The Only Decks I’d Play

Brad Nelson is a Player of the Year. A Players’ Champion. An Invitational Champion. He knows what he’s talking about when it comes to #SCGORL. These are the decks he would play. Pay close attention.

This Standard format is quickly coming to an end with very few events left before Eldritch Moon breaks the horizon. That doesn’t mean it’s still not extremely important for those wanting to qualify for an Invitational or RPTQ, win #SCGORL or #GPPIT, or even get one of those coveted World Magic Cup slots.

Standard is in full gear at the moment and we know a lot about it right now. Many strategies have come and gone, some have been able to stay in contention, and others have dominated the format. Today I am going to go over the only decks I would continue to play, for those who are unsure on what to do battle with in the upcoming weeks.

You might be asking yourself right now why in the hell you clicked on another article claiming G/W Tokens is the best deck, but that’s what you get when a deck is just that powerful. G/W Tokens has proven itself time and time again that it is the Rocky Balboa of this format. I hate to admit it, but this is the best deck choice you can make right now if your plans are to win the whole tournament.

So what makes G/W Tokens so good? I don’t really even know how to answer that question without the fear of sounding like a lemming.

If you thought I was referring to this, you are too damn young!

This format is all turned around! For some reason, blue sucks if the card isn’t also white or black, and red’s not even a color anymore outside of Goblin Dark-Dwellers, which is, awkwardly enough, the best blue card in the format. Green for some reason has more card advantage than a Sphinx’s Revelation, where X equals the number of people who think anyone who wouldn’t loot is an idiot. White is again the best color in the format for the umpteenth year in a row. I would call white the “LeBron James of Magic,” but that would imply that white doesn’t actually win.

G/W Tokens is this deck that falls into this perfect space in a format that can’t really handle it all that well. The entire deck consists of proactive elements that aren’t easily dealt with by the same cards. In fact, the only way to compete with G/W Tokens is to get off to a proactive start and hope you have a balance of spells that even Cap’n Crunch would be proud of. If not, you’ll be looking at more permanents than a downtown salon.

There are only a few things out there that I have found to actually beat this deck, but some of them are doing so at a sacrifice that might not be worth it. Take Cryptolith Rite strategies, for example. They are pretty decent at disrupting this deck but have a very difficult time dealing with the other bullies at recess. That’s probably because the deck plays cards like Loam Dryad, Brood Monitor, and the first ever non-legendary Legendary Enchantment to ever see play as a four-of instead of actual Magic cards.

Every Cryptolith Rite deck looks like that deck you’d better not lose to at FNM, but for some reason it beats the pants off G/W Tokens.

Now, I’ve heard many people claim that the deck they like the most beats G/W Tokens, but I’ve only found one deck that I actually trust to take down this monster.

Me still trying to make fetch happen.”

It’s been shocking to me how nonexistent Sultai Midrange has been in the results this past month. I’ve honestly thought of it as a great answer to many of the problematic decks and haven’t had an issue stating so in my articles. Hypocritically, I haven’t really played it myself outside of Magic Online, but do as I say and not as I do.

In actuality, I have the rest of this week and next to prepare for #GPPIT. My goal is to work on this deck exclusively and have it ready for that event. If not, I will most likely be sleeving up G/W Tokens with very limited testing. That’s not where I want to be for many reasons, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

Seriously, though, why aren’t people playing this sweet deck? I’ve started to see it be played more and more on Magic Online, which makes me think it’s finally going to start getting more popular and validate all of these words of mine.

I do have a theory for why this deck has been slow-burning. There are many midrange decks in this format, making it difficult to know which one you want to choose if that’s the style of play you’re looking for. Grixis Midrange, for example, was prominent as early as the Pro Tour, making it a deck people have become comfortable playing with.

It helps that Grixis Midrange has a good matchup against Cryptolith Rite and G/W Tokens, making it an easy choice to continue playing. Grixis Midrange also has a good matchup against Sultai Midrange, which means I don’t think I will be convincing any Grixis Mages to change decks today. It’s worth a shot, at least!

We are about to get really real for a minute.

Sultai Midrange is here to prey mostly on W/B Midrange and G/W Tokens. This is thanks to how aggressive the deck can be alongside the backbreaking power of Dragonlord Silumgar against decks that lean on planeswalkers. Sultai Midrange also has the added benefit of having its Virulent Plagues insulated by Oath of Nissa in the G/W Tokens matchup.

I wouldn’t say that the Collected Company matchups are amazing as a whole, but I have felt significantly favored against them in my testing. It really comes down to how well you know how to sequence your spells.

One of the unique advantages that Sultai Midrange has in these matchups over other midrange variants is the high density of early creatures. This forces a Collected Company player’s hand in many situations, which allows you to set up backbreaking Languishes; they never get to put Collected Company creatures on the battlefield the second after you take your Languish off it. Nothing feels better than getting a creature Reflector Maged right before you kill every single creature on the battlefield.

The midrange matchups are interesting, to say the least. Both decks are trying to develop a battlefield while also gaining card advantage. That card advantage has to come mostly from creatures, since it’s easy to fall behind on the battlefield if you aren’t progressing it. That’s why you only see one copy of Painful Truths in the deck, even though card advantage is extremely important.

This is actually why I like Sultai Midrange so much. The deck has great creatures that all pack plenty of power and can keep the engines going. This will sometimes cause a snowball effect where the opponent has to keep dealing with the creature you have on the battlefield, but that creature netted us a card. Somewhere down the line, this causes a ripple effect where the opponent simply can’t keep up in some way, and all of a sudden Hissing Quagmires are sneaking in the last few points of damage thanks to a surprise Sylvan Advocate.

If the boring stuff doesn’t get you hooked, how about I explain why this is just Abzan Midrange from last season. Y’all liked playing that deck, didn’t ya?

The entire deck just draws cards, kills creatures, and almost every card in the deck scales as well as Kaijudo packs. The deck might not have Siege Rhino in it, but it has The Gitrog Monster! I can’t explain how awesome it feels to play The Gitrog Monster on turn 5 and follow it up with Evolving Wilds when you already have Tireless Tracker and Sylvan Advocate on the battlefield. It’s pretty much the only reason I get up in the morning anymore.

I like this deck because I don’t feel like it has any bad matchups, but it has a great matchup against G/W Tokens. If that isn’t enough to sell you, nothing will. Moving on!

That’s exactly what I’m saying! G/W Tokens and Sultai Midrange are the only decks I’m endorsing for the upcoming events. Trust me when I say I wish that weren’t the case, but I didn’t write this playbook. I’m here to give my honest advice and that’s what I stand here doing. Well, I’m actually sitting in my recliner at the moment, but you get what I mean.

The best I can do is explain why the rest of the format isn’t up to snuff and hope my Magic version of Duck Hunt doesn’t deflate too many people.

Let’s start with the easiest target.

Is your name Tom Ross? If not, you shouldn’t be playing this deck.

For starters, I don’t get why the deck is called “W/R” when it splashes for a creature-land, but I’m getting off-topic. I don’t really get why this deck is played. Now, my disdain for the archetype might stem from the fact that I have never lost to the deck: not once on Magic Online, never in a sanctioned event, and I even toppled it once in my sleep. True, the deck has starts that can be scary, but for every unbeatable draw the deck gets when on the play, it also keeps a one-lander that doesn’t get there or floods out by playing its fourth land.

It could be that my results against the deck have been so good because I play Bant Company, Sultai Midrange, and W/B Control, but that is also a good reason for why the deck isn’t a better choice than G/W Tokens. Maybe Mono-White Humans is favored against the format’s boogeyman, but it isn’t against a larger subset of the format. There are enough bad matchups roaming around in the format for me to state that choosing this deck is an emotional decision.

Now, this deck is so close to being a strong choice right now, but it just doesn’t achieve enough of the requirements for me to justify its inclusion with the format’s elite. The biggest reason for why it’s at the bottom of my article today is simply its mana.

I have this philosophy in Magic that boils down to how many things you need to be doing with your deck. For example, I will only play two colors in my Constructed deck if I think I will do better than by only playing one. The same goes for three- and four-color decks. The same can be applied to creatures, planeswalkers, and removal spells. If I don’t think I need removal spells, I would much rather just play creatures and planeswalkers, since those are the cards that actually win games. (Obviously there will be creatures I have to kill, so adding removal will almost always be vital. This is just a loose structure I use to keep myself prioritizing success over flair.)

Under these loose parameters, I find it difficult to justify playing Bant Humans, since it’s three colors and doesn’t provide enough power over G/W Tokens, which is only two. Obviously I would rather play Bant Company if my lands always entered the battlefield untapped and my Collected Companies always hit two creatures, but the fail rate this deck comes with isn’t enough to justify playing it.

I love Bant Company plenty, but it has disappointed me this season because it doesn’t do anything better than G/W Tokens and yet comes with an additional disadvantage by playing an additional color. Bant Humans ends up in the same boat.

All this said, I would not condemn someone for playing Bant Humans. It’s a serious contender in this format, but it’s just not a deck I would tell someone to switch over to.

This deck is a flash in the pan. It was amazing at the time of its origin, since it was so good at defeating Cryptolith Rite strategies when they were at their highest, but that time has come and gone. Now this is just a deck in the format that picks on Grixis Control and prays it has smooth enough draws to at least have a chance at defeating other decks in the format. I don’t even think its G/W Tokens matchup is that close to even, which makes me fear picking it up. I did think that matchup was much better for me when I played W/B Control at #GPMIN, but now I find it to be too close to justify playing this deck. There just aren’t enough good matchups out there anymore.

Get out of here! Are you actually serious? How is this a deck? Seriously, I played G/W Tokens against Todd playing this deck in a Versus Video and 5-0’ed him. I even played around Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger by holding up Dromoka’s Command to fight it with my Hangarback Walker. Yes, I know you can’t do that!

Just play G/W Tokens!