Slow and Steady Wins

For a while, Tezzeret the Seeker was one of the most powerful Planeswalkers printed, and saw play even in degenerate formats like Vintage as a means of setting up powerful combinations of artifacts like Time Vault and Voltaic Key or Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek. In recent years, the game has become much more about efficiency than anything else, and so we’ve seen a decline in the number of five-mana Planeswalkers one can reasonably play. Instead, we’re seeing people emphasize three-mana Planeswalkers or even Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy as a two-mana Planeswalker. Last weekend, Meltin set out to show us that the Seeker still has what it takes to keep up in a high-powered format like Modern.

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
This deck makes me so happy, I couldn’t tell you if it’s because it’s the first Trinket Mage toolbox I’ve seen in a long time, the inclusion of seven Tezzeret Planeswalkers, or the inclusion of a full four Damnations. This deck is very reminiscent of a Shards of Alara era control deck, and that’s an era of Magic that I remember very fondly.

At its core, the deck leans hard on Dimir Signet. If you look at the list, you have very few cards that are going to matter on the first turn of the game; almost exclusively Trinket Mage targets that may or may not be relevant. The only other second turn plays you really have access to are Collective Brutality and Chalice of the Void. Dimir Signet lets you set up a turn three Damnation or Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas to really try to swing the game in your favor.

The alternative is to play a second turn Collective Brutality and try to start emptying your hand to set up an Ensnaring Bridge on turn three, or buy you time to resolve a Trinket Mage without being too far behind to do anything. A huge part of the power of this deck is in the combination of Chalice of the Void and Engineered Explosives. With Death’s Shadow being the most popular deck in the format by a substantial margin, any deck that can play these types of effects, particularly in conjunction with Ensnaring Bridge and Damnation, is going to be pretty well-positioned. You certainly have to be concerned about Kolaghan’s Command, but the amount of redundancy you have in answers to Death’s Shadow makes it pretty unlikely that you have to be concerned about it.

This deck does exceptionally well against creature-oriented decks due to the density of sweepers and your ability to dig through your deck for additional copies of Engineered Explosives. However, you’re likely to struggle against combo decks, particularly spell-based ones. That leads to the four copies of Slaughter Games in the sideboard, as well as Witchbane Orb to tutor up with Tezzeret. It seems likely to me that you’d want a copy of Crucible of Worlds to go with your Ghost Quarters, but perhaps Ensnaring Bridge is enough to control creature-lands.

One last thing to note is that, despite being an Artifact-based control deck, this deck does not play the Thopter Foundry combo with Sword of the Meek. There’s two reasons for that in the format as it stands right now. The first is that it’s just a slow combo in a format where Death’s Shadow is pushing the critical turn earlier and earlier. Secondly, you’ll notice that this deck largely doesn’t care about Stony Silence, which is a great place to be.

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