Teshar - Play It Again, Sam

(Terrarion | Art by Luca Zontini)

Remembrance of Things Past

Greetings, everyone, and welcome back to Monomania. In this series we build mono-colored decks as a way to investigate ramp and draw packages that are synergistic with our commanders. We aim to challenge highly-regarded staples and consider ways to shore up perceived weaknesses in the color pie. Today, it’s all about reanimation—but not in black. We won't be diving into hallowed tombs, but rather the dust bin, digging up unremembered baubles and encountering characters lost to the ages.

So if we're not looking at black for our mono-colored recursion, which color are we tackling?

Teshar could be home to the combo cabal in mono-white: Auriok Salvagers, Lion’s Eye Diamond, Enduring Renewal, Blasting Station, Memnite, Aetherflux Reservoir, and their ilk. If we stuff the 99 with sacrifice outlets, tutors, and ways to hurtle through our deck, we could simply stumble into an infinite combo. If this is your flavor, chase it. However, I want to discuss another angle. There is a lot of space for Teshar even without going all-in on combo. I won't be removing the combo potential entirely, just tempering it. If you want to see how to give Teshar more of a combo bend, check out Matt Morgan’s delightful article on Teshar in his 60 to 100 series here. We came to many of the same conclusions despite having different goals.

No matter what, Teshar is a potent recursion engine. However, it is not the intuitive, common recursion strategy that cheats colossal, imposing monsters into play from the graveyard. Instead of reanimating big creatures, mono-white is more suited to leverage Teshar’s recursion engine to produce big mana and cast titans early.

Now that we have a direction, let’s take a look at how we’re going to get there with our ramp and draw packages.

Exploit the Masses

Teshar's EDHREC page is an example of the EDH community having a clear vision of what this commander does and what most effectively juices his power. In the High Synergy Cards and Top Cards categories, I think almost every pick deserves to be there. Let's take a look at how and why some of these cards are ridiculous with our commander.

Krark-Clan Ironworks and Ashnod's Altar are the core of the deck. Everything from combos to card advantage engines are driven by these two cards. Although we have several other sacrifice outlets that let us put things in our graveyard, these are the two that enable us to craft explosive turns, sacrificing creatures and producing the mana to cast more artifacts to recur those same creatures. Krark-Clan Ironworks sees play in 48% of decks on Teshar's page, while Ashnod's Altar sees play in 68%. In one way, I understand the disparity; Teshar cares about historic spells, which includes artifacts and legendary creatures, and if someone takes Teshar in the legendary creatire direction, KCI doesn't fit in that build. However, both deserve to be in over 80% of decks; every Teshar deck can abuse these cards.

Artifact creatures that produce mana are typically underwhelming in Commander, but they have unexpected advantages for us here. Cards like Gold Myr, Palladium Myr, and Manakin can trigger Teshar's abilities when they're cast, and can be the targets of that ability if they're in the graveyard. Not only that, but they are flexible sacrifice targets, valid targets for every outlet we have in this deck.

Finally, these two cards are exceptional in Teshar. Sacrificing Cathodion to KCI or Ashnod's Altar produces five colorless mana. As you'll see in the final build below, I've included 31 artifacts in this deck, and only two cost five mana or more. This combination of cards in conjunction with our commander allows us to cycle through artifacts, resurrecting Cathodion over and over again just to be scrapped for mana.

The new Ugin, the Ineffable also performs well here. We have a critical mass of artifacts that cost two mana or less, so if Ugin's on the field, it's a critical mass of artifacts that cost nothing. He can help make our blisteringly fast turns even more impactful.

Now that we have an efficient ramp package, let's see how we'll draw through our deck by using the power of love from beyond the grave.

Treasure Hunt in the Junkyard

Using artifact and creature recursion to produce card advantage is where Teshar really shines. Let's take a look at how it all works.

In a vacuum, card that return artifacts from our graveyard to our hand, such as Scrap Trawler, Myr Retriever, and Junk Diver, aren’t necessarily card advantage—they only replace themselves. However, with Teshar and sacrifice outlets cycling them in and out of the graveyard, they can actually keep our hand full pretty easily. We aren't drawing a lot of cards, but we are definitely up on card advantage.

This type of effect is also crucial to our combos. I’ve chosen the above cards as well as Workshop Assistant instead of Trusty Packbeast and Treasure Hunter because they can be grabbed with Teshar’s ability, and they can be sacrificed to either KCI or Ashnod’s Altar. So, what will we be retrieving?

'Eggs' - that is, artifacts that sacrifice themselves for mana or to draw cards - are not traditionally powerful EDH cards, but we’re going to run them in this deck for certain. They perform a triple function here: triggering Teshar’s ability, drawing through our deck, and serving as sacrifice fodder. With Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle, Myr Retriever, Krark-Clan Ironworks, and an egg, we can create an infinite loop and draw our entire deck in one go. It really is that simple.

When considering which eggs to include, it's important to pay attention to the specific wording. I omitted cards like Conjurer's Bauble and Scrabbling Claws. Although their activated abilities are more useful than those of Guild Globe or Elsewhere Flask, they require the use of that ability to draw a card. Sacrificing them to another outlet does not generate card advantage. Conjurer's Bauble sees play in 32% of Teshar decks and while it does trigger Teshar's ability for one mana, there are plenty of better options with more relevant abilities.

I've included eight total eggs, such as Terrarion and Implement of Improvement. A huevo!

Skyscanner and Filigree Familiar are incredible reanimator targets for Teshar. If we can move them in and out of the graveyard, we can easily maintain a full grip of cards. As an added bonus, they also trigger Teshar. Both show up in Teshar’s Signature Cards on his EDHREC page, exactly where they should be.

Bygone Bishop is an interesting choice. Clue tokens aren’t necessarily the greatest source of card advantage, since they’re expensive to crack for only one card. Still, I do think this Bishop is good enough to find a spot. Clues can be sacrificed to KCI if we’re short on mana, or we could even sacrifice one clue for the mana to crack another.

Lastly, the new Scrapyard Recombiner seems to slot in perfectly here. All the cards that grease our engine - Cathodion, Scrap Trawler, Workshop Assistant, Kuldotha Forgemaster - are also incidentally Constructs.

The Deck

With that ramp and draw base, let's bring it all together with a decklist.

Among the other notable inclusions, we have a flight of forgotten heroes. Time has not been kind to Tivadar of Thorn, seeing play in only 84 decks. Now is his moment, serving to both trigger Teshar as well as surprise a playgroup by eating an errant Krenko, Mob Boss. Kataki, War's Wage may seem like an odd effect, but it can play a triple function here, triggering our commander, taxing our opponents, and sending willing sacrifices to the graveyard to fuel our recursion engine.

Rally the Ancestors is egregiously underplayed in only 1,153 decks on EDHREC. This card can be game-ending for decks that run a critical mass of low-cost creatures. Here, we can really milk it, sacrificing all of our resurrected underlings before they become exiled, sending them back to the graveyard for further exploitation.

The cost-to-potential-fun ratio with Springjack Pasture and Springjack Shepherd is so low that I run it in almost any deck that includes Trading Post in white. Be careful with your Goats, though. If you're in a meta with a high prevalence of Goatnapper, maybe leave the Springjack family at home.

I have included one infinite combo with Reveillark, Karmic Guide, Perilous Myr, Inquisitor Exarch, and a sacrifice outlet. As for the world-ending beaters, I’ve chosen Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Avacyn, Angel of Hope, and the three most recent versions of the Eldrazi Titans. If you’re on a budget or just don’t feel like putting on the Ritz, there are many other late-game options. Want to be mean? It That Betrays and a suite of Annihilator creatures can compose an efficient late-game package. Want to stall some more? Check out cards like Void Winnower, Blazing Archon, or Nullstone Gargoyle. Season to taste.

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What do you think of Teshar? Would you include every mono-white combo known to man, serve up a breakfast filled with a ton more eggs, or would you employ him as a Legendary Creature tribal general? How do you feel about Spellshapers like Mageta the Lion as a way for mono-white to fill the graveyard? Let me know in the comments. Remember to EDHREC responsibly: always dig a little beyond the statistics. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on down the road.

Steven Vincent is an ESL teacher located in Oaxaca, México who uses Magic as a teaching tool. He hasn't introduced his students to Commander yet, but he is inching them toward the format so that he has a play group and can more frequently sate his thirst for EDH.