When a new set is previewed it doesn’t take long before people begin to ask the big questions. What will be the next major archetype? Is my deck still viable? And why didn’t they reprint Serum Visions? Whilst I can’t help you with that final question, there has already been some speculation as to the first question. Back during Shadows over Innistrad standard, I was one of ‘those’ people seelving up Green/White Tokens. Not only was the deck using two of my favourite colour in magic, but it was pretty powerful, and got me to my first Grand Prix Trail win. Although my performance at the actual Grand Prix may less than I had hoped, the deck was by far one of my favourite to play in recent years. (Deck List at the top!)
The deck used powerful planeswalkers, such as Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, to lay down a vast swarm of tokens, then pumping them up with +1/+1 counters and anthem effects to overwhelm your opponent. Unfortunately, the deck seemed to be relegated to tier two status after the last rotation, and there it has remained. Until now.
Return of the Lion Man
Every now and then, an architype that players thought was gone for good finds a way back when a new set is released. Aether Revolt may have given Green/White Tokens the much-needed boost it needs to get back to top tier status, in the form of Oath of Ajani, Ajani Unyielding, and Heart of Kiran.
It has to be said, that Ajani is my favourite planeswalker. When it was revealed that he was going to join the gatewatch, I for one was pleased, not only from a story prospective, but because his Oath was super powerful. The ability to put a +1/+1 counter on all your creatures for only two mana would make this card playable in its own right, but it second ability to reduce the cost of planeswalker spells in your deck, allows this Oath to synergies not only with Nissa and Gideon, but also with the tokens they create. Lucky for us, we not only get Ajani’s Oath, but the brand-new Ajani Unyielding too.
Whilst Ajani may not produce any tokens, he does add a lot to the deck. His first ability gives you pseudo card draw, something Green and White has struggled with in the past, and his second gives you exiling removal. Yes, your opponent my gain some life, but with the amount of damage you’ll be causing, it will make very little different. His ultimate however, is truly back breaking, not only placing five +1/+1 counters on all your creatures and tokens, but in most cases, raising the loyalty of your other planeswalker high enough to allow them to use their own ultimate’s, quickly bringing a close to the game.
Now when I first started to write up this list, I had intended to include a full playset of Smugglers Copter. However, as I began to put pen to paper, Wizards of the Coast decided to let loose the ‘Banhammer’, and remove the copter from Standard play. Whilst I agree with the banning, as the copter was warping the format and preventing some strategies from getting off the ground, it did leave a gap in the deck. Luckily, Wizard’s may take with one hand and give with the otehr and we find a great replacement in the form of the legendary Heart of Kiran. For the same two mana we would have spent on the copter, we get a 4/4 flyer with vigilantes, allowing it to function as an attacker, and as a blocker. Yes, it does have a crew cost of 3, however, we can also use loyalty counters from any of our planeswalkers to crew it instead, allowing us to keep building our board state, while keeping up the pressure on our opponent’s life total.
The rest of the deck is built around creating our army of tokens. First off, we include playsets of the aforementioned Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and the new Sram’s Expertise. This sorcery not only creates three 1/1 servos, but also allows you to cast any spell with a converted mana cost of three or less from your hand, such as Nissa, a Heart of Kiran, or even an Oath of Ajani, for free. Next, we move to our creature package, starting with a playset of Lambholt Pacifist. Coming with three power and toughness, this Human/Werewolf provides an early blocker that’s pretty hard to fight through. In addition, the pacifist can crew our legendary vehicle if we are lacking in the planeswalker department, and after a single anthem effect, becomes a hard-hitting attacker. We round out our creatures with Selfless Spirits and Angel of Invention. The angel not only comes with its own anthem effect, but has great versatility with Fabricate, allowing you to add to your horde of tokens, or just slam down a 4/3 flyer, with lifelink and vigilance. And the spirit protects our board from the majority of removal and wrath effect, preventing our opponents from slowing the beat down.
Finally, we round out the deck with a healthy balance of Forests, Plains and green/white duel lands. We also add in a few copies of Westvale Abbey, giving us even more insurance against wraths, as well giving us an alternative win condition if we find the board becoming gummed up on the ground. The sideboard, as always, is heavily dependent on your own meta, but I would recommend a strong assortment of removal. Stasis Snare and Declaration in Stone provides answers to most creatures in format, and Appetite for the Unnatural and Natural State can handle problematic artifact and enchantments.
4 Lambholt Pacifist
3 Selfless Spirit
3 Angel of Invention
4 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
4 Gideon, Ally of Zendikar
2 Ajani, Unyielding
4 Oath of Nissa
4 Oath of Ajani
4 Sram's Expertise
3 Heart of Kiran
3 Westvale Abbey
4 Canopy Vista
4 Fortified Village
Whether green/white tokens will regain its crown as the king of standard, it is yet to be seen. But with the power level of Aether Revolt, and the recent banning, it fair to say that its open session for the standard format. So why not brew up your own standard deck and head down to your local hobby centre to see what this new standard has to offer.