Benalish Marshal and Standard Tokens

As a Knight lord, Benalish Marshal is serviceable. 3/3 for 3 is a fine body, and there are already ways of making and pumping Knight tokens in the set. That said, Reid Duke already wrote an article about Knights, so today I’m going to explore the other side of Benalish Marshal—the fact that it’s not only a Knights lord but an “everything” lord.

The best way to abuse lords in general is with tokens, and there are a lot of tokens in Standard right now. The problem before was that they didn’t always have the same creature types—Servo Exhibition and Sram’s Expertise made Servos, but there weren’t creatures that were naturally Servos, whereas Legion’s Landing made Vampires, for example, so it was hard to capitalize on it. The best you could do was probably Pride of Conquerors, but that was a one-shot effect. With Benalish Marshal, you have a lord that allows you to put all of those in the same deck, and you get a 3/3 out of the deal, which is a respectable size. All it requires of you is that you play a lot of white sources.

The best way to abuse Benalish Marshal is to have an artifact subtheme. Toolcraft Exemplar is still the most powerful 1-drop in the format, and if you focus a lot on artifacts then you can even give it first strike consistently. If you’re playing Toolcraft, you can probably play Heart of Kiran, which also works well as a curve into Benalish Marshal, which both crews and pumps it, much like Depala.

If you have an artifact theme, then you also get to play Karn, Scion of Urza. Karn synergizes with the deck in multiple ways—it makes tokens that get pumped by your lords, it turns on Toolcraft and Spire of Industry, and it crews Heart of Kiran for “free.”

Your deck has to have a ton of white sources, but it doesn’t need to be mono-colored like a Tempest Djinn deck would. You want to play more artifacts for Karn and Toolcraft, and the best artifacts right now are arguably Scrapheap Scrounger and Bomat Courier. Scrapheap is excellent with Heart of Kiran, as you already know from Mardu, and helps make sure that your pump effects won’t be without a creature to enhance. Bomat Courier is unassuming, but it’s the best artifact 1-drop you can play. Both creatures have the advantage that they don’t require colored mana to cast, so you can happily play Scrounger or Bomat with eight sources each, which wouldn’t be true of any other red or black card. With eight fastlands and four Spire of Industries that should be active more or less all the time, playing Mardu colors isn’t going to stop you from casting Benalish Marshal on turn 3.

You can have two approaches in a deck like this—you can try to play it more like Mardu, with interaction (Unlicensed Disintegration is not going to be very easy to cast, but gets some help if you play Sram’s Expertise), or you can play full-on aggro without any interaction, similar to what Sam Black played a couple of tournaments ago. I always like to start by pushing strategies to the max to see how far I can take them, so I’m starting with this:

Benalish Tokens

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