Teferi, Time Raveler
– War of the Spark
April 22, 2019
Commander [EDH]: 4.13
Ratings are based on a 1 to 5 scale. 1 is bad. 3 is average. 5 is great.
I’m so glad to see Teferi back in action. He was gone from most of Magic’s middle years after he phased out Zhalfir during the Phyrexian Invasion, and although his sacrificing his spark during the Time Spiral block was a fitting act for a hero like him, he belongs in the vanguard. I’m glad that Jhoira helped him restore his planeswalker status in the Dominaria story, because the vanguard is exactly where this new card places him.
Why, you might ask? Disruptiveness. His static ability is not a conventional kind of disruption, as it doesn’t actively remove any of your opponent’s resources, but it will force many decks to change the way they play. Most decks have instants, and he doesn’t just stop counterspells but also a lot of combat tricks – opponents can’t turn your blocks against you with Giant Growth, and they can’t use Dive Down to make theirs better for them. And I think there may even be some psychological value in using his +1 even when you don’t have a sorcery you specifically want to cast on their turn. How much would it change the way somebody plays if they knew you might cast Urza’s Ruinous Blast mid-combat?
The lower-rarity planeswalkers in War of the Spark all have some interesting features. Namely, they either have an “ultimate” or simple value abilities. Teferi, Time Raveler is the “value” kind of planeswalker, relying on an ability that seems rather similar to his Time Spiral creature appearance (as Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir) and some tempo abilities to complement it.
Let’s look at the “worst-case” scenario: for three mana, Teferi is a bounce spell that draws you a card…and also shuts off most of your opponents’ potential responses, thanks to his passive ability. That alone is a great deal for three mana, even if he can’t hit lands or planeswalkers. But as a -3 when he has 4 loyalty, he can live to start ticking up, and his +1 is also actually nice! Quicken rarely is a card worth spending a deck slot for, but giving all of your sorceries the ability to be cast at instant-speed is nice. It lets you hold up threats, like board wipes, while still being able to threaten countermagic.
I think this Teferi is actually quite nice, maybe even in “deeper” formats. His abilities are all good sources of value (even lacking the power of a conventional ultimate), and I can see him making waves many places. He isn’t a Limited bomb, but he’s still good there as well…though he won’t win you the game on his own.
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