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Budget Magic: $68 (10 tix) Modern Turn 2 Tokens

আসসালামু আলাইকুম, Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. Over the past week, there's been a lot of talk about how Modern is officially a Turn 3 format (meaning enough decks can kill on Turn 3 that you either need to be fast enough to keep pace or have a good plan for slowing the opponent down in the early turns of the game). So, I thought to myself, "Fine. If everyone's going to try to kill us on Turn 3, we just need to figure out a way to kill them on Turn 2." 

At the same time, I was thinking about a Mardu Tokens deck we featured on Instant Deck Tech a while ago. While the deck has some interesting things going on with Kuldotha Rebirth and zero-cost artifacts and was faster than the typical Modern tokens deck, it wasn't quite fast enough, so we trimmed down on some of the slower cards, added in some ways to close out the game quickly, and added some fast mana to maximize our odds of killing the opponent as quickly as possible. The end result is a super all-in tokens deck I'm calling Turn 2 Tokens!

We'll talk more about Turn 2 Tokens after the videos, but first a quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel to keep up on all of the latest and greatest.

Turn 2 Tokens: Deck Tech

Turn 2 Tokens vs. Jund

Turn 2 Tokens vs. UR Prowess

Turn 2 Tokens vs. Abzan Company

Turn 2 Tokens vs. Dredge

Turn 2 Tokens vs. Bant Spirits

The Deck

The basic idea of Turn 2 Tokens is pretty simple: we try to kill our opponent on Turn 2 with tokens. Actually, maybe the easiest way to think of the deck is like 8 Whack without the tribal component and on steroids. Our best draw will involve us having at least three creatures on the battlefield on Turn 1 and then casting two Bushwhackers on turn two, which should be at least 15 damage. Then, we have our secret tech—Pact of the Titan—to push through the last five damage! If we don't manage to kill our opponent outright on Turn 2, we should be close enough that we'll be able to finish them off on Turn 3. 

Turn 1

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The key to making our deck so explosive is the combination of Kuldotha Rebirth with zero-cost artifacts in Memnite and Ornithopter. When we happen to have some combination of these cards in our opening hand, we end our first turn with three 1/1 Goblin tokens (basically building our own one-mana Hordeling Outburst), and these tokens set the stage for the rest of our game plan. Likewise, Memnite and Ornithopter serve a whole bunch of purposes. While the reason they first showed up in the deck was because they were the best budget options for sacrificing to Kuldotha Rebirth on Turn 1, they also work really well with our Reckless Bushwhacker and Goblin Bushwhacker, allowing us to cast the former with surge consistently while also being cheap creatures to attack with on Turn 2. 

Turn 2

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Ideally, we'll start off our second turn with our three 1/1 Goblin tokens or, at the very worst, a Memnite or two, and then Turn 2 is where things get really crazy. First, we have a bunch of free creatures in Pact of the Titan and Burning-Tree Emissary. Burning-Tree Emissary is pretty straightforward—we pay two to cast it and then get two mana back, which makes Burning-Tree Emissary a zero-mana 2/2 that also triggers the surge cost on Reckless Bushwhacker

Pact of the Titan, on the other hand, is risky. When we cast it, someone is going to die. Hopefully, it will be our opponent after we cast a Bushwhacker or two, but if something goes wrong, it will be us on our next upkeep, since we likely won't be able to pay for the Pact of the Titan trigger. As such, we really want to make sure we have a reasonable chance of killing our opponent on the turn we cast a Pact of the Titan

The good news is that Pact of the Titan really shifts the math for our Turn 2 kills. Probably the most straightforward is Turn 1 Kuldotha Rebirth, Turn 2 Infernal Plunge a Memnite or Ornithopter into Pact of the Titan into double Bushwhacker, which equals exactly 20. In Magic Christmas Land, we can also just have all four copies of Pact of the Titan in our opening hand and cast a single Reckless Bushwhacker or Goblin Bushwhacker on Turn 2 for the win. 

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Reckless Bushwhacker and Goblin Bushwhacker are the two most important cards in our entire deck. We always want at least one in our opening hand, and our best draws often involve two. These two cards do it all: they make our bad zero-drop artifact creatures into real attackers, they turn our 1/1 Goblin tokens into devastating threats, and they make Pact of the Titan a playable and powerful card by giving the token haste. Basically, they do it all. 

Now, you might be wondering what advantages this deck (with 8 Bushwhackers) has over the 8 Whack Goblins deck we played a while ago, and the basic answer is that Turn 2 Tokens is simply a lot faster than Goblins. In Goblins, Reckless Bushwhacker is—at best—a three drop because we need a one-mana creature to turn on the surge cost, but in our deck, which is stuffed full of zero-mana plays (four Memnite, four Ornithopter, four Pact of the Titan, three Burning-Tree Emissary), we can almost always play Reckless Bushwhacker on Turn 2. The other thing that speeds up the deck is the presence of fast mana, which allows us to dump our entire hand on the battlefield as early as Turn 2. 

Finally, Haze of Rage is essentially a backup second Bushwhacker. Since it doesn't give our creatures haste, we typically want one "real" Bushwhacker in our hand to cast first, but when we cast Haze of Rage, it often makes out creatures so big that we win the game on the spot. If we have enough mana (thanks to our ritual effects), we can even cast it with buyback and then immediately cast it a second time. 

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As I mentioned before, the easiest way to win the game on Turn 2 is by casting two Bushwhackers, which means we need access to four mana. For this, we depend on Simian Spirit Guide and a bunch of rituals. Simian Spirit Guide only adds one mana, which makes it the least powerful of our ritual effects, considering the others add at least two and sometimes way more, but it has the additional upside of being a creature, which means when we aren't killing our opponent on Turn 2, we can cast it and use it as another attacker with our Bushwhackers. 

Infernal Plunge works really well in our deck because we have a lot of disposable creatures in our zero-mana artifacts and various tokens, and adding two mana gives us exactly enough to cast an additional Bushwhacker effect (on Turn 2, Infernal Plunge plus our second land drop gives us exactly the amount of mana needed for double Bushwhacker). Finally, Battle Hymn is high variance. When it's good, it's really insane, sometimes giving us enough mana to cast Haze of Rage with buyback and immediately cast it again, which can turn all of our creatures into nine- or ten-powered threats. On the other hand, if things go wrong and we don't have any creatures sitting around, it does nothing. 

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Last but not least are three copies of Mogg War Marshal, which is just another efficient card that gives us multiple creatures, which in turn helps power up our Bushwhackers. Otherwise, the Goblin Warrior doesn't do anything too important, although it does do a bit of everything by providing more bodies to sacrifice to our Infernal Plunge, power up our Battle Hymn, and attack with in the early game. The biggest problem with Mogg War Marshal is that without a really specific combination of ritual effects (things like Simian Spirit Guide into Infernal Plunge into Battle Hymn), casting it on Turn 2 is pretty much an admission that we aren't going to win the game that turn; we simply won't have enough mana for our Bushwhackers. That said, it does provide a good setup for a Turn 3 kill. 

As for Dragon Fodder, it's essentially just a bad version of Mogg War Marshal (since Mogg War Marshal can chump for free one turn and the end result is the same as Dragon Fodder), but it gives us an addition two-mana play that produces two creatures, which helps power up our Bushwhacker kills. 

The Lands

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Our lands are all basic Mountains, so the important thing here is the number of lands we are playing: 15. This means that exactly 25% of our cards are lands, which means that most opening hands should have just a little bit less than two, which is exactly what we want. One of the easiest ways for our deck to lose is by drawing too many lands, and we almost never want more than two. We even had a game where we kept a zero lander with two copies of Simian Spirit Guide. Basically, we need to draw as many spells as possible for our deck to work, and going extremely light on lands is one way to make sure we don't flood out and instead draw into action. 

Ultra-Budget Turn 2 Tokens

Turn 2 Tokens only has two cards that are somewhat expensive in the paper world (although not expensive on Magic Online, so there's not really a good reason to play the ultra-budget build in the digital world): Simian Spirit Guide and Pact of the Titan. Unfortunately, there isn't a direct replacement for either in the Modern format. As such, the ultra-budget build is a bit different, essentially being 12 Whack, as we get rid of Pact of the Titan for Signal Pest (which can work like a Bushwhacker if it's followed by a real Bushwhacker to give it haste) and also drop two Simian Spirit Guides for another Burning-Tree Emissary and another Haze of Rage. While losing a free 4/4 is annoying, Signal Pest is a powerful option in its own right, and as a result, I don't think the deck loses too much due to this change. 

Non-Budget Turn 2 Tokens

There's only one card I really want to add to Turn 2 Tokens when budget isn't a concern, and you can probably guess what it is: Blood Moon. Blood Moon is one of the easiest ways to pick up free wins in Modern, especially when you cast it on Turn 1, and the ability to Infernal Plunge a Memnite or Ornithopter to have three mana for Blood Moon makes it an especially appealing option. While Blood Moon doesn't necessarily further the deck's game plan of beating down with 1/1s and Bushwhackers, it does offer a line of attack that the budget build doesn't have. One of the issues with the budget build is that we sometimes have to go for the kill at times when we are less than 100% to win the game (for example, if our opponent has a removal spell or two), which leaves us open to dying to our Pact of the Titan trigger on our upkeep. With a Blood Moon on the battlefield, we don't need to be as focused on winning as quickly as possible but can instead take an extra turn or two to make sure we have everything we need to guarantee we win the game when we decide to combo off. 


Anyway, that's all for today! We ended up 3-2 in our matches and actually beat several tier-one decks along the way! While we do end up losing to ourselves sometimes thanks to inconsistent draws, the deck is really fun to play and incredibly aggressive. Give it a try; I don't think you'll be disappointed! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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