Price of Glory #27 – Off-White Tokens Revisited

Angel of Jubilation is one of the cards in Avacyn Restored that really caught my eye. Not only is it powerful on its own, it also shuts down many powerful cards that are seeing play in Standard right now. Angel of Jubilation fits perfectly in a token strategy, so I decided to try it out in a retooled version of the Off-White Tokens deck I wrote about several months ago. Here's the new version:

The Threats

Angel of Jubilation
Angel of Jubilation pumps up every creature in the deck, often giving you upwards of 4 extra power immediately, not including its own 3/3 body. In addition, it stops Birthing Pod in its tracks and prevents off-color decks from using Phyrexian Metamorph and Dismember. Being able to advance your own game plan and hinder your opponent's with a single spell is always powerful, and the fact that this card does both so well makes it a force to be reckoned with.

Doomed Traveler has crushed everyone's expectations during its time in Standard. It has gone from a decent Limited card to a fringe playable to a staple of white aggro decks. Its resiliency in the face of sweepers, removal, and larger creatures makes it a valuable tool to keep the pressure on despite your opponent's attempts to stabilize.

Gather the Townsfolk is a great 2-drop that will get your plan rolling early. This card helps enable some of the most aggressive draws you can have with this deck, often tacking on an extra 4 to 6 damage to your attack. The fateful hour ability is a nice bonus, and although it will rarely matter, it can steal a game every once in a while.

Lingering Souls has proven to be extremely powerful and versatile. You can usually count on putting at least 8 to 12 power on the board with this one card, rivaling even Wolfir Silverheart's damage potential. This is the card that makes this kind of deck possible.

Midnight Haunting is no Lingering Souls, but the fact that it's an instant helps you play around counterspells and sweepers with ease. It can also surprise opponents in combat, often taking out an Insectile Aberration or a Huntmaster of the Fells.

Shrine of Loyal Legions is a card that simply demands an answer. When every spell in the deck adds another counter to the Shrine, it can quickly get out of control. Making upwards of ten tokens is fairly common, and most opponents will be hard-pressed to deal with such a force. Although Honor of the Pure won't pump the Myr, both Intangible Virtue and Angel of Jubilation will, ensuring that your army is ready to crush the opponent immediately. Since you can make the tokens at instant speed, not even a Day of Judgment can stop them from swinging in for a ton of damage.

The Support

Cathars' Crusade
Honor of the Pure and Intangible Virtue work together with Angel of Jubilation to ensure that your tiny tokens will be able to take down your opponent in short order. They also enable you to trade profitably with creatures like Insectile Aberration and Huntmaster of the Fells. A single Intangible Virtue will almost shut down Geist of Saint Traft completely, allowing you to swing over in the air and still have blockers to make attacking a losing proposition.

White seems to be creeping into all my Standard decks lately, and wherever it goes, Oblivion Ring is there. The ability to deal with almost any threat your opponent presents for a mere 3 mana is just too good to pass up.

Cathars' Crusade is an interesting experiment I wanted to try out here. It seems that it has the potential to easily steal games that go long, and it will make winning in combat almost impossible for most aggro decks. Even against control, it will make even a single Gather the Townsfolk potentially lethal once the control player has stopped your initial assault. I'm not completely certain this card is good enough to be in the maindeck, but I'd definitely recommend giving it a shot.

The Sideboard

Increasing Devotion
The second Cathars' Crusade and Increasing Devotion do great work in matchups in which you want to go over the top, especially when combined. Putting 30 power on the board is a great way to end games quickly.

Timely Reinforcements and Righteous Blow help reduce the threat of decks that are faster than this one, giving you time to take over the game with pumped-up tokens. Most aggro decks won't be able to deal with the card advantage you can get from trading a single token for one of the opposing creatures.

Celestial Purge is a powerful tool against Zombie decks, making Geralf's Messenger look rather pitiful and murdering Phyrexian Obliterator with ease. It's also very effective against red decks, against which that extra mana can mean a lot.

Revoke Existence permanently gets rid of the ever-present Sword of War and Peace, and it also hits Runechanter's Pike, turning Invisible Stalker from a dangerous threat into an almost useless 1/1.

Playtesting

Naya Pod – Game 1

I lost the roll and took a mulligan, keeping a hand of Swamp, Plains, Gather the Townsfolk, Midnight Haunting, Oblivion Ring, and Angel of Jubilation. My opponent started off with Rootbound Crag, and I drew a Plains and played it before passing the turn.

My opponent played a Forest, cast Strangleroot Geist, and swung for 2. He passed the turn.

Restoration Angel
I drew Evolving Wilds, played my other Plains, and cast Gather the Townsfolk. My opponent swung with the Geist again, and I blocked with a token. He then cast Blade Splicer and passed the turn.

I drew Intangible Virtue and cast it. I then played Evolving Wilds, sacrificed it for a Plains, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with Strangleroot Geist, which I blocked with my 2/2 Human, and the 3/3 Golem token. I dropped to 15, and he passed the turn.

I drew a Plains, played it, and ended my turn. My opponent cast Restoration Angel during my end step, blinking the Blade Splicer for another Golem token. On his turn, he cast Oblivion Ring on my Intangible Virtue, then swung with Restoration Angel and the two Golems. I dropped to 6, then cast Midnight Haunting when he passed the turn.

I drew Lingering Souls, cast it, then played my Swamp and flashed back the Lingering Souls. My opponent cast Strangleroot Geist and swung with everything except Blade Splicer. I blocked the Angel with four tokens, each Golem with one, and dropped to 4 from the Geist. My opponent then cast Huntmaster of the Fells and passed the turn.

I drew another land and conceded.

Sideboarding:
−1 Cathars' Crusade
−2 Oblivion Ring
−1 Shrine of Loyal Legions
+4 Timely Reinforcements

Naya Pod – Game 2

My opponent took a mulligan this time, and I kept a hand of three Plains, two Timely Reinforcements, Lingering Souls, and Honor of the Pure. I opened with a Plains, and my opponent started off with Rootbound Crag.

Honor of the Pure
I drew another Honor of the Pure, played my Plains, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest, cast Strangleroot Geist, and swung for 2. He ended his turn.

I drew a Plains, played it, and cast Timely Reinforcements, going up to 24 and making a trio of 2/2 Soldiers. I passed the turn. My opponent swung with Strangleroot Geist, and I traded one of my tokens for it. He played a land, cast Blade Splicer, and passed the turn.

I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast Honor of the Pure. I ended my turn. My opponent attacked with Strangleroot Geist and the Golem token, and I took the damage. He played a Copperline Gorge and cast Avacyn's Pilgrim before passing the turn.

I drew another Plains, played it, and cast Timely Reinforcements again. Three more 3/3 Soldier entered the battlefield, and I went right back up to 24. I then attacked with the two Soldiers I already had, dropping my opponent to 14. I passed the turn. My opponent cast Huntmaster of the Fells and passed back.

I drew Evolving Wilds and swung with my five Soldiers. One died to a Golem token, another traded with Strangleroot Geist, and a third traded with Avacyn's Pilgrim and the Wolf token. The other two made it through, dropping my opponent to 8. I cast Lingering Souls and flashed it back, and my opponent drew his card and conceded.

Naya Pod – Game 3

Gather the Townsfolk
I kept a hand of Evolving Wilds, Swamp, Gather the Townsfolk, Timely Reinforcements, Intangible Virtue, and two Honor of the Pure. My opponent started off with a Forest and a Birds of Paradise, and I drew Evolving Wilds, playing it and sacrificing it for a Plains.

My opponent played Rootbound Crag, then cast Strangleroot Geist and swung for 2. He passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and cast Gather the Townsfolk. I ended my turn.

Strangleroot Geist attacked again, and I blocked with a token. My opponent played a land and passed the turn. I drew Gather the Townsfolk, played a Swamp, and cast Timely Reinforcements. I passed the turn.

My opponent cast Bonfire of the Damned for 1, killing all my tokens, and swung for 3 with the Geist. He passed the turn. I drew Shrine of Loyal Legions, cast it, then played my Evolving Wilds and sacrificed it for a Plains. I passed the turn.

My opponent dropped me to 20 with Strangleroot Geist. He then cast Gideon Jura, used the +2 ability, and passed the turn. I put a counter on the Shrine and drew a Plains. I then cast Honor of the Pure and Gather the Townsfolk. Shrine of Loyal Legions went up to 3 counters, and I passed the turn.

Bonfire of the Damned
My opponent turned Gideon Jura into a creature, then attacked with both. I blocked each of them with a token, and my opponent cast Ray of Revelation before damage. He then passed the turn. I put another counter on my Shrine and drew Oblivion Ring. I cast it on Gideon Jura, then cast Honor of the Pure. The Shrine got 2 more counters, and my opponent destroyed my Oblivion Ring with Ray of Revelation when I passed the turn.

Gideon became a creature again, and both attacked. I dropped to 11, and he cast Avacyn's Pilgrim before passing the turn. I put another counter on the Shrine and drew a Plains. I played it, cast Intangible Virtue, and passed the turn with the Shrine now at 8 counters.

My opponent used Gideon's +2 and ended his turn. I cracked the Shrine at the end of his turn, making an army of Myr tokens. I drew Timely Reinforcements (maybe not so timely) and swung at Gideon with eight 2/2 Myr tokens with vigilance. My opponent cast Restoration Angel, blinking Strangleroot Geist to remove the counter, and blocked a token with each. Gideon, Strangleroot Geist, and two of my tokens died, and I passed the turn.

Shrine of Loyal Legions
My opponent swung with Restoration Angel, then cast Blade Splicer and passed the turn. I drew Lingering Souls and swung with my army of Myr. One traded with Strangleroot Geist, another with Avacyn's Pilgrim and Blade Splicer, and another died at the hands of a Golem token. My opponent dropped to 14 from the remaining tokens. I cast Lingering Souls and flashed it back, making four 3/3 Spirits, and I passed the turn.

My opponent drew his card and conceded.

 


Neither Angel of Jubilation nor Birthing Pod was ever cast that match, but the interaction between them does give this deck a powerful advantage when they are. Even without that advantage, this deck is very hard to stop, especially after sideboarding in Timely Reinforcements.

That card is simply crushing against aggro decks, especially when the tokens are 2/2 or larger. Shrine of Loyal Legions certainly proved its worth in the third game, allowing a comeback win that wouldn't have been possible otherwise. If your opponent doesn't have a way to deal with this card, it will very often win the game almost single-handedly. If you're having trouble against Birthing Pod decks, or if you simply want to attack with giant armies of creatures, I encourage you to give this deck a try.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.