Pattern Recognition #311 - Tezzeret

Features Opinion Pattern Recognition


1 February 2024


Hello Everyone! My name is berryjon, and I welcome you all to Pattern Recognition, TappedOut.Net's longest running article series. Also the only one. I am a well deserved Old Fogey having started the game back in 1996. My experience in both Magic and Gaming is quite extensive, and I use this series to try and bring some of that to you. I dabble in deck construction, mechanics design, Magic's story and characters, as well as more abstract concepts. Or whatever happens to catch my fancy that week. Please, feel free to talk about each week's subject in the comments section at the bottom of the page, from corrections to suggested improvements or your own anecdotes. I won't bite. :) Now, on with the show!

So, who is Tezzeret? And why does he interest me so? Well, the reasoning for that is a little complicated, but in the end, I think it really boils down to two factors. The first is that he is a Magic Villain that actually displays the intelligence he's described as having, unlike Jace or Nicol Bolas. And, perhaps more importantly to me, he was conceived of as a sort of Anti-Jace, which automatically makes him a winner in my book.

But let me first regale you with the history of Tezzeret, and move on from there, shall we?

Tezzeret the Seeker

Born on the Shard of Esper, the Plane of Alara, in the town/city of Tidehollow into ... well, calling it a broken family would be charitable, the individual who would be later known as Tezzeret was the son of a metal salvager, and a prostitute who could not ply her trade any more. Yeah. They didn't even name their son, because, honestly, what would be the point?

Life for the boy was cruel, as Esper was a partial Plane that only had and in it. There was no life giving or riotous to liven up the place, and because of that, resource conservation was the name of the game. In fact, mechanically speaking, Esper was the first place we properly saw coloured Artifacts, like Windwright Mage. This was a place where people could, if they had the knowledge, and power, improve themselves through the use of the metals of the Plane.

It wasn't his parents who named him, but rather the gang of children he ran with when he carefully maneuvered a larger and older kid into an opening, whereupon the boy stabbed him with a knife, killing him. In celebration, the gang named the young boy Tezzeret, which loosely means "a hidden knife". It would be like naming a kid Shank.

Anyway, with name in hand, I can stop referring to Tezzeret by various other descriptors. When he was seven, his mother was killed by being run over by a carriage of a local artificer. Tezzeret's father, not caring except about how this would affect him, told Tezzeret that this was the way of the world. The strong took whatever they wanted from the weak. And that they were weak. So Tezzeret swore to himself that he would be strong some day.

Tezzeret's father took the boy to learn a trade, that of Etherium scavenging. Etherium was a metal prized in Esper for how well it could be bent to Artifice, and even a few grams of the stuff could pay for a year's life for Tezzeret. It was during this time that Tezzeret learned how to scry or divine metals, and with this, he was able to quickly locate even the smallest scraps of Etherium. His skill with this allowed him to rise up in the criminal world of Tidehollow, while at the same time manipulating his father into giving Tezzeret more freedom to act wihtout his approval.

It slowly worked, and Tezzeret began to skim a bit of Etherium off the top of his trade, and when he had amassed 200g of the material at the age of 11, he cut all ties with Tidehollow and sought out a Master Artificer to apprentice under to learn more about how to work metal. He was successful in doing so, and such was his skill that he mastered seven years worth of teachings in only three.

During this time, Tezzeret would use his ability to find Etherium to locate hidden caches of it around the city he lived in, stealing from those who had hidden it away, as well as traveling outside the city to kill travelers and others with the material. With his apprenticeship unofficially over, and his growing stockpile of Etherium, Tezzeret purchased tuition from the Mechanists Guild, moving from conventional to magical artifice. Again, here his skill was frankly absurd, and a Seven-Teen year education was completed in merely Five. He was a self-proclaimed Genius, and he had the skills to back that claim up.

At the age of 19, Tezzeret ritually severed his right arm, and replaced it with 10kg of Etherium, a prosthetic that is shown proudly in all his artwork. This act elevated him straight to the rank of Master - unlike someone else with a prosthetic hand - and the Mechanists were more than willing to accept him into their inner ranks.

Tezzeret promptly said "See you NEVER" and left, never looking back. He had higher goals in mind.

With his skill, Tezzeret gained acceptance to the Vectus City Academy, one of the premiere places of learning on Esper. There, he petitioned to join the elite Seekers of Carmot, but he was defeated in a duel with Silas Renn, Seeker Adept, and soundly rejected from the Seekers. Concerned with how this was judged, Tezzeret sought to understand how he had failed form the Headmaster of the Academy, Amalet Pannex. However, Pannex told him that he was going to be rejected and expelled from the Academy thanks in some small (as in all) part of him being born in Tidehollow.

Very elitist.

Tezzeret murdered the Headmaster, stole a bunch of his Etherium, and changed the records to allow his admittance, and to hide any trace of his impending expulsion. He attended the Academy for another three years, learning what he could while at the same time being the subject of ridicule and occasional harassment.

This ended when the man who beat him for the spot in the Seekers, Silas Renn, was publicly rewarded for his skill and dedication to the Seekers with the first ever Etherium Heart. This was a massive blow to Tezzeret's ego, as he viewed that as what should have been his, given his own skills and knowing he was only rejected because of history. So Tezzeret decided to break into the Seeker's private compound and steal at least a good read of their greatest treasure, the Codex Etherium, said to contain the secrets to creating Etherium.

Well, he broke in. And well, I tried to find a good youtube clip, but most cuts of Kung Fu Panda's point where Tai Lung gets his hands on the Dragon Scroll have a lot before or after. So yeah. The Codex was blank. The Seekers didn't know how to make Etherium, they were in the same boat as everyone else. However, unlike the last time he committed a crime in the Academy, he was caught, and the guards beat him as near to death as they could.

They would have gone all the way, but his Spark ignited, and he was caught inside the Shards of Alara, coming to a stop on the Shard of Grixus. There, he found himself badly injured and very quickly under attack from the locals. He fought them off, and was summoned by Nicol Bolas, the Elder Dragon summoning the new Planeswalker to his current vacation spot while waiting for the Conflux. There, he offered the usual deal. Service to the Dragon for Power, and a quick Primer on "HOW TO PLANESWALK". Tezzeret accepted, seeing the Dragon for what Bolas wanted him to see, and nothing more.

So Tezzeret was given some power, some education, and Bolas recruited him to work for his Infinite Consortium, which was a front for Bolas to get artifacts or resources he wanted from around the Multiverse while at the same time enabling his cadre of Planeswalking Smugglers to do what they want to do. Tezzeret quickly made a place for himself in this organization, but while he saw was Bolas was doing with it, he still wnted more. He wanted to be Powerful, and not just yet again the weak person in the relationship.

As part of his duties to the Infinite Consortium, he traveled to New Phyrexia, where he made a side deal with... the... Phyrexians? What? Am I reading this right? Tezzeret was given a serum that would make him immune to PHYRESIS!?!?! Back in 2011?




Anyway, Tezzeret reported to Bolas the the Phyrexians were Bad News(tm), and Bolas agreed with his assessment, and made destroying them priority number one once he regained his full power. Huh, I knew I liked these guys for some reason.

But back to the plot. Tezzeret began a two-pronged plan to take over the Infinite Consortium, and put that upstart lizard, Bolas, into place. Beneath Tezzeret. The first side of this was to maneuver individuals loyal and controlled by him into place to be promoted to positions of reporting to Bolas himself when certain people died. Then, wary of Bolas himself, he found a telepath to help him secure the loyalty of his followers and to defend against Bolas. He found one on Ravnica, Jace Beleren!

Tezzeret took Jace under his wing, helped him, trained him, and soon revealed his part in Tezzeret's plan to usurp Bolas for his failings (not that he had anything, as all was going according to plan). With his ace in the hole ready, Tezzeret confronted Bolas and....

Got his ass kicked.

To the surprise of no one not named Tezzeret (or Jace, but he is clinically incapable of pattern recognition), Bolas had seen through all the plans going on, and toyed with them before letting them live. They were no threat to them. Tezzeret blamed this all on Jace (while pleasing, I can't fully agree with that), captured and tortured him. This lasted until Jace got away with the help of Lilianna Vess - a very nice lady with no ulterior motives - and then brain-blasted Tezzeret into mind-death.

Bolas went "Just as Planned", regained control of the Infinite Consortium, and thanked Vess for her help in setting things up. He then got Tezzeret's body, and stored him in his closet on the Meditation Plane in case he could use it again.

Tezzeret was eventually restored by Bolas, to act as an intermediary with New Phyrexia, keeping tabs on them as they developed and centralized under Elesh Norn. Nicol Bolas, with these reports, highlighted his "Destroy New Phyrexia" as a reminder to get that done.

Eventually, Tezzeret was dispatched to Kaladesh, where thanks to his skill at Artifice (and his use of Esper techniques, not Kaladesh), as well as a LOT of bribes, he was appointed as a neutral arbiter of the great Inventors' Fair, the Head Judge. There, he quickly deduced that Pia Naalar was Renegade Prime, the leader of the actively growing rebellion toward the Consulate, and with that in mind, he dispatched Dovin Baan to Ravnica to recruit the Gatewatch for additional 'security'.

Tezzeret then acted behind the scenes to look over the artifice on display for himself and for Bolas, and when the time came, he declared Rashmi, Eternities Crafter the winner thanks to her work on the Planar Bridge. Believing this to be the best for himself and for Bolas, he then made a spectacle of executing Pia Naalar, which backfired in a Dramatic Reversal and the Gatewatched showed up.

Things happened (yes), and he utilized his power to confiscate most of the Artifice at the fair for its own protection from the active Rebellion, and he focused on Rashmi (I wanted to type misHra for some reason...) and her Bridge, which she was able to complete. As the Renegades converged on his sanctum, Tezzeret took the core of the Bridge, and integrated it into himself, becoming the focal point of a living Planar Portal.

However, this was very dangerous to his health, and he was careful as he served Bolas as the living conduit for the former's War of the Spark, allowing the invading Dreadhorde to attack Ravnica from Amonkhet while avoiding the interdiction of The Immortal Sun that Dovin Baan had installed there. The defenders quickly realized what was going on, and a counter-raid by several Planewalkers destroyed the portal in Tezzeret's chest, collapsing the invasion route and cutting Bolas off from reinforcements.

Tezzeret thanked them for their work, and Planeswalked away before they killed him.

After the War ended, Niv-Mizzet declared Tezzeret to be an active and willing aide to Bolas, and assigned Ral Zarek to hunt him down and kill him. Ral and The Wanderer tracked him back to Esper, where they confronted him, but were beaten. However, seeking to make a break with his past, Tezzeret gave Ral his prosthetic arm as 'proof' of his death, and Ral took it, but reported the nature of his failure to the Living Guildpact.

On the run, Tezzeret went to the only group he thought could shelter him, the Phyrexians on New Phyrexia. There, he offered his services as a living conduit for them to reahc other worlds, and Elesh Norn took him up on his offer. He would aid them, and they would provide the Darksteel required for him to remake his body into the indestructible material.

For some reason, he wasn't Compleated by the Phyrexians, which I can only assume was because of Plot, or the serum he had from his previous visits - or he convinced them that he needed to be incompleate to operate the Bridge. He sent and retrived Jin-Gitaxus to Kamigawa, where he helped abduct Tamiyo, Urabrask to New Capenna, where he tried to recruit Vivien Reid, but failed. He then took Sheoldred to Dominaria and back, and oversaw the dismantling of Karn, to whom he confessed his plans with regards to New Phyrexia. However, upon delivering Karn to Elesh Norn, he decided that Norn wasn't going to complete her end of the deal, and started to think which way to go about it.

Elesh Norn ordered Jin-Gitaxus to honor her bargain and prepare the Darksteel for Tezzeret.

Flabbergasted, Tezzeret went with the Praetor, but unfortunately for him, the cunning Phyrexian, while he had Tezzeret as his mercy for the operation, revealed that he had known about Tezzeret's impending betrayal and had replaced the Darksteel with Blightsteel, which would infect Tezzeret and Compleat him. Tezzeret escaped, taking some Darksteel with him, and fled into the Multiverse, staying one step ahead of the Invasion until after it was done.

When we last saw Tezzeret, he was forging himself a Darksteel body in one of the last safehouses of the Infinite Consortium, where he was left without a plan and without a goal.

Thanks for reading this history of Tezzeret. Join me next week when I start to go over his cards, and mechanically examine him.

And tell me what you think of Tezzeret as a character in the comments below!

Until then, please consider donating to my Pattern Recognition Patreon. Yeah, I have a job (now), but more income is always better, and I can use it to buy cards! I still have plans to do a audio Pattern Recognition at some point, or perhaps a Twitch stream. And you can bribe your way to the front of the line to have your questions, comments and observations answered!

This article is a follow-up to Pattern Recognition #310 - Slow Grow 0A - Rules and Deck The next article in this series is Pattern Recognition #312 - Tezzeret the Card

KongMing says... #1

Great article! Thanks for taking us through Magic history.

February 7, 2024 11:41 a.m.

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