Heading into this weekend, everyone's Block Constructed boogeyman was Tempered Steel. The consistent, powerful draws were simply not to be ignored. Many feared it would have a stifling effect on the format. But that doesn't seem to be the case. I watched a couple of matches early, and here's a quick view.
Match 1: Brian Kibler (Big Red) vs. Ricky Sidher (Tezzeret)
Kibler's Big Red looks like a descendant of the Big Red decks that have been having success on Magic Online in recent months, with main-deck Vulshok Refugees a concession to the expected turnout of red mages. Sidher's Tezzeret deck is a traditional build, topping out on some big, splashy spells.
In Game 1, Sidher started with Wellspring, then answered Vulshok Refugee with Contagion clasp. When Kibler went for Oxidda Scrapmelter, Sidher was ready with Steel Sabotage to pull his Clasp back to his hand, forcing Kibler's Beast to give him an extra card. Sidher moved up to Consecrated Sphinx, and though Kibler had the Red Sun's Zenith, no one likes getting three-for-one'd. Karn Liberated took his place and made sure no shenanigans were to be had.
The second game was even more quick and brutal. Both players mulliganed, but Kibler's six were not exactly gangbusters. Phyrexian Crusader hassled him early, and after he spent a Volt Charge on an Inkmoth Nexus to keep his poison count down, Tezzeret showed up. No answer to the Crusader was forthcoming, and Sidher took the match.
Match 2: Michael Jacob (Bant?) vs. Manuel Godineau (Tezzeret)
Godineau's Tezzeret relies even more on the power of Wellsprings to outdraw opponents, along with a varied suite of countermagic, removal, and finishers. Michael Jacob is playing the Bant colors, in defiance of the prevailing wisdom that the mana is simply unworkable beyond two colors. His deck is packed with answers to expected decks, and can switch from the control to aggro role with ease.
The two matched Wellsprings in the early going, but Godineau's plans of waiting on countermagic were upset by the arrival of Thrun, the Last Troll. Godineau was forced to take damage while both players played out lands. Godineau took 8 before playing a Black Sun's Zenith for two, keeping his Stoic Rebuttal up. Jacob played an end-of-turn Beast Within on his own Wellspring, won the counter war, then untapped and dropped Consecrated Sphinx. That was game.
The second was a more drawn-out affair. Jacob stalled on three land after playing Viridian Emissary and Phyrexian Revoker on Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas. They whittled Godineau to 9 before Black Sun's Zenith wiped them off the board, but by then Jacob had found lands. He again played Thrun, the Last Troll, and Godineau could only shake his head at the Stoic Rebuttal in his hand.
Godineau tried to go big with Consecrated Sphinx, but Jacob had the Stoic Rebuttal, and then a Sphinx of his own, knocking Godineau to 5 with Thrun. Godineau threw down Volition Reins and suddenly he was back in it. Jacob had Elspeth Tirel and made some tokens, but Godineau had Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas to hulk up an Inkmoth Nexus to kill her. Viridian Corrupter took out the Nexus, and Jacob swung in with his crew. Wary of taking extra damage, Godineau animated a second Nexus, tapping low, and that was the window Jacob needed to get his Sphinx with Beast Within. Godineau was forced to tap out for a Sphinx of his own the following turn to bolster his defenses, and couldn't stop a Hero of Bladehold, which gave Jacob the match.