Teferi, Master of Time
– Core Set 2021
June 15, 2020
Commander [EDH]: 4.75
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
Everyone’s been so focused on discussing certain shocking events that we haven’t had a chance to unpack this shocking event: Teferi introducing the ability to use planeswalker abilities during someone else’s turn. If they don’t take him out the turn after you play him, you’ll most always untap with him at five loyalty and two looting actions into a reshaped hand. That’s a good advantage and he’ll be pretty resilient against your opponent’s next move. It also means you’ll almost never have to spend all his loyalty just on the delaying -3, which is not something you can say about every planeswalker that interacts with creatures. And he scales up to multiplayer in a hilarious way. Although it takes a long time to build up to his ultimate, it’ll be hilarious when somebody hangs on to it so they can use it as an instant and hijack the normal turn cycle!
Out of all the cards in Core Set 2021, Teferi, Master of Time is on my short list of the coolest new cards. If nothing else, he sees the return of a long-lost mechanic to Standard, even if on a one-off card.
Let’s start from the top: Teferi’s unique ability is that he can use his abilities each turn at instant speed. The ability to loot at the drop of a hat is nice (to try and dig for another counterspell), and doing so at instant speed can help to try and push Teferi out of the reach of damage-based removal. While 3 loyalty from the outset is low, popping this twice gets him to a fairly healthy
Admittedly, the really cool ability is his -3, which brings phasing back in the form of making a creature phase out. As a reminder for phasing, phasing basically makes a permanent quit existing until before the upkeep of its controller; it resumes existing with any counters and attached permanents it had before disappearing, and it’s not “returning to play” (so it can still act when it returns, and doesn’t trigger abilities that care about coming into play or leaving play). In a sense, it’s very blue removal; it puts off the creature and delays it for a turn, and it being instant-speed makes it actually useful (since a creature would phase back in before your opponent untaps).
His -10 is Time Stretch, which is a bit more plausible than it might seem, especially with more players. In a four-person game, it would take two turn cycles to accrue enough loyalty on his own to pop. In a head-to-head game, you’re less likely to pop it, but Teferi gets loyalty pretty steadily through looting (and looting is a solid effect to have at one’s disposal).
I don’t think this Teferi will be as oppressive as the Time Raveler has been in Standard, but he’s still very good. A solid value engine that can delay an attacker (or blocker) in a pinch has many homes, especially in blue, and I’d be shocked if he wasn’t one of the most-played cards in the upcoming Standard.
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