Esper Steel

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Esper Steel

What is Esper Steel?

Esper steel is a quick aggro deck that combines elements of the esper shard of alara with the artifact power brought about in Scars of Mirrodin. Some refer to this as "neo affinity" as it feels similar to affinity did in the old extended. Others simply call it Steel or Tempered steel after one of the key cards in the deck.


How to play.

The goal of this deck is to amass an army of cheap artifact creatures then pump them up with lord type effects. To give the deck some control elements needed in today's extended early discard is usually added. Ideally you want to dump your hand quickly and kill your opponent before they can react.


Advantages of Esper Steel.

Esper Steel being cheap in casting cost makes it one of the best early game decks. Being a 3 color deck allows for it to have a large pool of available cards to incorperate into the deck/ sideboard. With a tempered steel out all your guys are immune to the most widely played mass removal in the format (volcanic fallout). The deck has a small late game plan of rebuilding via ranger of eos. Hopefully it doesn't come to that.


Disadvantages of Esper Steel.

If you allow your opponent to gain control of the game it is unlikely that you will be able to regain control. There is little to no card advantage in the deck.
If the meta is ready for it it is easily hated out of contention. Very similar to affinity.


Card Choices

Creatures

Memnite- This little guy may not seem like much, but it powers out the rest of the deck. It allows easier metalcraft action to turn our mox on. Also it really just beats face in this deck.
Ornithopter-Similar to memnite, but flies and starts out with only 0 power. 
Court Homunculus- This guy should always be a 2/2 for 1 mana. 
Tidehollow Sculler- Beatstick who also provides a touch of control.
Steel Overseer- Repeatedly pumps your guys.
Master of Etherium- Best lord for the deck and can get large enough to make an impact alone.
Ranger of Eos- Late game he brings online 2 of your memnite/ornithopter/court homunculus. Also can bring online forge tenders from the sideboard in games 2 and 3.
Etched Champion- Really good against other aggro decks.

Enchantments  and Artifacts (non creature, non mana producing)

Tempered Steel- Glorious anthem on crack. This make the deck work at a much faster pace then it could otherwise. This deck takes as much advantage of this card as is possible.
Thopter Foundry- Even when it's not broken it's a good card. Renders most targeted removal pointless, combos with tidehollow very well. Gives you something to do with extra moxes/ drums. And well sometimes you just need to fly to end the game.

Planeswalkers

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas-this card took this deck up a notch all on its own. for 4 mana (ideally turn 3) you can turn your ornithopter/memnite/mox opal into a game ending 5/5. Dont have one? thats fine use his +1 ability and go find one. Although I've not yet used his "finisher" in a tournament envoronment I'm sure it works well in this deck as well.

Spells

Thoughtseize, duress, Inquisition of Kozilek- Used to disrupt your opponent while your guys pound their face in. Best used against control or combo decks. If you take their disruption control will have a hard time staying alive long enough to gain control and against combo you take their key pieces.
Mana leak, Spell pierce, Stoic Rebuttal- If discard doesn't suit you, it is possible to try reactive disruption. Your army comes down fast and doesn't need alot of mana to keep going so you could use the mana to cast counterspells.

Mana sources

Darkslick shores,Seachrome Coast- They add 2 colors of mana and don't come into play tapped.
Marsh Flats- Gets you the color you don't have via whichever of the above cards you drew. Makes turn 2 sculler, turn 3 Tempered Steel very viable. Also thins out your deck because you need 2-3 land to work.
Plains, Swamps- Usually only 4 are played 3 pains and 1 swamp. Islands aren't nessisary as you have enough blue from other sources.
Mox Opal- Yum, not hard to activate. Allows explosive starts. Multiple moxes can be used to make thopters late game.
Springleaf drum- Accels you a turn but taps your guy in the process. Use on a creature with summoning sickness to avoid loss of speed.



Deck Lists








Matchups

Instead of saying this is a good matchup or bad matchup and giving an estimated number that really means nothing realistic. Instead I will go over the strategy of the opponent and where to attack their weakness.

Faeries

Fae is a deck with some weak body, but powerful creatures. It's most notorious card is bitterblossom which is usually played early and allowed to gain critical mass while the fae player counters your attempts at gaining a board position. Cards played: bitterblossom, spellstutter sprite, mistbind clique, vendilion clique, mana leak, cryptic command, creature kill.

The best way to attack faeries is to attack faeries. Build up a fast agressive start and put them on the back foot. Faeries tends to fall apart when it's not in control and usually doesn't start controlling the game untill turn 3. Another weakness faeries has is against any form of hand alteration, MD thoughtseize and sculler are there to take out their answers while you put them in a bad position. The other way to battle them is to take out their bitterblossom. I would not suggest going overboard trying to take this out, but it can help. When they are hit with an early assault the bitterblossoms only provide chump blockers.

Good sideboard options:
duress- type cards. getting rid of their control cards or their offence early is important. I don't really suggest this as i feel the 8 cards in the deck already do this well.
zealous persecution- This will eliminate many of their creatures while pumping up your team.
celestial purge- used to get rid of bitterblossom, as I said I wouldnt go overboard on them. This also hits one of their man-lands which could be a problem for us as well.



Jund

Jund is an aggro/tempo midrange deck. Jund creates alot of card advantage and throws out larger guys then we do (without our pump effects) very quickly. Turns 1 and 2 are really all we have before they start out classing our guys. After that point we have to play defencively while we build up our creatures for a good strike. Don't make 1 for 1 trades unless you have to as their card advantage will kill you in the long run. Thoughtseize and tidehollow sculler need to target their card advantage cards like bloodbraid elf. Once your guys are pumped via steel overseer or tempered steel you are free to attack again to go for the victory. One of my favorite cards in this matchup is Thopter Foundry as you can chump block and make a flier, or make a flier in responce to removal. Then you have an army of fliers that they can't deal with to attack for the win.

Good Sideboard options:
Path to exile- any creature that auto recurrs can be perma removed with this. Very simple to just get rid of a problem. Be careful though as giving them more mana isn't always a good thing.
Vedalken outlander or other pro red guys. Many of their creatures are red these can serve as chump blockers as you wait for the winning cards to come up.


scapeshift

Scapeshift is a combo deck usually revolving around prismatic omen and Valakut to deal lethal damage to you out of nowhere. they also have a strong control suite usually. during game 1 you need to focus on your hand disruption and kill them as fast as possible. kill cards in their hand that get lands or prismatic omen if you have the chance, Wargate and any land fetch that doesn't say search for a basic land are your primary targets. In games 2 and 3 they sometimes bring in a creature that will slow your horde (like baneslayer angel) dont be cought off guard.

Good sideboard options:
Tectonic edge- use this to kill their valakut and or keep them off of their 6th mana.
Gaddock Teeg- Some decks have no answer to this guy and as we don't have green in our deck, they dont see it coming.
counter magic- counter their kill spells.



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I just played this in a PTQ yesterday:

My list was the same as the one in the opening -1 filter land +1 tectonic edge While the filter land is great at changing mana around to cast 2nd turn sculler 3rd turn tempered steel, I didn't find it as useful as being able to do something with excess mana that this deck ends up running into. Killing a land is pretty useful in this format (keeping cryptic mana away or killing a man land). The other change was +2 etched champion in place of 1Ranger of Eos and 1 Steel Overseer I think 3 is the right number of both of those and the champ can hold off aggro.

My sideboard was completely different.
2 Tectonic Edge - 4cc or omen/val
3 gaddock teeg- 4cc or omen/val
2 Esper Charm- Fae, omen, mirror, pyromancer
2 burrenton forge-tender- RDW, or other redish aggro like jund
4 Path to Exile- anti aggro, possibly fae
2 Relic of progenitus- mainly ooze

Round 1 I ran into faeries:
Game 1: I had a fast opening that blew him out of the water.

SB: -2 etched champoin, +2 esper charm, -1 thopter foundry, -1 steel overseer, +2 path to exile.

Game 2: It was an average opening. I put out a memnite and a homuculus to get preasure out. he leaked my tempered steel that I tried to play turn 3 (saw it coming, but figured I'd get it out of his hand opposed to playing around it all game). Next turn he played the fae lord that give others shroud during my combat. I responded with a path. Next turn he played MB clique during my upkeep. I responded by killing his only fae with tectonic edge. 

1-0
Round 2: G/W aggro
Game 1: was a blow out on my end. He may have been mana screwed, but he had 3 man and died 5th turn. I did see 3 wilt leaf leige when I thoughtseized, luckily he had another target as well.

SB: I thought about my side while he was siding, but decided I hadn't seen enough of his deck to make any changes.

Game 2: I think I saw 3  of the guy that you pay 1 mana and sac to kill an artifact or enchantment. Along with a string of guys that were made quite large by wilt leaf leige. I lost.

SB: Decided quickly that I wanted path. was hard to take anything out. -3 steel overseer, +3 Path to exile.

Game 3: turn 1 sculler, turn 2 sculler, turn 3 sculler (drew the 2nd 2). Follow that up with a pump effect and he couldnt come back.

2-0
Round 3 VS Elves summoning big guys.
Game 1 he summoned a turn 3 (i think) Oversoul of dusk. I couldn't kill it and chump blocked it alot (darn pro black). Eventually I threw ranger and his 2 memnites in front of it and he simply sent in another.

SB: +4 Path to exile -I can't remember, need to take better notes.

Game 2: All star is once again thopter foundry letting memnites chump block and turn into fliers. I steadily wore down his life total while he wore down mine. A few paths kept me alive untill i saw tempered steel to seal the game.

Game 3: I sent out a steady stream of guys while keeping his off the table (thoughseize the mana producers and path the big guys). I managed to keep him off his game and pulled out the victory.

3-0
Round 4 VS RDW
Game 1: I play first, turn 1 swamp/thoughtseiz. "oh, you are playing that deck..." ouch.

SB: -4 thought seize, +4 path, -2 Steel overseer +2 forge tenders.

Game 2: I kept a hand with champion, tempered steel, master, memnite, mox, swamp, fetch. Played the fetch turn 1. He played 2/1 guy instead of the goblin guide, I fetched the plain, drew a ranger, played the swamp. he piled on the damage. turn 5 I played tempered steel off land played memnite. He untapped attacked past my memnite blocking 1 and threw burn at my face.

3-1
Round 5 VS R/G aggro
Game 1: kept a 2 fetch and plain hand. palyed out 0 mana guys. He played out slightly bigger guys. I sat there with 2 master of etherium ready to own the board (no blue mana). Eventually I had to start chump blocking. I drew mox a turn too late for metalcraft.

SB: out 4 thought seize in 2 path 2 forge tenders.  

Game 2: kept 4 land non land. turn 1 forge tender. turn 4-5 ranger + forge tender and a memnite. He kept attacking. I stack blocked to kill his guys as much as I could, but couldn't get ahead. ended the game after 2 rangers. I saw 13 land (3 fetched) and 10 non land cards. (which means I drew 10 land and 6 non land cards in a 17 land deck).

3-2
Round 6 Vs RDW
Game 1: Tried to stabilize at 1 life as he couldn't attack though my creatures (pumped with TS). Drew fetch, thoughtseize, thoughtseize. given 4 tries he drew a burn.

SB: out 4 thoughseize in 2 path 2 forge tender.

Game 2: 2nd flood of the night. another 3/5 ratio this time without rangers. Both forge tenders came out, but couldn't slow him enough being sac'd to prevent 8 in the air.

3-3 
Round 7 VS faeries
Game 1: Put too much pressure on him and cleared him out.

SB: -2 champion +2 esper charm.

Game 2: Too much pressure again. Pathed his man lands when he tried to block.

4-3
Round 8 Faeries.
Game 1: He went first. thoughseize could only take 1 of his 2 bitterblossoms. I was unable to get any pump effect to stick. and he traded man lands for my attackers while his tokens attacked my life total.

Game 2: oh look man flood. After a great start I followed it up with lands, yay?

4-4

All in all I liked the deck and never felt like I was playing the wrong deck.

I wish I had pressed the sideboard for more anti red and less anti 4cc/omen, but if I had faced those instead maybe not. Also the choices in anti red could have been better. forge tenders are only chosen it seems because they can be found with rangers. A better choice would have been any of the 2/2 pro red guys as they would acutally kill attacking red guys. Vedalken outlander may have been the better choice. And this would actually further my opinion that the deck should have tezzeret in it (opposed to ranger).

Card choices:
Etched champion- was only useful one time. I think that any time he is useful Vedalken outlander would have been better. He comes out a turn earlier and has the same power/toughness. Plus he always has pro red. I'm not saying to MD the outlander, but I am saying dont MD the champion, or even SB the champion.

Tectonic Edge- There was 1 time total that I would have wanted this to be the filter land instead. I could have cast a sculler with the drum and 0 mana guy that was in play. next turn I drew the mana source I needed and that was that. There were 3 times I made use of it and thus was glad it was not the filter land. Only during the mana flood games did I wish that this was a man land (Dread Statuary probably), but I didn't really think about that.

Ranger of Eos- While I like what he does for the deck he doesn't really turn things around if you are losing. I really think that we should take a step back and consider Tezzeret in his place. There are 23 mana sources in the deck, He shouldn't be that hard to cast.


All that being said a new set should be here before the next PTQ in my area. I'm looking forward to anything that it has to add.
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A PTQ in Cambridge this saturday was won by a steel deck. I didn't see much of the deck, but it looked very heavy white, possibly even mono, and was running Windbrisk heights.
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Apparently it was a UW build of steel.

Esper steel will be the best deck in the format once Tezz.2 is legal.....
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What makes you say that?

spoiler

4 mana- 3 loyalty
+1 Look at the top 5 of your library reveal an artifact put it in your hand.
-1 Target artifact becomes a 5/5 artifact creature
-4 drain X from an opponent x= twice your artifacts


Where would you say that this goes in, and how does it make it the best in the format?
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Tezz.2 enables unfair things:

Swinging on turn 2 with a 5/5 for example.

It alows you to dig for that sculler or whatever you need. And if they put up decent defences, it lets you just drain over their head. Not too mention it turns memnites and thopters into 5/5 guys, since it's just target artifact becomes a 5/5. So you can make 5/5 fliers to attack with on turn 2.... seems rather good, it's almost like having another lord who provides you with terrific card selection powers, finishing capabilities, and superior cretures to other aggro decks, even without the tempered steel and other lords.....
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Tezz.2 enables unfair things:

Swinging on turn 2 with a 5/5 for example.



I've been out of the loop in Extended, but how are players getting all this mana on turn 2?

Orzhova Witness

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How;s a 2 drop 1/2, Flying broken? What am I missing?
You're missing it because *turns Storm Crows sideways* all your base are belong to Chuck Norris and every other overused meme ever.

Tezz.2 enables unfair things:

Swinging on turn 2 with a 5/5 for example.



I've been out of the loop in Extended, but how are players getting all this mana on turn 2?



I saw the following a few times at the weekend:

TURN ONE:
-Seachrome coast
-Memnite
-Springleaf Drum
-Court Homonculous

But I also saw this:

TURN ONE:
-Darkslick Shores
-Springleaf Drum
-Mox Opal
-Memnite
-Tidehollow Sculler

Not the worst turn one ever.....

But with Mox Opals and springleaf drums, it's not too difficult to hit 4 mana on turn 2, but turn 3 should always be 4 mana. With Tezz, it gives them a solid mid-game plan, an "I win" card, as well as a way to make us of dead sprigleaf drums and dig for more stuff.
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With Tezz.2 coming out soon and some other killer cards, do you guys think that it may just be better to run straight up Esper control, or does having all of these creatures really benefit and make the deck more viable as aggro?

I would like to bring an Esper build to the PTQ in Portland. I am torn between the option of a more control based deck, or running aggro.

Do you think making a mid-range deck with Esper colors is an option worth considering? 
I hate you, Wizards. Sincerely, Poor Customer
symphonyofevil-

I'm not exactly sure what are are asking, but making a control deck or a mid range deck using BWU is certianly viable in the very open meta. Doing so would not be making this deck though. This deck runs on critical mass, making alot of little guys and pumping them up to attack. Take out part of that and you are simply making another deck. The deck is so synergistic with itself that changing a few pieces means you need to change many more as well.

New Tezz-

I think he could definitely see play in this deck. He would obviously compete with Ranger for his spot. I'm less and less impressed with ranger the more I play this deck. This guy can provide similar CA although over a few turns. What I'm unsure about is if I would like to play him or play Tezz 1. The thought of a turn 2 (likely turn 3) 5/5 attacking is great, but waiting another turn and attacking with all your artifacts at 5/5 seems better. Tezz 1 gets the best card for the situation and puts it into play, where Tezz 2 gets the best card in the top 5 and puts it in your hand. The other side to that is Tezz 1 runs out of counters doing so while Tezz 2 gets more counters by doing so. Either way they both need some serious testing.
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Tezz will definately be a force to be reckoned with here. The new Shatterstorm in green could be a problem though, meaning you have to play esper so you can sculler and thoughtseize it away. Meddling Mage is also a nice addition run in a few lists.

I have more info on the winning list from cambridge, it was UW, and ran windbrisk heights and Mutavault for a midgame plan to power out some extra damage and CA.


Symphony: Steel is only going to be an aggro deck, you could run a control deck, but it would be very different, the steel deck is good because it allows you to generate board position quickly and kill in very few turns. All the creatures are there as kill conditions, and the deck can regularly kill by turn 4 thanks to tempered steel and master of etherium.
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how many decks do you think will be packing the new green Shatterstorm to hate on this deck?
It will be played in the sideboard of decks that fear playing against this one. That's all. currently those decks run fracturing gust which is absurd against us and more effective against other decks than shatterstorm would be.


cyrus, can you get a list?
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where would the new tezz go into the deck anyways in place of ranger of eos?
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Cyrus,

Thanks for the list, I added it to the front page.

I also made a section for matchups let me know what you guys think.
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So Carrie Oliver's list is really interesting. Would u/w or b/u/w or a combination of both lists?

Since Tezzeret is here now, I imagine the steel lists will look something like this:

4 Tezzeret
4 Tempered Steel
4 Thoughtseize
(12)

3 Mox Opal
4 Springleaf Drum
(7)

4 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Tidehollow Sculler
4 Master of Etherium
4 Court Homonculous
3 Phyrexian Revoker
(23)

4 Darkslick Shores
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Marsh Flats
1 Fetid Heath
3 Plains
1 Swamp
1 Island
(18)

SIDEBOARD(15)
3 Ethersworn Canonist
3 Vedalken Outlander
4 Disfigure
3 Duress
2 Path to Exile



This build is a little different, but I see Tezzeret as a Ranger of Eos and Steel Overseer rolled into one. The Revoker is obviously excellent, it can name mana abilites of elves such as heritage druid, take out planeswalkers etc. I think it's worth having, but testing may have it swap with outlanders in the board.

Tezzeret also gets rid of the need for Thopter Foundry, since multiple Mox Opals just become 5/5's until they kill them or get dealt with, then you make another, and the life gain from Mr. T does plenty for the match ups you need it in.

I added one extra land due to having a crucial 4 drop in the deck.
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I'm not a fan of revoker yet and would easily make the switch to outlander in your list. Have planeswalkers been trouble for you? The only abilities I can think of that I would really like to get rid of is lands...

I feel that the foundry just becomes better when you add tez to the mix. 5/5 fliers > 5/5's without. And the foundry can become a 5/5 attacker and retains its abilities as well.

I think 25 mana sources is a bit too much in a deck that wants to be as fast as this deck does. As is I'm getting flooded in a large percentage of games I lose...
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Tezz is supposed to make the extra manasoruces a lot more useful in theory. This isn't a deck I am playing, it's mainly theory crafting on my part, with a little bit of testing so I can understand and thus beat the deck better in tournaments.

-1 Land +1 Thopter foundry seems fine, and if you feel like dropping the revoker, I can get behind that too Etched Champion(or whatever it's called) could become an option again?
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Any thoughts on re-fitting the old Glaze Fiend combo to work for Extended? It worked solidly in Alara/Lorwyn Standard and seemed quick enough. I would think Glaze Fiend, the addition of Memnites, new Tezz, and some decent card draw could see you power up a massive hitter by turn 3.
the problem I have with testing glaze fiend is that you need artifacts in hand another turn after he hits play and then you only get 1 use out of his ability. Lets take for example 1 memnites in hand + glaze fiend vs steel overseer

turn 2 fiend
turn 3 2 memnites pumping fiend to deal 4.

or turn 1 2 memnites.
turn 2 overseer attack for 2
tun 3 pump and attack for 4
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Wondering why these cards aren't considered, any ideas?
Signal Pest
Esper Charm
Stoic Rebuttal
Cryptic Command
Here is my opinion on the cards you listed.

Signal Pest- 0/1 for 1 mana, kinda flies, kinda pumps your team. While I don't hate this guy for the deck, I don't see anything I would want to remove. court homunculus is the current 1 drop which is more effective against most decks that serve as a problem. alone the pest can not attack and deal damage, can not block and trade with anything, gets burnt out by the same red spells. At least the CH would trade with a goblin guide/figure of destiny/Bloodbraid elf and would prevent a 1/1 elf from attacking. Also instead of trading with a bitterblossom token CH survives to attack again the next turn. While signal pest can certainly work in the deck, I feel there are better choices.

Esper Charm- Unfortunantly this card doesn't do anything for the deck. We don't save mana back for counterspells in most builds, which makes this card much worse. enchantments are rarely a problem. Making an opponent discard 2 is sometimes great, sometimes pointless, and other times used against you in extended. Last I don't want to pay 3 mana to net 1 card in this deck. Our deck is designed to be played at lightning speed slowing down to play this is not worth it. The card is great in other deck, esp any that are playing cards on the opponents turn, this isn't one of those decks. (I ran it as a sideboard card in a tournament for the enchantment removal, but I dont think it was worth it)

Stoic Rebuttal- If you are playing a version of this deck that uses counterspells, it's viable. Not the deck, but the card. Also it is listed in with the other counterspells in the opening thread. I would rather use mana leak/ negate before I would use this as getting 2 blue sources is sometimes not viable.

Cryptic command- Obviously a great card. There are 2 reasons not to run it in this deck. Triple blue can not be counted on. It would be really hard to find room to play it. This is also too high for the curve. Tezzeret is our only 4 CC main deck card now and when he is played he is winning you the game.
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