The usual performance of a new deck isn’t very good. As I build decks using theoretical elimination and selection, topped of with a goldfish, I am usually confronted with the reality of real life play and non-domesticated opponents. That is a fancy way of saying the decks are off to a slow start and get pounded on before reaching a level I’m happy with. Either that, or the deck is discarded. This weekend I was pleasantly surprised when my Tezzeret-deck (that I built with Robert and that you can read about here) held it’s own pretty good against Rick’s new deck. Tezzeret was out to kill. Tezzeredrum was born.
Not so long ago I already wrote about this deck. That was before testing it against Rick’s new deck, an aggressive mono red deck centered around small critters and the battle cry of Hero of Oxid Ridge and Signal Pest to win. It also has Goblin Bushwhackers and Goblin Guides among the usual suspects, as is Koth. Just as mine, Rick’s stroll with this deck was the first against an actual opponent. In fact, he sleeved the deck up about half an hour before I arrived.
Time to battle
On to the actual matches. Something I found out even before this Saturday was that Glissa wasn’t crucial in the deck, and that she actually slowed the deck down with her prohibitive mana cost. In a deck that also wants to play blue and also wants to play artifact lands as well as Llanowar Reborn, Academy Ruins and Volrath’s Stronghold (i.e. lands that don’t make two different kinds of mana), Glissa pulls too much at the manabase. I decided to make my final decision after a few games. In the very first game, I found out my goldfish experience proved true. I made the following swap:
The Karoos where a classic case of the cutesies. I thought it would be profitable to bounce Llanowar Reborns, but that just slowed me down. Llanowar Reborn, as proved to be the case, is a very cheap card that you can proliferate easily. Saturday there was a game where I had two Llanowar Reborns out at six counters each. There was also a Mycoloth in play and the game ended shortly thereafter. So I strengthened the manabase with two Vivid lands, still looking for a way to add that fourth Reborn to the deck.
I went with extra copies of Trinket Mage because of the urgency of needing Myr Servitors. Primal Command can also find ’em, but those don’t show up early. Primal Commands could come out, perhaps even all of them.
Why would I take out Primal Command when I can fetch so many different creatures with him? That is because most of those cards were less than stellar in their performance, and most of them that I drew during the game rarely got cast.
Ichor Rats stranded a game in my hand, I drew him once, cast him once, but never searched for him. The game where I cast him I was winning with him, but also with a Mycoloth. The Mycoloth is very good, and can probably take one or maybe even two of the slots that used to belong to Primal Command.
The Grim Poppet didn’t come out even once. I drew him two games or so, both of those times he came too late or was too expensive. He just felt like the fourth Contagion Engine, which I suppose should just be in here. Joining the unplayed-club is final singleton Plaguemaw Beast. No matter how high my first regards of him, he has no immediate impact and dies to a lot. Trying to combine him with Mycolothical Saprolings was another case of the cutesies.
Luckily for my blue-lovin’ self, Tezzeret was no fluke at all. There was no time when he was in my hand and I did not want to cas thim, so I’m definitely upping his count to the full four. So now my deck has an official name, based on the badass of the deck out for blood.
I felt the deck could use more infected creatures to combine with Tezzeret. The fourth Necropede came to mind (extra fuel for Throne of Geth as well), as well as Vector Asp, perhaps to replace Ichor Rats. Trinket Mage finds Vector Asp, which Tezzeret can turn into a 5/5. Robert also pointed out Inkmoth Nexus to me, making Expedition Map another viable option.
The deck felt a bit low on counter placement, which makes the fourth Tezzeret and the fourth Necropede good choices – as well as that Mycoloth. Mycoloth would want a fourth Llanowar Reborn. The new version of the deck is taking shape.
Need more counters? Play more Spike Feeders! At first I was looking at Spike Weaver for this deck, after which Robert assured me Feeders do a much better job at holding the fort. I’m glad he told me, and I’m very satisfied with the deck we brewed up and the suggestions Robert made.
Another thing I was re-pondering was Treasure Mage, able to fetch up Contagion Engines and that Grim Poppet. But I wonder, how much would he be worth if I took Grim Poppet out of the deck? Would it be worth to add some Treasure Mages as well as cards like Spine of Ish Sah (soft lock with Throne of Geth), Mindslaver (hard lock with Academy Ruins) and/or Myr Battlesphere? I mean, Myr Battlesphere is pretty much game with Tezzeret…
Lastly, I wonder what mana acceleration would do. Increasing Trinket Mages makes a single Everflowing Chalice a bit more viable. And, as the Pro Tour tought us, a turn three Tezzeret is better than a turn four Tezzeret. Sphere of the Suns is also on my shortlist, fixing my mana and probably never running out of charge counters.
And the winners are
In the end, I decided to cut seven nonland cards: one E-Cap, (down to one) four Primal Commands, (out) one Ichor Rats (out) and Plaguemaw Beast (out). I’ve reasoned why those cards are leaving except for the Capsule. I took one of the two out because I have four ways to find it and in testing yesterday it was rarely needed since I have so many other removal.
I lowered the curve considerably, so there was no need for mana acceleration except for a lone Chalice, hoping to mise a turn three Tezzeret every now and then. I also decided to add an Expedition Map for the land-finding, and I’m currently trying to trade for an Inkmoth Nexus. Too bad I can’t graft counters onto Nexus, but Tezzeret and Spike Feeder will have to make do.
One more Tezzeret was added to complete the quartet, while Trinket Mages also got bumped to the maximum of four and Spike Feeder was promoted to a three-of. It was never bad to draw one yesterday, since it so versatile at attacking, gaining life, and semi-grafting. In this deck, one counter on two permanents is worth much more than two counters on one permanent, and Spike Feeder truly fits that philosophy. The newest Mr. Mage, Treasure, was added as a singleton. Grim Poppet, therefore, was left in the deck.
I feel the Treasure Mage angle is worth exploring more. For example, as I said earlier, Myr Battlesphere is bonkers, and even moreso with Tezzeret. Mycoloth is nice and all, but Myr Battlesphere could end the game right then and there when I can ultimate Tezzeret – not to mention the interaction with the recurring Servitors. Time will tell if ever feel lacking drawing a Mycoloth.
Finally, I made a teenie weenie change in the manabase, swapping one Tree of Tales (down to two) for the fourth Llanowar Reborn. This card is essential to the deck and proliferating with this on the battlefield gets out of hand quickly.
There you have it, just after I’ve confirmed a trade for my fourth Tezzeret: Tezzeredrum, version two is in the books. I hope you like the deck, but I can’t imagine you don’t. It’s fun, versatile and powerful, and you feel there isn’t much you can’t take down. I’m looking forward to playing with this deck – and checking my mailbox Tuesday for Tezzeret.