by Christian Lorenz
My name is Christian Lorenz, and I began playing magic in 2006 with the release of the magic expansion Guildpact. I played through the introduction of Time Spiral Block, and then took a break from magic until the release of Return to Ravnica. Nostalgia brought me back in, and I haven’t looked back since. I am a green mage at heart, and drift towards aggressive and midrange strategies. I play Standard competitively, but my true goal in any game of magic is to learn and have fun. I currently reside in Denver Colorado, where there is a large and thriving magic community.
Prior to rotation Green White Tokens was a powerhouse. It took down Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad in the hands of Steve Rubin and it was by far the best shell to run the newly printed Archangel Avacyn. Avacyn could finish games by herself if left unchecked and Hangarback Walker and Dromoka’s Command were extremely reliable ways to flip her. The deck was Tier 1 in the SoI metagame and enjoyed a nice little run on top of the format. As Eldritch Moon spoilers began, the strengths of the deck became overshadowed by its weaknesses. The printing of Spell Queller and Selfless Spirit made protecting your Planeswalkers a nightmare. Collected Company was still king, and with Bant Company having access to cheap efficient flyers with great abilities, the deck began to lose ground.
As the Eldritch Moon metagame began to take shape, GW tokens returned transformed. Deck pilots identified the deck’s biggest weakness (namely efficient flyers to pressure your Planeswalkers) and went bigger. Gisela, the Broken Blade, Bruna, the Fading Light, and Sigarda, Heron’s Grace all made appearances in the deck with limited all-star Thalia’s Lancers tying things together. The deck was consistent and had multiple plans of attack. It wasn’t the powerhouse it once was, but it was still competitive throughout EMN standard.
Then rotation hit. Two of the decks most powerful cards rotated and the deck was left directionless. Without Dromoka’s Command or Hangarback Walker, the deck’s flexibility waned. The most efficient ways to flip Avacyn were gone. Though turn three Nissa into turn four Gideon remains a very powerful play, the deck would need further modification to remain viable.
Here is my take on Kaladesh standard GW tokens:
Two notes before we begin…
First, the deck is hungry for colored mana. This makes Oath of Nissa and Smuggler’s Copter quite important. This deck is tooled to take advantage of Westvale Abbey. This means that we’ll have to commit quite a few land slots to these colorless mana sources. The Aether Hubs are questionable mana fixing. While they help to fix mana in the early game, there are no additional ways to make energy in the deck. This makes Aether Hub as good as Wastes after one use. Instead, one more of each basic may be correct here.
Secondly, lets address the similarities to WU Flash. Compared to flash, this deck focuses much more on getting out early Planeswalkers and producing tokens. While the curves are similar, we are trading tempo in the form of Spell Queller, Reflector Mage, and boarded counterspells for Nissa and ways to fix for her. There are pros and cons to both packages but WU flash is debatably more consistent overall. If you have WU Flash put together, this deck is easy to assemble.
As I was putting the deck together, Oath of Nissa was one of my first auto-includes. Even with the mana-fixing potential of Fortified Village and Canopy Vista, consistently being able to hit double green for Nissa on three and double white for Gideon on four is key. These two are the core of the deck and being unable to cast them on curve has disastrous consequences. It also allows for the deck to cut a land, and only run 25.
Thraben Inspector enters the deck, largely due to the power of Smuggler’s Copter. It is a cheap creature to block, crew, and keep your Planeswalkers alive. It even replaces itself, value.
Smuggler’s Copter has certainly left its mark on standard. It loots, it flies, and it can be crewed by a very confused Thraben Inspector. The looting effect and the fact that it’s colorless helps smooth out a heavily color intensive mid-curve.
Selfless Spirit is just a good card. It fits well at two mana, and can save your board from, or instantly create, an Avacyn trigger. It also hedges the bet against Kozilek’s return. An early blocker with flying never hurts either.
Declaration in Stone is good enough to clear blockers. It is sorcery speed, which is not ideal, but fills a need.
The two drop slot loses Sylvan Advocate. Sylvan Advocate is good early and late, but I think Copter and Spirit are better in the slot. Maybe this is a concession to UW Flash or Smuggler’s Copter in general. Being caught early without a flying blocker makes it hard to protect the Walkers.
Well we might as well get Nissa out of the way. She is one of the main reasons to play the deck. Nissa generates tokens (though they can’t crew the copter) and can pump up a wide board. Keeping her alive can occasionally be a struggle in aggressive games, but even as a late game anthem effect, she will always be relevant.
Thalia, Heretic Cathar is a very powerful card. Your opponent’s non-basics and creatures entering tapped is an invaluable effect. Setting opponents back a turn towards the midgame can buy a lot of time, and in a deck that is trying to protect Planeswalkers, we need all the time we can get.
Stasis Snare is the best non-conditional removal spell in white. We have two Declaration in Stone main and two in the board but Stasis Snare is our primary removal option. Notably, both can target an opposing Emrakul.
Gideon, Ally of Zendikar is the best Planeswalker in standard (shocking, I know!) and is certainly one of the biggest advantages of playing white. He crashes in for massive damage, generates tokens, and can anthem the team. If Gideon ever finds his way onto the board, I tend to protect him at all costs. Main deck, Gideon is the only four drop.
Archangel Avacyn has been a mainstay of every iteration of the deck since she was printed. Her efficient flying body helps stabilize the board, and her EtB trigger coupled with Selfless Spirit’s ability provides a consistent amount of protection. A Gideon emblem or Nissa minus makes her a must-answer threat in the air and her flip trigger is something your opponent will always have to keep in mind.
Verdurous Gearhulk is versatile enough for an inclusion. At worst, he is a 5 mana Terra Stomper. At best he gets the team in killing position. He always adds 8 power to the board. At 5 mana, this is just too good to pass up.
Angel of Invention rounds out the deck. Three creatures and an anthem effect is exactly where this deck wants to be. Pump the team to swing in for the kill, or gain some life to stay alive long enough to find an answer.
Fragmentize does what you need it to. It kills Smuggler’s Copter, Aetherworks Marvel, Panharmonicon, Stasis Snare. It doesn’t hit Gearhulks or Sky Sovereign but, at just one mana, is worth the trade off.
Declaration in Stone helps flesh out the removal package. It is awful against Vehicles but gets the job done against Emrakul and Ishkanah if you are willing to sacrifice some card advantage.
The Fumigate and the Cataclysmic Gearhulk are hedges against mass creature decks. We don’t want our opponents generating creatures as fast as we can.
The angel package takes the remainder of the sideboard. It moves the curve of the deck up, and you’re mana base is a little shaky late game with the Aether Hub. That being said if you can get there, these creatures can stabilize quickly.
Thalia’s Lancers is a fantastic toolbox card and helps to pinpoint the necessary legend for a tricky matchup. A 4/4 First Striker with the possibility of more due to an anthem effects is no slouch either.
Gisela can help gain you some life back after a slow start or a fast start from a hyper aggressive opponent.
Bruna retrieves your one of angels from the grave and melds with Gisela to give the deck late game inevitability.
Sigarda is vital in Emrakul match-ups. Preventing Emrakul’s Mindslaver effect, buying extra time, and not dying to Grasp of Darkness make her a good inclusion in the board.
Admittedly this one is not our best matchup. GB Delirium’s gameplan is to slow you down and typically takes the role of control in this matchup. Get as aggressive as possible. Their late game inevitability with Ishkanah and Emrakul makes ending the game quickly a priority. Pump massive tokens out and start swinging. Thalia is the most important card in this matchup as Ishkanah and friends coming down tapped can give you a huge edge. Their one-for-one removal plays poorly against tokens but if it buys them enough time for late game Emrakul, it did its job. Ormendahl plays a nice role here if you can activate him, and he is relatively easy to protect. Be aware, however, that a pair of Grasp of Darkness can take him down which will generally lose you the game on the spot.
+2 Declaration in Stone
+1 Thalia, Heretic Cathar
+1 Sigarda, Heron’s Grace
-1 Angel of Invention
-1 Verdurous Gearhulk
-2 Oath of Nissa
Lilliana is a good answer to your tokens, and spending resources to kill her will slow you down. Transgress the Mind can rip your hand apart early, not letting you curve out like you need to. To the Slaughter gets worse because Nissa protects Gideon when Delirium is active but like WU Flash, sometimes you just get “out-valued”.
This one can feel like a mirror match on occasion. This is where the angel package shines. Bringing in several big flyers with useful effects helps fight against their aggressive flying start. Note that this version of the deck is very susceptible to Reflector Mage. Go big or go home.
+2 Thalia’s Lancer
-3 Thraben Inspector
-1 Stasis Snare
Note I didn’t cut the Oath of Nissas due largely to the increase in curve. This matchup isn’t bad. Sometimes tokens are enough, sometimes they aren’t. The flyers pressure Nissa and Gideon well but when Gisela comes down and starts getting pumped, she is hard to deal with (despite the possibility of opposing Avacyn). If playing against Panharmonicon variants, or if you are worried about Smuggler’s Copter, bring in the Fragmentize from the board. Never be afraid to cut angels for Fragmentize. Resolving Nissa and Gideon before they can counter them helps immensely. The early game pre-board is identical so answer their Copter with one of your own and hold out for Walkers.
RG Aetherworks Marvel
This is an interesting matchup. Their late game inevitability is identical to GB Delirium but they have more Emrakuls and Ishkanahs to draw. Marvel can be blown up for cheap if you draw your side boarded Fragmentize. Stasis Snare hits everything. Copter and Gideon will keep the pressure on so try and deal damage early with a focus on not allowing Marvel to stick around. Of the big three, this is probably the deck I have had the most success against.
+1 Declaration in Stone
-2 Oath of Nissa
-1 Angel of Invention
-1 Verdurous Gearhulk
-1 Thraben Inspector
We put up a good fight against this hyper-aggressive deck. If they get a quick start it can be challenging to keep up but if given enough time, it is easy to stabilize.
-2 Declaration in Stone
-3 Oath of Nissa
-1 Verdurous Gearhulk
The angel package is too slow for the matchup but Gisela still comes in. She helps gain you back life if you can hang on long enough to cast her. Declaration in Stone gets cut as it is just too bad here. So do all three Oath of Nissas and Verderous Gearhulk. Both Oath and Gearhulk are too slow and do not make enough of a board impact to keep around.
There have only been a few cards spoiled for Aether Revolt, but there are two that are already worth mentioning. The first is Yahenni’s Expertise. This seems like a very good card against us. Wrathing the board of tokens, and resolving any powerful three mana spell puts us very far behind. It slots into the already established Delirium deck, as if we need even more reasons for Delirium to beat us down.
Heart of Kirin seems made for this deck. With 8 Planeswalkers, the alternate crew cost is easy to obtain. Once crewed, we have pseudo Avacyn 5-8. I am excited to test this card out.
Also, Oath of Ajani has obvious applications here. Turn 3 Gideon seems great plus an extra anthem effect is perfect in a our “go-wide” strategy.
I’ll Leave you with a jankey combo…
I have tried a more combo heavy version of this deck that focuses around Animation Module and Durable Handicraft. This combination uses Handicraft to put a counter on a creature entering the battlefield, which triggers Animation module to create a servo. This puts another counter on a creature which creates another servo…rinse and repeat. The problem is that the metagame is much too fast for this slow and clunky interaction. You are capped by available mana and, while the payoff is good, you get run over most of the time. If the format slows down this is an interesting combo to investigate but I have had poor results with it recently.
I think this deck has some legs moving forward. A few decent cards from Aether Revolt put this style back on the map. If the deck continues to get no serviceable cards, we might as well put it away and play UW Flash. Regardless of what Aether Revolt has to offer, the deck is a blast to play. If you have the cards, and want to have some fun, sleeve it up. Bring it to an FNM and show the field why a Gideon lead token army is nothing to be trifled with.