The Power of Tutors

Whether you are playing a standard sized sixty card deck, a one hundred card commander deck, or a forty card draft deck, there is one thing that plagues us all, consistency. Whether you are looking for anything from your next land drop to the final piece of your combo, there is always the chance that you draw a useless card, or worse yet something that you needed four turns prior. But there is a solution to this, and it comes in the form of one of the most powerful effects in magic, tutors.

So why exactly are tutors so great?

Well let’s look at the most often played tutors in the game, fetchlands. They are a staple in almost every format they are legal in due to their ability to get you the right land when you need it into play, and usually untapped. This makes a huge difference when playing three or more colors, as getting the right color (or combination of colors) at the right time is crucial for multi-color decks to stay on curve. But not just any tutor will do, generally in Magic it is important to play both relevant and efficient tutors (meaning they have immediate benefit and/or are not too slow). For example, the lack of proper fetchlands in Pauper has made it so most decks trying to play three colors or more typically don’t do very well. Instead they have to rely on cards like Evolving Wilds, only ever being able to fetch for a tapped basic land. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does restrict deck building options and significantly slows down strategies that attempt to run them.  It is not always a bad thing to be running slower tutors, especially in formats where that is the only option, however in faster formats with higher power levels, it is generally best to run the most efficient tutors available (Even if they have extra costs such as life loss or are only sorceries).

What’s the best place for tutors?

Now I want to get in to where tutors really shine, Commander. When your deck is made up of ninety nine cards and none of them can be duplicates (except basic lands, Shadowborn Apostle, and Relentless Rats), you are bound to run into some consistency problems.

So what is the best way to circumvent this?

While yes, you can greatly increase your chances of getting what you need by running multiple cards with the same effects, what if the card in question doesn’t have any alternatives or it is a very specific answer that you don’t really feel comfortable running more than one or two of in your deck? Then the solution is to play more tutors! This is easier said than done however, as all of the colors outside of Black have very limited options when it comes to tutors. But fear not, there are some very good non-black tutors if you are playing in other colors. Now let’s go through a brief run down of some of the most efficient tutors in Magic. Mostly these are run in EDH, however some of them do see play in other formats such as Legacy and Modern (namely Enlightened Tutor, Entomb, Merchant Scroll, Green Sun’s Zenith, and Chord of Calling).

Some notable tutors include:

Demonic Tutor & Vampiric Tutor: Both of these (and many more with similar effects) let you search for whatever you want, and the added secrecy of not revealing to your opponent what you look for can be very powerful.

Goblin Matron & Goblin Recruiter: While you can only search for goblins, this is one of the few ways red can tutor at all, and in the right deck they can both be amazing.

Entomb & Buried Alive: It is no secret that the graveyard can be a powerful resource, and this is an easy way to fill it with select targets.

Fabricate, Mystical Tutor, Personal Tutor, Reshape, and Merchant Scroll: Some of Blue’s best tutors. Although they are limited, that hasn’t stopped them from appearing in many decks where they are legal.

Green Sun’s Zenith, Chord of Calling, Rampant Growth: Green’s tutors tend to be limited to only creatures or lands, but many of them have the added effect of putting them directly into play. This has lead to the creation of many powerful “toolbox” decks, such as Kiki-Chord and Maverick.

Enlightened Tutor, Stoneforge Mystic: White has very few tutors, and they are very limited. Stoneforge Mystic however is extremely powerful. The play is to usually use it to tutor up something like Batterskull, and then use its other ability to cheat it into play.

But what do you think? How essential is it to have tutors in your deck? What are some of your favorite things to do with them? If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please feel free to say something in the comments section below.

P.S. Can you believe I went a whole article without talking about Burning-Tree Emissary? (Crap I blew it)



Sylvan Studies Team

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