Last week I outlined a variety of different “rough drafts” of decklists I was trying in Standard. One of the most important things to do when building new decks is to make sure we are familiar with the established ones. After spending some time pouring over Green-Black Snake, Temur Energy, and Zombie decks, another archetype caught my attention. At the Pro Tour, Marvel had dominated, but an archetype designed by Sam Black and friends was doing some truly interesting things – Abzan Tokens.
A deck like Abzan Tokens seemed like everything I want to be doing in what I expect the new Standard format to be. It is capable of gumming up the board and gaining life against aggressive decks and it can go far over the top of anything the other midrange decks in the format can bring to the table.
In a recent article, Black offered up the following decklist as his starting point for Abzan Tokens in a post-Marvel world:
Abzan Tokens by Sam Black
For those who are unfamiliar, this tokens deck is a synergy based deck that leans on the power of these three enchantments to overwhelm our opponents:
Anointed Procession puts everything else in our deck into overdrive – including our other two enchantments. The most important thing to keep in mind about Procession is that they are exponential in multiples. This means two Processions turn one token into four.
Hidden Stockpile allows us to filter through our deck and can act as a means to put our embalm creatures into our graveyard against opposing removal that exiles. Alongside Anointed Procession, our Hidden Stockpile generates additional tokens every single turn by sacrificing one of our existing creature tokens.
Ulvenwald Mysteries is one of our best ways to generate card advantage. It turns every one of our non-tokens that dies into a new card and tokens. Mysteries goes into hyperdrive when we have Anointed Procession in play. Not only does Procession make it so each clue creates two 1/1 tokens, but it makes it so every non-token that dies creates two clues. This means every one of our non-tokens that dies turns into two more cards and four 1/1 tokens.
After our enchantments the most important card in our main deck is our source of obnoxious amounts of life gain:
The most important thing to remember is that Anointer Priest triggers on itself when we embalm it. This means, for instance, if we embalm an Anointer Priest with an Anointed Procession in play, we will get two embalm tokens and gain four life.
The core of our deck is made up of a slew of creatures that gain us value whether they live or die:
Inspector and Blisterpod both play well with Anointed Procession while also providing bodies for Hidden Stockpile to start sacrificing. Catacomb Sifter is one of the subtly more powerful cards in this archetype. One of the mistakes I kept making when I was first playing this deck was undervaluing just how powerful the scry effect Sifter provides is. We often have plenty of extra bodies to throw away in combat and turning all of our chump blockers into scrys lets us dig for what we need fairly quickly. When we have Catacomb Sifter and Hidden Stockpile together we can often find whatever we need in a turn or two.
The main deck gets rounded out by a few “fun-ofs” that have utility in different spots:
Angel of Sanctions was a card that has continually impressed me. Not only does it provide some main deck interaction, but when we have Anointed Procession embalming the Angel becomes absolutely insane. I have yet to lose a game where I embalm an Angel with two or more Processions in play.
These last two one-ofs really left a lot to be desired in my testing. Any time Oketra was powerful involved having a large board alongside Cryptolith Rite, so I was likely winning without Oketra being added into the mix. Gideon was occasionally powerful when I played it in the early game, but in the late game I generally could not protect him from threats like Glorybringer and we really did not need the anthem effect his emblem provides to win the game.
The main thing I found lacking was the amount of bodies I had to get my cards like Stockpile and Mysteries going. Even just one or two more cheap creatures that could produce some token value seem like a good idea. A quick search of the Gatherer yields the following as the best possible options:
I think Cat is likely the best option just because of how well it can fit into different parts of our curve. Carrier Thrall producing tokens that make mana and sacrifice at will is higher upside than Lifelink though. I will likely test both, but if I had to pick one of them right now it would be Sacred Cat.
This brings me to my latest iteration of Abzan Tokens:
In addition to working two copies of Sacred Cat into the main deck I’ve added in a couple copies of Cast Out. Cast Out is a card I have been fairly impressed with in all my Standard testing so far this season. Having a flexible answer is really powerful on its own and when we factor in that we can simply cycle Cast Out when we do not need an answer it becomes fantastic.
The last thing I want to touch on today are some of the more powerful and interesting cards in the sideboard. The first are the three copies of Dread Wanderer. This is a powerful tool for helping us combat control decks. Not only is a persistent threat something we want against removal heavy decks, but Dread Wanderer alongside Hidden Stockpile gives us an endless source of something to sacrifice to scry and trigger revolt with.
The second thing worth commenting on in the board are the three copies of Dusk // Dawn. I feel like this card is especially well positioned in a format full of Temur and Green-Black midrange style decks. Outside of our Angels, Dusk is essentially a one sided sweeper and Dawn allows us to generate an absurd amount of card advantage most games.
While I still have time to figure out what exactly I am playing at the Standard portion of the upcoming invitational, Abzan Tokens is certainly one of my front runners. If you are interested in seeing this tokens deck in action, be sure to check out my stream archive on YouTube here.
Have a question or comment about this archetype that I did not cover above? Let me know in a comment below!
* One SCG Invitational Top 8
* Two SCG Invitational Top 16
* 14 SCG Open series Top 8s
* One GP top 16