Journey to Somewhere – Beginners Guide to Tempered Steel
Hi everyone, today I’m going to give you eight tips to improve to way you play Tempered Steel game. I have plenty of experience with the deck, so I feel I am in the right position to give you advice (although the ‘Do The Opposite To What Ben Says Rule’ still applies in all other aspects of Magic), but feel free to either add your own contributions, or debate about any of my tips in the comments section below.
1. Mox Opal
Mox Opal is a vital component of this deck, however I have seen this card be misplayed in various ways, including when I’ve played it. I have two small pieces of advice for this card.
Firstly, don’t play more than 3 in your 75. 4 is just greedy, and is pretty terrible in multiples due to the fact it’s legendary. If you draw 2 in your opening hand, which will be more often than you may think, you’ve effectively just got 6, or even worse, 5 cards in your opening hand. Also, if you need to draw something good when things get tight, you don’t really want to be the Opal.
Secondly, don’t play it until you have Metalcraft. Sounds pretty obvious, but there have been a few occasions where I have seen players do the following on their first turn: ‘Plains, Mox Opal, Go’, or only play it when there’s one other artifact on the field. Keep it in your hand, represent it as a mystery card. You can play it later at no extra cost, because it’s free! Trust me, it’ll make that turn 2 Tempered Steel all that much sweeter.
Talking about Metalcraft…
Get three artifacts on your side of the field as quickly as possible, but do so responsibly. For example, if you’re on the draw against any deck playing red, and you play ‘Signal Pest, Ornithopter, Go’, you have no one else to blame but yourself if you get 2-for-1’ed by Pyroclasm or Arc Trail. I’ve done it before, and trust me it’s not a nice experience.
But don’t be too slow, you want three artifacts on the field to turn on Mox Opal and Dispatch, because Dispatch without Metalcraft is near useless, except to tap a Primeval Titan, and even then, wouldn’t you just want to exile it altogether anyway?
Just because you’ve drawn another sweet threat to add to your army of awesomeness doesn’t mean you should play it. When they deal with your first wave of attacks, (and they will), lay down your second wave and begin the process again. It’s all very well having 6 creatures on the board to represent good board presence, but when they play any of Day of Judgement, Pyroclasm/Slagstorm or Creeping Corrosion, you’re going to very much be on the back foot for the rest of the game.
Most of the time, you’re not going to win by turn 4, so don’t try to force that win! Be patient, sculpt your hand with Preordains (or just plain natural draw if you’re playing the hyper-aggresive mono-white version like I did in Reading) and get ready to rebuild your board position at any time, you’ll be thankful for it later.
Contested War Zone may well give you quicker wins some of the time, but most of the time it’s only tapping for a colorless mana, and if you’re up against another aggro deck, it gets taken away from you pretty damn quickly. Remember, your land count is low anyway, and usually you’re not playing more than four or five mana sources, so you want to keep hold of your lands at all times. Related to this is…
5. Tectonic Edge
This card can be a real nuisance, especially if you’re splashing blue. The trick to this is simple. Only play lands when you absolutely have to. This can be difficult, of course, with your Inkmoth Nexus, as you often need to pay the extra mana, so the balance is fine and you don’t always get it right. Only constant playtesting will teach you how to strike this balance.
Also, don’t play them yourself, no matter how tempting it is. You don’t have the land count to support them.
You can, theoretically, splash any of the other four colours of the Magic spectrum.
Blue gives you Preordain and counter magic, and is by far the best of the four colours to splash. be careful not to go too crazy on the counter suite in the sideboard though, you don’t want to lose focus on the primary objective of the deck.
Green gives you Beastmaster’s Ascesnion, which can be crazy, but can be a dead card late on. You have eight Steel effects in the deck already, and the effect of Beastmaster’s Ascension takes time to build up, and if your creatures are dealt with, it becomes even trickier to power up.
Black gives you removal such as Doom Blade, and card draw through Dark Tutelage. The problem is, of course, the mana base, and having to play fetch lands, and since you don’t play an awful lot of them to begin with, I don’t recommend this combition.
Nor do I recommend red, for the same mana issues. Galvanic Blast is a nice edition, but if you want a one-mana removal spell, Dismember is that spell, but I don’t recommend it, because you already have Dispatch, and any more removal spells once again takes you away from the main focus of the deck.
The first card that should be up for sideboarding out may not be what you think it is. It’s not Ornithopter, it is in fact Memnite. Ornithopter is better in this deck purely because it has flying, and can block Squadron Hawk all day without being killed.
If you’re playing Porcelain Legionnaire or Spined Thopter, those cards come out first instead. However, if you are playing these cards, I suggest you take them out your 75 altogether, they are simply too slow.
But going back to Memnite, the great thing about boarding out in Tempered Steel is that the same cards are almost always coming out, so you can do a ranking in terms of what should come out. The exception to this ranking is if your opponent is playing a creatureless deck, such as Pyromancer Ascension.dec. In cases like this, Dispatch is the first card you take out.
Finally, but probably most importantly…
Me telling you not to tilt is probably one of the most hypocritical things I can say, just ask anyone who has played Magic with me in the same room. Thankfully, I’ve improved in this area an awful lot, and the rewards of this are beginning to show.
Back to the point, it’s vitally important you stay calm at all times. If you have the nut draw, don’t get excited, calmy play it out and bash your opponent again and again. More often you’ll draw inadequate hands. You have to mulligan aggressively with this deck and with the speed of this standard format. It’s still quick, even without Jace, the Mind Sculptor and Stoneforge Mystic. Every now and then you’ll mulligan into oblivion. For example, in my PTQ Top 8 match in Reading, in game 1 I mulliganed to five and had to keep Memnite, double Ornithopter, Mox Opal and Glint Hawk Idol and, unsurprisingly, I lost that one horribly. But you know what? Sh*t happens, and the best thing to do is to forget about it and focus simply on the next game.
I hope this has been really helpful to you. As I said, feel free to leave comments in the comment section below. See you all at Nationals in three weeks’ time, if you’re going.