For as long as I can remember, I have been looking for a viable Tezzeret deck in Modern. I played one myself about five months back and unfortunately it didn't perform as well as I would have liked it to and I was somewhat disheartened as Tezzeret has always been one of my favorite planeswalkers. Well, the Agent of Bolas anyway; Tezzeret, the Seeker is fine, but Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is just such a cooler dude.
Anyway, a few weeks back Japanese pro Shota Yasooka managed to take our boy Big Tezz all the way to a Top 16 finish at Grand Prix Kobe. His list looks like what you'd expect from a traditional Tezzeret list with things like planeswalkers, sweepers, spot removal, and a couple sizable finishers like Batterskull and Wurmcoil Engine. Take a look.
The funny thing is, we didn't actually see much of the deck before the Grand Prix...anywhere really! And we haven't seen much of it after the Grand Prix as far as I know. So was the deck a fluke? An enigma?
It's hard to say for sure, but the deck's success can't really be argued. Today we're going to take a look and see what it's all about!
Tezzeret Control vs. Jund
Tezzeret Control vs. Splinter Twin
Tezzeret Control vs. Eternal Command
Tezzeret Control vs. Monored Burn
Lemme tell ya, if I had tried this deck out beforehand I would have made sure I made it to the last Modern PTQ of the season. It was that ridiculous. We just faced four pretty powerful archetypes and managed to best them all despite making a few first-timer misplays.
The deck has an insane amount of win conditions. Not only are cards like Batterskull and Wurmcoil Engine some of the most powerful artifact threats ever printed, but we also have ten manlands and four Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. The best part about all of these cards is how resilient they are. Manlands in and of themselves are very hard to deal with, but turning a Darksteel Citadel into a 5/5 indestructible creature? That's a completely different type of manland.
Another option as we saw in the videos is simply using Tezzeret's ultimate ability. Typically we can deal anywhere from ten to fourteen damage with this fairly easily. Dealing six to ten damage beforehand isn't even really that hard, especially considering this is Modern, where most players are taking two to five damage from their own manabases off the bat.
One of the benefits of a deck like this is that we have so many cards that do nothing on their own, but others that simply shut down entire archetypes. Relic of Progenitus? Sure, it does nothing against Splinter Twin, but Torpor Orb shuts down the entire deck!
Despite beating burn, one thing I wish was that the deck had a little more life gain. But maybe it isn't even necessary. Ivory Crane Netsuke is an interesting option. With one in our opening hand, we could actually play one on turn two, then not play any other spells in an attempt to gain four every turn. This would mean that for every two cards our opponent spends, we would only take about two damage. Sure, sometimes they would likely have Skullcrack or Flames of the Blood Hand, but I'm not sure they could outrace four life a turn before they ran out of cards. Our other option is the classic Dragon's Claw, but we ended up beating Burn so maybe we're in good shape? I'm not positive; Burn just always feels like one of the matchups you want to prepare most for because it attacks from such a linear angle.
One card I would love to have an answer for would be Blood Moon. But again, as with the Burn matchup, I'm not sure it's needed. It's a card that's really good against our manabase, but it's also a card that doesn't really cripple us with seven "signets." Without access to a third color something like Engineered Explosives wouldn't do much, and we don't really want an Oblivion Stone effect when we're running so many artifacts of our own. I think our best bet is to simply play around it like we did against Splinter Twin.
One interesting aspect of the deck is that it doesn't have any Thoughtseize within the 75. Truth be told the card wasn't really needed. Sure, it would be nice to nab a Cryptic Command or a Splinter Twin, but Modern is very much a format that revolves around spells that cost three or less. Even decks like Junk - one of the most popular decks in the format - often have only one card that costs four or more: Thrun, the Last Troll. This is by and large a deck that does a great job at avoiding taking damage from its cards (Talisman of Dominance aside). We don't have a single shockland, fetchland, or Thoughtseize in the entire deck and we're not hindered in the least for it.
All in all I was super impressed with this list. It fights from some very unconventional - and difficult to deal with - angles and I think it is rewarded in this format for doing so. I would definitely recommend you try this list out if you're looking for something new in Modern. That's all I have for today, but be sure to check back on Thursday for my Top 10 Sleepers of Khans article. Thanks for reading, guys!
Frank Lepore@FrankLepore on TwitterFrankLepore on TwitchTV