Last time I was going over the first of four generals that come with the Commander 2013/2014 products, and the first of two planeswalkers. Today I want to at least finish the latter list by going through my ideas on Teferi, Temporal Archmage the second legal planeswalker that doesn't seem to be too popular.
Teferi - Bending Time, but not Space
What's surprising to me is that in regards to Mono-Blue, people seem to favor combo or combo-like playstyles: among the 9 most played commanders we have Talrand, Sky Summoner, Azami, Lady of Combo - being the two most played by far -, Arcum Dagsson and even Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir along with 5 other commanders you could very easily build a combo deck around. And yet very few people play the planeswalking Teferi, even though his not being a creature makes his combo a lot more resilient to disruption.
Let's go over his abilities, shall we?
Sleight of Hand anyone? Not hugely impressive, but since we're building a combo deck it is still very helpful.
This is where we'll get our combo going. Untapping four permanents allows you to do a lot of crazy stuff. You'll see what I mean later.
As I mentioned in the Ob Nixilis article, I don't think ultimates are too relevant in EDH but still having a decent one is nice… you know, just in case:
And good lord is this a “decent” one. It essentially makes your planeswalker(s) go into Prophet-of-Kruphix-Mode, allowing you to activate an ability once each turn. This equals a lot of cards drawn, permanents untapped, and overall fun had… . I wonder if that means Teferi will get the banhammer too?!
The second essential card in the combo is The Chain Veil. Without it you'll be able to do stupid things, maybe still win the game, but only with The Chain Veil can you go infinite and win the game in a big flurry of cards, mana and triggers.
So how does this work?
Basically you'll need three permanents that tap for 4 mana total + The Chain Veil. Tap those four to get an additional activation for the turn and use Teferi's -1 to untap them again. Rinse and repeat until Teferi dies. So if you played him the turn before and +1'ed you can do it 6 times, adding up for a total of 7 additional activations.
And that's where the following ruling kicks in: “Each additional time The Chain Veil's last ability resolves will allow you to activate a loyalty ability of each planeswalker you control an additional time. For example, if you activate The Chain Veil's last ability, untap it, then activate it again, you can activate a loyalty ability of a planeswalker you control three times that turn.”
Upon replaying your general, you'll be able to activate him 8 times (1 original activation + 7 additionals). What to do with those activations? Generate enough mana to be able to recast him again and use the rest of your activations to tap and untap The Chain Veil for more activations. The first time that'll be around two activations for the recast-mana since four permanents equal five mana, leaving you with six activations and three loyalty counters. “+1” with all six of those activations puts Teferi at 9 loyalty. Tap The Chain Veil and untap it again with the newely aquired activation over and over again until Teferi dies. Replay him with the mana generated before-hand, rinse and repeat.
Each cycle adds to the activations available to you, essentially letting you go infinite on three things: mana and untaps through his “-1” ability, card draw through his “+1” ability and storm as you're casting Teferi over and over. All you need to have in your deck is a single card that can kill your opponents with any one of these infinites, so Brain Freeze or multiple Blue Sun's Zeniths or even Codex Shredder will do the trick.
Even though the combo is obviously the most important part of a combo deck, what really makes or breaks a deck like this is how well the rest of the deck can work together in order to combo-off consistently. These supportive cards can be divided into three categories: accelerating, assembling and protecting.
Let's start with assembling. In order for this deck to win, it must assemble the combo, and there are several ways of doing so.. You can play as many redundant cards as possible - EDHs magic words are “functional reprints” - to increase the chances of drawing one naturally, you can filter through your deck with cards and effects like Preordain or you can straight up Tutor for the desired cards. In a perfect world, you'd be able to use a single strategy for all the cards you need, but having a backup plan historically hasn't hurt anyone.
To combo off, we need two things (not counting our commander): A single source of mana that produces two or more mana and - of course - The Chain Veil. Finding the latter is rather easy since blue has a whole lot of artifact support.
Also you can use the trusty old tutor chains to find it:
Of course, all of the previously mentioned cards can also be used to find one of your mana rocks:
Fortunately, there are a plethora of rocks to play, and the more you play the better as they are not only part of the combo, but accelerate you into it… “Accelerate, assemble, protect” remember?!
That pretty much leaves us with a single task left unchecked: Building some protection into the deck so that, when we're done assembling, we can actually win against decks that fight back. Let's start with the obvious:
Yes, usually I'm very vocal about how much Force of Will and Pact of Negation suck in EDH, but in this particular deck I'm making an exception since I do think that the only reason to play Force or Pact is when you're trying to protect a combo.
That said, there are other tools to protect the pieces, for example...
...and, to be honest, usually there isn't much noncreature-permanent removal to protect against, so even if you didn't have time to set up additional protection, a lot of the time the combo will still go through and win.
On a side note it could be a good idea to also play the Nevinyrral's Disk + Mycosynth Lattice combo if you're running Soul of New Phyrexia and Darksteel Forge anyway, just to have a Plan B combo-win. It won't take up much space, you're already running tutors that will help assemble it and the Disk is a good card just to have some form of mass-removal in the deck.
General Utility - The Non-Combo Part
The last thing to add to a deck are your all-stars, cards that deal with stuff, help setting up awesome turns or are just bodies to put down in order to not die to random beatdown. Now if you've built a blue deck before I'll probably not have to tell you what cards I have in mind but for those new to the format let me show you some goodies:
Also you should consider adding synergistic cards that don't necessarily have something to do with comboing off:
Once done with that you're pretty much set to play your first games of magic with the new deck. What comes next is the endless cycle of adapting your deck to the meta, cutting underperforming cards, adding new cards to try them out, etc. But that is a whole different story…
For now I'm quite happy I could share my thoughts on Teferi, Temporal Archmage with you. Wether you you liked the read or not, please leave a comment down below, I'd very much appreciate that! Next time things will get a lot more colorful with Gahiji, so until then...
See y'all ‘round!