Standard hasn’t been very welcoming to combo decks of late, but there is one combo deck in new Standard I’ve been enjoying. Teshar Combo has existed in various forms for a while (even using Walking Ballista at some point), but the pickups of Teferi, Time Raveler and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries are absolutely huge for the deck.
4 Drowned Catacomb 3 Glacial Fortress 4 Godless Shrine 4 Hallowed Fountain 1 Isolated Chapel 4 Watery Grave 1 Island 1 Swamp 3 Chamber Sentry 4 Diligent Excavator 4 Fblthp, the Lost 4 Lazav, the Multifarious 4 Militia Bugler 4 Rona, Disciple of Gix 4 Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle 4 Mox Amber 4 Teferi, Time Raveler 3 Jace, Wielder of Mysteries Sideboard 3 Deputy of Detention 3 Suncleanser 3 Oath of Kaya 3 Sorin, Vengeful Bloodlord 3 Plaguecrafter
How Teshar Combo Works
First things first, let’s break down how the infinite loops in this deck actually work. They all involve a Teshar (or Lazav, the Multifarious copying Teshar), one Rona, Disciple of Gix on the battlefield, and one Rona in your graveyard, so I’m going to leave that part out of each example as it’s a given:
- 2 Chamber Sentry, 1 Diligent Excavator: Play a Rona, exiling Chamber Sentry. Cast it for x=0, returning the other Rona with Teshar and milling yourself for 2. Keep the newly returned Rona with the legend rule, and you’ve ended up back where you started, except you’re up a couple of cards milled. Eventually you’ll be able to loop Mox Ambers instead of Chamber Sentries, netting infinite mana, allowing you to get Jace on the battlefield for the win. You can also mill your opponent instead, but the Jace line is safer against Nexus of Fate, Experimental Frenzy, or your opponent killing you on their upkeep.
- 1 Chamber Sentry, 2 Mox Amber, and almost anything: Loop Rhonas, exiling Mox Amber when possible and floating mana with them. At some point you will be in a situation where one Mox is on the stack and the other is in play. Exile the Chamber Sentry when this happens. This loop gives you infinite historic triggers and infinite mana which means a win with Diligent Excavator. There’s also the potential to infinitely recur any 2 copies of a legendary card for a win, like Jace, Sorin, or Oath of Kaya.
- 2 Mox Amber and either 2 Lazav, 2 Fblthp, or 2 Teferi: This loop works similar to the above one, but instead of getting a Sentry when you can’t get a Mox, you get one of these legendary permanents. For Fblthp and Lazav, you simply use the two mana generated by the Moxen to combo. For Teferi, you can make it essentially cost two by bouncing your own Mox in between.
- 3 Mox Amber: This works pretty much the same as the 1 Sentry, 2 Amber loop, but with more Moxen.
In addition to card draw and scrying, the deck can find the pieces for these combos by milling itself with either Jace or Diligent Excavator. Any piece of these combos can be just as effective in the graveyard as it is in your hand; Lazav can copy binned Teshars, Teshar can return Rhonas, and Rona can cover the rest.
Believe it or not, my favorite part of this deck isn’t the combo games. The deck plays out quite well as a midrange deck. The same value creatures that allow for your combos can also buy time, poke at planeswalkers, and pressure control decks. The deck also has seven planeswalkers of its own to pull ahead on cards. In some grindy matchups, I board down to almost no ways to actually combo!
While I like the current version of the deck, there are a lot of cards that deserve some consideration. Stitcher’s Supplier is a nice way to fill your graveyard, but I believe it’s a bit low-impact in games where you aren’t comboing. Sorin can also move from the sideboard to the main in a more graveyard-centric build. Tamiyo, Collector of Tales would be the perfect card for this deck, but I’m reluctant to splash a fourth color.
Tips and Tricks
In addition to the various combos, there are a lot of interactions worth knowing in this deck. You’re going to be faced with a lot of tough decisions, and you need to decide things quickly (especially if faced with the Arena timer). Here are a few things you’ll run into regularly:
- Even if you don’t have an infinite loop, looping Rhonas back and forth with Teshar can lead to a lot of value. Look for opportunities to turn mana into cards this way.
- Hold onto Mox Amber and Chamber Sentry as long as possible. Save them for Teshar, even if you have something like Excavator out.
- Be careful about milling your opponent out if they have Nexus in their deck, Experimental Frenzy in play, or the potential to burn you out in their upkeep. Mill yourself out and make enough mana to play a Jace to win instead.
- Try to minus Sorin pretty aggressively so that you don’t get too punished if he dies somehow.
- You usually want to go for Lazav first with Teshar triggers since it can copy Teshar if Teshar dies.
- You can have a Lazav copying Teshar and a Teshar in play for double the fun since Lazav retains its name and thus avoids the legendary rule.
- Teferi should bounce Mox Amber more than enemy creatures. The extra mana and historic triggers are crucial.
Despite the fact that you usually win games with the combo, this matchup is all about value and grinding. Militia Bugler is your best card and the best thing to return with Teshar. Use your random creatures to pressure their planeswalkers as best you can.
If they don’t have Hero of Precinct One:
Grinding gets easier in post board games with Sorin. They are going to be killing and making you discard your creatures, so the self mill from Excavator is less important.
This is your best matchup as they are slow and not very disruptive. Chump block to buy time when needed. The biggest threat is a fast Nissa, Who Shakes the World pressuring your life total, but it generally won’t be enough.
Sorin is certainly a possible option in this matchup, but I honestly think your best chance of winning is simply resubmitting your game-1 60. The good news is they won’t have much to board in either.
The exile part of Lava Coil can be frustrating, as is the fact that their pressure comes in the air making it unchumpable. That said, they aren’t the fastest at clocking and they don’t have infinite disruption. Grinding is still important, but you do have to go a little faster this time.
Deputy isn’t an all-star here, but I think it’s worth bringing in. Their removal will be pretty taxed already, and you can always reanimate Deputy with Teshar.
Mono-Red seems like it should be a pretty rough matchup, but I’ve been impressed by Teshar’s game here. A lot of the creatures in this deck have pretty high toughness, and blocking your way to victory is not uncommon.
Bringing in a ton of removal allows you to grind out mono red a little better without having to worry about Steam-Kin running away with the game. Teferi isn’t horrible here, but I feel like the planeswalkers are still a bit vulnerable. Fblthp gets the axe so you don’t get Chainwhirlired too badly.
I hope this look at Teshar combo has been helpful. While I don’t think this is the best deck in Standard, I do think it’s quite playable, and it’s definitely a great time. Until next time, loop to your heart’s content.