I’ve been meaning to start doing constructed videos online for a while, but my drafting addiction combined with my inability to win round 2 of drafts means that in the past I’ve always used opened rares and mythics to fuel the fire and so failed to build up a collection. I made a self-promise since Scars of Mirrodin however to stop selling all my cards and instead use the money I make from selling crack and ecstasy to school kids to fund my draft addiction, and as a result I’ve been able to start putting out a few block vids and, soon, standard vids. As such, I decided to start up a new series to work on over the summer that is in no way a rip off of a similar series from a well-known strategy site.
Welcome to Meta Testing with Matteo!
(nb: The name is still very much under construction, and despite the alliteration I’m not completely happy with it, so all suggestions on a postcard please. I did receive one I liked the sound of from one Paul Smith – Playing the Field – but I feel this would be a more appropriate name for Randle‘s sister column should he wish to join me on this venture)
For the first of the potential series I decided to run with something that is just about the most accessible deck of the format at the moment, at least on Magic Online, and so something that people can pick up relatively easily (for under $50 easy) – Tempered Steel. The cheapness aspect is actually a reason I’m playing the deck, as beyond the Inkmoth Nexus that I already owned (and will set you back around $6 each), the most expensive card in the deck is Steel Overseer, which cost me around $4 each. If you don’t have a huge collection and want a cheap easy deck to pick up online, this is probably it.
We’re in a bit of an awkward time in terms of format rotation at the moment as M12 isn’t out yet online, but thankfully this deck doesn’t actually change a whole lot with the arrival with the new set, and the opposing deck of choice today – UW control – contains the rather powerful Oblivion Ring which, thankfully, already resides in most people’s online collections. Although the Steel deck doesn’t gain anything from M12, the change to other decks it causes might result in the Steel deck having to evolve as a result, but more on this after the videos.
First, the decklist:
The deck concept is fairly simple and is mostly just a straight port from the block deck into standard, with fewer mana sources and no clunky Hero of Bladehold or Leonin Relic Warder. The deck is actually fairly well positioned in the format as, unlike in block, many decks are unprepared for a heavy stream of artifacts and won’t be maindecking Oxidda Scrapmelter like nobody’s business. The list itself is just something I lifted off of magiconline.com, with Porcelain Legionnaire being replaced with Spined Thopter after I grew tired of constantly running my 2-drops into opposing Wall of Omens, Blade Splicers, Deceiver Exarchs et al.
Most of the boarding is fairly self explanatory, and I often just resort to taking out a Memnite or two, as they’re your worst creature and fail the â€œdoes it flyâ€ test, which all your other â€œattackingâ€ creatures pass (not counting Spellskite or Steel Overseer). In this particular matchup I was boarding:
In: 3 Shrine of Loyal Legions
Out: 1 Dismember, some mix of: Dispatch, Memnite, Spellskite
As you’ll see in the videos, I wasn’t always entirely sure what to take out beyond the 1 Dismember, which comes out due to not killing Titans and Gideon. The deck wants to remain as proactive as possible and so I was taking out a Dispatch or two along with a possible Memnite, as I wanted *some* removal for Titans and Colonnades but not so much that it stunts my development, while Memnites, as mentioned, just run into Wall of Omens.
Towards the end of the Matches I started to board out a Spellskite over a Memnite, as it proved difficult to get into a situation of making Spellskite actually work when your opponent is packing Divine Offerings, Oblivion Rings and Day of Judgments. That’s enough talk for now though, so let’s get onto the videos, but be warned – you can tell I’m a little rusty with making constructed vids, and some awkward plays are present. Then again, assuming you’re testing for GB nationals, that shouldn’t be a problem.
Well, first things first, I got trounced. Sure, I got some horrible draws and some mulligans to 5, but then with this kind of â€œcritical massâ€ deck, where the lack of Tempered Steel or a solid draw leaves you draw 1/1s on turn 6, that happens a fair amount of the time. The trouncing was actually rather unexpected as I’ve been beating control decks fairly easily in 2-man queues online, so the first question we can ask ourselves is: what’s different? Aside from the obvious answer that Marco’s a stone-cold master, the inclusion of Oblivion Ring is obviously huge, as its predecessor was Blade Splicer which, as mentioned, I’d actually semi-teched out the deck to be able to get around it. Even Shrine of Loyal Legions, which usually puts a rather large threat on the board, doesn’t do a whole lot when the threat is merely 1/1s, and it can be forced to trigger with Ring and then swept away with a Day of Judgment.
So how can we change this deck to improve the matchup? I think the first thing that can be done to the deck is to cut a Mox, which was something I’d thought about before and something Marco mentioned to me, and on a bunch of occasions during the matches I drew multiple Moxes, whereas the number of times I found myself short on mana were far fewer. One option would be to, rather than straight cut a Mox, replace it and a plains with Contested Warzones – this tackles the issue of having your Tempered Steels removed and means a lot of your creatures are still â€œdecent sizedâ€, and against a fair few of the decks in the field – Control, Valakut, Splinter Twin – the downside is barely a downside at all.
The mono-red matchup can be improved greatly in boarding with Kor Firewalkers and the like, and is actually quite good to start with (they can’t really deal with Tempered Steel), so the downside there shouldn’t be a huge issue (with only 2 in the deck, you might not even draw them, or draw them only at the point where you can activate straight away and not care about losing a land).
Another change that might help here is Oblivion Ring of our own, as a way of stealing back Tempered Steels or knocking Gideon off the board and hence being able to attack who we want (which can be pretty huge). As the Shrines never actually seemed to do that much, we could probably cut down to 2 in the board (or even none after some more testing – even blue-black has Into the Roils). The deck is mostly fast enough and savage enough to be able to kill other decks consistently on turn four, especially with added Contested Warzones, so improving the sideboard greatly to be able to beat its worst matchup – UW control – seems like not an entirely terrible idea, especially considering UW control took second at the last PTQ in the hands of the much loved Rob Wagner, and so may end up being a rather popular choice at upcoming UK events. After these 5 matches, I think the new updated list I’d run in a similar set would be:
4 Signal Pest
4 Vault Skirge
4 Steel Overseer
4 Glint Hawk Idol
4 Spined Thopter
4 Tempered Steel
4 Inkmoth Nexus
2 Contested War zone
2 Mox Opal
The maindeck is mostly the same, with the Warzones added in place of the cards I mentioned. As for the board, we’d now be looking at a boarding process of something like:
In: 2 Shrine of Loyal Legions, 3 Oblivion Ring, 1 Contested War Zone
Out: 1 Dismember, 2 Dispatch, 1 Plains, 2 Spellskite
With the Triple Warzone we want to keep in all the cheap creatures we can, so Memnite probably stays in. Shrine and Spellskite basically replace each other in terms of the curve, and so this boarding doesn’t slow down the deck particularly, especially with the removal of the 3 removal spells that I rarely found to be useful – Oblivion Ring should serve a generally better purpose, as being able to kill Gideon before an attack should greatly outweigh the chance to kill Colonnade before a block (and you keep in 2 Dispatch anyway, so it’s not like you’re all out of instant speed removal). I’ll try and run this build up against another â€œgauntletâ€ (sorry, â€œmetagameâ€) deck in the near future and see how the changed work out, and if they end up negatively affecting other matchups.
Thanks for reading, and remember to CLICK LIKE OR SANTA WILL BRING YOU ONLY COAL.
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