Nine.

That's it? Just nine? That's nothing. Talk to me when it hits double digits. (In before Scarab God).

It only took banning nine cards, but we've got ourselves a fun and playable Standard format once again. I've spent five of the past seven days of my life doing nothing but jamming nonstop Standard on Magic Online and trolling people on social media. The dream, one might say. Exactly one person, of course, is all who would say that but at least someone is out there saying it.

The joke is that I've also been trolling myself, because I've been grinding myself to dust with White-Black Tokens nearly the entire time I've been playing Standard. I just love white-black strategies and somehow get drawn into decks that slowly accumulate advantages over the course of long, miserable games. Miserable, I might add, for my opponents more than me. That's the key.

If you've ever said to yourself: "Yes! YES!!!! I just drew a four-mana enchantment that lets me make two 1/1 tokens per turn instead of one!" then have I got the deck for you. Anointed Procession. Hidden Stockpile. When their powers combine, you get to net one Servo per turn and scry once. Unbelievable. Broke it.

Anyway, I'm here to talk about the many flavors of White-Black Tokens. I'm going to go through the various builds I've tried – and believe me, I've gone deep – and finish up with a deck primer for the stock version of the deck. For what it's worth, the stock version is most likely just the best version of the deck. For all my mad tinkering, I don't think I improved on the wheel at all, unfortunately, but I'm going to provide those lists anyway and maybe someone can take my designs to the next level.

Let's start with the stock.

Stock Tokens

Most of the versions of Tokens that people are putting up performances with look a lot like this list does. However, while most versions resemble this list, I do think there is a whole lot of customization available to the adventurous Tokens pilots out there. Do note that there is a Profane Procession buried with the lands. While I love when that card becomes a land, let's not get too hasty here and make assumptions our life total can't cash.

As far as this list goes, I'm pretty happy with almost all of it. There are a few changes I would definitely make, however.

I'd swap Field of Ruin to Scavenger Grounds, and consider playing a second copy of Scavenger Grounds in the sideboard. Field of Ruin has rarely been useful for me. Theoretically, it can blow up nice lands like Deserts or flipped Search for Azcanta while enabling revolt for Hidden Stockpile and Fatal Push. In practice, it just sits around doing nothing in a lot of matchups until you eventually have time to just fire it off, almost at random, to enable revolt some turn where it provides extremely minor utility.

One of the worst matchups for tokens are God-Pharaoh's Gift decks. Both decks kind of goldfish on each other, but they do it better, and thanks to Refurbish and their copies of Cast Out, you can't even lock them out with Ixalan's Binding on God-Pharaoh's Gift. However, if you randomly draw your Scavenger Grounds, you can easily steal a game, especially with a second copy in the board.

The Scarab God is another card that can often win games by itself against this deck. While The Scarab God is a card that should be mitigated by a strategy with minimal creatures and Ixalan's Bindings, the card is still an enormous pain against Tokens. Simply returning their own creatures with The Scarab God can propel them through their deck to the cards that matter and overwhelm nearly any board. Savvy The Scarab God players can also get around Ixalan's Binding by a neat trick that a mom discovered while making $32,037 a month working from home and doctors hate her because of it.

The trick is to discard a Scarab God early in the game to a Charty MacDennis (Chart a Course), Champion of Wits or some other effect. Wait to play a second Scarab God until you have mana to immediately activate it. When the tokens player tries to Ixalan's Binding it, bring back the first Scarab God, legend rule the one targeted by the Binding, and end up with a token Scarab God still in play, a real one triggered to come back to hand end of turn, and a poor Tokens player stuck with a dead Binding in play and four wasted mana. A second Ixalan's Binding won't even solve this problem, as The Scarab God they now have in play is a token, which ceases to exist when hit by Binding and won't stop future The Scarab Gods from being cast. Ixalong shot to win after that.

Anyway, that Scarab God diatribe was just another way to say to get some Scavenger Grounds into this deck. It shuts down T.S. God, which is the best card in Standard by an enormous amount, and that's good enough for me.

The next thing I'd change is get rid of one of those Arguel's Blood Fasts from the main deck. I've been very underwhelmed with this card. It is very slow to get going and is arguably only good in explicitly slow matchups. Even in those matchups, sometimes pinging yourself for 4-6 damage while not adding to the board is enough to allow those decks to get out far ahead enough to punish you. I think three Blood Fasts in the 75 is just too much for a legendary enchantment with occasionally questionable effect on the game.

The last thing I'd try to do is get 1-2 Start // Finish into the deck. A lot of people don't like that card, but I think it's great to have a few copies because of the insane versatility it provides. It's great for flipping Legion's Landing, great for trading early with Mono-Red, great at enabling revolt, and another way to deal with a giant creature that's a pain, such as a Glory H. Bringer.

One thing about the stock tokens decks is that they all play Regal Caracal as their five-drop. Regal Caracal is pretty nice. It makes two tokens, which is great with Anointed Procession, Anointer Priest, and so forth. It also just provides seven power and toughness, four of which is lifelink on its own. Not a shabby rate. However, Regal Caracal leaves a lot to be desired in a lot of matchups where lifelink doesn't matter and a single removal spell can leave you with just a couple of cool cats that don't necessarily affect the board much.

I think Angel of Invention is on the same power level as Regal Caracal, but nobody plays it. Angel also makes two tokens and has the same vulnerability to removal as Caracal, but the advantage Angel provides is that it is far more aggressive, which is needed in some matchups where Tokens does not have inevitability. It allows you to make big attacks the turn you play it, even if it later dies, and if it goes unmolested, it can completely take over a game by itself. Caracal is the stronger card if lifelink matters a lot, such as against Mono Red or Red-Green Monsters, but in a lot of other matchups, I'd much rather have the Angel.

Another five-drop that gets no attention is Liliana's Mastery. Mastery also makes two tokens, and the tokens are naturally larger. Mastery is also way more resilient by virtue of being an enchantment. A single removal spell can't make the entire house of cards fall apart, like it does with Caracal and Angel. Mastery scales really well in multiples, as the enchantment just sits around forever, even through Wraths and copious amounts of removal spells, meaning every additional copy is bound to be better, no matter what happened before. Mastery also pumps embalmed creatures, as they are Zombies, which means that you've got some 2/4 Anointer Priests, which I guarantee your opponents will not realize and walk right into. I was honestly surprised myself the first time when the Chandra I thought I was bringing to one loyalty ended up in the graveyard instead. Oh yeah.

My Normal-Looking Tokens Lists

Don't worry, I'll ease you into my madness. Let's start with some normalish versions of Tokens that I've jammed.

Oh yeah, I'll start by saying that I think Renegade Map really sucks unless you desperately need it to fix your mana. I don't play that card in any of my lists. It enables nut draws with Hidden Stockpile, but it also is a heinously bad card in many situations, where it is a turn-delayed land drop that costs one mana.

One thing I want to note is that I really like powerful one-ofs in this deck. For one, having a card like Profane Procession or Fumigate in your deck means you are always drawing live to all kinds of crazy situations. Secondly, you see a ton of cards scrying with Hidden Stockpile some games – not to mention games going really long with the grindy life gain – which means that you often have plenty of time to find the card you need. Lastly, if you blow your opponent out with a card like Fumigate in game one, they might play around it or board against it for future games, not realizing there is only a single copy.

I've really liked Sorcerous Spyglass. It shuts out planeswalkers (read: Vraska) pretty well. I also just learned this week that it is Sorcerous Spyglass and not Sorcerer's Spyglass. What a blowout. On that topic, one thing that I haven't talked about yet is Vraska, Relic Seeker. Vraska is a huge pain for this deck. She blows up enchantments, meaning she frees cards back from Ixalan's Binding, shuts down Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession and just generally ruins things. She's a meanie. Sorcerous Spyglass preemptively disables Vraska and can also handle Walking Ballista, another extremely annoying card. Spyglass can also be useful against cards like Heart of Kiran in other matchups.

The above list is an Angel of Invention version of Tokens. Angel of Invention makes cards that make multiple tokens like Start // Finish way better by turning those tokens into 2/2s with vigilance, which is actually fairly respectable. I think Angel of Invention versions of the deck are basically a midpoint between the classic versions and my next list, which is a little more extreme. This is a healthy hedge version, which might just make it way worse in every imaginable way, as hedging usually does, but I think it's important for people to know that Angel of Invention exists.

Here's a Liliana's Mastery version:

This is probably my favorite version of the list. I like that Liliana's Mastery isn't held in Contempt of court, by which I mean it plays very well against Vraska's Contempt. As I mentioned earlier, Liliana's Mastery pumps embalmed creatures, which means that both the backsides of Anointer Priest and Sunscourge Champion come back bigger, which is a pretty nice interaction.

One interesting card in this list is The Immortal Sun. It costs six mana, which is a lot, but The Immortal Sun solves two birds with one Sun against some of the worst matchups for tokens, the various black-green decks. It pumps your squad, which helps immensely against Walking Ballista, and it also prevents planeswalker abilities from being activated, which means that Vraska cannot use her abilities. No matter when you play The Immortal Sun, whether Vraska is already in play or not, she gets locked down by The Immortal Sun.

This is also a flavor success, based on the Ixalan storyline. That is Magic literally as Richard Garfield intended it. That counts for something. Nay. I misspoke. Forgive me. It doesn't count for something. It counts for everything.

This version of the deck throws away a lot of game against aggressive strategies, but I do love being able to just slam Liliana's Mastery when your opponent is holding Essence Scatter or Vraska's Contempt. Flip side: this version is way more susceptible to Negate than traditional versions, as your five-drop can get Negated, something Regal Doesn't Caracal has managed to avoid its entire life.

The Deep End, Jumping Off It, and Me: A Brian Braun-Duin Story

I've played a lot of Tokens decks that have randomly had some copies of Servo Exhibition and/or Sram's Expertise in them, sometimes even enabling Herald of Anguish. I don't mean randomly in that I copied them from a list, more that I randomly throw those cards into my lists a lot of the time because I'm a wildcard and I can't be contained or stopped. Please send help. Please stop me. Save me from myself. This is my only moment of clarity in the past week, and I'm begging you to stop me from ruining my life by continuing to play Tokens with no regard to my health or sanity. Please, before it fades again and I fall victim once more... Please…

Please… Please, sir or madam, do you have a moment to stop and think about how great it is that Servo Exhibition can flip Legion's Landing on turn three? Can you spare a second to think about Sram's Expertise and how it can flip an entire game around on turn four? Sram's E. into a Sunscourge C. can make Mono R. lose their S. That's dirty. That's GG, if I had to wager a guess. Not an actual wager, because, of course, that will get you DQ'd. I meant more like a joke wager. Well, that will result in a DQ too, so let's just scratch this discussion completely and pretend this didn't happen. Turns out, pretending that it didn't happen is also a DQable offense. GG.

I started down this madman's path when I saw decks like Vampires taking advantage of the card Radiant Destiny, a card I think is freaking sweet. I was also thinking about how awesome it is when Angel of Invention pumps your entire team and you get to just hit your opponent for a surprise 14 damage they were not expecting. Those thoughts merged in my head and a new idea was born.

I call it All-In Servos. Just remember, to play this deck properly, you can't just be in. You have to be all-in. Oftentimes, the best play with this deck is to just imagine the most risky and aggressive line you can think of, and take it. All. In.

Servo Exhibition, Weaponcraft Enthusiast, Sram's Expertise, Master Trinketeer, Angel of Invention and Hidden Stockpile all make Servos. Radiant Destiny, Master Trinketeer, Angel of Invention and Shefet Holla Dunes all pump those Servos. It's a very simple strategy, but I've beaten some disgusting draws by just overpowering and running over my opponent. This is the first tokens deck where I was beating Black-Green Constrictor. Even without access to any ways to deal with their enchantments, I fairly convincingly went 3-0 with this list against other Tokens decks. This deck kills fast, and anthems are insane in the Tokens mirror.

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Always remember, it is better to serve than be servo'd.

This deck is lacking something. I'm not sure what, but it is missing something. Consistency, perhaps. However, this deck has some nut draws that regular Tokens decks cannot offer. There have been many games I've played where it looked like I was doing nothing and suddenly two turns in a row of Sram's Expertise into Radiant Destiny and my opponent was checking the flight manifest to find their destiny in some other game. They were just dead.

This deck can theoretically have Radiant Destiny with the city's blessing and five 2/2 Servos in play on turn three. Turn one Legion's Landing, turn two Servo Exhibition, turn three attack and flip Landing, cast Sram's Expertise putting in Radiant Destiny. Thank you for the games, best of luck in the next round.

To make room for all the synergy, some...cuts...had to be made. For one, I cut Fatal Push and nearly all of my Anointer Priests. That leaves me occasionally in awkward spots where I'm losing a race and can't catch back up. However, those cards were not performing well in this deck, where you need a critical mass of cards to work together to do something beautiful, and drawing a 1/3 that gains two points of life when what you really needed was something that makes Servos or pumps them is a problem.

Lastly, while Radiant Destiny is destined to name Servo in this deck, you can name other cards. I won a game this week where my opponent had a Sweltering Suns in hand that I saw from an explore creature, so I named Angel with two copies of Radiant Destiny and then played three Angel of Inventions, putting counters on the Angel each time. They were massive and they held off three Rekindling Phoenix and a Heart of Kiran. I later drew a thirrd Radiant Destiny, which of course, named Vampire, because why wouldn't it?

Stock Tokens Sideboard Guide

This is a guide to the very first list I posted, the stock tokens deck with Regal Caracals. It is for non-adventurous folks and also folks who want to win with tried and true versions of the deck instead of BBDified versions that may or may not be either great or horrifically bad, with no in-between.

Mono-Red Aggro:

+1 Baffling End
+2 Cast Out

-2 Arguel's Blood Fast
-1 Anointed Procession

R/G Aggro (Monsters)

+2 Cast Out
+1 Fumigate
+1 Ixalan's Binding
+1 Grind // Dust

-2 Arguel's Blood Fast
-2 Anointed Procession
-1 Legion's Landing

Grixis Energy

+1 Baffling End
+2 Cast Out
+1 Ixalan's Binding
+1 Profane Procession

-2 Fatal Push
-1 Legion's Landing
-1 Arguel's Blood Fast
-1 Sunscourge Champion

They can't beat Profane Procession unless they are way ahead already.

Blue-Black Control

+1 Arguel's Blood Fast
+2 Cast Out
+3 Duress
+1 Ixalan's Binding
+1 Profane Procession
+1 Lost Legacy

-4 Fatal Push
-1 Fumigate
-1 Legion's Landing
-2 Sunscourge Champion
-1 Anointer Priest

Another deck that simply cannot beat Profane Procession without something like River's Rebuke or Commit // Memory

Tokens Mirror

+1 Arguel's Blood Fast
+2 Cast Out
+3 Duress
+1 Fragmentize
+1 Ixalan's Binding
+2 Lost Legacy

-3 Anointer Priest
-2 Sunscourge Champion
-4 Fatal Push
-1 Fumigate

I think people board poorly in the mirror all the time. The only thing that matters is getting ahead on production of tokens per turn. Every card should enable that or shut them down from doing that. Anointer Priest doesn't do that, and it doesn't matter if your opponent gains 50 life per turn while you're stuck at 13 life. If you are producing double their token output every turn, you will eventually beat them. Likewise, sweepers like Fumigate and Settle the Wreckage don't matter. Rebuilding is easy, and again all that matters is being able to rebuild the best. Just don't let yourself lose to them casting Settle the Wreckage followed by attacking back for lethal.

Mardu Vehicles

+1 Baffling End
+2 Cast Out
+1 Fragmentize
+1 Grind // Dust
+1 Ixalan's Binding

-1 Profane Procession
-2 Arguel's Blood Fast
-2 Anointed Procession
-1 Hidden Stockpile

It may seem weird to side out Anointed Procession in this and other matchups, but when you're bringing in three more enchantments that cost four mana that are more important to immediately surviving, it makes sense.

Black-Green Constrictor

+1 Baffling End
+2 Cast Out
+1 Fumigate
+1 Ixalan's Binding
+1 Profane Procession
-2 Arguel's Blood Fast
-2 Anointer Priest
-2 Legion's Landing

Blue-Black Midrange

+1 Baffling End
+2 Cast Out
+1 Arguel's Blood Fast
+1 Grind // Dust
+1 Profane Procession
+2 Lost Legacy
+1 Ixalan's Binding

-2 Sunscourge Champion
-4 Fatal Push
-1 Fumigate
-2 Legion's Landing
-1 Anointer Priest

Cast Lost Legacy on The Scarab God and then play defense and try to beat them with card advantage. Duress isn't that great against them, because the power of their deck is in creatures. Gonti is extremely annoying and very good against Tokens, especially if they hit Ixalan's Binding. Cast Out can be very important to save for this reason.

White-Blue Approach

+1 Arguel's Blood Fast
+2 Cast Out
+3 Duress
+1 Fragmentize
+3 Lost Legacy

-1 Profane Procession
-4 Fatal Push
-1 Fumigate
-2 Ixalan's Binding
-2 Anointer Priest

Unfortunately, I won't be playing Tokens this weekend at Grand Prix Memphis unless I figure out a better list. While I've been winning more than losing, I haven't been winning at a high enough rate to play it at the GP, which is unfortunate, as it is my favorite deck in the format. With that said, the deck is still a very solid tier two option, and I will be working my Hidden Stockpile off to make Tokens tier one again. We haven't perfected the archetype yet, and I have all the time in the world to wait until we do.

- Brian Braun-Duin