Coming into Pro Tour Nagoya, there was one deck that was head and shoulders above every other – Tempered Steel deck. Not everyone knew of this, of course, but those who knew brought it to the battlefield and had success with it. There were those who were familiar with the dominance of this deck, but just wanted to try something else, something that could potentially beat it. Many of players just couldn’t resist playing Consecrated Sphinx in their decks.
Undoubtedly the most powerful card in the block showed just a little bit too slow for this metagame. Especially if you knew that mono red was the second most played deck that day. Of course, good players like powerful cards, so this particular Sphinx propelled Tsuyoshi Fujita to his 4th pro tour top 8. Take a look at his deck here.
And now, let’s see the complete metagame breakdown:
Channelfireball’s team also brought Tempered Steel as a weapon of their choice, and what they’re playing is usually deck to beat. Luis Scott-Vargas was the best player in constructed portion of the tournament with 28 points. He said he wanted to play Consecrated Sphinx so bad, but it just so consistently lost to Tempered Steel that it was pointless.
This is the deck he played:
Playing this deck is not so hard: just drop everything you’ve got first couple of turns, then play Tempered Steel, and then bludgeon them to death with giant creatures.
Mox Opal allows you to play Tempered Steel on turn 2 and speed up your victory by a turn, but you don’t want to flood on Moxes since it’s legendary, hence only 2 copies in the deck. Dispatch in this deck works as a Swords to Plowshares or Path to Exile without the drawback beacuse you always got 3 artifacts on the battlefield, and Glin Hawk Idol is there to survive all the sorcery removals and mass removals like Slagstorm. Leonin Relic-Warder maindeck is a logical move when you know you’re gonna face mirrors all day long and Blade Splicer is just a solid guy that not only gives you a 3/3 first striking artifact but also a 1/1 as a bonus. Inkmoth Nexus as a perfect manland is a must, and there’s no reason not to play it in any deck that runs fewer than 3 colors. It’s especially good in this deck when you consider Inkmoth Nexus as a 3/3 (or more if you got 2+ Tempered Steel’s) flying poison creature that speeds up your usual infect kill clock 3 times.
Two strange cards in this deck are one-of Vault Skirge and out of place Hero of Bladehold. LSV explains that he would play more Skirges, but there just wasn’t place for more since he wouldn’t want to cut any other card, and Hero of Bladehold is SO good that it wins on it’s own and it doesn’t need any synergy with the rest of the deck.
Sideboard is adjusted to fight control with Contested War Zone and Elspeth Tirel, removal heavy decks with Indomitable Archangel and Mutagenic Growth (against burn and -x/-x spells) and aggreo with Dismember and Marrow Shards; and even some additional spice in mirror matchup in Revoke Existance.
If you want to see LSV in person explaining how this deck ticks you can do it on youtube, right here.
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