We're excited to feature our very first guest article from Mail! We are very happy to be able to provide an opportunity for community members to feature their content on our site, and if you're interested let us know!
Hey, everyone! I am Mail, the coolest envelope you will ever come to know, and I am here today to talk about a deck called Xenan Tokens. This was a deck I wanted to make happen the moment I saw Azindel. Many people attempted to assemble it using wisp tokens (myself included) and cards that reanimate them such as Soulbringer. Try as I might, I could never find a version of wisp reanimation that came online fast enough for a more aggressive token gameplan. After these underwhelming results, I decided to move on and pursue other interesting combos... and then it hit me, I could use Preserver of Dualities to create lots of tokens for Obelisk and Azindel! With this idea in mind, here’s the deck I came up with.
Core Deck Structure
Before we get into the details of actually playing the deck, let’s talk about how it’s built. I will go over the main pieces used in this decks strategy, as well as some of the not so obvious inclusions.
4x Mitotic Wisp
While not actually a radiant, Mitotic Wisp synergizes immensely with our goal of playing lots of token minions. Her cost reduction usually acts as a more efficient Trail Maker, however her ability to draw a radiant of your choice is extremely useful if you manage to activate it. Optimally, unless you lack radiants or need to meet influence requirements, you’ll be playing this card over Trail Maker. A great curve with Mitotic Wisp is playing her on two power into a Preserver of Dualities on three and an Umbren Reaper on four.
4x Preserver of Dualities
This card is the main reason we are running so many radiants in the first place. Its ability to create lots of disposable wisp tokens means you’ll practically never run out of chump blockers. The tokens can also be buffed up by Obelisk, or used with Azindel to generate value. If all else fails, you can most likely afford to a+space your wisps for face damage as you’ll be able to make more in no time. Preserver becomes ridiculous if you’re able to have multiple copies on the board. I find myself often having to sacrifice wisps to make room for my actual units!
Duskwalker is definitely not an obvious choice for this slot, but I believe it to be very powerful. Its downside of having a slow 4/4 body is made up for by the huge tempo swing you’ll receive the next turn with +2 power. An extraordinary highroll that can occur with this card is as follows: T1 Initiate of the Sands -> T2 Auralian Merchant -> T3 Duskwalker + Initiate of the Sands -> T4 Azindel, Revealed. While this is an extreme example of the card at work, similar events can happen with slightly less game-deciding results.
With a very aggressive 4/1 body and the keyword “overwhelm,” Dawnwalker makes a great addition to Xenan Tokens. Most of the time he acts as removal early game, as the opponent will have to sacrifice a unit to kill him before his four damage starts to add up. Late game, he can easily be brought back with the added attack Xenan Obelisk grants. Additionally, his persistence allows Preserver of Dualities to keep making wisp tokens.
4x Umbren Reaper
Umbren Reaper was surprising. A 5/1 flier is a threat the opponent will almost always need to answer immediately, though they usually can. This is incredibly valuable in our deck because it wastes removal they would have used on other key cards while still granting us a five damage hit with lifesteal. There’s not much else to say, other than cheating out this card early makes for some very decisive games!
4x Azindel, Revealed
Azindel’s effect is what inspired me to create this deck. I originally only had him in the market, but I’ve found that it’s not very hard to play him when we’re running cards like Mitotic Wisp and Duskwalker. Not only does he create two (unblockable!) tokens for our Obelisk, he also generates insane amounts of value and often allows us to win seemingly unwinnable games. It’s worth noting that Preserver of Dualities being able to buff the tokens he creates is very relevant due to the fact they’re unblockable.
Shakedown is an amazing addition from Into Shadow. Not only does it activate nightfall for Duskwalker and Lunar Magus, it can remove their Hailstorm, Merchant, etc. I’d be running this even without the nightfall synergy, it’s just so good.
3x Vara’s Choice
While Shakedown is certainly very efficient removal, I’ve found that the deck tends to want more options. Vara’s Choice creates a lot of opportunities for aggression, as it can “remove” an enemy creature from the board temporarily. It will normally take the opponent a while to find enough power to replay the now silenced and much weaker unit, allowing you to build pressure. The hand disruption is also nice against Talir Combo or any control decks.
1x Azindel, Revealed
You can pull Azindel from the market either when you’re off to an explosive start with lots of ramp or you need a threat late game. I’ve talked a lot about him in the radiants section.
1x Xenan Obelisk
Since the decks main focus is creating tokens, it only makes sense to have our best synergy card in the market. The more Obelisks the merrier.
This is a great card for winning the mirror or bringing back an Obelisk. You always want to take Obelisk before this if you’re only using it as an extra Obelisk, of course. Some other matchups you’ll want disjunction for are Kennadins (Combustion Cell), Temporal Control (Temporal Distortion), and any other token deck (Xenan Obelisk).
1x Sandstorm Scarf
Sandstorm Scarf is mostly used for the Feln Scream matchup at the moment. While it does have a negative effect on your Umbren Reapers, I find they do not really need to have flying in this particular matchup. It can also be used versus any flying decks if they come back into the meta.
1x Xenan Banner
I was originally running Carnosaur in this slot, but I decided that running more removal in the main deck and putting in a banner for consistency was optimal. Since we really don’t want to run Seek Power, the banner helps make sure we rarely find games without any power.
Gameplay and Strategy
What is Xenan Tokens?
Xenan Tokens is a combination of midrange and aggro that wins by developing a large board of units and then buffing them with Obelisk. Alternatively, it can win by out valuing the opponent with lots of ways to activate Azindel.
Use Azindel as draw
If you have a significant amount of units able to deal damage to the enemy player, don’t be afraid to play Azindel just for the draw. Even if you know they can clear your board next turn, the hand refill Azindel will give is generally going to win you the game. I would say 4+ cards means you’re getting enough value out of him for this strategy.
Don’t neglect Preserver!
Preserver is mainly used for its token generation, but it has a great ability. You can use it to buff up Mitotic Wisp for attacks with Azindel (or even just board stalls). Helici are also amazing targets - two extra damage every turn starts to add up fast!
Play Obelisk later
You don’t always want to play Obelisk as soon as possible. If you don’t have a sizeable board, it’s better to play more units. Obelisk essentially has charge, but your units do not! Keep this in mind when deciding whether to develop the board or push damage with Obelisk.
Use Dawnwalker to bait removal
Unlike Praxis Tokens, we’re not running Temple Scribe. This is significant because it means we lack a way of playing units without any cost (it draws a card). That’s where Dawnwalker comes in. By playing it right before your Umbren Reaper or Azindel turn, you can force them to either block it or waste removal. Chances are they cannot afford to leave a unit like that for a token deck.
Here we will talk about when to keep or redraw your mulligan (opening hand), as well as some key cards you’d like to see. I’m leaving out matchup specific mulligan advice, but if you’re playing this deck in a tournament and want a better idea of that, the matchups section should help you understand what cards you’re looking for.
Lots of ramp, no top end
This is the type of hand that I could see players being tricked into taking, but in reality it’s not likely to play out well. While you do have market access to Azindel, you’d need to draw significantly more ramp and power to actually get to him, and your current ramp would also need to stay on the board. I would keep this hand with a Preserver of Dualities or more power and a Duskwalker (to ramp into Azindel) since you have Obelisk.
Lots of power, no top end, but nightfall!
At first it may seem that we have nothing to do with this hand, but I would actually consider keeping this. You are able to play Lunar Magus on turn two, which will then activate nightfall and increase your chances of drawing into something useful. We are running minimum power so having a lot of power with nightfall usually means you’ll have a decent game. Additionally, Lunar Magus on two is extremely powerful as an early blocker and will hopefully gain a lot of health for you.
Perfection, at last
This is an example of a near perfect hand. Not only do you have something to play every turn (even if they kill your Trail Maker!), you also have the influence and power to support it. As previously discussed, the nightfall from Lunar Magus also increases the odds you’ll draw into more fuel (Obelisk, Radiants, Nightfall). You will always want to keep this type of hand.
This section is dedicated to the three basic deck archetypes and how to play around them. As I would like this guide to stay relevant throughout various metas, I’ll be giving some broad advice instead of specific matchups. Feel free to contact me directly if you have questions about a certain matchup!
Balance your threats. You’ll want to play nightfall cards efficiently to keep a full hand, that way they’ll have trouble draining you of resources. Be sure to make use of Dawnwalkers recurrence from the void. Eventually they should run out of removal and give you an opening to play Azindel for a lot of cards, and that will typically be game.
Midrange decks are fairly easy for Xenan Tokens to beat in my experience. Since they don’t run much AoE removal, you can develop a board freely and outvalue them with Azindel.
Aggro is just a matter of stabilizing. Lunar Magus is your main way of doing this early on, as a three drop that gains four health every turn. You won’t have a problem apart from their overwhelm units (we run a lot of low health cards), so prioritize those with your removal. There isn’t much to do against a marketed Cloud of Ash, but I believe that has fallen out of favor for the most part. You could considering marketing an Infinite Hourglass if you’re really struggling with this scenario.
Let me start off by listing the rares in order of their importance:
Xenan Obelisk - The main win condition of the deck.
Auralian Merchant - Move an Obelisk to the market.
Dawnwalker - Great with Obelisk and you need the 3 drops.
Umbren Reaper - Part of the decks top end.
Lunar Magus - Helps a lot against aggro and is your only form of life gain.
Crest of Mystery - Scout is great and we have high influence requirements.
Sandstorm Scarf - Only used for specific matchups in the market.
Into Shadow - Has Azindel and Shakedown. Get this campaign first!!
Dead Reckoning - For Mitotic Wisp.
Now that we have that established, I’ll go over some replacements for these rares. The first two can’t exactly be replaced, so I’ll leave them out. Just substitute in any generally good cards if you have to.
Dawnwalker - 4x Temple Scribe
Temple Scribe has the same use as being a unit without cost vs removal, it just does it worse than Dawnwalker in this deck. You don’t have to cast Temple Scribe on turn two, so there’s no need to change the powerbase to support it.
Umbren Reaper - 4x Impending Doom
It’s hard to replace this card, but Impending Doom is fairly similar. If you feel you’re lacking radiants, I’d go with Corrupted Umbren.
Lunar Magus - 4x Spiteful Lumen
While it won’t hit anything without Preserver of Dualities on the board, a three cost 3/3 has similar uses to Lunar Magus. The fact that it doesn’t heal you or defend against teacher is a huge downside, but overall I think its synergy with Preserver pushes it over other three drop options.
Crest of Mystery - 2x Shadow Sigil, 2x Time Sigil
You don’t want Diplomatic Seals in this deck because of the high influence requirements, so just add more sigils. I haven’t tested this deck without crests so I’m not sure how much it affects it, but it should be alright.
Sandstorm Scarf - Vara’s Choice
I would probably try marketing Vara’s Choice or Banish if you do not have Sandstorm Scarf, though Predatory Carnosaur or even Preserver of Dualities could be decent options. Feel free to experiment, this market slot is very flexible!
Shakedown - 3x Sabotage, 1x Vara’s Choice
Sabotage serves a similar purpose to Shakedown, except it has less utility. Vara’s Choice is better than Sabotage, so you’ll want to run 1 more instead of the fourth Sabotage.
Mitotic Wisp - 4x Ripknife Assassin
Ripknife assassin is just a solid two drop. There isn’t any card that can be compared to Mitotic Wisp, but using another two drop instead of her won’t be too bad.
Azindel, Revealed - See above
Azindel cannot be replaced. He has a very unique effect and no other late game unit will be worth running in a token deck like this. I would recommend replacing him with any previous suggestions mentioned for other cards.