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Taking Infinite Turns in Oathbreaker with Teferi, Timebender


Combo decks are an interesting beast. In the vast majority of cases, a combo deck attempts to assemble a certain set of cards to win the game (occasionally, one might combo to achieve a different goal, but that's pretty rare). Combo decks are often measured by the ease of the combo: the mana value of the cards involved and how many there are. Splinter Twin, which sort of all happens on turn four with two cards, is a classic very strong combo. A five-card combo involving multiple 8-drops, on the other hand, is less strong.

Combo decks also have a tricky place in the history of Commander. Dedicated combo decks have traditionally been frowned upon in casual EDH (which I think is part of the stigma against face-down tutors, because the assumption is you're getting a combo piece). In cEDH, combo decks are part of the deal, because they're often the fastest way to close out a game, which is always the goal there; casual, though, is often looking to have a longer game time and allow everyone at the table the opportunity to do what they want to do, and dedicated combos, in decks tuned to find them, don't allow for that.

As a side note, there's also the "pocket combo," consisting of a few cards which, if they happen to come together, will win you the game, but the deck isn't expressly looking to assemble that combo. Generally, these are okay in casual Commander, because one can choose not to play it if they assemble it early and do the main thing their deck is designed to do. Then, when the game is dragging on and it's time to wrap things up, that pocket combo can come through to end the game so everyone can shuffle up for a new attempt.

However, my journey through Oathbreaker was based on two basic ideas: keep the decks reasonably priced, so someone who wants to try the format can do so without breaking the bank; and cover a variety of play styles, so different personalities have options available. A cheap aggro Oathbreaker deck is great, unless you really don't like attacking with Creatures. Enter our next Oathbreaker deck for now:

Teferi, Timebender

One of the factors that made Splinter Twin so very strong was the ability to run four of each piece. That made finding the combo relatively easy. In order to make a combo viable in a singleton format, it helps a lot if our Commander is part of the combo. Enter Teferi.

Teferi does a couple of things we care about a great deal. The first is his +2: he untaps an Artifact. This matters. The second is his ultimate, his -9: he gives us an extra turn. By assembling the right combination of cards, we can leverage both of those abilities. Let's start with the combo, then we'll talk through the rest of the deck.

Assume for now we have Teferi, Timebender in play. We need four other cards to make this work.

With those five cards, we perform the following actions:

Tap the mana rocks for 4 (or 5 or 6, depending on which ones you've got).

Tap The Chain Veil, using the 4.

Use Teferi to untap one of the Artifacts, and Tezzeret to untap the other two.

Repeat. If you're tapping for 4, you can only really take one line of play, which is getting Teferi above nine loyalty and taking an extra turn, then starting over the following turn and doing it all again. Either way, you can demonstrate infinite turns, and can probably demonstrate lethal with Tezzeret's ultimate as well. If you're tapping for more than 4, you're also making infinite colorless mana, which can lead to infinite The Chain Veil activations, so you can use Tezzeret the Seeker to find every Artifact in the deck (there are a bunch) and build a pretty substantial army, or just kill everyone with Sanctum Gargoyle and Rogue's Passage or something.

Either way, the final result is taking infinite turns; most of the time, people will just scoop to that inevitability (though I did play a game this week where I was basically showing infinite turns with Narset, Enlightened Master and they made me play it through until I could prove lethal).

This means we need to find Tezzeret, The Chain Veil, and the mana rocks.

The rocks are relatively easy. We can find Sol Talisman with Trinket Mage, Worn Powerstone or Basalt Monolith with Trophy Mage, and Dreamstone Hedron with Treasure Mage. Fabricate will find all of them, but it will also find The Chain Veil, so if you draw Fabricate and don't have the Veil yet, probably get that. It's worth noting Treasure Mage will also get Planar Bridge, which can then find us everything with enough mana. We also have Ring of Three Wishes to find us stuff, and Ignite the Beacon will find us Tezzeret (and the other Tezzeret, since it'll find us two). The Mycosynth Gardens is an interesting one, but it can function as our second mana rock if we need it to. We pay 3 and tap it to copy Basalt Monolith or whatever, then untap it with one of our 'walkers and we're off to the races.

We also need to be able to recover any Artifacts which get destroyed; we can normally time it so Tezzeret comes out the turn we go off, so he's unlikely to die, but it's possible we'll lose The Chain Veil or something, and that would be sad. So, we have a few ways to buy back our Artifacts, with Sanctum Gargoyle, Protomatter Powder, and the like. I'm a fan of Buried Ruin in situations like this, too.

Most of our deck is dedicated to assembling the combo, but the few spots we have left are there to help protect said combo. We have three Counterspells, including the titular Counterspell, but I think my favorite is Forbid because of the Buyback. We've got a pair of Oblivion Rings which serve as catch-all removal spells of permanents (they can get rid of a pesky Darksteel Reactor or whatever), and a pair of board wipes for someone who gets too far in Creature production. I chose Supreme Verdict and Time Wipe because I like them both, but honestly just about any board wipe will do here. We also have Solemn Simulacrum and Burnished Hart, both of which become 5/5's with Tezzeret the Seeker's ultimate and do a nice job of getting us Lands if we hit them earlier, then give us targets if we want to play out our Sanctum Gargoyle.

Note if we do have Tezzeret, Artifice Master out when we go off, we can also go crazy with him, which means we get infinite 1/1 fliers that can normally end the game on our next turn. That's probably the cleanest way to prove a win.

Our signature spell is Brainstorm. It's possible Ponder would be better, because Ponder lets us shuffle, but I like how many cards Brainstorm lets us see. We can always -3 Teferi to dig a bit then Brainstorm even deeper, but I wanted something cheap in the Command Zone which let us look at more cards, getting us to that clutch tutor or missing mana rock or whatever.

The one card I wanted but didn't keep for budget reasons was Arena Rector; if you've got one, it's probably worth throwing in as an extra way to find Tezzeret the Seeker. Otherwise, the deck is pretty tight. It is pricier for a "cheap" deck, coming in at just under $100; the Seeker isn't cheap, and The Chain Veil is really not cheap, and both pieces are necessary to make the combo work. You can drop the Fabricate to save a bit of cash, and the board wipes can be traded out for cheaper ones (which could probably get it down a touch), but nearly half the deck's cost is wrapped up in those two cards and they have to be there. If you have them lying around, Otawara, the Soaring City and Academy Ruins would probably both be worthwhile as additional ways to recover important pieces.

Also, this deck has no plan B. If the combo gets disrupted in a way that isn't reversable, it's very difficult to imagine the deck squeaking out a win. The other Tezzeret can crank out those Thopters, but decks which are actually trying to win in the red zone are going to beat us. On the other hand, our Plan A is pretty strong and resilient: in play-testing, I was reliably going off on turn six or seven, without representing a terribly threatening board state until then, so not too likely to draw too much attention early on. I almost always started with at least one of the necessary rocks, and we have so many of them it's normally trivial to get that part, so then it's just finding The Chain Veil and Tezzeret; a 58 card deck with Brainstorm and a card-drawing Oathbreaker normally find what we need to get them.

I'm very curious for your thoughts on this look at Oathbreaker. I've enjoyed exploring the format a bit, and hope I get a chance to play it - I suspect I'll be building at least one of these four decks in the near future, hoping some of my playgroup also throw a few together and we can try it out.

Thanks for reading.

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