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Budget Tokens

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Hello, fellow magicians!

I want to talk more about what this article series is going to be about before we jump in this week. This is going to be unlike other budget articles you read. I am going to avoid creating decks from scratch. Instead, I am taking a top-down approach to budget decks. That means I will find successful lists and strategies and do the work of finding the corners to cut to making that archetype more accessible. The reality of the situation is Magic is a game that has a financial barrier to entry, and that comes from Magic being the best collectible card game on the market. You can’t expect to find $50 Louboutin shoes, and you should expect the same from competitive decks for Magic. To be clear, I am not saying that there are not ways to play Magic on the cheap. Pauper and other cost-conscious formats exist for that purpose, but this series is not about that. I am going to present you with competitive decks that have cut some corners and should still be able to hold their own at local Friday Night Magic tournaments or similar events—similar to how generic-brand shoes still serve their function but will not turn any heads.

On to the deck this week!

Lingering Souls Is Awesome

I know this is news to no one, but it warrants reiteration due to how good it is. This week, I am going to be looking at a deck that takes Lingering Souls to the maximum. Esper tokens hasn’t had a real breakout performance yet, but I do think the deck is packing some real power. Kevin Jones has the claim to the best finish with the deck at a larger tournament, and it has also put up some solid results on Magic Online. For the starter deck this week, we are going to use Alex Binek’s list priced out according to CoolStuffInc.com:

Creatures Basic Land
4 Augur of Bolas 0.49 1.96 3 Island
2 Snapcaster Mage 24.99 49.98 2 Plains
1 Swamp
Enchantments
2 Favorable Winds 0.79 1.58 Lands
4 Intangible Virtue 1.99 7.96 4 Drownded Catacomb 3.99 15.96
2 Evolving Wilds 0.25 0.5
Instants 4 Glacial Fortress 3.99 15.96
4 Azorius Charm 1.25 5 4 Hallowed Fountain 14.99 59.96
3 Dissipate 0.99 2.97 2 Isolated Chapel 12.99 25.98
2 Faith's Shield 0.49 0.98 2 Vault of the Archangel 2.49 4.98
2 Forbidden Alchemy 0.25 0.5
4 Midnight Haunting 0.49 1.96 Sideboard
2 Knight of Glory 0.99 1.98
Planeswalkers 2 Oblivion Ring 0.99 1.98
3 Sorin, Lord of Innistrad 18.99 56.97 2 Feeling of Dread 0.49 0.98
2 Negate 0.25 0.5
Sorceries 2 Purify the Grave 0.79 1.58
4 Lingering Souls 2.49 9.96 2 Jace, Architect of Thought 49.99 99.98
2 Talrand's Invocation 0.79 1.58 3 Supreme Verdict 6.49 19.47

A total of $391.21

Lingering Souls
This token-swarm-style deck is not one that is composed of individually powerful cards; rather, the parts work together to create powerful synergies. For instance, Lingering Souls, as I have said before, is at its best in this deck. Lingering Souls, along with the deck’s nine other token producers, can create giant vigilant creatures with the help of the deck’s six anthems in Favorable Winds and Intangible Virtue.

The token producers also have other small interactions. Snapcaster Mage allows you to generate additional value out of your token producers. Snapcaster combos with Forbidden Alchemy, allowing you to snag the card you want and throw that instant or sorcery in the bin for later use. Augur of Bolas seems to be an easy include in this style of deck, as a third of your deck being instants and sorceries should allow you to hit most of the time.

The deck has some cards that don’t fall in with the synergies of the deck but that are powerful on their own or advance your game plan and warrant inclusion. Cards such as Azorius Charm, Dissipate, and Faith's Shield fall into this category. Azorius Charm will primarily be used as a pseudo-Condemn most of the time, but cycling or gaining life will be occasionally important.

The lands here are straightforward, but there is an exciting choice with Vault of the Archangel. Having the ability to give all of your tokens deathtouch will be able to hold off offenses of any size.

The sideboard here seems interesting in that you are trying to transform into a more traditional control deck in some matchups with Supreme Verdict, Jace, Architect of Thought, Oblivion Ring, and Negate against better aggressive decks. In addition, Knight of Glory and Feeling of Dread should be used as tools to allow you to race the black aggressive decks. Purify the Grave should be used against the Unburial Rites decks, and it also snipes Gravecrawlers and nabs Geralf’s Messengers with their undying triggers on the stack.

I took that list and transformed it into this:

Creatures Basic Land
4 Augur of Bolas 0.49 1.96 3 Island
2 Plains
Enchantments 1 Swamp
2 Favorable Winds 0.79 1.58
4 Intangible Virtue 1.99 7.96 Lands
4 Drownded Catacomb 3.99 15.96
Instants 3 Evolving Wilds 0.25 0.75
4 Azorius Charm 1.25 5 4 Glacial Fortress 3.99 15.96
4 Dissipate 0.99 3.96 4 Hallowed Fountain 14.99 59.96
4 Tragic Slip 0.99 3.96 1 Isolated Chapel 12.99 12.99
2 Negate 0.25 0.5 2 Vault of the Archangel 2.49 4.98
4 Midnight Haunting 0.49 1.96
Sideboard
Sorceries 4 Knight of Glory 0.99 3.96
4 Lingering Souls 2.49 9.96 4 Oblivion Ring 0.99 3.96
4 Talrand's Invocation 0.79 3.16 2 Feeling of Dread 0.49 0.98
2 Negate 0.25 0.5
3Purify the Grave0.792.37

For a new total of $162.37

Hallowed Fountain
The first thing a lot of you will notice is that the lands are largely unchanged, with the exception of switching an Isolated Chapel for an Evolving Wilds. Early in my Magic-playing career, someone told me that working on having all of the rare lands in a format will give you access to a wider range of decks, and those lands are also the part of the deck that you have to have if you want to be able to play your spells when you need to. Historically speaking, lands have jumped dramatically in price once the block they were printed in is the older of the two Standard-legal blocks. Most people will remember when Seachrome Coast and friends jumped from being roughly $5 to $15 in a few short weeks, and we have seen the same with the Innistrad rare lands as well. If you learn nothing else from this article series, I need you to learn to collect the current cycle of rare lands to save yourself substantial future money. So in that vein, bite the bullet on those Hallowed Fountains now, and hold on to them.

Now for the shaved corners! I cut the copies of Sorin, Lord of Innistrad in favor of finishing off the play sets of Talrand's Invocations and Dissipates. I love the idea of some main-decked removal such as Tragic Slip, so I cut the Snapcaster Mages that don’t do enough in this deck to justify the cost. Along with that, I cut the Forbidden Alchemys they play well with. The swap for Negate over Faith's Shield comes from the former seeming to do what Faith's Shield does most of the time, only better. Occasionally, Faith's Shield will be the Falter effect you want it to be, but the existence of Electrickery makes me want the Negates more.

In the sideboard, I cut the ability for us to transform into a control deck when I nixed Jace and Supreme Verdict, but we still retain some of the control elements. The popularity of Zombies makes me feel that a play set of Knight of Glory and Oblivion Ring is a safe bet. You will want to Negates against the red decks running around and against the control decks—so you can power through and protect your tokens.

That’s it for this week. Remember, if you have a deck you want me to look at, send it to me at JRRRsDecks at gmail dot com!

-JR

@THEJRRR

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