tezzerator old schoo

A few years back, when I started playing extended… Ok, make that many years back! There was a deck named ‘Tezzerator’ and it was full of artifact control cards to put a stranglehold on the game before eventually winning with Tezzeret, the Seeker’s -5 ability:

tezz ultimateArtifacts assemble!

Getting to that point in the game is not going to be easy, but we’ve got just a bit of card draw, some tutoring and a few counters to get there. It’s a little list from a year ago that somewhat performed well online, but it might not be up to snuff for the current Modern metagame. After all, in extended, Tezz’s +1 ability could actually generate mana (artifact lands were not banned at that point). Nowadays, we need a Darksteel Citadel and a Mox Opal to do that kind of thing. Still, his +1 is not just for show…



Modern Format

Creatures: 9
3 Spellskite
4 Trinket Mage
2 Vendilion Clique

Instants: 9
2 Cryptic Command
3 Spell Snare
4 Thirst for Knowledge

Sorceries: 2
2 Serum Visions

Planeswalkers: 3
3 Tezzeret, the Seeker

Artifacts: 13
2 Chalice of the Void
2 Engineered Explosives
1 Ensnaring Bridge
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Mox Opal
1 Pithing Needle
1 Pyrite Spellbomb

1 Relic of Progenitus
1 Torpor Orb
2 Vedalken Shackles
Lands: 24
2 Academy Ruins
1 Breeding Pool
1 Darksteel Citadel
1 Forest
8 Island
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Scalding Tarn
2 Steam Vents
2 Tectonic Edge

1 Spellskite
1 Vendilion Clique
4 Firespout
2 Echoing Truth
2 Counterflux
3 Blood Moon
1 Back to Nature
1 Trinisphere


The deck is very light on actual threats, so you can’t really go around spamming your artifacts and draw spells. Tezzeret is pretty awesome because he can almost instantly protect himself the turn he comes into play, thanks to this little toy:

ensnaring bruidgeOldie but a goodie

He then stays at 1 loyalty and begins to ramp his way back up ever so slowly. Another thing that’s pretty neat is that you can still get to put artifacts in play with his ability through your own Chalice of the Void. So you can cast say, a Pithing Needle and have it get countered. You then put the Pithing Needle back on top of your deck with Academy Ruins. Lastly, go ahead and -1 Tezzeret, the Seeker to put the Pithing Needle into play from your deck. Tada! It’s magic!

The problem card nowaydays is Abrupt Decay. It can’t really be dealt with in this deck other than spamming Spellskites (also just an awesome card). You can ‘Negate’ one Abrupt Decay per Spellskite, so keep spamming. Also, don’t hesitate to put your Spellskites back on top of your deck with Academy Ruins. You can never have enough out if you need to protect your Ensnaring Bridge. Obviously, you could always just put the Bridge back on top as well. Both cards are also very effective at fighting the Pestermite/Splinter Twin combo, though not 100% fool-roof. You can always lose your Spellskites to Flame Slash or have your Ensnaring Bridge bounced via Cryptic Command. It’s funny actually, because that’s something you end up doing in order to win right before Tezzeret’s ultimate: Cryptic Command to tap their team and bounce Ensnaring Bridge. You then are free to attack past their tapped would-be blockers.

cryptic commandC’est bon!

One thing I really don’t like is the Relic of Progenitus. I believe that a Tormod’s Crypt or Nihil Spellbomb (maybe adding a Watery Grave instead of one of the other duals in the main deck). You can at least recur the Spellbomb and Crypt, but not the Relic. Usually a Relic of Progenitus activation is sometimes enough, but not always. Against a deck like Living End it might not do the job early on and they can always respond to it late game with a Violent Outburst Cascade (into the deck’s namesake : Living End). Unfortunately, even the other graveyard hate card is not efficient in dealing with them. Grafdigger’s Cage does nothing against Living End, since their creatures are exiled before they are put into play. Torpor Orb does a wee bit, but nothing great. Chalice of the Void at 0, however, is pretty darn good. At that point they will need to draw a Beast Within to deal with the Chalice, or just regular cast all their guys.

I haven’t played the deck much to really analyze any of the common match-ups and I feel that it’s always good to let people figure things out on their own. The deck is maybe on some people’s deck-building radar, but probably not a real contender at the moment. Still, the fun is always about trying a bunch of decks out and seeing what fits your play style more or seeing if you can tweak some failed experiments and turn them into success stories. Maybe with he new/old fetchlands becoming Modern-legal, the deck will have new life breathed into it. While I don’t really mind Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas much… I do prefer the original.

tezz older artSpeaking of original…

Modern Tezzerator

tezzerator modern


by Francis ‘ACE’ Jodin

Are you the kind of magic player that enjoys winning without turning creatures sideways? Do you like long games consisting of denying your opponent from doing anything? Then i might have something for you!

Prison-style decks have seen play in Vintage and in Legacy, but in Modern there doesn’t seem to be any equivalent. Most likely because all the broken enchantments, lands and artifacts are too old. Well, most of them. There is one card that can lock your opponent from doing things if his deck is about winning with creatures:

ensnaring bridg

Think of it as proactive creature control

Now if we are to take full advantage of this infamous artifact, we first need to be able to empty out our hand quickly. The traditional draw-go control style, were we hold on to removal and counters does not synergize with Ensnaring Bridge. We want to play mostly cheap permanents. We also want our permanents to hate out our opponent’s strategy. Turns out many cheap artifacts do just that. We also need a way to win and Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is probably the best way to do do that with artifacts while hiding behind a Bridge.

This is my current list:

Engines: 9

1 Expedition Map

2 Thopter Foundry

1 Crucible of Worlds

3 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

2 Trading Post

Control: 13

3 Engineered Explosives

2 Pithing Needle

1 Lantern of Insight

1 Codex Shredder

1 Scroll of Griselbrand

3 Ensnaring Bridge

2 Liliana of the Veil

Cantrips: 6

3 Chromatic Star

2 Scroll of Avacyn

1 Nihil Spellbomb

Acceleration: 2

1 Mox Opal

1 Talisman of Dominance

Creatures: 7

3 Spellskite

4 Trinket Mage

Lands: 23

4 Darkslick Shores

4 River of Tears

2 Glimmervoid

1 Island

1 Swamp

1 Bojuka Bog

1 Tolaria West

4 Mutavault

1 Darksteel Citadel

1 Ghost Quarter

1 Tectonic Edge

1 Buried Ruin

1 Academy ruins


4 Surgical Extraction

4 Chalice of the Void

2 Defense Grid

2 Pithing Needle

1 Grafdigger’s Cage

1 Executioner’s Capsule

1 Welding Jar

tezzeret the seeker

Notably absent from the deck

I’ve seen some lists run Tezzeret the Seeker instead of Agent of Bolas. I’m not sure which is best but Bolas can provide a steady stream of card advantage and can quickly win the game with a +1 followed by a -4. We don’t want to give our opponents more time than required to find answers! Also, sometimes you’ll win the game with a few activations of his -1. With an artifact in play, he can actually protect himself if you don’t have a bridge. Making a Darksteel Citadel into an indestructible 5/5 can be a powerful play.

tezz minus 1

Make some beefy protectors

The hate

Artifacts are good at hating. I have selected those that are best against the widest array of decks.

engineered explosives


Explosives can pretty much answer most of the commonly played permanents in theModern  format. We can make x = 3 or 4 with some Chromatic Stars, Mox Opal and Glimmervoids. We just make sure we don’t blow some of your own important stuff! Also, in a pinch your can cast them for zero if you need to empty your hand for Ensnaring Bridge or need that extra artifact for Tezz’s ultimate to get lethal damage.

tezz ultimate

That’s pretty ‘Ultimate’

Pithing Needle is totally maindekc-worthy in a deck like this. Just try and think: which modern deck doesn’t use any activated abilities? Yeah, not many. The fact that it can hose lands is a big deal with all these manlands in control/midrange decks. Oh, and remember: Deathrite Shaman’s first ability isn’t actually a mana ability since it targets and therefore uses the stack!  We can even max on Pithing Needles from the sideboard for when you really can’t get enough of them, mainly against Tron and Pod decks.


It’s not even a defender!

Spellskite is another maindeckable “hate” card, even in a creature-light deck. First of all, it is a 0/4, which is nice to have against aggressive decks. Secondly, Abrupt Decay is a card and Spellskite answers it. We don’t want to lose the game to a couple of Tarmogoyfs because your opponent just killed your Ensnaring Bridge ! Lastly, it hates on  some decks: Infect, Kiki Twin, Aura Boggle, burn, and non prismatic omen scapeshift to a lesser extent come to mind.

A single Nihil Spellbomb deserves a spot in this deck. Is is obviously good against graveyard combo decks (glass cannon, living end, melira pod, storm) but also against all black/green/x decks. It is better than relic of progenitus here because we don’t want to exile our own graveyard. Also, it can be sacced to thopter foundry/trading post for extra card draw, when the graveyard hate isn’t so relevant.

Lantern of Insight + Codex Shredder is the last of the hate engine. Usually, if you draw one of the two, you want to fetch the other with a Trinket Mage. Controlling the top deck can win us the game in the long run. When we see something we don’t care about on top of our opponent’s deck, we get the opportunity to filtering our own draw as well. Codex Shredder’s second ability is also actually pretty decent.= as well. We can get back any card, not just artifacts, from our graveyard. For instance : we can ultimate a non-lethal Tezeret, Agent of Bolas if we fear for our life total, then get it back later. It’s also good when Tezzeret gets countered earlier on.

The engines

gears icon

Looks strangely enough like the expansion symbol from another artifact set

Everybody likes card advantage and recursion. Well, this deck is full of that. Aside from Tezz himself, Trading Post does everything we want in this deck. It can discard a card from our hand to keep our Bridge active and gain us precious life points against aggresive decks. It can recycle our non optimal hate artifacts into more juice. It turns any Chromatic Star into a Divination (you draw the card when the Star is put into your graveyard, not when you activate it). Just be careful when you do that, drawing multiple lands can ruin your Ensnaring Bridge lock as it will prevent you from emptying your hand … Lastly, it can recur any artifact in your graveyard by making a Goat Token and sacrificing it on the next turn. Combined with Thopter Foundry, you can recur any artifact. Just sacrifice the artifact to Thopter Foundry (in response to a removal spell, for instance) and then sac the Thopter Token to your Trading Post.

thopter foundry

Not quite as broken as it was with the Modern-banned Sword of the Meek

Speaking of Thopter Foundry, it can actually be a win condition when we hide behind an Ensaring Bridge. Just draw your card for the turn, attack with your token(s) and then play your drawn card on your second main phase! Foundry also turns any Chromatic Star into a “free” token. I’ve won some games by sacrificing all of my board to Foundry during my opponent’s end step and swinging in for lethal on my turn. The lifegain clause  is also relevant and sometimes we’ll also want to produce 1/1 Thopters in order to trade with Modern Affinity’s numerous 1 toughness flyers.

Trinket Mage is soooo good here! He can pretty much find any card we need against any deck in almost any situation. He also sometimes beats for 2 or chump blocks, which isn’t that negligible. Any chunk of life points we can take away from our opponent makes Tezzeret’s Ultimate that much more effective and game-clinching.

Liliana of the Veil does her fair share in this deck. Her +1 ability is often free since we can empty our hand quickly. We can pitch extra lands to her ability thus keeping our Bridge active. Behind a bridge, going  ultimate is a very common occurence for this deck . Her -6 ability is very good against the opposing hate cards, as we can make a pile with hate and another pile with everything else. We can then restart +1’ing  her again for even more value and Bridge protection. Planeswalkers are this deck’s main way of winning through a  Stony Silence (it is quite feasible as  i’ve done it multiple times in the past).

stony silence

On of the many opposing hate cards to be aware of

The lands

The lands play a key role in this deck. Since most of the deck runs on colorless mana, we can afford to play many colorless lands. We still need some color and since we are Blue/Black, we have an alternative to painful shock lands and fetchlands: Darkslick Shores, River of Tears and Glimmervoid (as well as 2 basics)! I’ve played the deck a lot and most of the time the mana is just fine. The singleton Talisman of Progress and Mox Opal help, but we don’t want to draw them in multiples. Also, the Chromatic Stars can fix when you need them to.

darkslick shores river of tears

                                                 The less pricy alternative

Crucible of Worlds turns your special lands into a steady stream of card advantage . Ghost Quarter and Tectonic Edge need no explanation. Buried Ruin is surprisingly effective, turning extra lands into more artifact resources . Academy Ruins works as another recursion engine (and can also randomly wins against mill decks) . We can fetch Academy Ruins with Expedition Map and then get back the map with Academy Ruins in order to  find any land we need!

Mutavault is the most recent addition to the deck. With Crucible of Worlds he is an ‘immortal’ blocker. Much like Trinket Mage, it can ‘Shock‘ our opponent when we have the opportunity. More importantly however, Mutavault works with…

The scrolls !

Yeah, this is my personal secret tech. When Scroll of Griselbrand and Scroll of Avacyn were spoiled, I really wanted to find a deck for them. Playing actual demon + angel tribal seemed pretty bad. That was until I realized that Mutavault is every creature type once activated. Scrolls are actually pretty good with Mutavault. We get to cycle and gain five with Scroll of Avacyn. If we can recur it with Academy Ruins, the scroll also grants us our regualr draw  for the turn as well. You can do the same thing with Scroll of Griselbrand. Instead of replacing our draw, it denies your opponent’s non-instant draw, provided we activate it during his/her draw step! It also takes hits them for 3 ! We need to be cautious with thise strategy though as our opponent can destroy our Mutavault in response to the activation of one of the Scrolls.

Yet even more hate …

The Sideboard must always be adapted to your local metagame, but some cards are essential.

We want a Grafdigger’s Cage somewhere in our 75. It pretty much prevents Birthing Pod decks from working properly. The only game I have lost to Pod with a Cage out was when the pod player topdecked his single Harmonic Sliver and then triple Restoration Angel’ed it the following turns… Yeah, that was really painful! We need Welding Jar for tutorable protection fetched via our Trinket Mage. If we can recur them we can always protect our board from some kind of hate. Defense Grid is pretty good against all those American/UWR decks full of counterspells.

defense grid

Some really really old school hate

Conclusion: should i play this deck?

If the metagame in your area is filled with creatures then i would recommend this deck if you want to try something different. You’ll be crushing your opponent’s hopes and dreams with Ensnaring Bridge, A lot of decks have zero ways of winning the game when this card hits the table (before sideboard). Black/Green/x midrange is harder because of Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse (although i’ve seen some lists without them), but is still winnable. Just be sure to pack some Welding Jars in your sideboard or perhaps even in the main. Scapeshift is probably the deck’s worst matchup, especially the Prismatic Omen version. You pretty much need Crucible of Worlds + Tectonic Edge/Ghost Quarter to beat them. If you see a lot of those in your meta be prepared to have a hard time. Also, be aware that if your opponents are packing some Shatterstorms in their side, you’ll suffer when this spell is randomly cast. It even says “can’t be regenerated” for some reason, as opposed to Creeping Corrosion, making Welding Jar useless!

welding jar

An odd yet effective inclusion to the deck