Many people are fans of playing G/W Tokens. But many, many people are not fans of playing G/W Tokens. This article is for the latter group. Special thanks to Drew Magary. I'm including this at the top of the article because the denizens of the comment section refuse to acknowledge that I've already acknowledged him and this writing format. Your comment section sucks.
Oh boy. Sometimes these suckers write themselves. I barely have to touch my fingers to the keys. It's just that easy today. Get me a phone because I'm dialing this in.
Let's do something wild and crazy that you probably haven't read about over the last few weeks. How about talking about G/W Tokens!
Wait. A quick Google search shows that there are like…approximately 30 articles a day about this deck all over the Internet.
Screw this. I'm roasting it.
G/W Tokens is the vanilla ice cream of Magic decks. I just read an article that said “53 of the 60 cards in the main deck seem to be unanimous.” Wow! Check out all that room for innovation! What will I play this weekend? Two copies of Evolutionary Leap and a single Stasis Snare or two copies of Stasis Snare and an Evolutionary Leap? These are the questions that plague the greatest minds of Magic. However will I sleep tonight?
This is the version Gerry Thompson broke to go 15-0 at #SCGATL, which is a ridiculous accomplishment. By broke it, I mean he does what Gerry does. When he himself says that he broke a deck, it's like Leonardo da Vinci saying he painted “a pretty good picture.” Find me a tournament where Gerry doesn't break it. You don't Top 8 an infinity symbol worth of Opens and SCG Tour® dates getting by on the bare minimum.
And that's why I hate this deck.
Since Shadows over Innistrad dropped, this deck has been cartoonishly dominant. It won a Pro Tour, tons of Standard GPs, a bunch of SCG Tour® events, and probably 5-0'd a Legacy league on Magic Online. I was just told my wife was leaving me to marry G/W Tokens. This deck has ruined my marriage.
From a design standpoint, it's pretty basic, not remotely flashy, and the mirror matches take forever because 4/5s crashing into each other and sometimes casting Dramoka's Command aren't winning games in under 50 minutes. The best ways to break parity are after-sideboard games that involve drawing some number of Linvala, the Preserver and then eventually tapping six lands to cast Linvala, the Preserver.
At this point, and this is probably the only part of the article that isn't satire, I would 100% be maindecking at least two Linvala and even going as far as to include the other two copies in the sideboard, because she is that important.
Other than that, G/W Tokens has a gameplan that revolves around doing the same damn thing every single turn.
I actually have a transcript of a tournament I played in.
Opponent: Hey, my name is-
Me: Are you Tom Ross?
Opponent: No, I'm-
Me: Doesn't matter.
I cast a turn 2 Sylvan Advocate.
Opponent: Wow. They always have it on turn 2, don't they?
I cast a turn 3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.
Opponent: That's a pretty good curve there.
I cast a turn 4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar.
Opponent: Jeepers, your draw is pretty good.
I cast a turn 5 Archangel Avacyn.
Opponent: I guess I'm dea-
The very next round?
Opponent: Hey, my name is-
Me: Are you Tom Ross?
Opponent: No, I'm-
Me: Doesn't matter.
Rinse and repeat.
Your Best Cards
Not included in this list is Nissa, Voice of Zendikar because she's booty and every single guide says you're supposed to sideboard her out in 90% of matches. I didn't believe that at first, thinking she was integral to the multiple Game 1 wins this deck has…but no, she's actually booty, and if there were a better option to protect the Gideon you 100% will have on turn 4, I'd probably play that instead. Maybe I'll just play Oath of Gideon. Then we sort of get to play more Gideons! Hooray!
Above you'll also see Sylvan Advocate. Remember when that card was printed and I said it belongs in every midrange green deck that exists out there because it's awesome in the early, middle, and later parts of a game and people called me stupid? I sure do…because I internalize all the criticisms and glue them to the ceiling of my bedroom so I can stare at them well into the night, much like an abyss! They creep my wife out…maybe that's why she's leaving me for G/W Tokens…
Sylvan Advocate is always there on turn 2. Always. You've played against this deck to know they will have it on turn 2, it'll attack you a bunch of times, you'll never be able to attack because it's there, and then you'll die when it becomes a 4/5. Oh, and they always have multiples. It's like Avarax. Cast one, search up another! In fact, almost every card in this deck feels that way. It's part of why I hate it. Consistency is for suckers. I want all my decks to be like that Jeskai Ascendency deck from last season that dealt you for infinite with a Sylvan Caryatid. That's something I could be an advocate of.
Also existing in this boring waste of space is Oath of Nissa. I miss the old legend rule. For you kids, there was a time when, if I had an Oath of Nissa on the battlefield, you couldn't cast the one in your hand. Neither could I. It just sat there like a stop sign. Green Ponder gives you more redundancy early, and then you play another one and find a better card or smooth your mana, and then it does it again later, and then probably for a fourth time, because why would your green opponent topdeck a land when they could just draw Ponder.
Remember when SoI came out and Jim Davis won with Bant the first SCG Tour® weekend? Everyone said, “Welp, I guess Gideon, Ally of Zendikar just isn't that good anymore.” How silly do those people look now as Gideon beats the living stuffing out of people week in and week out? It's like when those folks forgot about Dr. Dre and then he came out with 2001 and everyone collectively shouted “Awwwwww that was totally dope!” That's how we talked back then. Gideon has been dropping the phattest beats since he was printed, and it doesn't look like that's stopping anytime soon.
Last, we'll look at Archangel Avacyn. Wow. What a cool card, right? Making Wrath of God effects useless is pretty awesome, and so is ruining combat math, blocks, attacks, Magic…pretty much everything. Let's make sure she has vigilance, too, and then if one of our creatures accidentally dies, which they never do, but sometimes we like to play our Hangarback Walkers for zero just for trolling purposes, she can flip into my seventh-grade math teacher Mrs. Blesuchi and totally screw up my afternoon by destroying everything I have on the battlefield, and then killing me. What an awesome card! I'm so glad they're pushing the power creep. What's terrifying is that we'll look back on this card in five years and it'll pale in comparison to the one mana 20/20 they'll print that wins you the game when you cast it.
What's New That Sucks
Absolutely nothing. This deck is like that guy who graduated high school but never moved out of his parent's house. Now he's 45 and still has Def Leppard posters hung up and the same Pink Floyd t-shirt he wore in 1978. At least he still has the fast car!
Basically, this deck has very little room for innovation. At least 52 cards simply have to exist for it to be as effective as it currently is. The addition or subtraction of a few cards weekly is just based on what is happening in the metagame. Gerry will add Den Protectors and change the sideboard. Next week, Seth Manfield, who accidentally didn't win a Grand Prix this weekend in Columbus, will remove the Den Protectors and go back to four Hangarback Walkers and more Evolutionary Leaps. You might take my suggestion and play more Linvalas. Who knows? Whatever it is, it won't be flashy and it'll be a lot like watching paint dry.
What Has Always Sucked
This is a wildly diverse format with a ton of decks that all get completely pushed to the side by G/W Tokens. In short, for a long while, we've been dealing with green-based decks ruling Standard Magic. If it wasn't Abzan, it was Bant Company. If it wasn't Rally, it was Jund. At this point, we're living through the latest iteration of a green deck dominating things. I don't think any of us are hungry for Mono-Black Devotion/Mono-Blue Devotion/U/W Control again, but in actuality, there are many decks we could be playing if G/W weren't a natural foil to them all. The best card against them, Languish, isn't even a sure thing, since a single Gideon emblem can circumvent that and 4/5 Sylvan Advocates could not care less about -4/-4.
As I head into #SCGORL this weekend, my testing is almost completely against G/W Tokens and what decks beat it consistently. To do well or win this tournament, you can't ignore the deck. You have to prepare for it as if you're going to play it nearly every round. Sure, W/B Midrange, Bant Humans, Ramp, U/R Control, Grixis, W/R Humans, and a whole bunch of other decks exist, but I can't afford to pay attention to too many of those matches because, as all my friends have been telling me in Costa Rica or at the SCG Tour® events, the top tables were flush with G/W Tokens.
Here's a thought for Eldritch Moon: don't print any green or white cards. This is my personal hell.
What Might Not Suck
If you can find a deck that beats G/W Tokens, you've got a significant advantage going into this weekend at your local PPTQs or at #SCGORL.
Other than that, the deck is actually pretty hard to pilot correctly. Too many players think it's an aggro deck, and if they don't have the natural curve, they just blankly stare at their hand and struggle to put together an offense. That part is awesome, just watching them freak out when the deck requires thought. Those are my favorite games!
“What do you mean I don't have Gideon on turn 4? Is my opponent cheating? Did they shuffle all of them to the bottom of my deck?” That's the typical thought process of a confused G/W Tokens player.
I am writing this with a complete understanding that I will go 0-5 against G/W Tokens in Orlando this weekend. My hubris will be my downfall.
It was worth it.
Down with G/W Tokens.