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Tempered Steel Is Good Again – Thank You, Mirrodin Besieged

Tuesday, March 1 – Tempered Steel is ready to make a comeback in Extended, and Jon Smithers, the originator of the deck, tells you how to use Tezzeret to take the deck to the next level for your next PTQ!

Blah, blah, blah….. MBS technology.

Here we go.

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas

This guy is wicked cool, and considering how dear to my heart the Tempered Steel archetype is, the mere mention of new Tezz is enough to, well… never
mind.

Patrick Chapin, Martin Juza, and company recently showed the world just a sample of what Bolas’s finest minion is capable of at PT Paris. Tezzeret
defined the deck on his own, turning a deck full of Limited cards (Sphere of the Suns, Tumble Magnet, Prophetic Prism???) into legitimate threats. Now
imagine if your deck already had bona fide threats to begin with?

He brings three very versatile and real assets to the machine club:

+1: The former sole source of card advantage, Ranger of Eos, is seriously outclassed by the reusable digging for non-menial targets. Unanswered,
Tezzeret can supply a threat, then quickly use his ultimate to Fireball your opponent out.

-1: Turning otherwise useless Springleaf Drums into 5/5s (!) is insanely powerful. Wanna tango, Thoctar? Add to that the benefit of any present lords
or Tempered Steel, and Tezzeret’s glowy red hand-thingy can sure craft a winner! Where do I sign?

-4: Win? For a swarm aggro deck, whose ultimate goal is to flood the board by turn 3-4 and overwhelm the opponent, Tezzeret’s (-4) ultimate could not
have been scripted any better. I could be fooled to believe that Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas was created solely for the purpose of helping this deck
establish itself as Tier 1. Soon, you’ll see. He even counts our mana sources! How awesome is that!

Signal Pest

Hello, Glorious Anthem on wheels. Evasive one, at that. The Pest is just what the doctor ordered to speed the deck up a turn. Add to the fact that his
0/1 body can actually become relevant in this deck, given the amount of lords, and Signal Pest is an auto-include. Also, he helps smooth out the mana
curve a ton, as another one-drop was much needed to improve the consistency of Mox Opal (and to relieve my disdain of Springleaf Drum).

Signal Pest also serves as another Ornithopter effect, in a sense that he can crash through Wall of Omens and Kitchen Finks to get in there for the
last couple points. He’s also an exceptional 5/5 target, courtesy of Baby Tezz.

Here’s what I’ve been slinging:


Sideboard as of yet undefined, as this is a work still in progress, folks.

I’d like to make a quick mention of Phyrexian Revoker, as a lot of people will do the simple math of “artifact creature + some durdle ability = great
in Tempered Steel!” but the answer is no. What role does this guy play for the deck? Sure, he can shut off a Fauna Shaman… but that’s too slow to
matter. He can noobify a Putrid Leech, but again, what does that actually accomplish? Give me a good reason why you would board this in against
something, and you win first prize of a !*

The deck plays out in much the same way, but the increased speed and the ever-looming threat of Tezzeret ending the game on his own can really put an
opponent on his toes. The non-interactive decks like Scapeshift, Naya, and Jund will have a much harder time combating this new version of Tempered
Steel, but what we really want to know is how we do against Faeries. Right? The quote-unquote best deck?

Well…

I’ve always asserted that Faeries was a good matchup, and I believe it’s only gotten better recently. Why? Two reasons.

First, Faeries players are swooning over their newest party friend, Go for the Throat. And why wouldn’t they? It kills everything! No more needing to
split 2/2/2 on varied removal spells since GFTT is your one-stop shop for removal. Except it’s a stone blank against Tempered Steel. It’s nice knowing
that their supposed anti-aggro card is a dead draw against you. Stay classy!

Second, and most importantly, they’ve slowed down their clocks as a concession to the rise of Valakut. Scion of Oona was originally a big problem for
Tempered Steel, since they could combine that with Bitterblossom to race you or to trade with your random beaters. They’ve all but cut the Scions for
Vendilion Cliques, which are hardly a concern for us.

So with all these great things lining up for us, I truly think Tempered Steel is ready to step up to its place in the metagame. With yet another
artifact set looming, and with Mirrodin Besieged shaking things up considerably, there are many great things to expect going forward. That said, the
deck still suffers from many of the same problems it always has, perhaps to a lesser extent, but still evident nonetheless. You still have to mulligan
away a lot of do-nothing hands, and this deck doesn’t mulligan well. With Tezzeret, it becomes a bit easier to fight your way out of a mulligan or two,
but that’s assuming your opponent has absolutely nothing going on.

Inspired by Steve Sadin

Steve’s wicked Standard deck from PT Paris opened my eyes to a possible new direction to take the Tempered Steel archetype in Extended. A total
balls-out aggressive deck with better curve options. Sorry Steve, I don’t really share your love affection with Vector Asp! My opal-eyed friend would
like a word…


Forsaking a long game in an effort to end it by turn 3, this version suffers less from the mana hawkward-ness than its predecessor does.**

This is all just an idea but one that definitely is worth checking out. I’ve also seen a Kuldotha-Red lookalike see some play in the Tournament
Practice room on Magic Online lately, and these two decks play out very similarly. I suspect the red deck is a bit more of a “big gamble” deck though,
as this one seems to be a bit more reliable.

Sword of Feast and Famine

Last but certainly not least, I want to acknowledge Sword of Feast and Famine and offer it my sincerest apology:


“Sword, when you were spoiled, I scoffed at you and called you unplayable. I’m a bad person and an even worse Magic player, and it took someone as
special as you to show me how much I have yet to learn. I didn’t even consider how good you could be — allowing a tap-out control deck to play
draw-go also is awesomely powerful, and it’s all because of you. Please, forgive me?”

SoFaF has taken a Standard archetype and completely next-leveled it. Kudos to whomever among the superteam “broke” the interaction and brewed up the
deck that took Worlds by storm, ultimately earning Ben Stark a trophy.

This seemingly innocuous piece of equipment can (and mark my words, WILL) be soon breaking a PTQ near you. Whether it be by inclusion in an
existing archetype (Faeries, I see you) or by defining its own new deck in Extended, Sword of Feast and Famine is the real deal. I’ve been working on a
Caw-Blade crossover for this format, and while I haven’t broken it quite yet, I have this entire week to work on it, since it’s my study break! I’m
getting close, though…

Author’s Note:
I wrote this originally on the night before the first Extended PTQ on Magic Online, won by __SipItHolla, using and abusing the aforementioned
Stoneforge Mystic / Sword of Feast and Famine combination. Wish I could run the “called shot” here, but alas… Oh, and since I’m updating this
currently on Sunday morning, SCG’s own reidderrabbit (Reid Duke) just took down last night’s online PTQ with a Bant Aggro deck featuring, yep you
guessed it… Sword + Stoneforge.

To say that this combination requires rigorous testing to beat is an understatement. We’re going to have to explore consistent means of disrupting the
high amount of decks that will start to incorporate this simple yet elegant end-game plan. What does this all mean? You have to have a consistent way
to shut down SoFaF. We’ve also seen a noticeable uptick in the amount of manlands being played with which to provide the Sword decks with Wrath
inevitability and yet still allowing them to keep up Cryptic Command.

As the Extended season fast approaches its finale, this will be the dominant archetype for the remainder of the season. If you aren’t prepared for
these decks, you probably won’t succeed at your PTQ. Fair warning.

The PT Paris Plague

A quick mention to gamers from around the world:

If you happen to have PNEUMONIA, FEVER, or otherwise DISGUSTING SICKNESS, I beg of you please, don’t walk into an undersized and over-capacity
convention hall and allow your germs to infest every inch of the room. Or if you insist on playing it through, please be so kind as to follow the
example of the extremely thoughtful Japanese folk, like Mr. Mihara here:

Mihara

See, now that’s how you prevent thousands of people from catching whatever you have.

Instead, you managed to infect hundreds, perhaps thousands of other gamers with a terrible flu that has now spread across the globe thanks to these
sick people traveling back to their home countries. My last night in Paris was supposed to be spent

winning the finals of the Pro Tour

taking my girlfriend to an extremely nice restaurant and having a delightful evening with wine, cheese, croissants, and everything nice. Instead, we
were both coughing uncontrollably and watching Season 2 of Glee.

Thanks a lot.

 

* Please tell me someone gets this reference? Filthy humans…

** Ba-dum-ching!