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Budget Magic: Is Lingering Souls Good in 2023? 15 Rare Black-White Tokens (Historic)


Hey there, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Lingering Souls is one of my all-time favorite cards. Back when Dark Ascension released in 2012 it was a legit bomb showing from Standard all the way back to Legacy thanks to its ability to generate pseudo-card advantage thanks to flashback and add a massive four 1/1 flying bodies on the battlefield for just five total mana. Well now thanks to the bonus sheet of Shadows Over Innistrad Remastered Lingering Souls is coming to Magic Arena for the first time which means we can build an old school Modern-like WB Token deck that looked to flood the board with little evasive tokens thanks to Lingering Souls and Battle Screech, pump them with Intangible Virtue and hopefully run our opponent over before they get a chance to recover. The best part? We can put together a really powerful build of the deck with just 15 total rares including the eight rare lands we need to make our mana work! Is Lingering Souls good on Magic Arena in 2023? Can WB Tokens compete on a tight 15 rare budget? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck! 

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Budget Magic: WB Tokens

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The Deck

WB Tokens is an aggro token deck that looks to flood the board with cheap, evasive tokens, pump them with anthems and run the opponent over with combat damage before they can find a sweeper or another answer!

Tokens

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While our deck has a ton of ways to make creature tokens, the two most important are Lingering Souls and Battle Screech. Thanks to flashback both of these cards offer a massive four 1/1 flying tokens for either four or five mana, which is an absurdly good deal. Lingering Souls is the reason we're playing the deck and the best token producer in our deck. While it technically costs five mana to cast it and flash it back to make the full four tokens a big part of the card's power is that we can split up the cost between turns. As such, we'll often be able to play Lingering Souls on turn three to make two 1/1 Spirits with flying and then the next turn flash it back to get two more for just two mana, which lets us leave up some extra mana for removal, anthems of other token producers. Meanwhile Battle Screech is basically our backup Lingering Souls. It's slower to get going since it costs four mana to cast it the first time, but it helps make up for this with its free flashback cost which lets us tap three white creatures to make two more 1/1 Birds with flying. Together these cards allow us to quickly flood the board with fliers, which is enough to beat some decks all by itself, although normally we don't need these cards to win by themselves because we've got a bunch of backup token producers as well...

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In the one-drop slot we have two options. Doomed Traveler isn't technically a token, but it does leave behind a 1/1 Spirit when it dies which makes it a decent chump blocker in the early game and also offers some synergy with Deadly Dispute by giving us a pain-free creature to sacrifice. Meanwhile Legion's Landing is one of two nonland rares in our deck. While it's front side isn't anything special, giving us a 1/1 lifelinking Vampire token, the real power of Legion's Landing in our deck is that thanks to our ability to flood the board with tokens we can quickly flip it into a land which makes tokens. This gives us a way to rebuild after a sweeper in the late game, something to do with our mana if we run out of better things to do and also works as ramp. Something like turn one Legion's Landing into Raise the Alarm on turn two will let us flip Legion's Landing on turn three, giving us enough mana to cast Battle Screech or double spell.

Tokens + Removal

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Rounding out our token producers we have Raise the Alarm and Start // Finish. The big upside of both of these cards is that they are instants, which does a couple of things. For example, we can wait until our opponent attacks and make some 1/1's at instant speed to block or if our opponent has a sweeper we can use them to rebuild our board at the end of our opponent's turn. They are also especially good against control decks since they give us cards we can cast during our opponent's turn to pressure our opponent's counterspells. The other upside of Start // Finish is that once its in our graveyard we can use it as a removal spell by aftermathing it to destroy a creature. One of the things I really like about our WB Token deck is that outside of one copy of Go for the Throat all of our removal is dual-purpose. Start // Finish is a token producer that is also removal while Kabira Takedown is a land that also can kill a creature of planeswalker. This lets us overload our deck with tokens while still having plenty of interaction to deal with our opponent's threats!

Anthems

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As you've probably figured out by now, our deck is really good at making a lot of 1/1's. The problem is that it takes a long time to actually deal 20 damage one at a time. As such some of the most important cards in our decks are our two anthems, which greatly speed up our beat down play by growing our team. I won't spend much time on Wedding Announcement. I'm sure you know what it does because it's currently one of the key cards in Standard, but it is perfect for our deck giving us tokens, card advantage and eventually an anthem. It's the second and final non-land rare in our deck. It's that good. While Wedding Announcement is great, it's probably the worse of our two anthems because I think there's an argument that Intangible Virtue is the best anthem that has ever been printed. While it is narrow since it only works with tokens giving our entire team +1/+1 and vigilance for just two mana is absurd. While vigilance might not seem like much, it's actually hugely important since it allows us to swing with all of our creatures to force through damage and still have chump blockers back on defense to slow down our opponent's biggest threats. While we always want to draw at least one of these cards we're perfectly happy drawing two or three. When our Lingering Souls and Battle Screechs are making 3/3's and 4/4's it's really hard to lose!

Card Draw

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Last and probably least is Deadly Dispute, which gives us a bit of card draw. Ideally we'll use it in response to a removal spell to sacrifice a creature that was going to die anyway, although we also have Doomed Traveler which is essentially free to sacrifices. Worse cast our deck makes so mana 1/1's that it usually isn't too painful to turn one into a couple of new cards and a Treasure token. Regardless, between Deadly Dispute, Wedding Announcement and the virtual card advantage we get from mechanics like flashback and aftermath our deck is more than happy to grind it our in the late game with midrange and control opponents.

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A couple of quick notes on the mana of WB Tokens. First, it's fine for a budget deck. We have eight dual lands and a bunch of basics, which is fine, especially considering we are a heavily white deck splashing a bit of black, so we never really need to draw more than one black source. Second, Godless Shrine and Isolated Chapel take up more than half of of 15 rare budget, but that's the cost of doing business in Magic. This said, if you have other untapped Orzhov dual lands (like Concealed Courtyard or Blightstep Pathway) feel free to play those instead rather than spending wildcards on Godless Shrine and Isolated Chapel. While playing uncommon tapped dual lands is a bad idea and will slow the deck down as lot, as long as the dual your are playing mostly comes into play untapped it doesn't really matter which ones you are playing. Oh yeah, while I'm sure we'll talk about this more in a minute when we talked about the non-budget build of WB Tokens, it's also worth pointing out that this is the easiest play to upgrade the deck. While the current manabase is functional, it isn't exciting. Adding more utility lands ([[Castle Ardenvale], Castle Locthwain, channel lands), some creature lands and more dual lands is the easiest way to add some extra power to the deck. 

Wrap Up

Record wise WB Tokens has been solid. We went on an absurd run with the deck going 8-0 to moving most of the way through platinum on MTG Arena, and overall I've been playing the deck a bit for fun while I've been sick and I'm 11-7 with the deck overall, good for a 61% match win percentage, which is great in general, and double so for a deck on a 15 rare budget!

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The main power of the deck is that it laughs at targeted removal. Cards like Fatal Push and Strangle are hilariously bad against us, since our opponent is spending a whole card to answer 1/4 of a Lingering Souls or Battle Screech. As such, WB Tokens is great against control and midrange. Like legitimately awesome. Sure, sometimes our opponent manages to find a sweeper to stay in the game, but if we meter out our threats (for example, not flashing back Lingering Souls for no reason but waiting in case our opponent has a Brotherhood's End or Ritual of Soot or whatever) we can easily beat those as well. We're also good against burn-style aggro decks like Mono-Red thanks to our endless blockers and sneaky Anointer Priest sideboard plan.

So where is WB Tokens bad? Against fast combo mostly. Decks like Mono-Green Devotion or Izzet Wizards don't really care about how many Lingering Souls tokens we make. They'll just execute their combo and win even through our massive board of 1/1's. We can also be a bit slow against aggro decks that can make massive trampling creatures (like Embercleave decks can be a problem, since our opponent can trample over our endless chump blockers for lethal). 

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As far as changes to make to the budget build of the deck, there's only one: Shefet Dunes in the manabase. More ways to pump our creatures is good and since Shefet Dunes is only an uncommon it does work under the budget. I'd replace for Plains for a playset of the desert. Otherwise, I'm pretty happy with how the deck turns out!

So should you play WB Tokens in Historic? I think the answer is yes! It's really difficult to make competitive 15 rare budget decks in Arena's eternal formats where many decks are playing 40 or 50 rares/mythics, and WB Tokens posted a really solid record at a fairly high rank! I also find the deck really fun to play, but this might partly be because I love Lingering Souls so much. If you like going wide, beating down and laughing at spot removal than WB Tokens is probably the perfect budget Historic deck for you!

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While I wouldn't recommend trying to rank up with this deck thanks to the clunkier manabase, it's very possible to build a decent-ish looking WB Token deck with zero rares or mythics. We drop Legion's Landing for Thraben Inspector. Wedding Announcement becomes Pride of Conquerors (which is much less consistent, but is even more explosive. Thanks to our token production it's pretty ease to ascend early in the game and giving all of our Lingering Souls and Battle Screech tokens +2/+2 likely just kills our opponent in one attack!) We also drop our rare duals for common duals Orzhov Guildgate and Scoured Barrens (although again, any common duals will do, they are all basically the same). While the changes to the non-land cards probably represent a bit of a downgrade, with the loss of the card draw from Wedding Announcement hurting against control and other grindy decks in specific, the biggest concern is the mana, where having 12 lands that come into play tapped means we're going to be playing off-curve a lot. I think this build would be more than find for unranked play and probably win quite a few games, but to compete at the higher ranks upgraded mana is going to be necessary. 

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Finally for our non-budget build we don't get a ton of changes to the non-lands in the main deck. We do a bit of trimming to make room for Thoughtseize and cut Doomed Traveler for a copy of Adeline, Resplendent Cathar and The Wandering Emperor. The mana and sideboard, on the other hand, get a ton of upgrades. In the mana we get more dual lands along with some utility from Westvale Abbey (which is a fine way to make a token if we run out of action, but more importantly is a sneaky way to beat a sweeper from our opponent since we can sacrifice our board to make an massive, indestructible Ormandal), Castle Ardenvale, Castle Locthwain, Hive of the Eye Tyrant and Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire. Meanwhile in the sideboard we get a couple more planeswalkers and some removal upgrades.

Conclusion

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 SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.



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