My partner loves playing Magic (perhaps not as much as I do, but she still has quite the passion for it!), however she gets more enjoyment out of building a casual deck, gradually adding fun “one-of what if?” cards to it, and then playing it against other similar decks.
I love Standard. I love competitive play, and knowing that I’ve beat other competitive players feels pretty great. Last week I went 4-0 in Standard, won my entry fee back plus $20.00 in prizes, so I was quite happy with the outcome.
I’m going to be doing a regular segment on this blog called “Magic on a Budget”. Until last week, Wizards ran a regular column called “Building on a Budget” over at Daily Magic, and I’ve decided to carry the idea myself and write some introductory pieces on deck construction, whilst still keeping it cost effective enough to let newer players start with the deck.
Today’s deck is a Black/Green/White Token deck. I brewed this for my partner, and it’s designed to be competitive, whilst still be fun enough for her to play in a casual setting.
Last week I wrote a piece on the competitive future of the U/W Delver archetype. I got a lot of feedback, and it was basically agreed that right now it’s not going anywhere any time soon, so we have to endure it until rotation come October. The best way to get around this? Accept that we will be facing Delver and its variants until rotation does come around (pun not intended).
B/W Tokens were quite an impressive force when Sorin, Lord of Innistrad, Lingering Souls, and Gather the Townsfolk were granted upon us with the release of Dark Ascension. Sorin was able to churn out Lifelink chump blockers, while cards like Lingering Souls provided flying attack and swooping defenders, and then Gather the Townsfolk provided us another solid token creating source.
As quickly as it appeared, B/W Tokens disappeared from the regular meta, possibly due to U/W Delver/Control’s ability to pay life for cheap cards like Gut Shot or Vapor Snag, and then bring out Snapcaster Mage to punish you all over again. Losing one life isn’t really worth it, at least not for a 1/1 Spirit or Human creature token.
“Mmm-mmmm. That is a tasty burger!”
The best part of any decent burger is the meaty filling. No-one likes a burger that’s small or poorly constructed, and much the same can be said for creating a competitive deck. You might have a good land base, or a few good Sorcery speed spells, but without a decent set of creatures to drive victory home you’re pretty much throwing the game before it even starts.
Doomed Traveler is a no-brainer when it comes to any token production deck. He’s a 1/1 body one-drop that offers up a 1/1 Spirit when he dies. Your opponent can block him and give you a free token with flying evasion, or he can let the Traveler chip away and become a problem over time. You can also use him to block creatures as a martyr of sorts, and then give yourself a free token.
His built in token production makes him a deterrent for Gut Shot, too. While the version my partner is using takes advantage of Birds of Paradise, the more budget friendly version can run Avacyn’s Pilgrim, and almost to the same effect. His mana production is great, and his 1/1 body also acts as a blocker when you no longer need the early game mana ramp. Finally, our last “four-of” creature is Strangleroot Geist.
Geist is without a doubt the best two-drop in Standard right now. There’s no question about it. He comes in on Turn 2, hits for two damaged right away, and even if he is killed by Gut Shot he comes back as a 3/2. Granted, Vapor Snag or Unsummon can keep him at bay, but then you’re controlling the tempo of the game and forcing your opponent to play around your aggressive attacks in the early game, right?
Our Geists are going to kill things like Geist of St. Traft, Champion of the Parish, and even Black’s potent one-drop 2/2 Diregraf Ghoul. And when they aren’t attacking? They’re still potent blockers, and can often shut your opponents board right down.
To even out the top end of our otherwise low mana ramp, we’ve got a couple of Wolfir Silverhearts for some late game beatdown, Requiem Angel and Hero of Bladehold to assist in our token production, and then Geist-Honored Monk to come in and use all of the tokens we’ve spawned.
“That show’s called a pilot.”
Just like our creature spells, we don’t want our main token production spells to resolve once and then do nothing else for us. Lingering Souls is a massive four-of, thanks to not only it’s cheap initial cast, but then its even cheaper Flashback cost. Five mana for four 1/1 Spirits? Okay, sure.
Gather the Townsfolk is another big tool in this arsenal. Even if you take a bit of early aggro and your life total slips down, you’ll be able to benefit with Gather the Townsfolk’s Fateful Hour rule. It’s not going to save you all the time, but it’s a handy enough tool to keep around.
I mentioned in the title of this piece the “built in anti-Delver” tech. What is it? Intangible Virtue. Giving your tokens +1/+1 and Intangible Virtue for two mana is a huge tempo jam for Delver decks. A Delver player (myself being one) will not pay four life just to Gut Shot one token. So what will they do when you have four or more on the field and a couple of Intangible Virtues?
We’re choosing to run four copies of Intangible Virtue and one copy of the also good Honor of the Pure, just to round out our buffing abilities. Removal? Yeah, some of that too. A copy of Doom Blade and a few Oblivion Rings round out our semi-potent removal library.
I also threw in a solitary Hunger of the Howlpack, just for some counter allocation if we ever need it.
”That’s how you’re gonna beat ‘em, Butch. They keep underestimating you.”
I played around with the mana for this deck quite a bit, and I think I finally struck a nice and even balance.
With double Green cards like Strangleroot Geist being quite harsh on our land, we never want to end up stalling and losing tempo because of one Forest missing.
Our basics aside, we also have utility lands like Vault of the Archangel and Grim Backwoods. The former allows us to turn our tokens into vicious little chump blockers with Deathtouch and Lifelink, which is perfect for running them into bigger threats, or even just to neutralise cards like Huntmaster of the Fells, and other big threats.
Coupled with our Requiem Angel, Grim Backwoods also gives us as regular token production facility, however for one mana more you can fully cast (Flashback included) Lingering Souls, so it’s something we don’t want to rely on to an extent that we lose a game using it poorly.
If your land draws aren’t good, you might consider removing the single Grim Backwoods, and instead opting to run another Forest, thus giving you six sources of green mana instead of five.
Danielle’s B/G/W Tokens
2 Evolving Wilds
1 Grim Backwoods
4 Sunpetal Grove
2 Vault of the Archangel
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Doomed Traveler
1 Geist-Honored Monk
1 Hero of Bladehold
1 Requiem Angel
4 Strangleroot Geist
2 Wolfir Silverheart
1 Doom Blade
1 Hunger of the Howlpack
4 Intangible Virtue
1 Honor of the Pure
3 Oblivion Ring
4 Gather the Townsfolk
1 Increasing Devotion
4 Lingering Souls
1 Timely Reinforcements
20 Other Spells
1 Elspeth Tirel
This is a budget friendly list. You could easily give the deck more flexibility by switching out Avacyn’s Pilgrim for four Birds of Paradise, and just as easily run a second Hero of Bladehold and drop the Honor of the Pure.
It’s also hard to look at tokens without the inclusion of Gavony Township, and you could easily make that a two-of by removing the one Timely Reinforcements and Hunger of the Howlpack, or even by choosing to only run Intangible Virtues and no Honor of the Pure.
Have fun, and happy building!