Breaking In: Modern BW Tokens Deck Tech, by Andrew Quinn

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Breaking In: Modern BW Tokens Deck Tech

Hi guys. The PTQ season is in full swing and the Modern format is starting to look very well defined. Right now there are about 20 different decks you could possibly play. So pretty much whichever colour(s) you fancy playing and whatever style you like, there is a deck out there that suits you. For me, there are a few decks but one that has caught my eye is an old favourite. Black/White Tokens!

Black White Tokens is an old archetype, most notably getting Luis Scott-Vargas to the finals of the historic Pro Tour Kyoto in 2009, along with our very own Matteo Orsini-Jones making top 8 with the same archetype! Those who don’t know this event, the top 8 was one of the most memorable in recent years, where Gabriel Nassif piloted 5 colour control through an elimination bracket full of this deck and came out the victor!

In my opinion, it’s remembered for a couple of reasons. Gabriel Nassif winning his second Pro Tour trophy, LSV making a name for himself as a player (as this was pretty much the start of his career) in the pre-ChannelFireball days and of course, the infamous “Best Topdeck in Magic History” moment where Nassif flips a [card]Cruel Ultimatum[/card] off the top of his deck (it being the only possible out in his deck) to beat Matteo Orsini-Jones in the quarter finals. I strongly recommend you go and look at some of the coverage from the event: found here. Here’s LSV’s decklist from that event:

Creatures (16):

4 [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card]

4 [card]Kitchen Finks[/card]
4 [card]Knight of Meadowgrain[/card]
4 [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card]

Planeswalkers (3):

3 [card]Ajani Goldmane[/card]

Spells (16):

4 [card]Bitterblossom[/card]
4 [card]Glorious Anthem[/card]
4 [card]Spectral Procession[/card]
4 [card]Terror[/card]

Lands (25):

4 [card]Arcane Sanctum[/card]
4 [card]Caves of Koilos[/card]
4 [card]Fetid Heath[/card]
2 [card]Mutavault[/card]
2 [card]Plains[/card]
4 [card]Reflecting Pool[/card]
1 [card]Swamp[/card]
4 [card]Windbrisk Heights[/card]

Sideboard (15):

1 [card]Ajani Goldmane[/card]
3 [card]Burrenton Forge-Tender[/card]
1 [card]Celestial Purge[/card]
2 [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card]
2 [card]Head Games[/card]
3 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
1 [card]Wispmare[/card]
2 [card]Wrath of God[/card]

Whilst the curve has had to cut down (no [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card]s:( sad face…) and [card]Bitterblossom[/card] is rightfully banned, Innistrad block is chock full of amazing cards that bring new dimensions to the deck. In this article, I’m going to share my latest decklist for this with you and run through an MTGO Daily Event complete with sideboarding information and matchup analysis. So, let’s start with the decklist!

Creatures (4):

4 [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card]

Planeswalkers (2):

2 [card]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad[/card]

Spells (31):

2 [card]Gather the Townsfolk[/card]
2 [card]Honor of the Pure[/card]
4 [card]Intangible Virtue[/card]
4 [card]Lingering Souls[/card]
4 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
4 [card]Raise the Alarm[/card]
4 [card]Spectral Procession[/card]
4 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]
3 [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]

Lands (23):

4 [card]Arid Mesa[/card]
2 [card]Godless Shrine[/card]

4 [card]Isolated Chapel[/card]
4 [card]Marsh Flats[/card]
4 [card]Plains[/card]
1 [card]Swamp[/card]
2 [card]Vault of the Archangel[/card]
2 [card]Windbrisk Heights[/card]

Sideboard (15):

1 [card]Aven Mindcensor[/card]
1 [card]Burrenton Forge-Tender[/card]
3 [card]Damping Matrix[/card]
3 [card]Disenchant[/card]
2 [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]
1 [card]Rule of Law[/card]
3 [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card]
1 [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]

The list is pretty simple, but I’ll break it down bit by bit:

Tokens:

2 [card]Gather the Townsfolk[/card]
4 [card]Lingering Souls[/card]
4 [card]Raise the Alarm[/card]
2 [card]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad[/card]
4 [card]Spectral Procession[/card]

These are our token makers. Or in other words, what we win with! [card]Spectral Procession[/card] leads the charge and [card]Lingering Souls[/card] is not too far behind. Making flying tokens is insane and [card]Lingering Souls[/card] is arguably better than Spectral, but it’s very hard to compare the two. From my testing so far, I would have to say I prefer [card]Spectral Procession[/card], but both are so insane it’s not fair to compare them anyway. There’s not much to say here really. This is how we win games and they do it remarkably well.

Anthems/Power Boosts:

2 [card]Honor of the Pure[/card]
4 [card]Intangible Virtue[/card]
2 [card]Sorin, Lord of Innistrad[/card]
3 [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]

[card]Intangible Virtue[/card] and [card]Honor of the Pure[/card] make the deck work. One of these turns [card]Spectral Procession[/card] into a 6/6 flier for 3 mana as opposed to the more averagely costed 3/3 for 3. [card]Zealous Persecution[/card] is a sweet little spell that black gives you access to. It can power up all your guys, act as a one-sided [card]Wrath of God[/card] for 2 mana at instant speed against certain decks or even act as a sweet combat trick! (I once had my 1/1 token trade with a [card]Reveillark[/card] for example). Once again, not much to explain here.

Disruption/Removal:

4 [card]Path to Exile[/card]
4 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]
4 [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card]
3 [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]

Every white deck has to run [card]Path to Exile[/card]. I’m about 99% sure that that’s right and not once have I needed to consider reducing the number of them. They kill opposing creatures very effectively, help you get yourself out of mana problems (hence the reasoning behind the basic Swamp) and even though I’ve not had the opportunity to do this, you could combine it with [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card] to exile something permanently (you leave his [card]Duress[/card] effect on the stack, then path it to trigger the second ability, which will resolve, then the [card]Duress[/card] resolves, exiling the chosen card permanently).

I’ve opted to run 8 discard spells. Whilst a lot of variations of this deck only run [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s, I saw a version which ran the [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card]s too. I did have a couple in the sideboard, but figured that I should try moving them to the mainboard and see how they fared against the field.

Sideboarding Options:

This deck has gone through many transformations with all sorts of different cards coming in and out of the sideboard in the past week. Even now, I’m happy with about 13 of the slots with 2 of them possibly changing for the next event I play in.

3 [card]Disenchant[/card]

[card]Disenchant[/card] is pretty much a staple in white sideboards right now. A lot of people are opting for [card]Kataki, War’s Wage[/card] as their weapon against Affinity, but I disagree with it. Kataki is only good against Affinity and nothing else, whereas [card]Disenchant[/card] pulls a double shift, by being very good against Storm combo (destroying [card]Pyromancer Ascension[/card]), [card]Splinter Twin[/card], Melira Pod, [card]AEther Vial[/card] decks and many more. 3 seems like the right number and I don’t think I want a 4th. This is pretty much the first thing I put in the board and I won’t be dropping it any time soon.

3 [card]Timely Reinforcements[/card]

This is a recent addition. I don’t like Timely much because I will rarely have fewer creatures in play than my opponent and hence won’t get full value from it. However, testing showed that I needed a somewhat solid card that helped give me an answer against, primarily Jund decks, but also Mono-Red, Delver and so on. This slot could very easily be 3 [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] as it does pretty much the same job, so I will have to test both options and see which one I prefer. Either way, this slot should be something that helps against aggro.

3 [card]Damping Matrix[/card]

This deck’s worst matchup has always been and will always be: Combo decks. The most popular combo decks seeing play right now are Melira Pod and [card]Splinter Twin[/card]. [card]Damping Matrix[/card] shuts down both of them until they can remove it. Sure, Melira has an aggro plan, but since this is also an aggressive deck, there’s no way that their aggro plan is better than yours. It is possible that [card]Suppression Field[/card] is better in this slot, but for now, I like [card]Damping Matrix[/card]. It is more vulnerable to removal (since [card]Ancient Grudge[/card] is certainly a card). Also, with Aggro Loam on the rise, I may very well switch to [card]Suppression Field[/card] to shut down [card]Seismic Assault[/card] too.

2 [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]

This is also a card for the combo decks. It doesn’t do much against Aggro Loam, despite Loam being a graveyard deck, but this is basically my graveyard hate of chocie. When this slot was [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card], I had trouble using it against Melira since they could just use [card]Birthing Pod[/card] or [card]Chord of Calling[/card] to find an answer to it, whereas [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card] shuts down all of their search options as well as their graveyard.

Their only out to this is naturally drawing a [card]Harmonic Sliver[/card] or a [card]Qasali Pridemage[/card], which should buy me enough time to resolve some tokens and start beating down. The hope is that with Melira being one of the deck’s worst matchup, a combination of this and [card]Damping Matrix[/card] should significantly improve the matchup. It’s possible that I want 3 Cages but I haven’t been able to test them enough yet. The fact that this also doubles up to stop Flashback spells against storm, Retrace against Aggro Loam and a selection of other decks means that this card will probably end up being an all-star.

1 [card]Aven Mindcensor[/card]

Mindcensor is an odd addition. I mainly wanted an extra way to stop searches that wasn’t another [card]Grafdigger’s Cage[/card]. Mindcensor also doubles up as being an instant speed blocker, to catch Delver players off guard. This is definitely a slot in the deck that could end up changing.

1 [card]Burrenton Forge-Tender[/card]

Forge-Tender is a sweet one-of in the board. Red isn’t hugely popular right now, but Forge-Tender is sweet against all of the decks that do play red. The best thing I’ve found so far with him is that he can prevent all of the damage from a [card]Volcanic Fallout[/card], [card]Whipflare[/card] or [card]Pyroclasm[/card], which could be gamebreaking. I had 14 slots filled in the sideboard and since there’s a Black/Red burn deck (Mono-Red splashing [card]Bump in the Night[/card]) gaining popularity at the moment, I decided to make this slot a way to hose their deck to some extent.

1 [card]Zealous Persecution[/card]

Persecution has been one of the most valuable cards in the deck. Against some decks, it is admittedly useless but as this is an eternal format, aggro decks are often focused on cheap creatures which all happen to die to this. At the end of the day, this card is insane against Delver, Affinity, Caw-Blade, Token mirror matches, Melira (and any decks using mana acceleration with [card]Noble Hierarch[/card] and [card]Birds of Paradise[/card]), and many more. It’s just an extremely versatile card that I like in enough matchups to want a full set of them after boarding.

1 [card]Rule of Law[/card]

Rounding out my sideboard is a slot dedicated to storm combo, since it’s not the most popular combo deck right now but it’s very annoying and if I had no hate for it I’d probably straight up die to it. I’m not sure which is better between this and [card]Ethersworn Canonist[/card]. Canonist comes down 1 turn earlier whereas [card]Rule of Law[/card] is less vulnerable to removal (as it doesn’t die to [card]Shattering Spree[/card] or [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]). This slot I am very unsure about and I might even want a second anti-storm card, but with so much discard in the main, I am still unsure as to how much storm hate I want.

Final Thoughts

So thats the deck for now. I’ve taken the deck and ran it through a Daily Event on Magic Online, for the report just click here.

Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing,

Andrew

Breaking In: Modern BW Tokens Deck Tech, by Andrew Quinn
Hi guys. The PTQ season is in full swing and the Modern format is starting to look very well defined.

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