Friday, March 30, 2012

Rith, the Token Awakener

Well, this deck certainly got some love from AVR! Sure, the number of new cards added might not be all that much, but each of them has quite a significant impact on the deck. In short, here are the new additions:

Champion of Lambholt - I fell in love with this chick at the prerelease, and luckily she seems right at home in a token deck. Making tokens makes here huge, while her getting huge makes my tokens harder and harder to block! Win-win!

Craterhoof Behemoth - I have already played a game where I swung for 71 damage on Turn 7 thanks to this guy.

Cathars' Crusade - Duh.

Reforge the Soul - As always, I need more draw, more gas. This works nicely.

Burn at the Stake - For when getting through the Red Zone is more trouble than it's worth... can easily take out one player out of the blue, or kill just about any size creature that needs killin'.

(will finish up later)


A while back, I did a crossover article with CommanderCast, where I outlined a possible WRG Token deck with Rith, the Awakner as the General. It was an idea spawned by a friend who’s Rhys the Redeemed deck wasn’t performing to his standards, and he was looking at maybe adding a third color to the deck as a way to power it up a bit.

Well, he never did anything with it, after all that. I think he just dismantled it and built something completely different instead. So, when it finally came time for me to get some new deck ideas brewing, it seemed natural to resurrect an earlier idea I’d already drafted, and bring the project to life myself, since my friend never got around to it. No point in wasting a good idea, right?

Even better, I happen to have a bigger, deeper card pool than he did, so a lot of stuff I had to leave out of his version, I could easily add to mine. So I started with the list I’d drawn up for him, then figured out what high-end stuff I’d want to add, then fine-tune it down to 100 cards. Simple as that, and I’d have a deck.

Well, it turns out it’s not quite so simple, as between Green, White and Red, there are a LOT of cards that you might want to play in a token deck! Fortunately, though it’s still fairly easy to separate the chaff from the wheat. Red has a lot of ways to make tokens, but most of them aren’t nearly as efficient as Green and White’s methods, so we’re mostly relying on those two colors for token production, but Red does open up a lot of avenues to exploit and get value from those tokens.

In the end it was still fairly easy to trim this beast down, and while I don’t think it’s 100% perfect, it’s really hard not to be happy with the list as it appears now.


Token Producers
Twilight Drover
Emeria Angel
Darien, King of Kjeldor
Dragonmaster Outcast
Kazuul, Tyrant of the Cliffs
Chancellor of the Forge
Ant Queen
Rampaging Baloths
Avenger of Zendikar
Hornet Queen
Rhys the Redeemed
Selesnya Guildmage
Dragon Broodmother
Rith, the Awakener

Here we have our token generators. There is some unnecessary redundancy – for example, King Darien and Kazuul both trigger off being attacked, and I’m not sure we want or need both of those, but I’ve never really used either card, so I just threw ‘em both in to see which turned out to be better in practice, rather than try and theorycraft an answer. They might both prove their worth, or not.

There were about 100 million other creatures, especially in Green, that could be playable here, but I tried to pick a mix of proven powerhouses (Avenger of Zendikar) and untested-but-cool cards (Chancellor of the Forge). With such a huge field of diverse choices, I was less concerned about picking the “wrong” cards, and just played what I wanted to play, knowing that if something like Chancellor of the Forge turns out to be utter garbage, there are countless other cards waiting in the queue to take its place! This is the kind of deck were you can rely on the strength of a few cards, like Avenger, to make up for any subpar inclusions you want to run just for the hell of it.

Token Supporters
Suture Priest
Mentor of the Meek
Mirror Entity
Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
Moonveil Dragon
Sigil Captain
Juniper Order Ranger

This group contains creatures that feed off the token-production aspect in some fashion. Suture Priest turns tokens into lifegain, Mentor of the Meek turns them into cards, and Mooveil Dragon just turns them into firebreathers! None of these should be particularly revelatory or wildly original. Elesh Norn? Duh. But still, you can’t always play with the formula just to be different – sometimes things just work because they do, and messing with a sure thing is a dumb idea.

Misc. Utility
Academy Rector
Wood Elves
Eternal Witness
Dauntless Escort
Primeval Titan

The usual suspects, of course. Academy Rector is there almost solely to fetch Doubling Season or Parallel Lives, though I can see it getting Mirari’s Wake or Aura Shards a fair number of times. Also suitable targets include Beastmaster Ascension or Shared Animosity. Dauntless Escort is anti-Wrath tech – board sweepers are the number one bane of all token decks!


Token Producers
Martial Coup
Decree of Justice
Elspeth Tirel
March of Souls
Storm Herd
Fresh Meat
Garruk Wildspeaker
Artifact Mutation
Aura Mutation

I always love it when the usually-boring utility spells manage to land squarely on-theme and suddenly seem way less boring! Aura Mutation and Artifact Mutation are prime examples here. Ordinarily I would just run Indrik Stomphowler and Acidic Slime, and be content to do so, but here these two spells just fit perfectly. Sure, there will be times when you draw Aura Mutation but really need to kill an Artifact, but that’s alright, because we’re happy that we have utility spells that are actually thematically appropriate.
Fresh Meat is another anti-Wrath card, but I think it can be so much more – imagine sac-ing a whole army of 1/1’s to Goblin Bombardment, then replacing them all with 3/3’s. It’s definitely going to catch your opponents off guard a few times, and they will have to get used to playing around it. Eventually just bluffing that you’re sitting on a Fresh Meat will discourage them from casting that Damnation.

Token Supporters
Intangible Virtue
Shared Animosity
Goblin Bombardment
Vicious Shadows
Parallel Lives
Doubling Season
Aura Shards
Fires of Yavimaya
Mirari's Wake
Glare of Subdual
Sarkhan Vol
Titanic Ultimatum
Phyrexian Altar
Eldrazi Monument

This section is bloated, I already am aware. There is just too much stuff that has potential, but too little of it has been proven to be either good or bad, so sometimes redundancy just occurs when I can’t decide which of two cards is better, so I decide to throw ‘em both in and see what works. On the other hand it doesn’t feel redundant at all to have both Parallel Lives and Doubling Season, as both of those will be HUGE targets for removal, so having a back up copy seems like a wise move. Haste is super-important to getting maximum benefit out of your tokens – being able to attack even once before a Wrath comes down is often all you need to have made the investment worthwhile. To that end both Sarkhan Vol and Fires of Yavimaya are in, despite the slight redundancy. It’s just that important.

A lot of people will see Phyrexian Altar and immediately think “infinite mana combo”. Well, I don’t think there is any such combo in the deck, but I don’t need there to be – theoretically the Altar will just be “a lot of mana” and that’s actually good enough for me.

Misc. Utility
Swords to Plowshares
Path to Exile
Wheel of Fortune
Blasphemous Act
Kodama's Reach
Beast Within
Sol Ring
Darksteel Ingot

Good stuff is always important, and we shouldn’t be such a slave to our theme that we’re unwilling to include a few key spells – like removal, mana fixing, or card draw! All three of these types of spells are there to help your deck run more smoothly and give you ways to interact with your opponents beyond swinging into them. Nothing up there in this category is particularly inventive – Blasphemous Act is probably the most “tech” thing up there, as it’s basically always going to cost “R”. I suppose you could target one of your own permanents with Beast Within, while Doubling Season is in play, to turn a chumb-blocking 1/1 Saproling into two 3/3 Beasts. But that’s probably not the best use of the spell – usually you want to hold onto it until someone drops a Planeswalker.


Sacred Foundry
Stomping Ground
Temple Garden
Fire-Lit Thicket
Rugged Prairie
Wooded Bastion
Boros Garrison
Gruul Turf
Selesnya Sanctuary
Clifftop Retreat
Rootbound Crag
Sunpetal Grove
Jungle Shrine
Command Tower
Reflecting Pool
Gaea's Cradle
Khalni Garden
Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree
Kher Keep
Windbrisk Heights
Temple of the False God
Yavimaya Hollow
Kor Haven
Kessig Wolf Run
High Market
Gavony Townsip
Plains x3
Mountain x3
Forest x4

Here we have our mana base. Kessig Wolf Run might seem odd at first, but when you consider that: First of all, our General needs to deal combat damage to a player to be relevant, and second of all, we also have Gaea’s Cradle in the list, then the Wolf Run starts to make sense. He helps Rith get through for damage, and later can turn any measly token into a huge threat.
The rest is pretty standard stuff. Lands that make tokens: Check. Lands that put +1/+1 counters on stuff: Check. High Market: Check.
And that’s the deck. Hope you like tokens, cause that’s what you’re getting with Rith in charge.


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