Hello TCGplayer readers! I haven't built a Standard deck in a while, and with a new set coming out in just under five weeks, I wasn't sure if it was even worth it to build something new. It seems like the current Standard has been fully explored, but after thinking about all of the decks I had built in this format for FFL, I realized that there was an interaction that no one has really looked at yet.
One of the stronger decks that I have played with and against was Naya Tokens. This deck made use of all of the token-producers in the format, specifically Planeswalkers. It also utilized the powerful interaction between Oath of Gideon (which conveniently is a token producer) and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. With Oath of Gideon on the battlefield, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar will come into play with an additional counter, meaning that it can create an emblem and stick around. It's almost like these cards were made for each other!
Oath of Gideon works great with any Planeswalker, not just Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Chandra, Flamecaller will enter with five loyalty, giving you the option to deal five damage to all creatures. This can be pretty relevant if you're trying to destroy something like Reality Smasher or a leveled-up Sylvan Advocate. Arlinn Kord is another Planeswalker than benefits from an additional loyalty (what Planeswalker doesn't?). The dream is to get to six loyalty so she can go ultimate, so starting with an additional loyalty is huge.
The point of this deck is to play a bunch of resilient Planeswalkers and protect them with tokens. When most of your Planeswalkers create tokens, this is pretty easy to do. The interesting thing about a strategy like this is that there will be times where you will have more than one Planeswalker in play and some tokens. Your opponent will be in a tough spot if they have to both a) choose which Planeswalker to attack and b) be forced to make a bad trade with your tokens to get one off the board. No matter which Planeswalker they decide to kill, they will still have another to deal with and be down creatures.
Here's the decklist and an explanation of card choices:
The strongest early play in the deck is Sylvan Advocate. Sylvan Advocate is simply the most powerful green two-drop creature in Standard. If you're playing green, you have to play four Sylvan Advocate. As a two-drop, you can't beat the rate. It's a 2/3, larger than most other two drops we have access to, and it both attacks and blocks in the same turn cycle.
In the late game, Sylvan Advocate becomes a huge threat. Most two-drops are outclassed by the late game, but Sylvan Advocate is an exception. It's not only great on his own, but it also makes Needle Spires swing for eight. Five toughness is large enough to block a Thought-Knot Seer and survive Languish and a Chandra, Flamecaller -4.
Our other early creature is Hangarback Walker. We've been casting this in Standard for a while now, so there's no doubt that it's good. Hangarback Walker's really great in a deck like this that plays two Glorious Anthem effects in Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Hangarback Walker must be either exiled or dealt with quickly or else its tokens will take over a game. With Chandra, Flamecaller, the deck can set up set up a -X and then profit with a bunch of Thopter Tokens.
The deck doesn't have many slots for removal, but it needs some, and Declaration in Stone is the best option there is. One of the problems that I was facing was Eldrazi, specifically Thought-Knot Seer and Reality Smasher. Declaration in Stone does a great job of taking care of those guys. It's incredibly versatile and cheap, so it makes sense.
Our three-drop creature is Nissa, Vastwood Seer. Nissa's role is to find a land (this deck is very mana-hungry), and then block and trade with something. There will be times where you will be able to transform her late in the game but the real reason she's here is to have things to do before turn four.
Nissa Vastwood Seer could be Tireless Tracker, and maybe it's correct to play it. However, with a mana intensive deck like this one, finding the time to crack clues is tough, especially on turns five through eight. Our plays are usually going to be turn-four Planeswalker, turn-five Planeswalker with one mana remaining, and turn six Chandra, Flamecaller. This is provided you hit all your land drops. I like Nissa, Vastwood Seer better for this reason. Additionally, getting to six lands is really important, and Nissa, Vastwood Seer helps with that.
Our other non-Planeswalker cards are the Oaths. Four Oath of Nissa does a lot here whether it's find the land we need or find a threat. The second ability is also very useful In our three-color deck sometimes we may be missing our second white for Gideon or our second red for Chandra, Flamecaller. If a player can win a Grand Prix using Oath of Nissa as the only red source for Chandra, Flamecaller, you know it's strong enough to work. Thanks Raphael Levy!
Oath of Gideon is the reason to add the third color to the deck. Without it, we may as well play W/G Tokens, a deck that has already proven to be strong. The reason to play Oath of Gideon is twofold. First it amplifies our Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. With Gideon, Ally of Zendikar becoming stronger that makes the red token-producing Planeswalkers in Arlinn Kord and Chandra, Flamecaller stronger as well. We'll not only get an extra loyalty on them when they enter the battlefield but we'll also have stronger tokens due to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar's ultimate.
The deck is built around Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Nissa, Voice of Zendikar. We already know both of these guys work great together; they won Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad. This deck in particular produces a crazy amount of tokens, so these Planeswalkers really shine here.
Arlinn Kord is a card that has not really seen much play since Shadows over Innistrad's release. Arlinn Kord didn't really have a home. She's best in a heavy creature deck but that deck does not really exist in red/green. If you want to play the best Arlinn Kord deck, you have to play a third color, and white makes the most sense due to the high number of tokens it can produce.
Arlinn Kord is great in this deck, Usually she will just come out and make a wolf right away, but the following turn her +1 could threaten lethal. If the +1 is not doing much, her -1 is literally Lightning Bolt! Three damage can kill many things including your opponent!
The last of our Planeswalkers is Chandra, Flamecaller. In our removal-light deck, we'll be using her -X quite a lot. We're also likely to have Oath of Gideon in play, enabling us to kill bigger things. The mode we'll use most, however, is her +1. One potential scenario involves having a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar emblem already, making tokens, using Nissa, Voice of Zendikar's -2, and attacking for ten.
Next, we get to the manabase. Three-color decks are really hard to build mana bases for, especially right now. The options available to us make our deck a bit on the slow side. Four copies of Evolving Wilds are our most important lands, as they ensure us that we will have all of our colors.
Our other lands that enter the battlefield tapped are three Needle Spires. I would really like to play a fourth copy, especially because we are playing four Sylvan Advocate, but having that extra land that comes into play tapped can really cost us. Our deck is built to get going on turn four. If we miss our land drop or our fourth land is Evolving Wilds or Needle Spires, we will fall really far behind. Evolving Wilds is the more important enters-the-battlefield tapped land, so that one is our four-of.
Canopy Vista is our "sometimes enters-the-battlefield tapped" land. We have a pretty high basic land count, especially because we can count Evolving Wilds as a basic, so it should enter untapped a lot. Of course there are scenarios where we draw too many Canopy Vistas and Needle Spires, but that shouldn't happen very often and Canopy Vista is one of our best mana fixers.
Next up is our two Battlefield Forges, two Westvale Abbeys, and ten basics. These lands are really important for us because as they enter untapped always. When playing a deck like this, land drop sequencing is important. You really have to consider when you will need your untapped land and must play accordingly. This deck can be slow to get off the ground, so a incorrectly played land can really cost you a game.
Archangel Avacyn is amazing, and maybe should be main. However, this is not W/G Tokens, it's Naya Tokens built around Planeswalkers, so we can't really fit Archangel Avacyn in here. It is just an all-around good card that we can use to save things from removal or make a surprise blocker to protect our Planeswalkers. We should side this in against midrange decks.
Another great card against midrange, but also necessary for the Mono White Aggro matchup, which can be quite bad for us. This is the removal spell we need to survive the early game against aggro.
The tokens mirror can be brutal, and Tragic Arrogance helps keep everything in check. You can set up scenarios where you benefit from this spell way more than your opponent, and it has great synergy with Hangarback Walker.
Clip Wings. We don't want to get randomly hosed by Archangel Avacyn or Ormendahl, Profane Prince. Sometimes this card will just sit in your hand and do nothing, so we're only playing one copy.
Naya Tokens has a lot of resilience against control decks. However, there will be times where you will run out of gas. That's where Den Protector comes in. Returning a Planeswalker to your hand after it's been countered or killed by an Esper deck can be devastating for them. Den Protector is also a reasonable threat as well.
The fourth copy comes in in the matchups where we need all the removal we can get.
Lambholt Pacifist. I've found this card to be great in a lot of matchups, but it's here primarily for aggro matchups. Having extra two-drops that shut down one-mana 2/1s helps a lot.
Naya Tokens is a fun deck to take to a tournament. It's really similar to W/G Tokens. W/G Tokens is more consistent, due to a better mana base, and if you are looking to win a tournament, you should probably play that. However, if you want to do powerful and fun things with Oath of Gideon and Planeswalkers, or just want to play Arlinn Kord, Naya Tokens is a great deck. Thanks for reading!
Until next time,
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