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Budget Magic: $95 (36 tix) Cultivator Huatli Tokens (Standard)

Dumêlang, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading to Standard to play a card that I think is one of the biggest sleepers in the format: Cultivator of Blades! While Cultivator of Blades has been overshadowed by other, similar five-drops in Angel of Invention and Regal Caracal, the addition of Huatli, Radiant Champion to Standard with the release of Rivals of Ixalan means that Cultivator suddenly has a ton of potential. The basic idea of the deck is simple: we play all of the best token producers in green and white, eventually stick a Cultivator of Blades, play a Huatli, Radiant Champion to 1 on the Cultivator of Blades, make all of our random tokens huge, and win the game in one attack! Of course, if this plan doesn't work, we can also just ultimate Huatli, Radiant Champion and bury our opponent in a sea of card advantage. Can we make Cultivator of Blades work in Standard, backed by Huatli, Radiant Champion? Let's find out!

Oh, one quick thing before we get to the videos. My headset died last week, so part of this episode was recorded with my backup microphone, which sounds a little bit different. Don't worry; the replacement headset has arrived, and this time I've got a backup headset too, so things will be back to normal moving forward!

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 the latest and greatest.

Budget Magic: Cultivator Huatli Tokens (Standard)

The Deck

We've seen token decks in Standard before, but most are slow, grindy decks built around Hidden Stockpile and Anointed Procession. Cultivator Huatli Tokens is a more aggressive, almost combo version of tokens. The plan is pretty straightforward: we make as many tokens as possible, play Cultivator of Blades, follow it up with Huatli, Radiant Champion, attack one time, and win the game. While we have some Cat synergies in the deck, we aren't really Cat tribal; rather, some Cats just happen to be among the best token producers in Standard.

The Combo

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Cultivator of Blades has to be one of the most underrated cards in Standard. While the five-drop is clearly powerful, the big problem is that in many decks, Regal Caracal and Angel of Invention are essentially the same card but with additional upside (like offering lifelink or coming back as a 6/6 flier with God-Pharaoh's Gift). However, with the help of Huatli, Radiant Champion, Cultivator of Blades is actually the best of the five-drops for our deck. 

While Huatli, Radiant Champion's ultimate (rightly) gets a lot of the hype, Cultivator of Blades is the perfect card to make the 1 "target creature gets +X/+X, where X is the number of creatures you control" ability devastating. In most decks, this ability makes one big creature that gets chump-blocked. In our deck, when we target Cultivator of Blades, Huatli, Radiant Champion's 1 turns from "target creature" to "creatures you control," making Huatli, Radiant Champion into a crazy Overrun (without trample} effect. Since our deck is really good at putting random tokens on the battlefield, it typically only takes one 1 on Cultivator of Blades to win the game. Even if we don't literally kill our opponent, they are forced to chump a bunch of 10/10 or 20/20 tokens, which Plague Winds our opponent's board and leaves us in the clear to win on the next attack.

Of course, even outside of winning the game, both Cultivator of Blades and Huatli, Radiant Champion work well with our backup plan, which is to ultimate Huatli, Radiant Champion, draw through our entire deck by making tokens, and overwhelm our opponent with card advantage. After we have a Huatli, Radiant Champion emblem (which we can often get with just one turn of plussing), Cultivator of Blades turns into the green Jace's Ingenuity while also leaving behind a must-deal-with threat that potentially wins the game the following turn. 

Basically, no matter what plan we happen to be on in any specific game, Cultivator of Blades and Huatli, Radiant Champion are made for each other and offer a clear pathway to winning the game, either with huge attacks or absurd amounts of card advantage.

Token Production

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The rest of Cultivator Huatli Tokens is sort of hard to write about because none of our cards are all that important individually, instead just offering redundant ways to put multiple creatures on the battlefield to maximize the effectiveness of the Cultivator / Huatli combo. 

While we aren't Cat tribal, we do have some Cat synergies in our deck because Cats happen to offer some of the best options for one card putting multiple creatures onto the battlefield in Standard. Sacred Cat is mostly just filler, but it gives us a way to get something on the battlefield on Turn 1 and is good in the late game with Huatli, Radiant Champion's emblem, since we can embalm it from the graveyard to draw an extra card. 

Pride Sovereign is high risk / high reward. It offers great value if we untap with it and get even a single activation, with three bodies on the battlefield for four total mana (basically being a slow Regal Caracal), and it can win the game all by itself when it happens to stick on the battlefield for several turns, by making a ton of tokens and turning itself into a huge threat. On the other hand, when we cast Pride Sovereign and our opponent immediately kills it (sometimes with something as simple as a Shock, since we don't have many other Cats in the deck), it's one of the worst cards in our deck. The good news is that Shock also kills Cultivator of Blades, so having Pride Sovereign eat a removal spell isn't always the worst thing in the long run, if it clears the path for us to win with Cultivator.

As for Regal Caracal, it's only a two-of because we already have four copies of Cultivator of Blades and can only afford so many five-drops in the deck, but it's solid, offering three bodies for Huatli, Radiant Champion and pumping our random Cats. Giving all of our Cats lifelink is also a massive upside. Just one attack with a huge, lifelinking Pride Sovereign can be enough to swing the race against decks like Mono-Red.

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Legion's Landing is great in our deck, but we only have two copies because the enchantment is surprisingly expensive. In the early game, it gives us a 1/1, which is good for chump blocking and then in the late game, once we flip it around (and have a Huatli, Radiant Champion emblem), we get a build-your-own version of Arch of Orazca (in a land that can draw us a card each turn) that also leaves behind a body. We'd have the full four if budget weren't a concern, but even as a two-of, Legion's Landing is solid in the games where we draw it.

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Jungleborn Pioneer is basically a fifth copy of Pride Sovereign, except we trade the upside of winning the game by itself if it sits on the battlefield for the upside of making a token right away, which makes Jungleborn Pioneer better if our opponent has removal. One strange and fringe upside of Jungleborn Pioneer is that the token it makes has hexproof, which makes it a good target for Huatli, Radiant Champion's 1 in matchups where our opponent has a ton of creature removal, since our opponent could otherwise simply Fatal Push or Abrade the Merfolk token in response to the Huatli activation.

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Wrapping up our token producers are a bunch of Servo-makers. There aren't many tricks to be found here. Servo Exhibition gives us two bodies for two mana, which makes it better than Cogworker's Puzzleknot in the two-drop slot. On the other hand, Cogworker's Puzzleknot does have the upside that we can play it early in the game to make a token and then leave it sitting on the battlefield until we have a Huatli, Radiant Champion emblem to crack to get the other token, which draws us an extra card. Meanwhile, Sram's Expertise allows for some really explosive plays like making three Servos while also playing a Pride Sovereign or Jungleborn Pioneer for free, which is a ton of bodies on the battlefield and / or a lot of card draw with our Huatli emblem. Together, these cards help make sure that we have as many creatures on the battlefield as possible to support our Cultivator of Blades and Radiant Champion, while also giving us lots of random chump blockers to make sure we live long enough to find our combo pieces. 


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We don't have room for much removal in our deck, and Thopter Arrest is basically our attempt to split the difference between Baffling End and Cast Out. It hits a much wider range of targets than Baffling End for just one more mana while also being cheaper than the even less restrictive Cast Out. While it can't deal with planeswalkers or the occasional enchantment, hitting artifacts along with creatures is a nice upside, basically making Thopter Arrest a white Abrade that can kill any creature in the format.


Overall, the deck felt great. We played five matches and won four, which is super solid. While we didn't run into Grixis Energy or UB Control, we did take down Tokens and Mono Red, both of which are near the top of the Standard format. Our only loss was to Vampires, and I'm not sure if that's just a bad matchup or if our opponent ran well (they did have a lot of Sanctum Seekers, which makes our plan of chump blocking with tokens a lot less effective). The combo of Huatli and Cultivator was amazing, in part because nobody expects to die when they see Cultivator of Blades (instead expecting it will pump our creatures +1/+1 like a Shefet Dunes), which means they often don't target it with removal as aggressively as they should, which allows us to catch some opponents by surprise by following up with a lethal Huatli, Radiant Champion the next turn.

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As for changes I'd make to the budget build of the deck now that we've played some games, I'm not sure there are many. I was pretty happy with the main deck overall. While Cogworker's Puzzleknot is probably the weakest card in our deck, I'm not sure there's a better replacement. Adorned Pouncer could be a possibility. Double strike is pretty scary with Huatli, Radiant Champion, and it would help support the Cat sub-theme. Otherwise, I'm pretty happy to run back the deck as is.

In sum, Cultivator Huatli Tokens felt great. The budget version felt very competitive, and a non-budget version with some upgrades to the sideboard could be even better. If you like winning out of nowhere, drawing tons of cards, and going super wide, Cultivator Huatli Tokens is a great budget Standard option for you. I could certainly imagine having success with it on the FNM level or on Magic Online, and it might be able to compete at an even higher level with some upgrading and tuning.

To get Cultivator Huatli Tokens down near $5, we start by cutting the mana, with Evolving Wilds and Tranquil Expanse coming in for Sunpetal Grove and Scattered Groves. We also lose Heroic Intervention from the sideboard, which makes our deck a bit weaker to wraths, but Dusk // Dawn is a reasonable (although slow) replacement. Finally, we drop [[Legion's Landing] and a Pride Sovereign for more copies of Jungleborn Pioneer. All in all, these changes hurt in two main ways: first, the tap lands make the deck slightly worse against aggro; second, the loss of Legion's Landing and Heroic Intervention makes the deck a little worse against wrath-heavy control. With this in mind, the deck doesn't change that much and still has most of the important pieces that made the version from our videos work, so you could do worse than starting with the ultra-budget build of the deck.

The non-budget version of Cultivator Huatli Tokens doesn't change much. In fact, the only main-deck change is dropping two Cogworker's Puzzleknot for two more Legion's Landings. Otherwise, the main upgrades come in the sideboard, where we get Deathgorge Scavenger to fight graveyards and gain life, Carnage Tyrant (which has some spicy one-shot potential with Huatli, Radiant Champion) and Nissa, Vital Force for control, and Aethersphere Harvester for aggro. All around, these changes add power to the deck and help improve some potentially problematic matchups, but all in all, the deck isn't that much different from the one in the videos, which felt pretty competitive in its own right. 


Anyway, that's all for today. 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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