Tezzeret, Tezzeret, Tezzeret. Where do we begin? It’s not that your mother and I are mad at you, we’re just disappointed. Worried even, maybe….
Editor Jonah: Wait a second… Austin is this the exact same article from last week but you’ve replaced every instance of the name Ajani with Tezzeret instead?
Austin: What? Of course not! I obviously had to get rid of the cat puns too! I got some awesome Luke Skywalker robot hand jokes in there in place of them! Star Wars is topical, Jonah!
Editor Jonah: You can’t just submit the exact same article as last week!
Austin: Both walkers are pale imitations of their previous versions though! Tomato-tomahtoe. Plus, this Tezzeret article is somehow even better than the Ajani one. It’s like The Godfather Part II of Magic articles!
Editor Jonah: That is a gross exaggeration and you have a wildly inflated sense of self worth. Pack up all these pug dog calendars and cans of Pringles off your desk and get out of here, you’re fired!
*After much ugly crying and begging on Austin’s part, Jonah reluctantly allows him to keep writing for the ever generous and loving Spellsnare. Truly, it is a holiday miracle.*
Tezzeret the Schemer
So…Tezzeret the Schemer. How do I do a thorough and rousing job of detailing his pros and cons without framing it like two disappointed parents scolding a misbehaving teenager? But that’s all I know! I guess…I’ll try to broach the subject in a more traditional Magic player sense.
Tezzeret the Schemer sucks! All planeswalkers since Jace, the Mind Sculptor have and Magic is ruined!
Did I sound like a normal Spike player? Great, mission accomplished! We’re all wrapped up here, Jonah!
*More shouting and firing and subsequent begging and crying*
Sniffles, okay, Honestly, I have no idea what to think about Tezzeret the Schemer! Blue Black as a color pair that has been largely absent from the Kaladesh metagame thus far, and despite Shota Yasooka winning Pro Tour Kaladesh with Grixis Control or the occasional appearance of U/B control making a Grand Prix top 16, we haven’t seen much of the Dimir guild as of late. (There is a joke about them not wanting to be seen somewhere in there).
So much like a one-handed fledging Jedi plummeting to the bottom of Cloud City, I too am unsure of what the future holds. Silly narratives aside, what I do think we can talk about right now is this new Tezzeret’s abilities and what it would take for Tezzeret the Schemer to be a potential standard role player.
With his casting cost it’s hard not to draw comparisons to his previous iteration, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. And much like comparing the new Ajani to Elspeth, Sun’s Champion, all you’ll find is disappointment. Put Agent of Bolas out of mind and lets look objectively at Tezzeret the Schemer.
Starting right off the bat, we know the new Tezzeret is 2UB. 4 mana seems to be the sweet spot for a lot of playable planeswalkers. Early enough to come down in the relatively early part of the game, but expensive enough that its mana requirement lends itself to some powerful abilities. The black and the blue mana requirements are an issue, since he doesn’t necessarily slot particularly well into an already existing deck, but like his two main abilities, it’s going to require some new Aether Revolt context to get a full sense of his worth. We’ll get to those abilities in a just a moment though, cause I wanna talk about loyalty!
5 starting loyalty is no slouch, especially when a quick, initial +1 activation takes you all the way to 6. Passing with a fresh new ‘walker at 6 loyalty can put your opponent in a tricky position. We’ve seen this is one of the greatest strengths of Jace, Unraveler of Secrets in the U/W Flash mirror. Coming down a turn earlier than that Jace is a boon for this new Tezzeret if we’re hoping for a similar effect. Unfortunately for Tezz though, when we start looking at that plus ability, we’re going to come up short when comparing him against the poster boy for blue planeswalkers.
The +1 Ability
+1: Create a colorless artifact token named Etherium Cell with “tap, Sacrifice this artifact: Add one mana of any color to your mana pool”.
So we have a plus that draws and plays us a Lotus Petal, essentially. I’m inclined to say that is definitely worse than scrying and drawing a card, and I’d also bet on that being worse than looking at the top 5 cards of your library and revealing an artifact and putting it into our hand.
So, how good is a Lotus Petal-making planeswalker?
I have no idea.
It feels largely dependent on how much mileage we’re going to get out of the extra mana. If we’re playing Tezzeret and immediately using the Petal to cast a 1 mana spell like Dead Weight or Harsh Scrutiny, I could see his worth. But, I’m most likely more interested in accelerating into an early Torrential Gearhulk. Control decks have historically been very interested in hitting land drops very late into the game, and these Lotus Petals could somewhat play a similar role. Being able to cast a draw spell and use the removal you draw into all in the same turn can be a game winning proposition.
Etherium Cells sound interesting in general, and I’m interested in seeing how many new cards will be creating the Lotus Petal proxy.
The -2 Ability
-2: Target creature gets +X/-X until end of turn, where X is the number of artifacts you control.
A narrow removal spell for a minus ability is new for Tezzeret, but nothing we haven’t seen on the occasional planeswalker before. Tezzeret the Schemer won’t be killing a whole lot unless he’s been in play making batteries for a while, or if we’ve spent our previous turns casting artifacts. And while I may fantasize about turning a Torrential Gearhulk into a 10/1 and closing out the game faster, I imagine his minus will rarely be that impactful. Perhaps a good 2 CMC mana rock gets printed in Aether Revolt and we’re accelerating into Tezzie, but I’d want to see several more cheap, constructed playable artifacts printed before I would be interested in playing this card primarily for his minus ability.
Speaking of cheap constructed playable artifacts, Smuggler’s Copter kind of squashes any scheming Tezz might have. If Magic’s Darth Vader equivalent comes in and immediately minuses, he’ll be at a fresh, convenient 3 loyalty, ripe for a Copter to bash in and finish him off.
Smuggler’s Copter: Ruining Planeswalkers since ’16.
The -7 Ability
-7 You get an emblem with “At the beginning of combat on your turn, target artifact you control becomes an artifact creature with base power and toughness 5/5.
While generally I consider most planeswalker ultimates to be icing on the cake, throw-ins that you should never bank a planeswalker’s playability on, Tezz’s might be the real reason to play him. Coming into play on turn 4 and immediately going to 6 loyalty means we’re potentially ult’ing on turn 6. And while many emblems might durdle or draw frivolous cards, Tezzeret’s is more in-line with Liliana, The Last Hope’s. This robot-man is interested in closing out a game quickly, and that’s something control decks haven’t always had the easiest access to. If my deck is designed to cast cheap, early artifacts in the early game to facilitate a usage of Tezz’s -2 ability, my deck should also be happy turning some throw-away artifacts into threatening 5/5’s.
Keep in mind that this ultimate is similar to Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas’s -1 ability. When these artifacts become 5/5s, they stay 5/5s. This is a straight up transformation, no “until the end of turn” clause here! That snowballing pressure can get our hand quickly, and the fear of Tezz’s ultimate might be the best part about him. After all, forcing your opponent to extend into a sweeper because they need to pressure a planeswalker is an archetype-defining principal that a certain blue planeswalker knows all about.
All and all, I’m truly having a hard time getting a sense of this new Tezzeret and any role he might have. His abilities are so contextually dependent on what’s coming in Aether Revolt that we’ll have to just keep him in mind and see what’s coming. Ajani might get the thumbs down from me, but Tezzeret is interesting enough that I’ll be picking up a playset of Torrential Gearhulk and I suggest you do the same if you haven’t already!
If there’s a card that has already been spoiled that I believe could bring the best out of Tezzeret, it’s Yahenni’s Expertise. Read an analysis of the card to learn about its potential in Standard here.
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