Hi, I'm SafetyValve and I love mono-colored commanders with restrictive abilities.
While White will always be my favorite color in magic, this is probably thematically my favorite deck overall. Tetsuko Umezawa somehow has the ability to create doorways wherever she wants (between planes? Is Tetsuko a pseudo-Planeswalker?). In-game, this allows her to make creatures with power or toughness 1 or less completely unblockable. Aside from a few exceptions, this generally makes sense if you look at the art of */1 and 1/* creatures. They're small, lithe, or otherwise agile or frail in appearance. I like this deck because it feels sneaky. The limitations force you to pack light; like a thief. There were a few Tetsuko threads on the old forums, but since I haven't seen one yet, why not start my own?
Tetsuko is a mono-Blue commander, which automatically draws comparisons to other - much more immediately powerful - mono-Blue commanders, however, while most Blue decks focus on spells, Tetsuko focuses entirely on combat. This is very much a Weenies deck focusing on "on-hit" effects that trigger when dealing combat damage to an opponent. Because our commander makes our creatures unblockable, we don't need to add to many cards that grant unblockable and focus on good on-hit effects.
By Card Type
1 Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive
1 Brazen Borrower
1 Daring Saboteur
1 Invisible Stalker
1 Nightveil Sprite
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Vedalken Aethermage
1 Wharf Infiltrator
1 Cephalid Constable
1 Chasm Skulker
1 Eternal of Harsh Truths
1 Gateway Sneak
1 Mist-Syndicate Naga
1 Mistblade Shinobi
1 Neurok Commando
1 Nimble Obstructionist
1 Riptide Entrancer
1 Scroll Thief
1 Tandem Lookout
1 Thassa, God of the Sea
1 True-Name Nemesis
1 Vendilion Clique
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Master of Waves
1 Nezahal, Primal Tide
1 Bloodforged Battle-Axe
1 Sol Ring
1 Lightning Greaves
1 Mask of Memory
1 Swiftfoot Boots
1 Thought Vessel
1 Umezawa's Jitte
1 Crystal Shard
1 Kefnet's Monument
1 Quietus Spike
1 Rapid Hybridization
1 String of Disappearances
1 Swan Song
1 Curse of the Swine
1 Cyclonic Rift
1 Mission Briefing
1 Pull from Tomorrow
1 Archmage's Charm
1 Whir of Invention
1 Commit // Memory
1 Notorious Throng
1 Paradoxical Outcome
1 Rite of Replication
1 Knowledge Exploitation
1 Military Intelligence
1 Teferi's Veil
1 Back to Basics
1 Imprisoned in the Moon
1 Rhystic Study
1 Bident of Thassa
1 Coastal Piracy
Approximate Total Cost:
Tetsuko requires a balance of dealing damage and losing the attention of your opponents. Creatures like Gateway Sneak are important for card advantage, especially early on, and Daring Saboteur or the other looters are for filtering out whatever you don't need. Removal and counterspells should only be used on direct threats to you, since this deck does not go on the offensive very well.
Teferi's Veil Is something you'll want to find and play as soon as possible. Phasing, while hard to understand at first, is a great defensive tool to keep your creatures, most importantly Tetsuko, protected. Once Tetsuko goes down, unless someone happens to have bad defenses, you are most probably not going to be able to get too many hits in until you can get her on the field again. Luckily, she only costs 1U.
Evacuation is one of my favorite boardwipes in all of Magic, and it's definitely an all-star here. It's instant speed, which means you can use it in response to anything. It bounces all creatures instead of kills them, which means everything will be coming back eventually but since we're running with a pretty low average CMC we will almost always be able to reset faster than anyone else. Crystal Shard is also good if you need to save one of your own creatures (i.e: Tetsuko) in an emergency.
Late game you have a few options for win conditions. Mist-Syndicate Naga is a powerhouse if left unchecked (Teferi's Veil make this pretty potent), and allows your damage to ramp up exponentially. Nezahal, Primal Tide Doesn't really match the deck theme at all but is a solid fatty to have in the late game. On the noncreature side of things, Rite of Replication can be used to net you whatever the biggest threat is on the board multiple times, or Expropriate usually just wins as soon as you can cast it unopposed.
Brazen Borrower // Petty Theft: This is the newest card in the set, from Eldraine. A 3/1 is usually the most damage something can do and still be granted unblockable through Tetsuko, so this guy already had my attention. Flying doesn't mater much here, however it helps if Tetsuko happens to not be around. What I really like about this guy is Petty Theft. It's a pretty basic Blue bounce spell, however it then exiles Borrower, who happens to have Flash. This means at any time, for 1UU, you can cast Borrower, even if someone nukes your hand. I haven't had a chance to try this out in a real game yet but that's a pretty attractive card.
Daring Saboteur, Wharf Infiltrator: I'd rather have straight draw than looting, but these two come out a turn earlier than the draw-on-hit guys (I'll be going over them shortly). Looter il-kor is another looter I see a lot of other Tetsuko decks use. I like Saboteur for the extra point of power, and Infiltrator's discard ability can be useful at times. If I could find a slot for il-kor I'd add him.
Invisible Stalker has unblockable naturally, but I really have him in here for the Hexproof. Staple some good equipment like Bloodforged Battle-Axe to him and you're in business.
Nightveil Sprite: Surveil on attack I think is an interesting option to have. Allows you to weed out what you don't need without having to worry about actually hitting the opponent. I still want to test more with this one, since she hasn't come up enough in games.
Phyrexian Revoker is a card I fell in love with from making my Hanna, Ship's Navigator deck. It's a solid way to stop Planeswalkers or troublesome abilities. It's also a 2/1 so he can still swing while keeping his target locked down.
Vedalken Aethermage: I really only use this for the Wizardcycling. Many of the important utility creatures in this deck are either Rogues or Wizards, so this still works as a pretty decent tutor for 3.
Cephalid Constable: While Bloodforged Battle-Axe and Umezawa's Jitte are the only ways to boost his power, Constable is still a pretty great removal tool with Tetsuko giving him unblockable.
Chasm Skulker quickly loses his ability to fit through Tetsuko's doors, but this deck draws fast enough so you'll usually have a hefty number of counters on him before he explodes into a bunch of 1/1s (that Tetsuko can now cram through a door!)
Eternal of Harsh Truths, Gateway Sneak, Neurok Commando, Scroll Thief: Draw on-hit with no limitations. This group is the bread and butter of the deck. You may think that four of essentially the same creature is too many, but this deck lives and dies on how quickly you can draw cards in the early game. Also Commando has Shroud, which is just fantastic.
Mist-Syndicate Naga: A powerhouse and wincon for the deck. If you can keep this guy protected, he will only get better the longer he stays out. Get some kind of protection out for him ASAP.
Misblade Shinobi: Removal with a cheap Ninjitsu cost. I'd totally add more Ninjas to this deck if all the good ones weren't either U/B or 2/2.
Nimble Obstructionist is mostly used for her ability counter cycling thing, but a 3/1 with flash is also a pretty good tool for the deck.
Riptide Entrancer Play her, protect her for a turn, steal a creature for free. Bingo-bango.
Spellseeker can grab a few important spells in the deck, and is small enough to benefit from Tetsuko. This is also the reason why I went for Pull from Tomorrow over Blue Sun's Zenith.
Tandem Lookout is another Gateway Sneak as long as he's Soulbound, and also bestows that ability to his partner. this can also double-up the draw on creatures that already draw on-hit.
Thassa, God of the Sea affords us some good filtering while also works as a backup to Tetsuko, albeit at a much higher cost.
True-Name Nemesis: I'm always on the fence about this guy. On one hand he can NEVER be blocked, targeted, or otherwise dealt with by target opponent aside from boardwipes. He's also super expensive and I happen to own one, and He's a 3/1. On the other hand, he's a vanilla 3/1 to anyone other than the targeted opponent.
Vendilion Clique is another 3/1 Flash Flying, this time with hand disruption on ETB. Could target yourself to look really quick, or target someone you know just tutored for something nasty.
Glen Elendra Archmage is the Blue version of a Rattlesnake that comes back twice. Interestingly, after the first persist trigger she's now a 1/1, which Tetsuko loves!
Master of Waves will usually get you a bunch of 2/1 Elementals that Tetsuko can open the barn doors for... just make sure he's well-protected.
Nezahal, Primal Tide can net you a bunch of cards. Usually you'll have enough cards in hand that discarding three to flicker him isn't a problem. The fact that he's a 7/7 is mostly just a bonus.
I'll be skipping over most of the general Blue staples since those are pretty self-explanatory.
Mission Briefing: We discard a lot in this deck, so this allows us to play an important spell again (or for the first time...)
Whir of Invention can grab a lot of the equipment we need at instant speed, as well as a couple creatures if necessary. Honestly the fact that this is an Instant just blows my mind every time.
Commit // Memory: Aside from CONSTANTLY getting the Motion City Soundtrack song stuck in my head, I think this is a pretty solid reset button. Echo of Eons might be better at this point, but I haven't had the chance to pick one up yet.
Notorious Throng, Knowledge Exploitation: A lot of the creatures in this deck - Tetsuko included - are Rogues, so these aren't too difficult to cast for the Prowl cost and can change the entire game.
Paradoxical Outcome: Emergency anti-boardwipe that can also net you a boatload of new cards. I feel like I COULD cut this, but I keep thinking I shouldn't just in case.
Bloodforged Battle-Axe can obviously only be equipped to a */1 creature unless you're REALLY sure he's getting through. That being said, the benefit of having a bunch of these on the field outweighs the limitations.
Meekstone is a little dangerous with the number of 3/1s in the deck, but it can really help if you find yourself staring down a bunch of fatties around the rest of the field.
Mask of Memory is a card everyone always forgets about. It's super cheap to play and equip, and draw-two-discard-one is pretty great filtering.
Umezawa's Jitte: Fantastic card in this deck. Just remember to apply the +2/+2 AFTER blockers are declared.
Crystal Shard: I mostly use this to save my own guys rather than remove an opponent's, but it'll definitely work in either case.
Kefnet's Monument: I'm still unsure if this is better than a different mana rock. It's a cost reduction rather than mana, but it only works on creatures. That being said, the tapping part is pretty handy.
Quietus Spike: Big threatening damage card. I may end up cutting this mostly because it's so expensive to cast and equip, can't one-shot, and gains a ton of attention.
Military Intelligence: Attacking with two creatures in this deck isn't hard. It can only grant you one card tops, but at 1U it's pretty worth it for essentially free card advantage.
Teferi's Veil: Absolutely 100% necessary. Read up on your phasing rules, because there are going to be a lot of questions once this hits the board. Essentially, when your creatures attack, they cease to exist until your next untap step. Equipment/Auras reattach, everything resumes as normal.
Back to Basics: Pretty necessary for a mono-Blue deck to even the odds. Might be seen as an unfair move in casual games, but to that I say "play less nonbasics".
Equilibrium: We play a lot of creatures in this deck; why not capitalize on that to get rid of some of the bigger threats while we're at it? Turns some disappointing late-game draws into guaranteed removal.
Bident of Thassa, Coastal Piracy: Double (or triple, or quadruple) up on the on-hit draw effects. Fun!
So there's my Tetsuko deck. I'm open to criticism or further discussion on this. I hope this is a deck people find interest in!