When a set contains an unprecedented 36 planeswalkers, plus the buy-a-box promo, at least some of them are bound to have Constructed impact.
3 mana planeswalkers have a history of being good, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is a multi-format staple. So naturally, a 3-mana Teferi gets hyped up. Let’s go over his abilities one by one.
Each Opponent Can Cast Spells Only Any Time They Could Cast a Sorcery
The static ability is quite powerful against Mono-Blue Tempo, Esper Control, and Temur Reclamation in Standard. It completely invalidates cards like Dive Down and Absorb, and it makes Wilderness Reclamation less effective. Also, if you resolve Teferi against Sultai Midrange, then your opponent can’t exile it until their next turn, even if they held up mana for Vraska’s Contempt.
In Modern, Teferi could give combo decks a way to beat countermagic, akin to Defense Grid. Moreover, when combined with Possibility Storm or Knowledge Pool, Teferi locks opponents out of ever resolving a spell. Indeed, when your opponent tries to cast a spell via a Possibility Storm or Knowledge Pool trigger, then that trigger is still resolving, which means the stack isn’t empty. Since you can only cast a sorcery when the stack is empty, Teferi says no. For similar reasons, Teferi synergizes well with Spell Queller and Delay.
+1: Until Your Next Turn, You May Cast Sorcery Spells as Though They Had Flash
In Standard, this allows you to cast Thought Erasure in your opponent’s draw step. This could snag a freshly drawn sorcery or creature before they have a chance to cast it. Alternatively, you could play Kaya’s Wrath or Cry of the Carnarium at instant speed, which helps get around haste creatures and could save you some extra points of life.
In Modern, we have even more combo potential. Some ideas:
- Cast Oust in response to a fetchland activation, turning it into a Path to Exile without a drawback.
- Cast Empty the Warrens or Grapeshot during your opponent’s turn, thereby taking advantage of all the spells they cast. I can already imagine an instant-speed Grapeshot stealing a game against Storm.
- Cast Day’s Undoing during your opponent’s end step, yielding a Timetwister where you get the first opportunity to deploy your seven cards.
- Cast Kari Zev’s Expertise mid-combat to gain control of an attacker, which can then block another creature and generate a two-for-one exchange.
There is definitely some potential here, but if I’m being honest, then many these interactions are relatively fringe. It is hard to get some real value out of Teferi’s +1. The +1 abilities of other 3 mana planeswalkers that I’ve played over the years (such as Ajani, Caller of the Pride, Domri Rade, Liliana, the Last Hope, or Nissa, Voice of Zendikar) appear more useful.
-3: Return Up to One Target Artifact, Creature, or Enchantment to its Owner’s Hand. Draw a Card.
In Modern, I’m not sure if Teferi fits into Bant Spirits, but bouncing your own Spell Queller would be kind of sweet, as Teferi’s static ability doesn’t even let them cast the exiled card.
The ability also targets more than just creatures. This means that Modern combo decks such as Ad Nauseam could use it to bounce hate cards like Chalice of the Void or Rule of Law. When you combine that with Teferi’s ability to stop countermagic, he’ll make for an excellent sideboard card in Ad Nauseam and other combo decks.
Teferi is a Powerful Sideboard Card
Teferi is a good card, and I expect he will see play. But I do feel he is a bit over-hyped. Teferi’s +1 seems somewhat lackluster overall. And I looked at Esper Control in Standard, but I didn’t see a card in the main deck that I would want to cut for Teferi, Time Raveler. Esper Control is not the type of tempo deck that could exploit a Drag Under effect.
The value of Teferi’s static ability depends greatly on your opponent’s deck. As such, Teferi looks more like a sideboard card than a main deck inclusion to me. He’s a powerful sideboard card, a possible multi-format sideboard staple even, but my first impression is that Teferi’s abilities are too specific to warrant massive main deck adaptation. Maybe if blue decks are overly popular in the metagame or if you really build around him, but otherwise he looks like a sideboard card to me.
I still want to finish this spotlight article with a deck list, but showing a list with Teferi in the sideboard isn’t particularly exciting. Instead, I’ll show a Modern list where Teferi fills a unique role to support the main game plan.
2 Steam Vents 1 Hallowed Fountain 1 Sacred Foundry 1 Snow-Covered Island 3 Tolaria West 4 Scalding Tarn 4 Flooded Strand 1 Academy Ruins 1 Zoetic Cavern 1 Sulfur Falls 1 Cascade Bluffs 1 Field of Ruin 1 Mountain 1 Plains 2 Island 1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn 1 Endless One 4 Possibility Storm 3 Teferi, Time Raveler 2 Gifts Ungiven 2 Jace, the Mind Sculptor 4 Serum Visions 2 Izzet Charm 1 Sweltering Suns 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Kozilek's Return 1 Oust 1 Faithless Looting 1 Flame Slash 1 Electrolyze 1 Lightning Bolt 1 Remand 1 Condescend 1 Logic Knot 1 Mana Leak 1 Batterskull 1 Vedalken Shackles 1 Engineered Explosives 1 Expedition Map Sideboard 3 Leyline of Sanctity 2 Rest in Peace 2 Stony Silence 1 Gigadrowse 1 Anger of the Gods 1 Shatterstorm 1 Timely Reinforcements 1 Dispel 1 Dovin's Veto 1 Grapeshot 1 Tormod's Crypt
This is an adaptation of the Possibility Storm deck that David Hauser played in Day 2 of Grand Prix Atlanta last year. His main game plan was to stick Possibility Storm, cast Endless One, and turn it into an Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Morphing Zoetic Cavern also works. Tolaria West finds Endless One and supports Gifts Ungiven piles. If you want to learn more, then a brief deck tech was included in this article.
The new aspect is Teferi, who enables the “lock” where opponents can no longer resolve any spells. Although this is surely not a top-tier competitive deck in Modern, it’s a fun option if you like off-beat strategies that exploit weird rules quirks.
What do you think of Teferi? Do you see a Standard deck, perhaps a new one, where Teferi would fit the main deck?