MTGGoldfish is supported by its audience. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission.
Browse > Home / Strategy / Articles / Budget Magic: $92 (43 tix) Tempered Tokens (Modern)

Budget Magic: $92 (43 tix) Tempered Tokens (Modern)

Вітаю, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time again! For the last month or so, we've been focused on Standard with rotation and the release of Ixalan, but we are changing things up a bit this week . While we're still playing some Standard-legal cards, we're heading to Modern to see if we can gets some wins with a super-aggressive artifact token deck looking to harness the power of Tempered Steel: Tempered Tokens! The basic idea of our deck is pretty simple. We have a bunch of cards that put 1/1 artifact tokens on the battlefield (mostly Servos but Myr and Thopters as well), and then we turn all of our 1/1s into 3/3's with Tempered Steel and kill our opponent before they have a chance to recover. Is Tempered Steel powerful enough to make some janky Standard cards Modern playable? Let's get to the videos and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

First, a quick reminder: if you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish YouTube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Tempered Tokens (Deck Tech)

Budget Magic: Tempered Tokens vs. Jeskai Control (Match 1)

Budget Magic: Tempered Tokens vs. Ad Nauseam (Match 2)

Budget Magic: Tempered Tokens vs. Storm (Match 3)

Budget Magic: Tempered Tokens vs. Naya Burn (Match 4)

Budget Magic: Tempered Tokens vs. Five-Color Humans (Match 5)

The Deck

Tempered Tokens is basically a token deck but with a twist: instead of playing Lingering Souls, Spectral Procession, and other more typical Modern token producers, our focus is on cards that can give us artifact tokens to take advantage of our namesake enchantment Tempered Steel

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Tempered Steel might be the most powerful anthem effect in Modern when you consider that today, we typically get three-mana anthem effects that only give creatures +1/+1 and sometimes have the downside of being legendary. While playing Tempered Steel does give us a pretty big deck-building restriction, since we need a lot of artifacts, the payoff of giving all of our creatures +2/+2 is worth the work. While turning a 1/1 into a 2/2 with Intangible Virtue is scary, turning a 1/1 into a 3/3 is devastating, offering us a way to close out the game super quickly before our opponent can get a chance to recover. The goal of our deck is pretty simple: play a bunch of cards that put multiple artifact creatures onto the battlefield and trust that Tempered Steel turning all of our small creatures into huge threats will be enough to win us the game.

Token Producers

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

While Shrine of Loyal Legions is only a two-of in our deck because it can be a bit slow in some matchups, it offers a ton of power. If we can play it on Turn 2 and follow it up with a Tempered Steel on Turn 3, it's often making around 15 power and toughness split across five bodies by Turn 5. More importantly, we can activate Shrine of Loyal Legions on our opponent's end step to avoid sweepers and other sorcery-speed removal, and then immediately untap and attack with our token horde. This makes Shrine of Loyal Legions one of our best cards against control and midrange decks, since it sits on the board, naturally gets counters as we cast our other spells, and then eventually wins the game on its own, although we occasionally sideboard it out against against aggro and fast combo, where it can be a bit too slow to have an impact. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00 $ 0.00

Servo Exhibition and Master's Call are two of our most consistent token producers. While both look a bit underpowered at first glance, with Servo Exhibition being a sorcery-speed Raise the Alarm and Master's Call being an overcosted Raise the Alarm, both are incredibly powerful when we have a Tempered Steel, offering two 3/3s for just two or three mana. Generally speaking, Servo Exhibition is better since it's cheaper, which is why we have the full four copies, but Master's Call can occasionally lead to some blowouts when we flash it in at instant speed to eat an attacking creature or two. No one expects the Master's Call in Modern. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Sram's Expertise is the most explosive card in our deck. On level one, it gives us three 1/1 Servos for just four mana, but when you consider the Servos will usually be 3/3s thanks to Tempered Steel, it often gives us nine power and toughness for our four-mana investment. But that's not all. The ability to cast something with a converted mana cost of three or less for free means we can get some Servos and drop a Tempered Steel to pump them, or play one of our other token producers, like Servo Exhibition. When we play Sram's Expertise into Servo Exhibition / Master's Call with a Tempered Steel on the battlefield, the end result is that we can go from an empty board to having 15 power on the battlefield out of nowhere, allowing us to close out the game in just one or two attacks.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Angel of Invention is just a one-of since it's a bit expensive and slow, but the combination of giving us two Servos and pumping our team is really powerful in our go-wide deck. One of the tricky aspects of building a token-themed Tempered Steel deck is that simply aren't that many cards that make artifact tokens, which means everything that fits the theme is at least in consideration for making the deck. The biggest problem with Angel of Invention is that it lines up pretty poorly with removal, dying to Lightning Bolt no matter how we fabricate, but leaving behind two Servos means it's still a reasonable deal, even when it dies, especially if we have a Tempered Steel on the battlefield. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Hangarback Walker is great in our deck. Without a Tempered Steel, it comes down on Turn 2 and slowly ticks up throughout the game until it eventually dies and gives us a board full of Thopters, which are especially powerful with Tempered Steel since they end up as 3/3 fliers. It also gives us a mana sink for the late game, since we can cast it with a bunch of counters. Hangarback Walker also lets us do some sweet tricks with a Tempered Steel on the battlefield, since it's an artifact creature itself. In theory, we can play a Tempered Steel on Turn 3 and immediately play Hangarback Walker as a free 2/2 that slowly powers itself up if we really need a blocker, and it's not that difficult to turn the Construct into a big beater with the help of our namesake enchantment. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Blade Splicer probably looks weird, since it isn't an artifact creature, but it does make an artifact creature (in the form of a 3/3 Golem) when it enters the battlefield. Giving our Golems first strike is also relevant, especially when we get multiples on the battlefield, making it almost impossible for opponents to attack into our defense. Plus, in a weird way, Blade Splicer being a white card rather than an artifact is actually an upside in some situations, since it gives us another counter on our Shrine of Loyal Legions. Oh yeah, and with a Tempered Steel out, our Golems are 5/5s, which means they take down just about everything in Modern, from Goblin Guides to Reality Smashers. 

Other Stuff

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Thraben Inspector doesn't actually do anything with our Tempered Steel plan, even though it makes an artifact token. As such, it's mostly in the deck just to fill out the curve, giving us something to play on Turn 1 and a Clue we can cash in for a card later in the game. Unlike Standard, where not starting your curve until Turn 2 is reasonable and even common, in Modern, decks are fast and almost everyone starts playing on Turn 1, which means that intentionally passing our turn would put us at a big disadvantage. This makes Thraben Inspector a sort of necessary evil—not exciting in our deck but important to help us keep up with everyone else in the format. 

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Smuggler's Copter is pretty amazing in Tempered Tokens for a couple of reasons. First, when we curve Thraben Inspector into Smuggler's Copter into Tempered Steel, we're attacking for five in the air on Turn 3, which is a super-fast clock. Second, we have a ton of 1/1s, which means we always have some semi-useless creature around to crew up the looter scooter. Third, as a mono-white deck without any real filtering and very little card draw, Smuggler's Copter is essential for smoothing out our draws, looting away useless lands to find more action, or helping us find the lands we need to cast our four- and five-mana plays, depending on the situation. Smuggler's Copter is solid all around and is one of the cards we want to see most in our opening hand, since our deck runs so much smoother when we are looting every turn.

$ 0.00 $ 0.00

Last but not least, we have a playset of Path to Exiles as our removal spell, and even though the instant eats up about a quarter of our budget, it's worth it. There simply isn't a substitute in Modern that is anywhere near as effective as Path to Exile for mono-white decks. Path to Exile deals with any problematic creature for just a single mana, and while giving our opponent a land is annoying, ideally our clock will be fast enough thanks to Tempered Steel that our deck will minimize this drawback. 


All in all, we finished our video matches 3-2 but sort of lost to Jeskai Control in a rematch, bringing the overall record to 3-3. This being said, we got insanely lucky to beat Ad Nauseam, with our opponent killing themselves two games in a row with Spoils of the Vault. While getting the win was sweet, it does highlight one of the biggest challenges with Tempered Tokens: we really, really struggle with fast combo. Mono-white decks naturally struggle with combo, and budget decks even more so, since some of the best combo-centric sideboard cards like Leyline of Sanctity, Runed Halo, and Rest in Peace are usually too expensive for budget decks. While Tempered Tokens certainly can beat combo, we're mostly hoping that our opponent stumbles for a turn or two, giving us enough time to get the Tempered Steel win. Our clock is fast; it just isn't usually fast enough to beat decks like Storm or Ad Nauseam if they get a decent starting hand. 

On the other hand, the deck seems strong against most aggro and midrange creature decks. We have tons of chump blockers in the early game, since many of our cards put two creatures on the battlefield, and then after we get a Tempered Steel down, it's hard for most creature decks to keep pace with our raw power. We also have a decent shot against control, since we naturally blank one-for-one removal and Shrine of Loyal Legions can win the game all by itself. 

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

As for changes I'd make to the budget deck, I think the main deck is pretty solid. We've already got the best artifact token producers, so there isn't much to add there. One possibility would be to find a way to include Intangible Virtue as additional copies of Tempered Steel, but it would be pretty hard to find the room without cutting threats, and we'd probably need to rework the deck a bit (likely dropping Smuggler's Copter, as painful as that sounds) to make sure we were even more token-focused. It also might be worth including a bit of lifegain in the sideboard, like a copy of Timely Reinforcements or Kor Firewalker. While we did manage to beat Naya Burn, the match was too close for comfort. 

All in all, Tempered Tokens is a fun deck and competitive enough to pick up some wins, although be warned: it will have a hard time if everyone is playing unfair combo decks at your local game store. On the other hand, if a lot of players are on control or creature decks, then Tempered Tokens will be a fine choice and should be fairly competitive!

To get Tempered Tokens down into the ultra-budget range, the biggest change is dropping Path to Exile for Dispatch. I considered Dispatch for the budget build and decided that while it could be good, the more consistent Path to Exile was probably better. The problem with Dispatch is that while it's better than Path to Exile in the best-case scenario, since it doesn't give the opponent a land, there will also be times when we don't have three artifacts (especially in the early game) and it will do nothing. Despite these limitations, it's still a great option for the ultra-budget build. Otherwise, we go in more heavily on the Myr / Servo plan, and drop Hangarback Walker for more copies of Shrine of Loyal Legions and Master's Call. All in all, the ultra-budget build is basically a slightly less consistent version of the build from the videos, although it should be fine for casual play. 

For our non-budget build this week, we are reaching into red as a splash color for three reasons. First, splashing just a bit of red allows us to easily run Blood Moon, which gives us a free-win option against decks like Tron that would otherwise be hard matchups. We also get Lightning Bolt as our primary removal spell, which can kill early-game creatures while also giving us the option of going to our opponent's face for the last few points of damage. Third, we got Bomat Courier, which is the perfect one-drop for our deck, coming down as a 3/3 with haste if we have a Tempered Steel while also giving us another source of card advantage if it sticks on the battlefield. The other big additions to the deck are strong white sideboard cards for fighting combo, shoring up another one of the deck's biggest weaknesses. Leyline of Sanctity is the best of the bunch, being very good against most of the popular combo decks in the format while also helping against Burn and discard-heavy decks. Otherwise, we get Rest in Peace, Rule of Law, and even Stony Silence as well. All around, this build should play like the build from the videos but should be a lot better against fast combo decks, which were our worst matchups with the budget build.


Anyways, that's all for today. As always leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

More in this Series

Show more ...

More on MTGGoldfish ...

Image for Budget Magic: $93 (20 tix) Mono-Black Monument (Standard) budget magic
Budget Magic: $93 (20 tix) Mono-Black Monument (Standard)

Is it time for Marionette Master and Treasure tokens to shine in Standard in a mono-black Aristocrats-style shell?

Oct 31 | by SaffronOlive
Image for Bloomburrow Spoilers — July 18 | Last Rares and Commander precons! daily spoilers
Bloomburrow Spoilers — July 18 | Last Rares and Commander precons!

The last Rare and Mythic from the main set, and all four commander precons

Jul 18 | by mtggoldfish
Image for Bloomburrow Commander Decklists daily spoilers
Bloomburrow Commander Decklists

The decklists for the Commander precons for Bloomburrow.

Jul 18 | by Niuttuc
Image for Vintage 101: Happy Frog vintage 101
Vintage 101: Happy Frog

Joe Dyer takes a look at Psychic Frog lists in Vintage!

Jul 18 | by Joe Dyer

Layout Footer

Never miss important MTG news again!

All emails include an unsubscribe link. You may opt-out at any time. See our privacy policy.

Follow Us

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Twitch
  • Instagram
  • Tumblr
  • RSS
  • Email
  • Discord
  • YouTube

Price Preference

Default Price Switcher