A Style for Each – Tokens
Welcome back to yet another round of looking into Sub Themes. Hope you had enjoyed last long article of the Sub Themes of Reanimator and Sac & Recur where we explained how each work. As explained in the last article, both Sub Themes seek to fill the graveyards with creatures then bring those creatures back from the graveyards. The difference being, Reanimator seeks to bring high power badasses creatures which normally takes longer to hard cast; while Sac & Recur creatures would cast and then sacrificed for other effects, landing them in the graveyard ready to be recur back to the battlefield for an encore of their Enter The Battlefield effects. Both Sub Themes have an obvious weakness against all graveyard hates, which when hit, could render both Sub Themes totally useless and vulnerable. So with the recap done, let’s all move on to today article. A much more straight forward Play Style, Tokens.
The more there are the better it gets. That is the aim of this Sub Theme; to generate tons of tokens as fast and many as possible and then use them to your advantage. Generation of tokens could range from triggered effects; activated abilities; Enter The Battlefield & Leave The Battlefield effects. As your choices are vastly dependent on the Color Identity of your General, it is vital to choose a General with Color Identity where Token generation is vast and abundant, like White & Green. Usually when choosing between two spells or effects which could produce Tokens, unless the other one has a better effect other than producing Tokens, always go for the one which produces more Tokens. Also permanents which produce Tokens, especially those which can produce tons of Tokens repetitively, are very useful here too. There may be more out there but here are some of the cards you may consider for Token generating:-
- Ant Queen / Imperious Perfect / Kazandu Tuskcaller / Nemata, Grove Guardian / Orochi Hatchery / Rhys the Redeemed – This group of cards provide you with Tokens by activation of their abilities.
- Avenger of Zendikar – A mid or late game finisher which could create an army for you just by its Enter The Battlefield
- Awakening Zone / Bitterblossom / Goblin Assault / Honden of Life’s Web / Predatory Advantage – All of these produce Tokens at each turn without your contribution of mana, leaving your mana open to cast other spells or use abilities. Awakening Zone produces Eldrazi Spawn Tokens that could be sacrifice to help accelerate your mana. Predatory Advantage, on the other hand, punishes your opponent for not casting creatures. The rest of the lot gives you a Token each of your upkeep, with Honden of Life’s Web giving you more if your deck could support more Shrines. An up side to them are all of them are Enchantment being harder to deal with if your opponent do not pack enough solutions for non-creature permanents
- Creakwood Liege / Dragon Broodmother / Verdant Force – Same as the above but in creature form. Creakwood Liege is especially powerful as it produces you with 1/1 Green & Black Worm Tokens each turn while pumping your other Green and Black creatures, effectively giving your 3/3 each turn. Dragon Broodmother & >Verdant Force on the other hand give you Tokens with each players’ upkeep, especially useful if you always play in a huge group for each game. One round around the table could give you a mini army
- Dread Drone / Emrakul’s Hatcher / Kozilek’s Predator / Nest Invader – All of these guys fits into a curve while providing you with Eldrazi Spawn Tokens which helps to accelerates your mana development
- Elspeth Tirel / Elspeth, Knight-Errant / Garruk, Primal Hunter / Garruk Wildspeaker – The 4 best of the Planeswalker who could supply you with Tokens. Each also has an ultimate which could end off or secure the game for you. Elspeth Tirel clears the board for your Tokens to attack; Elspeth, Knight-Errant protects all your stuff with indestructibility; Garruk, Primal Hunter will keep pumping out those Beast tokens while building up towards an en mass of Wurms tokens; and Garruk Wildspeaker pumps your army of Tokens up and sends them in for the kill
- Firecat Blitz / Gelatinous Genesis / Snake Basket – The more mana you pump in for these cards, the more Tokens you get. Especially powerful is Gelatinous Genesis which gives you not just X number of 1/1 Tokens for X but X number of X/X
- Kirtar’s Wrath / Martial Coup / Phyrexian Rebirth – Board Sweeper plus Token generator. Each of these spells clears the board of creatures while replacing your loss of creatures. Phyrexian Rebirth gives you a X/X Token where X is each Creature it destroyed; Kirtar’s Wrath act as the late game sweeper which gives you two Flying Tokens if you have threshold; and last but not least Martial Coup gives you an army of at least five Tokens while you sweep the board
- Living Hive / Rapacious One / Spawnwrithe – These guys creates Tokens as they connect to your opponent. Except for Spawnwrithe, both Living Hive and Rapacious One produce as much as they connect. Spawnwrithe on the other hand need some work since it is a lot smaller than the other two but has the upper hand of producing copies of itself. All of them come with Trample to ensure combat damage gets through
After these tokens are generated, you have the choice to either attack your opponents with them; or sacrifice them for other effects. Options are only limited by your Color Identity. For starters, here are some choices available after you have your army of Tokens:-
- Beastmaster Ascension / Overrun / Titanic Ultimatum – Although vast in numbers, Tokens are usually low in their power, some even having zero power. These cards help to turn your mini-size force of weakling Tokens into a titanic army of brutes
- Goblin Bombardment – Each Token is one damage. If you could pull off an infinite combo for infinite Tokens (Earthcraft + Squirrel Nest), then you have infinite damage… Earthcraft is also good for mana acceleration if you just have it alone on the battlefield since each Token could be used with Earthcraft to untap a basic land
- Skullclamp – Tokens are generally small in the toughness and highly dispensable. So this Artifact is usually “1: Draw two cards”
- Nomads’ Assembly / Parallel Evolution / Saproling Symbiosis – Doubles your army with more Tokens for more damage or more sacrificial needs
- Epic Struggle – If all else fail… Just leave everyone behind and wait for your victory…..
As with all creature hordes theme, mass removal is the bane of Tokens. The main aim of this Sub Theme is to generate tons of tokens. Often you be over committing to the board only to be foiled by your opponent with 1 timely Wrath of God, totally resetting your effort and morale to zero. That said, it is not impossible to fight against this wipeout:-
- Caller of the Claw / Kinsbaile Borderguard – Both replenishes your army after the big wipeout though Kinsbaile Borderguard is Kithkin Tribal theme heavy
- Use of non-creature permanenets to produce Tokens – This is more of a choice of cards. When choosing Tokens generators, try to go for those non-creature type permanents. This is to help you to recover after the Wrath since your Token generator is not affected by it
Generals of Choice:
- Teysa, Orzhov Scion: – She generates Tokens and also help to deal with opponent’s Creature threat. Black and White also provide decent amount of Control
- Rhys the Redeemed: – A Token Generator by itself and pack with its own Parallel Evolution for more Tokens.
- Nath of the Gilt-Leaf: – Partial disruption with its upkeep ability. Pair with discard theme to maximize Token generation. Elf Tribal theme also.
- Savra, Queen of the Golgari: – Abilities to allow you to reap more benefits after you had sacrifice the Tokens.
Tokens is generally an en mass tactic to overwhelming your opponents with creatures. Since creatures are always in production, if you play it right, they could be sacrifice them for many effects, from drawing cards; dealing damage; destroying stuff; the possibilities are quite endless depending on the Color Identity you had chosen. As with any Aggro theme or creature based themes, caution is to be taken for over development if opponents pack board sweeper (not everyone does but it would suicidal to over develop when you know for sure he or she has one right now…). Since the main goal of Tokens is to produce as much Tokens as possible, you cannot just stop producing for fear of board sweepers. Therefore recommended preventive measure to counter an opponent’s board sweeper is to include some non-creature permanents to produce your Tokens. So with all the above said, we are done with the Sub Theme, Tokens. Do be back for more on other Sub Themes.
This is yours truly, Edward “Reaper King” Leong, signing off.