Trevor Holmes Plays MTGO Ep. 8: B/W Tokens!

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What’s up guys! Welcome back to my Modern Nexus Video Series, where we take a deck in the format and run it through some matches on Magic Online. Today we have B/W Tokens, a pretty unique deck that's been bouncing around the format for a while.


Back in my BFZ set review we discussed the possibility of a B/W resurgence with the help of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Can Gideon push this deck into Tier 1? Let's find out!


B/W Tokens Deck Tech


Round 1


Round 2


Round 3



Finally, some good results! It's interesting that we did so well, because to be honest I was expecting a 1-2 or maybe possibly a 2-1. It's possible I have a small bias against this deck, as it's been around for so long and hasn't really done much, or we could actually have something here. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle; we got a little lucky, our opponents got a little unlucky, and we ran up against some good matchups. Tron seems difficult, as does fast combo if we can't find enough discard, and I think we still have trouble against dedicated token hate (though Lililana of the Veil and Gideon, Ally of Zendikar work to fix that).

Anyway, the deck was a ton of fun to play, and it felt good to be doing something unique (and who doesn't love putting three 2/2 vigilant fliers into play on turn three). If you have any thoughts/opinions/suggestions, feel free to let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading/watching and I'll see you next week!

Trevor Holmes
The_Architect on MTGO

13 thoughts on “Trevor Holmes Plays MTGO Ep. 8: B/W Tokens!

      1. You don’t. You hope to dodge it and use sidebaord hate like stony silence that is meant for other decks (affinity) to make the matchup marginally better.

        The matchup is almost hopeless, and dedicating your sideboard to it takes up too many slots.

      2. You give up. There are hard matchups like merfolk that you can win by getting a good draw and some good sideboard cards, and outplaying your opponent, but matchups like tron are so hard that you basically can concede to save time.

  1. I completely agree with Will Krueger that Gideon is not for this deck, and Sorin, Solemn Visitor is much better. In fact, Sorin is so widely acknowledged as great for this deck that I was surprised to see none in your list and no real discussion of why not.

    Looking at Gideon, he may seem good for the deck at first, especially if you haven’t played with Sorin for comparison, but let’s consider each of Gideon’s modes. The ultimate is the most obviously synergistic with tokens, but 4 mana for the emblem alone is wildly overcosted for this deck. You get the same effect plus vigilance for 2 mana off Intangible Virtue, and Honor of the Pure is another 2-mana option if you’re looking for more of that effect. Yes, the emblem can’t be removed and Honor doesn’t help BB tokens, and Gideon can be more than his emblem of course, but the deck already has trouble with being slow. Getting that 4 mana emblem for +1/+1 is not solving a problem the deck ever had. Second mode is making 2/2 Knight tokens, which is fine, but it’s slow. The tokens have no evasion and you only make one per turn — this deck really wants to make flying tokens that go wide fast (eg, Lingering Souls for 4 tokens, Spectral for 3). This mode on Gideon is again fine, but it’s like a worse Bitterblossom, something we can get for 2 mana. Finally there’s the plus ability to make Gideon a creature, which directly goes against a main strength of the deck, which is making our opponent’s removal spells really bad. Nobody wants to Path to Exile or Dismember one third of a Spectral Procession. Making Gideon a creature turns on all those removal spells. Even if he doesn’t die, we aren’t interested in fat ground pounders in this deck, and that’s all Gideon’s plus is. (That’s why we’re not playing things like Gurmag Angler when we easily could.) That’s not to say Gideon is a bad card — obviously he can win the game on his own, but he’s not fixing any problems this deck has, and he’s not as synergistic as you might think at first. Whereas he might be an 8/10 in some decks, this deck only sees him as a 6/10 with better options.

    With Sorin, instead of having to -4 to get an anthem, you’re instead adding loyalty, and the added lifelink is really, really relevant to the deck. You said it yourself in the wrap-up that the deck is doing powerful things in the mid-to-late game, but it’s slow to get that engine going. Sorin ideally comes down turn 4 when you’ve got a full board and immediately gains 6-9 life, threatening to get out of control really fast. With Intangible Virtue giving an extra boost plus vigilance, you can easily get out of burn range and make your opponent unable to race. His minus makes an evasive token, which is much better than Gideon’s Knight, though it is also rather slow. And the Sorin ultimate is quite realistic in this deck, though of course not something you can count on. I’ve definitely emblemed Sorin a lot more in this deck, when you really want to plus him, than in a deck like Abzan in Standard last season that tended to have just one or two creatures, so they would minus Sorin right away for guaranteed value.

    Ok, enough pontificating for now. 😉 Thanks for the videos! I think BW Tokens needs the right metagame to be good (lots of fair, attrition-y decks), but when that metagame shows up, it’s *really* good.

    PS – I think the deck deserves 1 Murderous Cut, as Delve is a ridiculous mechanic and we’re not using the graveyard heavily for anything else, so it’s just an unused part of the buffalo. 🙂

  2. The fact that you aren’t playing Sorin, Solemn Visitor in this deck when it’s better than every walker you played for this archetype is a shame lol. I think 3 Sorin is a must. Play it one time and you’ll know it to be true

  3. I know it sounds like piling on, but Sorin, Solemn Visitor needs to be in this deck. Whether it’s in for Liliana, Gideon, Elspeth, or something else is up for debate, but the fact that he’s the best fit for the deck really isn’t. Lifegain, pump, and token production in one convenient package, he does everything this deck wants done from the planeswalker spot.

    I’m also rather unimpressed with the Shambling Vent’s performance in the deck – I don’t even like Windbrisk Heights that much in this deck because of the importance of hitting Lingering Souls, Spectral Procession, or Timely Reinforcements on curve outweighs the marginal benefits of a manland. I will grant that it gives you some post-sweeper game, but so do planeswalkers and Bitterblossom.

    You also made an error when narrating your sideboarding vs. Esper Control – Dismember is -5/-5, but Gideon Jura is a 6/6. Thus, Dismember does not outright kill it, and you need the Path. You ended up keeping the Paths, but you should never have considered siding it out in the first place.

  4. I think what Trevor was trying to say in his deck tech was that he wanted individually powerful cards rather than depending on synergy, perhaps to avoid hate. Gideon might theoretically be better than some number of Sorins. I appreciate Trevor exploring. That being said. I do think it’s clear Sorin deserves some kind of spot, as a one of at least. Not sure elspeth has a spot here. Perhaps swap a Lili in the board with a second Sorin?

  5. While I, like everyone else here, think Sorin should absolutely bne in the deck over Gideon, you HAVE sold me on adding 1 more Liliana to my list. I’ve always felt she was underplayed in this deck, as she fits the gameplan quite well. Worked out great for you here.

  6. I have several problems with your article, which have been largely addressed. As good as Elspeth is, she isn’t worth having in a blossom list. Gideon is good, but he isn’t what the deck needs. Sorin, Solemn Visitor is the best planeswalker, hands down for a blossom shell, and tokens in general. It is capable of turning around bad matchups such as zoo and merfolk, which neither gideon nor Elspeth can do. The second main complaint I have is your inclusion of shambling vents. Lands coming into play tapped can severely hinder the tempo of a b/w token deck. Windbrisk heights is worth it because of the card advantage it brings, but shambling vents is at best a 2/3 lifelink creature with no evasion that dies to every single common form of removal in modern. Running the risk of not being able to play a key spell on time for this is simply not worth it.

  7. Ok I know this article is pushing a year old, but I just stumbled upon it and have to reply. I seriously question the amount of time put into the example deck list, as stated repeatedly Sorin, Solemn Visitor is a mandatory 3 of mainboard with almost no exceptions. Gideon, AZ or Elspeth, KE are both viable additions as one ofs (I personally run 1 Gideon, AZ). Liliana of the Veil is low on the list of playable walkers in BW Tokens that anyone who’s done their research should be aware of the problems she causes in this deck. She does occasionally see play but never more than 2 copies in the entire 75, yet here there’s a full set with the 2 board copies filling out a rather nonsensical sideboard in general. Lack of Murderous Cut in the main is baffling as it is widely regarded as the best removal in the deck after Path and was almost instantly adopted by the majority of tokens players as at least a 1 of. Finally as pointed out Shambling Vent is at most a 1 of, if it’s run at all. Running more than 3 EBT lands causes significant consistency problems.
    In the future I would hope any articles on BW Tokens come off as less of a joke at the combined efforts of the many tokens players who spend weeks and months working on the deck with little if any collaboration from the general Modern community.

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