Too-Specific Top 10 - Tokens of Appreciation
(Academy Manufactor | Art by Campbell White)
Treasures and Clues and Food, Oh My!
Welcome to Too-Specific Top 10, where if there isn’t a category to rank our pet card at the top of, we’ll just make one up! (Did you know that Giant Opportunity is the only card that gives you a choice between creating a creature or a noncreature token as part of the same ability?)
I don't know about you, but the debut of Academy Manufactor in Modern Horizons 2 got me wondering: what are the best effects that create Wizards' new favorite kinds of tokens? So... why don't we find out?
Top 10 Clue-, Food-, and Treasure-Creators
Now, that might seem like a simple premise, but like many simple premises I get around here, deciding exactly how to do this list took a bit of trial and error. In the first trial, I decided that we didn't need to limit the Top 10 just to cards that made these three specific types of tokens; I assumed we could probably take a look at all the cards that create noncreature tokens and see which ones were best, and that surely our three token types would show up. Well, one of them did, but just the one. Then I decided I would look at Clues, Food, and Treasures specifically and see what the best token-creators for those types were overall. This was better, as two of the token types showed up in the list, but it really had the same problem overall: way too many Treasures.
Treasures have now been included in 15 different sets over the last four years, originally appearing in Ixalan, minorly featuring in every Commander set since, and with the heavy representation in both Kaldheim and Strixhaven, it appears to more or less be an evergreen mechanic at this point. This is only further proven with the Treasure-maker we've already seen from early Adventures in the Forgotten Realms spoilers, Prosperous Innkeeper. Combine that with the fact that Treasures can be utilized without having to spend any resources, unlike Food or Clues, and it's not hard to see why they might be more heavily represented than their rarer, technically inferior counterparts.
So, what to do if you're trying to make a list that's interested in all three? The answer is simple, as it often is: make more lists!
Criteria: Cards that create one or more Clue, Food, or Treasure tokens. As is tradition, all results are ordered by EDHREC score, although in this case we will be featuring creators of each token type side-by-side.
Root Out: 422 Inclusions, 0% of 276,537 Decks
Fresh off a Modern Horizons 2 shoutout in the form of Crack Open, it's the original, Root Out! Between the two, Crack Open will probably see a bit more play, given that it's a sort of mana discount and Treasure decks are more commonplace than Clue decks, even in green. That said, I wouldn't be expecting huge numbers out of either sorcery, even with the new emphasis on these tokens.
Feasting Troll King: 1,193 Inclusions, 0% of 250,423 Decks
Feasting Troll King is in a bit of a renaissance right now in the wake of Modern Horizons 2, showing that there is definitely some rising interest in these tokens and effects that can create a lot of them. The fact that it's a six-mana 7/6 with trample and vigilance that you can repeatedly recur probably isn't hurting things, either.
Storm-Kiln Artist: 6,254 Inclusions, 12% of 53,994 Decks
One thing I can say for sure: Storm-Kiln Artist won't be at the bottom of this list a month from now. That 12% figure is an extreme indicator of how aware folks are of exactly how good this card is. Out of the way, Birgi, there's a new Storm looper in town, only the artifact decks also want it, as do the Treasure decks and the Tri-Token decks. Put simply, Storm-Kiln Artist checks a heck of a lot of boxes, and is easily splashable. This little Dwarf isn't going anywhere but up.
Confirm Suspicions: 1,531 Inclusions, 1% of 293,377 Decks
Five-mana Counterspells aren't usually anything to write home about, but three extra cards (or even three extra permanents) is quite a bit of incentive. Currently, the only decks really taking advantage are Akiri, Line-Slinger and Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer builds. That said, this is enough of an effect that Tri-Token decks might be interested in that it's possible we'll see a bit of a rise in Confirm Suspicions numbers, although it has some serious competition in the form of Spell Swindle, which has a much higher ceiling.
Gluttonous Troll: 1,449 Inclusions, 1% of 127,322 Decks
Speaking of getting three extra permanents with one card, Gluttonous Troll! Its sacrifice effect isn't anything to write home about, even with the fact that it has trample, but three Food tokens whenever it enters is something that decks which can recur this Golgari monstrosity will definitely be interested in. Combine that with the existing Witherbloom lifegain interest from its printing in Commander 2021, and this Troll might be seeing play for quite awhile.
Treasure Map: 7,921 Inclusions, 1% of 564,223 Decks
Treasure Map has been seeing reasonable play numbers ever since its printing in Ixalan, both in Treasure builds and as a general means to scry early and get extra mana and extra cards later. It is a bit of a risk, as it's very easy to scry twice and then have it removed before you really get any payoff. That said, much like our other two #9 entries, three Treasures out of one permanent is really good, as is getting a "free" land late that can also draw cards off of said Treasures. In other words, this is a shoo-in for both Treasure decks and Tri-Token decks, so expect to be seeing more of it than you have since its original printing!
Weirding Wood: 1,725 Inclusions, 1% of 276,537 Decks
The main reason Weirding Wood comes in at #8 on our list appears to be Estrid, the Masked decks looking to go ham on her +2 untap ability. What has me challenging that 31% inclusion rate in Estrid decks is just how many of these effects are available that are just plain better than Weirding Wood. Setting aside staples like Wild Growth, Fertile Ground, and Overgrowth that will always be your main go-tos when it comes to Aura ramp, there are a lot of other options that seem better than Weirding Wood.
While Wolfwillow Haven only lets the land tap for an additional green, it's also only two mana, and can be traded out for a Wolf in a pinch. Dawn's Reflection and Market Festival, on the other hand, do cost four mana to cast, but add an extra two mana anytime the land is tapped, rather than replacing the land's tap ability with another option to tap for two mana. Finally, before I played Weirding Wood in Estrid, I would probably play both Abundant Growth and Unbridled Growth. Don't get me wrong, they don't give the land any extra mana, but they do color fix in a three-color deck and draw a card, while still allowing you to untap the lands.
As for the Clue/Tri-Token decks playing Weirding Wood... yeah, you can do better.
Foreboding Fruit: 1,506 Inclusions, 1% of 264,380 Decks
The Phyrexian Arena vs. Sign in Blood/Night's Whisper/Read the Bones discussion has been going on for a long time now, and is one of my favorite arguments on the nature of what's good in higher-power EDH vs. lower-power EDH. With that said, it hasn't really included Foreboding Fruit up until now, and probably won't start even with the new focus on these token types. Still, even if we aren't seeing this played across the board, it is still a great inclusion in any Food or Tri-Token mono-black or two-color deck. After all, there's not an EDH deck out there that doesn't need some card advantage. Just don't forget that it costs triple black to get the Food token along with the cards.
Storm the Vault: 8,069 Inclusions, 6% of 139,738 Decks
I'm coming up on three years writing for EDHREC, and in all of that time, the #1 theme on the site has been Artifacts, often times by double the amount of the next largest category. That continues to be true today, with 17,118 Artifact decks in the database. Storm the Vault isn't in all of those artifact decks, but it is in a lot of them, and rightfully so. Being able to create a Treasure a turn for four mana doesn't seem all that great, but that completely ignores that you don't have to create any Treasures at all to flip this thing into a Tolarian Academy and that it can happen on the same turn you cast it if you have the requisite five artifacts. That's not only easy to do in an Artifact deck, it's also easy to do in the Tri-Token deck, so keep that in mind if you happen to find yourself in Izzet colors!
Thraben Inspector: 2,024 Inclusions, 1% of 257,555 Decks
Blink decks and Clue decks the world over have loved Thraben Inspector for a long time now, and those numbers will only continue to go up as more Tri-Token decks hit the scene. One mana for a body and a permanent that can be traded in for a card later is just a great rate, no matter how you swing it.
Taste of Death: 1,530 Inclusions, 1% of 263,860 Decks
I don't know if there's a bigger fan of Barter in Blood than me, and even I think six mana is too much for this effect. That said, it is some sweet tech for Mazirek, Kraul Death Priest decks, though Korvold decks could probably find a better option. Luckily, along with the Tri-Token decks we'll be seeing incoming now that Modern Horizons 2 is out, there will probably also be an increase in decks that like tokens in general, which may very well pick up this card as they won't mind chucking out a few creature tokens to have the rest of the table losing actual creatures. As for Tri-Token decks, it will be up to the specific brew you're looking at to see if you're going to have a low or high enough concentration of creatures that you can swing sacrificing three of them just to get more Food.
Spell Swindle: 9,957 Inclusions, 3% of 293,377 Decks
As stated earlier in regard to Confirm Suspicions, five mana is a lot of mana to hold up for a Counterspell. However, much like Rewind, it doesn't feel nearly so bad if you're going to get that mana back, and it feels even better to end up with more than you started with. That said, it's not a guarantee that this will entirely refund itself; you might hold up five mana for a round, but find nothing worth countering, or find yourself forced to counter a two-mana spell that absolutely has to be answered. So this should stay as exactly what it is now: a great option for decks looking to end up with a lot of Treasures, and not much else.
Magnifying Glass: 2,032 Inclusions, 0% of 564,223 Decks
Magnifying Glass is the epitome of the issue with three-mana rocks today: it just doesn't do enough to compete with all of the two-mana ramp out there. Even in the Clue deck, paying four for a single token is just not an option you're going to be using all that often, so paying the extra mana to include this over a Signet just feels worse and worse every day. Look for this one to go down in numbers as more Clue cards are printed, not up.
Savvy Hunter: 1,666 Inclusions, 1% of 127,322 Decks
Savvy Hunter hasn't quite ever hit that ubiquitous point of being so good you're seeing it just pop up in any deck that can play it, but it's been a mainstay of Food decks since day one. That is not going to change as more opportunities to make more Food become available, nor will Tri-Token decks be mad about including an efficient three-drop that makes more relevant tokens and can possibly draw a bunch of cards as soon as it hits the table.
Brass's Bounty: 10,929 Inclusions, 4% of 276,647 Decks
In any deck that plays a lot of lands, can copy spells, reduce spell costs, or cast spells for free, Brass's Bounty is an absolute powerhouse that can single-handedly facilitate a Storm turn. Flipping this over off an Etali trigger often enables you to play your whole hand immediately (along with the two or three other free spells you just got), and seeing this come down for five mana with an Arcane Melee in play is one of those moves that just wins the game.
Ulvenwald Mysteries: 2,208 Inclusions, 1% of 276,537 Decks
If you were looking for a card that just got a lot better with the sudden focus on Clues, look no further than Ulvenwald Mysteries. Getting a Clue for every creature that dies is already good enough for three mana, but the addition of getting a creature token every time you sacrifice a Clue is downright ridiculous! Expect to be seeing a lot of this card, and soon.
Bake into a Pie: 1,739 Inclusions, 1% of 263,860 Decks
I'm not sure that the same can be said for Bake into a Pie, however. Don't get me wrong, Tri-Token decks will absolutely need removal, and some of them will be including this as a result. But much like Root Out and Crack Open, I'm not sure that the extra mana is worth the extra token. There are a lot of effects out there that can get a token engine going, and for me personally, I think I'd rather focus on spending mana to get those engines up and going, rather than holding it up for my more expensive removal spell that just happens to make a single token.
Revel in Riches: 16,339 Inclusions, 6% of 292,227 Decks
Speaking of engines, Revel in Riches! If you're in black, you're going to kill some of your opponents' creatures at some point. Bearing that in mind, it's not really a surprise to see that a card that hands out extra mana whenever we do the thing we're already planning on doing, and even gives us a potential win condition when we do it, shows up in 6% of decks that can play it. If anything, it seems like those numbers might be a little light!
Trail of Evidence: 2,984 Inclusions, 1% of 293,377 Decks
If Brass's Bounty is a card that spells and artifact decks have figured out by just trying it out, then Trail of Evidence is the card they just never really bothered doing that with. It'll be interesting to see if that changes as they see a flood of Tri-Token decks start to go nuts with this thing, because a lot of that is about to start happening any day now.
Gingerbread Cabin: 2,939 Inclusions, 1% of 250,423 Decks
Gingerbread Cabin has always been one of those "well, why not?" cards. I think it will continue to be so for a lot of decks, but now it's actually got an archetype that's interested in it as well. Add in the fact that it's fetchable, and this thing is a windmill slam in the new Tri-Token decks that happen to be in green.
Hullbreacher: 20,413 Inclusions, 18% of 115,476 Decks
Now we've reached that part of the Treasure list. We all knew it was coming, but I for one wasn't expecting it to be so soon! With as much love as there is for the Treasure mechanic, there have also been quite a lot of mistakes already made with it. Possibly the biggest of all of them is Hullbreacher, with several Wizards designers coming out and saying it was a mistake. For myself, while I do typically come down on the "unban more things" side of the never-ending EDH banlist discussion, whenever I encounter one of the 18% of blue decks playing this card, I can't help but think of how it felt in the days of Primeval Titan; it creates a lot of the same feelings, and warps the game around itself in the same kind of way. If there was one card in Magic today that I could ban from our format, this would be it. Still, it's undeniable that it has a spot at the higher power levels, so hopefully Rule Zero can naturally take care of this card in much the same way it did Deadeye Navigator and a ban won't be necessary.
Bygone Bishop: 5,371 Inclusions, 1% of 257,555 Decks
Who says white can't draw cards? It just has to... pay extra mana to do so.....
Memes aside, though, Bygone Bishop makes a lot of Clue tokens, and will absolutely be seeing a lot more play as the archetype grows. So hurrah for powerful white cards that eventually have enough holes filled in around them to shine!
Witch's Oven: 3,982 Inclusions, 1% of 510,131 Decks
Witch's Oven has always been a great sacrifice effect in the Food decks of EDH and beyond, and will only continue to be so as more decks are looking to make some Food. Not to mention that those decks will almost assuredly be playing Cauldron Familiar.
Pitiless Plunderer: 21,792 Inclusions, 7% of 292,227 Decks
Okay, it's not all bad news on the Treasure side. Don't get me wrong, you can certainly go infinite with Pitiless Plunderer, but you don't have to at all, and it's not like you're stopping everyone else from playing their deck on the way to you doing so. Well, unless you don't set up a win-con along with your infinite triggers, in which case you'll quite literally be stopping everyone from playing as you draw the game.
Tamiyo's Journal: 5,553 Inclusions, 1% of 564,223 Decks
While I wasn't a huge fan of paying four mana a turn to get a single Clue with Magnifying Glass, it turns out that if you can spend five mana once to do the same thing, that's pretty darn good. Slap on a free tutor, and you've really got something that's going to shine in the Tri-Token decks.
Gilded Goose: 4,225 Inclusions, 2% of 250,423 Decks
One-mana ramp is the best it gets in this game without spending some serious cash on some old cards, and Gilded Goose fits that bill to a T in any deck that cares about Food. Combine that with the fact that it can just make more Food all by itself as you find yourself with more mana in the bank, and this thing is an instant staple.
Dockside Extortionist: 47,810 Inclusions, 18% of 260,571 Decks
Speaking of cards that should probably just be relegated to high-level tables, Dockside Extortionist! While there's been a lot of cards from pre-Commander history that have scaled unexpectedly well with multiplayer, Dockside Extortionist is maybe the best example of a card where Wizards should have known better. Even at three or four mana, this card would still be beyond playable, but at two it is just an instant ramp that can often loop itself into infinite mana even if the deck isn't built around it. Sure, it might just be a Goblin you want to put in your Goblin deck, but don't be surprised when people come after you for playing it. They might even trust you when you say you're not trying to combo out with it, but that doesn't mean that someone might not walk over and point out how you could just win the game right now with the combo you didn't even know you had on board, because that's exactly the kind of thing that happens all the time with this ridiculously overpowered card.
Tireless Tracker: 17,302 Inclusions, 6% of 276,537 Decks
The original overpowered Clue card may have been usurped by its more diverse cousin in Tireless Provisioner, but that just brings up the old question:
If you're in the Tri-Token deck, then you absolutely will want both Tireless Provisioner and Tireless Tracker. The same can probably be said for a lot of the Lands decks that were already playing this card.
Oko, Thief of Crowns: 11,965 Inclusions, 9% of 134,484 Decks
Oko never took off in Commander like it did in every 60-card format, but there's still no doubt that it sees a lot of play in decks that don't even care about Food at all. Well, add a bit more demand on top of that, because Oko fills both a "makes Food" slot and a removal slot in these new decks, and people are willing to pay the money to get that kind of flexibility.
Smothering Tithe: 90,865 Inclusions, 35% of 257,555 Decks
Speaking of paying the money, Smothering Tithe remains over $30 as every deck splashing white includes it alongside their copy of Swords to Plowshares. While there will probably be a reprint sometime soon that hopefully will help out with that price tag, I do wonder what price it will take for folks to start wondering if they actually need to annoy all of their friends for advantage in a card game that's supposed to be for fun. $50? $100? What does enjoyment cost, anyhow?
I mentioned the two lists I started with before ultimately expanding things out to give Food and Clue cards a chance, so let's see how those played out:
Top 10 Clue-, Food-, and Treasure-Creators
- Smothering Tithe
- Dockside Extortionist
- Pitiless Plunderer
- Tireless Tracker
- Revel in Riches
- Oko, Thief of Crowns
- Brass's Bounty
- Spell Swindle
- Storm the Vault
While seeing Tireless Tracker and Oko, Thief of Crowns break through the wall of Treasure was nice, those of you who read my blurbs about the top Treasure cards rather than scrolling through for the pictures might not be surprised to learn that ultimately this list depressed me more than it interested me. Even more depressing, the expanded idea of just going cards that make noncreature tokens ended up being exactly the same as above with the exception of Skyclave Relic barely scraping in over Storm the Vault.
Putting that aside, however, there are still some very neat Treasure cards that I imagine will be getting a newfound look that didn't quite make it past the likes of Hullbreacher and Smothering Tithe.
Top 25 Treasure Creators (This One Starts at 11)
11. Captain Lannery Storm
12. Vraska, Relic Seeker
13. Impulsive Pilferer
14. Surly Badgersaur
15. Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge
16. Pirate's Pillage
17. Goldspan Dragon
18. Prying Blade
19. Monologue Tax
20. Shiny Impetus
21. Prismari Command
22. Rapacious Dragon
23. Magda, Brazen Outlaw
24. Wily Goblin
25. Seize the Spoils
It's amazing that a mechanic that began just a few years ago can have a Top 25 where I still have cards I want to shout out because they didn't make the cut (lookin' at you, Prying Blade, Goldvein Pick, and Gleaming Barrier). That's really how good Treasure has been. As for what did make the list, I think a lot of these will sneak into the Top 10 Treasure Cards given a bit more time and emphasis on the tokens, specifically Impulsive Pilferer, Gadrak, the Crown-Scourge, and Goldspan Dragon.
Nuts and Bolts
There always seems to be a bit of interest in how these lists are made (this seems like a good time to stress once again that they are based on EDHREC score, NOT my personal opinion), and people are often surprised that I’m not using any special data or .json from EDHREC, but rather just muddling my way through with some Scryfall knowledge! For your enjoyment/research, here is this week’s Scryfall search.
What Do You Think?
Well, that is a lot of Treasure talk, so I'll not subject you to the predictable poll where you can tell me that I'm overreacting to the things that cards like Hullbreacher and Smothering Tithe are doing to the format. Instead, let's keep this one simple, shall we?
Finally, what do you think of the expanded emphasis on all of these artifact tokens? Do you think I nailed it with "Tri-Token" as a name for the strat, or do you have something better?
Let us know in the comments, and we'll see you at the triangular table we dragged out of the corner to try and sneak in a three-person game.