Teferi, Hero of Modern

While Dominaria is now out in full force, all of my time playing with the new cards has been in the context of Standard or Limited. But it turns out that once you get to play with a card as awesome as Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, it makes you want to play it in every format.

I’ve seen the question posed on Twitter – is Teferi better than Jace, the Mind Sculptor in Modern? If you simply look to Ben Nickolich’s latest Jeskai Control list from SCG Atlanta, you’ll see one copy of the new Teferi planeswalker and zero copies of Jace. That’s a bold statement, coming from the Jeskai master.

While it’s not exactly fair to compare a four-mana, monocolored planeswalker to a five-mana, multicolored one, I’m becoming more and more confident that Teferi is at least as good as the freshly-unbanned Mind Sculptor.

To preface, I’m considering blue-white to be the primary control colors in Modern, so Teferi being a blue-white card is perfect. Not to discount blue-red or Grixis decks, but UWx decks are the frame for this discussion.

Teferi has already shown that he plays well with instant-speed spells in Standard, where you can play him on five mana and leave up Seal Away and Negate, or play him on seven mana and leave up Settle the Wreckage, Commit // Memory, or a number of other spells to protect your powerful planeswalker. Teferi will play out much the same way in Modern, where you often need to wait to deploy your planeswalker until you also have mana available for a removal spell or counterspell. In these situations, Teferi is functionally a mana cheaper than Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

A staple of Blue-White Control decks is, of course, Celestial Colonnade. Teferi allows you to untap a newly-played Colonnade and have the potential to block with it immediately. I’m sure that Azorius Chancery is going too deep, but Teferi brings exciting possibilities with all of the lands available in Modern. Why limit yourself to one Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin activation per turn?

When playing against an opponent who has Lightning Bolt in their deck, you are often faced with a difficult decision with Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Do I use the Brainstorm ability to guarantee myself a card and risk Jace getting Bolted, or do I +2 to play around Lightning Bolt and risk losing Jace to a Maelstrom Pulse or Dreadbore anyway? Teferi’s high starting loyalty gives you the best of both worlds in this situation.

Teferi is much more adept at dealing with opposing permanents than Jace. Teferi’s -3 ability can target a number of problematic artifacts, enchantments, or planeswalkers that Jace could never touch. I often find myself facing down a Blood Moon, Choke, Bitterblossom, Chalice of the Void, or some other random permanent that my opponent has sideboarded in against me to keep me from having fun. Putting these unfun permanents into your opponent’s library will likely give you a couple of turns of reprieve, if not letting you shuffle them away with the stellar follow-up play of activating Field of Ruin (note that Field of Ruin is not a “may” ability – your opponent MUST shuffle their library, even if they don’t have a basic land to search up).

And, lastly, the final ability of each planeswalker – both ultimates should be game-ending. And while Jace’s might be a bit more sudden, Teferi is able to get to the ultimate a turn faster, drawing you cards along the way while you tick up.

Here’s my concept for a Blue-White Control list that is trying to make the most out of Teferi, Hero of Dominaria:

Blue-White Control

4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Field of Ruin
4 Flooded Strand
2 Hallowed Fountain
6 Island
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Mystic Gate
2 Plains
1 Polluted Delta
1 Blessed Alliance
1 Condemn
3 Cryptic Command
2 Detention Sphere
1 Gideon Jura
2 Gideon of the Trials
3 Logic Knot
1 Negate
4 Opt
4 Path to Exile
2 Search for Azcanta
2 Serum Visions
1 Settle the Wreckage
1 Spell Snare
1 Supreme Verdict
2 Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
1 Wrath of God
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Ceremonious Rejection
2 Dispel
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Celestial Purge
1 Damping Sphere
1 Disdainful Stroke
1 Stony Silence
1 Timely Reinforcements
2 Geist of Saint Traft
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Elspeth, Sun’s Champion

While a typical Blue-White Control list might play more copies of sorcery-speed cards such as Serum Visions, Spreading Seas, and Wall of Omens, here we are trying to maximize the power of Teferi alongside cheap instants. I’ve also added a couple extra cantrips and fetchlands from what I would normally play, in order to help enable the increased number of Logic Knots. It’s easy to imagine that a Jeskai Control deck packing Lighting Bolts and Lightning Helixes would be a good home for Teferi, as well.

Upcoming events that I will be attending include Grand Prix Toronto, where I will most likely be in the Standard seat for my team, as well as Grand Prix Washington DC and Pro Tour Dominaria. After that comes the next round of Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers, which are Unified Standard. This means that I’ll have to put Modern on the backburner, for now. But I am eager to find out if Teferi can become not only the Hero of Dominaria, but the Hero of Modern, too.