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Budget Magic: Torens' Monument (Modern)


Muraho, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! This week, we're heading to Modern to make some tokens—lots and lots of them—with the help of Oketra's Monument and Torens, Fist of the Angels. The idea is that we can hopefully stick a Monument or Torens on Turn 3, follow them up by casting a bunch of cheap creatures and making a bunch of tokens, and hopefully beat our opponent down by going super wide! How good is Torens, Fist of the Angels in Modern? How many tokens can we make? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: Torens' Monument

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The Deck

Torens' Monument is a token deck but with a twist: rather than playing a bunch of token makers like Lingering Souls or Spectral Procession, our deck is full of cheap creatures that we can use to trigger Torens, Fist of the Angels and Oketra's Monument to make a massive board of 1/1s, which we then can pump and hopefully use to take down our opponent!

The Payoffs

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The heart of our deck is our two three-mana payoffs: Oketra's Monument and Torens, Fist of the Angels. While the cards look pretty different, they are actually surprisingly similar, with each making a 1/1 token whenever we cast a creature spell. Each comes with an additional upside: Oketra's Monument makes our white creatures cost one less mana, allowing for some sneaky synergies and explosive turns, which we'll talk about in a minute. Meanwhile, the tokens that Torens, Fist of the Angels makes have training, so even though they start as 1/1s, they can quickly grow into bigger threats as we attack. 

We played an Oketra's Monument deck years ago for Much Abrew. While it was pretty sweet, it did have one big problem: building around Monument requires playing as many cheap creatures as possible since the more creatures we can cast, the more tokens we can make. But we only have four copies of Oketra's Monument, so if we don't draw one, we are left playing a bunch of small, underpowered creatures and likely are in for a rough game. Torens, Fist of the Angels fixes this problem, in a weird way, by giving us eight copies of Oketra's Monument to make sure we should have one in our opening hand most games. Plus, things get pretty crazy if we ever get both Monument and Torens on the battlefield together, with each creature we cast (at a discount, thanks to Oketra's Monument) coming with a kicker of a free Raise the Alarm!

The Combo

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While we have a bunch of cheap white creatures in our deck to trigger Oketra's Monument and Torens, Fist of the Angels, the most exciting is Whitemane Lion. When the Cat enters the battlefield, it allows us to return a creature to our hand. Importantly, Whitemane Lion doesn't say another creature like more recent versions of the effect do, which means we can bounce Whitemane Lion with its own enters-the-battlefield ability, making Whitemane Lion a repeatable way to trigger Torens and Oketra's Monument. Let's say we play Oketra's Monument on Turn 3. On Turn 4, we can play a land and cast Whitemane Lion four times (since it costs just one mana, thanks to Oketra's Monument's discount), making four 1/1 tokens and ending up with Whitemane Lion back in hand so we can do it again the next turn. If we also have Torens on the battlefield, we can be making two 1/1s every time we cast Whitemane Lion, which is pretty insane for one mana. Oh yeah, and as a bonus, Whitemane Lion has flash, which does a couple of important things. First, it allows us to combo off while our opponent is tapped out (or at the end of our opponent's turn so we can untap and attack with all of our tokens). Second, in a pinch, we can use Whitemane Lion to save one of our other creatures from a removal spell by returning it to our hand, although this comes at a cost because we won't be able to put Whitemane Lion back in our hand for future token production. All in all, Whitemane Lion is the card we want the most once we get a Torens or a Monument on the battlefield. The number of tokens it can generate quickly becomes unbeatable for most decks!

Other Creatures

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While not quite as combo-y as Whitemane Lion, Squadron Hawk is still quite strong with Torens, Fist of the Angels and Oketra's Monument, giving us four creatures to cast if we draw a single copy, which also makes a ton of tokens with our payoffs.

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Otherwise, we have a bunch of curve-filler creatures. Soul Warden is especially strong against aggro, gaining bunches of life once we start making tokens with Monument and Torens. Thraben Inspector offers a cheap body and a redraw, thanks to the Clue token it makes when it enters the battlefield. Thalia, Guardian of Thraben helps slow down spell-heavy control and combo decks, hopefully buying us enough time to get Monument and / or Torens online and take over the game with our tokens. While we don't have a ton of spells in our deck, it is worth mentioning that Thalia is a bit of a nonbo with Oketra's Monument. If we happen to have both in hand, it's sometimes better to wait until we get down Monument to play Thalia, Guardian of Thraben in order to avoid taxing ourselves and playing our payoff a turn late.

The Finisher

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While we can win plenty of games just by beating down with 1/1 tokens, we do have a plan for speeding up our clock in Force of Virtue. Thanks to Squadron Hawk and the fact that Torens, Fist of the Angels is legendary (so extra copies aren't always very helpful), we usually have a random white creature that we can pitch to Force of Virtue to play it for free. It usually doubles our clock once it's on the battlefield since so many of our creatures have just one power. 

Removal

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For removal, we have a few options. Skyclave Apparition is strong in general but especially good in our deck since it's a creature to trigger Oketra's Monument and Torens, Fist of the Angels. Path to Exile deals with anything for a single mana. Dusk // Dawn is a bit matchup dependent (it's pretty bad against decks full of small creatures but great against big-creature decks like Eldrazi or Death's Shadow), but it's pretty insane in the right situations. All of our creatures have two or less power, so it doesn't hurt our board at all, and it potentially wraths most or even all of our opponent's creatures for just four mana. Later, we can use it from the graveyard to return all of our creatures to our hand, giving us a way to rebuild after a wrath or fight through removal-heavy decks. We've only got one copy in the main deck because it's so matchup-dependent, but we've got a couple more in the sideboard. When it's good, it's really, really good.

The Mana

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The mana of Torens' Monument is pretty typical budget stuff—passable but not great—because we sometimes have issues with too many lands coming into play tapped, which forces us to play off-curve. That said, I did want to mention Kabira Takedown, which is incredibly strong in our deck. We make so many tokens that it usually kills anything by the mid-game. Plus, if it's bad, we can always play it as a land or even exile it to Force of Virtue to cheat our anthem on the battlefield for free!

Wrap-Up

Record-wise, Torens' Monument was great. We ended up going 4-1, getting crushed by a spicy Smallpox Reanimator deck but managing to take down Grixis Death's Shadow, Eldrazi, MH2 Rakdos, and Death & Taxes (sort of—our Taxes opponent lost the game more than we won it). While I'm not sure how the deck would hold up to fast combo, it felt strong against all of the various Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer decks running around at the moment. It turns out that making a bunch of 1/1 tokens is a pretty good way to stop a 2/1 from snowballing with combat-damage triggers.

As far as updates to make to the deck now that we've played some matches, I'm not sure there really are any that don't increase the budget. The main deck felt solid, and the sideboard was also pretty good. The only place to really upgrade is the mana base, but untapped dual lands are some of the most expensive cards in the game. If you have more copies of Branchloft Pathway (or any Temple Garden, Razorverge Thicket, or Windswept Heath lying around), toss them in over Fortified Village and / or Canopy Vista. Gavony Township also seems perfect for the deck as another way to grow all of our 1/1 tokens.

So, should you play Torens' Monument in Modern? I think the answer is clearly yes. The deck felt surprisingly competitive. If you're a fan of token decks but are tired of casting Lingering Souls, Spectral Procession, and friends, Torens' Monument seems like a solid option that won't break the bank but is still good enough to win a decent number of games.

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Getting Torens' Monument down near $50 is tricky, mostly because we don't have a ton of super-expensive cards in the deck. Instead, the cost of the deck is split up between a bunch of cards that cost a couple of bucks. The biggest cut is our most expensive card, Skyclave Apparition. We replace it with Fairgrounds Warden, which isn't nearly as good since it can't hit non-creature permanents but still fills a similar role in the deck. Otherwise, we cut the mana base and sideboard back as much as we can. All around, the ultra-budget is solid enough but is missing a couple of important pieces. It should be fine for casual play but will probably need some upgrades to really be competitive in Modern.

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Finally for our non-budget build, we mostly just upgrade the mana base and tweak the sideboard slightly. Torens' Monument is one of those decks where most of the optimal non-land cards just happen to be cheap, which means that even fully upgraded, the deck is a lot cheaper than most in Modern are!

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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