Pattern Recognition #312 - Tezzeret the Card

Features Opinion Pattern Recognition


15 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!

And welcome back! Today, I'm going to be going down the various versions of Tezzeret that have appeared in the game so far in chronological order. Thankfully, there's only eight of him, unlike some others I could mention - CHANDRA, so this should be fairly easy to go over.

Tezzeret the Seeker

As part of the second 'batch' of Planeswalkers, Tezzeret was placed into direct opposition to Jace Beleren from the previous block of Lorwyn/Shadowmoor. He was more expensive by , but held an alternate focus for his abilities than Jace's card draw. Tezzeret starts this off with his +1, which untaps two artifacts. This goes infinite with The Chain Veil and the Chromatic Orrery, as you can activate this ability to untap those two artifacts, and tap them again to give him another activation. This give you infinite mana and infinite Planeswalker activations. And honestly, in formats with mana rocks, or just big artifact creatures, or stuff you want to tap in general, this is a very good effect, especially as it upticks his loyalty.

His second ability is a -X, where you search your library for an artifact with a mana value of or less, and put it into play. Not into your hand. Into play.

Step back for a moment. Would you play a Sorcery that cost and read "Search your Library for an artifact with a mana value of 4 or less, and put it into play then shuffle" to be worthwhile? If the answer is yes, then you can understand that this ability is the one that drives most of $20.00 value in this day and age. And in the block he was printed in, he synergized aggressively well with the Esper cards in Standard. And in formats like Modern and Commander, I've been told that Tezzeret is played explicitly as a fetch card for The One Ring. It's that powerful, and that useful.

As for his last ability, for -5, he turns all Artifacts you control into 4/4 Creatures. This turns all your mana rocks, all your Treasures and everything. Now, this doesn't change their abilities, but it does set their power and toughness, so your Blightsteel Colossus wouldn't be an 11/11, it would be a 5/5. In addition, this also activates your Vehicles at that power and toughness in case you have those! This is a huge advantage for wide-based strategies, as you can roll out your tokens and such and just slam through with far more attackers than defenders.

Tezzeret the Seeker was a good card in his native environment, and he's maintained his relevance where he's legal ever since on the grounds of his second ability. He may not be spectacular by any means, but he's still a solid choice for decks that roll artifacts in this day and age. If you can get him without breaking the bank, give him a whirl! (But not a Whir of Invention)

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

His second card, from Mirrordin Bseiged, shows him as he was an active servant of Nicol Bolas at the time, and how he's gained his second colour because of it. From there, his first ability is quite useful, allowing you to look at the top 5 cards of your library for an artifact, reveal it and put it into your hand. I will not Gainsay this at all, as it's respectable, and if you're already into topdeck manipulation, this puts four or five cards to the bottom of your library in the process, allowing you to clear some chaff.

His second ability needs a moment to clarify something that's not printed on the card. For -1, he turns an artifact into a 5/5 creature. This is NOT until the end of the turn, and lasts until the permanent leaves the battlefield. How would you like a 5/5 Darksteel Forge? I would, as it's a great blocker!

But the real meat of his card is his last ability. For a very easy to acquire -4, Tezzeret causes one player to lose life and you gain that amount equal to the number of artifacts you control. This sort of drain effect is more famous on Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but this Tezzeret can rapidly grow all out of proportion if he's allowed to build a friendly collection of artifacts. And much like his previous version, the proliferation of token artifacts, like Clue Food or Treasure make this far and away more powerful as time goes on. In fact, I know he's showing up in Missyfoil decks as a backup for people who want to double-down on her damage and drain effects.

For his second outing, Tezzeret maintained his Artifact affinity (actually, that's later), and kept rewarding people for playing artifacts. The problem was his colours, as while is a solid choice for that card type and supporting it, his didn't do anything for it, and could in fact be a hindrance as and moved in that direction as well, a trend which would culminate in this nice lady named Saheeli, the Giftedfoil. :)

Tezzeret the Schemer

After a long time out of the spotlight, Tezzeret returned in Aether Revolt with this card. It's... I don't know what to feel about is as his first ability makes a Etherium Cell, which is functionally a Treasure. In fact, a quick check on the token reveals that this is the only time they are made, and this Tezzeret is the only card that makes them! But it's still a Treasure. We all know what to do with those.

For -2, he tones down his previous version's final ability and turns it into targeted removal, by giving a creature -X/-X until the end of the turn, where X is the number of artifacts you control.

Look, he was printed in Kaladesh/Aether Revolt. You didn't need to uptick him to start killing things, and I remember having fun with him and Marionette Master because they just fed each other so well. And if you're running him, you're going to have artifacts anyways, so why not? He can remove and still have 3 as a buffer to survive to his next turn.

His final ability feels to me like a weaker version of Agent of Bolas's -1 as you pay a much larger up front cost and you still only get one artifact creature per turn. You would need seven turns with that to make up for the Loyalty investment. I mean, I'm sure that someone has run the math on the comparison between the two abilities, but I just don't see it as viable.

In summary, this version of Tezzeret is party to what I see as a general trend in toning down Planeswalkers away from being game-ending with their Ultimate abilities, and if you play this guy as a Treasure maker, you won't be hurting your board state at all. But he's not great, and is still hamstrung by his colors for the same reason as his predecessor.

Tezzeret, Master of Metal

Concurrent with his Aether Revolt printing, Wizards printed this version of Tezzeret in the Standard-legal "Planeswalker Deck", a half-assed predecessor to the Brawl format and decks. It started with Amonkhet, and it was an experiment that makes me want to go back and look over some of those types of product.

Mechanically, his first ability is an upgrade from Agent of Bolas' first ability in that it keeps looking until it hits something, rather that just checking the top five. This certainty is something that can take the guesswork out of the ability, and if you carefully curate what artifacts you have, this will always give you something good.

Moving on, in gaining from Agent of Bolas, he then looses out to it, as his -3 ability is the former's ultimate but without the lifegain aspect to it. Sure, it can fire off the turn that this version of Tezzeret enters the battlefield, but at the same time, it feels more like this is the game-ender on the card, dropping someone's lifetotal down to lethal or close enough to win.

His real ultimate though, for -8, you get to steal all artifacts and creatures an opponent controls. Now this is a definite game ender, and if you are facing this down, just scoop. Don't try to fight it out as unless you're in a multiplayer format where there is someone else who can't handle two massed board states at once, all those things will be thrown at you.

Overpriced and underwhelming. Moving on to better cards!

Tezzeret, Artifice Master

From Jumpstart 2022 and Core 2019, Artifice Master is a return to his roots with a single color and a more pure focus on building up. He borrows from the then-four year old Saheeli and makes a Thopter token on the uptick to help build your limited board state. Sure, he costs , but every little bit helps in the mid game and later. Especially as the token flies!

Finally, his middle ability allow you to draw a card, two if you control three or more artifacts. This is actually a nice ability. Card draw is always a good thing, and double-drawing effectively for free is even better! Of course, you need three artifacts to pull that off, but you're already making them on the uptick, plus whatever else is in your deck, it becomes something that isn't as hard to pull off as you might think. And being on this Tezzeret means your opponent is less likely to react as ... say... Teferi, Temporal Pilgrim. It's nice and balanced. For the most part.

Finally, his last ability has the largest gap from initial loyalty to payment cost. A massive -9 lets you effectively use a Planar Bridge each turn, which is fitting given his relationship with that artifact. Of course, getting to there as it's four turns of uninterrupted up-ticking (without Proliferate stuff going on) before you can fire that off. It's a dream more than an inevitability like his earlier incarnations and their final ability. But if you can, well, pulling out any permanent means a lot of things, as there are a lot of fun cards with enters-the-battlefield effects that you utilize here if you get to it. But remember that it's only once per turn, so plan carefully.

An interesting version of the character, but only being printed in and a core set hurts its design as it was intended to work in that format, or at least tested there. If this had been printed in Standard or something like that, I think the final ability would be probably a -8 or something like that. But it's fine as it is, and if you just use it for card draw and token making, there's nothing wrong with that.

Tezzeret, Cruel Machinist

And just like Aether Revolt, Tezzeret also headlined an alternate Standard legal deck for those who wanted a single product to get into the format or the game. This version was that one, and he's ... not bad? For a start, his uptick is a piece of card draw, which isn't that bad at all. Yes, there are better versions of that ability out there, but it's simple, easy and doesn't actually advance the board state when you activate it, it just gives you another option for later.

His second ability, a 0 does what he does to artifacts, and turns one of them into a 5/5. However, I feel that this ability is something of a trap. You don't move his loyalty upward, and the artifact in question is only like that until your next turn. If you attack with it, it's not around to protect Tezzeret, and you can't slowly build up your Artifact Army like this. I mean, yeah, you get a creature, but then what?

Finally his ultimate ability ... turns your hand into 5/5 artifact creatures? What? I mean, if you're drawing more cards with his ability, and maybe you're playing with Morph/Disguise? But... here's the real problem. They don't have Haste. You are giving up all those cards in your hand and hoping that they will still be there next turn. I just don't see it. Maybe if you've also got an extra turn lined up, it might be more palpable.

In summary? Pass.

Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge

Not actually in War of the Spark, but rather an 'extra' card that was a Buy-a-Box Promo, this Tezzeret is mean and lean and ready to kick everyone's ass in without question.

Like all of the War of the Spark Planeswalkers, he comes to the table with a static ability that, is to be honest here, damn near broken. To whit, he grants all your Creatures and Planeswalkers Affinity for Artifacts. What that means is that the cost to cast Creatures and Planeswalkers is reduced by for each Artifact you control. This includes Artifact Creatures. This cost reduction can be huge to the point of free, and I intend to abuse the hell out of it with Saheeli, the Giftedfoil over the next six weeks, you can be sure of that.

His first activated ability gives him a comfortable 7 loyalty, is a refined version of Agent of Bolas' ultimate. This time, he damages each player, instead of just one, and it only scales to the number of artifacts you have, not to double that amount. Still, this one is definitely more in line with how Commander, the format-[i]de jure[/i] works, and I've seen this card to work an be a lightning rod for removal on the power of this ability alone. I should know, I've been there.

His second ability is also extremely good, as it can recur an artifact from the graveyard to your hand. And if it happens to be a creature as well? Well, Hey, there's that Affinity in question right there. Why not synergize even more? Of course, any sort of Graveyard recursion is good as that artifact, even if it isn't a creature, will help empower his first ability on the next turn as well.

His final ability is... hit or miss. Exiling the top cards of your library puts them out of reach of recursion, but at the same time, any Artifacts in them are put into play. Yes, without Haste, which is a constant problem, but that's alright. What this does do, is cheat all sorts of artifacts into play, with the usual gambles that come from and topdeck manipulation. You could just get a Shadowspear, you could drop Metalwork Colossus, Myr Battlesphere, Sol Ring, and a Ruin Grinder off of this. Not that I'm planning such a thing, mind you.

Master of the Bridge is a good card, and while it is a little on the expensive side, the Affinity ability more than pays up for that in the short and long term. I should crack one on Arena and see how it plays in Historic Brawl. I respect it.

Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh

From Neon Dynasty, this pre-Phyrexian Super-Invasion Tezzeret drops the from his mana cost now that he's out from being In Bolas's Clutches. Yeah, lame pun, I know. But this is my article, not yours! But he does retain the presence of a static ability from his WAR printing. In this case, reducing the first activation cost of an artifact each turn by . Which means you can crack a Clue or Food each turn for free! But because it only occurs with the first activation each turn, you can't go infinite with Basalt Monolith. Even then, you just have to be careful about ordering of abilities on your turn. Or don't.

Moving on, his actual first ability is a short-changed Thirst for Knowledge. Which, oddly enough, was in the same set. Huh, curious how that works. I can't complain about card draw at all, and the option to discard an Artifact or two non-artifacts is... wait...

Reads Rulings

OK, you can discard two artifacts if you so choose. It's an option. Interesting... But that is a later thing, not a now thing.

Moving on, his second ability returns to the mold of making an artifact a creature permanently, and not just until the end of the turn. With the interesting caveat - because he was in a set with large numbers of them - that if he targets a Vehicle with it, he doesn't change the Vehicle's base power and toughness to 4/4.

Finally, his ultimate ability is damned powerful with an Emblam that turns artifact tapping into card draw. Not just Mana Rocks, but attacking with Artifacts, tapping a Food for life and a whole host of other reasons means that you will be drawing cards quite easily. Getting to it might be a pain, but once you do, it's a solid supplement to everything an artifact deck can do.

Having gone over all eight of these cards now, I can say some things about all them. His mono- cards are the most coherent and cohesive. It's when he's splashed into that he starts to lose focus and viability in its own way. He's great in Artifact decks when he can fit, and his Master of the Bride version is a walking crime against your opponents, that's for sure. But fitting him into a deck can be tricky. But when he does? Whoo-BOY will he do work.

As a character, I think he's been fun. As a Secondary, or arc villain he's quite viable in my view, and his control over the Infinite Consortium would have made for an interesting counter-balance to the growing power of the Gatewatch, each faction led by a -affiliated Planeswalker. But instead we got Eldrazi, Nicol Bolas and the Phyrexians. sigh Such a waste.

I like Tezzeret. I respect him. I just wish he was more than just ... B-tier.

But there is more time for Tezzeret to come into his own, he is still alive, and his Spark is Status: Unknown, so there's always a chance for him or his machinations to rise again.

Thanks for sticking with me. I'm not sure what my article will be like next week, but in two weeks it's my first Slow Grow review! I'm feeling hyped about that, so we'll see!

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 #311 - Tezzeret The next article in this series is Pattern Recognition #313 - Slow Grow 5, Weeks 1 and 2

Necramus says... #1

I have to say, I agree with your assessment entirely. I absolutely love Tezzeret, Master of the Bridge. I built an entire deck around him (Esper Artifacts with Oloro at the helm, til Urza, Chief Artificer came out). Check it out, if you wish. Seems like it would've been a deck you enjoyed. the deck

February 12, 2024 11:11 a.m.

berryjon says... #2

Sorry everyone, nothing new this week. So to keep my space on the front page filled, I'm just going to re-up this article. Don't you love it when work goes sideways?

February 15, 2024 8:41 a.m.

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