Teferi, Hero of Legacy

Rich Cali
June 13, 2018
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This past weekend was SCG Con, and Star City Games ran a ton of sweet events for lovers of all competitive formats. While Pauper, Vintage, and No Banned-List Modern are all awesome in their own right, Legacy received plenty of love, as well. In addition to the expected Legacy Classic that SCG occasionally runs, they ran a 13 round Duel for Duals. The results for these events were mostly as expected, with Grixis Delver and Czech Pile being the most popular, and best performing, archetypes. There was a fair amount of diversity in the other archetypes spread throughout the top performing decks of the weekend, mostly suggesting a relatively stable metagame.

While there were a number of cool takeaways worth talking about (Maverick making the top 4 in the Duel for Duals, for instance), I want to focus on a single card that snuck its way into the top 8 of the Duel for Duals in my favorite archetype, UW Stoneblade: Teferi, Hero of Dominaria.

First, the decklist played by Zach Allen:

 

While Teferi has been inching his way into every competitive format recently, it seemed like Legacy might be the hardest to breach. It’s not that Legacy is too powerful for Teferi (It has found its way into Vintage, after all), it’s that the cards that define Legacy seem particularly good at preventing Teferi from making an impact. Part of the reason that Teferi ends up being so dominant is that it is not-so-secretly a 3-mana Planeswalker after you use his +1. This allows players to keep up disruptive cards to protect Teferi, and really allows the player to pull ahead relatively easily.

However, despite actually being 3-mana when it resolves, it requires a 5-mana up front cost and this is where it seems that it would be a tough fit for Legacy. Legacy is defined by free and cheap taxing effects and mana denial. Daze, Spell Pierce, Wasteland, Thalia, and so much more. This makes the 5 CMC cost a much more difficult ask then in other formats. In addition, Legacy has a lot of decks that are pretty unfair and kill relatively quickly, so actually getting to 5 mana could be a big ask.

That being said, Teferi is certainly strong enough for Legacy if it resolves. Going up to 5 Loyalty is gigantic, and barring a True-Name Nemesis, there’s a fair chance that the mana can be used to keep the controller/Teferi alive  Being able to answer almost any permanent is incredibly relevant, and really gives the player an extra dimension to their deck, and frees up some deckbuilding space that might otherwise have to be dedicated to more specific answers. Being able to answer Jace, Emrakul, Sylvan Library, and even Leovold in a pinch is a huge amount of diversity.

It’s hard to argue that Teferi is going to be impactful when it hits play, but getting to that point seems tough. That being said, I think Zach’s deck is set up well to maximize Teferi’s impact. Because he’s trying to support Back to Basics, he sports a hefty 9 basic lands which allows him to easily develop his manabase in every game. At the same time, he is choosing to run 0 Supreme Verdicts and Counterspells in the main deck, and is opting for cheaper, more narrow cards, like Flusterstorm and Path to Exile. In conjunction with his ability to safely develop his manabase, this is going to allow him to push through Teferi more often when he has 6 or more mana.

While Miracles might seem like the other clear choice for Teferi, I think Stoneblade is more well equipped to take advantage of it. Stoneblade is substantially more threat dense than Miracles, and can often play the role of a tap-out midrange deck. This means that the opponent needs more answers and by the time Teferi comes down, they might have been run dry on interaction. Miracles is a much more reactive deck, and might rely on already answering everything of worth before it comes down. In that world, Jace seems much better, while also having more synergy with the rest of the Miracles in the deck. In addition, being a Counterspell deck, Jace is able to be pushed through on 6 mana with a Counterspell, while Teferi requires a hefty 7 mana.

All of this being said, i’m not actually sold that Teferi is better than extra copies of Jace in any deck. As of now, Jace is still the most powerful Planeswalker of all time, and has been a dominating force in Legacy for years. However, the amount of Jace’s that get played is usually capped at 2 or 3, and these UW decks do tend to run other Planeswalkers from time to time, so Teferi isn’t necessarily encroaching on Jace’s territory. Is Teferi more impactful than Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, or some other White Planeswalker? That might be more likely, and it will be interesting to see what his role ends up being going forward.

While Teferi might be the most interesting part of this deck to me, it would be remiss of me not to mention the Karn, Scion of Urza hiding out in the sideboard. Tokens work well with equipment, drawing cards is excellent, sidestepping Pyroblast can be very relevant, and having 6 Loyalty after +1-ing all make this sound like a solid card for the archetype. I think this could honestly be better than Gideon in this deck because it provides more than just a diverse threat, and I will definitely be keeping an eye on this Walker, as well.

It’s exciting to see Dominaria have at least a small impact on Legacy, and I hope that this trend can continue. Legacy could use some new blood added to it, and I think there’s still a fair amount more that Dominaria could add.

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