MTG Commander Deep Dive: Getting Crafty With Tetzin, Gnome Champion

Send a Gnome to the dome! Bennie Smith’s latest Commander Deep Dive explores Tetzin, Gnome Champion from MTG’s The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander.

Tetzin, Gnome Champion
Tetzin, Gnome Champion, illustrated by Kekai Kotaki

When trying to decide which of the many new and cool legendary creatures from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan and the attending Commander decks, I received this post from capt nintendo:

Tetzin, Gnome Champion definitely seems like a cool card to build a Commander deck around, so I’m game!

Tetzin, Gnome Champion

Checking out the Release Notes for The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, a rules clarification is definitely pertinent to our interests:

You can target any double-faced artifact you control with The Golden-Gear Colossus’s triggered ability, but only transforming double-faced cards and transforming tokens can transform. Choosing an artifact represented by a modal double-faced card (Pestilent Cauldron from Strixhaven, for example) won’t cause that permanent to transform.

The trick is to look for the word “transform” on the card. In one of my early drafts for cards that might be cool in the deck, I thought about Cosima, God of the Voyage.  I thought I could cast The Omenkeel, which is an artifact, and then later after exiling some extra land drops transform it with Tetzin to Cosima, God of the Voyage.  This obviously doesn’t work, since this is a modal double-faced card, not a transforming card.

Transforming Expectations

I have to admit to being a bit worried just how many transforming artifacts might be available to a three-color deck, but thanks to all of the craft cards and other transforming cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, there is definitely a critical mass of such cards to make Tetzin viable.

One thing to keep in mind, though—a lot of these cards are obviously made with Limited play in mind, so if you prefer optimized, higher powered Commander games you’ll likely want to hold off building Tetzin until more tournament-caliber transforming artifacts are printed in future sets. You can also bridge the gap by playing a bunch of tutor cards for artifacts such as Enlightened Tutor, Fabricate, and Whir of Invention; Jeskai certainly has plenty of those.  But if you prefer casual games of Commander, having a mix of power levels in your transforming artifacts will lead to wild games where style points will matter just as much as victory.

Let’s dig in and see what sort of cards we might want in our Tetzin deck!


Slicer, Hired Muscle Prowl, Stoic Strategist Optimus Prime, Hero Ratchet, Field Medic Goldbug, Humanity's Ally Jetfire, Ingenious Scientist Arcee, Sharpshooter

If you are okay with playing Universes Beyond cards in your Magic decks, the Transformers cards are perfect for Tetzin!  I was a little worried that, because they don’t say transform – for some reason, they say “convert” instead – but reading the rules on convert leads me to believe these work just fine:

Any triggered ability of another card that triggers whenever a permanent transforms will also trigger whenever a permanent converts.

Similarly, an ability of another card that instructs you to “transform” one of these cards will cause you to convert it, even if that ability doesn’t use the word “convert.”

These cards are fun because both sides are artifacts, so no matter which side you’ve got going on, you can transform it with Tetzin if the trigger is worth doing. Plus, in the meantime, the creatures and Vehicles can do fun stuff along the way.

Double-Faced Artifacts

Azor's Gateway Matzalantli, the Great Door Brass's Tunnel-Grinder The Everflowing Well Dowsing Dagger Golden Guardian Conqueror's Galleon Thousand Moons Smithy Unstable Glyphbridge Dowsing Device Master's Guide-Mural Clay-Fired Bricks Cryptolith Fragment Chalice of Life Spring-Loaded Sawblades Dire Flail Oteclan Landmark Idol of the Deep King Mystic Skull Lodestone Needle Inverted Iceberg

I might have missed a few, but I’m pretty sure these are all the rest of the transforming artifact cards that you could add to your list. Note that some of the craft cards key on the cards you exile to transform them, and since we’re looking to transform artifacts for free with Tetzin, I’m not including them on this list.

Assuming your life total is in the area of ten or higher, transforming Azor’s Gateway will be a big game.  Sanctum of the Sun tapping for X mana of any one color, where X is your life total, will lead to explosive turns, making it easy to pay for more artifacts and transforming costs that cost mana. Transforming Brass’s Tunnel-Grinder will be awesome too, with Tecutlan, the Searing Rift giving the discover ability to permanents you cast with the mana from the land.

Unstable Glyphbridge does a nice Day of Judgment impression for all but one creature that has power two or less of your choice for each player; the card was definitely designed with Tetzin in mind, since Tetzin has two power.  The Everflowing Well is sweet card draw for any deck playing enough permanents, and this deck certainly fits the bill. Transforming it into The Myriad Pools and using its mana to cast a permanent lets you turn one of your other permanents into a copy of that until the end of the turn, which is bound to lead to some really cool turns!

Master’s Guide-Mural and its backside Master’s Manufactory play awesomely with the gameplan of creating artifact tokens, which you need to help with transforming Tetzin.

DFC Shenanigans

Encroaching Mycosynth Liquimetal Coating Liquimetal Torque Elesh Norn Archangel Avacyn Enduring Angel

One thing that might be fun in this deck is to have non-artifact cards that transform that you can make artifacts either temporarily with cards like Liquimetal Coating, or permanently with Encroaching MycosynthElesh Norn seems awesome here, its Saga side created five incubate tokens which can be used to help feed Tetzin’s craft ability later. Chapter III of The Argent Etchings gives you another battlefield sweeper that will leave your Phyrexians and artifacts alone.

Being able to transform Enduring Angel without having to go down to zero or less life is big game if it can survive and attack, doubling your life total and potentially get huge!

Artifact Tokens

Illustrious Wanderglyph Chrome Host Seedshark Sai, Master Thopterist Threefold Thunderhulk Third Path Iconoclast Dockside Extortionist Thopter Spy Network Mirrodin Besieged Saheeli, Sublime Artificer Hangarback Walker Skrelv's Hive Sharding Sphinx

To avoid having to exile a bunch of artifacts in the graveyard or, even worse, artifacts on the battlefield to craft Tetzin, we’ll want to play a lot of ways to create a bunch of artifact tokens. If you have a Dockside Extortionist, this is a pretty good place for it! Third Path Iconoclast is another excellent artifact token enabler.

Illustrious Wanderglyph is white’s version of Tendershoot Dryad, but even better—if you’ve got the city’s blessing, it gives all other artifact creatures +2/+2, not just the 1/1 Gnome tokens it produces!

Threefold Thunderhulk is expensive but is a great card to top off your mana curve, generating at least three 1/1 Gnome tokens when it enters the battlefield and then more as it attacks.

Artifact Synergies

Emry, Lurker of the Loch Oswald Fiddlebender Etherium Sculptor Enthusiastic Mechanaut Foundry Inspector Thought Monitor Bronze Guardian Alibou, Ancient Witness Urza, Lord High Artificer Urza, Lord Protector The Mightstone and Weakstone

Likely the first three cards I’d add to this deck would be Etherium Sculptor, Enthusiastic Mechanaut, and Foundry Inspector. Shaving the cost of artifacts is great for accelerating the way this deck operates. Urza, Lord Protector is a great inclusion too, and you might as well toss in The Mightstone and Weakstone for the possibility of melding into Urza, Planeswalker – and its +2 loyalty ability reduces the cost of artifacts even more!

Alibou, Ancient Witness is an incredibly powerful commander for a Boros artifact deck, and it’ll be awesome in the 99 of a Tetzin deck. First, it gives all your other artifact creatures haste, which means when Tetzin transforms into The Golden-Gear Colossus, you get to attack with it right away. Alibou’s trigger ability is incredibly powerful, dishing out damage and scrying, which is awesome for setting up the top of your library so that Tetzin’s mill ability will hit each time.

Top of Library

Sensei's Divining Top Scroll Rack Brainstorm Mystic Forge The Reality Chip

Setting up the top of your library to ensure Tetzin’s mill ability hits often will be vital to keep the gas flowing. Sensei’s Divining Top is perfect here since, if the top three cards don’t include an artifact, you can always tap the Top to draw a card and put the Top on top of your library before you mill, ensuring that you can “draw” the Top from the mill effect and clearing the next two cards off the top of your library. Scroll Rack, Mystic Forge, and The Reality Chip are also artifact-based ways to manipulate the top of your deck, and you can even use Brainstorm to put an artifact on top of the library and two cards you don’t need before milling with Tetzin.

Tetzin Boosters

Training Grounds Zirda, the Dawnwaker Market Gnome Roaming Throne Lightning Greaves Akroma's Memorial Rising of the Day Nahiri's Resolve

Training Grounds and Zirda, the Dawnwaker can shave down the craft cost of Tetzin, along with other activated abilities in your deck. Market Gnome is a great card to have in a craft deck, especially if you can get it to die first and sit in the graveyard to exile with a craft ability, netting you two life and two cards along the way.

Roaming Throne is one of the hottest cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan, mostly due to being such a bonkers enabler for typal creature decks that have a lot of triggered abilities. In this deck, however, it’s another artifact creature that also just happens to make both sides of Tetzin doubly good. And doubling The Golden-Gear Colossus will move your gameplan along quite nicely!

I mentioned how nice Alibou’s haste ability is to maximize The Golden-Gear Colossus, and I’d definitely want to include a few more ways to enable haste, especially artifact-based ones like Lightning Greaves and Akroma’s Memorial. I might even consider enchantment-based haste effects like Rising of the Day and Nahiri’s Resolve. Nahiri’s Resolve also lets you “blink” some number of artifacts and creatures that might have enters-the-battlefield effects you’d want to trigger again.

What cards do you think I’ve overlooked for the deck?  Which cards from The Lost Caverns of Ixalan Commander are you most looking forward to playing in your decks?

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