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Much Abrew: GW Tokens (Modern)

Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. A little while ago, a viewer going by the name crazyklicker sent me an email saying that they had 5-0'ed a Modern league with a GW Token brew (which was later confirmed by the list being published by Wizards on the Mothership). The deck looked pretty fun, so today, we're going to see if cards like Saproling Migration and March of the Multitudes are actually playable in Modern by taking the deck out for a spin. The plan is pretty straightforward: flood the board with tokens; use Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Intangible Virtue, and Venerated Loxodon to grow them into real threats; and beat our opponent down! Is it time for Tokens to shine in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: GW Tokens

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  • Record-wise, we finished 2-3 in our league with GW Tokens, which is an okay, if unexciting, record. That said, we did hit some tough matchups, losing to an 80-card Taxes deck that managed to have Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on Turn 2 both games they were on the play (and Thalia, Guardian of Thraben is absurd against our deck) and to an Uro Pile Miracles build with a bunch of Terminuses (one of the few sweepers in Modern that gets around our Heroic Intervention sideboard plan) and Mystic Sanctuary to keep putting Terminus back on the top of their deck). 
  • The upside of GW Tokens is that the deck can get off to some really fast starts. The games where we have a Legion's Landing or Kytheon, Hero of Akros on Turn 1 into either Raise the Alarm or Saproling Migration on Turn 2 to flip our one-drop tend to go really well. Cards like Spectral Procession and Lingering Souls (especially backed by ways to pump the tokens) are also great against fair decks leaning on one-for-one removal. With a solid draw, the deck can quickly snowball and pick up fast wins.
  • We also have a solid suite of payoffs to pump our tokens. Intangible Virtue is the best of the bunch, with the combo of +1/+1 and vigilance being tough for many decks to beat since we can swing with our tokens and still have blockers on defense. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar is also solid, typically making a token and then double pumping our team over the course of three turns. Meanwhile, Venerated Loxodon is more okay than great, mostly because tapping our team for convoke can be risky since we're giving up immediate damage and blockers in the hopes of even more damage in the future. This can leave us open to board wipes, although the ability to make a token on Turn 2, two more on Turns 2 and 3, and convoke out a Venerated Loxodon for free is still powerful enough to make it worthwhile in the deck, even if it does force us to make some awkward choices sometimes.
  • The bad news about GW Tokens is that it's really, really soft to unfair decks. With our best draws, we're killing on Turn 4 or 5. Most combo decks can kill on Turn 3 or 4. Combine this with the fact that we have almost no combo hate in our entire 75 (outside of Rest in Peace, which is great but only against graveyard combo decks), and we're mostly hoping our opponent stumbles and has a bad draw for us to have any hope of winning. 
  • Thankfully, the issue is probably fixable with the sideboard. White has some of the best hate cards for unfair matchups (even though some, like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, are unplayable for us because they hurt our deck too much). The current sideboard is very much focused on beating control and aggro (with Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, Heroic Intervention, and Veil of Summer great against control decks and Path to Exile, Auriok Champion, and Kaya, Orzhov Usurper for aggro). Cards like Damping Sphere and Grafdigger's Cage could be worth considering. 
  • The other aspect of the deck I question is Conclave Tribunal. While having some catch-all removal is nice, I'm not sure it's better than Path to Exile in the main deck (especially after dying to Thalia, Guardian of Thraben with an uncastable Conclave Tribunal in hand while a Path to Exile would have saved the day by exiling Thalia, Guardian of Thraben). Plus, Modern players are currently in love with Skyclave Apparition, and Conclave Tribunal is a pretty juicy target for the Spirit. 
  • All in all, I can see how GW Tokens could 5-0 a league. The good matchups for the deck felt really good. The problem is we hit some really tough matchups, with our opponent playing cards that range from hard to impossible for our deck to beat like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Terminus. The deck seems great against midrange and most control builds and decent against red-based aggro thanks to Auriok Champion in the sideboard but pretty bad against combo and Death & Taxes. Hit five good matchups in a row, and with a bit of luck, you could certainly end up with a 5-0 finish, but hit five bad matchups in a row, and a 0-5 is equally possible. We ended up somewhere in the middle, which is probably the normal for the deck.
  • So, should you play GW Tokens in Modern? I think the answer is a solid maybe. If you like tokens decks, this felt like a solid build (potentially with a few small changes like more combo hate in the sideboard and Path to Exile over Conclave Tribunal), and I think you can have success with it. Just be warned that there are some really bad matchups that feel almost unwinnable to go along with some really good ones.


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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