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Commander Starter Decks – Token Triumph

On October 20th, Wizards of the Coast finally gave us the full decklists for the much-anticipated Commander Starter decks.  Officially released on December 2, these five decks provide an inexpensive entry point for new and returning players to get into Magic’s (arguably) most popular format.  The commanders themselves have been spoiled for a while, but we finally know what the 99 looks like.  At about $24 each, these aren’t decks to make the collectors go wild, but they do represent strong deck cores that can be upgraded around for long-term growth within the Commander format.  Even better, these decklists can easily take cards from recent sets or inexpensive older cards for quick powerups.

Wizards chose decent commanders for these precons.  Some of them are on the expensive end of the mana value spectrum, but the commanders show very clearly what the deck is built around.  In my first article on the Commander Starter decks, I said that I planned to write about each of them over the course of a week or two… which clearly hasn’t happened.

Last but not least, Selesnya Tokens

Emmara, Soul of the Accord

Token Triumph, captained by Emmara, Soul of the Accord, is probably the most self-explanatory of the Commander starter decks.  She’s cheap and small-bodied, a 2/2 for a white and a green that creates a 1/1 token when she’s tapped.  Right away, you know this deck is going to be about making little guys and overrunning your opponents with them. 

Emmara is one of the first Commander decks I played when I dipped my toes into the format, back during Guilds of Ravnica, and she’s still one of my favorites.  With so many artifacts or other creatures needing to tap something else to activate, she generates a lot of value pretty fast.  And because she is so inexpensive, it’s easy to get your token engine up and going quickly after a boardwipe.

There are three main points to focus on when you plan your upgrades to Emmara: mana, token doublers, and finishers.

More tokens = More mana

Ashnod’s Altar (Brothers’ War Schematic)

Mana is the easiest and cheapest place to start.  Because of how Emmara activates – by tapping, she’s a perfect house for artifacts like Paradise Mantle, Springleaf Drum and Relic of Legends.  The fast token generation this deck can produce also supports cards like Ashnod’s Altar and Phyrexian Altar, which open up opportunities for big X-cost spells.

Paradise Mantle (Fifth Dawn)

Still not enough tokens

In order to really feed those altars and go wide, you’ll want token doublers.  They’re expensive, and for good reason.  I’m talking about cards like Doubling Season, Anointed Procession and Parallel Lives.  These are the most expensive upgrades I’ve mentioned in this article series, ranging from $35 for Anointed Procession to over $90 for Doubling Season.  Token doublers are expensive for good reason: they’re threats that require an answer almost immediately, and they can make a deck like Selesnya tokens a powerhouse.

Doubling Season (Double Masters)
Queen Allenal of Ruadach (Dominaria United)

Token doublers are just a flex if you don’t supplement the deck’s token generation sources.  Emmara is great, but a good Commander deck has to function without its commander when necessary.  To that end, I recommend also adding in cards like Queen Allenal of Ruadach, Selesnya Evangel and Stonybrook Schoolmaster.  Fortunately for us Emmara enjoyers, those are less than a dollar each.

More tokens + more mana = more BRRRRRRR

So we’ve got a lot of mana and a lot of bodies, but that alone isn’t going to win the game.  We need finishers, and for that we’re going to look to add cards like Craterhoof Behemoth, Triumph of the Hordes and Finale of Devastation.  These bombs are on the pricier side, though not nearly so bad as the token doublers.  For more budget friendly versions, you can look to End Raze Forerunners, Akroma’s Will, or Pledge of Unity.  They don’t have nearly the devastating impact of their more expensive cousins, but they’ll give you a leg up over the competition until you’re able to splurge on more expensive upgrades.

Craterhoof Behemoth (Jumpstart)
End-Raze Forerunners (KLD Commander)
Finale of Devastation (War of the Spark)

Working on this article actually made me want to rebuild my old Emmara deck, and I’m looking forward to adding some of the newer cards from Dominara United and the Brothers’ War into the mix.  Did I overlook a major upgrade?  Is there a secret sauce I should be on the lookout for?  Hit me up in the comments or on Twitter and let me know!  And don’t forget to watch the MTG Rundown gameplay video featuring Emmara and the other Commander Starter Decks on YouTube!

About the Author
Silver has been playing Magic: The Gathering and other trading card games off and on since 1999, and is a lifelong roleplayer. They believe in Rule 0 and The Rule of Cool, and that the gaming table should be a safe space for everyone.

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