Token Cards

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Post by Legend » 1 month ago

This is more of a custom set ruling than a custom card ruling.
What's the maximum number of distinct token cards that a set could feasibly contain?
To put it another way, how many "create a token" cards could be in one set?
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Post by user_938036 » 1 month ago

Are you talking specifically token creatures or any kind of token? Sets average 30ish cards with the word create. While standout sets like Shadows over Innistrad had over 50 due to the use of clues. There isn't any hard and fast rule as each set's needs are different; in theory, you could have as many as you want.

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Post by spacemonaut » 1 month ago

You can see the list of all token sets in Scryfall, and optionally you can view them sorted by number of cards.
  • Core and expansion sets range heavily in how many tokens they have. Large sets tend to have in the range of 8-16 tokens.
  • Only four core/expansion sets have ever had more than 16 tokens: Amonkhet (26*), Shadows over Innistrad (20), War of the Spark (19), and Core Set 2019 (18). Amonkhet had so many on account of its Embalm theme; it only had 10 tokens that were normal "create" tokens. (* Scryfall lists 27, but the perforated counter cards were 2 sides of the same token, so I'm counting that as 1 token.)
  • Only eight sets in the history of the game have ever had more than 20 tokens. Those have been Amonkhet, Modern Masters 2017 & Horizons, and several Commander sets.
  • Many supplemental decks (like duel decks) have less than 8 due to the small number of cards involved.
A large part of the reason sets have such a low token count is because of board state complexity. Let's take Core Set 2020 tokens for an example. White has 10 cards that create tokens, but between them you only have 3 distinct tokens: the 1/1 Soldiers, the 1/1 Spirits with flying, and the 3/3 Golems. Most players won't own the actual printed tokens so they'll just put down lands face-down to represent them. In most of your games you might only deal with 1-2 types of tokens, and that's easy enough to remember: this group's your Soldiers, and that group's your Spirits.

Now imagine if you were playing white but no two cards made the same token. One made a 1/1 Soldier, another made a 1/1 Soldier with Vigilance, another made a 2/2 Knight, and there's 2 sizes of Golems. You're still playing the same cards as before, but suddenly it's a lot harder to remember which card back represents what, and playing without a sharpie or the actual token cards becomes difficult and error-prone.

Re-use of tokens is good and helps people manage playing with your set.

One other major example is Ravnica visits: Selesnya tokens are highly standardised to always have exactly one at each size. You'll see that during GRN/RNA, all Selesnya cards that created a 1/1 token were creating a 1/1 white Soldier creature token with lifelink; all cards that created a 2/2 created a 2/2 white Elf Knight with Vigilance.

Selesnya during Return to Ravnica standardised on a different token set, but it was still standardised: a a 1/1 white Bird with flying, a 2/2 white Knight, a 3/3 green Centaur, a 4/4 Rhino with trample, and a 5/5 Wurm with trample. (And they had two one-offs.) That's a lot of tokens, but it was more manageable than two different kind of 2/2's, two different 3/3's, two different 4/4's, etc.
user_938036 wrote:
1 month ago
Are you talking specifically token creatures or any kind of token? Sets average 30ish cards with the word create. While standout sets like Shadows over Innistrad had over 50 due to the use of clues. There isn't any hard and fast rule as each set's needs are different; in theory, you could have as many as you want.
Your averages are too high, I'm sorry. Shadows Over Innistrad had only 20 tokens, six of which were clues: https://scryfall.com/sets/tsoi

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Post by user_938036 » 1 month ago

spacemonaut wrote:
1 month ago
user_938036 wrote:
1 month ago
Are you talking specifically token creatures or any kind of token? Sets average 30ish cards with the word create. While standout sets like Shadows over Innistrad had over 50 due to the use of clues. There isn't any hard and fast rule as each set's needs are different; in theory, you could have as many as you want.
Your averages are too high, I'm sorry. Shadows Over Innistrad had only 20 tokens, six of which were clues: https://scryfall.com/sets/tsoi
Why are you talking to me about the number of different tokens when I specifically called out the number of cards with the text create? The OP asked "To put it another way, how many "create a token" cards could be in one set?" I never touched on their question "What's the maximum number of distinct token cards that a set could feasibly contain?" because I didn't have that information I instead talked about how many cards had the text Create on them which is what they asked. I was personally confused about why they asked such different questions as though they were the same thing but I answered the one I could answer.

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Post by spacemonaut » 1 month ago

Oh. :thinking: If that's the case I probably misunderstood the question. I withdraw that comment on your post, sorry about that.

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