Insider Information Plus – Green/White Tokens in Standard

SCG 10k St. Louis Offers First Chances to Qualify for the 2010 StarCityGames.com Invitational!
Friday, December 4th – In the second Cedric Phillips of the day, Ced shares the strategy and sideboarding plans for his Green/White Token deck in Standard! With States this weekend, and the StarCityGames.com $5000 Standard Open in St. Louis the following Saturday, can Ced’s token menace take you all the way to the final table? Read on to find out!

Last week, I promised I would write about the G/W Tokens deck I piloted at Worlds to a 4-2 record. Well, this is that article in all its glory!

For reference, the decklist:

I tried a plethora of cards in my testing, which I will explain below, but this is the version I settled upon for Worlds. I was extremely pleased with my final version, and would recommend this archetype for anyone looking to do well at States this weekend, or the StarCityGames.com $5000 Standard Open in St. Louis the following Saturday.

So, how did G/W Tokens come to fruition?

In my highly controversial Jund article, I said the following:

“I think Nissa’s Monument is a step in the right direction as a way to fight Jund. That deck winning the StarCityGames.com $5000 Standard Open in Nashville was not a fluke, and the deck is very, very real. I do not think the deck, as Kali Anderson has it, is optimally constructed, but the concept is sound, and that is what matters.”

Trying not to give away too much in my Worlds preparation, I felt that Eldrazi Monument was the most powerful card in the format for that tournament. I felt that whichever deck took most advantage of Eldrazi Monument would be incredibly successful. G/W Tokens is nothing more than an improved Nissa’s Monument deck. The notable difference between G/W Tokens and Nissa’s Monument is that almost each individual threat in G/W Tokens is a threat that has to be taken care of immediately or it can get out of hand on its own. With Nissa’s Monument, that is simply not the case. The synergy is Nissa’s Monument is higher than G/W Tokens, but G/W Tokens is no slouch in the synergy department.

Let’s go over the card choices, shall we?

4 Noble Hierarch
The best mana accelerant in the format, Noble Hierarch accelerates G/W Tokens to its real threats a turn faster, provides mana fixing, and even helps us out with attacking due to Exalted. Easily a four-of, and one of the best cards in the deck.

4 Lotus Cobra
Often ridiculed, but at home in this deck, Lotus Cobra allows for broken starts that no deck can recover from. The thing about G/W Tokens is that it is not reliant upon Lotus Cobra, but greatly benefits from the acceleration it can provide. I did a lot of testing of Lotus Cobra versus Steward of Valeron leading up to Worlds, and the draws that Lotus Cobra could provide outweighed the consistency of Steward of Valeron.

Another benefit of Lotus Cobra that often goes unnoticed is that it will consistently draw a removal spell. This can be a huge benefit for you, as you can use it to bait out a removal spell that would otherwise kill your Knight of the Reliquary, Emeria Angel, or Elspeth, Knight-Errant.

4 Qasali Pridemage
Going into Worlds, Nissa’s Monument was a deck that was on everyone’s radar. If you study my decklist and a Nissa’s Monument decklist, you will find that we are both trying to accomplish the same thing: set up an overwhelming board position and resolve an Eldrazi Monument that simply will not allow the opponent to come back. If we are both trying to accomplish the same thing, one of us needs a trump card. Qasali Pridemage is that trump card.

Its applications were limited going into Worlds, but with chatter of Nissa’s Monument being all over the place, it was a good idea to have an answer to their best card. Let us also not forget that Qasali Pridemage is able to destroy cards like Oblivion Ring, Journey to Nowhere, Spreading Seas, Howling Mine, Font of Mythos, and Time Sieve: all cards that could realistically see play at Worlds. Qasali Pridgemage isn’t the best card in the world, but it gives you outs to cards that would otherwise be problematic while providing pressure on turn 2 and providing an Exalted bonus that is often relevant. Don’t overlook it.

4 Knight of the Reliquary
With Knight of the Reliquary, the interactions are endless! The interaction between Knight of the Reliquary and Emeria Angel is obvious, but don’t forget that this Green/White monster provides mana acceleration, mana fixing, and even a little lifegain (thanks, Graypelt Refuge) while growing in size. Knight of the Reliquary is the centerpiece of this deck, and I’m not sure this deck would exist without it.

4 Emeria Angel
When I began my testing, I was looking for a card that was a threat on its own, and could get out of hand in combination with the rest of the deck. Master of the Wild Hunt fit this role admirably, but Emeria Angel was the monster I was looking for. Emeria Angel does a ton of amazing things, as I am sure you have read the text of the card, but the real reason Emeria Angel is an all star in this deck and is finding a home in all Green/White decks now is because of one keyword:


Flying is such a great ability against Jund, Nissa’s Monument, and heck, any other deck. If being able to ignore Putrid Leech, Sprouting Thrinax, and any and every elf that a Green deck can throw at you, while having the ability to fly over and chew up an opposing planeswalker and dodge an Earthquake isn’t enough for you, go grab a TurboFog deck, because Emeria Angel isn’t the card for you.

3 Birds of Paradise
Strictly worse than Noble Hierarch, Birds of Paradise is simply mana accelerant five through seven. It does have the advantage of being able to chump block an opposing flyer or swooping in for a few points of damage due to Exalted triggers, but overall, I’d rather play Noble Hierarch five, six, and seven before Birds of Paradise number one, given the option.

3 Master of the Wild Hunt
Before I decided upon Master of the Wild Hunt, I tried the Green planeswalkers in this slot. The problem with Garruk Wildspeaker was that it died too often to Blightning, and the 3/3 beast it left behind was hardly relevant in a format full of Sprouting Thrinaxes. Nissa Revane was quite good, but it suffered the same problem in relation to Blightning and forced me to play Nissa’s Chosen, a card that tested well, but was fairly underwhelming without Oran-Rief, the Vastwood or Elvish Archdruid in my deck.

Master of the Wild Hunt, a card that has spiked in popularity, is a card that can dominate a board position very quickly if left unchecked. Two very cool interactions with Master of the Wild Hunt are:

1) Master of the Wild Hunt in combination with Eldrazi Monument.
2) A token made via Master of the Wild Hunt in combination with Elspeth, Knight-Errant (kiss that Baneslayer Angel goodbye!).

It isn’t the best card in the deck (that goes to Knight of the Reliquary), but Master of the Wild Hunt is another card in a list of many that can dominate the game on its own, or in combination with the other cards in this deck.

4 Conqueror’s Pledge
Were you expecting Baneslayer Angel? How foolish of you! One reason, among many, that Conqueror’s Pledge is outstanding is how great it is against Boros. When playing against Boros, the Boros player can easily put a lot of pressure on its opponent and save a Path to Exile for the inevitable Baneslayer Angel. What they can’t do is save a removal spell for six soldier tokens. Conqueror’s Pledge is a card that stops Boros right in its tracks, and it makes their Goblin Bushwhacker turn downright embarrassing. Let’s not overlook the fact of how broken the turn 3 Conqueror’s Pledge / turn 4 Eldrazi Monument draw is, because it is borderline unbeatable if it happens. Conqueror’s Pledge isn’t Cloudgoat Ranger. I knew Cloudgoat Ranger, and this ain’t no Clougoat Ranger. But it’s close. And close is good enough for me!

4 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Far and away the best planeswalker in the format, Elspeth, Knight-Errant is a perfect fit for G/W Tokens. It makes tokens, puts Knight of the Reliquary in the air, is broken in combination with an active Master of the Wild Hunt, survives Blightning, and completely changes the way your opponent plays the game. Your opponent will go to extreme measures to kill Elspeth, Knight-Errant because he/she has to. It’s just that simple. If they don’t kill Elspeth, Knight-Errant, it will kill them. And if they do kill Elspeth, Knight-Errant, you probably just saved yourself at least six points of damage. What more could you ask for?

3 Eldrazi Monument
The card G/W Tokens was based on, Eldrazi Monument ends the game on the spot if it resolves. This is the card that makes the Jund matchup favorable. This is the card that makes the control matchup favorable. This is the card that makes the Nissa’s Monument matchup favorable. It is mediocre against Boros, but with the right draw, there is no way they are beating Eldrazi Monument. It is a card unlike any other, and it dominates a game state in a way we have not seen for a long time. It leaves your opponent helpless. I hope you draw it a lot.

4 Forest
Gotta cast those Green cards somehow.

4 Plains
Gotta cast those White cards somehow.

4 Graypelt Refuge
The color requirements of G/W Tokens is odd because it is a two-color deck, but you need to cast a double White or double Green spell on turn 4 and a triple White spell on turn 5. With that in mind, Sunpetal Grove simply was not enough mana fixing. Graypelt Refuge is admittedly a little slow, but the color fixing is invaluable, and the life gain can be relevant against Boros.

4 Marsh Flats
Emeria Angel and Knight of the Reliquary thank you very much.

4 Sunpetal Grove
I am playing Green and White, aren’t I?

4 Verdant Catacombs
Emeria Angel and Knight of the Reliquary thank you very much.

4 Great Sable Stag
One of the best sideboard cards against Jund, Great Sable Stag forces a Jund pilot to draw a Lightning Bolt or face at least six points of damage. All of the creatures in G/W Tokens do not want to face a Lightning Bolt, but overloading the removal of a Jund deck is a great way to defeat them.

4 Wall of Reverence
There really is no better card against Boros than this mighty wall. Six toughness is an exorbitant amount, and Wall of Reverence makes Kor Skyfisher look silly. If it isn’t answered within two turns, the blocking and life gain of the Wall is too much for a Boros deck to overcome. Not to mention that Wall of Reverence sure does make those Ball Lightning decks look silly…

4 Thornling
The best sideboard card against Jund, Thornling is impossible for Jund to beat when mana is available. The goal, of course, is to get Thornling out ahead of schedule with a Green mana available to make it indestructible. The reason Thornling is here is due to how a Jund deck will sideboard against you. Typically, game 1 they will see that you are a token deck and happily sideboard in a few Jund Charms. It is then that you side out your Conqueror’s Pledges and bring in Thornlings. Jund Charm is moderately good against you, and you would like to lessen the blow. Thornling is great at doing that, and just about everything else against Jund.

1 Master of the Wild Hunt
A fourth is brought in to combat Nissa’s Monument and other Green/White decks.

1 Eldrazi Monument
A fourth is brought in to make sure you draw one against opposing token decks.

1 Gargoyle Castle
Further explained in sideboard strategies, Gargoyle Castle is brought in for the Jund matchup.

There she is, in all her glory. Now let’s learn how to sideboard:

Versus Jund
-4 Conqueror’s Pledge, – 4 Qasali Pridgemage, – 2 Birds of Paradise
+4 Thornling, +4 Great Sable Stag, + 1 Master of the Wild Hunt, +1 Gargoyle Castle

Your goal in game 1 is to simply resolve an Eldrazi Monument and dare them to have a Maelstrom Pulse. If they do not, they cannot win. If they do, they still have to handle the threats that you have on the board. Do your best to not play into Blightning (hold lands or useless mana accelerants), and be aware that your first few creatures are going to die, as Jund has a lot of removal in their deck. The thing the Jund player must do is deal with each threat you cast the turn after you cast it, or it will produce an additional threat for them to deal with (Master of the Wild Hunt; Emeria Angel; Elspeth, Knight-Errant).

As I said earlier, once a Jund player realises that you are a token deck, they will happily sideboard in their Jund Charms/Pyroclasms. That is when you side out some token generators and other creatures that die to their sweepers for bigger threats that demand spot removal spells. Because you are siding out two mana accelerants to lessen the blow of their sweepers, a Gargoyle Castle is brought in to up your land count to twenty-five (we become quite top-heavy), as well provide an additional threat that demands a spot removal spell.

Versus Nissa’s Monument
-2 Lotus Cobra
+1 Master of the Wild Hunt, +1 Eldrazi Monument

As I stated earlier, this is really just two Eldrazi Monument decks goldfishing against each other, except G/W Tokens has an answer to their Eldrazi Monument and, I believe, G/W Tokens has access to better threats. Another Master of the Wild Hunt is brought because they cannot kill one, as well as the fourth Eldrazi Monument so that we may have “The Monument Advantage” at all times.

Versus Naya
-4 Qasali Pridemage
+4 Wall of Reverence

Naya was not a deck in my playtesting gauntlet going into Worlds, and I have not had the opportunity to play against the deck very much since Worlds has taken place. Looking at Coimbra’s decklist, the matchup seems fairly straightforward, and in G/W Token’s favor. Naya does not have an answer to Eldrazi Monument, and as long as you are able to keep Baneslayer Angel under control (chumping it for a few turns with bird tokens), you should be fine.

Wall of Reverence is brought in as a way to buy time to get to an Eldrazi Monument, as well as a decent answer to Baneslayer Angel. I really feel Baneslayer Angel is their only relevant card against G/W Tokens, so you may want to bring in the fourth Eldrazi Monument for a Lotus Cobra.

Versus G/W Big Guys
-4 Qasali Pridemage
+4 Wall of Reverence

Another deck without an answer to Eldrazi Monument, you goal here is to draw the mythic artifact to halt their attacks and make your attacks lethal. This matchup is very similar to Naya except they have less removal, so your token generating threats are more likely to stick around. You may want to board in the fourth Master of the Wild Hunt depending on their removal suite. If they do not have an answer for the wolf maker, he will win the game all on his own.

Versus Boros
-3 Eldrazi Monument, -1 Qasali Pridgemage
+4 Wall of Reverence

The goal here is to resolve Conqueror’s Pledge early and often. Six soldier tokens halts their offense so quickly and it buys you time to get your other fun stuff online. If you ever get the opportunity to resolve Conqueror’s Pledge, it is quite difficult to lose the game.

After sideboard, you sideboard out the Eldrazi Monuments because this is a matchup where they are a little slow and awkward. Qasali Pridemage will probably have a few targets after sideboard, and it does a great job of blocking their non-landfall creatures, so you have to leave a few in. As explained earlier, Wall of Reverence is the end boss against Boros. If it sticks around for more than two turns, a catastrophe would have to occur for you to lose the game.

Versus Dredge
-4 Qasali Pridgemage, -1 Eldrazi Monument
+4 Great Sable Stag, +1 Master of the Wild Hunt

This matchup is pretty bad for G/W Tokens but it is far from unwinnable. Master of the Wild Hunt is a card that can keep Hedron Crab in check, and Eldrazi Monument gives you a chance to block Extractor Demon for weeks at a time. The biggest problem is Kederekt Leviathan. It is a card that completely wrecks G/W Tokens, and there is very little we can do to combat it. If Dredge is popular in your metagame, feel free to move some Relic of Progentius into the sideboard, as it is a card that they have no shot at beating if you draw it.

Versus Fog
– n/a

Being a creature deck that does nothing but generate a bunch of creatures and make said creatures bigger, you could probably predict this matchup to be as close to unwinnable as it gets. However, there is a way to fix this matchup if you see fit. My friend Kenny Mayer brought up the idea of changing the Marsh Flats to Arid Mesa, changing the Gargoyle Castle to a Mountain, and sideboarding a few Realm Razers. Because you are for sure to draw the Realm Razers, and because none of their damage prevention effects cost one mana, this is an off-the-wall plan that will actually probably work. Yes, this is an extreme measure, but if you want to beat Turbo Fog, here is your plan.

Versus any Control deck
-4 Qasali Pridemage, -1 Lotus Cobra
+1 Eldrazi Monument, +4 Great Sable Stag

These Control decks are typically in your favor because, like Jund, they have to kill each threat that you present. Elspeth, Knight-Errant and Eldrazi Monument are your best friends here, so draw them early and often.

If you are looking to update G/W Tokens, you can do the Red splash that I just mentioned, or splash Blue for Rhox War Monk:

You could even get a little funky in there and throw in a Kabira Crossroads to search up with Knight of the Reliquary.

Though I have a written an article about a deck that I really loved for Worlds (and a deck that I feel is great for States), the more important thing to take away from this article is how awesome States is as a tournament. States is a tournament I look forward to playing every year, because it is a laid back tournament where I get to have a great time playing Magic without any of the other concerns of high level play. When I saw States taken away a few years ago, I got more upset about losing that than when I heard about the professional circuit was losing a Pro Tour.

That is how strongly I feel about States!

States was the first big tournament I ever played, many moons ago, with all my friends from the local store. Sure, we all did horribly, but it was such a great experience playing in a big tournament with so many people that shared the same hobby as we did.

Would you believe me if I told you that States is what set off my year to Level 5?

It’s true!

Last year, I won Indiana States with an innovative Merfolk decklist designed by Adam Prosak. With free entries to Constructed Grands Prix and Pro Tour Qualifiers, I was able to play as many as it took for me to get qualified for the Pro Tour, and everything went off from there.

Whether you are looking to earn free Constructed events for a year, a place to trade cards, or just a tournament that has a big-time feel but not the atmosphere of a Pro Tour Qualifier, States is the perfect Magic tournament. I hope each and every one of you make it out to your State Championship tournament and have a great time. It was the tournament that got me into tournament Magic, and it was the tournament that boosted me on the road to Level 5 status.

If that isn’t a great tournament, I don’t know what is.

Now I have a title to go defend.

Look out, Indianapolis… The champ is here!

Cedric Phillips
[email protected]