Your Compleat Guide To Tamiyo, Compleated Sage

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage offers green decks a flexible and powerful tool. Brad Nelson takes an early look at ways to use the planeswalker in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Standard.

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage, illustrated by Chris Rahn

I’m not usually that invested in Magic lore, so the news of Tamiyo’s demise didn’t really resonate with me. Maybe being a part of the Phyrexian invasion isn’t great, but how bad can it be when it comes with cost reduction? Today we’re going to be taking a deeper look into Tamiyo, Completed Sage, the first planeswalker to have “Phyrexian Mana” cost reduction! 

Tamiyo, Compleated Sage

I’m just going to start things off by saying this is the card that excites me most from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty so far. After all, Simic is my third-favorite color combination behind Golgari and Sultai. I don’t know what it is, but big green monsters plus counterspells and card advantage really get my creative juices flowing. I haven’t been too excited to play Standard or Alchemy as of late, but I’m pretty sure Tamiyo, Compleated Sage is going to get me back on the Arena ladder next week. 

So what makes this card so special? Well, it all starts with its casting cost. Having the option to cast it for either four or five mana allows for a green deck to have a much smoother early-game when sequencing. For example, a lot of green decks in Standard will want to play Esika’s Chariot and Wrenn and Seven. Once you throw a ton of copies of those into the mix, you really have to be careful how many other fours and fives you run. 

Tamiyo helps bridge that gap. Sometimes you won’t draw a four-mana card to cast, and need to rely on Tamiyo to get to Turn 5. Other times we won’t have a Goldspan Dragon or Wrenn and Seven, and then can safely cast Tamiyo without paying two life. Having that flexibility is just great for green decks, and will help them consistently curve while playing a higher density of powerful spells. 

Skyclave Apparition

While on the topic of casting costs, I need to highlight this little total mana value loophole Tamiyo has. You see, this planeswalker will always have a total mana value of five even though you can cast it for four mana. This keeps it just out of reach from an opponent’s Skyclave Apparition, even if it’s cast for four mana. This is actually pretty huge, because one of the worst things to happen against aggressive decks like Mono-White Aggro and Naya Aggro is that they Skyclave Apparition our Turn 4 play. This can set us back, especially when we may be on the defensive. 

Now that we’ve discussed her casting cost, let’s take a look at her abilities. Tamiyo, Compleated Sage sits in this great space where she can play a variety of roles based on when she’s cast. This means she’ll be good in the early turns when tempo is important, and also in the late stages when card advantage is more highly valued. We’ll take a deeper look into each of her abilities to better explain what I’m trying to say. 

[+1]: Tap up to one target artifact or creature. It doesn’t untap during its controller’s next untap step. 

This ability does a very great job at protecting Tamiyo, but can also lead to some opportunistic attacks. It’s also worth noting that the Simic color combination struggles with larger threats. The ability to just keep something big tapped and out of combat can go a long way for a Simic deck to not fall too far behind. Another great feature about this ability is it can target artifacts, which could come in handy when trying to slow down an opposing Esika’s Chariot. Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty also has some pretty sweet Vehicles, so I’m sure Tamiyo will never run out of good targets to lock down. 

[-X]: Exile target nonland permanent card with mana value X from your graveyard. Create a token that’s a copy of that card. 

On the surface, this ability will be great at generating some value as a game goes on. Odds are you won’t be wanting to use it in the early turns, but as time goes on this will be a great way to bring back a more powerful nonland permanent to help swing games in your favor. The cool stuff comes once we dig a little deeper into what we can pair Tamiyo with, and it doesn’t get sweeter than everyone’s favorite “Catillac!”

Esika's Chariot

Esika’s Chariot works exceptionally well with Tamiyo, Completed Sage. I mean, like, “you’re going to hear so many horror stories from your friends about this tag-team” good. Now that might be because Esika’s Chariot is such an absurd card, it works with most things — who really knows. Regardless, these two cards synergize so well together that I’m pretty sure we’ll all soon get sick of the Chariot/Tamiyo pinch. 

The “pinch” is right after we’ve cast our Esika’s Chariot on Turn 3 or 4. If an opponent uses their next turn spending mana on creatures, we can cast Tamiyo and tap one of them down. Ideally this will allow the Vehicle to get through combat without dying. Now, if they hold up mana to destroy the Vehicle before it’s able to attack and make another Cat token, we can cast Tamiyo and use its second ability to return a token copy of Esika’s Chariot to the battlefield. 

It gets worse, though. Well, better if you’re also going to be doing this all the time like me.

Esika’s Chariot has an attack trigger we’re all familiar with, I’m sure. This usually is targeting Cat or Wolf tokens, and sometimes the occasional Treefolk token from Wrenn and Seven. What if I were to tell you that with Tamiyo, we could see Esika’s Chariot targeting so much more? Hell, it could even target itself!

That’s right, if you use Tamiyo’s [-X] ability on an Esika’s Chariot and get to attack with it, you can just copy the Vehicle! Sure, one of them would die to the legend rule, but you’d still end up with more Cat tokens than you would have previously. It’s also a great play if they could favorably kill the Esika’s Chariot in combat. In that scenario, you just keep the new one and let the other die. 

This interaction could end up being insanely degenerate. We may see late-game Esika’s Chariots being way more threatening when one Tamiyo could result in the creation of two copies of Mind Flayer, Binding the Old Gods, Brutal Cathar, or even Tamiyo itself. Trust me when I say weird things are going to happen thanks to this little combo here!

[-7]: Create Tamiyo’s Notebook, a legendary colorless artifact token with “Spells you cast cost 2 less to cast” and “T: Draw a card.”

The last thing we have to do before we start brewing is take a look at Tamiyo’s ultimate. This ability isn’t that game-changing when you think about it, but it can happen as early as Turn 5! If you use an accelerant to cast her on Turn 3, you just need to tick up twice before sending her to the graveyard in exchange for an easy way to gain card advantage in the form of her Notebook. Then after that, all the cards you’ll be drawing will be so cheap that I can’t even imagine all the possible shenanigans. 

So yeah, Wizards of the Coast (WotC) once again made an absurdly good Simic card for us Simic mages to smash all the non-believers with for the next few months. Now all we have to do is narrow down what kind of decks we’ll want to put it in! 

Graveyard decks?

Hell no! Tamiyo obviously works well with decks trying to fill the graveyard, but basic game mechanics are already going to do that. One of the biggest lessons for newer players to learn is that adding “extra steps” to a deck needs to be justified. Adding weaker cards to a deck to fill up the graveyard, for example, is probably not worth the investment. That’s especially true for a planeswalker that’s already powerful enough to not need it. 

Just let your permanents naturally go into the graveyard, and let Tamiyo bring back tokens of them once that happens. Trust me, Wrenn and Seven is enough graveyard synergy for any Standard deck!

Storm the Festival?

Maybe? Look, I loved me some Storm the Festival shenanigans before Izzet Epiphany invalidated it.  I even wrote about the archetype the week before that happened, and initially thought Tamiyo would allow me to go back to the festival from which I originally came. 

The more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea. Storm the Festival is just a bit slow now that we’re into seven-set Standard and Alchemy. Six mana is a large investment, and I really hope the sorcery is playable; it’s just not something I’ll be banking on. Instead, I’ll look for more streamlined strategies to compete with the format. If things are slower than I predict them to be, then you’ll for sure see me on Magic Arena beating you with this deck! 

What about in aggressive decks?

Now this is where I think Tamiyo is going to shine brightest! Temur Midrange has been a staple of the format for months now thanks to its impressive ability to get permanents onto the battlefield backed by some great synergies. It’s just always had an issue dealing with larger threats that the format could throw at it. Pretty much, if it was bigger than Goldspan Dragon, it was going to cause problems. 

That’s one of the reasons why many switched over to the Jund Midrange variant: so they could gain access to better removal spells. The threats were also great in the “mirrors,” as it was very difficult to get Immersturm Predator off the battlefield. This all changes now that Tamiyo can help the archetype interact with those opposing threats, something it had a difficult time doing in the past. In doing so, the deck once again gets access to the counterspells it so desperately needed to combat the more controlling decks in the format.

Until Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty is on Magic Arena, though, I’m not going to know for a fact which home best houses this amazing planeswalker. All I can tell you is that my goal for my last article here at Star City Games is to be bringing you the best damn primer on the best Tamiyo deck out there.

Only then will I be compleat.