Innovations – Tezzeret in Paris *6th*: Part 1

Friday, February 18 – Patrick Chapin Top 8ed Pro Tour Paris with a Grixis Tezzeret deck – read how the deck came to be and how it works! If you’re thinking about running the deck at StarCityGames.com Open: DC, you better look here first!

“One time, be Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Please, just one time, let me draw a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.”

My adversary’s Ornithopter with Argentum Armor was weighing heavily on me, though even if I drew another Jace, he would still have a Glint Hawk on the
board to ensure I would not keep a planeswalker on the table. This was the deciding game, and I was trying to imagine what sequence of draws I would
need in order to win this game. The first card I would need was Jace, and it would have to be this turn.

Ever so slowly, I slid the top card of my library away from the remaining cards. I believe in the heart of the cards; I really do.  

One of the perks of getting your face kicked in by G/W Quest is having plenty of time to slow-roll yourself during the match…

I peeled the card up…

Jace, the Mind Sculptor!

I regained my composure and assessed the board, determining that in fact I did have to just play the Jace as a four-mana Eye of Nowhere; still, I could
come back!

My opponent played Ornithopter, Kor Skyfisher, and Ornithopter on his next turn, triggering his other Quest. Sword of Body and Mind entered the
battlefield, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor left just as quickly as he came. Now what was I going to do? Not even another Jace would help me; protection
from blue is no joke. It was then that I imagined drawing Tumble Magnet on my next turn. I could still do this!

One time, dealer! One time, like!

On my next turn, after untapping, I slowly slid the top card off the stack of unrealized potential I called a library.

Another sick self-slow-roll…

Tumble Magnet!

Could it really be? I tapped three lands and set the Tumble Magnet onto the battlefield. Don’t call it a comeback!

Of course, I didn’t win this game. That’s right; despite one-timing Jace, the Mind Sculptor, then immediately asking for and receiving a one-time
Tumble Magnet, I still didn’t win. As I signed the match slip and watched Nico Bohny walk away, I felt a wave of calm wash over me. Yes, I had
just received my first Constructed loss, my third overall loss of the event, meaning my back was against the wall, and I would have to win the next
three straight. Still, it was as though the sun had just come out after an ominous thunderstorm. A torrential downpour of confusion had been replaced
with a crystal-clear sky with complete, unabashed clarity abounding.

I laughed out loud, as I sat there by myself. I realize the “humor” may be lost a little in translating the experience into English words, but it was a
profoundly joyous laughter, as I let go. I let go of my attachment to what it was that I thought I wanted and just thanked the Universe for what I was
in the midst of experiencing. From my perspective, the Universe doesn’t make mistakes. Every experience, even every hardship, is a blessing. After
asking “one-time” twice in the span of thirty seconds, receiving exactly what it was I thought I wanted, I still didn’t win. Was my mistake not asking
“to win?” No, that’s just more of the same — attachment to what it is that I think I want.

In that moment, I let go and just realized how thankful I was for whatever the Universe brings me. Rain or sun, hardship or easy ride, I’m down for
whatever. Besides, in that moment, I also realized that I was so busy thinking about the lucky card I wanted to draw that I didn’t even bother focusing
on the game enough to realize that much earlier, when my opponent first triggered his Quest to go get the Argentum Armor, I could have made a much
better play. I was holding a Galvanic Blast and used it in response to Quest for the Holy Relic’s acquiring its fifth counter (and ensuring that I was
not hit with the Armor this turn). What I should have done was Galvanic Blast the Ornithopter in response to the Glint Hawk. Not only would my
opponent’s Ornithopter and Glint Hawk both die, he would not have been able to put the fifth counter on that turn.

Was Nico fortunate to have Quest on turn 1 in all three games? No question, but he did mulligan to five in the first game, so it isn’t like he wasn’t
doing his part. Besides, what good did it do me to focus on that, rather than just making the best plays? Now, my record had dropped to 9-3, and I was
without a margin of error. There were four rounds left, and it appeared that it would take a record of 12-3-1 to Top 8.

Smile from ear to ear, ear bud and ear bud entered my ears; with the gentle hum of bass ever so near, I slowly stepped from the table and surveyed the
entrancing scene playing out before my eyes. I watched the mass of people twisting and turning, but my mind had already rolled back away from this
moment and was replaying the week’s adventures.

I had made the journey to France quite a bit earlier, spending the ten days prior to the Pro Tour in the South of France, at the Matignon estate.
Various Hall of Fame and soon-to-be Hall of Fame Frenchies (Gabriel Nassif, Raphael Levy, Antoine Ruel, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, etc.) invited Michael
Jacob and I out early to break it, like so many three-year olds with their favorite toys. Defeating jetlag had been a top priority, and I was thrilled
to see that the plan was coming together, as this has been a weakness in my game from time to time.

Another “weakness” in my game (from time to time) has been drafting, but fortunately, we were able to get a dozen practice drafts in, allowing me to
gain a familiarity and comfort with the format that I had not always had before. Oh, I started out poorly, no question, but after 2-7ing my first three
drafts, I decided to try emulating a draft strategy I had seen MJ succeed with. Basically, I was avoiding black and green and aiming to draft two out
of the three other colors. Not exactly the most well-rounded strategy, but I was having some success with it and given the limited time to prepare for
this event available to the world, it was a better plan than none at all. The somewhat controversial draft strategy begins with picking Ichor
Wellspring over Burn the Impure, despite looking to draft red…

The Tuesday before the Pro Tour (which started on Thursday, this time around, on account of Magic Weekend┢), MJ and I arrived back in Paris, four hours
north and colder than our previous residence. After checking into a modest (read: tiny European) hotel, we each went about preparing for the event in
our own way. For MJ, this meant a day of Nintendo DS and animal crackers, with anime in quad-speed playing in the background.

A haircut was in order for me, on the other hand. Yeah, believe it or not, I actually had a haircut the day before the PT. (I say believe it or not, as
I received a well-above-expectation quantity of requests for me to get my hair cut during the event by people other than my mother or girlfriend, aka
people with no votes.) Getting the haircut was an adventure in and of itself. I just kind of strutted into the first random salon I came upon and
immediately discovered that not a single person in the establishment spoke a lick of English. Still, undeterred, I pantomimed a clear message that I
wanted to have a little trimmed, without removing much length. Perhaps I would’ve been better off just pointing to a picture of Justin Bieber or

Generally, the way I get haircuts is to walk into a salon and let the hairdresser do what they think looks good; then if I don’t love it, I never go to
them again. Anyone who I’d want to cut my hair better be intuitively on the same page as I am with regards to what looks good on me. This is, of
course, a relatively high bar, and currently the only hair stylist I like lives 400 miles away from me. While it was challenging to convey ideas about
what kind of haircut I could be in the market for, or even that I had such instructions for the stylist at all, things actually turned out much better
than expected. Pretty sure I need another haircut, but it could’ve been a lot worse. Maybe it is finally time to Mohawk.

Wednesday, fresh, dressed to impress, feeling like a million bucks, I made my way over to the Level DI’s hotel, aiming to rock a last-minute draft or
two. After some pretty intense theory discussion with Ben Stark and Martin Juza in a hotel room, we began a draft on the second floor, nearly making it
through the first pack of Scars before being kicked out by a silly hotel owner who thought he could stand in our way. In his defense, I guess we were
sort of taking up a bit of business meeting space, but this is the battle for Mirrodin itself. If we don’t persevere against the Phyrexians here, we’re
all doomed (or we’ve won, depending on whose hype you buy into).

I continued to enjoy success with the lessons I had learned from MJ and was feeling ready for the event the next day. Discussing Magic theory with MJ
is always a unique challenge. To put it briefly, he is absolutely brilliant, but sometimes, the hidden awesomeness tucked away at the end of one of his
sentences is worth many times the hassle of decoding the seemingly random poetry that is his attempt to explain reasons why things are the way he
intuits them to be.

It was time to shuffle up. I was on Grixis Tezzeret:

MJ and Matignon ended up being the only two others to rock my list, with almost none of the others ever really even seriously considering it. I guess
there is something about a deck that is a cross between aggro-control and the RUG deck that strikes a lot of people as being… well, odd.

I wasn’t always on Tezzeret, to be sure. My Mirrodin Besieged Standard testing began at GP Atlanta, with some games against Wafo. To be fair, I started
with a B/u infect list that featured Tezzeret for about four games, so I guess I “started at Tezzeret.” The deck quickly morphed into the Mono-Black
Infect list from my article last week.

At dinner that night (Sunday of GP Atlanta), I mentioned to Wafo, Matignon, and Brad Nelson an idea I had for a multi-color Tezzeret list built around
a Prophetic Prism, Mox Opal, and Sphere of the Suns mana base. In theory, we could fairly easily play as many colors as we wanted, though we were at a
loss for what green cards we might consider (white offered Day of Judgment and Venser, the Sojourner). Everyone was fairly skeptical but had to admit
the mana base did seem worth considering.

A couple weeks later, upon arriving in the South of France, I immediately set to brewing. It was pretty clear that the Frenchies and MJ were interested
in a lot of U/W Control, U/B Control, G/W Quest, Kuldotha Red, and Valakut decks. My natural response was to start to work on the crazy stuff. My first
project? A Blightsteel Colossus + Shape Anew deck that also featured Iona, Shield of Emeria to allow for a Mass Polymorph aspect.  

I got a few wins from being a deck with both Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Day of Judgment. I got a few wins from turn 4 or 5 Blightsteel Colossus.
Mostly though, I just a got some lessons about reality from Kuldotha Red, which was quickly demonstrating that this format was much faster than the
previous one had been.

Naturally, my response was to build a deck even slower, weaker, and jankier.

The general idea, here, is to play a mediocre U/B Control game, then drop Liliana Vess. Your first tutor is for Knowledge Pool. On your next turn, you
tutor for Emrakul (or Iona, or Massacre Wurm, depending on what you need). After setting the top of your library, you drop Knowledge Pool, then follow
with a cheap spell such as Chalice for zero, Inquisition of Kozilek, or Preordain. Knowledge Pool will exile that card and let you play the card you
really want for free.

While this is certainly an ambitious dream, it’s unfortunately not without a potentially fatal flaw that was painstakingly drilled into me game after
game. It took the Frenchies about thirty seconds to devise the plan of just holding Mana Leak, Lightning Bolt, Disfigure, Vampire’s Bite, or White
Sun’s Zenith. Then, if I dropped the Knowledge Pool, they would respond to my zero Chalice by playing their instant and stealing my Emrakul. I only
played half-a-dozen games with this beast. Emrakul hit play three times. Emrakul never made it to my side of the battlefield….

It was at this point I decided to reel it in a bit and double up on my dose of reality. I built a fairly stock U/W deck that seemed “okay,” but it did
not feature Stoneforge Mystic, which meant it was underpowered. A few hours of traditional U/W and a couple drafts later, I decided it was time to quit
messing around and build the deck I really wanted to build, Tezzeret.

Over the next week, the list took on many radically different appearances, as I experimented with various ways to use the Tezzeret engine; however a
couple things were clear immediately. First, Tezzeret himself was even better than he looked. While the entire deck had to be bent around him, once you
did, he was the best card in the deck, not close. His ability to gain loyalty while drawing cards every turn, producing 5/5 haste creatures for beating
up on other planeswalkers, and his generally fatal ultimate that took only a single turn to power-up made it clear that he was an end worth going to
great lengths for. Additionally, the package of Mox Opal, Everflowing Chalice, Sphere of the Suns, and Prophetic Prism was performing quite well,
though four colors did seem to be a bit unnecessarily greedy.

Additionally, I was fairly fixated on Mox Opal, as it was often unbelievably powerful, but the more zero- and one-drop artifacts I added, the less
consistent the deck became. Additionally, I flirted with various proliferate themes up until the end but ended up setting them aside, as there was just
one too many themes going on.

The Treasure Mage packaged rotated in and out of the deck at first, with Spine of Ish Sah originally filling the Mindslaver slot. This was an exciting
package with Throne of Geth, but over time, it was becoming clear that it was a bit too cute. MJ made the observation that the reason it would look
good sometimes was just the ability to Tezzeret +1 and hit a business spell. Contagion Engine made a number of appearances for similar reasons; though
in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth slowing the deck down to add another six-drop, when all you really wanted against aggro was Wurmcoil.

The Trinket Mage package never really did anything, once Lux Cannons became Jaces (as without Key, there were no important “gets”). Lux Cannon was okay
but just too slow when we could just be Jacing. Without Lux Cannon, the proliferate theme ended up a little light, though it sure was awesome to be
able to drop Tezz and ultimate immediately. Additionally, the Ichor Wellspring + Throne of Geth interaction was hot, especially with Everflowing
Chalice. I’m not sure what the right home is for that synergy, but that’s definitely a deck.

Some interesting options we tried that were close to good enough and could be good enough in the right build included:

Horizon Spellbomb

Celestial Colonnade and Raging Ravine, despite not playing those colors.

Spreading Seas main

Pilgrim’s Eye

Nihil Spellbomb

Plague Myr

Myr Battlesphere

Myr Turbine

Steel Hellkite

Duress/Inquisition of Kozilek

Grand Architect

A number of people have asked me if I would change anything about the Tezzeret list I played, a question that really needs a little more context. Would
I have changed anything for that event? Probably not much. Maybe instead of Ratchet Bomb, I would have preferred Crush or Shatter or something along
those lines, but for the most part, the field turned out exactly the way I expected, and I was happy with my approach. Would I build the deck
differently for the weeks to come? For sure, as Tezzeret is super powerful, to be sure, but I definitely profited from an unprepared field. What all
changes I would make is going to take some time to consider, but I’ll be discussing the directions I want to explore, later in this report.

Testing had revealed that Mirrodin Besieged would have a major impact on the format, with the principal players being Valakut, putting pressure on you
one way, and Kuldotha Red, putting pressure on you in the total opposite direction. In the middle, Jace decks and Stoneforge Mystic decks looked to be
the best ways to fight “fair.” We were pretty sure that Valakut would be the most popular strategy, so many people questioned the sanity of bringing a
rogue deck whose “worst matchup” was Valakut. My thinking was that we really were that good against the rest of the field; plus, many Valakut
players could stumble against us on account of not being familiar with the matchup. On top of this, it felt like a really bad time to play Valakut, as
a result of how easily the field could configure themselves to beat it. I suspected that everyone and their mother would spend the lion’s share of
their playtest time ensuring that they beat Valakut, which led me to believe that Valakut would perform poorly, and if I could make it out of Day 1,
I’d be unlikely to face many Valakut decks at the top.

We spent a lot of time working on possible sideboard plans against Valakut, with Wafo taking the role of evil Valakut. It may surprise you to hear, but
Wafo actually really enjoys playing Valakut, and in playtesting, an opponent who wants to win with the gauntlet deck they’re piloting makes a world of
difference. Anyone who has ever continually trounced Jund in playtesting, only to lose over and over in tournament play, can relate to the experience
I’m describing. When you’re playtesting, it’s so important to find a way to make sure that the players playing the stock decks are actually
trying, actually applying themselves.

Memoricide wasn’t bad, and for a while, I thought that might be my plan, but it was disappointing that Green Sun’s Zenith made it so easy for them to
beat me without Titans. They would just get an Avenger or a Gaea’s Revenge or whatever and go to town. Gaea’s Revenge became a lot less threatening
when I learned after two days of testing that I could block it with my 5/5s. It was at this point that I asked my opponent, who was sitting in for
Wafo, why they never pointed out how strange it was that I was never blocking the Revenge (which I had mistakenly thought had protection from
non-green… French cards…). A take-away: It’s good that you want to win the playtest games to a great degree, but if your opponent is making the
same misplay over and over, point it out! The goal is to help everyone gain the greatest understanding, not just win the most games of playtesting!

One of the problems we were encountering was that the Valakut player had a variety of plans available to them, and it was very easy to get sucked into
tuning our plan against a specific possible plan by them. Some would have more Summoning Traps, some Thruns, and some Koths; there were so many
possibilities to consider. Playing more counterspells seemed great when the opponent didn’t have many Traps. Playing more discard seemed okay until we
got pounded by four-drops. I even tried a sideboarded Big Poison package with Skithiryx and Phyrexian Vatmother coming in to put a fast clock on the
Valakut player. Both were good if I could play them without dying immediately, but unfortunately, that just wasn’t often enough.

I will say that I want to work with both of those cards a bit more, as they are very powerful. Skithiryx can just kill someone so fast. I’m not
sure yet how the build will end up looking, but I just keep thinking about how sweet Viridian Corrupter seems right now. Inkmoth Nexus is obviously a
nice one, and in the world of so much Boros and U/W, Phyrexian Crusader has appeal. Plague Myr is a reasonable accelerator, though our mana might need
massaging. Vines of the Vastwood is a sweet trick as long as the mana is right. Phyrexian Vatmother hits like a sledgehammer. I have always liked
Adventuring Gear in these sorts of decks. Hrmm, lots to think about. The main thing I keep coming back to is how much I want to play more artifact kill
cards, like Viridian Corrupter. There are going to be Swords and Chalices and Gears and Signal Pests, and so on, artifacts everywhere.

In the end, MJ’s baby, Spreading Seas ended up being the best we could do.  

“If you can’t beat ’em, f!$# ’em. Hopefully they get mana screwed.”

Unrelated, today I learned that if you’re going to use the convention of replacing letters in four-letter words with symbols, using !, $, and # makes
you look like a fish.

While discussing card choices, I suppose a review of the maindeck final choices is probably warranted. To start with, I was pretty sure from the gate
that I wanted red in Tezzeret for this event, a conclusion that few others seemed to have arrived at. Countless players have asked me why I didn’t just
play Black Sun’s Zenith and Go for the Throat and cut the red. Let’s compare the cards for a moment.

First, consider Galvanic Blast versus Go for the Throat. Obviously I preferred Galvanic Blast, as I could have played either, but why? Costing only one
instead of two is massive. Disfigure is obviously a much weaker card than Go for the Throat, but it continues to see play. Why? Costing one is a
really, really good, special ability. Galvanic Blast is miles beyond Disfigure. First of all, Lightning Bolt is miles beyond Disfigure, and Galvanic
Blast in this deck is just about always a four-point Lightning Bolt. The only time you are generally going to play Blast without metalcraft, you will
be hitting a cheap creature, where two points is enough. That extra fourth point is quite impressive, however. It hits a Celestial Colonnade, an
Overgrown Battlement, a Stoneforge Mystic with a Sword, a Koth of the Hammer, other Tezzerets; no matter how you slice it, four is more than three.

Additionally, Go for the Throat doesn’t hit artifact creatures. I actually was of the opinion that dealing four to something would kill it more often
than destroying target non-artifact creature. Other than Titans, what did I ever actually need to Throat that I couldn’t Blast? Tumble Magnet was the
recipe for making up for the weakness to Titans, a card I thought would be exceptional for this event given the strength of equipment and its ability
to serve as a business spell that could be Tezzereted up.

On top of actually killing more that I needed dead, and costing only one, the direct damage element was much appreciated. Obviously killing
planeswalkers is great, but along with Slagstorm, it was nice to have some ways to finish an opponent off out of nowhere. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is
an extremely aggressive card, and five here and there can add up very quickly. Besides, sometimes, you can just steal games with a sixteen-point Drain
Life combined with a Galvanic Blast. Remember to power up your Inkmoths when it’s time to Drain people!

As for as Black Sun’s Zenith (and possibly Ratchet Bomb) instead of Pyroclasm and Slagstorm, we just have a question of power versus consistency. Yes,
adding a third color decreases consistency, in general, but Mox Opal, Prophetic Prism, Sphere of the Suns, and Scalding Tarn ensured that this cost
would be quite minimal. Meanwhile, Ratchet Bomb and Black Sun’s Zenith were nowhere near as potent of sweepers. Giving all creatures -1/-1 for three
mana is nowhere near the same as outright dealing three. Ratchet Bomb may cost the same as Pyroclasm, but it’s glacially slower. Ratchet Bomb’s
“versatility” was not near the awkwardness of destroying my own mana. Black Sun’s Zenith’s reshuffle ability was sweet, but Slagstorm’s hitting
planeswalkers and players was super sexy. These are all great cards; I just felt that aggro would be so well positioned at this event that I really
wanted to make sure I had fast enough sweepers to consistently beat them.

My thinking was planeswalkers and the Treasure Mage package would be plenty of endgame to ensure that an abundance of quality removal would give me
edge over the aggressive decks. Tezzeret and a potent mana advantage would give me good game against Jace decks. Tumble Magnet would be my trump
against Stoneforge decks.

One of the observations we were making was that the deck performed well whenever we had Tezzeret but was a little underwhelming without. Jace provided
a great backup Tezzeret. He’s nowhere near the monster in this deck that Tezzeret is, but you could do a lot worse than Jace, the Mind Sculptor in your
all-removal deck. Additionally, it helped pay us for going to all the trouble of consistently having four mana on turn 3. The specific Jace tactics
used here are nothing out of the ordinary; however it does seem useful to examine some specific Tezzeret tactics, as this is a new combat style.

First of all, while all three abilities on Tezzeret are awesome, the most important is the ability to turn artifacts into 5/5 creatures (that amount to
having haste). This is partially to combat other walkers but also to threaten the opponent with a massive tempo swing. Often, you won’t be able to keep
Tezzeret alive, but turning your Prophetic Prism into a 5/5 and attacking immediately is a fantastic payoff, so that even if your opponent spends their
next turn killing Tezzeret, you still have a 5/5 to show for your troubles. Next turn, you can attack again and with Creeping Tar Pits and burn, we’re
talking about a very short clock. This is to say nothing of the draws where you have a back-up Tezz in hand.

The ability to attack immediately is quite important, so it’s vital to remember to put your Mox Opal into play by turn 2. Generally, against an unknown
opponent, I lead with the Mox on turn 1, just in case they’re Kuldotha Red, but sometimes it’s good to hold it so that you can surprise your opponent
on turn 4 with seven mana when they weren’t expecting you to be able to pay for a Leak.

This is not to say you just default to making 5/5s all the time, but rather, just remember that strategically, making 5/5s is the most important thing
you’re doing with Tezzeret. Drawing cards with the plus ability is nearly as important, however, and is especially important against blue decks. Yes,
it’s vital to use Tezz to attack other walkers, but a common mistake is to just start making 5/5s as soon as you can do so without losing Tezzeret.
This is especially bad game one, when the opponent has a hand full of bad removal cards.

Option One: Gain a loyalty to draw a card.

Option Two: Lose a loyalty to lose one of your artifacts by way of the removal spell your opponent wasn’t going to be able to use.

As you can see, against control, the default is to just draw cards over and over. In fact, generally the way you close out games against control (other
than their conceding to your Tezzeret 187ing their Jace) is to just Drain them for 16-20, after drawing card after card. There aren’t a ton of hard
counters going around, and eventually you’ll find your Mindslaver, and their will shall break. Additionally, Tezzeret actually works extremely well
with Jace. Using both together, you can be assured that your Tezz will always hit; you always get a fresh Brainstorm; and Jace has a tendency to live
longer since your opponent absolutely has to get Tezz off the table.

Tezzeret’s ultimate is another useful tool that comes up quite a bit more often than most planeswalkers’ ultimates. You don’t always need to actually
finish your opponent off, as a fourteen-point Drain Life is often enough to ensure that they aren’t beating your two Tar Pits. Interestingly, the
threat of Tezzeret’s ultimate is often more potent that actually using it. You only get to “use” it once in a while, but nearly every game, the threat
is constantly looming over your opponent’s head, making him do a pretty good Gideon impression. Jace? Often, people let Jace live and just race him.
Tezzeret? There is very little “racing” Tezzeret. An opponent that has to attack Tezzeret every turn is often forced into very awkward positions.

Another important tactical maneuver to keep in mind with Tezzeret is the use of his -1 ability on an Inkmoth Nexus. If you activate the Nexus, then
Tezzeret him, you have a 5/5 flying infect creature and what amounts to a two-turn clock. When the turn ends, Nexus will no longer have flying or
infect but will retain its 5/5 artifact creature status. This is important to remember, in the event that your opponent can kill Tezzeret, and you
don’t have another. On your next turn, the normal line is to activate Inkmoth Nexus again (shrinking him down to 1/1), then -1 Tezz him again.

Inkmoth Nexus actually has a variety of interesting applications in this list, and if you end up going the proliferate route, sometimes a single poison
counter can eventually take the opponent out. A common move is to power up the Nexus in order to power up your Mox Opal. This doesn’t “net” you mana,
but it can provide a red mana out of nowhere. Additionally, sometimes it saves you a mana if you kind of want to attack with your Nexus any way, or if
you’re planning on powering him up to block. As a blocker, Inkmoth Nexus is a great chump blocker to protect Tezz, forcing opponents to send four
creatures all at Tezz (letting you go ahead and not actually block). When he actually does block, he does his best work when fighting Steppe Lynx or
Squadron Hawk.

As an attacker for one, Inkmoth Nexus is somewhat more likely to attack planeswalkers than players, but sometimes you do just grind them out poison
style. In a match against Paul Rietzl, I had Creeping Tar Pit, Island, Inkmoth Nexus, and Everflowing Chalice (1). He played a Koth and bashed me, but
the surprise Mox Opal along with an untapped land let me take the wind out of Koth’s sails before he could even get going.

Preordain should be no surprise, but it’s especially important here, as it serves as a proxy artifact for the purposes of getting metalcraft early
enough to actually count on the Mox Opals as part of the mana base. Additionally, when all you want to do is find Tezzeret, every additional look is
very valuable.

Treasure Mage as a one-of surprises a lot of people, when I really only wanted the two targets, and drawing a second Treasure Mage is awful. He isn’t
even really a primary component of the deck; it’s just a nice way to gain a big advantage outside of the walkers. You only need so many “win the
games,” and Treasure Mage helps provide a little more of that action and provides some selection, letting us get away with only one fatty and one big
spell (Mindslaver). I’m sure plenty of decks will want a second or even third Treasure Mage, but I generally would want to have at least one Treasure
for every Treasure Mage. Treasure Mage for Spine of Ish Sah with Venser seems an important area to explore for Block, for what it’s worth.

Stoic Rebuttal is adorable, here, of course. Generally, it’s just Counterspell on every turn but turn 2. While this isn’t that different from Deprive,
it really is important to keep hitting your land drops, so it gets the nod here. Stoic Rebuttals three and four get boarded in against every non-aggro
matchup, but they’re just so weak against aggro I couldn’t justify more in the maindeck for this event.

Most of the sideboard is fairly straightforward, though Kuldotha Rebirth is a card that catches some by surprise. I tested against Kuldotha Red
extensively and have a great respect for the strategy (in much the same way one respects Belcher, without necessarily approving of it). The natural
strategy for fighting Kuldotha Red is to just board more sweepers, which is fine, but that’s exactly what they’re expecting. They sideboard in Jinxed
Idols and Tuktuks, giving them a reasonable way to fight this. It’s still worth sweeping as much as possible, and the extra Pyroclasms come in for
plenty of matchups, making them well worth it. Still, I wanted a silver bullet. What would be the best possible card against them?

The first time I got Jinxed Idoled, I joked how much I wanted a Kuldotha Rebirth of my own, but the more I thought about it, the better it seemed.
Obviously it’s the best way imaginable to get rid of a Jinxed Idol (though killing Jinxed Idols with Tezzeret’s -1 is also pretty sweet). However, with
Mox Opal, Prophetic Prism, Sphere of the Suns, and Chalices, it would be easy to find an extra artifact to throw away for an army of fast blockers.
Even if they don’t draw the Jinxed Idol, this lets us beat the best card in their deck easily. It even provides a safety net that stops surprise
Bushwhacker kills. I wanted to play a second copy, but I just didn’t think Kuldotha Red would take enough of the field to justify the space, especially
when my matchup against them was actually pretty decent.

Guillaume Matignon added a Gravitational Shift and Argent Sphinx to the sideboard without a lot of testing. The Gravitational Shift is cute and totally
sick against Vampires, but I just didn’t think that would be enough of the field to be worth it. It’s fun with Inkmoth Nexus, however. Argent Sphinx is
an excellent backup kill card if you’re in the market for such a thing, but I preferred to just have access to an extra Jace. Metalcraft is easy to
acquire, of course, making him a 4/3 flying, vigilance creature that’s nearly unkillable. He wasn’t needed for Paris, but as the format changes, he may
come to take on a bigger role.

While most players just assumed that I was playing some sort of control deck, Grixis Tezzeret is much better understood as a RUG deck, with an almost
Faeries-esque ability to totally shift gears and go from pseudo-control to killing in one or two hits out of nowhere. I felt great about my Constructed
deck. I felt great about the draft strategy I was planning on using. I felt rested and ready to go, after a couple weeks of getting adjusted to France.

I sat down across from my first opponent, energy pulsing through me. Time to get down to business. Opponent rolls snake eyes, to my boxcars.

Let’s do this…

Conclusion on Monday, where I actually play some games!

Patrick Chapin

“The Innovator”


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