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Priemer’s Primers: Tezzerator: Judgment Day

Written by Tyler Priemer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Priemer’s Primers:  Tezzerator:  Judgment Day

Tyler Priemer

Tyler has been playing TCGs for nearly 20 years. A long brewer with a knack for Legacy, there's nothing he loves more than making crazy decks a reality

Have you ever wondered what happens when you mash control, combo, and prison all into one deck? Historically, the safest route to deckbuilding has been to stick to one or two methods of attack and do them really, really well. Trying to jam too many strategies into a deck tends to spread itself too thin. However, there is one deck in Legacy that manages to make it all work. UB Tezzerator is an artifact-based deck that gives players the flexibility to run a control game, a combo beatdown, and a hardlock prison game simultaneously, effortlessly shifting between strategies as the game needs. Centred around the power of Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas and his ability to dig through the top of your deck for whatever powerhouse artifact you may need, Tezzerator has proven time and again that it is a force to be reckoned with.

The maindeck revolves around three core strategies: The first is to use your planeswalkers, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Jace, the Mind Sculptor, and Tezzeret the Seeker to tutor and dig into powerful artifacts while giving you incremental card advantage that will eventually bury the opponent. The second is the combo of Thopter Foundry and Sword of the Meek, which is so good at locking out fair decks that it was banned in Modern. With both in play, you can sacrifice the Sword for however much mana you can produce to generate a life and a 1/1 flying thopter token. This creates both a brick wall for the opposition and an ever growing air force to beat them down. The third mode of attack is to lock out the opponent from doing anything through Chalice of the Void and your fast mana such as Ancient Tomb. Since so much of Legacy hinges on 1-drops, a turn 1-2 Chalice of the Void can shut off the majority of a lot of decks. As well, Ensnaring Bridge is a great card for keeping aggressive decks on the backburner as you drop your hand into play.

Through the combination of these three gameplans, Tezzerator can shift between modes as the game progresses. Typically you want the game to start off with a prison card like Chalice of the Void to turn off the opponent’s early cards, then ramp into a planeswalker on turn 3 and start digging out the Thopter combo or build up into their ultimate abilities. Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is the most desirable ultimate since it often ends the game simply by virtue of having a decent board presence, but even using Tezzeret the Seeker to turn your Dimir Signets and Seat of the Synod into 5/5s is an acceptable means of ending the game.

One card that does wonders in Tezzerator and really helps tie the whole deck together is Transmute Artifact. Don’t let the wall of text confuse you, since it’s been errata’d into something much simpler. For two Blue mana and sacrificing an artifact, you get to search your deck for an artifact and put it into play. If the new artifact has a higher mana cost than the sacrificed artifact, then you have to pay the difference, but considering how much mana this deck can produce, this is rarely an issue. What’s great about it is it allows the deck to turn any random mana rock into a threatening combo piece or lockdown card, which means the deck can run fewer copies of its more powerful cards since this pseudo-Tinker can fetch them out. Another powerful and multifaceted card is Baleful Strix. Not only does this card cantrip, but it also acts as the perfect Tarmogoyf repellent due to its deathtouch ability. As well, due to being an artifact it’s both tutorable and fodder for Transmute Artifact, and can even get pumped by Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas’s -1 ability to turn it into a 5/5 flier for those quick and dirty beatdowns.


Because of the raw drawing power of Tezzerator and the tutor effects of Transmute Artifact and Tezzeret the Seeker, the sideboard is able to run a variety of 1-of silver bullet cards. While these silver bullets may vary from build to build, the stock list typically runs a package of Trinisphere, Lodestone Golem, Pithing Needle, and Grafdigger’s Cage. Trinisphere and Lodestone Golem are fantastic for hating out spell-heavy combo decks like Storm, Reanimator, and Dredge, with the latter acting as a large beatstick to clock the opponent while taxing their mana. Trinisphere is one of the most complex cards in Magic, so much so that it even has its own layer of applying effects, and it’s the perfect card for shutting down land-light decks like Delver and Shardless BUG as well as combo. Legacy is notorious for decks shaving land slots for more cheap spells, so resolving a Trinisphere is often effectively saying “You don’t get to play spells any more”.

Pithing Needle is a surgical tool for picking off problem permanents that can mess with some of our strategies. For example, naming Sensei’s Divining Top renders half of Miracles’ infamous CounterTop lockdown plan useless. Other uses include turning off Thespian’s Stage against Lands, Aether Vial against Merfolk and Death & Taxes, and even planeswalkers like Liliana of the Veil. The sheer versatility of Pithing Needle makes it one of the most played sideboard cards in the format, and when Tezzeret can make it attack for 5 damage, that’s just value. Rounding out the package is Grafdigger’s Cage, the premier graveyard hate card in Legacy for non-White decks. For just a single mana you can shut off Reanimator and Dredge decks, as well as decks looking to abuse Green Sun’s Zenith, [card]Snapcaster Mage, and even [card]Past in Flames. What sets [card]Grafdigger’s Cage apart is that it isn’t a one-shot card like [card]Tormod’s Crypt or [card]Nihil Spellbomb, so it’s much harder to play around.

Speaking of graveyard hate, Tezzerator often employs a set of Leyline of the Void to shut down graveyard decks that often combo off before they can even find a Grafdigger’s Cage, but the Leyline also serves a far more insidious purpose. When combined with Helm of Obedience, another artifact you can conveniently tutor for, you can exile the opponent’s deck for just a single mana. Because of the way that Helm is worded, by paying one mana you will mill the top card of the opponent’s deck, but because nothing actually went to their graveyard due to the Leyline, the Helm will repeat the process until there is nothing left to mill. While this sideboard combo is a no-brainer against other combo decks, it’s also wonderful for closing out games against slower control decks like Miracles and Lands.

The sideboard also runs several non-artifacts, just in case you were thinking it was some one-trick pony. Flusterstorm acts as a catch-all for counterspell-heavy decks like Delver as well as rendering all of Storm’s hard work useless for a single mana. Drown in Sorrow is the deck’s means of board wiping swarms of smaller creatures in Elves and Death & Taxes which tend to have 2 or less toughness. Because there is so many mana rocks in the deck, you can actually spend the three mana to cast it rather than run Massacre and hope that they both control a Plains and you control a Swamp. Considering how many lands the deck has that aren’t Swamps, sometimes the more expensive option is actually the better one. For everything that doesn’t die to Drown in Sorrow, such as Tarmogoyf and Knight of the Reliquary, there is Damnation. The Black Wrath of God does everything you need in a board wipe, especially against normally resilient cards like Thrun, the Last Troll out of Maverick. Finally, Vendilion Clique gives the deck some additional support against combo decks and Miracles by providing information, disruption, and a clock for a very low mana investment. For those rare occasions where Tezzerator is the beatdown, Vendilion Clique is a valuable asset.


Right off the bat the majority of combo matches are in your favour since you have so many means of locking them out of the game. Playing Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere against something like Storm is basically game over, and it only gets better postboard. Decks like Miracles pose a challenge, but since the majority of Tezzerator’s spells range between 2-4CMC, CounterTop doesn’t do as much against it. You simply resolve a planeswalker and start out-drawing them until you can fire off an ultimate. As well, Aggro decks like Maverick and Death & Taxes are also fairly manageable due to the presence of Ensnaring Bridge in the maindeck and the lifegain from Thopter Foundry.

Tezzerator’s bad matchups tend to be either decks that can interact with its defensive cards, or strip away its hand. This is why Jund and Shardless BUG can be problematic, as they have cards like Abrupt Decay and Hymn to Tourach to disrupt our gameplans. Also, there are some decks that use several of the same cards as us, but operate both bigger and faster. Decks like MUD and TitanPost can ramp even faster than we can with our mana rocks, and the recent trend of running Ugin, the Spirit Dragon can put a damper on your planeswalkers. These decks even have maindeck ways of answering defensive cards like Ensnaring Bridge, such as Spine of Ish Sah and Repeal, so Tezzerator can get overrun fairly easily. It’s primarily a matter of establishing a strong control game and disrupting their key creatures with Force of Will and Jace, the Mind Sculptor’s bounce ability until we can get a combo going.


You should build Tezzerator if you prefer flexibility and options in your Legacy matches. Tezzerator has a fair amount of game against a wide variety of matches, and the card drawing power to actually find the proper answers to what the opponent is throwing at you. The versatility of Tezzerator’s gameplans allows it to switch from control deck to combo to even beatdown as the game sees fit, so you’re never without a way of winning. So if you’re in the market for a fun and flexible control deck, sleeve up Tezzerator if you want to win!

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