Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.
Creature Tokens in Magic
Like regular troops, creature tokens in Magic engage in battle using power and toughness scores. While short on abilities, they tend to arrive in groups, overwhelming foes with sheer numbers.
Creature tokens come in all shapes and sizes, from puny 1/1 humans to fierce 5/5 dragons, sometimes accompanied by abilities like flying or trample. But with thousands of token-producing spells available, which deserve your attention? These are the ten best token-summoning cards in Magic: The Gathering!
10. Crested Sunmare
CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 5
Though a bit expensive, Sunmare impresses with his 5/5 stats. More than that, he automatically grants your other horses indestructible, fortifying them against most removals. And while horse isn't the most common subtype, Sunmare automatically crafts a 5/5 horse token during the end step of any turn where you gained life!
These are surprisingly sturdy tokens, especially with indestructible, and note you can even generate them on opposing turns if you gain life with instant-speed effects. And since Sunmare isn't legendary, if you clone him using blue spells, both copies will protect each other (and you'll get twice the tokens).
9. Awakening Zone
Part mana ramp and part swarm, this enchantment is reasonably priced, and since it only needs one green, it blends well in multi-color decks. At the start of your upkeep, Zone lets you create a 0/1 eldrazi spawn token, and you can sacrifice it to add one colorless mana to your pool.
Use these as fodder to stall big threats, and remember you can "block-sacrifice" by declaring the tokens as blockers, then forfeiting them for mana, gaining the best of both worlds (just remember to spend the mana before it fades). Sacrificing the tokens also triggers any upon-death effects you employ, like "Ashes of the Abhorrent," and you can stockpile them to help cast expensive aces.
8. Darien, King of Kjeldor
For his hefty fee, Darien is only a disappointing 3/3 creature. However, he's perfect for soldier decks; not only does he carry the subtype himself, but he also creates a corresponding number of 1/1 soldier tokens whenever you receive damage.
Sure, they're weak, but the more your foes attack you, the more minions you'll craft. You'll even get them with self-damaging spells; be sure to boost your army with supports like "Field Marshal."
Bitterblossom is a rare tribal card, which means it has a creature subtype (faerie) despite being a non-creature enchantment. This strengthens certain abilities on other cards; either way, Bitterblossom has you lose one life at your upkeep, but create a 1/1 faerie rogue token with flying.
Sure, you lose some health, but you're swarming aerial combatants who can wreak havoc against grounded opponents. Combo with spells like "Spellstutter Sprite" to capitalize on the tokens' faerie subtype.
6. Imperious Perfect
Like Awakening Zone, the aptly-named Imperious Perfect only needs three mana and fits well in multi-color builds. Her stats are mediocre at 2/2, but she automatically boosts your other elves by +1/+1, and she can tap and spend one green mana to create a 1/1 elf warrior.
As long as Perfect's around, these tokens are essentially 2/2 thanks to her boost, and both the tokens and Perfect herself empower elf-related effects on cards like "Priest of Titania." Since elves are green's premier faction, you have hundreds of impressive synergies to choose from.
5. Dragonmaster Outcast
Dragonmaster scales well in the late-game better than perhaps any other single-cost spell. While he's a weak 1/1, he creates a 5/5 dragon token with flying during your upkeep if you control six or more lands.
This means that (unlike most inexpensive units) he's actually a welcome sight in your duel's later portions, pressuring foes to "waste" a removal on such a weak combatant lest they face a swarm of aerial dragons.
4. Helm of the Host
CMC: 4 (5 to equip)
While useful in any arena, I find Helm particularly lethal in formats like standard, which tend to have fewer artifact removals than commander. Helm costs four mana to cast and five whenever you equip it to a creature, so it's definitely not cheap, but its colorless nature suits any deck.
At the start of combat on your turn, Helm creates a token copy of its bearer, granting it haste. Unlike many creature-duplicates, these tokens last indefinitely, and since you get them at your combat (and not your upkeep), you can nab one the same turn you attach Helm. Best of all, this works fine with legendary creatures, as Helm's copies lose the legendary status, preventing you from sacrificing repeats.
3. Grave Titan
Like Darien, Grave Titan requires a big investment of six mana. However, his stats are up to par, arriving as a fierce 6/6. That's more than enough to crush most challengers, but as added insurance, Titan carries deathtouch.
And Titan plagues your opponents with his repeated attacks since he automatically creates two tapped 2/2 zombie tokens whenever he swings! These quickly pressure foes, especially with black's numerous zombie synergies, and as a bonus, you get two tokens just by Titan entering the field. He doesn't even need to be cast for these, so you'll still attain them if he's revived from the graveyard or otherwise gimmicked into play.
2. Young Pyromancer
Pyromancer's subtypes aren't great, and his 2/1 stats are only average for his price. However, he automatically creates a 1/1 elemental token whenever you cast an instant or sorcery.
Many players underestimate the threat these pose. They're weak, but you can gain three or more in a single turn with low-cost one-offs like "Opt," "Bolt," and "Light Up the Stage," matching rivals in battle as you harass them with indirect spells. A staple of my own red decks, Pyromancer is also much cheaper than most competitive token factories, costing well under a single dollar!
1. Phyrexian Processor
Processor excels in commander format, where you can exploit your increased starting life. This artifact needs four mana to cast, at which point you pay any amount of health. Then, by spending another four mana and tapping Processor, you create an X/X black token, where X is the amount of life paid.
Depending on your current situation, it's often smart to spend 5–10 life, granting menacing tokens without completely bankrupting your health reservoir. And while the tokens you summon are black, Processor can fit any commander's identity since there aren't any colored symbols in its cost or text.
How to Defeat Creature Tokens in Magic
Facing swarms of tokens is bad enough, more so when opponents boost them with traits like flying or deathtouch. But tokens can't exist outside the field, so if you return them to the hand with cards like "Unsummon," they cease to exist. And since their mana cost counts as zero, you can easily steal control of them with spells like "Entrancing Melody."
Field wipes also work as well on tokens as they do other creatures—assuming the tokens don't have indestructible (like Sunmare's horses) or other shields. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of faux-monsters, vote for your favorite card, and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on July 10, 2020:
Soul of Zendikar is good but not great; since his tokens cost mana, by the time you get one, you've spent 11 total mana on him.
unanimous on July 09, 2020:
Soul of zendicar?
Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on March 25, 2020:
Definitely, Mentor's great for swarming when running non-creature builds.
Queen's a great card, but her low stats, high cost, and vulnerability to board wipes narrowly kept her off the list.
jeffkg on March 25, 2020:
Rex H on November 17, 2019:
Hornet Queen. Where is my Hornet Queen? She may only give four creature tokens, but (including her), she will provide you with 5 creatures with flying and deathtouch. No one attacks me when I have my Hornet Queen . The tiny insects are far from insignificant. They take down dinosaurs and angels alike. Plus, her ‘swarm’ effect is quite literal.
Alexander James Guckenberger from Maryland, United States of America on June 06, 2019:
The depiction of the horse on the first card you show looks so epic.