It's that day of the week again. The weekend is almost here, but first there are some spells to be cast. Thank god it's FNM! I had to skip baseball practice to attend FNM last Friday, but it will all be worth it when you get to hear about what I played.
Close your eyes and imagine Standard about a year ago. Caw-Blade was crushing at the top tables, but people occasionally poked their heads through with fringe archetypes. One of these decks was Tempered Steel, and one of its biggest supporters was Ari Lax. While it has been a while since the deck put up any results, I figured it would be a good deck for this column. I noticed that a W/R Tempered Steel deck did okay at the SCG Invitational in Indianapolis and decided to model my list after his. For reference, here is his list. While a G/W list placed a little bit higher in that same tournament, playing red to accompany white seemed more fun and more interesting.
I talked a bit with some friends and decided on the following list:
The deck is pretty self-explanatory. You play a bunch of creatures that cost three or less and attack with those. Sometimes a bunch of 1/1s and 2/2s aren't enough, so you play Tempered Steel and make them big. That is not really what I want to focus on, though. I made some interesting card choices that you may be curious about.
The first is the lack of Glint Hawks, which I feel are very weak right now. Almost everyone is packing up to three Gut Shots in their maindeck alone. This makes the classic play of Memnite, Glint Hawk, Memnite very dangerous. While it can be easy to avoid putting myself in those situations, it can still be a setback in most board positions. The other choice that you may find interesting is the three Hero of Bladeholds in the sideboard along with a Plains. Hero shores up a lot of the problems you have. It is a one-man army, whereas the rest of your deck needs at least three guys out to put up much of a fight. The Plains is to more reliably cast a four-drop in a deck where you normally top out at three.
With those notes out of the way, let's move on to the event.
Round 1: Paul with Mono White - Win 2-0
I started off on the play and mulliganed to six. I led with two Vault Skirges and a Signal Pest to his two Elite Inquisitors. I was sitting on a couple of Galvanic Blasts but had no red sources. I was clear to win the race until he played a Butcher's Cleaver and an Angel of Jubilation, two cards that clearly put the race in his favor. I was fortunate enough to draw a Mox Opal to Galvanic Blast the Angel. I continued to attack, and I had to let him gain five life. I was able to Galvanic Blast the equipped creature next turn though to win the game with the starting three and a Glint Hawk Idol.
For game 2 we both kept our seven-card hands, and the game started just like the last one. It was my Signal Pest and two Vault Skirges against his two Elite Inquisitors. He had another Butcher's Cleaver, but I had two Glint Hawk Idols and an Etched Champion to match it. A Galvanic Blast next turn plus a big attack put him to exactly zero.
Round 2: Paul with Frites - Win 2-0
Once again I started off on the play. Game 1 I led with some Memnites and a Vault Skirge. He cast a couple Faithless Lootings and put two Elesh Norns and two Unburial Rites in his graveyard. He was still on three lands with no white sources, but a white source surely spelled doom for me. I only had one Dispatch and a Galvanic Blast, so those two Elesh Norns would definitely be game over. He played an Avacyn's Pilgrim that immediately met a Galvanic Blast, and he flashed back a Lingering Souls that had been binned. I topdecked a second Dispatch and made a risky decision. I Dispatched the two Spirit tokens and had him dead next turn with my Signal Pest that hit the board that turn, Glint Hawk Idol, two Memnites, and a Vault Skirge. He drew Gavony Township and conceded.
Game 2 I went to six cards, but he mulliganed all the way down to four. His hand was Blackcleave Cliffs, Faithless Looting, and two Wurmcoil Engines. The Faithless Looting hit two Sun Titans, so he was already in a rough spot. Luckily for him my only offense consisted of two Memnites and a Signal Pest. I was one white source short of a Tempered Steel. He bricked on lands and died when I drew a Plains.
Round 3: Avery with Bant Blink - Win 2-0
In game 1, I kept a slow hand, but Signal Pest and Etched Champion were bringing the pain. I followed up with two Tempered Steels over the next two turns and a Galvanic Blast for his Blade Splicer token. When he tried to Cloudshift his Blade Splicer, I animated my Inkmoth Nexus so I could Dispatch it. On the next turn he cast Acidic Slime and hit a Tempered Steel so that he could survive, but I flashed the third Tempered Steel and he conceded.
Game 2 I started off quickly with a Memnite, Signal Pest, Vault Skirge, and Glint Hawk Idol leading the way. He had a Winged Splicer, but it and its accompanying token died to Galvanic Blasts. I had him at really low life, and there wasn't much he could do. He tried to come back with a Blade Splicer and a Ghostly Flicker, but a Tempered Steel off the top put him to negative six life.
Round 4: Dan with U/W Miracles - Win 2-0
I started off fast in game 1. I was overloading the board with endless Memnites, Signal Pests, and Glint Hawk Idols. I finally hit a Tempered Steel, but a pair of Feeling of Dreads slowed me down. He hit a Terminus, but I used two Glint Hawk Idols and an Inkmoth Nexus to close out the game from multiple angles.
Game 2 was very simple. I kept a one-lander on the draw with a bunch of Origin Spellbombs. I bricked on land for a few turns, but so did he. When I finally hit that second land, I was able to make a bunch of Myr tokens, and a third land off the top meant I was able to kill him with Tempered Steel. On the last turn he Thought Scoured to try to hit Terminus, and when he failed it was all over.
Round 5: Jesse with Jund Wolf Run - Win 2-0
I was on the play for game 1 and led with a Vault Skirge. He kept his seven-card hand and was pretty disappointed with it. Apparently it consisted of a bunch of Go for the Throats and Whipflares (spoiler: those don't kill any of the creatures in my maindeck). My army of all artifact creatures continued the swarm with a Glint Hawk Idol, an Origin Spellbomb, and a Porcelain Legionnaire. He started to muster a defense with a Huntmaster of the Fells, but a Tempered Steel ended the game as quickly as it had begun.
I kept my seven, and he mulliganed to five. I had a quick hand to capitalize on his lack of lands. I attacked him with a Vault Skirge, then a Vault Skirge and two Signal Pests. Finally, a Tempered Steel and a Galvanic Blast closed out the game. This deck is the best at giving your opponent little time to draw out of a mulligan, as proven here.
I was pretty confident going into the Top 8. I went 5-0 in matches and 10-0 in games, which isn't too shabby.
Top 8: Ian with U/W Delver - Loss 1-2
In game 1, I mulliganed to six and settled for a slow hand. I only had two Signal Pests and an Etched Champion to attack with while he had a Geist of Saint Traft and some Restoration Angels. I never drew anything to put the race in my favor and lost a few turns later.
We both kept our sevens for game 2, and he kept a no-lander. He kept it because it contained two Mental Missteps and a Gut Shot. He didn't hit lands quickly enough, and I made short work of him with a Glint Hawk Idol and two Etched Champions.
For game 3 I made the mistake of over sideboarding, and it showed when my first two hands had no creatures in them. I kept this five-card hand:
Throughout the tournament, I had a lot of fun with Tempered Steel. It had been a while since I'd turned a large army of small creatures sideways. If I were to play with it again, I would keep the list exactly like I had it.
For tonight, M13 will be legal for play. I played Infect only a few short weeks ago, but Rancor has me very excited about the archetype. I own most of the deck already, so it will be pretty easy for me to get it together. I think I want to play mono-green this time to try out Cathedral of War. I have some very exciting decks planned for the weeks to come, but I've decided to revisit one of my old favorites for tonight.
I have really enjoyed the user submissions for decks that I've received so far, so keep them coming. Look for my Infect article next Friday, and as always, thank god it's FNM!
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