Tezzeret, Artifice Master is one the most powerful cards in Core Set 2019, if not THE most powerful card in the set. Therefore one of the most important puzzles to solve in Standard is, "What is the best Tezzeret deck?" That's exactly what I've been working on this week and which I will share with you today. You know a card has to be good when it has Craig Wescoe exploring a Blue/Black control deck, right? Here is my current list:
3 Tezzeret, Artifice Master
This is the main reason to play this deck. Being able to activate the zero ability reliably each turn will quickly snowball the game out of control. Even just being able to activate it once immediately and then again the following turn means drawing four cards, which is essentially Tidings – except we still have a Tezzeret with five loyalty on the battlefield. The one catch is that we have to play a sufficient amount of artifacts or cards that produce artifact tokens. That's where the supporting cast of the deck comes in. In the current configuration we have 22 cards that add an artifact to the battlefield, many of which can add multiple artifacts to the battlefield. Even having to activate the +1 ability once or twice to get the point of being able to activate the zero ability is perfectly fine since Thopters are useful and it gets us close to the ultimate, which is essentially unbeatable.
3 Tezzeret the Schemer
Once we are committed to playing a deck with a heavy artifact theme, Tezzeret the Schemer is the first card that makes sense to play since he produces artifact tokens each turn with his first ability and also kills creatures with his second ability as long as we have enough artifacts on the battlefield. The ultimate is also usually going to be game-ending as well, and we can get there just two turns after resolving Tezzeret.
4 Karn, Scion of Urza
In much the same vein as both Tezzerets, Karn is also a natural fit for this deck for both of the same reasons: he produces artifact tokens and he works best in a deck filled with artifacts. In this case the latter is because the construct token gets bigger for each artifact we control. I think it's correct to play the full playset of Karns in the deck because drawing multiples is perfectly acceptable since you can just minus Karn two turns in a row to produce construct tokens and that fits just fine into this deck's game plan. In contrast, neither of the Tezzerets are especially good in multiples – although they are great together. You just really only want to draw one of each Tezzeret, whereas you don't mind drawing multiple Karns.
Having 10 planeswalkers in our deck really gives us a powerful plan against midrange and control strategies, especially since they all synergize with and empower each other. This means we want to supplement this plan with aggro decks in mind so that we have a plan against all types of strategies.
4 Fatal Push
The most straightforward cheap removal spell to play is Fatal Push. It can kill just about anything early and we have a decent amount of ways to trigger revolt as well, including sacrificing a cell token created by Tezzeret the Schemer, which conveniently gives us the mana to cast the Fatal Push as well. Another line that is really good is casting Cultivator's Caravan and then tapping it to cast Fatal Push on the same turn. This allows us to ramp our mana into (potentially) Tezzeret, Artifice Master while also adding an artifact to the battlefield to get us closer to being able to start activating his zero ability, all without giving up any tempo since we still can kill the opponent's creature with Fatal Push on the same turn that we resolved Cultivator's Caravan.
2 Battle at the Bridge
Some things don't die to Fatal Push, such as Hazoret the Fervent. For such creatures we have a more suitable answer in Battle at the Bridge. Battle is also especially good because it gains us enough life to stay out of burn range. We might not be used to this being an especially important attribute, but with the printing of Banefire it is much more relevant now. In addition to Banefire, we also have to still consider a kicked Fight with Fire. Battle at the Bridge can basically act as a removal spell that can kill anything later in the game or a huge life gain effect (or both).
2 Vraska's Contempt
Instead of playing four Battle at the Bridge or four Vraska's Contempt, I decided to split them two and two because each has the ability to be better than the other in a variety of scenarios and I would usually rather draw one of each than two of either. Against haste creatures and planeswalkers, Vraska's Contempt is much better, but against burn spells and especially later in the game, we want to find at least one copy of Battle at the Bridge. With the amount of card draw this deck can generate once it gets going, I like having just enough life gain to stay out of burn range without having to run countermagic. We would rather be a proactive tap out style control deck where we are killing creatures and/or casting planeswalkers each turn rather than passing with mana untapped.
1 Transmogrifying Wand
This is the other addition from Core Set 2019 that I think belongs in the deck. There are some problematic creatures in the format that we really want to get rid of, and dealing with a vanilla 2/4 Ox tokens is not that hard for us. We can just block it all day with Contraband Kingpin or whatnot. We can also upgrade Thopter tokens, Servo tokens or Weaponcraft Enthusiast with it whenever having a 2/4 to protect our planeswalkers (or to block an opposing Ox token) helps us.
4 Contraband Kingpin
This card makes sense in this deck as well because it provides value in a lot of different directions. First off, it's great against aggro decks because it gains life and blocks almost anything early. It also allows us to scry into whatever we need, which is useful in every matchup. It also protects our planeswalkers or ever so slowly chips away at an opposing planeswalker. The scry effect is also cumulative if you have multiples on the battlefield, and each one trigger three times when Treasure Map transforms. Since all 10 of our planeswalkers have an ability that produces an artifact, we get to scry into more action each time that happens. The kingpin is just all around a very solid card in this deck.
2 Weaponcraft Enthusiast
This card hasn't seen much play since its inception, but in this deck I think it finally has a home. It produces three potential blockers to protect our planeswalkers, which helps us tremendously against the aggro decks. It also gives us two artifacts off one card, in addition to a blocker. Being able to produce multiple artifacts off a single card is a very powerful ability in this deck since it helps make each of our planeswalkers that much more powerful. It also works great with Transmogrifying Wand in that you can use one of the charge counters to upgrade your 0/1 into a 2/4. And getting a pair of scry triggers off the kingpin from the servos is great. It's possible that we want more copies of him, but I'm starting with just two for now.
4 Treasure Map
This is very likely our best second turn play possible. It's a great card in the deck just for the scry ability since it smooths out our draws early and then lets us draw three cards after it transforms. The biggest reason it is so great in this deck, however, is that it produces three artifacts off one card. This makes all our planeswalkers so much more of a threat, as well as Battle at the Bridge. It also allows us to dig pretty deep off the three scry triggers from each Contraband Kingpin we have on the battlefield. It's just overall a really powerful card in the deck. Even if we never start activating it until later in the game, just having a second turn artifact gives us more options when we start casting our planeswalkers.
2 Sorcerous Spyglass
Speaking of second-turn artifacts, this one shuts off opposing planeswalkers or other problematic permanents while also providing a boost to our own planeswalkers just by giving us an artifact.
2 Search for Azcanta
It will provide us the pseudo-scry each turn like Treasure Map but without requiring the mana to activate to do so while later on acting as yet another card advantage engine. These might not be necessary, but I figured we could probably afford it in this deck. Since our plan is to bury our opponents in card advantage, I felt like not playing this card would be a mistake.
2 Cultivator's Caravan
It helps ramp and fix our mana while adding an artifact to the battlefield, sometimes without having to give up tempo if we can cast Fatal Push the same turn. It also gives us a 5/5 to attack or block with as the game progresses. You'd be surprised how quickly this deck can start turning the corner once you start making construct tokens with Karn and using them to crew the caravan.
1 Inspiring Statuary
This is a card I've been going back and forth on. It's possible it is supposed to just be another Cultivator's Caravan or Weaponcraft Enthusiast or something, but it does ramp us fairly well and it has a very high ceiling in what it is able to accomplish. Once we get going and start drawing multiple cards a turn, it can generate quite a bit of extra mana to cast multiple spells a turn and really overwhelm the opponent. It's one thing to draw a bunch of cards and quite another thing to be able to also cast them all.
1 Spire of Industry
4 Drowned Catacomb
4 Fetid Pools
3 Ifnir Deadlands
1 Field of Ruin
The mana base is quite solid in this deck since we are two colors without and especially demanding mana costs (i.e. no triple color Goblin Chainwhirlers to accommodate). We can probably afford to run more Field of Ruin, but I went with a Spire of Industry instead. This is probably being too conservative though and if I were playing this in a tournament tomorrow I'd likely just go with the second Field of Ruin instead. Ifnir Deadlands is a good one though because it gives us a way to turn lands into removal against the creature decks. It's fine to tap out to do this as long as we have a planeswalker on the battlefield generating value for us.
4 Zahid, Djinn of the Lamp
2 Herald of Anguish
These creatures come in against anyone we suspect is siding out all or most of their removal spells. Zahid is also actually just great right now since he blocks everything out of the red decks, including Glorybringer, and also blocks all the angels including Lyra Dawnbringer. The opponent's Vraska's Contempts and Cast Outs will already be quite taxed from our planeswalkers, so these creatures will prove tough to deal with in a lot of games. Herald of Anguish is especially potent against decks that have creatures that die to its activated ability. I also figure people will be bringing in Sorcerous Spyglass against us. To preemptively combat this strategy, we will often want to shave on each of our planeswalkers and replace them with these creatures so we still have enough ways to take over the games.
These come in against the control decks and they help us to force through our planeswalkers safely. It may be correct to run the full four copies of Duress since we won't really want to leave mana untapped for Negate, but having a pair of Negates to counter opposing Pulling from Tomorrows seems important in the control matchup.
1 Battle at the Bridge
1 Vraska's Contempt
1 Bontu's Last Reckoning
1 Yahenni's Expertise
Against the creature decks we want more removal spells, and we get to basically pick what ones we want. The Wraths are effective and the big point removal spells can gain us life while assisting against the typical aggro strategy of boarding into bigger threats and more planeswalkers against decks like ours.
Heart of Kiran
Sai, Master Thopterist
Sailor of Means
The Antiquities War
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Brewing this deck left me with quite a few options and a few different directions it could potentially go. It could go more aggressive with Heart of Kiran and Scrapheap Scrounger, which I think is the most promising alternate direction if for whatever reason the control build does not work out. The other is to up the artifact count for Sai, Master Thopterist. We could also play The Antiquities War and go heavier in that direction instead of being a control deck with removal spells and a bunch of planeswalkers.
Whatever way you end up deciding to build this deck, or perhaps more appropriately, whatever way ends up being the optimal way to build this deck, there is certainly a high power level between the three planeswalkers. It's possible that being more aggressive or going wider with artifacts proves superior to playing the extra removal spells. Or maybe we need some counter-magic main such as Metallic Rebuke or Disallow. These would be the questions to ask as you practice with the deck. Most importantly, however, this deck is going to be a blast to play!