Price of Glory #30 – Midrange Tokens

It's no secret that W/U Delver is the deck to beat right now. It has continued to put up good results despite having a massive target on its head. Of course, it's possible that by the time this article goes up, a key piece of the deck will have been banned and we will see its numbers plummet. Even so, many of the decks positioned to take over, such as R/G aggro and Zombies, also rely on a suite of aggressive creatures that produce some form of card advantage. With so many creature-based decks running around, I decided it might be wise to build a deck that fared particularly well against them. Here's what I came up with:

The Deck

Lingering Souls
Lingering Souls and Midnight Haunting are the core of the deck. Putting multiple threats onto the battlefield with one card has always been good, and the fact that these tokens have flying is extremely relevant in a world of Insectile Aberrations and Restoration Angels. Lingering Souls is an absurdly efficient card, and you will almost always win games in which you draw multiple copies of it.

Intangible Virtue and Honor of the Pure are the tools that make this deck so effective. With one or two of these on the board, each of your tokens will be able to trade with an opposing creature, usually netting you large amounts of card advantage over the course of the game. The fact that Intangible Virtue gives vigilance is extremely relevant, allowing you to attack over an army of ground creatures without leaving yourself open for retaliation.

Increasing Devotion is an amazing finisher in this deck, usually putting at least 10 power on the board for 5 mana. The ability to flash it back for even more tokens can help you pull ahead after being mana flooded or grind out long games against control. This card is an instant army, and I've never lost a game in which I was able to cast it for its flashback cost.

Blood Artist has proven to be quite effective in Zombie decks, and I'd like to give it a try here. Although this deck doesn't have a sacrifice outlet, Day of Judgment can do the job in a pinch, and this deck produces more creatures than a Zombie deck could ever hope to. With one of these on the board, Bonfire of the Damned doesn't look nearly as scary as it used to.

Day of Judgment
Day of Judgment may seem a bit odd in a deck that produces so many creatures, but actually, that's the very thing that makes it so effective. By putting a pair of creatures onto the board, you can often lead your opponent to overcommit, letting you wipe out nearly every threat he has while only expending two cards of your own. You can also sandbag your token-makers, playing anthems for a few turns before wiping the board. Then, you can start making an army of tokens while your opponent is stuck trying to rebuild with whatever he has left.

I've praised Oblivion Ring many time in this column, and as long as it's in Standard, I'll continue to put three or four of them in almost every white deck I make. The ability to remove Sword of War and Peace is crucial to this deck, and the fact that it exiles the target makes it effective against creatures with undying as well.

Go for the Throat can still kill almost every creature you might come up against while doing so at instant speed. This lets you set traps for your opponent. You can make him waste mana equipping a Sword to a creature that won't survive to deal damage or slaughter a creature that's being pumped up by Wolfir Silverheart.

Vault of the Archangel is a great tool for pulling the game out of reach of an aggro deck. It can give you massive amounts of life each turn and destroy any chance your opponent had of racing you or burning you out. In a pinch, it can also be used defensively to allow any of your tokens to trade with a larger threat.

The Sideboard

Timely Reinforcements out of the sideboard makes the aggro matchup even more lopsided. Gaining 6 life and putting a trio of 2/2s onto the board is a lot for just 3 mana. In the early game, this card will usually take you from slightly behind to way ahead in one turn.

Stony Silence
Stony Silence shuts off Ratchet Bomb, and it also prevents your opponent from equipping Sword of War and Peace or activating Birthing Pod. It may not be the best possible tool for all of these jobs, but the fact that it's so versatile earns it a slot.

Divine Offering is another tool for taking down Sword of War and Peace. As an instant, it allows you to prevent your opponent from getting a single hit in, even when he casts and equips the Sword in one turn. It can also be used to get rid of Blade Splicer tokens, Birthing Pods, and Phyrexian Metamorphs if you need it to.

Celestial Purge is excellent at fighting Geralf's Messenger. You can often perform tricks like exiling it response to your opponent's Phyrexian Metamorph, forcing him to copy a lowly Gravecrawler or even one of your tokens. It's also an efficient removal spell in general, removing any black or red threat permanently for only 2 mana.

Doomed Traveler and Loyal Cathar replace the mostly ineffective Day of Judgment and Go for the Throat against control decks. They are resilient threats that can survive everything from Liliana of the Veil to Day of Judgment, making it much more difficult for your opponent to keep the pressure off.

Playtesting

W/U Delver – Game 1

Midnight Haunting
I lost the roll and took a mulligan, keeping a hand of Plains, Swamp, Vault of the Archangel, Oblivion Ring, and two Lingering Souls. My opponent started off with an Island and a Gitaxian Probe, paying the mana. He passed the turn. I drew a Plains and played it before passing the turn.

My opponent also played a Plains and passed the turn. I drew another Plains, played it, and ended my turn. My opponent played an Island and passed the turn. I drew Increasing Devotion, played a Swamp, and cast Lingering Souls. My opponent countered it with Mana Leak, and I passed the turn.

My opponent played another Island before ending his turn. I drew Midnight Haunting, played a Plains, and ended my turn. My opponent cast Restoration Angel during my end step. He attacked with the Angel and passed the turn. I cast Midnight Haunting during his end step.

I drew Intangible Virtue, played Vault of the Archangel, and cast it. I attacked for 4 with my tokens, then cast the Lingering Souls from my graveyard. My opponent played a Snapcaster Mage to counter it with Mana Leak, and I passed the turn.

My opponent cast Vapor Snag, killing a token, and attacked with both creatures. I traded my token for Snapcaster Mage and dropped to 13. My opponent cast two copies of Delver of Secrets and passed the turn. I drew a Plains and played it. I then cast and flashed back my Lingering Souls before ending my turn.

Geist of Saint Traft
The opposing Delvers failed to transform, and my opponent cast Geist of Saint Traft before passing the turn. I drew Oblivion Ring and attacked with my four 2/2s. My opponent blocked one with Restoration Angel, and I activated Vault of the Archangel. He dropped to 10, I went up to 21, and the Angel traded with my Spirit token. I passed the turn.

My opponent failed to transform his Delvers again and attacked with Geist of Saint Traft. I took the 6 damage, and he passed the turn. I drew a Plains and attacked with my tokens. My opponent flashed in a Restoration Angel and blocked with it. I activated Vault of the Archangel. The Spirit token and Restoration Angel died, my opponent dropped to 6, and I went back to 21. I played the Plains and ended my turn.

Delver of Secrets still couldn't find an instant or sorcery, and my opponent played a land. He then cast Sword of Feast and Famine and equipped it to Geist of Saint Traft. He attacked, and I traded my two remaining tokens for the Geist, taking 4 from the Angel token. He ended his turn. I drew a Blood Artist and cast it, following it up with Increasing Devotion. My opponent's Delvers failed to transform again, and he passed the turn after equipping Sword of Feast and Famine to one of them. I drew Honor of the Pure and cast it, and my opponent conceded.

Sideboarding:
−4 Blood Artist
−2 Go for the Throat
+3 Timely Reinforcements
+2 Stony Silence
+1 Divine Offering

W/U Delver – Game 2

Mana Leak
I was forced to take a double mulligan, and I ended up with a hand of Plains, Evolving Wilds, Divine Offering, Timely Reinforcements, and Increasing Devotion. My opponent started off with a Seachrome Coast, tapping it to cast Gitaxian Probe. He passed the turn. I drew Midnight Haunting and played Evolving Wilds, sacrificing it for a Swamp before ending my turn.

My opponent played an Island and passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, and passed back.

My opponent played another Island, cast Geist of Saint Traft, and ended his turn. I drew a Swamp, played my Plains, and passed the turn.

My opponent played a Seachrome Coast and attacked with Geist of Saint Traft. I took the 6, and he passed the turn. I drew Oblivion Ring and cast Timely Reinforcements. My opponent countered it with Mana Leak, and I played a Swamp before passing the turn.

My opponent swung for another 6 with the Geist before passing the turn. I drew another Oblivion Ring and passed the turn.

My opponent cast Restoration Angel during my end step. My opponent attacked with both creatures, and I cast Midnight Haunting. I blocked the two Angels and took 2 from Geist of Saint Traft. I drew a land and conceded.

W/U Delver – Game 3

Intangible Virtue
My opponent and I each took a mulligan, and I kept a hand of two Plains, Honor of the Pure, Intangible Virtue, Stony Silence, and Increasing Devotion. I played my land and passed the turn. My opponent played an Island and cast Ponder. He kept the cards on top and ended his turn.

I drew a Plains, played it, and cast Stony Silence before passing the turn. My opponent played an Island and passed the turn.

I drew and cast Lingering Souls, which my opponent countered with Mana Leak. I then ended my turn. My opponent played a Plains, cast Blade Splicer, and passed the turn.

I drew Day of Judgment, cast Intangible Virtue, and passed the turn. My opponent played Moorland Haunt and attacked for 4. He ended his turn.

I drew a Swamp, played it, and cast Day of Judgment. I ended my turn, and my opponent cast Restoration Angel. He attacked for 3 with the Angel, then cast Geist of Saint Traft and passed the turn.

Honor of the Pure
I drew Evolving Wilds, played it, and cast Honor of the Pure. I then cast Lingering Souls from my graveyard and sacrificed the Wilds for another Swamp. I passed the turn. My opponent attacked with both creatures. I blocked Geist of Saint Traft with both tokens, and I dropped to 6 from the Angels. My opponent played Moorland Haunt, cast another Geist of Saint Traft, and passed the turn.

I drew Lingering Souls and attacked with my Spirits. I then cast Lingering Souls and flashed it back for four more 3/3 tokens. I passed the turn. My opponent attacked with Geist of Saint Traft. I blocked the Angel with one token and the Geist with the rest. The Geist and one of my tokens died, and he passed the turn.

I drew a Plains and attacked with my five tokens. Restoration Angel blocked one, Vapor Snag killed another, and Moorland Haunt made a token to chump-block a third. My opponent dropped to 8, and I had three tokens remaining. I cast Increasing Devotion, and my opponent conceded on the spot.

 


This deck definitely has what it takes to beat Delver, largely thanks to the power of Lingering Souls. You can trade off Spirit tokens with your opponent's creatures until he’s run out of gas, opening the door for Increasing Devotion to come in and finish the job. Although a fast start backed up by Mana Leak can sometimes be a problem, you'll often have enough spells to force through either a pair of 2/2 Sprits or a Day of Judgment, either of which can often stop the bleeding immediately. If your local Standard tournaments are filled with creature decks, this is an excellent choice for taking them down.

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.