. But then there's that sacrifice ability, which is the most obvious Development stick-on in years, meant entirely to turn back the scourge of Bonfire of the Damned and Sphinx's Revelation. Hopefully it'll work because those decks are out of hand. Disregarding that, I'd like this even if I weren't a fervent Boros supporter.
Gideon, Champion of Justice - Everyone's favorite hieromancer has come to Ravnica and become a bona fide superhero. He follows a pretty linear progression for a planeswalker; his +1 basically has to be activated first since he can't turn into a creature right off the bat (summoning sickness dontchaknow). But when he does get that potentially-huge number of counters, hoo boy does he become a threat. An indestructible damage-proof threat that'll get even bigger if you give him a turn off from attacking to use the +1 again. His ultimate is probably the most punishing planeswalker final ability ever printed, but use it with caution; you'll probably want to have considerably more than 12 loyalty counters on him when you activate it for it to be effective. Certainly not the outright strongest of planeswalkers, and not as good as his original version, but I'm definitely going to have a lot of fun using him.
Guardian of the Gateless - This is Palace Guard-plus-plus. Let's face it, this will hold off a heck of a lot of attacking creatures and in a pinch, can attack itself. If you've got a Limited build that needs midrange defenses, look no further. This means you, Orzhov players. Johnnies might want to use it with forced attacks and Fling for great justice.
Guildscorn Ward - This is so obvious a design I'm in shock it hasn't been done before. This is pretty good removal-proofing in the Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash environment; it stops Auger Spree, which is almost enough of a selling point on its own.