Last updated on May 11, 2022
Second Harvest | Illustration by Matt Stewart
100,000,000 Saprolings creature tokens isn’t cool. You know what is cool? 200,000,000 Saprolings creature tokens. Since the creation of the creature token, planeswalkers of all formats have dug through the archives of cards in search of the best way to double down on these notoriously easy-to-create creatures.
Commander decks typically make the most use of token doublers (many are only legal in EDH), but more than a few of these cards had their day in their respective Standard environment. But which are the best token doublers?
Let’s find out.
Elven Ambush | Illustration by Chris Seaman
Token doublers are any card with an effect that nets you twice as many creatures after it (or its ability) resolves. There are a few different types of cards that fit that description. Some are instants or sorceries that duplicate your creatures, some are permanents that activate to double your tokens, and some have static effects to permanently increase the number of tokens any other effect creates. Most of them come with a stipulation of some sort, like only doubling the number of tokens of a specific creature type, but the most powerful cards don’t.
Green is unsurprisingly the best at token generation and token doubling, and many of the multicolor doublers include green. Green has what I consider the “gold standard” for token doublers: Parallel Lives and Second Harvest for permanents and non-permanents respectively.
Armed with these parameters, it’s time to take a look at some of the best token doublers in the game!
Anointed Procession is white’s Parallel Lives. This was the first card white had with token doubler effects and it made quite the splash on its release with Amonkhet. The card has yet to be reprinted and sits at a hefty price.
One of the original rebound cards from Rise of the Eldrazi, Nomads’ Assembly creates a 1/1 Kor token for each creature you already control. Since you can cast it again in your next upkeep (and assuming those original Kor stuck around) you potentially triple the number of creatures you control. This card could be considered a bit of a stretch since non-token creatures count towards it’s “count” when it’s cast, but I’d consider that an upside!
Devout Invocation taps any number of your creatures to create a 4/4 flying angel token for each creature tapped. While it doesn’t double the specific token type you control, 4/4 flyers are useful enough. Tapping down your entire board isn’t even much of a risk considering you’re replacing those blockers with angels.
Clone Legion is a star for its versatility. It creates a copy of each creature the target player controls. You can cast this on yourself, instantly doubling the creatures you control, or you can cast it on an opponent, creating tokens of their creatures that you can then populate with cards like Adrix and Nev, Twincasters or Druid’s Deliverance. To top it all off you also get all those sweet, sweet enter-the-battlefield triggers.
Even though it doesn’t technically qualify, I’m still including Necroduality for two reasons. First, it creates tokens of actual zombie cards which could theoretically be doubled by another effect later. Second, it’s an insanely powerful card for zombie tribal decks, many of which already create a lot of tokens.
Oh no, this is embarrassing! It looks like R&D haven’t designed any mono-black token doublers.
Even though many black tokens are prime targets for doubling, the ability sadly lies just out of reach for now. But that’s fine, you’re playing black! Make your own tokens the old-fashioned way: Ob Nixilis of the Black Oath and Skirsdag High Priest can pump out 5/5 demon tokens left and right.
Endless Ranks of the Dead is an “almost doubler” and works well with zombie tribal but won’t net you nearly as many tokens. I recommend splashing into green or white to gain access to token doubling cards like Chatterfang, Squirrel General or Kaya, Geist Hunter.
Kindred Charge has a Flameshadow Conjuring-like effect that’s common in red cards. It gives you an army of expendable creatures to hurl at your enemies right then and there. If you can somehow copy these creatures you’ll even be able to make some stick around since Kindred Charge only exiles the tokens it made at the end of the turn.
Krenko, Mob Boss has been a menace in EDH circles since its release. Anyone who’s played against a Krenko deck can attest to how quickly it can get out of hand. It’s a simple “turn ‘em sideways” deck. Supported by Commander staples like Thousand-Year Elixir, a turn 3 Krenko can effectively cinch a game for you.
I can’t get enough of this goofy card. Mogg Infestation is just hilarious in a goblin tribal deck. The obvious ploy here is to trade all the goblins on your field to get twice as many 1/1 tokens, but it’s ability to wipe an opponent’s board shouldn’t be underrated.
Five mana to kill a few important creatures in red isn’t too bad in a pinch. Some great cards to consider including with Infestation are things like Impact Tremors and Pashalik Mons to hit your opponents on the way in and on the way out!
I don’t know what it is about Tempt with Vengeance. Maybe it’s just my play group, but people keep taking up my tempting offer for a handful of elemental tokens to let me create twice as many! A strategic player keeps a close eye on the board state and casts this when an opponent is most likely to agree.
The token doubler. Parallel Lives arrived on the scene in 2011 with the original Innistrad set. For this enchantment doubles the number of tokens you create. It’s the cheapest card with just the token doubling effect so it acts as a fair standard to measure the other token doublers by.
Primal Vigor sees a lot of play in Commander. It fits right into the Prossh, Skyraider of Kher precon it came in and has out-valued many of the new cards from that set. It has the added benefit of doubling your +1/+1 counter generating, an effect many token decks take advantage of.
Commanders like Ghave, Guru of Spores combo out with this and just about anything else. It’s also important to note that Primal Vigor is a symmetrical effect, doubling token and counter creation for your opponents in addition to you.
Often mistaken for a second Primal Vigor, Doubling Season has a few distinct advantages and disadvantages. First, its effect applies to counters of any kind, making everything from your planeswalkers’ loyalty abilities to your Door of Destinies more effective.
Second, and I’m thinking incredibly situationally here, it’s first ability also applies to opponents’ effects. So maybe watch out for that Pursued Whale?
For Second Harvest is your measure for non-permanent token doublers. It’s instant speed, meaning you can quickly swarm the board to respond to an overzealous attack from your opponent. It also doesn’t care which type of token you have so you can clone those Armada Wurm tokens just as well as all those Saprolings you’ve created.
Elvish Promenade | Elven Ambush
A pair of very, very similar spells for the elf player who just doesn’t have enough elves. Both cards create an elf token for each elf you already control.
Elvish Promenade has the advantage of being a tribal sorcery, meaning it can be tutored for with spells like Elvish Harbinger. But Promenade is slower than Elven Ambush which can be cast at instant speed. Elves make tokens at nearly the same rate goblins can, probably faster with access to both of these cards.
Saproling Symbiosis creates a classic Saproling token for each creature you control and can be cast at instant speed for six mana instead of four. Many of the cheapest tokens you can create are Saprolings, and an army of 1/1s to sacrifice is never a bad thing.
Finally we come to Parallel Evolution, a symmetrical Clone Legion for with a flashback cost of . The number of enter-the-battlefield effects alone this triggers makes it sound like a headache to resolve, but with proper set up you can even clone cards that generate tokens like Trostani’s Summoner to net even more creatures. Let your inner Timmy rejoice!
The all-new Kaya, Geist Hunter costs three mana and can activate its second loyalty ability as soon as it drops, doubling the number of tokens you create until the end of the turn. The immediate benefit can be good, but its value really lies in the freedom to plan your turns around alternating between Kaya’s first two abilities to buff your tokens with a +1/+1 counter plus deathtouch (a relatively rare ability among tokens), and doubling the number of tokens you create.
Adrix and Nev, Twincasters is the face card for its Commander 2021 precon. Following a classic WotC design tactic, these two merfolk are the Parallel Lives ability “on a body.” They also follow another of Wizard’s favorite design tricks: “put it in the command zone.”
Adrix and Nev are a great commander for a token doubling deck, giving you consistent access to a doubler. It’s so full of value that the built-in protection from their ward ability feels like an afterthought.
Rhys the Redeemed has a 6-mana ability that copies each creature token you control. It’s more mana than Second Harvest, but its real value lies in its mana value of a single green/white mana. A turn 1 commander can be a huge threat, especially when Rhys makes its own elf tokens in addition to doubling them later on.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I hate squirrels. Specifically the creature tokens, not the live animals. I’m neutral on those. My beef boils down to the fact that we already had a great 1/1 green token to fit this role mechanically (elves), so WotC is just trying to be cute.
Chatterfang, Squirrel General drives me crazy. Hitting the field a turn or two earlier than Parallel Lives or Doubling Season, Chatterfang pumps out a Squirrel token for each other token you generate. Its sacrifice ability gives you an immediate outlet for those squirrels, too. Its forestwalk ability also comes in handy.
I’ve said it before, but a table without at least one green player is increasingly rare these days.
Rith lets you choose a color and then make a Saprolings for each permanent of that color, potentially doubling the number of tokens on your field. And remember to keep an eye on the board! Rith checks your opponents’ permanents too. If that Talrand, Sky Summoner player has been churning out Drake tokens all game, it might be to your benefit you to choose blue for an equally sized army of Saprolings.
Battle for Bretagard is a saga from Kaldheim and still has that new-card smell despite being about a year old. It’ll replicate a Second Harvest when it reaches its third chapter, but Battle for Bretagard-generated is fine if you can’t make your own tokens by then. It’s a cheap alternative to some of the expensive doublers and could be effective when looking to fill out the deck with this effect.
Best Colorless Token Doublers
… or lack thereof. There aren’t any colorless spells that double tokens in the same was that Doubling Season or Second Harvest do. But if you’re still looking to include some colorless cards in your token-doubling deck, might I suggest some weird tokens to double?
Serpent Generator, one of the first cards to include the poisonous mechanic, is here if you want to get weird with it. And then there’s none than Mimic Vat to get exactly what you need if nothing else sounds appealing to you!
So now that you’ve got your 200,000,000 Saprolings entering the battlefield, what do you do with them? There are tons of ways a token deck can end the game. Let’s examine a few payoffs for massive token generation.
You’ve generated an army and you’re ready to get some big spells out to finish the game. Use Ashnod’s Altar or Phyrexian Altar and turn all those Saprolings into useful mana. Don’t forget: loads of great convoke cards benefit from you controlling lots of creatures to cast them for cheap.
There are so, so many ways to gain life off of your creatures entering the battlefield. The humble Soul Warden is invaluable in any creature-based deck and Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice can even populate those tokens for you.
Aristocrat strategies combine the best of both worlds. Blood Artist, Zulaport Cutthroat, and Falkenrath Noble all drain your opponents and gain you life when creatures die. Get yourself a nice sacrifice outlet like Viscera Seer and watch those life totals plummet.
Maybe you’re like me and you like to win the old-fashioned way; you want to knock some heads together with your army of tokens! I use Intangible Virtue, Dramatic Finale, and Teysa Karlov (EDH Teysa, anyone?) to turn those nasty tokens into beat sticks you can throw around the board willy-nilly.
Lots of cards care about the number of creatures you control and statically check that number for their abilities. Wayfaring Temple, Voice of Resurgence, Geist-Honored Monk, and Hanweir Militia Captain are all staple cards for this ability. An army of 1/1s can be intimidating, but an army spearheaded by a single large creature is downright terrifying. Pennon Blade can spread this buff around your board too, ensuring your trampler or flyer can connect with all that damage.
Parallel Lives | Illustration by Steve Prescott
Going wide is one of my favorite win conditions in the game. It’s classic Magic to overwhelm the board with creatures and beat your opponents into submission. The absolute best way to double those tokens is different depending on your situation, but the universally useful Parallel Lives, Primal Vigor, and Doubling Season are always useful. Second Harvest and the like make for powerful “gotchas” to surprise your opponents and break out for a huge turn.
It’s important to consider which doubler to include and ask yourself a few questions to figure it out. Are you making use of +1/+1 counters like a Ghave, Guru of Spores deck? Will you be creating Wurm tokens? What if you want to double your non-creature tokens like Clue, Treasure, or Food? Do you intend for these tokens to die, or do you need to protect them with Emmara Tandris? Do you hate your friends enough to end the game with the Sporemound/Life and Limb combo? Study up, play some test games, and then make your choice!
What do you think? Does green deserve to be the best token doubler? What would a black token doubling effect look like, and could we see one in the near future? Let us know in the comments down below or over on Draftsim’s Twitter.
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