Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thinking about: Token Spam

Today's TA isn't really about a specific card, but more of a group of cards that could produce an interesting deck.  But I'm not talking about aggro with cards like Kutholda Rebirth, nor am I talking about Three-Way Titan recycling.  No, today I'm talking about the classic token colors: Green and White.

Three-Way Titan: Every man's necrotic fantasy.

Now, I'm sure there's a few cards in these colors that have already come to mind.  Iconic planeswalkers like Garruk Wildspeaker and Elspeth Tirel fit in with a token theme so easily, along with everyone's favorite giant pussy, Ajani Goldmane.  Get your mind out of the gutter, you creep.  He's a big cat.


But the big problem with token decks is that wrath effects for tokens are way too plentiful.  There's the obvious Day of Judgement, but there's Marsh Casualties and Consume the Meek in Black, Pyroclasm in red, and of course, Ratchet Bomb in every deck imaginable.  So the question is, what produces tokens that can get around all those boardwipes coming at you?  Well, there's three of them.

First on the list is Awakening Zone.  The ability to create spawn at the start of your upkeep, ala bitterblossom, means that you'll never be without a creature on your turn.  Of course, they have zero power, so you're going to need some global pumps to make them relevant.  But of course, thanks to Ajani and Garruk, that shouldn't be an issue.

Next on the list comes the unkickable kicker spell, Conqueror's Pledge.  At five mana, this sorcery generates six 1/1 soldiers.  Much stronger when we had Captain of the Watch, but still a powerful way to recover from a wrath effect.  Assuming of course that it resolves.  Dropping Garruk, untapping two white sources and casting a Pledge will allow you to overrun on the next turn for at least 24 damage.  In other words, it's a pretty damn powerful spell.

Then there's Beastial Menace.  Also at 5 mana but easier to cast, this only generates three creatures.  However, there's a 1/1, a 2/2. and a 3/3 in the mix, as opposed to all 1/1s that Pledge generates.  So this Beastial Three-Way is weaker with global pumps, but that 3/3 can survive a Pyroclasm by default, so that makes it worth mentioning.

With the above three spells, only casting one of the latter at the time, you can maintain the board advantage and instantly come back from any wrath effect.  The only issue is getting past a wall of Negates, Deprives, Spell Pierces, and Mana Leaks, but most decks don't run enough of them to provide an effective wall.

But of course, that isn't all that G/W has to offer for tokens, here's a list of everything else that the colors have to offer:

- Avenger of Zendikar - great with Fetches or Explore, and even without it you have the pumping planeswalkers.

- Eldrazi Monument - The last pump, and with Evasion on top of that.  Great against decks that rely on Day or Pyroclasm instead of Consume or Ratchet Bomb., they have no way to respond to it.  If they can't counter or destroy it, they lose.

- Wurmcoil Engine - this deck can have a pretty high curve, so aggro decks will have an early advantage.  Wormy is great for stabilizing, and makes a great wrath deterrent as well.  "Go ahead, Day me, I'll get two 3/3s that can attack next turn anyways."  Plus, you can use him to feed an Eldrazi Monument and you'll get the two 3/3s.

- Kabira Vindicator - At a CMC of four, he just barely avoids dying to Consume the Meek, he's still on the very expensive side.  A possible sideboard card at best.

- Cobra Trap - Works well if you're hit with a Ruinblaster or Tectonic Edge, but otherwise it's strictly worse than the two sorceries mentioned earlier.  It is instant speed though, so depending on your meta there could be a use for it.

- Rampaging Baloths - He's okay, but resolving doesn't give you the board advantage by himself.  You'd have to be holding back lands and still cast him for six, which is pretty tough even with Garruk.  Personally, I think there's better cards in a deck like this.

- Gelatinous Genesis - No.  For 7 mana, this card will make 3 3/3 creatures, which is good, but not as good as casting an Avenger.  And Avenger can't be spell pierced.  Plus, at 5 mana, Genesis only makes two 2/2 creatures, as opposed to Bestial Menace's 1/1, 2/2, and 3/3 or Pledge's six 1/1 beats.  So it's strictly worse unless you can cast it for 9 or more mana, but that's a completely different deck.  And plus, once you get to 11 mana, you might as well kick a Conqueror's Pledge.

- Kazandu Tuskcaller - I wouldnt use him, he's just going to eat spot removal when you try to level him up.  There are better generators in the format.

- Mitotic Slime - This is an interesting Ooze.  It's weak to Journeys or Brittle Effigies, but an amazing wrath deterrent against anything else.  Of course, the only color that can wrath it away right now is the same one that has access to Journey to Nowhere, Condemn, et. al.  However, I think it at least deserves further testing.  There's no doubt that it has great potential.

- Sword of Body and Mind - Duh.

So then, here's what I'm thinking right now:

4 Birds of Paradise
4 Explore
3 Journey to Nowhere
4 Awakening Zone
3 Ajani Goldmane
4 Garruk Wildspeaker
3 Conqueror's Pledge
3 Beastial Menace
1 Eldrazi Monument
2 Elspeth Tirel
3 Wurmcoil Engine
2 Avenger of Zendikar
4 Stirring Wildwood
4 Sunpetal Grove
4 Tectonic Edge
2 Khalni Garden
5 Forest
5 Plains

It's not a definitive list, but I think it stands pretty strong right now.  Hopefully I can get the last couple cards I need from friends to run this on Thursday (FNM is held on Thursday at The Game Castle this week due to Friday being Christmas Eve) and let you guys know how it does.

...But wait, I just realized something.  Precursor Golem.  A normally useless card, but this generates three 3/3 creatures as opposed to the 1/1, 2/2, and 3/3 that you get from a Beastial Menace.  Not to mention that Consume the Meek doesn't get one of them, nor does Ratchet Bomb, and Spell Pierce, Marsh Casualties and Pyroclasm have no effect, he could be good in the right matchup.  Due to being strictly worse to Spot Removal, however, I'll leave him out of this, but he might be a good switch in for removal-less decks like Elves.  Sideboard potential at best, I guess.

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