Black/White Tokens at Pro Tour Fate Reforged

Team Cabin Crew met in Prague and did the usual testing—we jammed all the Modern decks we considered playable against each other and about 15-20 drafts. After playing for about a week, we felt like the best positioned decks in the format were Abzan, Infect, Burn, and Amulet Combo.

I actually had a list of decks I wanted to try, and kept crossing them off one by one after playing with them as part of my testing process.

Jund – Inferior version of Junk.

Tron – Great matchup with Abzan, but too weak against combo (particularly Twin). Unstable.

Twin – Too weak against Abzan, which we expected to show up in big numbers.

Affinity – All the top decks in the format have the best hate cards against you (Stony Silence, Ancient Grudge, Creeping Corrosion, Kataki, Fracturing Gust, Smash to Smithereens, etc.) in addition to Lingering Souls being one of the most popular cards.

Merfolk – I’m not really sure why, but it just seemed to have gotten worse.

Dredge/Delve – Too much messing around, no real good reason to mill yourself, although I think that there could be a good Gifts/Rock Reanimator style of deck with 4 Unburial Rites and creatures like Elesh Norn, Iona, etc. But with Tarmogoyf being a 5/6 for 1G it’s really hard to justify paying more than 2 mana for creatures not named Siege Rhino.

Storm – Very bad matchup against Abzan and other decks with Abrupt Decay, also I felt like there would be a bit more graveyard hate than usual due to the unbanning of Golgari Grave-Troll.

Jeskai Ascendancy – Same problems as Storm.

Living End – Not even a convincingly good matchup against Junk because of Scavenging Ooze. This deck always looks better from the other side of the table.

Blue Moon – The strategy of playing a deck around a card that’s great against 50% of the decks and does absolutely nothing against the other 50% just doesn’t appeal to me.

Nivmagus Combo – Bad Abzan matchup, I would rather just play Infect.

Hexproof – I think this deck was good when Delver was the most played deck, but discard and Liliana of the Veil make it pretty much unplayable now.

U/W/R Control – This is more of a deck that you can tune to beat a specific metagame, but it’s hard to do it against an unknown field.

U/W/R Geist – I played this deck at the last Modern PT and got destroyed, it feels like winning the die roll is too important.

Scapeshift – I never thought this deck was very good without Dig Through Time, there is just too much discard, too many Dark Confidants and Fulminator Mages.

Soul Sisters – Half of your matchups are good and half are unwinnable—no thanks.

R/G Aggro – Bad version of Zoo.

I’m probably missing a couple decks here, but I’m sure you get the idea. That left me with:

5c ZooGeist of Saint Traft is just a beating against a lot of decks, you have a slightly favorable matchup against Abzan which gets better if you maindeck or sideboard a couple Lingering Souls. Ghor-Clan Rampager gets them really good if they don’t know about it and there are just a lot of cards in general your opponent has to play around. Being proactive is good, your plan is the same against everyone which helps with mulligan decisions (that is true for most aggressive decks), and playing 5 colors gives you access to all the best sideboard cards in the format.

Infect – Very consistent turn-3 deck, Become Immense is a great addition.

Burn – For what seemed like the first time in a century Burn actually looked like a well positioned deck, especially because of its great Abzan matchup. Banning Treasure Cruise also meant virtually no Delver decks, which meant fewer burn spells, and people cutting Dragon’s Claws and Kor Firewalkers from their sideboard entirely.

B/W Tokens – Great Abzan and Affinity matchups, good against creature decks in general. Access to the best sideboard cards. Under the radar.

Abzan – Any deck that curves discard into Dark Confidant into Liliana will always be a solid choice, though I wasn’t thrilled about it and didn’t really feel like playing the mirror match every other round.

Amulet Combo – A strong deck in general because people usually don’t know what’s going on and how to play against you, but very bad against Splinter Twin and only about even against Abzan, gets worse post board because of cards like Blood Moon and Fulminator Mage

Every time a new format comes out, Burn seems to be the most played deck on Magic Online, but when it comes to the Pro Tour, no one ever really wants to play it because it’s usually not the most skill-intensive deck and they don’t want to be “the guy playing Mono-Red Burn.” This time around it seemed like Burn was actually very well positioned, but I guess we were just too scared to pull the trigger.

I really liked the Zoo deck, but picked it up too late into our testing, which only left me with about 2 days to try to tune it and as everyone was already pretty much decided on a deck at that point and didn’t really feel like working on it with me, I just gave up. I think we didn’t give Infect enough credit, and it also didn’t help that our initial Abzan list had 2 Slaughter Pacts which made the matchup seem much better that it actually was. In the end, we thought Abzan would be the most popular deck and there would be more creature decks than combo.

The early results from Opens and MTGO were showing that people were mostly just trying to beat Abzan with value cards like Lingering Souls, Voice of Resurgence, and Kitchen Finks rather than focusing on how to force their combo through a bunch of discard spells followed by Liliana, which gave us the confidence to play the Tokens deck. We weren’t thrilled about it, but it seemed like a good metagame call.

In the end, this is what Ivan Floch, Stanislav Cifka, Jan Tomcani and I registered:

BW Tokens

At first, I wasn’t a big fan of the deck because it just seemed too fair compared to what some of the other decks were doing, but after we realized that Abzan would probably keep all the combo decks in check and we should just focus on beating creatures, it started to look much better.

Most of the credit goes to Kevin, who was the first person to actually build a physical copy of the deck to make sure we tried it. And Cifka, who did most of the fine-tuning work. The idea behind the deck is pretty straightforward. You play some discard spells in the first two turns, make a bunch of tokens on turn 3 and 4 and pump them with Intangible Virtue or Sorin. 25 lands seems like a lot, but Windbrisk Heights comes with a free spell and Vault of the Archangel makes sure your 1/1s can trade for a big Tarmogoyf or Master of Etherium. The 2 maindeck Timely Reinforcements worked out pretty well for us as no one expected it.

Because you are playing a fair deck in a format where turn-2 kills are possible, the sideboard is built to include as many high-impact cards as possible. Duress against combo or anything with Cryptic Command, Stony Silence against Affinity and Tron, Rest in Peace against decks like Living End or Dredge, Timely against Burn and Zoo, and Hero of Bladehold against pretty much anything that sideboards all the spot removal out and also in matchups where you feel like you are a big underdog, because you can always go discard into discard into Hero and kill them in two turns.

The biggest reason why this deck is good is that spot removal is so bad against it. Almost every deck has some number of Lightning Bolts, Path to Exiles, Dismembers, Lightning Helixes, and they need 3 of them to trade for one Spectral Procession. Abrupt Decay can at least kill an Intangible Virtue, but you can usually play around it with discard. Liliana is just laughably bad against you.

Zealous Persecution is one of those cards thats either great or bad, but when it’s great it usually wins you the game. It’s devastating against Affinity, Infect, or Abzan when the board is clogged with Spirit tokens; at least gives you an extra turn against Splinter Twin; and kills Master of Waves, or a 1/1 hexproof guy on turn 2.

Hero of Bladehold shines in post-board games when they take out spot removal. It hits really hard and it’s pretty good with Vault of the Archangel.

Relic of Progenitus is important against decks with Snapcaster Mage and Cryptic Command.

Windswept Heath sometimes makes it look like you are playing Abzan in the early turns.

This is how the PT went for me:

2-1 in the first draft with a solid Temur deck

Round 4 – Stephen Murray with Living End, 1-2

I messed up by letting him get a guy into play when I had a Relic out, then accidentally played the wrong land that I needed later and had it destroyed by Fulminator. I was furious at myself after the match because at the PT you can’t afford to make mistakes like that.

Round 5 – Xavier Barrofet with Bant Aggro, 2-0

Round 6 – Kazuyuki Takimura with Twin, 0-2

Round 7 – Kees Van Montfoort with G/R Tron, 2-1

Round 8 – Christian Seibold with Affinity, 2-1

2-1 in the second draft with another Temur deck. Not exactly the colors I wanted to draft, I just happened to be in those colors.

Round 12 – Franci Moreno Morales with Twin, 2-0

Round 13 – Darwin Kastle with Affinity, 2-1

I faced an interesting and tough decision this round. Would you keep Stony Silence + 6 lands (one of which is a Vault) on the play?

Round 14 – Jon Stern with G/W Little Kid Luck, 2-1

Round 15 – Yam Wing Chun with Burn, 1-2

This was a heartbreaking loss. I mulled to 3 cards in the final game and never drew Timely Reinforcements the whole match.

Round 16 – Champan Sim with Burn, 2-0

All in all, 4-2 in draft and 7-3 in Constructed for a total record of 11-5 and 36th place. Not too bad, considering I didn’t play against a single Abzan (the biggest reason we chose to play this deck), which turned out to be 30% of the metagame.

Sideboard Guide




U/R Twin






R/G Tron






Living End















U/W/R Control



GW Little Kid Luck



That’s all I have for today, thanks for reading!

3 thoughts on “Black/White Tokens at <i>Pro Tour Fate Reforged</i>”

  1. Pingback: » Top 8 with Junk at Pro Tour Fate Reforged

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