tandard has become an interesting animal. It might seem like every major deck is playing a stack of mythic rares, but there are some budget-friendly decks worth getting excited about. For example, I was sifting through the top performing Standard lists of Pro Tour Paris, and I found this gem:
Sam Black's Tempered Steel
Standard – Pro Tour Paris
I first heard about this deck from Daily MTG's very own Steve Sadin. I was stuck in the Detroit airport for a few hours and decided to give my old buddy a call. Steve was quick to explain that he was working on a Tempered Steel deck for the Pro Tour, and I couldn't help but get excited about the deck. On paper, it's a turn-four aggro deck. A turn-four kill is incredibly fast for a format like Standard. I was convinced of the deck's power within minutes of hearing the list.
Fast forward to the present.
A lot went wrong for the team running this deck at Pro Tour Paris, but the biggest problem for the Standard Tempered Steel deck may have been the success of Kuldotha Red at the StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Indianapolis:
Christoffer Andersen's Kuldotha Red
Standard – StarCityGames.com Standard Open in Indianapolis
This deck is very different from the Tempered Steel deck played by Sam Black, but Kuldotha Red's success may have put the Tempered Steel deck in an awkward spot leading up to the Pro Tour. You see, cards like Ratchet Bomb, Slagstorm, Black Sun's Zenith, and Pyroclasm were not in most people's main decks before the rise of Kuldotha Red. After Indy, all of these answers became must-have tools for Pro Tour competitors who were looking to keep up with the blazingly fast red token deck.
Things have changed since the Pro Tour. Nowadays, everyone is back on Jace, the Mind Sculptor plans. Smart players are tuning their decks to deal with control mirrors. This gives us a great opportunity to attack the metagame with the most aggressive list we can muster.
Sam chose to splash blue off Mox Opal and Seachrome Coast. He padded his splash in the sideboard with a Glacial Fortress, an extra Mox Opal, and a few Islands. Spell Pierce is the most impressive counter available, but I still have a hard time believing that the blue splash is necessary. I could make the deck a lot more budget-friendly by cutting the second color and sticking to a mono-white plan.
Myr Sire seems great to me in this type of deck. It gives the deck more resistance against board sweeping effects, and it's significantly easier to acquire than Phyrexian Revoker. I'm going to go ahead and play with Myr Sire.
Glint Hawk Idol may seem a bit awkward, but it puts your opponent in a very rough spot, especially if he or she is relying too heavily on sorcery-speed removal. Glint Hawk Idol attacks for a lot of damage when you have a Tempered Steel on the battlefield. Having Glint Hawk Idol and Myr Sire gives you draws where Day of Judgment can be laughed off. They cast Day of Judgment, you swing back for 7 the next turn. Seems fair.
Most of the creatures here are necessary to satisfy the deck's mana curve. Cards like Vector Asp may seem awkward, but having more one-mana artifact creatures is absolutely necessary to your plan.
Mox Opal can be difficult to acquire, so I'm going to go ahead and cut those from the deck. If you're lucky enough to have some Mox Opals from booster packs or trading, then I would go ahead and cut two Plains and a Myr Sire for three copies. The Mox Opals aren't completely necessary to the deck's functioning, but they do increase the power of your best draws.
Here's the main deck I'd like to try.
Building a sideboard for a deck like this may seem like a lesson in loose wiring, but I feel like we have a lot of options. For example, there are a good number of decks that simply lose to an Argentum Armor that has been cheated into play. This sect of decks is especially strong against our type of strategy. We're already playing a great number of the tools necessary to building some Argentum Armor. All this deck needs is a playset of Quest for the Holy Relic and a couple Argentum Armors, and suddenly the deck has a very scary plan B.
Here's the sideboard I'd like to bring to the table:
4 Quest for the Holy Relic
2 Argentum Armor
4 Perilous Myr
3 Refraction Trap
2 Origin Spellbomb
I played a few games with the deck to make sure it had the speed we're looking for.
I lost the roll and kept 2 Plains, Memnite, Glint Hawk, Steel Overseer, Tempered Steel, and Glint Hawk Idol. My opponent played a Mox Opal, cast a Kuldotha Rebirth, and passed the turn. I drew Ardent Recruit, cast Memnite, Glint Hawk returning it, and the same Memnite again, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Goblin Wardriver and passed the turn. I drew another Glint Hawk, attacked with the first, cast the other Glint Hawk, recast Memnite, cast Ardent Recruit, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with everyone, and I blocked the Wardriver with my Glint Hawk. Down came another Goblin Wardriver after combat. I drew a Plains, played it, cast Tempered Steel, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Goblin Bushwhacker and attacked with the whole team. I blocked the Bushwhacker with my Memnite and traded my Glint Hawk for Goblin Wardriver, falling to 8 life. I drew a Signal Pest, cast it, cast the Steel Overseer I had in my hand, attacked for 6, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Goblin Guide and passed the turn back. I drew a Myr Sire, cast it, and attacked with Signal Pest and Memnite. My opponent chose not to block, and I activated my Steel Overseer and hit my opponent for 8 before passing the turn. My opponent drew for the turn and passed back with no play. I drew another Tempered Steel, cast it, and attacked. My opponent looked at his top card and packed it in.
Sideboarding: -4 Glint Hawk Idol, +4 Perilous Myr, -3 Ardent Recruit, +3 Refraction Trap
I kept 3 Plains, Vector Asp, 2 Perilous Myr, and Tempered Steel. My opponent cast a Goblin Guide and attacked. I revealed a Plains, took 2 damage, and took my turn. I drew a Signal Pest, cast Vector Asp, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with Goblin Guide and I revealed a Tempered Steel, and he cast a Goblin Wardriver and a Memnite before passing the turn. I drew the Tempered Steel, cast Perilous Myr, and passed the turn. My opponent drew for his turn and thought for a bit. He played a third Mountain, cast a Chimeric Mass for zero, cast Kuldotha Rebirth sacrificing the Mass, cast Goblin Bushwhacker, and attacked with his team. I revealed a Plains for Goblin Guide, blocked Memnite with Vector Asp, blocked Goblin Bushwhacker with Perilous Myr, took 15, and went to 1. I drew a third Tempered Steel and lost to the next attack.
I mulliganed and kept 2 Plains, Signal Pest, Memnite, Perilous Myr, and Steel Overseer. I cast Signal Pest and Memnite and passed the turn. My opponent cast two Memnites, cast a Chrome Mox, played a Mountain, cast a Goblin Guide, cast a Signal Pest, and attacked for 2. I revealed a Myr Sire, then drew the Sire, played my land, cast Perilous Myr, and attacked with Signal Pest and Memnite. My opponent cast a kicked Goblin Bushwhacker and attacked me with his team. I revealed a Plains, blocked a Memnite with my Perilous Myr, took ten damage, and shot the Goblin Guide with my Perilous Myr. I drew another Steel Overseer, cast it, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent cast another Goblin Bushwhacker and attacked with his team. I blocked a Memnite with Steel Overseer and a Goblin Bushwhacker with Memnite, taking 4 damage. I untapped drew another Perilous Myr, cast it, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Goblin Guide and attacked with Goblin Guide and Goblin Bushwhacker. I revealed a Tempered Steel, blocked the Bushwhacker, took 2, and shot the Goblin Guide with the Perilous Myr. I drew the Tempered Steel, cast it, attacked with Signal Pest, and passed the turn. My opponent drew a Forked Bolt, and I was dead.
I won the roll, mulliganed, and kept Plains, Contested War Zone, Memnite, Signal Pest, Glint Hawk Idol, and Tempered Steel. I played my Plains, cast Memnite, cast Signal Pest, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Valakut and passed the turn back. I drew an Ornithopter, attacked for 2, cast the Glint Hawk Idol, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Forest and cast Pyroclasm, and I drew a Plains, cast Tempered Steel, cast Ornithopter, attacked for 4 with the Idol, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Cultivate. I drew another Glint Hawk Idol, cast it, attacked for 6, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Explore, played another land, cast Cultivate, and passed the turn with enough mana to cast anything the next turn. I drew another Contested War Zone, played it, activated both my Glint Hawk Idols, attacked with my team, and pumped them with Contested War Zone, and that was game.
Sideboarding: -4 Ardent Recruit, -2 Myr Sire, +4 Quest for the Holy Relic, +2 Argentum Armor
I confidently kept Plains, Ornithopter, Memnite, Quest for the Holy Relic, Glint Hawk, and 2 Signal Pest. My opponent opened with a Terramorphic Expanse and passed the turn. I drew a Contested War Zone, cast Quest for the Holy Relic, cast Ornithopter, and passed the turn. There's no reason to open myself up to a blowout Pyroclasm. My opponent cast an Explore, played a Valakut as his third land, and passed the turn. I drew another Contested War Zone, played one of them, cast Memnite, cast Glint Hawk returning Memnite back to my hand, recast Memnite, cast Signal Pest, and activated my Quest. I attached the Argentum Armor to the Ornithopter and attacked for 6, I destroyed my opponent's only green source. My opponent played another Mountain, cast Pyroclasm, and passed the turn. I drew a Plains, played it, attacked with my Ornithopter, destroying the Valakut, activated the Contested War Zone, cast Signal Pest, and passed the turn. My opponent drew for his turn and conceded the game.
This deck is certainly competitive enough for the modern Standard metagame. It pushes the limit of aggro without folding to cards like Ratchet Bomb. If you've grown bored of the same old decks in Standard or you just prefer to play aggressive creature strategies, then this may be the right deck for you. Be sure to hit the forums or shoot me an email with any comments or feedback.