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Against the Odds: Tezzeret Tribal (Modern)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 243 of Against the Odds. This week, we're returning to one of my favorite sub-series of Against the Odds: planeswalker tribal! Before you ask, yes, last week's Against the Odds poll was for Standard combos. was Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Chance for Glory won, but due to the banned-and-restricted update getting delayed, I decided to push Vadrok / Chance for Glory until next week so we could play Modern, where the new B&R was in effect while I was recording. 

So, what are we playing today? Tezzeret Tribal! Tezzeret is an interesting planeswalker to build around since all versions of Tezzeret have one important thing in common: they all care about artifacts. The end result is a deck that is stuffed with artifacts to support our Tezzerets and not only includes all five non-Planeswalker Deck Tezzerets but also a Planewalker Deck Tezzeret as well! Can Tezzeret Tribal compete in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out in today's Against the Odds; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Tezzeret Tribal

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The Deck

The trick to building planeswalker tribal decks is to figure out what theme ties together the different versions of the planeswalker. This is easy for Tezzeret: every single Tezzeret ever printed cares about artifacts and actively wants to be in a deck overflowing with artifacts. As such, Tezzeret Tribal only features four non-land cards that are not Tezzerets or artifacts: two Fatal Push and two Thoughtseize

Tezzerets

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All in all, we have six Tezzerets in our deck, but they break down into two groups. First, we have our support Tezzerets. Tezzeret the Schemer, Tezzeret the Seeker, and Tezzeret, Artifice Master all add artifacts to the battlefield—Tezzeret the Schemer with Etherium Cell tokens, Tezzeret the Seeker but tutoring them out of our deck with its X, and Tezzeret, Artifice Master by making Thopters. While these Tezzerets all do other things as well (removal, card draw), and they all have ultmates that eventually or immediately should win the game, their main purpose is to up our artifact count to support our finishing Tezzerets...

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When it comes to actually killing our opponent, out main plan is to use Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Tezzeret, Master of Metal, and Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge to drain our opponent out of the game. All of these Tezzerets have abilities that drain our opponent equal to the number of artifacts we control, which should be a pretty large number due to our support Tezzerets. So in theory, if we can get two or three of our finishing Tezzerets, we should be able to win the game in just a turn or two. 

In some ways, this means our deck is sort of a weird Tezzeret burn deck. While we do occasionally win by turning artifacts into 5/5s with our various Tezzerets, the most common win is with direct damage. 

Support Artifacts

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Because our Tezzerets are all between four and six mana, we need some ways to ramp into them—playing them "fairly" just isn't fast enough for Modern. For this, we have Pentad Prism and Mind Stone (while Arcum's Astrolabe fixes our mana and allows us to play a bunch of colorless lands). Pentad Prism and Mind Stone allow us to start playing Tezzerets on Turn 3 while also turning into 5/5 creatures, with the help of our Tezzerets, once they lose their value later in the game.

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For our Tezzeret plan to work, we need to stay alive long enough to get several artifacts and (hopefully) several Tezzerets onto the battlefield. For this, we have some artifact-based removal in Engineered Explosives and Executioner's Capsule, along with the combo of Ensnaring Bridge and Bottled Cloister. Because our Tezzerets are so expensive, it's hard to get empty-handed to hide behind Ensnaring Bridge. Bottled Cloister solves this problem by exiling our hand at the beginning of our opponent's turn (and then giving it back along with an extra card on our turn), so we are always empty-handed when our opponent goes to attack, maximizing the power of Ensnaring Bridge. While this plan does come with risk (if our opponent can bounce or destroy Bottled Cloister, we lose our hand forever), it's worth it if it helps to keep our Tezzerets alive. Even though most of these cards are just one-ofs, thanks to cards like Tezzeret the Seeker and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, our deck is very good at finding them when we need them. 

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While we have a few random utility artifacts (Welding Jar to protect our more important artifacts, Nihil Spellbomb for graveyards, and Pithing Needle to answer opposing planeswalkers, all while adding more artifacts to the battlefield to support our Tezzerets), I wanted to talk about three more one-of artifacts briefly. Possessed Portal, while expensive, is our backup plan for closing out the game. Since Tezzeret the Schemer and Tezzeret, Artifice Master both add tokens to the battlefield each turn, we will have permanents to sacrifice each turn, while our opponent presumably will not, which means once Possessed Portal hits the battlefield, we'll slowly grind our opponent out of the game until they eventually run out of permaments, and then we will be free to win with our Tezzerets. 

Meanwhile, Throne of Geth (along with a Karn's Bastion in our mana base) allows us to proliferate to add loyalty to our Tezzerets, either to rush toward their ultimates or just to keep their loyalty high enough that they don't die to our opponent's creatures and burn spells. Throne of Geth also works as an artifact sacrifice outlet, which allows us to get rid of Ensnaring Bridge if needed. Sometimes, we want to win with 5/5 artifacts made by Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas or Tezzeret the Seeker. Throne of Geth lets us hide behind Ensnaring Bridge to protect out Tezzerets until we are ready to sacrifice Ensnaring Bridge to alpha strike and attack for lethal. 

Finally, Crucible of Worlds does two things for our deck. First, it allows us to go on the land-destruction plan with Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin. If we can run our opponent out of basic lands by replaying and using something like Ghost Quarter every turn, then Ghost Quarter will eventually turn into Strip Mine and allow us to lock our opponent out of the game. Second, Crucible of Worlds works like a ramp spell in conjunction with fetch lands, allowing us to play Polluted Delta or Prismatic Vista from our graveyard each turn to make sure we hit our land drops.

The Matchups

Tezzeret Tribal is at its best against decks looking to win with creatures. The combination of Tezzerets making 5/5s (and gaining us life with their drain abilities) and Ensnaring Bridge to keep creatures at bay makes these matchups pretty easy. Control is also decent, mostly because we have a critical mass of must-counter spells, so sooner or later, we'll run our opponent out of Cryptic Commands and Remands. And it usually only takes one or two Tezzerets sticking on the battlefield to take over the game. On the other hand, Tezzeret Tribal's weakness is against spell-based combo decks because we don't have much interaction (just a couple of Thoughtseizes). And while our Tezzerets are great at generating repeatable value across a long game, we are usually to slow to race Turn 3 or 4 kills.

The Odds

We played five matches with Tezzeret Tribal and ended up going 3-2, giving us a 60% match win percentage, making Tezzeret Tribal more or less average for an Against the Odds deck. More importantly, we had some insane Tezzeret Tribal kills, including a game where we won out of nowhere by using all three of our finishing Tezzerets to drain our opponent in the same turn! While our deck can be slow in some matchups, it's also surprisingly powerful and, thanks to the Tezzerets' ability to find artifacts, fairly consistent as well. My only disappointment is that we never actually got to lock anyone out of the game with Possessed Portal, but we got enough sweet Tezzeret wins to make up for it!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

No poll this week. Next week, we'll be playing Vadrok, Apex of Thunder and Chance for Glory in Standard since they won last week's poll. Don't worry, the poll will return next episode!

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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