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Initial Technology – BW Tokens Persists Again

BW Tokens update (now with 100% more Persist!)

After I wrote my last article (found here), I didn't really have plans to stop playing Faeries. It was doing quite well for me, and I enjoyed playing it. A few days and a lot of matches against GB Elves later, and my perspective had changed. It wasn't just that I was having trouble with elves; I also had an interesting new lead on another deck.

My friend Erik messaged me on MODO, and after some catching up, the talk turned to Standard. Apparently one of the guys he playtested with, Naoto Aranami, used an interesting build of BW Tokens to win Louisiana States. We talked for a few days about the deck, creating quite an email chain as we did. The email chain started with this email:

Luis,

Hey, I’ve been working on tuning BW Tokens a bunch over the past couple weeks, studying top 8 decklists, trying a little Japanese tech, trying out different sideboard plans, etc. I really like some of the stuff I’m messing around with. Particularly, I like the persist/[card Wrath of God]Wrath[/card]/[card Ajani Goldmane]Ajani[/card] sideboard plan vs other tokens and elves decks. I run maindeck [card]Murderous Redcap[/card]s. The deck has been able to top 8 consistently in daily events, and wins most matches in 8-man constructed pods. However, the matchups get more difficult the more control cards they employ – particularly the 5cc variations.

BW Persist Tokens

[deck]3 Thoughtseize
1 Path to Exile
4 Tidehollow Sculler
3 Terror
4 Bitterblossom
1 Loxodon Warhammer
4 Glorious Anthem
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Ajani Goldmane
1 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Murderous Redcap
4 Spectral Procession
4 Arcane Sanctum
2 Reflecting Pool
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Fetid Heath
4 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights
1 Swamp
2 Mutavault
Sideboard:
2 Burrenton Forge-Tender
1 Path to Exile
1 Thoughtseize
3 Celestial Purge
4 Wrath of God
1 Murderous Redcap
1 Head Games
2 Liliana Vess[/deck]

Erik

—————–

The criteria I felt a prospective BW list had to meet was the following, which I expressed to Erik in my reply to his email:

This is what I feel a BW deck has to do to be a good choice for champs (the MODO monthly championship)

1) Beat Elves, which I would assume BW does. Midrange creature decks get stomped by BW, and I don't see why Elves would be different. [card]Profane Command[/card] isn't even a ridiculous trump, although [card]Cloudthresher[/card] (which they all MD I think) is pretty good. Matchup should be favorable for BW.

2) Have a chance against Faeries – this rules out something like Lark, although BW has always had a fine Fae matchup. It is heavily die roll dependent (although what isn't). I think saying the matchup is close to even seems accurate enough.

3) Beat other token decks – RW was always good for BW, and I dont anticipate this changing much. Kithkin is closer, but I dont expect much Kithkin in the champs event. The mirror is the mirror, and we never found anything that really broke it.

4) Have a chance against 5-cc. 5-cc is a tough matchup for BW, although i havent tried your persist plan. I dont know what the best combination of SB cards is, since I havent been that satisfied with [card]Head Games[/card]. Maybe [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] is the way to go; I don’t like [card]Scepter of Fugue[/card] very much.

I dont think I care about my [card]Sanity Grinding[/card] matchup all that much, even though it seems hard to beat it wont be a huge part of the metagame.

Luis

—————–

After a lot of discussion and many tournaments, we ended up with the following list:

[deck]3 Thoughtseize
4 Tidehollow Sculler
3 Terror
4 Bitterblossom
4 Glorious Anthem
4 Kitchen Finks
3 Ajani Goldmane
2 Cloudgoat Ranger
4 Murderous Redcap
4 Spectral Procession
4 Arcane Sanctum
4 Reflecting Pool
4 Caves of Koilos
4 Fetid Heath
2 Plains
4 Windbrisk Heights
1 Swamp
2 Mutavault
Sideboard:
1 Cloudgoat Ranger
1 Ajani Goldmane
2 Path to Exile
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
2 Scepter of Fugue
3 Puppeteer Clique
4 Wrath of God[/deck]

So before I go any further, let's take a look at how this deck differs from the standard BW list and what it all means.

The full eight persist guys ([card]Kitchen Finks[/card] and [card]Murderous Redcap[/card])

Initially we had 3 [card Murderous Redcap]Redcaps[/card], but they proved their worth often enough that the fourth came in. Having these eight creatures (plus [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card]s after board) really changes how the deck operates. Five-Color Control was one of our worst matchups (and all that stopped me from winning PT Kyoto…bah), since they could just overload on [card]Volcanic Fallout[/card]s and [card Wrath of God]Wraths[/card] until [card]Cruel Ultimatum[/card] or [card]Broodmate Dragon[/card] hit. Now you can shrug off mass removal and just keep hitting with persist guys, since [card]Ajani Goldmane[/card] conveniently enough will keep knocking off the –1/-1 counters.

No [card]Knight of Meadowgrain[/card] and only two [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card]

The [card Knight of Meadowgrain]Knights[/card] I was glad to drop, as they are of limited utility past the first few turns. The Cloudgoats I was a little more skeptical of getting rid of, but with the Redcaps (and the sideboard plan, which I’ll get to later) you don’t want to overload on expensive cards. This is where I feel you gain the most ground in the mirror, since they have these useless Knights and you have awesome Redcaps. Guess which one works better with [card]Wrath of God[/card]?

[card]Thoughtseize[/card]s

I know I said they were terrible in Kyoto, and my view of [card]Thoughtseize[/card] hasn’t changed that much. I still wouldn’t play them in normal BW, and they are nowhere to be found in my Faeries maindeck. In this deck they actually fit, because you are less on the beatdown plan than normal BW. There aren’t many cards you care about, and Thoughtseize does a good job of keeping the ones you do care about off your back. You are also a little slower, since you don’t have Knights anymore, and [card]Thoughtseize[/card] provides a relevant early play.

Those are the big maindeck changes, but the sideboard is vastly better than before as well.

[deck]1 Cloudgoat Ranger
1 Ajani Goldmane
1 Mutavault
2 Path to Exile
2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
2 Scepter of Fugue
2 Puppeteer Clique
4 Wrath of God[/deck]

While we did have [card]Wrath of God[/card] in Kyoto, it always felt a little clunky in the deck. With no real ways to abuse it, Wrath was more a desperation measure than a real plan. Now we board in four Wraths and some [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card]s, and end up with a deck built around Wrath instead of an aggro deck with an emergency reset button.

When you side in Wraths, you cut Scullers and Thoughtseizes, which does a great job transforming your deck. Particularly in the mirror, which we couldn’t get an edge on before, this plan is amazing. You have no useless two drops and a bunch of Wraths and devastating five-drops. [card]Kitchen Finks[/card] and Redcaps do a good job of playing defense, and even survive the inevitable [card]Wrath of God[/card].

The one random [card]Mutavault[/card] looks a little odd, but once you board in all the 5’s you want another land. Hitting your first five land drops is pretty important.

The sideboard doesn’t look all that different overall, but it just integrates so much better with the maindeck. Before, it always felt like you didn’t have a clear plan in most matchups. Now you do.

Sideboarding:

vs Faeries

+2 [card]Path to Exile[/card] +1 [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card] +1 [card]Mutavault[/card]
-2 [card]Murderous Redcap[/card] -1 [card Ajani Goldmane]Ajani[/card] -1 [card]Glorious Anthem[/card]

You don’t want to mess with the deck too much, as you are well set up in this matchup already. The Anthem effects are a little awkward sometimes, as sometimes you have trouble resolving a threat (to go with them). Paths work well at killing their defenses (Sower, Mistbind, Scion), and you might as well add a Cloudgoat and the [card]Mutavault[/card]. [card]Mutavault[/card] in particular helps activate Windbrisk Heights without having to resolve three guys.

vs Doran / Elves / Green type decks

+4 [card]Wrath of God[/card] +2 [card]Path to Exile[/card] +2 [card Elspeth, Knight-Errant]Elspeth[/card] +1 [card Cloudgoat Ranger]Cloudgoat[/card] +1 [card]Mutavault[/card]
-3 [card]Thoughtseize[/card] -4 [card Tidehollow Sculler]Sculler[/card] -3 [card Glorious Anthem]Anthem[/card]

These matchups are solidly favorable pre-board, and a total blowout post-board. It is so difficult for them to bash through your army of persist dudes, [card]Spectral Procession[/card]s, [card Cloudgoat Ranger]Cloudgoats[/card] and even [card]Bitterblossom[/card]. Once you take out the mostly useless hand disruption for Wraths and more removal, the games get even easier. These matchups are so good that we wanted the extra land, just to make sure we hit our land drops.

vs the Mirror
+4 [card Wrath of God]Wrath[/card] +2 [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] +1 [card]Ajani Goldmane[/card] +1 [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card] +1 [card]Mutavault[/card] +1 [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card]
-3 [card]Thoughtseize[/card] -4 Sculler -3 Terror

Much like the green decks, the mirror is dominated by Wraths. [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] punishes their Cloudgoats and [card]Marsh Flitter[/card]s, and can even stop them from attacking. Blocking a Cloudgoat is pretty unreal, and one Clique will stop their entire Cloudgoat squad by itself. Every BW player I have battled has left in Meadowgrains and Scullers, and the Wraths and Redcaps trump those really well.

vs RW Lark / Boat brew

This is tough. I was sideboarding in Wraths and P. Cliques, but this plan hasnt been working as well as I would like it. The way we beat it in Kyoto was to be aggro, so I might try this plan instead:

+2 [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] +1 [card]Ajani Goldmane[/card] +1 [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card] +1 [card]Mutavault[/card]
-4 [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card] -1 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]

The Wrath plan

+4 [card]Wrath of God[/card] +2 [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] +1 [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card] +1 [card]Mutavault[/card]
-4 [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card] -3 [card]Thoughtseize[/card] -1 [card]Terror[/card]

This also depends on their sideboarding. If they side Wraths and Fallout, you may want to adapt accordingly (the slower plan is probably better here). I really don’t know for sure which plan is best, but I think the Wrath plan is probably the way to go. As long as you have a [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] to prevent their followup [card]Reveillark[/card], the Wrath plan works, but you can run into problems if you don’t Clique in time.

vs 5cc

+2 [card]Puppeteer Clique[/card] (if they have [card]Mulldrifter[/card]/[card]Broodmate Dragon[/card], otherwise no. If you don’t know, I usually side in 2)
+2 [card]Scepter of Fugue[/card] +2 [card]Elspeth, Knight-Errant[/card]

-4 [card]Tidehollow Sculler[/card] -1 [card]Terror[/card] (gotta kill [card]Plumeveil[/card], might want to keep all the [card]Terror[/card]s)
-2 [card]Glorious Anthem[/card]

This matchup has gone from difficult to easy, and I have yet to lose to 5-cc online. Your threats are so hard for them to deal with, and you even have a fair amount of disruption. The only card I really worry about is [card]Cruel Ultimatum[/card], since all their mass removal can easily be powered through. Even Cruel isn’t a trump, and I have killed them the turn after Cruel a bunch of times. Scepter punishes them really well post-board, and two seems like a decent number.

Results

I even have some proof of this deck’s effectiveness, even though the monthly Champs didn’t go as well as I would have liked. My old roommate (again, Potes on the forums) qualified for the champs almost solely with this build of BW, and racked up an impressive record in the queus.

Best of all, our very own Josh Utter-Leyton (wrapter on MODO) just 9-0ed the swiss in the Modo Champs event, the report of which you can read here tomorrow! (Potes and myself both went 3-2 unfortunately, which doesn’t quite do it)

This deck is pretty exciting, and of course will benefit a little bit from Alara Reborn. Before I go, I’ll mention the two that catch my eye.

[card]Zealous Persecution[/card]

This just blows the mirror wide open, and should be insane in other matchups that involve tokens. Not quite maindeck worthy, I would imagine three or four of these will be a staple in sideboards.

[card]Identity Crisis[/card]

Like I said in my Esper review, this card seems pretty good in BW Tokens. It also solves the Lark problem pretty well, although it might be too slow for RW. [card]Identity Crisis[/card] into Wrath seems awesome, even though you have to take some beats to get to that position.

Let me know how BW fares for you, and remember to check out Josh’s report tomorrow!

LSV

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