Deck Tech: Selesnya Tokens

Posted in Event Coverage on November 10, 2018

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Entering Day Two, and looking across the Standard metagame, few decks outperformed the expected conversion rate. One deck that did was Selesnya Tokens, and it was firmly in the hands of Ari Lax.


Ari Lax (right) faces off against Yuuya Watanabe at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica

Battling Standard at Grand Prix New Jersey led Lax to one conclusion ahead of the Pro Tour: If you can't beat them, join them. Selesnya Tokens was the tech he arrived at.

"In our process we tested all the top decks against each other and they're all 50-50—except Boros Angels was terrible," Lax said. "But the Selesnya Tokens deck kept overperforming. We thought that it probably can't best Jeskai but it's actually fine. It can race Izzet Drakes. I got destroyed by Tokens at Grand Prix New Jersey. It's very powerful."

What makes Selesnya Tokens so strong in the right hands?

"There isn't any deck drastically ahead of the metagame. There isn't any layering—it's just a scrum of decks that are all reasonable," Lax said. "Convoke as a mechanic on a lot of the cards is extremely powerful. When all the deck are fairly close in power I like to play the one that felt like it had the most across-the-board power. There's a lot of pieces that set you up, and a lot of pieces that pay off your engine."

"One of the biggest dynamics in the format you're trying to solve is the mana flood and mana screw because so many of the powerful cards cost a decent amount of mana," Lax said. "Selesnya Tokens balances between the two. Flower // Flourish is good when you're light on lands, and you can use convoke to cast your spells reasonably well. Selesnya doesn't mitigate that flood part as well, but there's a lot of parity where it actively gets ahead of the opponent. March of the Multitudes may be one of the biggest endgames in the format. If you have a reasonable March into another March it's game over. I had a match where I had to get out the fourth d20 to mark how many Soldiers I had."

Of course, what makes the deck work isn't just one splashy spell.

"Another aspect is History of Benalia, Trostani Discordant, and Emmara, Soul of the Accord—even if you're down a card or get one too many lands, all the cards are additive," Lax said. "A lot of your cards just build up these larger advantages. You can have five tokens to their Wildgrowth Walker and they are in a bad position: you're one draw away from having ten tokens to their Walker and they die."

"Shout out to Zac Turgeon from Grand Prix New Jersey—he's the one who beat me and went on to Top 8," Lax said. "I asked him what his updated list was ahead of this weekend and it was three cards off the list he played at the Grand Prix."

So what can trip up someone giving Selesnya Tokens a run?

"Any of the decks with Steam Vents are harder, but you can beat Jeskai," said Lax. "Jeskai Control and Esper Control might be your worst matchups but you could make room for Adanto Vanguard to make them better. I think if you play against Izzet Drakes while you're learning the deck you'll lose a lot, but once you know how the deck plays it's better. Sequencing is really important against those decks. If you're good at sequencing and using your mana, the matchup is a lot closer. You can't be struggling to map out your plays, and you have to maximize the deployment of your spells."

Decklist will be posted after round 16.

 

Ari Lax's Selesnya Tokens

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