THRONE OF ELDRAINE is here and it’s by far the most flavorful set Wizards has ever printed since Kamigawa. And while I loved brewing with Spirit Dragons and Zuberas, nothing is closer to my heart than food. Food tokens have created its own archetype and Throne of Eldraine has created a lot of powerful cards that synergize well with this.
Oko is the first card that comes to mind when you talk about Food tokens. Oko is technically a commissary on his own, generating tokens and turning them into 3/3 Elks. But we’re not making an Oko deck. I’m sure those who are playing on a budget is smiling as they read this.
Like Oko, we need a kitchen. Nothing makes great food better than an Oven. Witch’s Oven is one of the only free no-mana-investment sacrificial engine Magic has printed in a LOOOOONG time. It basically reads: “Tap, make a healing salve for later.”
But what if you’re not after more life points? Why not turn this into: “Tap, draw a card, and lose 1 life” instead?
In conjunction with a Midnight Reaper, every time you sacrifice something nets you a card in exchange for a life. The life loss is temporary since you can eat your food tokens later. But wait, what’s this you’re saying? You don’t want to lose any life from drawing a card? How selfish! But I hate disappointing you guys!
Cauldron Familiar becomes your best creature to shove into the oven in exchange for cards. The ETB effect it comes with nets you 1 life while dealing one damage every time you loop this with the Oven. This goes on infinitely the more ovens you have in play.
With that in mind, you have 2 cards that deal 1 damage and drains for 1 every activation, and nets you 1 card if you have Reaper out. Can we get even more value here?
In the loop we illustrated above, the only piece of the puzzle we’re not getting value from is the food token we’re sacrificing to get the cat back into play. But adding Trail of Crumbs into the mix generates immense value whenever we sacrifice a food token. By paying 1 mana, the loop evolves into; Tap Witch’s Oven: Gain 1 life, Deal 1 Damage, Draw 1 card, cast Opt. That’s tremendous value for cards that go great together but also work well even if you don’t have all 4 cards on the battlefield.
- Cat + Oven = 1 life + 1 damage per activation
- Midnight Reaper + Cat = 1 card eventually
- Oven + Trail = Pseudo-Opt everytime a food gets sacrificed
Is this enough for a good shell? For the kitchen table, yes? (you saw that I did there?). But for competitive Magic, we need to bump up the power levels with more synergies.
Gilded Goose allows us to power through our 3 mana cost spells on turn 2, and later generates the food tokens to keep the Cat-loop going. It’s also a great source of life on a stalled game or when you and your opponent are tanking hard or flooding.
Apart from Midnight Reaper, we reserved 4 slots for a full playset of Murderous Rider. He’s perfect in providing us the flexibility of using it as removal without diluting our permanent count to make sure Trail of Crumbs hits a card consistently.
On the four drop slot, we have Vraska, Golgari Queen. She has dropped in price because her usefulness prior to Throne of Eldraine was very limited and oftentimes narrow. With the new standard out, she hits a lot of high value cards like Teferi, Oko, Domri, Ashiok, Chandra and Gideon. That’s just on the Planeswalker hitlist, we haven’t even touched on the creatures like Risen Reef, Mayhem Devil, Voracious Hydra, Knight of the Ebon Legion, Hero of Precinct One, Runaway Steam-Kin, Wildborn Preserver, Deputy of Detention, Emry, Lrker of the Loch, Feather the Redeemed, Kethis the Hidden Hand, Yorvo, Lord of Garenbrig, Thief of Sanity, Hydroid Krasis, Legion Warboss and Rotting Regisaur.
Remember Trail of Crumbs, Vraska also triggers the sacrifice effect when you target a Food token to gain that 1 life and draw that card. The synergy just keeps coming!
Wicked Wolf joined the 4-drop group which reminds me of Ravenous Chupacabra. It doesn’t kill anything anymore but the extra power and toughness does allow are to kill each creature and the food tokens we generate throughout the game allows this wolf to stay longer in the game. It has saved me from an otherwise clear board after Planar Cleansing was cast, and I sacrificed 3 food tokens to make a 6/6 threat after the smoke cleared.
To cap off the high curves we have another food synergy card in Feasting Troll King. Most brewers I see online try to reanimate this on turn 3 by generating tokens on the first 2-3 turns while milling the Troll and then cashing the tokens to bring it back. It feels too glass-cannon to me so I prefer to cast this naturally as my top-end beater. The benefit of casting this normally is you get the food tokens which can later trigger Trail of Crumbs if you want to reanimate the Troll, and net a bunch of cards.
Voracious Hydra is another top-end beater which is also a flexible removal we can cast midgame. I usually use this to fight something from turns 4-6 and then as a 8-10 power threat by turn 7 onwards.
Liliana finishes the top deck’s threat roster as a way for us to close games quickly before the opponent can recover. It serves as a redundancy card for Midnight Reaper thanks to its passive skill when played alongside the Cat and Oven loop. We don’t necessarily need Liliana to win, but it helps us get there after the opponent has exhausted his means to get on top of our board presence, resilient threats and massive card advantage.
Add the Golgari lands and a couple of Fabled Passages and Castles, here’s my current decklist that has been quite successful in Arena testing.
Just some notes to wrap up the mainboard before we go into the side.
- We’re only playing 2 Wicked Wolf because we don’t have the same level of food production as the Oko decks.
- We’re playing Liliana as an alternate finisher.
- We’re only playing 2 Temple of Malady because I always want my lands to enter untapped.
- We’re also playing only 2 Fabled Passage because of the same reasons.
- Castle of Garenbrig is a great way to cheat Troll King on turn 4 (with Goose).
- Castle of Lochmere is great when you’re top decking, and the life lost can be regained with food.
On to the sideboard!
Veil of Summer is very flexibly, low-mana, all-around protection against Thought Erasures and Duress. It protects your creatures from getting bounced by Teferi. It makes sure your spells go through against control decks. All this for 1 mana.
Duress replaces our creature removal to snipe opposing Planeswalkers, nasty enchantments and non-creature win conditions like Dance of the Manse, Nissa, Calvacade, and more.
Thought Distortion is exceptionally strong against the Dance of the Manse deck because it removes their hand and all their graveyards which nullifies any future Dancing. This also works well against reanimator strategies without fear of getting countered.
Rankle is another anti-control card that acts like a Hypnotic Specter. If we have excess food tokens, we can also use Rankle’s edict effect and ditch our cat in exchange for one of your opponent’s more high-value creatures. I have also played games where his “lose 1 life” clause was relevant in closing the game.
Noxious Grasp used to be Legion’s End but with the rise of mono-green henge decks, Simic food, and Simic ramp decks, I think Noxious Grasp will hit more relevant targets. Unless I see more Aristocrats, Mono black aggro, and Knights dominating the scene then I can swap this with Legion’s End.
Lastly is Thrashing Brontodon which helps answer difficult artifact/enchantments like Fires of Invention, Experimental Frenzy, Doom Foretold, opposing Witch’s Oven, Prison Realm, The Great Henge, and many more. I also side this in and remove my Wicked Wolf if I am against a faster deck because that added 1 point of toughness makes this dino much harder to remove.
Overall I like how the deck plays together and is quite forgiving with mulligans thanks to some built-in card sifting and card advantage engine. It’s well-poised against very aggressive decks thanks to its life gain synergies. And the mid-to-late game also packs a punch that can help turn the corner to close the game.
It also stretches the opponent to answer our board presence to keep up, or at least slow us down from taking off and capitalizing on recursion, card draw, and raw power.
I’ll continue to tweak this and will come back with updates!