Teferi is Trouble, and Oko Makes it Double

The defining card of the past five months of Standard is still here.

Since Teferi, Time Raveler was printed, there have been three Standard Grand Prix and three individual Standard Opens. Teferi decks took 22 of the 48 slots in the Top 8 of those tournaments, winning four times (the two tournaments Teferi didn’t win were won by Mono-Red on release weekend, and there were multiple Teferi decks in the Top 8 in both). As the defining late-game deck of Standard shifted from Jeskai to Esper to Four-Color Dreadhorde to Bant Scapeshift to Kethis, the three-mana planeswalker that could grind the early game to a halt against tempo decks and control timing against slower decks was a near-constant presence.

With Throne of Eldraine comes another three-mana planeswalker ready to take Teferi’s crown.

Oko, Thief of Crowns is an incredibly strong card on rate. Between high loyalty and a +1 that can help create threats or neutralize the opponent’s, he takes over games quickly, and I’ve regretted not making what seemed like big sacrifices to give myself a window to kill Oko.

Teferi and Oko are both three-mana planeswalkers that protect themselves and your life total, and can snowball advantage if not immediately dealt with. Like Team Rocket, they’re all about power and unfair fights, although they might be a little better at it than the Pokémon villains. With these similarities in how they function, I think Oko can be the James to Teferi’s Jessie, extending their reach to the stars above in a Bant deck that puts a strong three-mana planeswalker into play with unreasonable consistency.

My first instinct was to build Bant Hero. Hero of Precinct One was a good glue card for Esper last season, and with some strong multicolored cards to carry it I felt it could do the same here.

Hydroid Krasis was an obvious include, with Tamiyo, Collector of Tales, Deputy of Detention, Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves, and Huatli’s Raptor also finding their way into my list. This group made more concessions on power level for the sake of triggering Hero of Precinct One than Esper Hero’s core featuring Thought Erasure, Teferi, Time Raveler, Oath of Kaya, Kaya’s Wrath, and Teferi, Hero of Dominaria. Huatli’s Raptor in particular was not a good option, but its 2/3 body helped it make the cut over a ragtag group of multi-colored two-drops like Maraleaf Pixie and Emmara, Soul of the Accord.

Hydroid Krasis and the planeswalkers represented a solid core, so I built on. I tested my list against a few decks I and others had built, and I found it had trouble beating Autumn Burchett and KanyeBest’s Jeskai Superfriends list. I added two copies each of Nissa, Who Shakes the World and Questing Beast to improve that matchup. I was fine avoiding multi-colored cards in those slots, as playing Nissa or Questing Beast is probably better than playing Elite Guardmage with a free 1/1 stapled to it. In hindsight, this should have been an indication that Hero was not the right plan.

The final card that made the cut was Once Upon a Time. Once Upon a Time is somewhat contentious, but it makes opening hands significantly more consistent, either by filling a hole on the curve or by finding a land. It supports Teferi and Oko by helping ensure they hit play quickly and with a good follow-up. Once Upon a Time is a bit of an awkward draw in the midgame, but the rest of the deck is set up to avoid getting stuck without anything good to do – there are a lot of good cards in the deck that cost 3-5 mana, and the primary removal spells (Oko and Wicked Wolf) double as resilient threats against control decks. Later in games, I am happy paying two mana to have five looks at a great draw.

I chose not to include Gilded Goose initially because I felt there weren’t enough ways to get value out of it with so many two-drops and taplands. When you want to curve two-drop into three-drop anyway, and if you have two untapped lands and a tapland, you get no value out of playing an untapped green source for Gilded Goose on Turn 1 aside from playing your three-drop a turn before your two-drop. If that three-drop is Oko, great. But if it’s Teferi, I’d rather just play the tapland and lead with Hero of Precinct One. And that isn’t even taking into account what happens if you stretch the lands in your hand to play a Turn 1 Goose and it dies.

Bant Hero did not come together well, but I’ll post the list I ended on.

4 Breeding Pool

2 Deputy of Detention

3 Fabled Passage

2 Forest

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Hero of Precinct One

4 Huatli’s Raptor

4 Hydroid Krasis

2 Island

2 Nissa, Who Shakes the World

4 Oko, Thief of Crowns

4 Once Upon a Time

2 Plains

2 Questing Beast

3 Tamiyo, Collector of Tales

4 Teferi, Time Raveler

4 Temple Garden

4 Temple of Mystery

2 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

Sideboard

1 Aether Gust

1 Deputy of Detention

2 Glass Casket

3 Knight of Autumn

2 Narset, Parter of Veils

2 Shifting Ceratops

2 Sorcerous Spyglass

2 Time Wipe

One of the biggest problems with this deck was that Hero of Precinct One and Huatli’s Raptor were largely dead draws that I was almost always unhappy to see. Hero would usually just turn on my opponent’s otherwise dead Shocks, or maybe make one token and get overwhelmed by someone with a faster gameplan. Huatli’s Raptor was arguably the best card in my deck if my opponent was trying to attack me with Gutterbones and Robber of the Rich, but it did very little against any deck where it didn’t dodge removal and threaten to eat attackers, which is to say it was bad around 80% of the times I drew it.

The biggest issues I had in Oko mirrors were not having Gilded Goose into Oko, and the high density of big threats that could pressure my board with Questing Beast and Wicked Wolf.

Both of these problems are easy to solve. With Once Upon a Time to find Gilded Goose, playing Oko on Turn 2 should happen reasonably often, and most of the time playing Oko on Turn 2 is enough to pull ahead. Given that having Gilded Goose significantly increases the number of mirrors I expect to win, I think it is a mistake not to play it if I think Oko decks are good.


The addition of Gilded Goose also let me play Wicked Wolf, which quickly snowballs if Gilded Goose or Oko left some food behind at any point. Since Gilded Goose and Wicked Wolf are both slightly below-rate cards on their own but get much better with Oko, and their synergy when drawn together helps a lot with cutting down on the number of times when they are actively bad draws.

I tried Charming Prince in the Hero deck as a replacement for Huatli’s Raptor, and I liked it much better than Raptor or even Hero. I’m rarely unhappy to see Charming Prince when my life total is under pressure or in the late game when I’m digging for a threat with Once Upon a Time. I often shipped it back on mulligans or boarded it out, so I wouldn’t quite call it serviceable, but it at least impacted the game by setting up my draws or padding my life total most of the times I played.

If the format is about getting ahead on board and not about grinding out card advantage or finding the perfect play, Tamiyo won’t line up well. Cutting her for Questing Beast and Wicked Wolf is fairly clean in that case.

I don’t think playing only two copies of Nissa here was correct. I’m not sure I want the full four since drawing multiple copies makes my plan a bit one-dimensional and she isn’t as good on Turn 5 as when she’s ramped out, but she is a powerful ramp threat that immediately presents multiple relevant cards my opponent needs to deal with, which makes it harder to just answer my early planeswalker and grind out a win.

Someone pointed out on Twitter that Mystical Dispute counters both Teferi and Oko, which could prove extremely useful since Bant has trouble answering either in ways that are mana-efficient. I’m fine leaving up mana early here, so I like having Dispute on an early planeswalker to allow me to play at the pace I want and beat my opponent up in a midrange game, assuming I can’t answer their planeswalker with one of my own.

Here’s a more midrange Bant list with Gilded Goose, but no other ramp cards. This is my current favorite version of the deck, as it has very few dead draws in the late game.

Team Rocket

4 Breeding Pool

4 Charming Prince

2 Fabled Passage

4 Forest

4 Gilded Goose

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Hydroid Krasis

1 Island

3 Nissa, Who Shakes the World

4 Oko, Thief of Crowns

4 Once Upon a Time

2 Plains

3 Questing Beast

4 Teferi, Time Raveler

4 Temple Garden

4 Temple of Mystery

2 Tolsimir, Friend to Wolves

3 Wicked Wolf

Sideboard

3 Aether Gust

3 Glass Casket

3 Knight of Autumn

2 Mystical Dispute

2 Narset, Parter of Veils

2 Shifting Ceratops

(Scryfall link with Arena export)

Some of the lists I lost to were more ramp-focused, and I think that is a viable direction to go as well. There is some tension between the ramp creatures and Teferi, since putting Paradise Druid and Leafkin Druid in your deck means you just want to jam threats fast to make up for the high number of dead draws in your late game, and Teferi wants to draw cards and win the late game. This causes me to lean more toward a midrange list which can maximize Teferi.

Still, both Teferi and aggressively ramping into big threats lined up well in Standard before rotation, with ramp working largely thanks to the presence of decks like Scapeshift and Four-Color Dreadhorde that couldn’t defend themselves early but had an incredible late game. If Teferi and ramp are good again, then Bant could be a good direction to go over another Oko ramp deck like Simic or Sultai.

Bant Ramp

4 Breeding Pool

3 Fabled Passage

4 Forest

4 Gilded Goose

4 Hallowed Fountain

4 Hydroid Krasis

1 Island

4 Leafkin Druid

4 Nissa, Who Shakes the World

4 Oko, Thief of Crowns

4 Once Upon a Time

4 Paradise Druid

1 Plains

2 Questing Beast

4 Teferi, Time Raveler

4 Temple Garden

3 Temple of Mystery

2 Wicked Wolf

Sideboard

3 Aether Gust

3 Glass Casket

3 Knight of Autumn

2 Narset, Parter of Veils

2 Shifting Ceratops

2 Sorcerous Spyglass

(Scryfall link with Arena export)

Since playing Nissa early is now a greater part of my gameplan, I want to play four copies. I’m fine cutting a Tolsimir here to make room.

In the sideboard, I no longer want Mystical Dispute since I’m planning to tap out on Turn 2 more often. Instead I have Sorcerous Spyglass for the Jeskai Superfriends matchup. I could reasonably play Spyglass.

I would lean toward playing this version of the deck over the midrange version if I expected to face a lot of green mirrors. Using early plays to have more mana available is generally good in the mirror, but becomes awkward when it’s necessary to play cards like Charming Prince to protect your life total in other matchups.

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2 Replies to “Teferi is Trouble, and Oko Makes it Double”

    1. Thanks! I think the main reason to play white over black is that Teferi gives you another great turn three play that fits in well with what the rest of the deck is doing. Murderous Rider and Vraska wanting games to drag out makes them a pretty poor fit in a deck that’s generally incentivized to play proactive cards like Leafkin Druid.

      Bant over Simic gives access to better plays on curve and better sideboard cards, at the cost of less consistent and more painful mana.

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