Challenge the Stats - Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun
(Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun | Art by Anna Steinbauer)
The Mummy Returns...Again
Hello, and welcome to the EDHREC series Challenge the Stats, based off of the wonderful segment on the EDHRECast, where we challenge the inclusion rates of 10 cards in a deck on EDHREC. Our goal is to highlight cards that we think are seeing too much play or too little play (according to our data) and classify them as overplayed, underplayed, or sleeper picks (not showing up at all on the commander’s page, but really should).
Keep in mind that these suggestions are meant as considerations to accompany EDHREC’s data. However, inclusions made on account of flavor, budget, art, or anything important to you, as the deck brewer, are always valid and are what keep our format unique.
It was neck-and-neck for a while, but Temmet pulled ahead in the race (I refresh religiously after the article comes out). Either y'all really like these token commanders and can't decide, or they're chopped liver now that we have Ghired, Conclave Exile. Temmet has been covered by several EDHREC writers in the past, including Rick Amundsun, Mason Brantley, and Andrew Cummings, so check out their articles for more Temmet tech!
At first glance, Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun may seem overshadowed by some of the powerful "big" token commanders we've seen recently, like Brudiclad, Telchor Engineer, Akim, the Soaring Wind, and the aforementioned Ghired, Conclave Exile. These guys all want to make large tokens, and sometimes some little ones sprinkled in.
Let's talk about what Temmet can do that these guys don't: first, having your commander cost two mana shouldn't be underestimated, since it means that we don't mind casting him an extra time or two in the game. Second, his Embalm ability allows another option to cast him when he gets too expensive, so we can almost always count on having his ability at a reasonable cost. Being able to depend on our commander's ability gives us the upside of freeing up some card slots in our deck that we might normally use to protect him in order to build a more synergistic deck around him. Notably, we are going to use that unblockability to our advantage to draw cards with things like Reconnaissance Mission and Mask of Memory.
Let's briefly address some rules around Temmet that may be confusing. First, we can let him go to the graveyard if he dies, and, as long as we don't redirect him to the command zone at that moment, we can pay the Embalm cost to bring a token copy of Temmet back to the battlefield while redirecting the original back to the command zone instead of exiling him. Second, when we have a token Embalmed copy of Temmet, he is technically not our commander, so, sadly, he won't deal commander damage when he is an unblockable token.
One thing I love about Temmet is the flexibility we have with him, both in building our deck and during the game. He can employ many strategies, including Clones, Equipment, Voltron, Tokens, Graveyard (Embalm/Eternalize), or a mix-and-match! If we dabble with a few different strategies, we can be flexible to deal with whatever our opponents throw at us, or just have multiple win conditions to keep the deck exciting over many games.
I'm going to employ several of these strategies because I think it'll be really entertaining to clone our opponents' creatures, suit them up with big Equipment, and smack their ownders in the face with bigger, unblockable versions of their own stuff. We're also looking to go tall with this build, which may seem counter-intuitive.
Let’s take a look at some underplayed, overplayed, and sleeper picks. We are challenging about 260 Temmet decks at time of writing. You can see how often a card is currently being played in Temmet decks next to its name.
1. Quasiduplicate (74%), Cackling Counterpart (73%), and Fated Infatuation (45%)
Starting out with a 3-for-1, sorry, not sorry. This deck wants to do a lot of things, which limits the number of slots available for big threats. We also want to have the flexibility to copy any creature on the battlefield. There are plenty of options that copy anything that people are already including in Temmet, like Rite of Replication (52%), Stolen Identity (64%), and Clone Legion (37%). I'm just arguing we cut down on the copy spells that restrict us to our own creatures (the same goes for God-Pharaoh's Gift (48%)). We may want to copy something that's already on our board, but let's give ourselves the flexibility.
2. Champion of Wits (59%)
This card is representing a broader category of over-costed and/or unimpactful Embalm and Eternalize cards. Perhaps this is due to them being released in a block with Temmet so they are in mummy flavor? I'm 100% behind flavor choices, but let's take a critical look at a few, including Champion of Wits, Anointer Priest (46%), and Trueheart Duelist (16%). They don't have impactful abilities, and, to get their over-costed token versions, we have to get them in the graveyard first. I do understand the appeal of having a board presence early and a token later on, but we have a two-drop commander, which is guaranteed early board presence. As for a few others, I kind of like Glyph Keeper (43%) for its built-in protection, but be careful: it also protects itself from Temmet's ability. Oketra's Attendant (19%) puts itself in the graveyard with its Cycling ability, and, if we're running Equipment, Adorned Pouncer (59%) and Sacred Cat (18%) perform nicely on account of double strike and lifelink, respectively. However, there are a couple of Embalm effects that really pull their weight. Vizier of Many Faces (83%) is a copy effect that isn't a token the first time around, but once we Embalm it we'll have a copied token of the biggest and baddest thing we or our opponents have. Angel of Sanctions (66%) removes a nonland permanent twice with Embalm and Aven Wind Guide (85%) gives all of our tokens flying and vigilance, which has the potential to be game-ending.
Long story short, just because a card has Embalm or Eternalize doesn't mean that it's an automatic inclusion.
3. Doomed Artisan (35%)
There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get what we want out of this card. First, we have to wait many turns to get our sculptures big enough to be a threat, all the while not being able to attack or block, then we have to get our Doomed Artisan to die, and all while hoping that someone doesn't wipe the board and ruin all of our hard work. I'd rather have something that makes a token right away, like Eternal Skylord (33%), or something that makes more useful tokens, like Mirror-Sigil Sergeant (40%), and neither of those cards even made my final cut of the deck.
4. Keeper of Keys (34%)
This card functions as both a card draw engine and a win-condition. Monarch is especially good for us when we know one of our creatures will always be unblockable. It also helps to give us an advantage against spell-based decks, which our deck may be weak to. A person trying to combo off won't be able to snag Monarch from us, but we'll be able to draw more cards to try to find something to disrupt their combo, and we can even make deals to trade Monarch with another player to help. Finally, if we find ourselves with a board full of tokens and with no opponents able to take Monarch from us, all of our tokens become unblockable for a huge swing! Some other options to make things unblockable could be Deepfathom Skulker (11%), Thassa, God of the Sea (8%), and Venser, Shaper Savant (6%).
5. Stitcher Geralf (16%)
This necromancer can stitch together some monstrous tokens for us. Normally when we mill our opponents, we worry about giving them something they can reanimate. Geralf solves that problem by exiling their biggest threats and sewing them together to make us a giant Zombie token. I like the mini-game of rolling the dice to see if we hit something big. It's like a high-variance, high-upside Mirror-Sigil Sergeant, which is in 40% of Temmet decks. I think Geralf deserves a bit more love.
6. Luminarch Ascension (16%)
Luminarch Ascension can win games all by itself, and it's extra good when we want to make big tokens. A 4/4 for two mana is nothing to scoff at. It will also help give us some defense if an opponent is going wide or sending a big trampler our way. It's creeping up in price, so let's cross our fingers for a Double Masters reprint! It's two mana to both cast and activate, so that seems pretty double-y, right?
7. Rapid Hybridization (14%) and Pongify (7%)
I think Generous Gift (47%) is being represented at better numbers, and I'd like to see the other two around the same amount. They're already good, efficient removal, but these three spells have extra utility in our deck. We might not think we'd want to do this to our own creatures, but if we are desperate for a token to attack with, we just might. That flexibility might just catch an opponent off-guard when they think they're safe for another turn. In a pinch, it might be worth it if it means drawing a card off of Reconnaissance Mission or ending the game with a Blackblade Reforged. Pongify is in need of a reprint, but Rapid Hybridization was in Ravnica Allegiance Guild Kits last year and thus is at a more reasonable price. Would you consider these either in place of, or in addition to, Swords to Plowshares (54%) and Path to Exile (28%) with Temmet?
8. Wurmcoil Engine (8%)
Okay, I know this card is both well-known and expensive, but let me use it to discuss a broader topic. We want just a few big copy targets in case our opponents don't have anything around. Wurmcoil Engine is great with the token synergy as well, and just barely doesn't make the cut for Temmet's EDHREC page. The site has a tendency to sometimes leave out game-ending cards because they have more variance in decks than synergistic cards (like Aven Wind Guide and Vizier of Many Faces for Temmet). One person's haymaker might be a Wurmcoil Engine, while another's might be a Pathrazer of Ulamog; as long as a deck a couple of them, it will do just fine. So my challenge is simply to not forget about these cards that might fall off the EDHREC page. If we're looking for copy targets that are more budget, check out Serra Avatar (1%), Myr Battlesphere (11%), and Spawnsire of Ulamog (sweet tech with a go-wide strategy). If budget isn't a restriction or we have them lying around, look at Wurmcoil Engine, It That Betrays, and Blightsteel Colossus (1%).
9. Marit Lage's Slumber (1%)
This deck is all about big tokens, so what better token to have than a 20/20 flying indestructible Marit Lage? We could go the Dark Depths route (pair with Thespian's Stage and Expedition Map for maximum effectiveness), which is already being played in 10% of decks. If budget isn't an obstacle, why not both? Marit Lage's Slumber is a new, budget-ish way to get our second-favorite Avatar crashing onto the battlefield (the first being Aang). I say budget-ish because we need to make sure we have enough snow permanents to pull this off. Snow-Covered Islands and Snow-Covered Plains add a bit to the price of the deck. We also have Coldsteel Heart, Boreal Shelf, and a few ways to fetch basics, so it's not unreasonable to have Marit Lage's Slumber online by mid to late game.
10. Ominous Seas (1%)
This new enchantment from Ikoria is a great way to pump out 8/8 Kraken tokens. The first time I read the card, I didn't think too much of it. Then I realized it doesn't sacrifice itself to make the Kraken, so we can keep pumping out 8/8s as long as our opponents let this stay on the battlefield. Cycling adds a lot to this card since we can cycle it away if it's not what we need. I definitely want to see this card both early in the game to start the slow rise to eight counters and late game once I have a draw engine online.
Let's check out a decklist:
Vizier of Nakt-Gonna-Block-This
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer
There are plenty of higher-budget cards that could be added to the deck. As we mentioned, Dark Depths and powerhouses like Eldrazi can up our power level. We're in blue and white, so we have plenty of options to add tutors for Equipment, instants, sorceries, or enchantments. Anointed Procession is one that adds a lot to this deck, regardless of the strategy. Divine Visitation may work for the right Temmet build, but remember that any Rite of Replication effects we have will just be Angels, so I'd only use that with a go-wide strategy.
There are more powerful Equipment that can pack a punch, like Batterskull, Helm of the Host, Sword of War and Peace, Sword of Feast and Famine, and Sword of Light and Shadow. Finally, and maybe obviously, the controversial Cyclonic Rift. It's never wrong, but do we need it when we have Winds of Abandon and Hour of Reckoning which might just do the trick (albeit at sorcery speed)?
What do you think about Temmet compared to all of the token commander options? What cards would you challenge? Sound off in the comments below!