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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Oct 01 2012 9:57am
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Hello!

Welcome to the latest edition of Becoming A Modern Man and the first that I have written for a while.  I have been on vacation and just started a rather intensive training course so I am not sure how frequently I will be able to make this series anymore.  However, I have a few articles that I had planned to write before I went on holiday and I hope to release those at least.  This week I will be looking at the WB Tokens deck which I've actually managed to play quite a bit, though with slightly mixed results.  The deck uses the best token generators in the format and combines them with anthem enchantments, hand disruption and removal spells.  Anyway let's start by looking at a few decklists:

So this deck was largely popularised by Jun'ichi Miyajima's GP Yokohama winning decklist.  The deck was something of a surprise winner in that tournament but since has become a mainstay in the format.

The deck I based my build on was a list that went 4-0 in a Modern Daily a while back by NBKenshin:


So that's the list I based my deck on but I decided to make a few tweaks having played around with it.  I wasn't a fan of having no creatures in the deck, particularly when you consider how powerful Hero of Bladehold can be.  I also wasn't a fan of the Brave the Elements as I never felt like the card did enough to warrant its inclusion.  Now let's take a look at the list I will am currently playing:

I've been trying out a number of brews and this list is somewhat experimental.  However, it is nice to try out different cards to see how they work.

DECK TECH

Hand Disruption

Tidehollow Sculler
Tidehollow Sculler
As a player who started playing during Torment, this card always reminds me of Mesmeric Fiend.  Sculler was not a card I initially had in my list but I've been experimenting with it and have been fairly happy with its performance.  Sculler is a very powerful hand-disruption tool and one that can get aggressive when the time calls for it.

Inquisition of Kozilek
Inquisition of Kozilek
Access to hand disruption is one of the big advantages of running black mana.  Thoughtseize is generally the preferred option if you have them but at over 10 tix a piece I decided to go for the cheaper alternative.

Token Producers

Hero of Bladehold
Hero of Bladehold
You don't have to set your mind too far back to the time when this card was dominating Standard.  Although Hero doesn't immediately impact the board, if left undisturbed it will very quickly turn the match in your favour with little to no assistance necessary.  It can't get you out of every situation but the +1/+0 bonus from Battlecry and the addition of two additional tokens every turn is awesome.  Even more so when you have Intangible Virtue and those Soldier tokens you are producing are 2/2s which have vigilance on your following turns.

Beckon Apparition
Beckon Apparition
Beckon Apparition is a card that isn't necessarily played in this deck.  I quite like it but it's not too exciting.  It can be very useful against decks that are getting some sort of advantage out of cards being in their graveyard.  It can weaken a Tarmogoyf, remove a Lingering Souls or take a spell in response to a Snapcaster Mage being played.  A token producer with utility, quite good but not an essential pick for this deck.

Spectral Procession
Spectral Procession
One of the best token producers of all time.  Three flying 1/1s for 3 mana is just such a great deal and it also has awesome synergy with Windbrisk Heights in the manabase.  The only real restriction on Spectral Procession is the requirement of 3 white mana.  This isn't usually a problem but it does occur occasionally, especially thanks to the inclusion of Ghost Quarter in my manabase.

Lingering Souls
Lingering Souls
Another one of the best token producers of all time, though this one has been around for a much shorter period.  Lingering Souls provides you with a lot of value and the fact that it has flashback means you won't feel too bad if your opponent sweeps your board after you play it.  An extremely versatile and powerful card.

Raise the Alarm
Raise the Alarm
Raise the Alarm isn't the most exciting of token producers but being instant speed means it can do things that the other tokens producers can't.  Most players do not play around Raise and so you often get in some surprise blocks and trades that your opponent never intended to make.  That's not to mention that two 1/1s for two mana is pretty good, especially if you happen to have anthem effect.

Anthem Effects

Intangible Virtue
Intangible Virtue
I'm not sure what the correct ratio of Intangible Virtue to Honor of the Pure but in my deck I have 4 Virtue and 1 Honor.  It is debatable which is the better anthem in the deck.  However, as my list runs very few creatures I prefer to run more Virtues which have the significant advantage of giving my tokens vigilance.  Being able to attack and also stay back on the defence is something that is very valuable and not to be underestimated.

Honor of the Pure
Honor of the Pure
Honor of the Pure has the advantage of pumping all your creatures rather than just the tokens.  If you are running a more creature heavy version of this deck then I would definitely suggest switching the numbers here.

Removal

Path to Exile
Path to Exile
Path is probably my favourite removal spell in the Modern format.  So cheap and so powerful it's hard to beat.

Zealous Persecution
Zealous Persecution
Although I'm not fully sold on Zealous Persecution being amazing in this deck, it does have its moments.  There are a ton of 1 toughness creatures hanging around in Modern and being able to wide your opponents board whilst also buffing your own creatures is great.  Though I often find myself playing it like a Nausea it can also be a wicked combat trick.

Miscellaneous

Worship
Worship
I am running a 1-of Worship in my main deck.  Most usually leave Worship in the sideboard but I like running 1 in the main as sometimes it just lets you win games you had no business winning.  Being a token deck it is very difficult for your opponent to get rid of all your creatures and some decks, such as the Soul Sisters/Martyr Proc decks or the mirror match, simply cannot remove all your creatures.  Also, very few decks actually run answers to Worship, especially not main deck which is often when it is at its most powerful.  It isn't always amazing but as you'll see in the gameplay videos sometimes Worship steals games.

Manabase

Godless ShrineIsolated Chapel
Godless Shrine/Isolated Chapel
These are the BW dual lands in the deck, which fortunately work excellently together.  I am only running 1 Godless Shrine for budget reasons, I'm not sure what the best number to run is but at least two would be preferable I imagine.  The deck still work fine only running one though.

Ghost Quarter
Ghost Quarter
Ghost Quarter perhaps isn't as necessary as it was when Tron was the most prominent deck in the format.  I can see reducing the number of Ghost Quarters in the manabase as they can occasionally make for awkward mana.  However, they are useful against a number of other irritating lands including opposing Windbrisk Heights, Blinkmoth Nexus, Inkmoth Nexus etc.

Windbrisk Heights
Windbrisk Heights
A free spell when you attack with 3 or more creatures in a turn, yes please.  As I've already mentioned this card has awesome synergy with Spectral Procession which provides you all you need in one spell.  Regardless putting three creatures onto the battlefield is very easy for this deck and so it is very easy to get a free spell off Windbrisk Heights.

Arid MesaMarsh Flats
Arid Mesa/Marsh Flats
Fetchlands help you find your Godless Shrines and help thin your deck.  There's not much more to it than that.

Sideboard
There are a lot of strong sideboard options for this deck and what you choose to play will depend on the metagame you are facing.  My current sideboard might be a little out of date as I feel there has been a shift in the decks that are popular.  Anyhow, here is how it looks:

Duress
Duress
Additionally hand disruption to take on decks heavily based around spells.  Particularly useful against combo decks but also good in other matchups.

Suppression Field
Suppression Field
Suppression Field is an interesting card as it has a lot of applications.  It can be good against decks that run a lot of fetchlands as it causes your opponent to pay 2 mana to crack their fetch, which is definitely awkward.  Suppression Field is also good against Planeswalkers, Birthing Pod, Swords and the Splinter Twin combo amongst other things.  The Kiki-Jiki/Restoration Angel combo doesn't seem to be as popular as it once was and Planeswalkers aren't all that prevalent in Modern at the moment.  Perhaps another card that I would consider changing.
 
Nihil Spellbomb
Nihil Spellbomb
Nihil Spellbomb is a card I would contemplate changing.  It doesn't seem that decks are trying to do degenerate things with their graveyards as much as they used to be.  However, this is still a strong sideboard card against Storm decks and decks that use cards like Lingering Souls and Snapcaster Mage.  The fact that we are running black mana and can cantrip off the spellbomb is pretty awesome too.

Go for the Throat
Go for the Throat
As I have mentioned, there is a lack of main deck removal.  Go for the Throat can come into help fill in those gaps against particularly aggressive decks or decks that have threats that need to be dealt with quickly.

Disenchant
Disenchant
Disenchant is a simple card but one that is useful in a wide variety of situations.  There are a lot of irritating artifacts in the format, e.g. Vedalken Shackles, Birthing Pod, and also some problematic enchantments, particularly in the mirror match.  Disenchant is a problem solver for a wide variety of problems. 

Worship
Worship
Another copy of Worship to bring in against that decks that are very unlikely to be able to deal with it.

Kor Firewalker
Kor Firewalker
I found myself struggling against red decks that can burn you out before your tokens really get going.  Firewalker helps a lot against red decks and makes it a lot more difficult to burn you out.

COST
WB Tokens is not a very cheap deck but it's still considerable cheaper than a good number of deck in the format.  Modern prices have been rising generally, though I think we are seeing a decrease in the cost of the Ravnica duals, so the prices are probably not at their best either.  The lands for the deck are particularly expensive, with a playset of Windbrisk Heights and Isolated Chapel being about as expensive as the usual fetchlands.  The rest of the deck is a little more reasonable in terms of price though there might be some surprises.  A playset of Spectral Procession will set you back about 7 tix which is pretty hefty for an uncommon.  

Main Deck
4 x Arid Mesa= 28.00
4 x Windbrisk Heights= 18.32
4 x Marsh Flats= 17.48
4 x Isolated Chapel= 13.96
4 x Path to Exile= 11.68
2 x Hero of Bladehold= 9.62
4 x Spectral Procession= 6.76
1 x Godless Shrine= 5.91
4 x Lingering Souls= 2.00
4 x Inquisition of Kozilek= 1.00
4 x Intangible Virtue= 0.56
3 x Tidehollow Sculler= 0.48
1 x Honor of the Pure= 0.46
2 x Zealous Persecution= 0.40
4 x Raise the Alarm= 0.32
3 x Ghost Quarter= 0.24
3 x Beckon Apparition= 0.24
1 x Worship= 0.11
Total: 117.54 tix

Sideboard
3 x Suppression Field= 0.75
2 x Go for the Throat= 0.50
2 x Nihil Spellbomb= 0.16
2 x Kor Firewalker= 0.16
1 x Worship= 0.11
3 x Duress= 0.06
2 x Disenchant= 0.04
Total: 1.78 tix

Overall cost: 119.32 tix

GAMEPLAY


The first matchup I am bringing you is against RUG Delver, a very popular and powerful deck.  I have to say I doubt that this matchup is reflective of how this match will go every time you play.  RUG Delver is a very difficult deck to play against as it has so many answers and cheap powerful threats.  However, here things went pretty well for me and I managed to pull out a rather nice victory.


The second matchup I have for you is against Affinity.  Affinity is a fast and aggressive deck and you will want to try and slow the bleeding as fast as possible.  The deck isn't badly positioned against Affinity as you can generate a lot of creatures very quickly to slow their quick starts.  The main problem is evasive creatures like Etched Champion, which will break through your defences, and the lack of removal within the deck.


The third and final matchup I have for you is against Merfolk.  I'm not sure whether I would consider this match favourable or not.  You both have the ability to make a lot of creatures but there creatures tend to be bigger in size and yours bigger in number.  The fact that they have countermagic is very significant.  As you largely run spells that make creatures, rather than creature spells, they get more use out of cards like Spell Pierce and Dispel etc.  However, it is possible to play around countermagic and Lingering Souls helps to combat the effectiveness of countermagic.  Game 1 of this match was really tight but I just managed to eke out the win thanks in part to a well-timed Hero of Bladehold play.  Game 2 was less close as my opponent did not draw well and I was able to overwhelm the board with tokens.

CONCLUSION
WB Tokens is a powerful deck within the format but not without its weaknesses.  The lack of removal in the deck is a real weakness and one that can come back to bite you at times.  Also, as with all token decks you have a weakness to sweepers and mass removal.  Fortunately there is some amount of versatility within the deck, thanks to cards like Lingering Souls, however sweepers are still bad news.  I have mixed success with the builds I've tried and my win ratio with the deck probably isn't that great.  Regardless, I've really enjoyed playing the deck and it's one that is quite easy to get comfortable with.  The interactions are fairly easy to understand and there isn't too much complex going on.  I would certainly recommend giving this deck a try if you have the opportunity.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the article.  If you have any comments or thoughts about the article please leave a comment.  I'm not sure when I will be able to complete my next article but I plan to cover the Soul Sisters deck.

Thanks again,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)