A Token of Appreciation

Sultai Energy has firmly planted itself as the deck to beat moving forward. With a great early, mid, and late game, this bruiser takes great advantage of Winding Constrictor and how it interacts with both counters and energy while not being reliant on it. Let’s take a look at fellow Gathering Magic writer Andrew Jessup’s build that he used to win SCG Dallas.


The Scarab God
A collection of good cards that share some synergies always seems to be a great choice for week one. Leaning on how powerful the old Energy decks were, this Sultai version is mostly a {B}{G} deck. But why add a third color and increase the inconsistencies? For powerful cards, certainly. The two cards that stick out the most are The Scarab God and Hostage Taker. I locked in Hostage Taker as the best card of the set in my article last week and I felt as though it lived up to expectations. The tempo swings can be massive; and, if your opponent skips a beat and can’t kill it Hostage Taker will amass a ton of value. The Scarab God has risen drastically in value both financially and in context of the format. Even going as far to be splashed in the Temur Energy decks of last season, The Scarab God has made quite the impact in every board state. With normal removal, The Scarab God was an always returning nuisance and, so far, it appears the removal of this format will allow our new beetle overlord to thrive.

I am surprised however to see the distinct lack of Gearhulks in any of these lists. If we’re moving toward a midrange fueled environment, both Noxious Gearhulk and Verdurous Gearhulk both seem primed to win mirrors.

In addition to Energy decks, Mono-Red and {W}{U} Approach both put up solid numbers during the tournament and I expect this trend to continue. So then this begs the question of what the next step is and how to beat these decks. For this, I would recommend taking a look at a fringe deck from last season that hasn’t lost much.

Enter Tokens. I’ll be sharing three different flavors on the classic archetype to give you plenty of choices.


Abzan Tokens — Ixalan Standard | Rudy Briksza



Anointed Procession
While each deck brings its own unique upside, the deck is based around the power of Anointed Procession and the consistency that Hidden Stockpile brings. If players are gearing up to play a midrange battle, then making their removal poor by having tokens and being able to go extremely wide will give you a leg up on the competition. Add in an Anointer Priest and your life total can become nigh untouchable. Through playing, I’ve have my life total upward of 300 life in several games. You’d be surprised at the easy undertaking this is.

The classic {W}{B} version offers a ton of consistency in your mana base backed up by powerful spells. Sometimes, this is not enough. When your game plan is extremely linear it’s easier to be picked apart by sideboard cards or specific game plans. The deck is impressive at rebuilding but can be slow to do so. Sometimes a key sweeper can set the deck back far enough that it can be tempoed out.

Looking into other colors can make our mana a tiny bit worse (and in some cases downright atrocious at times) but offer fantastic ways to crush sideboard strategies and offer new paths to victory. While potentially misnamed, the Abzan Tokens deck is a {W}{B} tokens deck that offers one Forest and three Vraska, Relic Seeker for the moniker ‘Abzan’. Vraska, Relic Seeker is another card I discussed last week as one of the more powerful from Ixalan. Vraska offers plenty of opportunities to help you solidify any games or get back into a game you’re behind in. It’s great at pressuring control decks and is fantastic in board stalls. The ultimate is quite a real threat and I wouldn’t be surprised to see players utilize it as a win condition. If the mirror becomes a threat, Abzan is likely the place to be. Vraska, Relic Seeker shines in the mirror as well as it is able to take out Anointed Procession and Hidden Stockpile, which can stymie any opponents from getting out of hand. The ultimate is especially relevant in the mirror, where life totals can get out of hand quickly.

Vraska, Relic Seeker
While Vraska is great, she doesn’t seem to be better than The Scarab God. The third list comes by way of Eric Hawkins and his stream. He believes that Eternalizing a Champion of Wits with an Anointed Procession in play is one of the best things you can be doing in this kind of deck. While the {W}{B} and Abzan versions have great mana they can lack a source of card advantage. Champion of Wits is the perfect way to smooth out draws in any matchup and provide some late game card advantage. Eternalizing with an Anointed Procession in play will net you quite a few cards. Alongside Anointed Procession, The Scarab God will give you plenty of extra value. If re-buying a creature is going to be strong, getting double will be even better. Post board having access to Negate increases the range of being able to fight through any sideboard cards your opponent might be bringing and offering a solid answer to the entirety of the {W}{U} Approach deck.

The real downside is certainly the mana base. Opening a hand of Plains, Drowned Catacomb, Drowned Catacomb, Glacial Fortress certainly isn’t the best way to start out; but, unless your opponent comes out of the gates swinging with no intent of stopping, things can work out. The hope is that your mana base doesn’t impede you too much, but the deck is mana efficient with plenty of cheap plays. Certainly, surviving is sometimes enough with a deck that can create a multitude of blockers and gain a ton of life. Having such a powerful late game is always going to be great when it comes to a midrange style format.

Whichever variation you’re interested in playing, I firmly believe Tokens is the next step for Standard. Offering a way to grind through every deck and go wider than every other deck means Tokens will constantly be the midrange king. While The Scarab God is a fantastic card, maybe we aren’t going deep enough. Maybe we’re supposed to play Vraska, Relic Seeker alongside our Blue cards. Your mana is generally fantastic anyways.


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