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By: Procrastination, Christopher Giovannagelo
Oct 04 2013 12:59pm
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Welcome back to The Modern Perspective! While we wait the last few days for Theros block to arrive, I found myself perusing decklists of Modern days past to see which decks we haven't seen in a while.

Although it appeared as recently as the World Championships, B/W Tokens has become almost non-existent in the current meta. While you often see plenty of the budget friendly Mono-White Soul Sisters decks online, the extra nudge towards Black seems to be unpopular? Is it the cost of Marsh Flats that keeps players at bay? Or is the perception that if you don't include Thoughtseize that it's just not worth building? Or could it really be that the deck just doesn't have a place in the meta?

Since B/W is one of my favorite color combinations in the game, I was interested in checking out B/W Tokens to see what it was capable of. I don't own a playset of Thoughtseize yet, (can we please start mass drafting Theros already?!) so I looked for other cards that could fill those slots. With my love of obscure cards, it was obvious I wasn't going to pick something...obvious. It was in Kamigawa block that I found a card worth trying.

Part I. B/W Shining Tokens
Part II. The Modern Land Prices

Part I. B/W Shining Tokens

 

The New Additions

Shining Shoal

Shining Shoal - Once upon a time, back when this card was developed, Shoal was viewed as "extremely powerful" and "the card that will put White back on the map", or some other such hyperbole. Shoal did wind up seeing Standard use as a sideboard card to fight against Pyroclasm/Wildfire and some Gruul Aggro.

Currently in Modern, Lightning Bolt, Electrolyze, Pyroclasm and other damage based removal is very popular. Being able to toss back that damage can be a game swinging effect. While pitching the card is painful, if it lets you keep several tokens on the board, the tempo gain can end the game before your opponent can recover.

With Spectral Procession and a host of various other three and four casting cost cards, few other decks can take advantage of Shining Shoal the way this deck can.

Can it make an impact in Modern? I certainly want to give it a try.

Angel of Jubilation Angel of Jubilation - The Angel might be an even greater experiment than Shining Shoal. She is both a Glorious Anthem effect and a way to hate on Pod decks. As an added bonus, she hates on late game Fetches (other decks use more Fetches than this one), Sakura-Tribe Elder, all Phyrexian Mana spells (not normally cast) and Martyr of Sands.
Runechanter's Pike

Runechanter's Pike - I wanted something that could make Auriok Champion a legitimate threat. Since most of our deck is Sorcery and Instant cards, it seemed like it was worth a try. An extra 3-5 damage isn't unlikely and even equipped to a single flyer it can help finish out the game.

The 'Swords of X and Y' all have effects that can be better, but I liked that this could be cast and equipped in the same turn for 4 mana. This deck usually hits 4 mana; 5 isn't as reliable.

The Token Makers

Raise the Alarm Raise the Alarm - 2 tokens at Instant speed isn't that bad of a deal. Having even a tiny chance at tricks is better than none. Great post-sweeper or if somebody carelessly swings Dark Confidant or Melira into an open board.
Lingering Souls Lingering Souls - A card that has made a much larger splash in multiple Constructed formats than people originally expected it to. The flash back is great for playing around board sweeps or helping use your mana each turn. It's also an easy "soft solution" to discard in general.
Spectral Procession Spectral Procession - Another unassuming card. Three 1/1 flyers is pretty nice out of 1 card. Since the converted mana cost on this is considered 6, it's also amazing to pitch to a Shining Shoal. This plus a Shoal completely nullifies a Pyroclasm against 3 tokens. If the tokens happen to be pumped up, then you get to save a lot of them at once and proceed to swing for chunks of damage.

The Non-Token Creatures

Auriok Champion Auriok Champion - Protection from 2/5 of the color pie is good. Gaining life as you drop down creatures is also pretty good. A 1/1 for 2 mana, not as good. Still, the Champion needed some kind of draw back, otherwise she'd just be totally amazing. She is pumped by Honor the Pure, Angel of Jubilation and if you have a enough cards in the yard, a Pike can make her beastly. Her life gaining also throws off the Deceiver Exarch Kiki-Twin combo, but sadly not any of the other "infinite damage" creature based combos.
Tidehollow Sculler Tidehollow Sculler - The living Castigate, Sculler fills in as more hand disruption that can also occasionally swing for 2. Simply removing the Sculler gets the card back, but sometimes they have to waste removal on the Sculler instead of a more desirable target, such as an Angel. Sometimes they can get the card back, but by the time they do it is too late.

The Other Spells

Honor of the Pure

Honor of the Pure - The best Crusade variant ever? It's likely. Not only does it pump only YOUR white creatures, it takes 1W to cast. Since every creature in the deck is white, this helps boost your non-tokens as well.

Most decks will run some mix of Intangible Virtue and Honor, but with the inclusion of the Angel, I felt that layering the mass buffs was a new way to try building the deck.

Zealous Persecution

Zealous Persecution - A pump spell that also removes x/1 creatures for the low cost of WB. Persecution is very meta reliant; if you aren't seeing a lot of x/1 creatures, then it's just a one-shot Anthem effect. If you have a meta full of Soul Sisters or even Young Pyromancer/Delver of Secrets decks, then hey, this is gaining a ton of value. If you are overrun with Tron, then at least it gives you a chance to swing harder?

At one time, Persecution appeared to be one of the best reasons to run this deck. Now it has to work to earn the spot.

Inquisition of Kozilek Inquisition of Kozilek - I don't have Thoughtseize yet Online so the ever popular stand in is here to cover as best it can. There are matchups, such as Burn or Affinity, where Inquisition is the better card. That 2 life really matters in some match ups. Other times, such as U/W/x Control or Tron, if you don't cast this T1, you'll never see anything else worth grabbing ever again.
Path to Exile Path to Exile - Extremely powerful Instant speed removal. Yes, sometimes ramping your opponent's mana for them is painful, but if you don't have a choice, then that is what you have to do.

 

Lands

Marsh Flats Marsh Flats - While I don't want to use too many Fetches with Angel of Jubilation in the deck, I still want to have some way to fix for some of the harsher color requirements.
Tectonic Edge Tectonic Edge - Land on Land hate is very important in Modern. The Edge still seems to be the "hater" of choice since it eliminates the Non-Basic without providing a replacement. While there are a lot of heavy White costs to some of the cards, I feel like I can get by with a few colorless lands.
Vault of the Archangel Vault of the Archangel - Sometimes Lifelink on 4+ 2/2 creatures just wins you games. Other times you really need a 1/1 with Deathtouch to remove a Tarmogoyf. Should I be running more than 1 of this land? Hard to say. As mentioned above, I won't see 5 mana every game, so adding more colorless lands is probably a bad idea.
Caves of Koilos Caves of Koilos - Gasp, a Pain Land! In enemy color pairings, sometimes you have no choice but to reach all of the way back to the 2nd Generation Dual Lands. First and Second turn color costs matter a lot for this deck, plays like T1 Discard, T2 Auriok Champion, T3 Spectral are crucial and you'll need the extra few lands that can tap for B/W to pull them off.
Godless Shrine Godless Shrine  - The best B/W producing land in the format. There is no reason not to run the full playset. Being fetchable goes a long way to fixing the mana in the deck.
Isolated Chapel Isolated Chapel - The next best BW land in the format. Approximately 11 lands count as a Plains, so usually this will come into play untapped.

The Sideboard

Duress Duress - More discard to help in many match ups. Hitting Planeswalkers and the good artifacts running around in the format is a huge boon. Will probably be another Thoughtseize once I have them.
Dismember Dismember - Some extra removal to supplement the Paths. There are enough Black producing lands that it can actually be cast without paying life.
Sin_Collector.jpg Sin Collector - Even more discards! The Collector can swing for damage and in a format rife with Snapcaster Mage, the Exiling of the spell can be crucial.
Rest in Peace Rest in Peace - One of the most powerful graveyard hating cards in the Format. I'm always surprised it doesn't see more play. Obviously if I am bringing them in, the Pike and some number of Lingering Souls will come out.
Grafdigger's Cage Grafdigger's Cage - I wanted more graveyard hate and wanted to give the cage a try. Relic of Progenitus is probably better, but this does stop a lot of the same shenanigans in a different way.
Rootborn Defenses Rootborn Defenses - Another new card that I'm trying out. Keeping all of your creatures alive through a sweeper is a great tempo play. Sometimes you'll also get another creature out of it as well.
Stony Silence Stony Silence - Extreme hate againt Affinity. It's one of the few cards that gives you any chance what-so-ever against Tron.
Aven Mindcensor Aven Mindcensor - Anti-Tron, Anti-Pod, Anti-Fetch. Some birds are just born to hate. Having an extra instant speed flyer isn't bad, especially when you have out a beefed up Pike.
Burrenton Forge-Tender Burrenton Forge-Tender - Anti-Red card extraordinaire. The Forge Tender, much like the Champion, can grab some small boosts here and there and still get in for damage. Plus, she can help save your team from a Pyroclasm. There's no 'I' in Forge Tender....really, there isn't one.

The Test Matches
With my new choices in tow, I hop into the Tournament Practice Room to see how my deck fares.

Match 1 - versus - Soul Sisters  Ajani's Pridemate  Soul Warden  Honor of the Pure
Game 1 I mull to 5 and there is a huge amount of lag between every choice my opponent makes. The opponent drops a pair of Ajani's Pridemate and a Procession. I eventually get both White and Black mana and I am able to use a Persecution in response to their Honor of the Pure. I cast a Tidehollow to stay in the game, but eventually a Soul Warden survives and starts making the Pridemates too large for me to handle.

My opponent then conceded the match to me. Guess they didn't want to test against B/W Tokens?

Match 2 - versus - Jund  Deathrite Shaman  Scavenging Ooze  Tarmogoyf
Deathrite into Scavenging Ooze starts to eat away at my life total. My land drops end up being 1 Godless Shrine, 2 Tectonic Edge and the Vault so I can't cast most of the cards in my hand. Eventually I lose to the sheer power of Deathrite.

Game 2 I get off to a much better start with an Inquisition to grab Liliana of the Veil. I get a T2 and a T3 Auriok Champion and I have 3 token makers. I'm facing down a 3/4 Goyf, but I'm confident that the life gain will pull me through. Then MTGO crashes. Sigh.

Match 3 - versus - R/B Discard  Shrieking Affliction  Wrench Mind  The Rack
Game 1 my opponent is stuck on 2 mana so and very slowly causes me to discard. I get down a Tidehollow and start beating. I could hold cards or apply pressure, so I just flood the board with tokens before The Rack kills me.

Game 2 I get hit with a 1st turn Inquisition and my opponent actually chooses a Lingering Souls over several other cards? I just cast it on T2 and hold onto everything else. Most of my other cards are stripped from my hand, but those 2 Spirit tokens do 14 points of damage before an Angel swoops in for back up to close out the game.

Match 4 - versus - Esper Control  Esper Charm  Snapcaster Mage  Batterskull
You'd think that a deck that can create multiple creatures per a card would be alright against a control deck? Well, this Esper deck had other plans. Main deck Esper Charm made me discard often and Supreme Verdict doesn't care how many creatures you have out. I got the opponent down to 6 life, but then Batterskull showed up to slow me down. I managed to pitch for Shoal and "slow down" the BS a turn, but then a Sphinx's Revelation reversed all of my other hard work and a fist full of counters ended my attempts to turn the tables.

Game 2 I got hit with 3 Esper Charm over a spread of 4 turns. Even with a strong start I ran out of options too quickly. I cast a Sin Collector after a 2 card Revelation to see Cryptic, Cryptic, Snapcaster. A lonely 2/1 wasn't getting me much further.

Man, Esper Charm isn't too shabby after all.

Match 5 - versus - RUG Tron  Wurmcoil Engine  Oblivion Stone  Through the Breach
I wasn't very happy to be facing Tron after that Esper beating. I put up a valiant fight, but a Pyroclasm hit without a Shoal in sight and then eventually a Slaver lock was formed.

I side in all of the hate I can muster and hope it helps. I open on a handful of discard and I proceed to grab Expedition Map so my opponent can only slow roll their hand. In the mean time, I get more discard in with Tidehollow and continue to beat down. I get lucky as I keep grabbing Pyroclasm before my opponent has the Red mana to cast it. Eventually I get a few Spirits for some extra muscle and win.

Game 3 My opening 7 has 2 lands and Stony Silence so I keep. My opponent does get to Map in response, but doesn't have all of the pieces of the Tron. Discard shows me that they have 2 Emrakul and a Through the Breach in hand so I keep my Path to Exile mana open and keep swinging for little bits here and there. My opponent casts some useless artifacts, but never gets to even cast a Breach before conceding.

I can't believe I beat Tron!

Match 6 - versus - Esper Control  Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite  Gifts Ungiven  Damnation
Are people just that intrigued by Esper? Has somebody discovered the Anti-Jund build of it? Even so, this build is different from my previous opponent. There is no Esper Charm, but instead finishers such as Sun Titan and a Gifts Ungiven package with Elesh Norn. I get controlled with all the flavors of Wrath possible (Gifts for 1 of each, I choose uhm, those 2?) and eventually Elesh Norn from Unburial Rites closes out my game.

I side in most of the Graveyard hate thinking that I might be able to pull off a win by making sure they can't take advantage of the 'yard. I slam down an early Rest in Peace and it does make a difference. Backed up with some discard I feel hope surge. My opponent starts going through all of their high mana finishers and I Path the ones that don't just get discarded/exile out of Gifts piles. With my opponent down to 21 cards, I'm wondering if I might have it. Then an Engineered Explosives on 2 counters that has been out for about 10 turns blows up my 2cc Enchantments. Next turn, Gifts into Norn/Rites shows up again and I'm finished.

Afterthoughts
I'd say a 2-4 record isn't a good sign. Even with 3 copies of Shining Shoal in the deck I didn't get to see it in action very often. It wasn't particularly good against those Esper lists I kept running into either or the destroy effects in Jund, so I was siding it out a lot. I wouldn't say I've given up on the card, but it might wind up going into the SB

My main complaint with the deck is that the current build is SLOW. I don't start to pick up speed until T3 or T4. I can't quite out mid-range the mid-range decks and I certainly can't beat the control decks once they get going. This build can do alright against aggro and swarm decks, but there aren't as many of those running around on MTGO as you'd think.

To improve the speed, I'd turn to the 1-mana wonder that is Deathrite Shaman. I'd cut the Pike and the Shoals to make room for Deathrite. That way I can turn my token makers into "burn spells" and ramp into the 3 drop spells that give the deck some power.

The most successful part of the deck seemed to be the discard, so I'd probably increase the amount/up the power with Thoughtseize.

It's still hard to say if the meta is just in a bad place for B/W Tokens or that the optimal build for it has to be re-discovered? If there are any other fans of the deck out there, I'd love to hear what you have to say about it in the Comments! 

Part II. The Modern Land Prices
All prices are from MTGOtraders.com. For the Core Set lands, be sure to check all versions (M10-M13) for the best available prices!

Card Name SET 25SEP2013 02OCT2013 Change %
Blood Crypt RTR 3.74 3.78 0.04 1%
Hallowed Fountain RTR 3.88 3.93 0.05 1%
Overgrown Tomb RTR 4.09 3.71 -0.38 -9%
Steam Vents RTR 3.97 3.68 -0.29 -7%
Temple Garden RTR 4.11 3.98 -0.13 -3%
Breeding Pool GTC 3.97 3.78 -0.19 -5%
Godless Shrine GTC 4.55 4.16 -0.39 -9%
Sacred Foundry GTC 4.50 4.23 -0.27 -6%
Stomping Ground GTC 4.71 4.39 -0.32 -7%
Watery Grave GTC 4.29 4.56 0.27 6%
Blackcleave Cliffs SOM 2.94 1.65 -1.29 -44%
Copperline Gorge SOM 2.20 1.68 -0.52 -24%
Darkslick Shores SOM 1.39 0.99 -0.40 -29%
Razorverge Thicket SOM 2.32 1.09 -1.23 -53%
Seachrome Coast SOM 1.36 0.56 -0.80 -59%
Celestial Colonnade WWK 11.34 9.96 -1.38 -12%
Creeping Tar Pit WWK 4.96 4.60 -0.36 -7%
Lavaclaw Reaches WWK 0.88 0.88 0.00 0%
Raging Ravine WWK 4.56 5.04 0.48 11%
Stirring Wildwood WWK 1.68 1.68 0.00 0%
Clifftop Retreat INN 0.46 0.59 0.13 28%
Hinterland Harbor INN 0.36 0.31 -0.05 -14%
Isolated Chapel INN 0.48 0.58 0.10 21%
Sulfur Falls INN 1.24 0.69 -0.55 -44%
Woodland Cemetery INN 0.61 0.41 -0.20 -33%
Dragonskull Summit M12 0.24 0.15 -0.09 -38%
Drowned Catacomb M12 0.34 0.29 -0.05 -15%
Glacial Fortress M12 0.23 0.12 -0.11 -48%
Rootbound Crag M12 0.24 0.16 -0.08 -33%
Sunpetal Grove M12 0.37 0.20 -0.17 -46%
 

Once again the Shock Lands hover in about the $4.00 range. Watery Grave saw an increase, presumably from the strong results put up by Esper decks in Standard. The Scars Fast Lands all dropped, some by a sizeable margin. Even Celestial Colonnade came down again.

Raging Ravine continues to go up in price. Other than that, the only cards that went up a bit were Innistrad Check lands that were recovering from dropping after rotation.

The Core Set Checklands have now all plunged into the abyss. This will be the last week that I will be listing them on the chart. What will be replacing them? Guess you'll just have to check out next week's article to find out.

Conclusion
And that concludes another article! I think the week in-between the paper release of a new set and the online one feels like an eternity. (I can't believe it used to be an even longer span of time!). While Theros isn't bringing a large amount of cards to the Modern table, it will be nice to get the new cards into the mix.

Taking some time to look at B/W tokens was fun, even if I lost a lot. I enjoy just playing with lots of different decks, so revisiting past decks is pretty cool.

Grand Prix Brisbane is this weekend. While it will be another Modern GP without video coverage, I can't wait to see what comes out on top!

Gift of Orzhova

Until next time,

- Gio

The Modern Perspective Archive

5 Comments

I play B/W tokens a lot and by Tromni at Fri, 10/04/2013 - 15:33
Tromni's picture
5

I play B/W tokens a lot and definitely enjoyed your take. I'll probably give Shoals a try as well and see what I think.

I definitely think some number of Intangible virtues is correct. There are plenty of aggro matchups where the ability to attack with vigilant fliers and still have blockers back is essential.

I've found that Elspeth Knight-Errant is a crucial piece to B/W tokens myself. The repeatable nature of her abilities is much stronger against the control decks of the format

I've seen some heated debates by Procrastination at Sat, 10/05/2013 - 13:40
Procrastination's picture

I've seen some heated debates regarding Hero of Bladehold vs Elspeth K-E. I like both cards, so I can see the merits of either side. I'd lean towards Elspeth since she can make Champions/Deathrites fly in for damage.

I wanted to give Jubilation a try over the other 4 drops, but I never fought Pod to see if she was worth it or not?

Thanks again for reading and for the positive review!

Aw, when I read "forgotten by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 10/05/2013 - 11:24
Kumagoro42's picture
5

Aw, when I read "forgotten Kamigawa card", I hoped it was Promise of Bunrei! :)
I've a lot of good memories with that card. I think might still be relevant. I bought a playset recently, as part of the preparation to Theros, because you never know.

Speaking of which, the idea that Theros was an "enchantment set" in the end has revealed as a bit of a mystification, no? There are things that are ALSO enchantments, but there aren't "enchantments matter" cards (or they're just bland, like Lagonna-Band Elder). There's actually more of them in M14. There's a lot of enchantment hate, but mostly the fact that a creature or an artifact also gets the enchantment type only matters for fetching them with Zur and Idyllic Tutor (or Academy Rector and Enlightened Tutor, except "Yeah, now I can fetch Celestial Archon with Enlightened Tutor in my Legacy deck!", says nobody, ever). Maybe it's time to try again my ridiculous Lost Auramancers/Vampire Hexmage combo.

Re: your token deck, I played tokens in the past, but never BW. And my tokens deck were really committed. Like tokens, tokens, tokens, and then some tokens. And then Hour of Reckoning and Espel Tirel. T-O-K-E-N-S! None of that Soul Sister-ish Auriok Champion nonsense! :P
I think I made the final of Eurodrive! once with a token deck that had a Polymorph/Emrakul package in the sideboard.

I currently have a Esper deck like the second you met. It's more like Gifts Rock turned Esper, actually.

"all the flavors of Wrath possible (Gifts for 1 of each" — Wrath of God, Day of Judgment, Supreme Verdict, and...? Which was the 4th?

"they have 2 Emrakul and a Through the Breach in hand so I keep my Path to Exile mana open" — Uh, why? You can't hit Emrakul with that. :)

If you plan to ramp with Deathrite, you'll need to add another set of fetches and lose the Angels. (And you should lose those Angels regardless. :P). Maybe the best way to go with Orzhov tokens is to fully embrace the midrangeness and add Sorin, and seriously, Elspeth Tirel.

Finally, I'd prefer if you kept the checklands in the list. I like to see all the Modern lands listed in a place with their most recent price, as low as it can be (it doesn't really matter, the thing is knowing what their price is; in fact, knowing that it's low is as useful, if not more). You should add the SHM/EVE filter lands, though. Those are always relevant — and pricey. (By the way, INN isn't the code for Innistrad, it's ISD. Seeing that you use the proper codes in the other cases).

I do love Promise of Bunrei; by Procrastination at Sat, 10/05/2013 - 13:35
Procrastination's picture

I do love Promise of Bunrei; I played Ghost Husk A LOT that Standard season. Very fond memories.

We can always hope the next 2 sets provide more power for Enchantments in general?

The 4 Wrath was Damnation. (Which I gave them because at the time it tapped up all of their black mana at the very least.)

Yeah, I'd put in the other Fetches for Deathrite.

I'm always curious if Elspeth Tirel could be in the SB as a life gainer that has added value in other ways? I'm just not at the point, yet, where I want to spend the money to give her a try. (too many other staples go get first!!)

I may wind up keeping the Check lands. I have some new ideas on how I want to handle the lands prices, so survival might be in the cards for those Core lands yet.

You'll put the filter in? by Kumagoro42 at Sat, 10/05/2013 - 21:40
Kumagoro42's picture

You'll put the filters in? (Mmm... this sounds strange. :)
I actually don't like them much, but they are widely played, I'd say more than the SOM ones.

Elspeth Tirel is possibly one of my Top 3 favorite non-gimmicky planeswalkers (and in general, I think the planeswalkers from SOM block were all great, there's not a single misfire in there.) She can wipe the board the turn after she comes in! I think it's a rare, if not unique, case where the ultimate is the first ability you want to — and can! — use.