Journey to Somewhere – Developing Tempered Steel by Ben Heath



Last week I had a bit of a rant about CawBlade and built a deck designed specifically to have a good match-up against it, given it’s current dominance in the meta. This deck was Tempered Steel, this format’s version of traditional white weenie. I have since taken part in two tournaments which, and despite them being casual tournaments, the quality of opposition was fairly high, with three of my six opponents having qualified for nats. In other words, three people better than Rob Wagner (weekly Rob Wagner reference, check :P).

A quick recap of my record then:

1 – Justin Hirst – Jund Ramp – Won 2-0

2 – James Griffin – ‘Soul Sisters’ – Won 2-0

3 – Thomas Rickarby – Turboland – Won 2-0

4 – Owain Davies – Goblins – Lost 2-1

5 – Aaron Biddle – CawBlade (EEEEEEEEEEEEVIL) – Won 2-1

6 – Gaz Hirst – Mind Crank Combo – Won 2-0

7 – Tu NguyenUB Control – Lost 2-0

8 – Mark Biddle – UR Exarch Twin – Won 2-0

9 – Tu Nguyen… again… – UB Control – Won 2-1

Overall Record – 7-2 (14-6)

So far, so good. The deck is good enough to beat most of the ‘jank’ in the room. (I don’t like using ‘jank’ as a term, it sounds slightly insulting in my opinion. I use it to describe unusual decks as it’s the best term I can think of.) Some memorable moments from the weekend include:

Match 4

Red deck wins was a deck I dismissed while building Steel, thinking it was too slow given the current meta and the presence of Batterskull and Sword of War and Peace. In other words, my attitude was a bit like other people’s attitude towards Tempered Steel decks. My opinion of it changed as Owain got off to an explosive start, and as a result I had to play the Dark Tutelage in my hand to desparately dig for answers which didn’t appear.

Game 2 I outraced his burn, which he seemed to draw all of and I got slightly (really, near tilt) frustrated. However the burn ran out, and my threats didn’t and despite him laying threats of his own, my pumped up flying, lifelink artifacts were winning me this game.

Game 3 was very similar to Game 1, the dodgy manabase and the synergy of Owain‘s deck was plain for all to see and he ended up a worthy winner (and as a result, the winner of the FNM).

Match 5 Game 2

Punty McPuntington strikes again! I Dispatched the wrong creature and was taken to a third game as a result. Whoops.

Match 5 Game 3

Turn 1 – Memnite, Memnite, Memnite, Signal Pest

Turn 2 – Swing for 6

Turn 3 – Tempered Steel, swing for 14

Turn 4 – Tempered Steel, swing for 22.

How lucky!

Match 7 Games 1 and 2

Hello discard, goodbye game…

Match 8 Game 2

1 game up versus Mark Biddle playing straight UR Exarch Twin, I sideboard in Spellskite and Torpr Orb. That’s right, Torpor Orb. I get both of them on the board by turn 4 and have Mark in a soft-lock, whilst slow rolling my hand so as to not walk into Pyroclasm that I know Mark is packing in his sideboard.

I get three creatures down forcing the Pyroclasm out, I then play Tempered Steel, and roll out the creatures I had held back which, from memory, were two Porcelain Legionnaire and a Steel Overseer. Mark had cards to slow me down, unfortunately he didn’t draw his second red mana source for Inferno Titan, but with Torpor Orb out and with my arsenal of pumped up, Steel’d artifacts, it would simply become a 6/6 chump blocker. I think it was a mixture of good fortune, good play and good card selection which won me this game. It was also the second time that Torpor Orb was a major problem for my opponent, after James Griffin had trouble dealing with it in earlier in the weekend.

Match 9 Game 1

I got lucky cos Tu couldn’t draw.

Match 9 Game 2

Tu won cos that’s what’s supposed to happen.

Match 9 Game 3

Tu plays discard spells and whiffs. I draw his ideal target in my next draw step. I also drew three Inkmoth Nexus and win through poison and he drew his Vampire Nighthawk a turn too late. How lucky!

So, what did I learn from this weekend?

I was a bit lucky at times.

Of course I was, the turn 4 kill versus Aaron was the nut draw, but you get that sometimes. Sometimes your opponent just doesn’t draw well. It’s part of playing magic. At the same time…

I was a bit unlucky at times.

Again, it’s part and parcel of Magic. Sometimes it just doesn’t happen, sometimes you have to play a weak match-up.

Slow-rolling with this deck IS possible…

…but it’s very difficult. You have to know when to push and when to hold back. Against Mark Biddle (Match 8) I think I timed it right, but there will be times when I’ll time it wrong and have egg all over my face.

Puntington Bear still lives inside me.

Still got it!

This deck REALLY doesn’t like my opponents’ one-mana spells:

Inquisition of Kozilek



Lightning Bolt

Spell Pierce


Goblin Guide

All of them give this deck plenty of problems. If only there were a free spell in this format that helped me deal with these pests…

Dark Tutelage is a better card than I gave it credit for.

Yes, there is a risk element to playing this card, but the extra gas is well worth it, as it fills your hand up with more threats if the threats on the board are dealt with. I felt as though I should have been playing more.

Three colours in this deck is one colour too many.

I mentioned last week that I thought that the mana base was dodgy at best, and this weekend proved it. At times it was fine, but at other times I had Galvanic Blast in my hand and no red mana, or Dark Tutelage in my hand and no black mana. I’m really torn as to which colour to cut, but I’m leaning towards cutting red for the time being, although I seem to change my mind every time I think about it. One thing is for sure though, this deck has great difficulty accomodating both, and one has to go.

Spellskite has to be in the main deck.

It’s just too good not to be in this deck. There is so much spot removal in this format that a conductor is priceless in this deck. Spellskite is also a 0/4 blocker and does not have defender, meaning it can attack if it is pumped. Nice

Steel Overseer is a bit slow…

…and is easily removed. It goes without saying, but if you have Steel Overseer and Spellskite in your hand, you should usually play the Spellskite first. There are occasions when it might be better to do it the other way round, but this is the general rule.


Green can also be splashed into this deck. I’ll leave you with two decklists.

One is of my updated deck list, cutting the red. The other is a deck run by Wayne Cook which uses the aggressiveness of the Tempered Steel deck and combines it with a Stoneforge Mystic package, with a Batterskull, a Sword of Body and Mind and two Sword of Feast and Famine. This won an FNM in Canada, so the Steel is slowly spreading! (Sort of…)

  • ‘Land Crack Fetch Take 2 I’m Conley Woods, a Tempered Steel Deck’ by Ben Heath


4 Arid Mesa

4 Marsh Flats

2 Swamp

5 Plains

4 Inkmoth Nexus


4 Signal Pest

3 Spellskite

4 Memnite

4 Steel Overseer

4 Porcelain Legionnaire

4 Vault Skirge


3 Mox Opal

4 Glint Hawk Idol

4 Dispatch

3 Dark Tutelage

4 Tempered Steel


4 Apostle’s Blessing

3 Divine Offering

2 Torpor Orb

4 Mental Misstep

2 Go for the Throat


  • Tempered Steel by Wayne Cook


4 Marsh Flats

1 Tectonic Edge

4 Razorverge Thicket

4 Inkmoth Nexus

1 Swamp

6 Plains


4 Porcelain Legionnaire

4 Memnite

4 Ornithopter

3 Stoneforge Mystic

4 Signal Pest


2 Mox Opal

2 Sword of Feast and Famine

1 Sword of Body and Mind

1 Batterskull

3 Tezzeret’s Gambit

4 Dispatch

4 Beast Within

4 Tempered Steel


3 Tumble Magnet

1 Tectonic Edge

3 Shrine of Loyal Legions

1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast

4 Go for the Throat

2 Phyrexian Revoker

1 Hex Parasite

Feedback for both decks would be greatly appreciated, as there is no such thing as ‘the finished article’.

Until next time


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