Cards n’Flux: Token Talk
Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Cards n’Flux. Yes, I know it has been a long time, but what can I say but life just gets in the way. As we head towards the new year, let us take some time to step away from Magic, hug our family, and watch some sport-KAY! Enough, back to Magic!
Ever since Innistrad hit standard, everyone wants to do tokens. This is mostly because of just the sheer amount of token producing or related cards. Tokens are just a fun way to win in general. Why spend six mana for a single Titan when you can pay five for Conqueror’s Pledge and get six soldiers? One way to see exactly how powerful tokens can be is the deck of Martin Juza, which he took to victory in the Hiroshima Grand Prix. Here is the list:
Grand Prix Hiroshima by Martin Juza
2 Celestial Purge
1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
1 Fiend Hunter
1 Garruk Relentless
1 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Oblivion Ring
2 Sword of Feast and Famine
2 Sword of War and Peace
2 Thrun, the Last Troll
Overall the deck runs rather smoothly and gets multiple threats on the field quickly. For example, as we talked last time, I know it was a while ago, this deck can drop turn two Mirran Crusaders, turn three Hero of Bladehold, and turn four Elspeth all thanks to Avacyn’s Pilgrim. However, those power cards are only the foundation. Add in the Blade Splicers and their 3/3 golems with the Geist-Honored Monk and its two 1/1 flyers and you get a deck that slowly overwhelms the board. The only real issue I have with this deck is Garruk Relentless… or as the grammatically correct of us would say Garruk the Relentless. I’ve gone on record before in saying I do not like this card and I will gladly do so again. The only thing he really does for this deck is create 2/2 wolves and if he manages to flip he will already be in sniping range.
With my distaste of Garruk the Relentless known, you are all probably wondering, what would I possibly offer up in place of Garruk the Relentless? I’m glad you asked. Instead Garruk the Relentless in the deck, I would gladly put in Parallel Lives. For those who do not know, Parallel Lives is an enchantment for the same cost as Garruk the Relentless except for every token effect you activate or resolve, you get double the tokens. It is essentially Doubling Season without the counters clause and it would work awesomely in this deck. Three mana Blade Splicer for seven power instead of four, yes please. Hero of Bladehold swinging in for eleven instead of seven, yes please. An opponent just cast Day of Judgment clearing your field, well how about playing Geist-Honored Monk and get 4 1/1 flyers and a 5/5 on the field for only five mana? These are just a few of the awesomely fun token producers we have at our disposal. In fact, someone already beat us to the punch. Jonathan Job has this little Parallel Lives deck to offer:
This deck seems really solid and allows for a lot of versatility. You could just play your token plan and beat them to death with your own combination of tokens and utility creatures, but that is only half the fun. If you kill one of your opponent’s creatures, you can imprint it onto Mimic Vat, while having Parallel Lives on the field, and start doubling your Vat’s tokens. The thing I would love to see with this deck would be if someone killed a Grave Titan with Beast Within on the end of the opponent’s turn, imprinted it onto Mimic Vat. Then on the beginning of their turn they activate Mimic Vat creating a Grave Titan token… no wait 2 tokens, with haste, plus eight 2/2 zombies, then they swing with the Titans, creating eight more 2/2 Zombies. Three mana for a total of what… 44 power. Yes we are in Magical Christmas land, but that’s the thing about Magical Christmas land, it is all still possible.
Oh, all this talk about tokens has really got my brain pumping, how about we build a quick deck? One card I do not believe has seen too much play in recent tournaments is a card called Cackling Counterpart. For just three mana you can put a token on the field that is a copy of a creature you control. Now this ability is rather limited. Sure it is three mana for a token but why would you not just pay an extra mana for Clone to copy your opponent’s stuff as well or possibly better Phantasmal Image for cheaper. Well, let me ask you this. What do you think would happen if you cast Cackling Counterpart on let’s say a Frost Titan… while you controlled a Parallel Lives? I would call that pretty fun and talk about mana for power. When you play three mana for twelve power, you know you have it made. Plus Cackling Counerpart has flashback, making it all the more interesting. We have the beginnings of a deck.
However, we may have several big tokens on the board, but sooner or later we are going to face a boardwipe. We have to find a way to deal with the inevitability of a boardwipe. Is there a card out there that could help us fight this threat? Yes there is. Back from the Brink is an Innistrad enchantment that gives all your creatures in your graveyard flashback. Just pay your creature’s mana cost, exile them from the graveyard, and you have your creature token back ready for action. Sure it is a bit clunky at six mana, but if we run the deck as a ramp and delay deck, we can probably make it work.
So Ramp, what can we do to ramp us into big holdings of land. Rampant Growth seems like a good starting point. We can definitely use a full playset. We might also find Viridian Emissary useful so we can force them to take early damage or give us more land. After that, Primeval Titan seems like a good choice… if a bit expensive. I hate building decks with cards that are higher than ten dollars, so if you can get them great… if not we could try replacing them with a big creature of your choosing. Solemn Simularcrums would also be fun to have in this deck but again it’s one of those expensive cards so use them if you can. (I cannot wait for the day when I can actually afford some of these cards L).
So with ramping done, we need to move into delay. First up we need Mana Leak. Sure it might not be the best counterspell printed and it has the potential to become useless late game, but in the early game we can definitely use it. Another fun card we could use to delay the big hits could be Vapor Snag. For just one mana you can pop a problem creature back to your opponent’s hand as well as deal them a point of damage. We may also decide to pop in some other fun blue creatures to copy as we try to flesh out our curve.
So with all that said and done, what do we call this new deck… Cackling Life, no… Parallel Counterparts, possibly… who knows, here’s the list:
3x Frost Titan
2x Primeval Titan
3x Impaler Shrike
3x Solemn Simularcrum
4x Rampant Growth
3x Mana Leak
3x Cackling Counterpart
2x Vapor Snap
2x Back from the Brink
3x Parallel Lives
4x Winterland Harbor
3x Shimmering Grotto
This deck could possibly be a lot of fun. The Impaler Shrikes are really there for card draw so the option to exchange them for something like Think Twice might not be a bad idea. The goal of the deck is to delay and ramp into our big creatures using small things like Viridian Emissary to keep the bigger hits away in the first few turns. I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to playtest this kind of deck due to my college workload, but I believe the concept could be very, very fun.
And with that folks I think we will call this little article to a close but not before we go through the closing questions section:
1. What is your best token related story?
2. I know we have Parallel Lives in Jonathan Job’s deck, but why do you believe this enchantment is not seeing as much play as it probably could.
3. Would you agree that the future of token decks looks bright?
Well that is all for me everyone. Thank you all so much for stopping by. I hope you all had a Happy Holiday and hope to see you all in the new year. And as you go to hug your families tonight remember, “Etherium is Limited. Innovation is not.” This is Corlando signing out.