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Budget Magic: $84 (6 tix) Modern UW Tempered Steel

What's shakin' Budget Magic lovers? A few days ago I did an AMA on Reddit and one of the many great questions asked was: where do the Budget Magic decks come from? This is a tricky question because they come from all different places, but most fall into one of two categories: decks that just happen to be inexpensive (for example last week's Blistering Rage deck) and decks which I have to finagle a bit to get under budget. This weeks deck, UW Tempered Steel for Modern, is certainly among the latter. 

UW Tempered Steel is a budget version of Affinity/Robots. As such, one of the biggest positives of building this deck is that it offers a foundation to trade/buy your way into a tier one Modern deck. It might take a little bit of time, but thankfully the deck is perfectly playable (and actually quite powerful) and my record this week with the deck was very solid. So if you are looking for a good starter Modern deck which can win a bunch of matches against the top decks in the format, but also offers a lot of upgrade potential, UW Tempered Steel just might be the right option for you. Anyway, let's get to the videos and then we'll talk a bit more about the deck and possible upgrades. But first a reminder — if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content here on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

UW Tempered Steel - Intro/Deck Tech

UW Tempered Steel vs Grixis Control

UW Tempered Steel vs UR Delver

UW Tempered Steel vs Mono-Green Nykthos

UW Tempered Steel vs Amulet Bloom (with an unintentional special guest: Joe Lossett)

The List

As you can see in the videos, the deck plays a lot like a normal Affinity deck. You play a bunch of cheap artifacts, reload your hand with Thoughtcast, and finish the game with some combination of Etched Champion, Cranial Plating, and Tempered Steel

Speaking of Tempered Steel, that card is very good. While it's probably too slow and color-intensive for a deck with more options, it does a very good budget impression of Steel Overseer and in many cases is actually better because it comes down with haste and double-strike. Drawing it off the top in the late game is often GG, and playing it on turn three after some random Memnites, Ornithopers and Signal Pests offers a ton of damage. 

The one thing I didn't like about this deck was Glacial Fortress. It came into play tapped a bit too often (predictably, since we only have six total Islands and Plains) and since we are already a bit less explosive than non-budget Affinity decks without Mox Opal, we really can't afford to be down a mana on turn one. Probably the best budget solution is Adarkar Wastes, but if you have Hallowed Fountains or Flooded Strands sitting around from Standard those will do just fine.


I mentioned back in the beginning of the article that one of the benefits of building UW Tempered Steel is that it offers a pathway to building a tier one Affinity deck. Here's what you're shooting for:

So what cards do you need to turn our budget brew into a full blown robotic monstrosity? The following are the seven big ones in order most important to least. The nice thing is that adding any of these cards to the deck will improve it, and just adding one or two copies while you are trading/buying your way into a playset is perfectly acceptable. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

I couldn't really decide if Arcbound Ravager or Mox Opal was more important to the deck, so I decided to stick them together on top of the list. Most of my experience with Affinity comes from across the table and I can tell you that, with the possible exception of Cranial Plating, Arcbound Ravager is the card I want to see the least on the battlefield. While its power might not be apparent if you have never played with or against the card, it does everything. It makes it really difficult for your opponent to kill your other artifacts because you can sac them for value and it makes combat impossible. One of the main ways Affinity wins is by attacking with a bunch of random artifact dorks, waiting to see which one goes unblocked, and then sacing out their board to put a lethal amount of counters on an Ornithopter or Blinkmoth Nexus

Mox Opal, on the other hand, adds an insane amount of explosiveness to the deck. This is the card that allows Affinity players to empty their entire hand on turn one. In a deck that is running 44 artifacts, it is on par with the original mox cycle in terms of power level. So while Arcbound Ravager might be the best card in the deck, Mox Opal might be the most important and is certainly the card you always want to see in your opening seven. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Having access to eight artifact manlands is one of the defining features of the Modern Affinity deck. While it might seem strange, Inkmoth Nexus's ability to one-shot an opponent with the help of Arcbound Ravager or Cranial Plating probably makes it better than Blinkmoth Nexus. It also adds resilience against sideboard hate like Shatterstorm since neither Inkmoth Nexus nor Blinkmoth Nexus are artifacts until they are activated. Although its price has increased in recent weeks thanks to the popularity of Infect and also because it missed a reprinting opportunity in Modern Masters 2015, it is worth ponying up for if you can because it really improves the deck. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

What Tempered Steel does for our deck, Steel Overseer does for the tier one Affinity deck except is is also an artifact and can actually attack or block if the situation arises.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Apart from being an artifact, Spellskite doesn't have any particular synergy in the deck —  not that it matters since it is one of the best cards in the Modern format shutting down everything from the Splinter Twin combo to a flurry of Lightning Bolts, to the Giant Growths in Infect. Master of Etherium is another way to pump all your dorks while also growing pretty big itself. It seems like a 2/2 split between Master of Etherium and Etched Champion is the default at this point, although I would have Master of Etherium near the bottom of my upgrade list; you don't really lose that much by playing four Etched Champion. Glimmervoid, combined with Mox Opal and Springleaf Drum, allows Affinity to play five colors out of the board, and being able to play Thoughtseize, Spell Pierce, both halves of Wear // Tear, and flashback Ancient Grudge all in the same deck post-board is a huge advantage of playing Affinity in Modern.


Anyway, that's all for today. Leave your thoughts, opinions, and improvements in the comments. As always, you can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive. 

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