GW Tokens is the best deck in Standard. I’ve been over this. Nissa, Voice of Zendikar, Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, and token makers combine to create a potent combination that Standard decks aren’t well equipped to handle. This is a deck you really need to be prepared for…

—in Modern!?

Ok, I admit that this one turned my head. Gideon and Nissa are the best of friends when it comes to the Standard format, but I didn’t even consider the possibilities in Modern.

First off, you get some excellent acceleration to cast these cards earlier in the game. This is especially critical with 3-mana planeswalkers like Nissa. Creating a Plant token to block while having a planeswalker at loyalty 4 is absurd in many situations, but turn 2 on the play? Nissa and Gideon both get to churn out a token as soon as you cast them while staying out of Lightning Bolt range—critical to Modern success.

The creature accelerators start with Noble Hierarch and Birds of Paradise. Hierarch will win some games without much assistance and Birds of Paradise’s rarely-used evasion is actually relevant in a deck full of pump effects. You can also play Avacyn’s Pilgrim for some additional white fixing, but Hierarch and Birds are the top choices for this deck.

The token makers in Modern? Well that’s the exciting part. Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession are fantastic. While the 1/1 tokens are vulnerable to a number of cards in the format, a few flyers backed up by anthems can take the game down with speed. With a turn-2 Procession or Souls, this deck has the potential to race even some of the fastest combo and aggro decks in the format.

While Raise the Alarm isn’t on the same power level as its Spirit-making counterparts, it will help in a pinch. With some Gideon emblems or a Nissa in play, the creatures will be real threats, and instant speed can ambush attackers or play around sweepers well.

Removal? GW Tokens has that covered too. Path to Exile and Dismember will help make sure there aren’t too many annoying creatures in your way (plus, killing cards like Izzet Staticaster is usually a good idea).

What actually puts this deck over the top is not what you find listed under creatures or spells. It’s in the lands. That Nissa and Gideon are anthems and tokens makers is nice, but turning your lands into anthems is nicer. Gavony Township is one of the most spectacular cards in Modern. With so many mana creatures in the deck, activating a Township every turn in the early-to-mid game is pretty easy, and before long you may be activating 2. Nissa needs to minus herself to pump the team, while Gideon will often go away entirely. Township sticks around turn after turn at no additional cost to make sure your Plants, Spirits, and everything else can fight with even the biggest creatures in the format.

The final card I want to touch on is Windbrisk Heights. As a land that also functions as a pretty awesome spell in the middle stages of the game, Heights does great things for token strategies. This is an additional way to draw cards, and you’re likely casting them at a discount as well. While the ability to blow people out in combat isn’t as prevalent in this deck as it may be in others (as the anthems actually require activations, putting Gideon into the battlefield after attacking with 3 creatures mid-combat won’t grant you an instant-speed emblem), you’re still digging into more tools, finding more planeswalkers, and more Lingering Souls to make sure you can go wide. Hiding away a Path to Exile or Dismember for those combat shenanigans usually works out pretty well, too!

If I were piloting this deck, the first card I would try is Intangible Virtue. It doesn’t work spectacularly with the mana creatures, but it does everything else and can be an instant speed way to pump a bunch of creatures with Heights. The other thing that stands out to me is multiple basic Forests in a deck with 4 Spectral Procession. While Temple Garden may cost you more life, having too many basic Forests may cost you more games.

This is a pretty awesome and completely new Modern deck to my eyes—with so many carryovers from Standard, I expect you all to be giving it a try!

Matthew Nass

Top 16 at GP Los Angeles