Ok, so, here I am, months later, and I’m still playing with Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. I need an intervention.
I think at one point, I’ve tested every artifact in Standard in the deck. I’ve tried Aggro Tezz with Signal Pests and Memnites, Birthing Pod Tezz with Golems and Wurms, and I’ve even went back to poison Tezz at one point. But, it always seems like the deck is stuck at 3-1 when all I want is a 4-0.
This time, I decided to go a different direction. The first 274 Tezzeret decks I built were all U/B, sometimes with a small splash, just shuffling different artifacts into the deck to see what works. This time I decided to try something different.
It was time to say, “Screw the Dark Side.” Let’s see what the good guys can do.
This is the unholy union of Tezzeret and U/W control. This deck has been great for me. I originally ran a version of this at SCG: Cincinnati. There, I was at 3-1 (about to go 4-1) when I made the biggest misplay I’ve ever made and went on epic tilt to lose the next two rounds (I dropped at 3-3). The deck still played like I wanted it too, and it still feels like a good deck for the format. I was rusty and failed to play the deck the way it deserved to be played. I was anxious to give it another test.
A local store was celebrating its 5th year and ran a standard tourney, giving away 90 FNM/prerelease foils they had accumulated over the years for 1st place. I decided to tweak the deck to the above list and run it again.
Rd 1: Eldrazi Green
I really wasn’t prepared for this, but it turns out having Tumble Magnets and Oblivion Rings makes Emrakul a whole lot less scary. I still lose game 1, when I use my Magnet and an O. Ring to take out an Eldrazi, but die to multiple Primal Titans when the Day of Judgment never arrives.
Game 2, I get the awesome draw of a turn two Everflowing Chalice, Turn three Everflowing Chalice for two counters, Turn four Karn. I Vindicate his land and he stalls on five mana with a handful of Titans/Traps.
Game 3, I get a bit lucky. I Oblivion Ring two early Quicksilver Amulets, but he manages to sneak an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn into play. I lock it down for a few turns with a Tumble Magnet while turning a Chalice and Mox Opal into 5/5’s with Tezzeret. I hold a Day of Judgment to kill Emrakul once I run out of Magnet counters, but give him a one turn window to mount a defense via Summoning Trap. He can’t find a creature and concedes.
Rd 2: U/B control
Game 1 ends quickly. I land a turn two Chalice. He counters Tezzeret’s Gambit on turn three and again on turn four after I Preordain, leaving me open to land a turn 5 Sphinx. His only removal is a Dismember, so the Sphinx draws me 10 cards over the next 5 turns and he can’t keep up.
Game 2. This time he elects to not counter the turn three Tezzeret’s Gambit after an Everflowing Chalice and I get a jump in the mana race. I’m able to drop Tezzeret on turn 5 with Mana Leak mana protection, and he’s on his back foot as I start drawing Tumble Magnets. He taps out for Grave Titan and I respond with Gideon Jura and Tumble Magnet. Eventually, he overextends to get rid of Gideon and Tezzeret and I make him pay with a Day of Judgment. Karn comes in and goes ultimate (but the opponent concedes).
Rd 3: Bant Birthing Pod
Game 1. I Oblivion Ring his Birthing Pod and he can’t stop me from going Day of Judgment, Gideon Jura, Consecrated Sphinx, Karn Liberated. At one point Venser shows his ugly mug, but drawing an extra card a turn with Sea Gate Oracle isn’t enough.
Game 2. Torpor Orb slows him down early, but he has the Nature’s Claim on turn five. He follows it with the Turn six Sphinx, but I have a turn seven Day of Judgment. He eventually gets Vengevine going, and gets me under ten. Timely Reinforcements gives me chumps and a comfortable life total. I play a Preordain, find another Preordain, then find a second Day of Judgment to clear the board. I activate Celestial Colonnade and whittle his life away until a Consecrated Sphinx shows up to finish him off.
Rd 4: U/B Poison/control
The two Caw decks played to a draw in the previous round, so I play the other lone unbeaten deck. This deck was reminiscient of Kibler’s early U/B builds, but with more Skithiryx/infect and less Tezzeret.
Game 1. Turn 1- Inquisition of Kozilek nabs a Preordain and he casts Surgical Extraction to remove them. I play a turn two Chalice. I use Tezzeret’s Gambit. After the proliferate I cast Spellskite on turn 3. He used his only blue mana to cast a Preordain. I sneak a Tumble Magnet onto the field when he again Preordains. He taps out for a hasted Blight Dragon to give me 4 poison counters. I respond with Gideon and Assassinate the Dragon. His Into the Roil gets redirected to Spellskite (which I replay) a couple of times. I use a pair of Tectonic Edges to take out his Creeping Tar Pits after they enter tapped (so he never gets a second blue mana to use) and he dies to Mr. Jura.
Game 2 is a blowout. He mulligans and again plays the Inquisition/Surgical Extraction combo on my Preordains. I get to play Chalice and Tezzeret’s Gambit on Turn 3 to accelerate. He plays a pair of Plague Stingers and I get rid of both with a DoJ. He doesn’t counter my Solemn Simulacrum but does counter my Gideon. He plays Blight Dragon again, but doesn’t attack, (he keeps the BB up to regenerate I guess). I play Gideon number two and force the dragon to attack. He plays a land and tries to make me discard with an Inquisition. My hand is Karn, Tezzeret, and the Sphinx. I end the game with three planeswalkers in play as he can’t get the dragon past Gideon.
After round 4, as the only player at 4-0, I am declared the winner.
Looking at some of the card choices:
Tezzeret: Tezz plays the card advantage role just like Jace, but he also knows Kung Fu. He’s having the cake and eating it too. He makes up the entirety of the black splash (unless you manage to reduce the cost of a Dismember), but he’s been worth it. The ability to switch from card drawer- to threat- to potential game ender is highlighted very well in this deck.Tezzeret’s Gambit: Resolving this with an Everflowing Chalice in play is just stupid. Everyone seems to have mentioned this combo in passing, but it doesn’t seem to be getting much play. It is crazy good, especially in control matchups. Many of the control or midrange matchups are being decided by resource wars, and the ability to draw two cards and ramp your mana has been fantastic. This combo deserves to see more table tops. Tumble Magnet: This card sorta fell by the wayside when Spellskite started popping up in every deck. Now that many decks seem to be cutting back on the Spellskites, it should start making it’s way back into control lists. It was great for me every time it hit the board. It still combos with Gideon to take out just about everything. Batterskull: It seems like people forgot that this is still really good, even if you don’t have Stoneforge Mystic sneaking it into play on turn 3. It’s basically a finishing-level “creature” that kicks aggro in the teeth. It’s also a “creature” card that you can find with Tezzeret. Phyrexian Metamorph: A great “general answer” card. It has copied opposing Swords, Tumble Magnets, Consecrated Sphinx, given me twin Batterkulls, and occasionally mimicked a Titan. Tectonic Edge: Many Tezzeret builds elect to run Inkmoth Nexus, but the long games right now often come down to resource denial and manland battles. It also shores up the Valakut matchups a bit. Consecrated Sphinx: The best creature in standard. Karn Liberated: I replaced a Wurmcoil Engine with Karn at the last minute, and I could not have been happier. Wow, was this amazing every time I played it. Karn absolutely demands an immediate answer, and it’s not that difficult to get to 7 mana with Chalices and Tezzeret’s Gambit.
I don’t claim that U/W(b) Tezzeret is a new concept, but it has been pretty quiet recently. Most of the decks I see try to make it more of a U/B deck with a white splash. I think it’s time to move past the reliance on black cards for Tezzeret, and pull away from the siren’s call of Inquisition of Kozilek. Embrace the white, and give this deck a whirl.