I Love Robots!

Wednesday, December 22nd – Kevin An talks robots. Transformers, Voltron, …? More like Ornithopters and Mox Opals! Read about the Tempered Steel deck in Extended – Affinity without affinity!

I love robots. I’ve loved them since I was a little kid, watching


perhaps even earlier than that.

When Mirrodin came out, it was like a dream come true. Once I was able to cast Frogmites and Myr Enforcers and Arcbound Ravagers, there was no going back. Playing Magic and smashing and bashing with robots is all I’d ever wanted to do, and now it was possible.

Upon the release of Scars of Mirrodin, instead of scouring for new EDH cards (which had recently become the norm for me), I found myself looking up new cards for old decks and started brainstorming for the upcoming (albeit far-off) Extended season. If you entered my room, you couldn’t help but feel the excitement in the air!

Unfortunately, it was also at this point that I was reminded that Wizards recently changed what sets were legal for Extended. I had to inform my sad little Frogmites they wouldn’t be able to swing with Memnites or any other new Constructs. The air was suddenly heavy with disappointment and sadness.

But looking on the bright side, fresh formats mean good formats. Armed with this disposition, I set out looking for something that would be exciting to play and still allow my robots to rock ’em and sock ’em. I felt that in the new environment, something like Affinity would be possible even without Arcbound Ravager. Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum was my starting point, as the potential speed that they offered was something that I wanted to exploit as much as I could.

This is the first list I brewed up to sit down with and test.

What I wanted to do with this version was just make Glaze Fiends huge. I wanted to draw lots of cards with Shared Discovery and make tons of Myrsmith tokens and fly over for a lot of damage. Origin Spellbomb would be a +4/+4 pump spell that would draw a card and make a guy! In theory, this all sounded great and felt very exciting. Unfortunately, testing showed that this deck was terrible.

All the testing in the world wouldn’t have helped things, and shuffling up with Christian Calcano proved this after two-and-a-half games. It was also concluded that Shared Discovery was nothing more than a pipe dream and that Glaze Fiend would have to wait another day.

Starting over, it was clear that things had to be recalibrated or scrapped completely. Playing only two Moxes wasn’t enough. They were immediately bumped up to three copies. There wasn’t enough big early pressure, so I added Court Homunculus. It was just a deck full of not-enoughs. Cutting Shared Discovery was almost more than my little Johnny heart could take, but it had to be done, so I could maybe win a game. Admittedly, the first list was very loose and not very cohesive but the redo was miles ahead.

Adding Tempered Steel was amazing. I really don’t know why it wasn’t a four-of to begin with, but it certainly didn’t waste any time demonstrating how powerful it was. Ranger of Eos over Trinket Mage was also easier to swallow (and in hindsight a no-brainer) once blue was almost cut out of the deck. Adding Court Homunculus and Tidehollow Sculler made the deck faster and smoother and added disruption. Glint Hawks fueled Myrsmiths by bouncing Ornithopters and Moxes. I knew I was on the right track when I was able to play Tempered Steel on turn 2 and attack for at least seven damage consistently (Hawk, Memnite, Ornithopter, Plains, Mox Opal/Springleaf Drum). I did toy with Steel Overseers, but since at this point, I was still only goldfishing this deck or testing against Faeries or Elves, I decided to build the most aggressive version possible.

It was also clear that this deck wasn’t quite ready for Prime Time, but I thought it was doing well enough to wait for results from Worlds, which (at that point) was almost two months away. I was planning on refining and finishing the decklist after the format defined itself, and I didn’t even work on a complete sideboard, since I had no clue what would show up. I knew that cards like Volcanic Fallout, Pyroclasm, and Consume the Meek would be a problem, along with the entire race of Elves, but I was already planning on having some number of Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tenders, Thoughtseizes, and Ethersworn Canonists in sideboard. I shared this decklist with a few people, and while there was a lot of interest in it, most were steadfast with what they had going on within their own groups. Some were even working on similar lists with their own degrees of success.

So Worlds started, and we were onto Standard and Booster Drafting, and that was all fun, but the only thing I wanted to see was Extended. Time zones are killer, and being in New York City was a bit rough. Dylan Lerch (@dtlerch) was being the studious fellow he was in following coverage and also happened to be one of the people with whom I had shared this list with. Three am rolled around, and I got some DMs from him on Twitter telling me that
some people were not only playing Tempered Steel at Worlds, but there was an
upcoming Deck Tech video

as well. These facts woke me up more quickly than coffee ever could.

The success of Tempered Steel at Worlds was nothing short of great. I really like Pascal’s copies of Thopter Foundry in the maindeck, which, amongst other things, makes any extra Mox Opals you draw less of an issue. Four Thoughtseizes seem like a lot to me, but I can’t think of many things hotter than something like turn 1 Court Homunculus, Memnite, Mox Opal, Thoughtseize. Turn 2 Tempered Steel. Smash! After that, the biggest differences in the lists clearly are:

-4 Myrsmith, -4 Glint Hawk,
+4 Thoughtseize, +4 Steel Overseer.

Pascal’s list from Worlds is what I feel should be the baseline list, as there are many progressions that I feel are correct with the exception being only four basic lands in their list. I don’t like the Fetid Heath in here; I would strongly prefer it to be a basic Plains.

Myrsmith was something in the deck that I actually preferred playing over Steel Overseer. It did very well in helping if there was occasional flooding, and making more men can never hurt. However, adding more copies of Ranger of Eos addresses this problem easily. Another clear downside was not getting any bonus from Tempered Steel, and I’m sure in the now-inevitable mirror match, Steel Overseer plays second fiddle only to Tempered Steel in terms of importance. Once this change is made to the deck however, Glint Hawks most certainly need to come out of the deck from simply being underwhelming.

All in all, I very much like the list that Pascal Maynard played at Worlds. If I were to modify the list, the changes would be small, and it would look like this:

As you can tell, there wasn’t much of a change made to either the maindeck or sideboard. I removed a Thoughtseize for a Swamp and changed Fetid Heath into a Plains. I added a Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender to the sideboard and cut the Thopter Foundry. Red decks can be a major issue until you stick a Tempered Steel, and I just like being able to draw one often enough without having to rely on Ranger of Eos. I almost want to play more Ethersworn Canonists for Elves and other decks, but I suppose Disfigure helps in those situations more often than not. Parts of me want to be able to be brave enough to play Trinket Mage in the sideboard for some sort of toolbox with one Pithing Needle, Nihil Spellbomb, and Brittle Effigy, but I fear that I’m just being silly, and such ideas are what led me to believe that I could somehow make Glaze Fiend playable to begin with. Don’t be silly.

Kevin An


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