Field Research

I like to learn about Magic. Being wrong is great, Frank Karsten math gives me chills, 5,000+ words articles are my jam, and Wild Research is the backdrop for my articles. For crying out loud! I don’t care what the outcome of most games of Magic are, my own included. I can literally get Blood Mooned out of a tournament and will be happy I learned the importance of a card in a matchup I may not have considered previously.

Tamiyo, the Moon Sage

Tamiyo has shown a similar mentality in the Shadows Over Innistrad story line in that she isn’t attached to what the outcome of something is, one way or another. She just wants to know. Everything must be properly recorded, accounted for, and retained.

There’s a terribly old saying from William Turner’s (no, not that one) The Rescuing of Romish Fox that goes something like “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flyeallwayes together” or in what I like to call real-people terms: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

I, for one, will certainly flock to this:

All of the three abilities have such amazing potential and depth, I can hardly contain myself! Part of what makes a Planeswalker good is how many ways their abilities can be applied; how many situations the card is useful. Evaluating abilities can be tricky at times because it can take a bit of finesse to put something as ‘narrow’ as a three-color Planeswalker onto the battlefield. This puts a heavy burden upon Tamiyo, Field Researcher to be useful in many situations as possible, without ever being absolutely useless.

+1: Choose up to two target creatures. Until your next turn, whenever either of those creatures deals combat damage, you draw a card.

This is easily my favorite ability on Tamiyo, Field Researcher, with so many different ways it can be played and configurations of creatures it could target.

The first, and possibly most important, thing to note is this ability can target opposing creatures. Many Planeswalkers get an automatic “good” rating if they’re able to protect themselves without losing Loyalty (lock down a creature; make a creature token, etc.) and Tamiyo, Field Researcher puts an interesting twist on this.

Even if Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s caster doesn’t have creatures on the battlefield, Tamiyo can still target two opposing creatures (that would kill Tamiyo) and makes it so that even when the Planeswalker falls, she is replaced by new cards to keep her controller in the game.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher is all-upside if the coast is clear when she is activated. It isn’t hard to imagine a world in which a player’s curve is:

  1. Oath of Nissa (revealing Tamiyo, Field Researcher)
  2. Elvish Visionary
  3. Bounding Krasis on the Opponent’s end step
  4. Tamiyo, Field Researcher, +1 targeting both creatures. Attack with both creatures and draw two cards.

A sort of Bant Company shell is a wonderful home for Tamiyo, Field Researcher. The deck wants to have a near-endless stream of cards and come out ahead in combat:


This deck is fantastic at clogging up the battlefield while applying pressure in small chunks via Sylvan Advocate, Bounding Krasis, and Reflector Mage.

Another angle of attack with Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s +1 is targeting one creature on each side of the battlefield. It is relatively common in Standard for each player to have a Sylvan Advocate stare at each other from across the battlefield.

Tamiyo, Field Researcher assists in breaking up this stalemate if her controller uses her +1, targets both Advocates, and attacks. This means, no matter what, at least one card is being drawn (when the controller’s Advocate deals combat damage). If the other player chooses to block with Sylvan Advocate, that means Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s controller will draw two cards just for the pair of Advocates bouncing off of one another. That’s not even taking into consideration combat on the opponent’s following turn!

Delving even deeper into the applications of this ability, it serves as a way to almost lock down creatures on a stalled board. If both players aren’t attacking and you don’t have a way to make attacks profitable, it is a bit counter-intuitive to target your own creatures with Tamiyo, Field Researcher.

In the aforementioned scenario it would be wise to consider targeting two of the opponent’s creatures. This keeps the opponent from attacking with either of the targeted creatures and in a large number of situations will lead to those particular creatures not attacking. If the opponent has a creature (or two) that are much bigger than anything else going on this is a great way to discourage sending those creatures to battle.

-2: Tap up to two target nonland permanents. They don’t untap during their controller’s next untap step.

Here’s the way Tamiyo, Field Researcher can protect herself. Being able to tap a Gideon, Ally of Zendikar or Pyromancer’s Goggles in Standard is a big deal. The same can be said for problematic permanents in Modern a la Oblivion Stone.

I recently built an entire deck warped to beat the G/W Tokens mirror by winning Gideon wars. That deck had a relatively pointed focus on Arlinn Kord, but can Tamiyo, Field Researcher do the same job better?


This version of the deck draws so many cards. The strength of Alrinn was she brought something different to the table, but Tamiyo, Field Researcher plays to the strengths G/W Tokens already boasts. The deck has proven time and time again it is more-or-less the best deck in the format, and Tamiyo plays a couple of important roles in any kind of mirror match.

Her first ability keeps the cards flowing, but her second ability is where she gets the opportunity to shine, doubly so when cast on-curve!

Imagine being on the play with the aforementioned deck and after having your Hangarback Walker exiled via Declaration in Stone, you cast Gideon, Ally of Zendikar on an empty board and activate his 0 ability to make a 2/2 Knight Ally token.

On your opponent’s turn they make the same play and pass back. From here you can cast Tamiyo, Field Researcher and use her -2 to lock down Gideon, Ally of Zendikar AND the Knight Ally that came with him in order to kill the opponent’s Gideon. After all of that is said and done the opponent effectively loses their next turn in combat (which means you’ll get another untap step with both Tamiyo AND Gideon).

I predict in many situations the +1/-2 tradeoff will play very similar to Jace, Architect of Thought during his tenure in Standard; having a sequence of -2, followed by +1, then a -2, then a +1, and finally a third -2 that will kill the Planeswalker, only to be replaced by another copy. Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s first two abilities are both incredibly relevant as long as something is happening on the battlefield, and her third ability is a big enough game-changer to warp the entire game if nothing is going on in play.

-7: Draw three cards. You get an emblem with “You may cast nonland cards from your hand without paying their mana costs.”

The things I once imagined would be my greatest achievements were only the first steps towards a future I can only begin to fathom.”
-JaceBeleren

Omniscience has always been exciting and incredibly powerful, but putting a copy of the enchantment into play AND still having relevant spells to cast can be a tall order at times. Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s ability drawing three cards on top of providing an emblem mitigates this fallacy perfectly, but how can that be abused?

One of the premier decks in Legacy that tended to abuse Dig Through Time to the fullest also had a nasty tendency to make great use of the card with Omniscience in the same deck:


How is this applicable to a Planeswalkers ultimate? What can we do with this information?

Legacy is a bit too fast to reasonably expect to untap with the same Planeswalker for 4 turns (in order to +1 Tamiyo, Field Researcher multiple times and finally activate her -7 ability). Todd Stevens has been championing this Planeswalkers brew on his stream and nearly put a friend of his into Day 2 at the Starcitygames.com Modern Open in Dallas-Fort Worth last weekend:


After some research into Todd’s article on the deck, many of the previously questionable choices make a great deal of sense (Blood Moon in particular). All of that being said, methinks Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s inclusion could take the deck in a more streamlined, combo-oriented direction resembling Omnitell a bit more than it resembles Mono-Green Devotion:


This deck is likely a lot worse at the fair game than Todd’s deck is, but who needs a fair game when you have this (not so-)little lady on your side?

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn

The entire idea behind this deck is to stick a copy of Doubling Season, cast a Planeswalker, and instantly use the final ability on the Planeswalker.

Jace, Architect of Thought

Jace is likely the most ideal Planeswalker to start chaining into other Planeswalkers. The reason for this is he generally gets a powerful card out of the opponent’s deck in addition to another copy of Jace, Architect of Thought from his controller’s deck. This loop is repeated a couple of times until Emrakul, The Aeons Torn is eventually found and cast.

Between Emrakul’s 15 Power, her Annihilator trigger, the extra turn she grants, and whatever cards Jace found in the opponent’s library, it is presumed this will be enough to put the game away in the Planeswalker Pilot’s favor.

This particular version of the deck kept the Blood Moon as a sort of Prison-esque angle. This form of ‘control’ is required because the deck has to take a turn off to cast Doubling Season (“take a turn off” meaning not contribute to the board or interact with the opponent). The best way to make sure nothing goes wrong during the off-turn is to reduce the odds the opponent can do anything of substance.

“Emma, all of this talk and you haven’t even brought up the new Tamiyo yet, what gives?”

Tamiyo, Field Researcher actually serves several roles in this deck! Remember when I mentioned her locking down Oblivion Stone earlier? It was for good reason. That is one of the most problematic cards for this archetype. Without any important Instants or Sorceries, this deck can be a sitting duck to cards that have Planar Cleansing-styled effects. The biggest deck that Oblivion Stone will come out of is relatively soft to Blood Moon, so being able to lock down Oblivion Stone the turn it comes down is an absolutely instrumental function of this deck.

With all of the extra mana dorks this deck plays, Tamiyo’s +1 can oftentimes equate to drawing a card for free or providing the defense measures that were brought up previously. She helps dig deeper for more combo pieces while being a combo piece herself.

It’s no coincidence she was included in this deck; being a Planeswalker that automatically uses its Ultimate when there is a copy of Doubling Season on the battlefield. After activating Tamiyo, Field Researcher’s Ultimate the idea is to chain that into a Planeswalker that can win the game on the spot (or just naturally draw the single copy of Emrakul, the Aeons Torn).

These are primarily uses for Tamiyo, Field Researcher that have just come off the top of my head. There are so many other ways to use a Planeswalker with such universally-powerful abilities. With so much time left in spoiler season, I must do more thinking on the topic of cards that interact well with Tamiyo, Field Researcher to make her all that she can be.

I have to read.

I have to observe.

I must research.


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