Welcome back to the Aether Revolt Edition of the Gathering Magic Ertai’s Meddlings! Last week we took a look at the Ajani Planeswalker Deck, which featured the revolt mechanic, +1/+1 counters, and the Main Cat himself. Today we turn to the set’s other Planeswalker, Tezzeret, and see what we can make from his deck!
The Meddling series takes a Preconstructed deck, tears it down to its basic elements, and then builds it back up, leaner and stronger than before. In doing so, we follow two fundamental rules designed to keep the finished product both accessible and affordable.
First, while we can take whatever we want out of the deck, we can only add in commons and uncommons. Second, we can only use cards from sets already present in the deck (in this case, Kaladesh and Aether Revolt).
The goal is to build up the existing deck, not make something unrecognizably new.
Tezzeret’s deck can be broken down into two main components. First, there’s the obvious artifact theme, with the usual and customary synergies. These include the new mechanic, improvise, which functions as a sort of fixed affinity. In return for tapping it, each artifact can help defray the cost of some of the deck’s most expensive offerings. For instance, with three artifacts in play, you can draw three cards for only 2 mana off of Reverse Engineer.
The second theme is the staple Planeswalker theme, in this case centered around Tezzeret, Master of Metal. As per usual, we see a few specially-designed cards in the deck that play to the theme. Tezzeret's Simulacrum is a Golem that lets you drain your opponent, tripling the damage if you happen to have Tezzeret himself in play. Tezzeret's Betrayal, meanwhile, is a simple removal spell that lets you tutor him up.
So far the Planeswalker theme has just sort of coexisted alongside whatever mechanical identity the deck’s been given, but in this case there’s a nice bit of overlap. Tezzeret’s +1 ability can fetch you artifacts, which ups your overall artifact count for things like improvise. Then, Tezz’s -3 can hammer your opponent for direct damage scaled to the number of artifacts you’ve managed to play.
All in all, this pushes us to build around artifacts, and we’ll want to clear out some of the deadweight to make room for them.
The First Cuts
We’ll begin with a look at the stock decklist.
Tezzeret?s Planeswalker Deck ? Planeswalker Deck | Wizards of the Coast
- Creatures (20)
- 1 Barricade Breaker
- 1 Dukhara Peafowl
- 1 Fen Hauler
- 1 Foundry Assembler
- 1 Ironclad Revolutionary
- 1 Merchant's Dockhand
- 1 Ornithopter
- 1 Quicksmith Spy
- 1 Treasure Keeper
- 2 Augmenting Automaton
- 2 Bastion Inventor
- 2 Dhund Operative
- 2 Wind-Kin Raiders
- 3 Tezzeret's Simulacrum
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Tezzeret, Master of Metal
- Instants (1)
- 1 Essence Extraction
- Enchantments (2)
- 2 Tezzeret's Touch
The first thing we’re getting rid of is the beloved Ornithopter. There’s a case to be made for keeping it if we were going with a heavy artifact-creatures theme alongside Chief of the Foundry, which would give the Ornithopter a little bit of teeth. As it turns out, most of the better creatures for this deck are not themselves artifacts, so we’ll be taking a different approach.
Next up is the Augmenting Automaton. This is effectively a 1-drop Shade, and while that can be handy later in the game when we may have leftover mana looking for a place to put it, that’s not a situation I want to rely upon. There will be too many times that this guy just isn’t that good, or you’ll want to use your mana for something else, leaving a forlorn 1/1 doing nothing on the table. Adios!
Tezzeret's Simulacrums are also getting their pink slips. Without Tezzeret in play, these are somewhat underwhelming on their own. Even with the ability to tutor for Tezzeret, that still only gives us effectively three copies in the deck. There are a lot of good cards looking for a home here, and I don’t want to include these on the off-chance I manage to find Tezzeret. Yes, they’re game-ending, particularly if you get two out, but there will be plenty of games you’d rather something that brought a bit more to the table.
The Dukhara Peafowl is not one of those cards. 2 power for 4 mana isn’t every exciting, and it only has evasion when you add more mana to it. Its lopsided stats make it somewhat defensive in nature, and as we’ll see there are better cards out there for that. The Peafowl can take the Foundry Assembler with it. This five-mana 3/3 does have the cost-reduction mechanic of improvise, but even then all it offers is a Hill Giant. It’s creature type is a nice nod to Mishra's Factory, but that doesn’t win it any prizes here.
At the top of the curve are a number of potential closers, and we’ll only really need the best of them. The Barricade Breaker is a nice, large body, but as a Juggernaut takes the decision out of your hands as to whether or not it has to attack each round. There will be times this deck will be more than happy to chip away through evasive damage, clogging up the ground game through blocks.
The same standard applies to the Fen Hauler, which has a modest bit of evasion as an artifact-repellant, but it too doesn’t do quite enough. Finally, the Ironclad Revolutionary has the ability to become a 6/6 for 6 mana (with a dose of lifegain thrown in), but you have to sacrifice an artifact to do it. We’ll have enough artifacts lying about by that stage of the game to offer one up in tribute, but the payoff isn’t good enough to warrant it. And paying that 6 mana for a 4/4 is just dreadful.
What to Keep
With those out of the way, what are we building toward?
Well, it’s an easy choice to keep the Merchant's Dockhand. If you want to talk about a mana sink that will always be useful, this guy is it. You’re paying 4 mana to draw a card, and it’s the best card out of several once you have some artifacts in play. This gives the deck something of a toolbox feel, where you can select the card you need when you need it instead of waiting to draw into it. We typically don’t cut rares from Meddlings given that they generally have a high degree of power and/or fun factor, and this guy will be a useful reward for playing a lot of artifacts.
Our next keeper is the Dhund Operative. We’ll be taking it as an article of faith in this deck that we’ll have little difficulty fielding at least one artifact, and so the Operative is effectively a 3/2 deathtouch for only 2 mana. That’s an excellent deal, both for an early attacker as well as a very solid backline option should we want to get defensive. We’ll want to see these early and often, and will take a full playset.
Our next inclusion is a card that wasn’t present in the stock deck, but is a natural fit. The Contraband Kingpin is an exciting 2-drop here. Not only does its hardy 1/4 body do a great job at keeping an opponent’s creatures at bay, but it even offers us a bit of lifegain and the ability to scry every time we play an artifact. This is a solid, all-around card for us, and will help improve our card drawing all throughout the game. An easy playset to add.
The Quicksmith Spy is another rare singleton, and an easy keep. One theme we’ll be layering into the deck is card draw and card advantage, letting us outpace our opponent over the course of the game. The Spy is a touch pricy at 4 mana, but the ability to draw a card a turn off of another artifact is too good to pass up.
We see some more advantage in our next pick, the Treasure Keeper. The Keeper is a four-mana 3/3, but one that replaces itself with a free cast from the library when killed. The “free” card must cost 3 mana or less, but we have lots of cards in our Meddled deck that will fit the bill. We don’t want to see this early, so we’ll limit the deck to two.
For closers, we’ll be going in two directions. The primary one is Wind-Kin Raiders. Thanks to improvise, we will typically be paying beneath the odds for a 4/3 flyer. This is a sizable amount of power for potentially cheap, and will be the backbone of the deck.
The other card I’ll be including here is the Bastion Inventors. A reader, Ruaridh Mathieson from sunny Glasgow (‘mon the Hoops), challenged me last week to include the combo with the Inventor's Goggles, so I’ll be taking two copies here. It’s not as exciting as the evasive Raiders, but the hexproof will help keep it safe from any removal the opponent might be holding to blunt our attack.
Filling it Out
For spells, we’re going to stay very light, to give us the most room for our artifacts. Tezzeret's Touch is excellent in a deck filled with cheap, expendable artifacts — especially ones with enters-the-battlefield triggers! A surprise 5/5 is nothing to sneer at, either, so we’ll take three copies here. I’d like to see it often, but without an artifact on the board it’s a dead card.
We’ll be keeping both copies of Tezzeret's Betrayal as our removal suite. It’s not a lot of cards, so we’ll be needing to do most of our talking on the battlefield itself. Still, we can shut down a threat, then go get our Tezzeret out of the deck when the time is right. Since Tezz can deal damage as soon as he touches down with his -3 ability, this is another welcome path to victory.
Finally, to continue our ability to delve through our library, I’ll be putting in two copies of Reverse Engineer. This will help replenish our hand, and thanks to improvise it, too, can get down to a pittance.
Finally, we’ll want to add in some more artifacts. We have a huge array of them to choose from, and narrowing it down to a core was something of a challenge. But each of these trinkets will increase the deck’s ability to do the things it’s already doing, keeping it nicely focused on a few lines of play.
First up are the Inventor's Goggles. These are Equipment with a cheap attachment cost, just 2 mana for a +1/+2 boost. That is useful on any creature here, and the free attachment to the Bastion Inventor is just a bonus.
Next up is a set of Servo Schematics. This is an interesting card that itself doesn’t do a lot — it simply offers us a 1/1 Servo token when it enters play, and again when it goes to the graveyard. The reason this is useful, however, is that it offers two artifacts for the price of one. Both the Schematics and the Servo count for the number of artifacts we have in play. In addition, thanks to the death trigger this is an excellent candidate for Tezzeret's Touch. Animate and attack, and when it does, you not only get a 1/1 Servo, but you also get the Schematic back!
A trio of Prophetic Prisms will help us with any difficulties we have regarding mana. The Contraband Kingpin as well as our closers are fairly demanding when it comes to color, and the Prism will help ensure we have what we need. In addition, it’s cheap and it draws us a card as soon as it’s played, which adds to our ability to speed through our deck to find the best cards.
Finally, a pair of Sky Skiffs not only pad our artifact count as Vehicles, but they also give us a little more reach in the air to attack our opponent with. Thanks to their crew of only 1, any creature in the deck can operate the Skiff- even a Servo token.
So all in all, we have a deck filled with artifacts and the cards that love them. Our optimum early game consists of playing artifacts and board-stalling creatures like the Dhund Operative and Contraband Kingpin. The Operative in particular can score some early damage against a slow-building opponent without risking a trade while we build up our side of the table.
Once we’ve deployed a number of very cheap artifacts, we can start bringing our improvise threats on-line. A turn-4 Wind-Kin Raiders is hardly the stuff of Magical Christmasland, and will put our opponent on a very short clock. Should they manage to stall us out through removal and/or congestion, we can always churn through our deck sprinkling more artifacts on the table, then go direct with Tezzeret, Master of Metal once he pops up. Even as a singleton card, we have loads of ways to find him here.
Meddled Tezzeret ? Planeswalker Deck | Jay Kirkman
- Creatures (17)
- 1 Merchant's Dockhand
- 1 Quicksmith Spy
- 2 Bastion Inventor
- 2 Treasure Keeper
- 3 Wind-Kin Raiders
- 4 Contraband Kingpin
- 4 Dhund Operative
- Planeswalkers (1)
- 1 Tezzeret, Master of Metal
- Enchantments (3)
- 3 Tezzeret's Touch
Overall, this seems like a fun, on-theme build that takes advantage of the best of what the world of Kaladesh has to offer. Thanks for reading, let me know what you think! Next week, we’ll be revisiting our Kaladesh Planeswalker Deck Meddlings, and see what Aether Revolt has brought us. See you then!