The concept of tokens in Magic is a bit strange, especially for new players. But not to worry, in this article, I’ll break down everything you need to know. I’ll also give my picks for the best cards in the game today!
Tokens are creatures or permanents that are created by another card or effect within the game. As a result, they don’t go in your library and you don’t cast them from your hand.
Creating tokens is usually simple. You simply follow what’s written on the card. It is important, however, to understand all of the ins and outs and interactions that can arise. I’ll do my best to answer any and all questions you may have.
Let’s get right into it!
What Are Tokens?
Tokens are permanents created by the effects of other spells and abilities. You can’t include them in your decks, and you don’t play them like you do other cards. Instead, you keep them outside of the game until they’re needed, and then you simply put them into play when a card-effect instructs you to do so.
Tokens are most commonly creatures, but they can be other permanents as well.
How Do You Make Them?
You generate tokens by using the effects and abilities of regular Magic cards. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ways it all goes down.
- Enter-the Battlefield effects: Some permanents create a token when they enter the battlefield. These are cards like Legion’s Landing, Haunted Dead and Batterskull.
- Triggered Abilities: It’s very common for permanents to create tokens through triggered abilities. The “thing” that triggers the ability varies from card to card, but the most common triggers are when a creature dies, when your upkeep rolls around, whenever you attack, etc… Examples of these cards are: Bitterblossom, Haunted Witness, and Brimaz, King of Oreskos.
- Instants and Sorceries: Casting instants and sorcery spells is probably the most straightforward way to generate tokens. You simply cast the spell, and, if it resolves, you get some sweet toys! Examples of these cards are White Sun’s Zenith, Raise the Alarm and Lingering Souls.
What Are Token Generators?
Token generators are simply Magic cards that can be used to create tokens in some way or another. This can be through one-time effects or effects that occur every turn.
Best Token Generators
6. Brimaz, King of Oreskos
Brimaz, King of Oreskos is pretty insane. First off, it has powerful stats just on its own. For three mana, you get a 3/4 creature with Vigilance. Combine that with Brimaz’s powerful abilities and you have a recipe for a great card.
Whenever Brimaz attacks, you get to create a 1/1 cat creature with Vigilance that’s also attacking. Then, whenever Brimaz blocks a creature, you also get to create a 1/1 cat creature with Vigilance that’s blocking that.
In my opinion, Brimaz is one of the most underrated generators in all of Magic.
5. Rhys the Redeemed
Rhys the Redeemed is super cheap and versatile, costing just one hybrid (white or green) mana to cast. Once it’s on the battlefield, you can create 1/1 Elf creatures each turn by paying three mana and tapping Rhys.
Its second ability, however, is where things really get fun! For six mana, you get to double all of your tokens!
It’s not hard to imagine how this ability can quickly get out of hand. Especially in the Commander format, where Rhys is one of the most powerful generals in the game.
Lingering Souls gives you so much value, it’s almost not even fair. For three mana, this sorcery lets you create two 1/1 white Spirit creatures with flying. Then, once it’s in the graveyard, you can do it all over again, but for even cheaper!
Lingering Souls has flashback, meaning you can cast it again from the graveyard. All you have to do is pay two mana and you get to create another two flying spirits. Furthermore, a lot of decks look to throw Lingering Souls into the graveyard from their deck so they can cast it for its cheaper Flashback cost immediately.
While this card might seem a bit underwhelming at first, I promise it’s not. Dealing with four 1/1 fliers is a lot harder than you might expect. Lingering Souls has the potential to quickly swing the game in your favor, and is an important piece in a lot of mid-range decks.
Bitterblossom does its damage slowly but surely. For just two mana (one and a black) you get an enchantment that creates a 1/1 black Faerie Rogue creature token with flying each turn on your upkeep. Bitterblossom also takes one life from you every upkeep, but that’s a small price to pay for getting a flying creature every turn.
Bitterblossom really shines in decks that want a high creature count. Also, for obvious reasons, this enchantment is a powerful tool in Faerie tribal decks.
2. Master of Waves
When it comes to making a lot of tokens at once, it’s hard to beat Master of Waves. For four mana, this Merfolk Wizard gives you a number of 1/0 Elemental creatures equal to your devotion to blue. Then he gives each of them +1/+1, instantly making them all 2/1.
I’ve personally seen Master of Waves make seven creatures at once, which is pretty ridiculous. The one downside is that the tokens usually die if Master of Waves gets removed. But still, when it comes to putting a ton of power on the
1.Urza, Lord High Artificer
Wizards of the Coast really outdid themselves with Urza, Lord High Artificer.
While a four mana 1/4 might not be very impressive stat-wise, it’s Urza’s many abilities that make him so powerful. When Urza, Lord High Artificer enters the battlefield you get to create a 0/0 colorless Construct artifact creature token with “This creature gets +1/+1 for each artifact you control.”
Then, Urza lets you tap any of your artifacts to add one blue mana to your mana pool. Since he makes an artifact as soon as he enters, these two abilities combined put you up one mana right off the rip.
Then, as if two powerful abilities weren’t enough, Urza’s third ability gives you a great way to spend all of the mana you’ll be making from his second ability. For five mana, you get to shuffle your library, exile the top card, and play that card without paying its mana cost!
Overall, Urza, Lord High Artificer is one of the most powerful token generators ever printed.
These cards narrowly missed out on the top 5, but are still so powerful that I can’t leave them out entirely.
- Bloodline Keeper
- Geist of Saint Traft
- Krenko, Mob Boss
- Splinter Twin
- Dragonmaster Outcast
- Entreat the Angels
It’s a bit difficult to rank tokens themselves since they’re only as good as the cards that create them. With that being said, however, some have definitely performed better than others.
Here are my picks for the best tokens in the game today!
2/2 Black Zombies
The 2/2 Black Zombie is one of the most popular, and powerful tokens in the game. Cards like Army of the Damned allow you to quickly flood the battlefield with a terrifying horde of undead creatures.
There’s just something pesky about 1/1 Spirit tokens. Despite being small, they always seem to make a big difference in games. For starters, they have flying, which is probably the most useful ability in all of MTG. Combine that with lots of great generators like Lingering Souls and Kykar, Wind’s Fury, and you have a powerful token.
Another 1/1 token, these Goblins have the potential to completely overrun the battlefield. This is largely thanks to Krenko, Mob Boss. The nastiest thing about Goblin tokens, however, is all of the help they get in the form of Goblin Tribal cards like [C]Goblin King[/c].
In terms of sheer power, it’s hard to beat a 4/4 flying Angel token. Whenever one of these bad boys (or girls rather) enter the battlefield, your opponent is forced to either deal with it or pay the consequences.
Treasure tokens are the only non-creature tokens to make this list. Although treasures are relatively new, they’ve already proven very useful. After all, getting extra mana is one of the most powerful things you can do in MTG, and treasure tokens are the perfect way to do exactly that.
In addition to being my favorite, Marit Lage is without a doubt the most powerful individual token in all of Magic. I mean come on! It’s a 20/20 flying and indestructible Avatar. As soon as this cosmic horror hits the battlefield, you opponents might as well just concede.
Do Tokens Go to the Graveyard?
No, tokens do not go the graveyard. Anytime a token would leave the battlefield, it’s simply removed from play instead of going to any other zone.
Is Creating a Token a Casting Cost?
No, creating a token does not count as casting a spell. Furthermore, tokens generally do not have casting costs, and have a mana-value of zero. The one exception to this, is if a token is a copy of another spell. In that case, the mana-value is the same as the copied spell.
Can You Use Anything as a Token?
Well, I don’t know about anything, but yes, it’s fine to use any convenient random object to represent a token. You don’t need to use the official token card, although that’s definitely the coolest way to do it.
It’s common for players to use dice and/or the backs of regular cards. When using this method, it’s important to try to be as clear as possible regarding how many tokens you have, which ones are tapped, which ones are untapped, and which ones have summoning sickness.
In my experience, the easiest way to do this is to use an individual card or die for each token you have. If you have too many tokens to conveniently represent them this way, then it’s best to at least have two different markers for each type, one to represent the number of tapped tokens, and one to show the number of untapped.
Are Tokens Worth Anything?
Most token cards aren’t worth much money individually. The most expensive ones are special promos such as the 2018 Lunar New Year Promo Treasure Token, which costs about $150. There are, however, a few regular tokens out there that get pretty expensive too.
The most sought after regular tokens tend to cost between $5 and $15. Here are a few examples.
Emblem – Elspeth, Knight-Errant
This planeswalker emblem from Guilds of Ravnica: Mythic Edition costs about $15.
The ultra cute, ultra popular squirrel from the Unglued set is going to run you about $13.
The multicolored version of this beast from Shards of Alara is currently going for around $12. It’s not hard to see why it’s so sought after though. It does look pretty awesome.
In addition to those, even common tokens have value when sold in lots. With all of this in mind, it’s a good idea to hang onto all of those tokens you end up with after cracking packs. It’s also a good idea to comb over your collection and see if you happen to have any valuable ones laying around.
Whether you’re creating them yourself, or trying to deal with them, tokens are an exciting, and surprisingly important part of Magic: the Gathering. I hope this article has answered all of your questions. If not, drop a comment below and I’ll be happy to respond!
Now what are you waiting for? Get out there and start making some tokens!