Underdog's Corner - Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle

(Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle | Art by Even Amundsen)

Underdog in the Zone & the 99

Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another edition of the Underdog's Corner, where I will do my hardest to convince you to try out a legendary creature that is underappreciated, underplayed, underpowered, or some combination of the three! For today, I want to specifically highlight a card from Dominaria that is currently appearing in under 1,200 decks on EDHREC. What does that equate to? As of today, it ranks around 343 on the most-played white cards list. It even ranks behind Sinew Sliver, a random Sliver that probably only sees play in Sliver tribal decks. Generous Gift from Modern Horizons is in over 1,700 decks, and it's only been available for three months! However, not only do I want to talk about this card as a contributing member of the 99, but I also think it has a home as a commander of its own deck. Give it up for this week's contender: Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle!

Teshar, Ancestor's Apostle

As a flying four-mana 2/2, Teshar is not going to be mixing it up in combat. However, his stats aren't why we're interested in him.

Whenever you cast a historic spell, return target creature card with converted mana cost 3 or less from your graveyard to the battlefield.

'Historic' is a "batch" keyword from Dominaria; artifacts, legendary spells, and Sagas are all historic. Legendary spells and Sagas are certainly less prevalent than artifacts, though if we wanted to build around just those, there are three Sagas and about 200 legendary white cards. However, since there are still nearly 1,800 artifacts to choose from, we'll end up leaning heavily on the artifact theme.

The name of the game with Teshar is recursion, specifically recurring creatures with converted mana costs of three or less. This is something that white loves to do, and I really appreciate that Teshar brings a consistent engine to the theme. With that said, we're going to need to put creatures in our graveyard consistently to get value out of our flying legend.

We Must Construct Additional Constructs

Glancing through Teshar's High Synergy and Top Cards on EDHREC tells a good story of what we can expect from this deck:

Recursion engine pieces such as Myr Retriever and Junk Diver rank the highest on Teshar's most-played cards lists, as well as cards like Restoration Specialist and Salvage Scout. This core of cards is going to be important to keep our engine running smoothly.

As one example, we can sacrifice Salvage Scout to grab Myr Retriever from our graveyard, which can then bring back Salvage Scout with Teshar's trigger. After that, we can sacrifice Myr Retriever to grab another artifact out of our yard. This combo can fuel itself over and over until we empty our graveyard of artifacts. This type of combo is crucial to having Teshar run smoothly, and to that end we're including a lot of redundancy in the deck.

Now that we've set up this shell, we can decide how we want to fill out the rest of the deck. One card that caught my attention was Scrapyard Recombiner. It's currently the third most popular newly-released card for Teshar, and it's not too hard to see why: the Recombiner is a veritable Swiss Army Knife for this deck, checking off nearly every box that we could possibly want; it's a creature, it's historic, and it can dump itself into the yard while also tutoring key pieces. While "Construct Tribal" doesn't really exist under a cohesive theme, this gives us an incentive to look into what Constructs are available, as we can repeatedly tutor them to our hand. Wizards has created a lot of great artifact creatures over the years, but leaning towards ones that share this creature type could help us break any ties when deciding which creatures to include.

Thankfully, Constructs can fill a lot of different roles in our deck. Myr Battlesphere can't be recurred by Teshar's ability, but who needs that when Battlesphere is a threat on its own? For other threatening Constructs, we also have access to Cataclysmic Gearhulk for a partial Wrath, and Scuttling Doom Engine or Traxos, Scourge of Kroog for beaters.

We can include utility cards like Kuldotha Forgemaster. If we follow this path, we have a two-step tutor that can let us find any artifact in our deck and put it into play. Foundry Inspector is another great card that offers a discount for each time we want to trigger Teshar's ability. Not only that, it opens up more options for combos with Krark-Clan Ironworks, if we feel so inclined to include enough pieces for it.

Speaking of Krark-Clan Ironworks, Scrap Trawler, a common piece for Ironworks combos, also happens to be a Construct, and yes, you should include it in the deck. We're going to need to put creatures into the yard often, and a good number of them will be artifact creatures. Whenever an artifact dies, we get to return one to our hand that has a lesser converted mana cost. This gives us a great way of recurring cards, especially when combined with a mana-producing sacrifice outlet like Ironworks.

Sipping on Haterade

While artifact recursion is a powerful engine, we're going to need other creatures to recur, and Teshar's stipulation of a specific converted mana cost defines the subset of creatures we need to pull from. Typically, these creatures aren't going to be impactful enough to win the game on their own, but they can certainly provide utility to either enhance our strategy or hinder our opponents. We're going to borrow a strategy from Legacy's well-established 'Death and Taxes' archetype: slowing down our opponent enough to get our engine online.

If you didn't notice, many of the creatures included in our list so far have no enter-the-battlefield effects. Tocatli Honor Guard and Hushwing Gryff both give us easily recurrable versions of Torpor Orb to shut down such strategies. In metas that I've played in, Torpor Orb isn't a common sight, so most people don't build around it. However, if it were to hit the battlefield, there are plenty of decks that would quickly get shut down. The second deck I ever built, Roon of the Hidden Realm, got shut down by a player playing the Orb, and on that day I learned a harsh lesson about (not) diversifying the threats in my deck.

Grand Abolisher and Ranger-Captain of Eos perform similar functions by helping us shut down opponents' interactions on our turn. Additionally, the Ranger-Captain offers versatility by tutoring up a creature with converted mana cost 1 or less. It's a little odd to advocate for a creature with an ETB effect after discussing three cards that stifle those abilities, but the flow of the game will hardly make that an issue as you have control over when you deploy those effects. What are some good targets for Ranger-Captain? Right off the bat is either Mother of Runes or Giver of Runes. Consistently handing out protection is a powerful tool. We can also find Memnite or Ornithopter for a zero-cost reanimation spell with our commander.

Lastly for our Death and Taxes line-up, we have a classic: Stoneforge Mystic has always been an incredibly powerful Magic card, and tutoring for any Equipment gives us a lot of flexibility. Having access to Skullclamp immediately? How about Conqueror's Flail to stave off interaction? Or maybe even a Diviner's Wand as a combo finisher? If we throw in a sacrifice outlet, we can sacrifice Mystic and then recur her with Teshar's ability to tutor for more Equipment.

Loop Around

While we've covered quite a bit of ground, don't lose sight of the fact that Teshar is an incredibly powerful engine in the command zone. I won't list out every combo that's available, but I'll leave you with one example:

Myr Retriever, Skullclamp, Krark-Clan Ironworks, and a zero-cost artifact allow us to dig through our entire deck with infinite colorless mana. From there, winning should be trivial, assuming we've built our deck decently well.

I hope this brief look at our resident Bird Wizard has given you something to think about! Teshar is an incredibly unique Magic card, and even if you only include him in the 99, I think you won't be disappointed. Below is a list that I hope will inspire some creative decklists; there's so many directions you can go!

Buy this decklist from Card Kingdom
Buy this decklist from TCGplayer

Thanks, once again, for joining me in the Underdog's Corner!

Mason is an EDH player from Georgia, who is a self-proclaimed Johnny and Vorthos. His MTG career started with a casual lifegain deck with only a single win-condition. When not consuming MTG, he spends his time being a full-time student, an avid sports fan, and a dabbling musician. Mason can be found on twitter @K_Mason64