With user ajacobik retiring from the MTG Salvation forums, I’ve requested that I manage his Teferi thread having played with Teferi extensively myself. The Mods graciously acquiesced to my request and transferred ownership of this thread to myself. I’d like to start this Primer by first thanking ajacobik for his extensive research and playtesting as well as the extensive write-up that he’s done.
Let me make something abundantly clear...
This deck is HIGHLY COMPETITIVE.
It wins consistently and in the same way EVERY single time. It’s fast, it’s resilient, and it has a ton of control and card advantage available to it while playing with some of the most broken (and expensive) mana rocks in the game.
This deck is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the newly initiated Commander player or the casual Commander player who likes battle-cruiser style games and strategies.
It is a soul-crushing, massively consistent, Commander tyrant that will enable you to win and shut down your opponents time and time again.
Then let’s get to it.
This is a decklist that every Commander player should be aware of because of how effective it is. It is usually played for money or other prized events at LGS’s and side events at Grand Prix or SCG tournaments. Whether you are interested in building/proxying this decklist for yourself or simply want to scope out the competition, the goal of this thread is to be an informative resource for all Teferi pilots (and their opponents) who want to learn strategy, discuss card choices, share game reports, and discuss opposing competitive Commander decks.
As Teferi learned while trapped in the Tolarian time-bubble, a lot can happen in a short time. In the months that I’ve played this deck personally, and with ajacobik’s experience as well, close to 200 games of this deck have been played in paper and nearly 350 online games have been played. If you trust nothing else in this write-up, trust that this Commander has been played EXTENSIVELY, and in that time many, many cards have been tested and discarded. If you find that you disagree with my opinions or see flaws in the commentary, let’s talk in the thread and discuss why you think and feel the way you do!
If you'd like to learn more about our enigmatic, bald (or balding, depending on the art) Commander and the impact he's had on the MTG storyline, I refer you to his bio. He's grown up quite a bit from the prankster student he used to be at the Tolaria academy.
I'm 27 years old and have been playing Magic since I was about 13. The first color I played was black and that's because I stared at an Avatar of Woe across the table when I was watching my friend play some green-white goodstuff deck and immediately decided I wanted that card to be in my future deck. Black has been my primary color since, and I have a particular affinity for Zombie tribal. Oh, Soulless One. I took a break after Mirrodin came out when Affinity crushed my nascent dreams of winning an FNM tourney. Deeply saddened at all the Arcbound Ravagers and Myr Enforcers running around, I sold my cards (regret) and decided to learn about girls with the same intensity I had devoted to Magic. Still can't figure them out. Anyways.
I got back into Magic when Lorwyn/Morningtide block came out. Looking to get back into the competitive tourney scene, I decided to buy Faeries before their prices spiked super high with the birthday money I was given after me and my friend (at the time) looked at this site when it spoiled Morningtide. He told me that Faeries was gonna be big after looking at Vendilion Clique and recommended I buy them. My only mistake? I forgot to buy Bitterblossom. When it was only $10. Sigh. And with its attendant spike in price to nearly $80 at one point, I was closed out of getting the complete faerie list. I cried, along with everyone else, at the despotic reign of Faeries over the Competitive scene. But, I did learn to sling Cryptic Command like a boss. It was the first blue spell I loved to cast. "Counter, draw" became a very familiar phrase in my vocabulary. "Tap your dudes, draw, my turn?" was another favorite expression.
And then 5CC was introduced. I proxied it up and fell in love with it, and then went and bought the cards. It had the draw-go feel and sense of control that I had spent my entire Magic career looking for. Casting Cruel Ultimatum gave me thrills of pleasure and I relished the power, and wins, I was having.
And then Jace, the Mind Sculptor was printed. I immediately got three copies of that bad boy at $25 a pop and threw him into my deck. Holla at yo boi! Blue became my equally favored color, and I had a great time Jace'ing people of the game, brainstorming for free, and countering their stuff. Once 5CC rotated out, I waved goodbye to Standard and its never-ending money pit and jumped into Legacy with Dredge. I decided that there were some pretty cool cards in the older sets I had never even heard of that I wanted to play. I built Dredge, cleaned up unprepared metas with it, and chuckled at all those silly people with Force of Will in their decks.
And then I heard about it.
A format where you could only have one of any card in a 100 card deck. A format where you could basically play any card ever printed. A format where Avatar of Woe was actually a good card. Intrigued, I played with my friend's deck for my first game and was instantly addicted. No other format has since come close to captivating me as thoroughly as EDH/Commander has. It's now the only thing I play, unless I'm helping a friend test some Legacy, or, heaven forbid, Standard. My first competitive deck was Vorosh, the Hunter, and it was the first BUG deck in our group. My deck was top tier in our group, probably one of the best, aside from a Bant deck with Jenara, Asura of War at the helm (respectful nod to AJ Antonelli) and my best friend's deck (Sorry Dan Steele. I don't remember if your Damia was built then...). I've since branched out into mono-colors and love brewing EDH decks. Aside from reading and watching movies with friends, this is my favorite pastime. I am pleasantly social yet a very competitive player who takes losing in stride. Life is good and I love this game. Good job, Richard Garfield, for making this game.
Then in January of 2015 I finally went on a date with my now wife, Katie Leigh. She is a sassy brunette who is displaced from her Southern mannerisms and personality here in Delaware. The date was magical, one of those moments where time went infinite. I truly went head over heels for her and it's been an incredible relationship. She even allowed me to teach her how to play MTG! We were married in July 2015 and it was a magical day. Pun absolutely intended. We've since bought a house together and, very shortly after getting married, had our son Paxton join our family. He is 18 months old and is a handsome son. Leaving him every day for work is really hard and I love him and Katie so much.
A pleasure to meet you and I hope that you have a similarly wonderful experience finding a partner for life!
While the reasons are many, in my mind it all comes down to how compact Teferi’s win condition is: The Chain Veil. That’s it. Just one card, plus some mana rocks, and you’ll be able to draw your deck and win. The exact combo will be explained in full detail just a little later, but this is the primary reason why I’ve played Teferi over Memnarch for as many months as I have.
Let's take a look at the other three top-tier mono-blue decks one at a time, and go over why I personally prefer Teferi over the others.
Arcum Dagsson – Arcum is a fast engine-based stax/combo list, like Teferi, but with a few weaknesses that I personally dislike. Arcum's strategy requires you to play a certain density of creatures, many of which are inefficient mana rocks, and also requires you to break them with Arcum to start your engines. This requirement means that both artifact removal and creature removal are capable of shutting your Arcum activations off. There is also the fact that you either need to dedicate deck space to providing haste for your commander or deck space for more counterspells to ensure he survives a round. Overall the deck has too many cards that either don't do enough on their own or are poor top-decks for my taste. Even with the printing of the glorious Paradox Engine, and with an update to its primary combo via Citanul Flute, Arcum still has some glaring weaknesses that I don’t enjoy playing around.
Azami, Lady of Scrolls - Where Arcum plays a bunch of bad 2-drop, tap-for-1 dudes, Azami plays a bunch of mediocre wizards to encourage her engine. The deck is also not as heavy on the artifact theme as I like. Another issue is that pretty much every Azami list looks exactly alike (especially following the printing of Paradox Engine), and I wanted a commander who was relatively new so I could go in my own direction and take some creative license in my card choices. While nearly every competitive Teferi deck does win with The Chain Veil, my build is a little different from other primers out there; Azami players often lack that liberty.
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy - High Tide is my favorite Legacy deck, and Jace uses and abuses its titular card better than any other commander. Despite that, Jace suffers from the same weaknesses as many other storm decks in that he can't really fight dedicated stax strategies. I chose Teferi over Jace because he let me play my High Tide while maintaining the ability to fight through and create hostile board states.
Memnarch – Memnarch is the deck I have the most experience playing. While it's not the most competitive Commander deck, in comparison to the other three mentioned, I feel that Memnarch should at least get an honorable mention (I may or may not be a little biased...). It uses the same type of Engine triggers to generate a ton of mana output and then converts it over into Memnarch's activations for permanent theft. However, Memnarch began to experience a TON of hate and meta-skewing in my group. As artifact removal and creature kill grew in my meta, I found that I didn’t like the feeling of spending 7 to do nothing and watch someone else win. If I ever untapped with him it was usually game over, but casting him in the first place became more and more difficult. Because Memnarch is a creature, he is weak to the many forms of removal prevalent in competitive Commander and requires a massive amount of mana in order to extract value from. Additionally, the win condition in Teferi is more compact and doesn’t require as many ineffective cards as Memnarch.
These other options are fine, but if you prefer a deck that plays very powerful cards without dedicating deck space to weak cards for the sake of a specific strategy, Teferi may be the deck for you. It's a very skill-testing deck that will reward you with wins proportional to your experience and knowledge of the game. If you play a lot of Vintage online and you want to capture that feeling in paper but don't want to buy Moxen, play Teferi.
There are many stax/combo generals in the competitive EDH scene: Brago, Derevi, and Meren are all very common, very powerful generals that fit that archetype. In such a wide field of decks competing with the same overall strategy, what sets Teferi apart?
The simple answer is that, more than any other general, Teferi is able to choose his role in the game.
Depending on what the other three players in your pod are playing, you can determine whether you are the fast combo deck OR the stax deck at the table, and play that role flawlessly once you've chosen.
If put up against a field of midrange decks, Teferi has the tools to tutor for his combo pieces and protection for them and go off in the first 3 or 4 turns of the game. He can do this reliably and consistently, though not quite as fast as the strongest combo decks in the format like Jeleva, Zur, Thrasios variants, or Tazri.
Against a field of such decks, Teferi pilots can change gears and set up soft-locks quickly and efficiently, building up resources until they are ready to bounce or break their own stax lock and go off on a full-power turn. This is a skill I learned playing Death and Taxes in Legacy, where you must determine in each game whether you're playing the aggressive deck or the control deck in the matchup.
Teferi, as a card, is immune to creature, artifact, and enchantment removal. That makes him very hard to handle unless an opponent has a counterspell in hand that they can use to counter Teferi; otherwise, we’re getting Teferi into play and activating him at least once. This also acts as a form of virtual card advantage because your opponents won’t be pointing their creature removal at your Commander because they can't, and we play only 3 creatures in the deck. Swords to Plowshares never looked so useless!
Because the win condition is so compact (literally just The Chain Veil), you can tailor your decklist to be as effective and tuned to your meta as possible and you have a ton of slots that you can dedicate to this effort. Seeing a lot of graveyard based strategies? You can have 4-5 different ‘yard exile effects in your maindeck without diluting your main strategy. This kind of customization is fantastic and is pretty unique in the competitive Commander field.
Welp, you’re playing U. It’s far and away the best color in Magic: The Gathering, despite what your Gruul or R friends say. We know the truth. You can literally win from a semi-empty board with Teferi and no one will know when to stop you.
This deck has the fastest mana rocks available to it, meaning that you’ll be able to play VERY explosively if your opening hand warrants it. Because the mana generation output for this deck is so high, it’s reasonable to expect that you can cast 6 CMC or 7 CMC cards by T3-T4 on a consistent basis. Seriously.
Because we’re playing U, we have a plethora of stack interaction in order to stop our opponents from winning. We play all the best counterspells under 3 CMC so that we have a firm grip on the flow of the game and can successfully stop other combo decks from closing the game out before we can. All Hail the Power of Islands!
Finally, this decklist has an extensive suite of Stax cards. This means we can proactively control all of our opponents at once with one single card i.e. Winter Orb or Stasis. This ensures that we can use our extensive counterspell suite to protect our combos instead of spending them policing the table. This deck is also able to super-effectively restrict or otherwise hinder your opponents’ resource development while not affecting your own mana and board development. Teferi's unique ability allows you to break parity on stax effects such as Winter Orb, Static Orb, and Tangle Wire better than any other commander, but does not help you break parity on other commonly played stax cards like Trinisphere or Sphere of Resistance, which both hinder your combo too much to warrant inclusion (I'll touch more on that later in the individual card selection part of the post).
Your opponents will quickly HATE your deck and outwardly groan when you flip over who your Commander is. This will most likely lead to a focusing on yourself as the archenemy for the game and can cause your opponents to spend their removal and disruption exclusively on you. Thus is the price for playing Mono-U.
Teferi, as a planeswalker, is easily susceptible to combat damage. While it’s important to make sure you don’t play Teferi into a board full of creatures that can kill him off, Teferi may be a bad choice if you’re playing against other Staxy-swarm type decks that can consistently kill Teferi over and over.
This decklist is HEAVILY DEPENDENT on its mana rocks. If your opponents consistently destroy your mana rocks via Vandalblast, By Force, Nature’s Claim, Krosan Grip and other similar effects, you will have a really, really hard time of winning. All of the fastest strategy-lines of play require that you have a mana rock or two in play, so protect them or play them conservatively if possible. And if your opponents play Null Rod, Stony Silence, or Kataki, War's Wage... cry. Lots of tears. And then try and find a way to GET. THEM. AWAY.
Teferi, Temporal Archmage is an expensive Commander to be playing. If he has 2 or more Commander Taxes on him, it’s really difficult for you to execute your primary strategy and win the game. Because our primary combo – and our ONLY combo- is The Chain Veil, we are weak to well-timed cards that can remove our win-condition from our library or if we lose the counter war over it. This comes down to playskill and effective threat assessment, but it’s still worth stating.
Here is the real reason you're in this thread: the decklist. I do not claim that the one presented below is the absolute end-all-be-all Teferi decklist for two reasons:
The list below is a selection of the cards that have been most effective in the games that ajacobik and I have played, collectively. There might be cards that work for your playstyle better than others, and the list below is a reflection of what has been most optimal for ajacobik and I given our game experience.
I believe that competitive Commander is an exercise in metagaming; no list you read online will be perfect for your own hometown meta, and too many primers online insist haughtily that their list is the best possible list, with no exceptions. That's an unhealthy mindset that stifles creativity and flexibility in deckbuilding, and I won't allow that nonsense in my thread.
NOTE: The decklist is sorted first by Converted Mana Cost (CMC) and then alphabetically within that CMC category. The numbers don't indicate the number of copies of the card; rather, they indicate the CMC of the card listed next to it.
This decklist is severely trimmed of most, if not all, of the expensive cards that make Teferi run. I've tried to price this deck as close to $100 as possible, but a few of the card prices might push it just past the $100 mark. Regardless, this is a decent budget alternative that will be able to hold its own in a competitive Commander game but it won't be NEARLY as fast or effective as the optimized version is.
Regardless, the strategy is exactly the same as it is for the optimized version. We're all in on The Chain Veil and there's enough Sol permanents in the deck to make sure it happens reliably. There's a healthy suite of counterspells and card draw to make sure you can control the game until you're ready to execute your combo. The list does lack some of the more efficient tutors, stax pieces, and mana rocks, so try and be a little more proactive in countering beneficial plays for your opponent.
The first thing you should do, before you even begin shuffling your deck, is to look around the table and begin thinking about the kinds of decks you are up against. Try to determine your role in the game before you begin looking at your opening hand and be honest with yourself about the kind of hand you need to thrive in the current environment. If your opponents are playing fragile combo commanders, try to look for a hand that disrupts those decks that will give you time to build up your own resources. Don't keep greedy hands against stax commanders, but feel free to keep them against decks without blue or lacking in early disruption. Also, pay attention to turn order: if the Zur Doomsday deck is going to play first, it's probably a bad idea to mulligan a mediocre hand with a Force of Will; if you're going before that kind of deck, it's probably safe to mulligan and find a faster opening grip. Fast mana is the name of the game in this format no matter what kind of deck you're piloting, and Teferi plays it all.
Generally speaking, a good opening hand will have the following: 2-3 lands, 2-3 mana rocks, 1-2 draw spells, 1-2 pieces of interaction, and 1 tutor effect. While there is a TON of subtlety that goes into which kind of opening hands you keep (which is dependent on what role you decide might be most effective for the game), there are some hands that are not ideal. In no particular order, you don't want to see in your opening hand any of the following:
Too many lands. You need to be able to interact from T2 onwards, and having a 5-6 land hand eliminates any potential for that to occur. We need to be able to execute our own game plan quickly and efficiently, and having any more than 4 lands makes that particular opening hand suspect for a mulligan.
0-1 Lands. There are very, very few situations in which a 0-1 land hand is keepable. The only situation where that could be plausible as a keep is if you have ALL of the best fast mana in your deck in your hand as well. Otherwise, mulligan away.
Heavy interaction/counterspell hand. Card Advantage is the name of the game for competitive Commander games. Keeping a hand with too much interaction leaves us vulnerable to running out of gas, so try and keep that balance of ramp, card draw, and mana rocks so that you can interact at all stages of the game and still develop your own board state.
Heavy Ramp with no payoff. Alright, you now have 12 mana to play with on T2... with nothing to do except relay on Teferi himself. This is a recipe for getting Teferi and/or your mana rocks blown up and putting you out of commission. Again, we want to see a balance in our opening hand so that we can effectively develop our board state and keep up interaction for our opponents.
Some sample hands are demonstrated here so that you can get an idea of what a good hand looks like.
, , , , , ,
This is an example of a risky hand. If we don't draw another Island or [manaU[/mana] source, we're dead in the water. But, if we do, we have some serious power in this hand. A T1 Trinket Mage can go find Mana Vault to set up a potential T2 Teferi. Otherwise, we can hold out on playing Trinket Mage until T2 and play just the Island and Brainstorm into an Island (hopefully). Force of Will stops any combo decks from thinking they can combo out on T1 or T2, so this hand is pretty risky. I personally would keep it and play out the Brainstorm line depending on what I draw T1. If it's an Island, race out your mana rocks ASAP. If there isn't an Island, Trinket Mage out another mana source.
, , , , , ,
This hand is somewhat decent but is sorely lacking one thing: a mana rock of any type. Without being able to quickly accelerate our mana advantage in this deck, we're going to fall behind. Combined with the lack of disruption, this hand goes back for a mulligan definitely.
, , , , , ,
This is pretty much an example of an auto-keep. This translates into a T2 Teferi with the ability to disrupt our opponents or dig deeper into our deck and find a tutor for The Chain Veil. The Snapcaster Mage also allows us to flashback the Impulse to dig even deeper, so this is a fantastic hand honestly.
The first few turns should be spent either setting up a soft lock with Teferi and a stax piece or actively tutoring for combo pieces. Don't sit on counterspells unless you're sure your opponents are going to go for the win. One of the main mistakes I see blue players make is wasting their disruption on early game ramp spells or value cards when counterspells should be reserved only for cards that will either end the game, or prevent you from winning. Cards like Ad Nauseam, Necropotence, Rhystic Study, Food Chain, or Armageddon are fine to counter, but don't sweat the small nonsense like Oracle of Mul-Daya or random planeswalkers. Control the game via your stax pieces, not your counterspells.
There are a number of ways to set up a soft lock: making your opponents' creatures useless with Cursed Totem and Torpor Orb, breaking parity on Winter Orb, Capsize/Stasis, or simply playing Back to Basics can set your opponents back several turns while you are free to continue developing your board. Remember that you rarely want your stax pieces on the table for more than a few turns; Teferi only has so many loyalty counters and he can only break parity for so long before he's back in the Command Zone. Don't drag the game to a complete halt, just suppress your opponents' resources long enough for you to find The Chain Veil or set up a Capsize-based win (by which I mean using High Tide/Candelabra/Capsize to generate infinite mana, Capsize/recast Teferi and +1 until you've drawn your deck). Remember that High Tide gets better the longer the game goes. Every land drop you make is another 2 mana on your Tide turn.
Depending on your opening hand, you can skip the stax bit entirely and just combo off faster than the table can handle. Opening hands that include a lot of fast mana and a wheel effect are often the key to this, as a wheel after playing a few Moxen or other broken (usually Mark Tedin) mana rocks will usually put you so far ahead in both mana and cards that your opponents can't catch back up. Rhystic Study is my favorite card to see in my opening hand for this reason, and there are quite a few ways to play it on turn one provided it's not countered.
No matter which avenue you take during the early game, your ultimate goal is to assemble a combo with The Chain Veil. This combo will have to be explained several times to unfamiliar opponents and has a number of tricks involved depending on the gamestate. At its simplest, here is what the combo requires:
Then, you activate Teferi’s -1 ability, targeting TCV, your Sol permanent, and two Islands.
Rinse and repeat for as many loyalty counters Teferi has, keeping track of how many times you've activated TCV (I recommend keeping a d8 or d10 on TCV for both your reference and to help explain the combo to other players).
On Teferi's last activation, you don't target TCV; rather, you target four mana producing permanents, generating as much mana as possible; assuming you only have one Sol permanent and the rest are Islands, you can make 5 mana on the last activation.
Now, either use floating mana or produce 3 more mana from other sources so you've got the 6UU required to re-cast Teferi. The following is EXTREMELY CRUCIAL to understand and be able to explain. Now that he's a new game object, The Chain Veil doesn't track how many times you've used Teferi this turn; instead, you get to activate him once for his natural activation, then once more for each time you've Chain Veiled this turn. Most pilots begin to -1 him and loop him for mana again here, but I find that to be a waste of good resources. For opponents who don't believe you in this rules modification, here's the link to the official MTG rulings. The second ruling is the one that we'll be utilizing as part of our combo.
Use all but one of your activations to +1 Teferi and draw a few cards to ensure you've got suitable protection for Teferi or to find more mana-positive permanents to make the combo easier, then on your last free activation, begin the -1 chain and start untapping The Chain Veil again and hopefully netting mana. Repeat the process (steps of 1-4) of -1ing Teferi to death and recast him again for 8UU, using the same chain as before but this time with significantly more free activations.
Don't get hasty just because you've started your combo and assume you've won. All it takes is a well-placed counterspell from an opponent at the 8UU or 10UU casting to not only cut you off from your combo this turn, but to cut you off from casting Teferi again in the future; this is why I emphasize using up as many of your free activations for +1s as possible.
If you can protect Teferi until this point, you're probably safe. You can proceed to generate "infinite" mana and functionally draw your entire library with Teferi's +1 ability (feel free to -10 him along the way, you never know when you'll need to respond to something your opponents will do when you're trying to finish the game).
My preferred win condition with infinite mana and infinite Teferi activations is to cast Blue Sun's Zenith (abbreviated as USZ) where X=1000 targeting the most dangerous opponent, shuffle it back into your library (it's now the only card in your deck), "draw" it with Teferi, and repeat for each opponent. This kill is the most compact method of winning with TCV and gives your opponents the fewest chances to respond or interact. You can protect this win with literally every single counterspell in your deck, given that you've got infinite blue and all of them in hand.
Should USZ be exiled or countered via something like Counterflux, you have a few options; if it's in the 'yard, you can Timetwister it back into your library and redraw it with Teferi to try again, or you can cast Ugin and begin bolting the table to death (remember, you have infinite activations from TCV).
I run Urza's Factory so I have a combat win condition (and because I'm a sucker for Mark Tedin), by which I mean you can play it, use Teferi to untap it a hundred times and make an army of Assembly-Workers, and wait a turn to crush the table via damage. This route is suboptimal, and I wouldn't waste the deck slot at a competitive event, but hell, it's Tedin Tribal. What are you gonna do?
At this point you can also Capsize lock the table as well should that suit you.
In addition to the above wall of text, I have created a helpful infographic to understand the complex lines of play required to pilot this deck:
Unlike poor, pathetic Liliana Vess, we have learned to master the tricks of The Chain Veil and our decklist. Here are some other tricks for using The Chain Veil effectively and other tips:
If you're running Power Artifact, you can put it on The Chain Veil to decrease its activation cost by 2, letting you go off without a Sol permanent. Having two Sol permanents in play also eases the burden of mana that Teferi requires in order to execute his combo.
You can go off without a Sol permanent if you have a lot of lands in play. You can use Teferi's -1 to target The Chain Veil and three Islands, and repeat that for each additional untapped land you control. Should you have enough lands in play to recast Teferi afterwards, you can generate enough Chain Veil activations that you can recast Teferi and -1 him for 20 total mana. If you employ this strategy, you can't use as many of your free activations for +1s, however, as you need to be continually netting mana off activating Teferi. I don't advise using this route unless you've got a huge draw spell available to cast off the mana to hopefully hit a Sol permanent or High Tide.
The Chain Veil goes infinite with Tezzeret the Seeker if you have another artifact that taps for 4+ mana (usually an Everflowing Chalice or Candelabra of Tawnos after a High Tide). Use this method if you don't want to risk exposing Teferi to counterspells, as once you've started the loop you're not weak to counterspells again until you've already generated infinite colorless mana and infinite TCV activations.
If your Teferi or your Chain Veil get hit with a Trickbind or Stifle, don't panic; you may still have a line of play. There's nothing in the rulebook that says you can't target your own permanents with Chain of Vapor or Capsize. If you have enough mana, you can bounce and recast your combo piece and start up the chain again (this requires a ton of mana, however).
Rings of Brighthearth reduces the mana required to go off; it doubles up both your Teferi activations and your Chain Veil activations. If you're tight on mana or low on loyalty counters, Rings smooths out those troubles and helps you get started.
If you're concerned that an opponent may be packing a Fork or Imp's Mischief, make sure you have counter magic to protect your USZ win. A Forked USZ will kill you.
This section will be an attempt to give you some guidelines on how you can be the best Control player at your table and ensure that you always have the best chances to end up winning the stack so that you can win the game.
It is very important to me that I give you Laboratory Maniac user Cameron a specific shout out here, since this section is an expansion/adaptation of a section of his Tasigur Primer that can be found here. Cameron accurately captures the primary points of critical thinking that is necessary for evaluating threats at the table and I humbly admit that I stand on his shoulders for this section.
I’m going to assume that you are familiar with the decks that your opponents will be playing and, more importantly, familiar with your opponents themselves. Understanding how your opponents think will allow you the best chance to call their bluffs and generally squeeze every benefit possible out of a game. So, how do you know what to interact with?
This question series is something that I mentally go through every time a major, or what appears to be a major, spell hits the stack or the battlefield. It’s helped me a great deal in knowing what spells to counter and which ones to let slide so that I can conserve my resources and win.
Do I Care About the Spell/Permanent? – this is the first thing I ask myself. Does the spell/permanent (which I will nickname ‘Action’ throughout this discussion) immediately affect my board state? If an opponent is destroying a mana rock that I need in order to complete my own combo lines or board development, I probably care A LOT about that Action. If it’s a mana rock, the answer would be ‘No’, so I would probably let the Action slide. The next question, of similar import, is does the Action affect my own gameplan? If it does hinder my ability to execute my win condition/combo lines, then I probably should care about the Action and do something about it.
Is the Action a Threat? – following the judgment about whether or not I care about the spell, the next question to ask is “Will this stop me from winning?” If it does, you should again interact with the Action if you can. The ultimate goal of Commander is to win and defeat your opponents. Anything that hinders that goal needs to be interacted with if possible. If this means that a substantial amount of your board state is destroyed/invalidated, you should probably interact with the Action. In a similar vein of thinking, you should also ask yourself “Does this Action allow an opponent to win the game RIGHT NOW?” If yes, interact with them to disrupt the Action so you can complete the primary goal of the game. If no, then you can probably let it slide.
Does it hurt other opponents? - Once you’ve identified that you care about the Action and have deemed it a threat, it’s then important if this kind of threat hinders our opponents even more than us. A common example of this type of evaluation is a Wrath effect. Generally speaking, you have creatures in the deck because you care about their usefulness and value to helping you win the game. Typically your creatures are an important way that you execute your combo. However, if it hurts an opponent even more than you, and isn’t a MAJOR threat to your ultimate goal (winning), then it might be a good idea to let the Wrath occur because it hinders one of your opponents even more than you. Anything that hinders your opponents will help give you more opportunities to achieve the ultimate goal.
Who deals with the Action? – turn order matters in this particular question. If you’re third in line to respond to the Action, it might be that an opponent that can respond earlier than you will respond to the Action. If the Action occurs and you’re next in turn order, is there another Blue deck behind you that can interact/prevent the Action? If so, will they perceive the Action to be a big enough Threat to them to stop it for you? If a Blue player behind you has mana open, a significant number of cards in hand, and has only interacted a few times during the game, it might be wise to pass priority so that you force this Blue player to spend a resource to interact with the Action if it’s a threat to them. This is how you can conserve your own resources and create windows of opportunity to win the game for yourself.
How do I deal with it? – if the responsibility to interact with the Action unavoidably falls to you, you then need to ask how you can deal with it. The goal of a competitive Commander game is to win, and we usually do this by fizzling out the Fast Combo players, allowing Stax pieces to hit the board that are tolerable to our own strategy and board development but oppressive to our opponent’s strategies/board states, and to maintain card and/or mana advantage over other Control decks. Seems like a tall order, no? Well, it is. That’s why you’re reading this, presumably. Knowing how to conserve your resources and when to interact is a critical skillset that you need to learn. You then need to evaluate how you need to deal with it. Does the Action need to be answered on the stack? Can we use resources that are already on our board to stop/hinder the Action (Vedalken Shackles is a great way to steal out a combo creature out from underneath a Combo player, for example). You generally want to conserve Counterspells for the spells that are most Threatening, the ones that you CANNOT let resolve. Ad Nauseam or Flash are prime examples of Actions that demand a Counterspell. Targeted Removal spells, like Chain of Vapor or Blink of an Eye, we try to reserve for High Value permanents. Mass Removal is generally used when the resource or board development of our opponents is superior to our own and we need to reset them and cost them more time and resources to redevelop that board state.
Is this the Right Opportunity? – sometimes, if you interact with an Action prematurely, you simply allow a player before you to untap and execute their own combo line and win if you cast/interact too soon. Understanding Table order is important in this assessment, as you generally want a player behind you to answer the Action if at all possible so that you maximize your own chances of winning on your turn or of keeping ahead of a player before you in turn order from executing their own combo. The resources at the table are finite, so you want to try and use timing and politics to maximize your ability to have your opponents respond to Actions and conserve your resources.
I hope that this question sequence is relevant to you and helps to shed some insight on how I personally evaluate any Action that occurs within a game.
I'm going to try to form a comprehensive list of cards that are playable in Teferi, including budget options; if there's something I'm missing that you'd like me to discuss, let me know and I'll add it to this list and share my thoughts on it. This section is going to be pretty lengthy, so I'm going to hide it under a series of spoiler tags broken up roughly by function.
Cards in bold are those that I'm running in my current list.
00 Everflowing Chalice - This is a card with a lot of tricks and neat tech that, in my opinion, make it every bit as much of an auto-include in Teferi as Sol Ring or Mana Crypt. First of all, this deck thrives on Sol permanents, and while it's not the most powerful mana rock of all time, it is always going to get the job done: the going rate for mana rocks these days is a 1-for-2 payout; Mind Stone costs 2, Hedron Archive costs 4, and Dreamstone Hedron costs 6. Chalice is always on-curve. If you're running a Tolaria West package, you can transmute the land to find Chalice should you need a Sol permanent. If you can generate infinite colorless but can't win this turn, you can dump a few thousand mana into Chalice to effectively bank infinite mana for a later turn should your combo be broken up in the interim. Chalice is also one of the few cards that can potentially go infinite with Tezzeret the Seeker and The Chain Veil if it has 4 or more counters.
00 Mana Crypt - Phenomenal Magic card. Makes otherwise terrible hands keepable; enables the most broken turn 1 plays possible; this card is worth every penny you pay for it. It's searchable off Tolaria West, too, which is often quite relevant. Comes with Tedin art!
00 Chrome Mox - Boring and powerful. It's especially great in opening hands with a Wheel effect or Rhystic Study or when drawn off a huge draw spell such as Blue Sun's Zenith or Recurring Insight. Provides blue mana so you don't have to tap a precious Island to cast High Tide.
00 Mox Diamond - I seriously considered just copying and pasting the commentary from Chrome Mox here, and while that would have been funny, it's still pretty spot on. They two cards play very similarly, except with the note that we play a whole lot more blue cards than we do lands, so it's occasionally a little harder to cast Mox Diamond. If you don't have a wheel or a Rhystic Study, don't forego a future land drop just to play the Mox. Making land drops will be more important than having 2 mana on turn 1 unless you have a way to abuse that mana.
00 Mox Opal - Best when drawn off a draw spell. Can be rough in your opening hand but is usually active by turn 2. Opens you up to an effective 2-for-1 if an opponent breaks another artifact and turns off your Metalcraft, so watch out for that.
00 Lotus Petal - It's a single-shot Mox. Use it wisely and try to avoid 2-for-1ing yourself into a counterspell.
01 High Tide - Probably my favorite blue card in print. In this deck its main purpose is to turn an otherwise unassuming board state into a winning position by suddenly doubling my mana productivity. Works wonders with Teferi, Candelabra, Time Spiral, and a plethora of other cards in the deck. Snapcasting a High Tide almost guarantees a win unless you have an utterly garbage hand and board.
01 Sol Ring - The tenth card in the Power Nine, Sol Ring without doubt the most ubiquitous card to this format. In this deck, it is a combo piece. Comes with Mark Tedin art!
01 Mana Vault - Another combo card with Teferi and TCV. Its upkeep trigger can severely lower your life total if your mana is tied into keeping the board locked under a Stasis or similar, so just be wary. Comes with Tedin art!
02 Mind Stone - The standard 2:1 mana rock; these kinds of rocks help bridge the gap between your first piece of acceleration and the big dogs like Thran Dynamo or Gilded Lotus. Mind Stone is particularly neat because you can copy its cantrip with Rings of Brighthearth. Should be played in pretty much every list as it's also dirt cheap.
02 Prismatic Lens - Mind Stone without the cantrip, but with the ability to filter into blue mana. If you can generate infinite colorless off Teferi, you can use the untaps he generates to filter into infinite blue with the Lens.
02 Fellwar Stone - Frankly, I'm not the world's biggest fan of Fellwar stone, but sometimes you just need a little extra mana to get to your going-off turn. I've had it shut off blue mana by Blood Moon and Armageddon before. But, if your meta is predominantly U decks, than this is a fine inclusion as it will nearly always allow you to tap for the precious U without having to tap an Island.
02 Sapphire Medallion - Medallion is better the more you rely on High Tide combos and storm-esque lines to win; if you run more stax and artifacts, you may find it's not always relevant. I don't run it in Teferi for that reason, but I would certainly run it in a Jace, Vryn's Prodigy deck.
02 Etherium Sculptor - Again, better in a more combo-focused build, but worth running if your artifact count is approaching 35-40. Helps let those 2:1 rocks filter colors more efficiently.
02 Grim Monolith - This card not only combos with Teferi and TCV, but also with Power Artifact. I don't currently run Power Artifact as I often found it dead in my opening hand and win-more if I had both pieces, but Grim is still mana-positive and incredibly powerful.
03 Extraplanar Lens - This is a card I've gone back and forth on many times, but I've decided ultimately not to run it. My meta is very well-adjusted and the players run appropriate amounts of artifact removal, so sticking an Extraplanar Lens is almost guaranteeing someone's Nature's Claim is going to 2-for-1 me. I considered keeping it in as a pseudo-ritual only to cast on my combo turn, but I feel like 3 is too much investment for a card I'll be forced to sandbag (and will likely pitch to a wheel at some point anyway). If you run it, run the Snow Covered basics.
03 Worn Powerstone – a fine budget replacement since it taps for 2 without any restrictions. The ETB tapped can be a hindrance in combo-ing off the same turn you cast it, but otherwise it’s a relatively boring mana rock that replicates Sol Ring.
03 Unstable Obelisk – another fine budget replacement, the ability to remove problem cards from play is an added benefit. It only taps for 1 though, so it’s not nearly as effective as other mana rocks that we could be playing. I’ll also make the same statement here for cards like Darksteel Ingot or Manalith.
03 Metalworker - What? No bold? That's right: I don't run Metalworker. In my list, the timing is never right for him: If I dump my hand full of Moxen early to cast him, he no longer has fuel; if I wait until turn 3 to cast him, I'm already going too slow to catch up. He also has to sit around the table for a full cycle before I can use him, and that practically guarantees a Deluge or a StP will hit him first. I have lost too much tempo or been caught with awkward choices with 'worker too many times to keep running him. The deck doesn't need him to function and he makes your decision trees far easier.
03 Basalt Monolith - Combos with TCV, combos with Rings of Brighthearth, combos with Power Artifact. Basalt is an excellent card that represents threats from a number of angles. Unlike Metalworker, I don't mind waiting until turn 3 to tap down for Monolith, because it can produce results immediately.
03 Coalition Relic - Using Teferi to bank counters on Relic is cute, but ultimately just that. If you're paying 3 for a mana rock it needs to be outstanding, and Coalition Relic is not that. It's a great choice for budget decks that can't pick up cards like Grim Monolith or Mana Crypt, though.
04 Thran Dynamo - About as boring of a Magic card as it gets, but Thran Dynamo is a combo card that advances our board several turns ahead. Worth running in all regards.
04 Ur-Golem’s Eye – a decent budget replacement, it’s a much more expensive Sol Ring. But those Sol permanents are absolutely crucial to executing the combo, so this card warrants at least a mention here for budget purposes.
05 Gilded Lotus - Worth running for the same reasons as Thran Dynamo, but it produces UUU, which both smooths our combo and enables plays where you can tap out to cast the Lotus, then represent counter magic on your opponents' turns. Other mana rocks don't give us that option.
06 Dreamstone Hedron - A perfectly fine budget alternative, but I already hate paying 5 for Gilded Lotus, much less 6 for a worse one. The draw is not irrelevant, but doesn't make the card worth running in an optimized list either.
00 Pact of Negation - Pact is one of the best counterspells in the strategy for a number of reasons, and it plays well with numerous other cards to form very satisfying synergies. If you're running the Expedition Map package, you have a tutor chain to grab Pact via Trinket Mage > Expedition Map > Tolaria West. While this is admittedly a very inefficient use of your mana, the fact remains that the option is available to you should you have the mana and time to dedicate to finding a counterspell. Each of those three cards is playable on their own without that chain, but any one of them can get you a to Pact, and you know the old adage: a Pact in hand is worth two in the deck. Once you've found your Pact, there are a few tricks to playing it that are often overlooked. Many players see the "you lose the game" clause and as such run gun-shy of the card, treating it as their last-resort counterspell when they have another counter in hand; that's a waste of valuable resources. If you're trying to assemble your combo and your opponent presents a counterspell or a piece of removal to interrupt it, don't blow your Swan Song just yet. Fire your Pact at their first piece of disruption. If they have a second counterspell to point at the Pact, you can then use your other counterspell to both ensure your spell resolves but also guarantee your Pact doesn't, thereby freeing you from the terms of your Pact (so you don't have that lingering "you lose the game" waiting in the weeds). If they don't have a second counterspell, congratulations, you're probably one step closer to winning the game and you didn't have to spend your mana on a counterspell, so you can use it to make sure you can seal the deal this turn. While this is a bad line of play, you can also Stifle your own Pact trigger on your upkeep if you're forced to cast the Pact too soon.
01 Dispel - The boogeyman of the format is Ad Nauseam. Ad Nauseam is an instant. Dispel counters it as well as almost every single other piece of viable disruption in the game (damn you, Abrupt Decay!), earning it a very valuable slot in the deck over other very good pieces of protection and disruption. Its efficiency in mana cost heavily outweighs its limitations. If your local meta is slower and most disruption comes in the form of sorceries, creature ETB's, or Oblivion Ring-triggers, you may consider replacing Dispel with Annul or Stifle.
01 Stifle - Stifle is a very versatile, very powerful Magic card, but I don't run it simply because I have limited space for counterspells and the other options I run are better. It's not a case here of not running it because it's not good enough, rather I don't run it just because it happens to be counterspell #12 in a list that only has room for 11. However, when I say versatile, I mean this card is versatile. It can destroy lands, eat Zur triggers, stop Reclamation Sage triggers, make Craterhoof look like a doofus, ruin a Worldgorger Dragon loop--you name it, Stifle can do it. But the fact that it doesn't counter Force of Will means it's just not quite worth edging out Spell Pierce.
01 Spell Pierce - There honestly isn't very much to say about Spell Pierce other than that it's good. In a deck that constricts its opponents' mana to such a degree, Spell Pierce is very nearly a one-mana Negate. When your opponent thinks they can tap out and have Force backup, Spell Pierce shines; it's also a very good tempo play, countering removal for stax pieces or mass-draw spells, interacting much like Stifle, but with the ability to win counter-wars.
01 Mental Misstep - This card gets better the more competitive your meta is. As players abandon slow removal like Utter End in favor of man's removal like Swords to Plowshares or Nature's Claim, Mental Misstep increases in potency to the point that it's often one of the best counterspells in the deck. There are times in my meta where I'm happier to see it than Mana Drain, which I never thought I'd say, but here we are. It hits Swords, Path, Reanimate, Sensei's Divining Top, Nature's Claim, Natural State, Vandalblast (even overloaded!), Vampiric, Mystical, Enlightened, Worldly, Sylvan, and Personal tutors as well as Imperial Seal, Dark Ritual, Green Sun's Zenith, mana dorks, High Tide, Sol Rings, and also a slew of counterspells. This card is the real deal in a competitive meta. In a slower meta, however, you'll probably be better served by Annul.
01 Annul - Annul is very limited, but efficient for its cost. It hits problem artifacts like Birthing Pod, The Chain Veil, Sharuum the Hegemon, and a multitude of other targets, as well as a variety of Oblivion Ring clones and card-draw enchantments like Sylvan Library or Phyrexian Arena. It stops Animate Dead, Paradox Engine, Aetherflux Reservoir, and many other win conditions dead in their tracks. Like Stifle, it's just not good enough to edge out the others on this list.
01 Swan Song - Swan Song is so efficient that it almost hurts to read it at times. The only drawback whatsoever to running this card is that we give our opponent a winged Grizzly Bear and our commander dies to damage, but honestly that drawback is rarely relevant as we often sandbag our counterspells to protect our own win anyway. I have had my Teferi pegged by that 2/2 bird before, but it's still absolutely worth its inclusion.
01 Flusterstorm - a Counterspell that scales with how powerful your opponents decks are. Against Storm opponents, this Counterspell is fantastic since you can counter any number of copies of Mind's Desire or put a really solid "No" on the stack for Ad Nauseam. With its reprinting recently you can now pick up a copy for a reasonable cost.
02 Counterspell - the OG Counterspell, the OG reason to play blue (besides Ancestral Recall). This card is an efficient counter to help push our combo through or disrupt others. Not much to say here except that it's a staple in a competitive Commander deck.
02 Mana Drain - it's Counterspell with mana ramp stapled onto it. Casting anything with a CMC of 3+ on T2 will most likely mean a T3 Teferi. This card is more effective in this list than other competitive Commander decks because we can legitimately use all of the mana that the Drain creates for us. We run a bunch of artifacts and our Commander has 4 in his cost, meaning that we will almost always have a use for the mana that is generated from the Drain unlike other Commanders that have heavy color requirements. While it's always best to counter your opponents' spells and gain mana from them that way, don't underestimate countering your own spells in order to get the mana you need to get Teferi into play or a mana rock into play to start your Combo turn.
02 Delay - this is almost a hard counterspell in a competitive Commander game and its color requirements are a little less harsh than Counterspell. The suspend 3 is usually irrelevant to the scope of a game, and in the case that the spell will actually resolve once it comes off of suspend and be relevant you and your opponents will have hopefully had 3 turns to find an answer to it. This is a hidden counterspell, honestly, and I highly recommend it.
02 Trickbind - Stifle's better-looking cousin, the Split Second ability is absolutely crucial in stopping other combos and ensuring that you have a window to combo off yourself. This card almost always targets your opponents, but do remember that you can stop your own Pact of Negation trigger. Basically, see the entry for Stifle and apply the same qualifications and benefits here.
02 Daze - one of the most important things to remember is that the mana margins in a competitive Commander game are completely maximized and incredibly thin. Daze can help win counter-wars or stop other critical spells from resolving because your opponents can't pay the 1. Because the game is usually decided during the first 3-4 turns of a game, having a Daze in hand to stop those early game combos is highly important. It's also a decent budget counterspell as well.
02 Arcane Denial - while it's a controversial counterspell for most people, because it lets your opponents draw cards, I find this counterspell to be invaluable. Remember that you draw the card whereas your opponent MAY draw the cards - meaning that they can forget to draw those cards. Otherwise, it's a hard counterspell for 1U that helps you draw cards.
02 Muddle the Mixture - being a decent counterspell on its own is great, but the Transmute ability is what makes this card good. It can find so many relevant pieces, the most relevant ones that I've searched for the most often are Transmute Artifact, Grim Monolith, and Mana Drain. It's either protection or another tutor effect, so it deserves its spot pretty firmly.
02 Narset's Reversal - an extremely versatile counterspell that can help win Counter wars or gain significant tempo on an opponent casting a draw spell. The power of this card is awesome, and I'm looking forward to see how it will perform.
02 Mana Leak - because the mana margins are so thin in a competitive COmmander game, the Leak functions mostly as a hard counterspell with an easier casting cost than Counterspell. And if you combine the Leak effect with some of the Stax pieces we play in the deck (I'm thinking Stasis or Winter Orb) then it can function as a hard counter into the late game as well where its usefulness would normally deteriorate. It's great at winning counter wars as well and I've been pleased with its performance.
02 Negate - most, if not all, of the scariest cards in a competitive Commander game are noncreature spells. Negate hits them hard for 2 CMC. A good, clean answer that can protect our mana rocks and stop other combo decks from executing their primary game strategy.
03 Disallow - 3 CMC is the absolute limit for counterspells in the main decklist, and it must be an extremely good counterspell to warrant its inclusion. The functionality of combining Stifle into Counterspell is good enough to warrant its inclusion. I really enjoy this card and am so glad that Wizards decided to print it.
03 Dream Fracture - this is really a slot holder for any and all other 3 CMC counterspells. Unless you're playing on a budget, these counterspells aren't good enough or low CMC enough to get a deck slot.
04 Cryptic Command - called the Blue Wrath back in its day, the flexibility of this card is great. It can stop an alpha strike, counter spells, draw cards, and function as removal. It's a great card but the mana cost poses a problem for the deck for multiple reasons. First, its 4 CMC which pushes it out of contention for inclusion. Second, it has UUU in its mana cost. That can be pretty steep and constrains our mana availability for holding other counterspells in hand. It's a great card, just not quite cheap enough to justify its inclusion.
04 Glen Elendra Archmage - this little Faerie is great at winning counter wars since her countering is an activated ability. The fact that she has persist, allowing you to reuse the [CARD}Negate[/CARD] ability, is what makes her even worthy of consideration for deck space. However, the CMC is a little too high and she is prone to Exile removal effects excludes her from the list.
05 Misdirection - this is a good counterspell that functions somewhat like Force of Will because you can redirect a counterspell to counter Misdirection itself. Once Misdirection resolves, the counterspell will then fizzle since Misdirection is no longer a legal target. A fine budget replacement that can also redirect removal spells away from your mana rocks to something else, it's a good card.
05 Force of Will - yeah, this is pretty much an auto-include in any U deck that is designed for competitive play. Exiling another card from your hand can be steep, but in order to force through (pun intended) your combo or stop someone else's is too valuable to forego. We accept the life loss and card disadvantage so that we can always counter something regardless of whether or not we are tapped out.
01 Meekstone - competitive decks don't really have a ton of creatures that are attacking or tapping that have power greater than 3. If your playgroup has different circumstances where Meekstone would be useful, then it's a decent inclusion. It still allows your opponents to get an attack step with these fat creatures, but hopefully you'll be able to win before that becomes a concern of yours.
01 Grafdigger's Cage - a very crucial piece of hate in the current meta game for at least one reason: Protean Hulk. With its unbanning, Flash Hulk and Breakfast Hulk decks have been on the rise. Grafdigger's Cage very effectively neuters any 'yard based strategy and helps out in the Storm matches significantly as well. This Cage is easily tutorable via Trinket Mage and Whir of Invention, so tutor for it as often as necessary.
01 Silent Gravestone - a newcomer to the Stax scene from Ixalan, this card is another way to make sure that Reanimator effects, Snapcaster Mage, and Dread Return decks leave their graveyard alone. It can also exile all artifacts and draw a card, so it's a pretty good hate-card for this deck and the most popular cEDH deck played (Flash Hulk).
02 Cursed Totem - this might be the best piece of Stax hate in the entire deck. It shuts off many dorks, Arcum Dagsson, Yisan, the Wanderer Bard, Hermit Druid, Selvala, Heart of the Wilds, and so many more. This is pretty much an auto-include if you want to Stax out other decks because it's so broadly applicable. Absolutely worth protecting because it can put a cold halt to so many strategies, this is probably the most overperforming Stax piece I've seen in my experience.
02 Torpor Orb - this is a Stax piece that is better suited for more casual metas that utilize ETB abilities. A fine piece of disruption that can blank a staggering number of cards. Combined with Cursed Totem and your opponents' creatures will be totally useless.
02 Stasis - the other notorious piece of Stax that we play with and probably the other signature card of the deck beyond The Chain Veil. Stasis really screws up your opponents for as long as it's in play. With Teferi in play, we can keep this enchantment in play as long as we want in order to restrain our opponents from being able to do anything at all. Until we win, that is. It has a cheap CMC and is very asymmetrical when we have Teferi in play, so this card should definitely be included in any iteration of a Teferi planeswalker deck.
02 Winter Orb - the history of Winter Orb is pretty storied. From being a way for Aggro decks to close out the game and screw over Control decks, Winter Orb constrains our opponents' mana availability to just mana dorks or mana rocks. If you can play it out at the proper timing (when most of your opponents have their lands tapped out), you are able to gain quite a bit of tempo from this card. You can find it with the artifact tutors or Trasnmute for it via [CARD}Muddle the Mixture[/CARD] in order to get a Stax piece into play and buy some time. EDIT: With the recent shift in the cEDH meta towards mana dorks and mana rocks, the Orb has become MUCH less effective as a Stax piece. You can occasionally steal a game with it, but that has become the exception rather than the norm.
02 Thorn of Amethyst - this card is a very good Stax but is absolutely terrible for our primary combo plan. Taxing our recasting of Teferi for even just 1 can mean the difference between winning and having our deck do nothing. We don't run it because it so effectively hinders our own game strategy.
03 Back to Basics - against any 3-color deck, Back to Basics acts as a pseudo-Armageddon. Any non-basic land that they have is rendered pretty useless with this card in play. And if you can protect it long enough, Back to Basics will buy you several turns of board development in a generally uninterrupted fashion. A really good card, its power sees Legacy play to give you an idea of how effective it is.
03 Static Orb - another really good Stax piece that is highly effective against heavy creature or mana rock strategies. If your opponent is trying to flood the board with any type of mana source, Static Orb makes doing so very costly for your opponent. Teferi breaks the symmetry of this Stax piece, so that's why it's included in many decklists.
03 Tangle Wire - while I'm not personally fond of this Stax piece, I will recognize that the Wire has a ton of power in slowing down our opponents. Remember that you can stack the effects of the Wire so that it's always beneficial to you while limiting the highest number of resources possible for your opponents.
03 Trinisphere - Look at the average CMC of our deck, then look at this card. Yeah, we definitely DON'T want our cards costing at least 2U because that limits our ability to dig into the deck and find the cards that we need. However, this card also does a good job of hindering other decks as well. And once we have our Teferi loop going, we don't particularly care about the taxing cost that Trinisphere imposes. Run it and play it with great timing and you're likely to make sure that your Storm and combo opponents struggle to do anything relevant.
03 Narset, Parter of Veils - a new card from the War of the Spark set, Narset is fantastic. She stops opposing Wheel effects and also creates a mini-combo with our own Timetwister effects. She also digs into our deck like Impulse and can potentially do it twice, assuming no one kills her via combat. That is the only weakness of the card, and it's a very significant one at that because it doesn't force any extra cardboard from an opponent to answer her. The payoff is worth the risk, though, and so she gets a slot in the deck.
04 Pendrell Mists - an enchantment form of The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale, this is a really good card against creature heavy metas. Forcing your opponents to pay mana in order to keep their creatures is a great way to constrain their resources without affecting us at all (only 3 creatures in the deck, remember). This is a great budget replacement for The Tabernacle while also being really good on its own.
04 Frozen Aether - this card hinders Storm decks from going off because they are highly dependent on having their artifact mana sources ETB untapped. If you can force each mana rock to be immediately tapped and unavailable for mana production, you're going to see Storm decks fizzle and sputter out. It's also good at making mana dorks and other creatures that would normally attack Teferi NOT do so. The land clause also slows down your opponents board development as they will most likely need to wait a turn to effectively utilize the land drops that they make.
04 Rising Waters - an enchantment replacement for Winter Orb, it's a decent way to duplicate some of the Stax effects in the deck without breaking the bank. A good card and a great budget Stax piece.
01 Brainstorm - I think U decks are defined by three cards: Counterspell, Force of Will, and Brainstorm. A staple in any format it's legal in, the card selection it provides is great. Combine with fetch-lands and tutors for maximum usefulness. 01 Ponder - since our land count is so low, we really rely on these kind of can-tripping cards to smooth out our draws and make sure that we can consistently draw enough early ramp and land drops to keep going. While not my favorite, it's efficient at what it does. 01 Preordain - another can-trip piece that helps to get rid of cards we don't need in our opening turns. I like the Scry ability on this card much more than I like Ponder, personally, as it lets me get rid of cards in a more permanent fashion so I can actually draw deeper into my deck.
01 Gitaxian Probe - another can-trip that provides an invaluable resource: information. Being able to play around your opponent's strategies and counterspells is very crucial to know how to do, and the Probe eiminates any guesswork. It's been banned or restricted in pretty much every format now, it's that useful. 01 Mystic Remora - in a competitive Commander meta, this little fish can EASILY draw upwards of 5+ spells over the course of just a single turn. Because we have more opponents in Commander than a traditional duel, we are doubling the number of triggers this little fish sees without committing a ton of resources to keeping it alive. I usually let it die after a couple of turns of drawing cards, after it's served its purpose. Sometimes, opponents will even delay their own plans so that you don't draw any cards off of this. Either way, this fish is great is a heavy non-creature meta. 01 Sensei's Divining Top - another way to smooth out your draws, it also provides a win condition with infinite mana via Rings of Brighthearth. With infinite mana, you copy its draw ability. It will draw a card for you on its first activation and then draw itself back into your hand with its copied ability, netting you a card. You then cast it and repeat this process to draw your deck. 02 Impulse - a really great way to dig deep into your deck for a tutor or mana rock at instant speed. The card selection again is what makes this card worthwhile, and it's the one with the best rate of return for its mana cost. Anticipate is probably the closest cousin to Impulse that's any good.
02 Ideas Unbound - a decent card when you're trying to dig to find a tutor or mana rock, I don't personally like the discard attached to it at the end of turn. It's a little steep, but it digs the deepest at 2 CMC. However, when we usually are digging to combo off, we usually combo off in complete and total fashion, so this card isn't very good on our combo turn and doesn't net any true card advantage to us.
02 Scroll Rack - another great way to dig deep into your deck, especially with a tutor or fetchland. While good, we have better options in the deck that either cost less or dig deeper and net real card advantage, so we'll let it pass. 02 Pull from Tomorrow - a very effective way to dig deep into your deck, the fact that it costs just one less mana than Stroke of Genius is actually very relevant. It's another way to have a payoff for a fast mana hand and, because it's instant speed, allows us to play a solid control game. It digs deep into our deck and the discard clause is pretty negligible. 03 Timetwister - the best of the draw 7's, I personally don't understand why this card isn't banned by the RC. Nevertheless, until they do, we'll definitely run it as it's a great way to get any lost mana rocks or The Chain Veil back into our deck for a second chance. It's also a way to hinder or eliminate any graveyard based strategies as well, so remember that you can use it proactively to disrupt someone's 'yard if you need to. This card is best when you have a fast mana hand and can dump it all quickly and then restock with a fresh 7. The ability to also disrupt our opponent's hands and carefully laid plans is also very powerful as well. Overall, a great card that is super powerful in this deck. 03 Windfall - not quite like the 'Twister, it's still a functional draw-6 or draw-7 when you have a fast mana hand. It digs deep into the deck and disrupts any early plans that your opponents have. A solid card that I'm never really sad to see. 03 Rhystic Study - a set it and never forget it source of card advantage, the Study can draw a ridiculous amount of cards in a competitive Commander game. Because mana margins are so thin in the early turns, landing the Study early will probably guarantee that you never have less than 7 cards in hand. There are a number of ways that you can get this enchantment out on T1 or T2, and if you can do so safely (when you're one of the first two players in the turn cycle ideally), you can get way ahead on the card advantage train. 03 Stroke of Genius - similar to Pull from Tomorrow this card helps to dig deeper into the deck at instant speed and provides a payoff for the fast mana that you can cast and Teferi's ability. 03 Blue Sun's Zenith - the primary win condition, this card is massively useful since it shuffles itself back into your deck for you to "draw" it with Teferi and loop the Zenith until your opponents have overdrawn their libraries. It's also a payoff card for the heavy mana advantage that we can generate. A fantastic card all around. 03 Thirst for Knowledge - it digs three deep into the deck at instant speed. The discard clause isn't that terrible given our artifact count, but it's the draw 3 that we're interested as well as its casting timing. We want to operate at instant speed as much as possible, and Thirst allows us to dig into our deck and maintain card advantage.
03 Frantic Search - on a Tide turn, this card allows us to filter through our cards while potentially generating a mana surplus. An effective tool for High Tide decks, this card barely missed the cut because we have better options at the same CMC that provide actual card advantage instead of card filtering. 03 Verity Circle - a new addition to the deck, this card is an excellent way to accrue card advantage against mana dorks specifically. There's also a surprising number of activated abilities that occur within a game, so don't discount the number of random triggers that may occur. And if you really need to, you can always force a tap to preserve your life total or proactively stop a combo.
04 Deep Analysis - it's sorcery speed and it draws 2 for 4 CMC. The flashback is nice but the CMC really pushes this card out of consideration for us in addition to the timing restrictions of the card.
04 Careful Consideration - because being able to dig 4 cards deep at instant speed is really good and we're really wanting to keep the best cards in our hand. This card digs deep while also helping us filter unwanted chaff from our hand. But it's primarily a way to dig 4 cards deep. 04 Fact or Fiction - oh FoF, what would mono-U be without you? Possibly one of the greatest draw spells printed, this card digs deep into our deck and allows us to pick the best of our top 5. It's instant speed as well, so it definitely gets the nod for its effectiveness and the fact that it will almost always draw you 2 or 3 cards.
05 Future Sight - a decent source of card advantage for Budget lists or decks that want to really abuse Sensei's Divining Top. It's great to draw your way through pockets of lands and draw into the business spells of the deck. However, the CMC is too high and there are better sources of card advantage for this deck's purposes.
05 Intellectual Offering - while the untap effect on our non-land permanents is nice, giving away card advantage AND a mana advantage is not really acceptable. Again, it's a fine budget alternative for Time Spiral or something similar, but there are definitely better options for this deck. 05 Memory Jar - with the high density of artifact tutors in this deck and Academy Ruins in the main decklist, the Jar can become a repeatable and easily tutored source of card filtering. It's also another draw 7 effect for when we have a fast mana hand. A great card overall and worth its higher CMC
05 Gush - we aren't a Doomsday deck that is actively using Gush to win with Lab Maniac. Additionally, Gush forces us to return two Islands to hand, which is NOT what this deck is aiming to do. Teferi cares about the number of permanents that can generate mana on your turn, and while there are some corner cases where Gush is useful during a Tide turn, and we we want to maintain as many of those mana permanents in play as possible.
06 Recurring Insight - an excellent card because of how deep it digs and the fact that it can Rebound to draw another 4+ cards, this card barely didn't make the list. It's explosiveness is another payoff card for a fast mana hand and is usually better in a more competitive playgroup because people generally hold a higher number of cards in hand over the course of a game. 06 Time Spiral - a fantastic draw 7 that recycles spent cards, recovers The Chain Veil if it was somehow countered or killed, draws a fresh 7, AND untaps your lands. This card is quite frankly phenomenal in this deck. Especially during a Tide turn. Being one of the linch-pin pieces of the Combo Winter decks during the Urza's block standard, it forms the backbone of a current Legacy deck named after this card. It's really good and, if you have it, should definitely be run in the mainboard.
06 Consecrated Sphinx - just under Recurring Insight in power, this card is better than the Insight and even some of the draw 7's IF you're playing in a Stax heavy meta where the games drag on long. Since the current version of the decklist is configured to fight against fast combo decks, and because there are cheaper CMC draw 7 effects that are more explosive than the Sphinx, we do not run it. However, this card is massively powerful and is a worthy inclusion if you don't have access to Time Spiral or Timetwister. Indeed, before I acquired my own Spiral, I played the Sphinx instead and it was fantastic.
08 Treasure Cruise - a great Delve draw spell that digs pretty deeply into our deck, this card is simply outclassed by its counterpart Dig Through Time. I wouldn't play any more than one of these Delve spells, since it's likely you'll only have enough cards in your 'yard to pay the Delve costs for one of them over the course of a game. 08 Dig Through Time - the Delve mechanic makes this card more frequently an overpowered Impulse that digs super deep into your deck to find the cards you need. It's really good, and is the Delve draw spells we prefer to play because it digs so much deeper into the deck.
10 Jin Gitaxias, Core Augur - a powerful way to almost guarantee you win, the CMC however is too high. This deck can regularly produce 6-10 mana by T3 or T4, but 10 is just a little too high in the asking. With Teferi's untap ability, it's pretty easy to cast the Core Augur and generate an obscene amount of card advantage. But, because it's too expensive and opens up an avenue of interaction for our opponents (the Praetor is a creature), we don't play the card in our deck.
01 Expedition Map - a great land tutor to find either The Tabernacle (and put some taxing effects on our opponents) or Academy Ruins to recover any dead artifacts, this is a worthy inclusion for any decklist. However, since it doesn't directly contribute mana to our mana pool and takes a few turns of setup in order to really get payoff from, we let it pass. If, for some delightfully unexpected reason, the RC unbans Tolarian Academy, this card immediately goes in. Until then, this gets sloughed off in favor of actual mana producing rocks. 01 Mystical Tutor - this is almost always going to go and find Transmute Artifact or another way to find The Chain Veil. Its ability to put the artifact directly into play, while shortening the mana to put the Veil into play via the difference in CMC's, is absolutely fantastic. Probably the best artifact tutor available to us (so sorry, Tinker...), it's absolutely essential for a fully optimized Teferi decklist.
01 Personal Tutor - so mono-U is pretty desperate for tutor effects. This Tutor is one of the more narrow ones in existence, but it does have the ability to go and find other tutor cards (i.e. Transmute Artifact or Reshape) or a card advantage spell (Timetwister or Time Spiral). It's worth a strong consideration, but it simply came down to deck space and the amount of time required to get the card you tutored for. Mystical Tutor is strictly better and has the important Instant speed timing that makes it so attractive. Personal Tutor was cut, but after a lot of deliberation and testing. 02 Transmute Artifact - although this Antiquites uncommon has massively spiked in price (since it now sees Legacy play and there's a limited number of copies in print), it's one of THE most powerful tutors in the deck. It allows you to exchange an artifact in play for an artifact in your deck and then pay the difference in mana costs. That it puts the new artifact directly into play is what makes this tutor so sought after; it eliminates an opportunity for your opponents to counterspell the artifact that you need to get into play. This card pretty much finds The Chain Veil about 90% of the time. It might sometimes get a different mana rock to make your combo smoother, but that's fairly uncommon. A really good card, you should definitely play it or proxy it (if able to). 02 Reshape - a weaker version of Transmute Artifact because it requires you to pay the full CMC on casting Reshape, it's still great because it puts the desired artifact directly into play. Again, this card finds The Chain Veil nearly 90% of the time, otherwise finding a different mana rock in order to combo off. One of my favorite things to do with this card and Transmute Artifact is to sac Seat of the Synod so that I can save my actual mana rocks. It's fun to be able to morph a land into a mana positive rock or my win condition. 02 Merchant Scroll - being able to find an instant speed card is great because it allows us to get any type of effect we need. Looking for a tutor effect to get The Chain Veil? Go and get Whir of Invention. Need a removal effect? Cyclonic Rift has you covered. Need a counterspell effect to protect your combo turn? Boom, Pact of Negation. The Scroll has a ton of utility in this deck, and with its CMC, it definitely gets the deck slot. 03 Intuition - the history of Intuition is a storied one, and it's worth its price tag. An instant speed tutor effect for whatever you need in order to combo off, Intuition is simply fantastic. Learning which piles you want to assemble so that you get the effect that you need is a skill that is learned over time, but there is enough redundancy in this deck that you shouldn't have a problem using Intuition to get what you need. 03 Fabricate - a simple and relatively effective artifact tutor, this card is either getting The Chain Veil or a mana rock so that you can get Teferi into play and start accelerating your mana advantage. It's cheap in $$$ and it does what we need it to do at a decent CMC, so it's in the deck for sure. 03 Trinket Mage - this Mage is secretly a massively effective tutor. The best types of mana rocks you want to see are the ones that generate 3 because it makes the mana math of comboing off with The Chain Veil so much simpler. Trinket Mage goes and finds either Mana Crypt or Mana Vault, with almost no variation. It then provides a decent body for chump blocking any ground-pounder creatures to protect Teferi. 03 Spellseeker - a new mono-U toy that is super versatile. I would evaluate this card the same way that I would evaluate Merchant Scroll, with the provision that the Spellseeker actually has more versatile since you can find Transmute Artifact. It can get any type of effect that you need at the time, from tutor effects to removal effects, so use her liberally and assemble the cards you need. 05 Tezzeret the Seeker - one of the best Planeswalkers for this deck, his + ability is actually relevant and, with an artifact that can generate 4 (usually a massively kicked Everflowing Chalice or a Candelabra of Tawnos + High Tide), can go infinite with The Chain Veil by itself. His minus ability is also very relevant because he can immediately go and find The Chain Veil and put it into play for free. It's his tutor ability that warrants his inclusion in the deck, and he's one of the best cards you can see in the game.
00 Blast Zone - a new Wrath effect that doesn't take up a deck slot? With opponent's permanents somewhere in the 1-3 CMC range? This land is truly a fantastic land to have in the deck and I'm looking forward to the new removal option that this card allows for Teferi. My respect for Wizards' card design team keeps increasing.
01 Pongify - this card, and its functional cousin Rapid Hybridization, are actually premier removal spells in Commander. They kill any creature and replace it with a semi-useless token (there are some fringe token strategies that the token could be relevant towards). However, given our Commander's unique weakness to combat damage in conjunction with our really low chump blocker count, we're essentially giving our opponents a creature that can kill Teferi very quickly. So, unless your meta is supremely dominated by high-value creature targets, where a 1 CMC removal spell is absolutely essential, I would pass on this card.
01 Void Snare - it's a decent removal spell in that it can hit any type of nonland permanent, but it's sorcery speed. Chain of Vapor is strictly better, so we play the Vapor instead. A fine budget alternative if you're looking for one.
01 Silent Departure - While I never played this card in my maindeck, it's worth at least a mention since it's a 1 CMC removal spell, albeit narrow and a sorcery speed one to boot. Not quite as robust as the other interaction pieces that we can play. Pass, unless you have a thing for geists?
01 Pithing Needle - the effectiveness of this card is directly proportional to the number of opponents who are playing a Commander that is dependent on an activated ability. The more opponents who do, the better this card is. "But Commander is a format of singletons; how could naming one card be so relevant?" Well, when those singletons that could be named are absolutely necessary for a deck to get off the ground (i.e. Arcum Dagsson, Thrasios, Triton Hero, etc.), then naming one of those cards and shutting them off their primary win condition is totally worth the 1 CMC of the Needle. Let them spend a tutor or removal spell on the Needle and it's one less tutor they have for themselves or removal effect that could be pointed at your mana rocks. A very worthy inclusion in a competitive meta, we don't play this card currently because Winter Orb has been a little more effective in games recently. This could easily change. Also, the Needle is Trinket Mage-able, which is not insignificant. 01 Chain of Vapor - I remember seeing this card pop up in cEDH decklists and scratching my head. "Why would I want this weird card? It only bounces a nonland permanent for a turn AND an opponent could copy it. This sucks." Oh, how naive I was. This card is one of the best removal pieces for a competitive game, and let me tell you why:
02 Hurkyl's Recall - a really good way to reset our artifacts and make sure that we can use frozen artifacts like Mana Vault or Grim Monolith in the case we can't untap them for some reason. It also allows us to bounce some of our Stax pieces to enable us to combo off unhindered. It also works against opposing mana rocks as a way to set them back in their mana development, albeit for just a turn. There are currently some better options in comparison, so this card is sitting on the sidelines for now. 02 Cyclonic Rift - pretty much an auto-include for any U based deck nowadays, this card is pretty self-explanatory. Its Overloaded cost is surprisingly easy to achieve in this decks and it has a low CMC in the case that you need to reset a permanent in an emergency. A fantastic card, frankly.
02 Snap - a nice way to get rid of a creature that's bothering you without losing any mana advantage for the turn, and it's really quite valuable during a Tide turn. Not quite strong enough to get into the deck as we are not massively focusing on High Tide. 02 Blink of an Eye - along with its cousin Into the Roil, these are pretty functional pseudo removal spells that have a cantrip attached to them. Not flashy, but they do the job they're supposed to do. The stapled card advantage is nice in order to maintain tempo and card advantage over opponents. I like the art of the Blink over the Roil, so that's why Blink is in the deck. 02 Reality Shift - a nice, clean answer to creatures that can sometimes disrupt our opponents' top of deck tutors or flip over a useless card that they can't morph back out. Another card that I pretty much consider an auto-include for any U based deck.
02 Boomerang - another functional removal spell similar to Blink, this bounce spell doesn't have ANY restrictions on it at all. This is pretty awesome, since you can bounce lands if you needed to, while also being at a similar CMC. The fact that it doesn't cantrip is the only reason that the card didn't make it over Blink or Roil.
02 Gilded Drake - probably one of THE most effective removal spells in U, this Drake is quite powerful because it puts Commander creature cards almost totally out of reach for your sad opponent. Unless they want to kill their Commander and put it back into their Command Zone, it's a pretty confident answer that they won't be using their Commander anytime soon. We don't run this, however, because we are leery of giving our opponents an evasive 3/3 creature that can quickly kill Teferi. Not having the Drake also gives some marginal card advantage by blanking our opponents' removal spells. Great card, just not at its best in our deck.
02 Spellskite - this card is great at proactively protecting The Chain Veil from any random removal spells while also being a pretty relevant blocker for any ground attacks. It blocks Tymna and mana dorks all day without dying and provides another layer of protection for our combo without us spending mana to do so.
02 Sorcerous Spyglass - another Pithing Needle effect that also lets you look at any opponent's hand. That's pretty cool! Sadly, I don't quite have enough deckspace for this Pirate's Spyglass, but it is defintiely worth the deckspace if you're going against an activated ability heavy meta. 03 Capsize - one of the premier spells for mono-U Commander, this spells handles any type of permanent and has the all-important keyword of Buyback. This allows you to funnel infinite mana into a totally one-sided board wipe for (probably) the rest of the game. It also has applications in generating infinite mana in resetting certain artifact pieces (notably Candelabra of Tawnos). I wouldn't ever leave my house without this card being sleeved up and ready to go.
03 Hibernation - an interesting Stax piece that is color focused, this is good when it's good and bad when you're facing the wrong colors. Since mana dorks are a VERY prominent part of the competitive Commander meta, this card is quite worth it. However, Stasis is simply better and is much more oppressive and gets the nod over Hibernation. 03 Vedalken Shackles - it steals a host of relevant Commanders based on the average number of Islands we can confidently think we'll see in the course of a game (2 Islands). Being able to steal a Commander creature is a massive tempo swing in your favor, usually, and being able to steal blockers and preserve your life total is not inconsequential. One of the best cards for mono-U I love what this card enables you to do.
04 Engulf the Shore - for those budget minded palyers, this is a really decent instant-speed board wipe that opens the way for your Teferi to survive a turn rotation. Since my meta is more competitive and I personally prefer Counterspells over removal (currently), I am playing a counterspell in this card's slot. It's also dependent on the number of Islands you have in play, which can sometimes be difficult to obtain with all the utlity lands available in the deck.
04 Kefnet's Last Word - a really cool Mind Control effect that can hit different permanent types and isn't vulnerable to removal effects for enchantments. The lands not untapping clause is easily worked around with Teferi and it can be cast pretty consistently on T2-T3, which is when you want to see a removal effect like this. Think of it as a Gilded Drake taht doesn't give your opponent a flying 3/3 to kill Teferi with.
05 Evacuation - like Engulf the Shore, this instant board wipe is useful and broader in its application since it's not dependent on the number of Islands you have available. A really good board wipe, we simply want to be winning at the stage of the game where this card would be useful.
05 Willbreaker[/CARD] - target four creatures you don't control with Teferi's -1 ability and BAM you now control them for as long as you have the Willbreaker. It's a cool card but you're almost certain to draw the wrath of the table with this card. And we really don't want to run any more creatures than absolutely necessary.
05 Baral's Expertise - a nice way to reset some of our artifacts while also clearing the board of annoying creatures, being able to cast a spell for free is icing on the cake. Not quite good enough, but I love what Wizards was trying to do with the card.
07 All Is Dust - a strong Wrath effect for colorless based decks (which I would definitely consider this deck to be). What's very powerful about AiD is that it forces your opponents to sac their colored permanents, helping to get around the Indestructible keyword. I'm not sure how relevant that may be for your meta, but it's worth mentioning.
07 Karn Liberated - Teferi's long time friend with a host of powerful abilities. You can use Karn as a weird type of win condition where you exile all cards and hands from the game, restart the game, and then start the game with a board full of stuff while you're in The Chain Veil loop. Otherwise, it's a really expensive Vindicate most of the time, removing a problem permanent and then dying. We'd rather be playing Ugin since he can remove nearly ALL problem permanents in one shot. 08 Ugin, the Spirit Dragon - an alternate win condition to Blue Sun's Zenith, this Dragon is absolutely fantastic at what it does. It burns utility creatures and a wide number of Commanders away with its +2 ability and its -X ability is quite simply the best type of board wipe for this deck. I realize that it's an expensive card but it's so absolutely worth it for this deck strategy. I strongly recommend that you play the Spirit Dragon and experience his awesomeness in person.
01 Telepathy - props because Teferi is in the flavor text, this card is useful because you can know exactly when you want to attempt to combo off. It costs 1 CMC, which is absolutely ideal, and the information it provides is just spectacular. However, we don't currently run it because there are more important things that should be played in the deck and at the end of the day Telepathy is a little bit win-more.
01 Candelabra of Tawnos - a fairly infamous combo piece for High Tide decks, this card allows us to double, sometimes even triple our mana output. However, recent testing and discussion has shown that the Candelabra is redundant to Teferi's relevant ability. Since it's redundant, we'll play some other piece of more effective interaction or card draw. 01 Voltaic Key - massively useful in getting multiple uses out of our Monoliths and Mana Vault, this card also acts as a type of mana rock for the combo turn by allowing you to reuse a Sol permanent more than once. A very useful card to have in the deck, it has proven its worth multiple games. 02 Power Artifact - I was initially skeptical as to the effectiveness of this card since we have so many Sol permanents in the deck. But I my skepticism melted away under its awesome potential. Reducing the cost of The Chain Veil's activation IS significant as is the secondary combo of creating infinite colorless mana with one of TheMonoliths. It's one of the reasons that Pull from Tomorrow is included in the deck (besides being a great draw spell): an infinite mana outlet that will (probably) take advantage of the infinite colorless mana.
02 Snapcaster Mage - it almost wouldn't be a competitive deck with the ol' Snappy Caster. I think this card's usefulness is demonstrated enough since it's been printed, so I won't explain why this card is in the deck. 02 Copy Artifact - being able to copy one of our Mana Rocks that generates a Sol amount of mana is golden, as it reduces the math needed during the combo turn to win. Its CMC is what makes it so valuable. If you can't find a copy of this card or can't purchase it for budget reasons Phyrexian Metamorph is just as useful.
03 Sculpting Steel - while the Copy Artifact was included primarily because of its CMC, the Steel is another great choice because it has natural synergy with our tutors. Being able to reduce the math for winning during the combo turn is important and the Steel is a functional way to do so. Outshined by Phyrexian Metamorph, this is still a great card for any decklist.
03 Crucible of Worlds - while it's cute to be able to set up a Strip Mine lock with this card, the Crucible doesn't have too much value in this deck. Recurring fetch-lands isn't advancing our mana output and we don't have a way to reliably drop more than one land per turn with this deck. Cool card, and I'm glad they reprinted it, but it doesn't fit in this deck.
03 Staff of Domination - a fun card to play alongside Metalworker, it's not really good outside of the infinite combo. When we're comboing off, we need to actually kill the table and the Staff does NOT do that for us. The Staff is a redundant piece in this deck and is therefore not good enough for deck space.
03 Savor the Moment - a little different than traditional Time Walk effects, this card does not do anything to advance our game strategy. Typically, when we're casting Teferi, we're usually winning in the same turn. Therefore, getting an extra turn doesn't really do anything for this deck. If you're looking for a flavorful way of building Teferi then I suppose you could jam in all the Time Walk effects possible. But that's not the best way to build Teferi. 03 Rings of Brighthearth - there's a whole section in the 'Mastering the Chain Veil' section as to why this card is useful. Play it and learn about why Teferi loves his Rings. 04 The Chain Veil - THE combo piece of the whole deck. I will refer you to the Combo Explanation section of the Strategy part in the above Primer to understand why this card is so vital to the deck.
04 Phyrexian Metamorph - while already discussed, I think that the little Phyrexian that could deserves an entry. It's a better Sculpting Steel and can be run to replace the Copy Artifact that the primary list maindecks.
05 Time Warp - I'm going to lump in all the Time Warp variants in this entry. In short, they don't actually help us win the game. They simply let us draw more cards and play more mana sources then our opponents. They don't have a place in this competitive list.
I noticed during deck construction that many of the best cards in the deck, and in the game, feature Mark Tedin art. I looked up Mark's art gallery and was surprised at the number of iconic cards he's produced artwork for; I developed a love for his weird, vibrant colors and unearthly shapes (and his fascination for cubes in much of his early work). As my own personal concession to bad deckbuilding, I run foil Mark Tedin Islands from Shards of Alara rather than the Snow basics that are part and parcel of optimized deckbuilding. As it stands, there are 30 cards in the deck with Mark Tedin art:
Match-Ups for Most Common Competitive Commander Decks
While it's really hard to quantify a Tiered Competitive Commander list, our friends the LabManiacs (check out their YouTube channel here for excellent deck commentary and fantastic game matches!) have done some data mining and have created a rough list of the competitive Commander decks that are most frequently played. I will be listing the match-ups for Teferi accordingly, based on the list that is found and maintained here.
Breakfast Hulk - Thrasios & Tymna
This deck is one of the most efficient combo decks in Commander right now. It has a single win condition, available to it via Hermit Druid, and two very powerful and effective 2-card combos. The 2-card combos are Nomads en-Kor + Cephalid Illusionist and the classic Flash + Hulk. However, all three of these strategies are dependent on milling their entire decks into the graveyard. This inherent weakness, as well as the TIGHT mana margins that the deck operates on, allow you a few opportunities to interact with them. Grafdigger's Cage is really powerful in this match-up as it stops Dread Return from being able to reanimate a card from their 'yard, so try and tutor for it aggressively. The deck is also weak to Cursed Totem, so try and find that one if possible as well. Otherwise, race the deck and try and counter their key play.
Grixis Storm - Kess/Jeleva
Looking at Protean Hulk decks and Storm decks, we have a much more positive match-up against Storm decks because they require mana and multiple spells per turn in order to execute their card sequence. A correctly timed counterspell can slow them down significantly and they are all mostly reliant on resolving Ad Nauseam. Keep a sharp eye out for it and remember to play around Dark Ritual, as that allows them to sneak a Nauseam when you're least expecting it. Be careful of how many wheels you let resolve as well, as they can trash your hand and ability to interact with them. Jeleva is the more troubling of the two Commanders as she can potentially exile The Chain Veil with her triggered ability. Otherwise, their game strategy is very lean and hard to disrupt because they play their own interaction and anti-blue spells a la Pyroblast.
Food Chain Tazri
Ah, Food Chain decks. They are super fast, almost as fast as Flash Hulk or Breakfast Hulk decks, with fewer dead pieces in the deck. These decks HEAVILY rely on Food Chain. If you can successfully remove that, you will slow them down significantly. We have plenty of stack interaction in order to prevent Food Chain resolving, and so we're primarily playing the Control in this matchup. Make sure to save Counterspells for a potential Food Chain and be aware of how many creatures they have in play in order to combo off.
This will be a fairly short summary since I'd refer you to the previous Grixis Storm entry. Similar to Storm match-ups, Zur decks usually use a similar Storm method of winning. The difference is that they have Zur, who can just randomly put Necropotence into play after attacking with Zur and draw a bajillion cards. Counter their Ad Nauseam and you should be good to go, although the addition of Zur adds another element of complexity to consider.
Teferi Stax Mirror Match
This is a really tense and awkward matchup. You both know that The Chain Veil is your win condition, but the actual fight should be over your mana sources. Generally speaking, you want to be able to resolve your mana sources faster than your opponent and don't hesitate to spend a Mana Drain on a Mana Vault. Mana advantage is going to be the real decider of this matchup. Once you resolve Teferi it should be smooth sailing since Teferi can generate so much mana and card advantage over time. Conserve your counterspells for your combo turn and execute it with protection.
Dramatic Scepter - Thrasios & Tymna
Ah, Thrasios, Triton Hero. The new marquee card for UGx infinite mana decks, Paradox Scepter is a combination of two complimentary strategies - Paradox Engine lines of combo and Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter combo lines. They then draw their deck with Thrasios' activated ability and kill you with either Lab Man or Aetherflux Reservoir. This is a slightly favorable match up because this kind of deck is dependent on Thrasios. A Cursed Totem at an early stage of the game will do wonders in slowing them down. Otherwise, be judicious with your Counterspells and watch out for a sneaky Ad Nauseam.
This is a dreadfull matchup, honestly. If Yisan resolves, it's nearly impossible to get him off the field. Combine his tutoring ability with the ability to destroy artifacts at every Verse counter, and it becomes really, really hard to keep any of our precious mana rocks on the battlefield. Honestly, this is a really tough matchup. Thankfully, two cards can really help make this a good one: Cursed Totem and Grafdigger's Cage. These two Stax pieces make this matchup very good, as they're left playing a 2/3 for 2G. Not the best way to go about winning a Commander game, methinks. Tutor for those Stax pieces or otherwise counter Yisan whenever you can.
This is a really fascinating decklist. It's mono-G Storm, really, with creatures that depend on activated abilities. Cursed Totem is an all-star in this one, and try and keep Selvala, Heart of the Wilds off the field for as long as possible. While it is possible to race this deck, I don't recommend it as they can usually do it a turn faster than we can.
Blood Pod Stax - Tana & Tymna
The premier Stax deck in the format, this deck is just straight scary. Null Rod. Stony Silence. Thorn of Amethyst. This deck is really just aiming to lock us out of the game and kill us with creatures. Thankfully, they are dependent on creatures and their mana base is delightfully weak to Back to Basics. My advice is to simply race them and try and resolve your combo faster than they can deploy their own Stax pieces. Otherwise, try and keep them off Tymna as she is their primary source of card advantage.
Dominaria had a great addition to the competitive Commander lineup with Jhoira, Weatherlight Captain. She allows every artifact cast to cantrip and replace itself. This naturally translates to a Storm strategy that has similar flexibility in its hate pieces as we do. You're going to want to keep Jhoira off the table as long as possible with some interaction and removal. Once they get going, it becomes really hard to stop them and interrupt their combo, especially if Paradox Engine ETB.
A really cool BUG deck, there's a couple variations for Tasigur. The most powerful one, in my opinion, revolves around Dramatic Reversal + Isochron Scepter. Acting mostly like a Storm deck with the addition of mana dorks and Carpet of Flowers Tasigur's recursion is quite powerful. Combined with a very efficient infinite combo of recurring two powerful removal pieces (Reality Shift and [CAARD]Beast Within[/CARD]), they have a lot of flexibility in how they approach the game. This is a really tough match, honestly, because Tasigur has a couple of really solid card advantage engines that give it a great late-game. Play smart and look for solid openings to safely cast Teferi and you should be ok.
Gitrog Monster Combo
One of the most interesting combo decks to ever be created, The Hypno-Toad is a super fast combo deck that can win on T3-T4 consistently. The combo revolves around milling their entire deck via The Gitrog Monster's trigger, a discard outlet, and Dakmor Salvage. Keep the Monster off the table and counter their discard outlet whenever possible.
This is another tough matchup because Edric presents a natural solution to Planeswalkers as its core strategy: annoying, flying 1/1's. The game becomes really quite simple: counter Edric or kill him. Otherwise, you will not be able to keep ahead of Edric's card advantage. Because they play so many cheap counterspells, it becomes difficult to execute your game strategy or stop theirs.
Keep Sisay off the table. The end. Sisay usually needs just ONE untap step with Sisay in play and it's all over. And once she finds Paradox Engine, it's time to scoop them up. Sisay revolves around chaining legendary spells and/or creatures together to create a high Storm count and kill everyone with either Aetherflux Reservoir or milling everyone out with Selvala, Explorer Returned. Sisay is also able to play a strong Stax game, similar to Teferi, so be aware of the typical Selesnya hate-pieces that could come in. Keep up some interaction for Sisay and make sure Sisay doesn't hit play.
The creation and updating of this thread would not have been possible without ajacobik putting in the majority of the hard work in initially creating it. Thanks for your work, comrade, and hopefully one day you'll be able to see what your thread looks like.
Credit also goes to LordRewind for being a second set of eyes and also contributing to this thread as well.
I would also like to publicly recognize Laboratory Maniacs user Cameron for his well worded thoughts on Threat Assessment. They form the backbone of the "How to Play Control in Standard" section of this Primer and I proudly redirect you to Cameron's excellently written Tasigur Primer, found here. Cameron accurately captures the primary points of critical thinking that is necessary for evaluating threats at the table and I reiterate that I stand on his shoulders for this section.
A lot of inspiration and Card Choices were also influenced by the Discord and r/competitiveEDH communities. The Teferi Discord page can be found here, and it's a MASSIVELY useful forum to discuss Teferi ideas and strategies. Many thanks to you fine people for discussing card choices and supplementing my own strategy.
Additionally, I highly encourage you to check out the original Primer on TappedOut. The Primer can be found here and is another great resource on using the Stax Master.
Finally, thanks should go to YOU, dear reader. While I recognize that MTGSalvation Commander forums are for more casual players, there is a growing subset of players that want competitive Commander decklists. This list, and its Primer, are for you in an effort to increase your knowledge base and hopefully showcase one of the premier competitive Commanders available!
Many happy games to you, my friend! I hope you've learned about a little about how to play with the Temporal Archmage and I hope you unlock the power of The Chain Veil for many victories!
This is a running log of any changes that are made to the Current decklist so that it remains current and up to date and so that you can follow what has changed about the decklist. The reasoning why a card substitution occurred will be found within the body of the thread itself, so reasoning won't be mentioned within this section.
Massive updates and changes to the OP and decklist. I honestly don't remember too many of the changes, but I'll keep track of them better in the future.
With the newly minted cEDH forums, I decided that it would be appropriate to post a couple of Primers so that future cEDH'ers can get an idea of what a Primer will look like and how they can interact on MTGSal. I hope that this Primer is a good example of the type of content we're looking for!
The distinction that I immediately note is that my decklist has a slightly higher removal count, with the addition of Shackles and Capsize, in comparison to the stock list which has 2 more cantrips than I (Sleight of Hand and Gitaxian Probe. In my analysis, I think this comes to playstyle and how I perceive card advantage in this cEDH format. Generally speaking, removal counts are low and many of the most valuable creatures in cEDH have power 2 or less. I have found, through my own experiences, that Shackles has generally overperformed for me in halting an opponent's gameplan. The immediate comparison that I would make for this is the power of Gilded Drake. Gaining control of an opponent's creature is VERY powerful, especially when done at a low CMC. I believe that Shackles trades the CMC efficiency of Drake and other removal spells for a card that synergizes more completely with the decklist as a whole while also being repeatable. I have often tutored for Shackles via [CARD}Whir of Invention[/CARD] in order to gain control of an Arcum, Yisan, Kaalia, or Zur. The opponent then either spends a tutor to go and find a removal spell or, more often than not, is stranded from executing their primary gameplan. While I certainly concede the efficacy of cantrips in digging into a tutor in order to execute our own combo line, I find that I personally prefer the tempo loss and subtle card advantage that removal spells provide. I readily admit, though, that there have been times where Capsize has looked particularly useless depending on the board state.
Verity Circle is a card I simply haven't tested yet, hence its lack of inclusion in the maindeck. I anticipate that it will replace Careful Consideration as it did in the stock list.
Urza's FActory is a holdover from the original decklist that hasn't been too terrible. I haven't had it in play and diminish the amount of mana that High Tide needs to make in order to combo off, and the ability to make chump blockers has been useful at times. In full disclosure, though, this is a land that should be removed for an Island.
Forge of Heroes has actually been relatively interesting as a land. Because it adds loyalty counters directly to a Planeswalker, there is a small corner case where you can create infinite mana with Teferi's minus ability, mana rocks, and Forge of Heroes. It's come up once during a game, but not since then.
Blue Sun's Zenith is simply a good card in my opinion and I prefer to have as many draw X effects in the deck as possible. I prefer the raw card advantage the Zenith provides in comparison to the repeatable Pulse of the Grid. I'd rather see a burst of 3-4 cards for more mana than only net 2 cards from Pulse at the same mana cost consideration.
Everflowing Chalice has been consistent at what it needs to do for me. It can scale into a Sol permanent when it needs to or be a combo piece with Tezzeret the Seeker. Its flexibility in how much mana it produces is valuable to me, especially since I can tutor for it via Trinket Mage to get the last mana source I need to reliably combo off.
I think that Mana Leak is an underrated counterspell, personally. While Flusterstorm may be better if there's a Storm presence in your playgroup, I find that Flash Hulk decks or Arcum decks are more popular currently. And the Leak is effectively a hard counter at 1U against hose decks whereas there might be some cases where the Flusterstorm simply misses.
Great stuff! I think the most relevant one that I personally think should be changed for your list is the Verity Circle over Consideration. In the small testing I've seen and heard from, Verity Circle is one of the best draw effects printed in a while. Flusterstorm is a card I would never omit in anything close to a full budgetless meta, just because it doesn't take Storm decks to make it effective. Most decks chain spells nearer to the end of a game, and are usually pinched on mana. Flusterstorm is also effectively uncounterable outside of another Flusterstorm, which comes up constantly for me.
Thanks! Mana Leak is a card that's often come in and out of the deck for other counterspells. Since I play against my wife's Kaalia deck most frequently (particularly in 1v1 matches) I like my counterspells to be as live as possible in that matchup. Flusterstorm was consistently useless in that matchup whereas the leak countered that T3 Kaalia without fail.
That being said, I've often eyed Spell Pierce as a slot option for Flusterstorm. How has the Pierce performed in your experience? I'll also pose the question to the Discord and see what they say as well.
Yup, the Discord consensus is similar. The Primer has been updated to reflect that!
In other speculation, it seems like they're hinting at an artifact centric deck in the near future with all the enchantment and artifact removal that's being printed in the new Ravnica sets. I sure hope so, because Paradox Engine was the best artifact to come out for combo decks in years.
Also, I haven't been able to play as frequently as others have. What are the most common archetypes represented in the cEDH meta now? I assume that it's 4 Color Hulk decks followed by Zur Storm. Is that right?
Thanks for sharing that. I think it would be useful to have a thread for that kind of information as part of the Primer directory, to be updated twice a year or so. That would be good information to have so that the cEDH community has an idea of how the general meta looks for part of the year. Twice a year would ensure that it accurately reflects any new cards that are introduced while allowing them time to marinate in the cEDH world to actually be substantiated as good cards.
Of those Mid-Range decks, it seems like Teferi is the big boy at the table, which is pretty pleasing to see!
gotta say, shifted away from the old tendin tribal list and am currently running the tapped out main primer list. Its pretty ridiculously fast, though there have been a few times where i have mourned the lack of static and winter orb in my main deck. What is your thoughts on the removal of these two stax effects?
It really depends on what your meta looks like. Personally, I have found that Winter Orb has now been largely outclassed as a Stax piece simply because so many cEDH decks focus on mana dorks and mana rocks as their primary sources of mana advantage. While it's nice to be able to slow down mana production from lands, it's generally become less powerful than Cursed Totem. Static Orb is a Stax card that could easily come back in because it DOES hinder the mana development that our opponents can accrue from their mana rocks, mana dorks, and lands. Static Orb is simply more effective now because it hits multiple permanent types in comparison to Winter Orb.
What ever became of your playtesting for forge of heroes? This seems to go infinite on the turn you play teferi, if it is in play when he enters play - am i mistaken about that? seems incredibly strong if so; but its a dead draw otherwise. You mentioned it wasnt that good, and cut it. Care to explain why?
I brought up the idea of Forge of Heroes to the Discord community there and they argued against its inclusion. So its removal from the main decklist was a concession to the excellent Hive Mind on Discord, especially since I haven't had a chance to playtest with Teferi recently.
Their basic argument was that the chances of the Forge being a dead draw were greater than the niche case of being able to generate infinite colorless mana via the Forge. Further, the corner case where the Forge COULD generate infinite colorless mana was relatively uncommon to lose an Island for.
That logically makes sense. Thanks for the info man. For the record, verity circle does insane work if anyone rocks mana dorks. Its basically a love child of Pithing Needle and Rhystic Study. They SHOULDNT ever use abilities again, so it should function like a global needle, but you know someone eventually will start giving you cards.
That's... a pretty nice comparison. Wow. I'm thinking that maybe I should find some room for it in other blue-based decks I have, particularly my Memnarch deck. Particularly with how ubiquitous mana dorks have become in the cEDH scene.
Spoiler season has begun and already the new set looks promising. I think the card that I'm most excited to try out in this deck is Karn, the Great Creator. Shutting off mana rocks of our opponents is VERY powerful and he can incidentally find Mycosynth Lattice in order to completely lock your opponents out of being able to generate mana. That is some sweet value for 4. I highly recommend giving him a test, but only if your playgroup allows sideboards.
Negative, ghost rider. There was a brief rumor from a member of the cEDH playgroup that he was going to make a Lavinia Prison deck, but I haven't seen it yet. He's played Gitrog instead, which is much scarier in my opinion.
However, she's definitely back-breaking against this particular deck. It's very hard to draw into 6 lands naturally to cast Teferi, which means that we lose probably 3-4 turns conservatively on average if she hits play quickly. I think there's a build of her out there that would be absolutely brutal, but I haven't seen it yet. There are the obvious ones including Knowledge Pool, but those lists seem to suffer from the lack of a fast end-game. You've locked the game down, cool story; now you need to win and do it quickly so you don't incur ill-will in future games or allow your opponents time to get out of the lock.
Hey Benjameen! I've been a long time reader and follower of this deck list, in fact this deck is my first ever cEDH deck and I the only things I'm missing right now is Tabernacle and Timetwister.
Decided to make an account and ask you on your thoughts on WAR cards. The two top cards I'm looking at WAR are Narset, Parter of Veils and Finale of Revelation. Narset is meant to replace Back to Basics for me since my local meta has both Yisan and Selvala, while Finale would be replacing Careful Consideration (my Timetwister replacement. Another card I am also considering is Jace, Wielder of Mysteries as another wincondition, but I am not sure what to cut for it.
Private Mod Note
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
New cEDH player. Current deck is Teferi, Temporal Archmage
Hey Benjameen! I've been a long time reader and follower of this deck list, in fact this deck is my first ever cEDH deck and I the only things I'm missing right now is Tabernacle and Timetwister.
Decided to make an account and ask you on your thoughts on WAR cards. The two top cards I'm looking at WAR are Narset, Parter of Veils and Finale of Revelation. Narset is meant to replace Back to Basics for me since my local meta has both Yisan and Selvala, while Finale would be replacing Careful Consideration (my Timetwister replacement. Another card I am also considering is Jace, Wielder of Mysteries as another wincondition, but I am not sure what to cut for it.
Hey y'all, I'm sorry I've been absent from the forums here. My wife and I ran into some marital issues and everything has gone to the back burner for now while we figure out boundaries and work on communication.
Glad that this Primer has been useful! I'm honored that you made an account to comment on here. I think Narset, Parter of Veils is an absolutely fantastic card from the new set. It punishes other player's Wheel effects while helping you dig deeper to find a tutor or combo piece. I'm absolutely finding a space for her in the deck, I just haven't decided which cards I want to cut.
I think the lack of instant speed is a true mark against Finale of Revelation, but I think the effect is worth it. This deck is a Control deck that has a super strong Combo finish, so having a card like Finale to replenish your hand and guarantee max hand size is very attractive. I think it could work very well for you as a budget option. The Finale Cost of X = 10 is REALLY sweet, particularly since you can untap lands. I think Wizards is being really brave in printing such powerful effects on cards now. I'm really pleased with what they're doing from a card design standpoint.
Definitely going into the deck, I just haven't decided which card to cut. The fact that she stops other Wheels from being effective is what makes her super attractive, nevermind the fact that you hinder Mystic Remora and Rhystic Study as well. I'm really excited for her and I personally pre-ordered 2 copies of her. I think she's much better in Eternal formats then people give her credit for.