I knew what I wanted to play during the Standard portion of Worlds roughly a month in advance. Once I saw the WB tokens in the Decks of the Week on MagictheGathering.com, I knew immediately that I should look into it. After some brief testing, I knew that I could tune WB to be awesome against the field. With that in mind, I decided that Grand Prix: Auckland would be worth it. With the three points I got there, and my top 100 finish at Worlds, I am now a Level 6 mage. Ding!
I piloted W/B Tokens to a 5-1 record, which I was very pleased with.
After some brief testing, I noticed a few things. First of all, Glorious Anthem was the nuts. Second, Ajani was only good when you were ahead or on parity, and terrible when you were behind. That led me to believe that Anthem was straight up better, as you could cast it, and then something like Procession next turn, whereas Ajani would simply get attacked and die before you got any value out of it. Obviously, if creature mirrors would become popular, Ajani would be awesome, much like it was in the block Kithkin mirror.
Tidehollow Sculler and Thoughtseize were your main ways to beat Faeries. You wanted to draw the maximum amount of them against Fae every single game. You would even put them under a Windbrisk Heights the majority of the time over more “powerful” spells because of how important they are. However, the matchup was mostly about who got their nut draw more often. Even with eight disruption spells, Faeries was only slightly favorable. Thankfully, WB was more consistent and could swarm the board more often. Faeries is hard pressed to come back from something like that, especially game 1.
Obviously a good Faerie matchup was the most important thing, as I expected it to be at least a fourth of the field. WB passed the first and most important test, and now it was time to test against the rest.
Kithkin was fairly even. Again, it was about who got the most powerful draw. A post board sweeper like Wrath of God would surely help out, as they could no longer blow you out. You would force them to fight a long game that they simply can’t, especially compared to your various engines.
Five-Color Control was pretty easy as well. They just couldn’t deal with all of your army makers, in addition to the disruption. Elspeth also played a vital role. Once she goes ultimate, Five-Color Control is basically reduced to decking you, usually with an Oona.
Reveillark was a similar matchup to Five-Color Control, but they could occasionally overwhelm you with Sowers and Larks.
This is the list I was planning on playing at Worlds:
The Ranger of Eos package was very exciting, especially the Soul Wardens. The Wardens single handedly won me several games against things like RDW, Faeries, and mirror matches. Just try to have some removal for Sower handy.
Figure of Destiny was only in the deck because of Ranger, but that doesn’t mean that it sucks or anything. Figure is fine, and LSV even played them at Worlds without the Rangers, simply because it’s an early beater and another cheap animal that you can use to get to the magic number of three attackers. That is the main reason for Mutavaults inclusion too.
Several WB lists that I saw didn’t include Ranger of Eos, and had things like Kitchen Finks or Stillmoon Cavalier instead of Figure. I think those cards are fine, but don’t really contribute to the overall plan of the deck, which is swarm the board with tokens, and then pump them if necessary. Figure is simply more powerful than either of those cards, especially when you have the ability to Ranger up a couple of ridiculous threats.
There is also a mini Ranger package in the sideboard, with Forge Tenders, Loyal Sentry for Chameleon Colossus, and Rhys for mirror-ish matches. We tried Hexhunter, but it would either get killed or be too slow to kill Bitterblossom. Wispmare was usually the better option.
Terror is the removal spell of choice, as it is the best one against Faeries by far. Playing any amount of Unmakes over Terrors is just ridiculous, as the stuff you can Unmake and not Terror, like Kitchen Finks, you couldn’t care less about anyway. Sure, you might not be able to kill something stupid like Oona or Broodmate Dragon, but Terror is much better the majority of the time.
Mind Shatters were for the random Five-Color Control or Reveillark decks. Head Games might have been a better choice, as it can completely screw them if they have seven cards and foolishly tap out while you are short on mana.
While in New Zealand, LSV and Cheon tested WB against Faeries every chance they could get. I had already played a ton and knew it was very draw dependant, but they needed to find out for themselves. For a while, they were simply going to play Faeries themselves, as they believed it was the more powerful deck, but eventually they came around. We were all tentatively playing the list above.
However, once we got to Worlds everything had changed. We expected WB to be a known quantity at this point. I had the deck for about a month and desperately wished Worlds was two weeks earlier. Turns out it was more than that… we then expected WB would be one of the most popular decks, so clearly we had to change our list. It sucks to come into a tournament with all this preparation only to throw it all out the window, but now we have a ton of new information, including some of the lists from other teams.
Cloudgoat Ranger came up for consideration, as more token generators are sick in the mirror. This meant the Ranger of Eos package had to go, as Cloudgoats take up a ton of spots and you don’t want to cut any of the spells. At that point, I wanted the Figures to become something else, like Knight of Meadowgrain.
Stillmoon Cavalier was getting a lot of buzz, and the dealers were selling out. If WB was going to be big, surely a pro White and Black creature would be great, right? Not quite. From the games that LSV and Cheon played, the WB mirror always came down to tokens and Anthems. A Cavalier eating a token every turn wouldn’t win you the game. They were somewhat good in actual stalemates as it gave you a way to break through, but so would something like Marsh Flitter most likely. Stillmoons also attacked Planeswalkers really well, but that was about it.
We decided that Knight of Meadowgrain was probably worth it, as it was good against almost anything. We wanted more early game against Faeries, so that we could put on the pressure. Elspeths had to get cut to make room for those.
Past that, we had a few slots. LSV and company decided to run Figures, while I decided to cut a Goat and run the Stillmoons anyway. After playing some games, I decided that four Goats was a bit much, and I never wanted to have a ton of stuff I couldn’t cast.
Elspeths, while being solid in the mirror, were much worse when compared to Ajani, so I probably should have had those in my board instead. Honestly, I just didn’t want to suffer the embarrassment of losing to Patrick Chapin in a feature match, so I wanted more ammo for the Five-Color Control matchup.
Here is what I registered:
As I said, I went 5-1. I beat two Faerie decks, a mirror match, Merfolk, Kithkin, and lost to WR Reveillark. I felt like I got robbed in my feature match against Aaron Nicastri, as WR is almost strictly worse than WB, but my draws were pretty terrible and I couldn’t put up a fight. It certainly didn’t help that Grave Pact sucks when you don’t draw any dudes, and kind of sucks in general.
Honestly, all of the matches I won during Standard were 2-1, and the match I lost was 0-2 as I wasn’t really in either game. Most of them just felt like coin flips that I was on the good side of. Someone would get the nuts once while the other person had it twice. Simple as that.
If I could do it all over again, I would change very little. Marsh Flitter seems interesting, as it allows everything you have to make an army, but I can’t help but think that Elspeth might be better. The Planeswalker is your main color, is very hard to kill, and the ultimate ability is often game over.
Here is what I would play tomorrow:
I fully expect WB tokens to be very popular, despite it not making the Top 8 of Worlds. As I’ve said before, Worlds is only six rounds of Standard, so the Top 8 isn’t a very good representation of what is actually best. For example, Jamie Parke went 2-3-1 in the first Standard portion, yet still made the finals. If you consider that he went 4-4-1 overall, you might think twice about net decking his list and maybe go with Patrick Chapin build instead, who went 5-1.
I cannot stand how some people don’t have the full amount of Arcane Sanctums. Do you guys not like casting your spells? Your manabase isn’t exactly rock solid, you have the option to play a solid in-color dual land, and you just don’t. What is even more amusing is the Worlds competitors who played a Vivid land instead of Arcane Sanctums, despite it being strictly worse.
Reflecting Pool is basically a better Plains, as most of your lands make White already, and they make it so that you don’t always have to take damage from Caves of Koilos. It can be kind of awkward with Mutavault, but you wouldn’t keep Mutavault plus Plains, which is what you would cut Reflecting Pool for, so that point isn’t very relevant.
I probably want another Black source, but don’t want to play any more Swamps. If you think casting your Black spells is more important, feel free to cut a Mutavault for a Swamp, as you can’t cut a White source. Spectral Procession is too important.
Faeries: The litmus test, obviously. Discard and token makers are the most important cards here. Try to be aggressive, but don’t run headfirst into tricks like Agony Warp or Scion. Watch out for Infests in the sideboard (and possibly even main deck at this point). Play well and you will win more often than not.
W/B Tokens mirror: This matchup is fairly complicated. First game is just a race, but with eight disruption spells, you should be able to hit their important cards. Post board, both players have Wraths, so you have to put pressure on them without overextending too much.
RDW: A very positive matchup. If they have Siege-Gang Commanders instead of Demigods of Revenge, you should consider bringing in Wrath of Gods as well as Forge Tenders, probably for some Ajanis and Scullers. You are the control deck, so play as such. Conserve your life total, but don’t be afraid to run Bitterblossom out there.
Five-Color Control: A solid matchup, although their deck is very powerful, and despite ripping their hand away, they can still topdeck very well. Try to ration your threats, which should be easy with Anthem or Ajani making them all huge. You have so many hard-to-handle permanents that they can’t often beat them all. Watch out for Austere Command.
Kithkin: This is like a pseudo mirror, except you are splashing for more powerful cards. Again, you are the control deck. Create a decent defense with something like Bitterblossom or Procession that forces them to over commit. At that point, Wrath of God is usually game.
I look forward to playing this deck on Magic Online in the coming weeks, and especially trying out some different stuff, like splashing Siege-Gang Commander and Vithian Stinger to help the mirror. W/B Tokens is one of the best decks in Standard, if not the best, if only for its solid matchups across the field. If you don’t want to play it, you certainly have to be prepared to beat it.
As always, leave questions and comments in the forums and I’ll get to them as soon as possible.