Abbi Marie & Arran Sahota | 20nd October 2018
So from many FNMs at Manaleak we meet lots of amazing people. Being absolute starstruck children when it comes to magic, and even bigger children when it comes to having 0 money to spend on the game, we love seeing big and shiny things.
Kieran is a good friend of ours who is a regular at Manaleak and a bloody good player. He recently Top-Eighted at a Modern PPTQ. Knowing his Affinity deck is not only extremally good but extremally shiny, we thought we’d ask him to share some insight into his deck!
Hi I’m Kieran and I’m a magpie for shiny cardboard. I’ve been playing magic properly since magic origins, I played a bit casually during scars of Mirrodin block and the first rare I opened was an Etched Champion which was just as unfair then as it is now!
I built my first modern deck at GP London 2016 and after running through several different decks, including the mess that was zooicide, I ended up at Affinity on October last year. Apart from a brief break playing KCI, I’ve played it solidly for a year now putting up a top 8 in most modern events I’ve played with it since.
At one of those events I met another player who had the deck fully foiled and masterpieced out which soon grabbed the attention of the magpie in me, and despite saying that I’d only get a masterpiece for each top 8 I got, by the time GP Birmingham finished this year I’d finished foiling and master-pieceing it. While I’m glad I managed to pick up lots of it before the masterpiece spike and through trades, it never really struck me how much it was worth until I tallied it all up once I’d finished. It ended up being about $4500 which has caused a panic when the box is hiding at the bottom of my bag!
*Please put on your sunglasses now*
The decklist has changed in some small but significant ways since I first started playing Affinity, the Thoughtsiezes have been switched out for a playset of Galvanic blast, a Vault Skirge has been cut for a Hope of Ghirapur, and most importantly the new Karn, Scion of Urza has been an absolute powerhouse for the deck, providing card draw and huge bodies from as early as turn 2.
My current list is the same as my recent PPTQ Top 8 List but with a Tormod’s Crypt replacing the Relic of Progenitus as the need for faster graveyard hate keeps growing.
The great thing about Affinity at events at all levels is that the deck itself and it’s sideboard are amazingly flexible due to the 5 colour mana base and the acceleration that Mox Opal and occasionally Springleaf Drum provide, the ability to run silver bullet type hate cards and removal allows Affinity to do well even when the meta is firmly against it.
That said, like any deck, there are good and bad matchups for Affinity and unfortunately the meta seems to be shifting more heavily to decks that have really rough matchups like UWx control and Hardened Scales Affinity.
The best thing about Affinity at events at all levels is that the deck itself and it’s sideboard are amazingly flexible due to the 5 colour mana base and the acceleration that Mox Opal and occasionally Springleaf Drum provide, the ability to run silver bullet type hate cards and removal allows affinity to do well even when the meta is firmly against it.
That said, like any deck, there are good and bad matchups for affinity and unfortunately the meta seems to be shifting more heavily to decks that have really rough matchups like UWx control and hardened scales affinity.
- Hollow one
- Death/Eldrazi and Taxes
- Mardu pyromancer
- Taking turns
- Eldrazi Tron
- UW control
- Jeskai control
- Grixis control
- Hardened scales affinity
The best weapon Affinity has against the rise of the UWx control decks is the powerhouse that is Etched Champion, at first glance it’s just a 3 mana 2/2 that dodges removal but its ability to be nigh on unblockable and to consistently get in suited up with a Cranial Plating or Arcbound Ravager counters turn after turn firmly cements it as my favourite card in the deck.
While I play a very aggressive game 1 on Affinity, I built a sideboard that allows me to transform into a grinder more value-based deck packing powerful hate cards against the decks I struggle most against. For example for the worst matchup of Jeskai, control I sideboard like this:
- 2 Blood Moon
- 2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
- 1 Wear//Tear
- 1 Spellskite
- 1 Bitterblossom
- 2 Master of Etherium
- 1 Memnite
- 1 Ornithopter
- 1 Welding Jar
- 1 Steel Overseer
- 1 Signal Pest
The reason for taking out the Master of Etheriums is that they end up very hard to cast through Blood Moon as we only have a basic mountain and there’s the possibility of them landing a Stony Silence to take us off coloured mana early. The rest of the cards coming out are all relatively low impact apart from Steel Overseer which tends to be slightly too slow in a lot of game 2s which is why I only shave 1.
The post-board impact of Stony Silence and Kataki, War’s Wage can be devastating on Affinity and playing around those effects and sideboarding correctly against them can be difficult, as a general rule if you expect either you want to side in both Thoughtseizes, both Ghirapur Aether Grids and the Bitterblossom to maximise the number of things you can still do after being hit by stony silence, Kataki also calls for the dispatch and 2 Whipflares to max out the chance you’ll be able to kill it on the turn it comes down for minimal disruption.
Some cheeky tips and plays I picked up that vastly improved my gameplay and win-rate were:
- Saccing an Arcbound to another one generates an extra damage than if they sac themselves as you get a counter from saccing the Ravager and then however many were on the sacrificed one from the modular trigger.
- A Hope of Ghirapur activation guarantees a steel overseer activation if you play the overseer after the hopes ability has resolved, you can also use it before a control opponents turn 4 to stop the wrath effect they usually play or before a Storm players turn 3 to stop them going off to buy you a turn.
- Don’t overcommit to an Inkmoth Nexus in most situations, 4 counters on it is still a 2 turn kill and that still lets you keep most of your board state.
- While it may be tempting to keep a hand that you can play all the cards on turn 1 just remember that all the ornithopters and Memnites in the world won’t win you the game without a payoff card to back them up.
- Inkmoth can sometimes be your only route to victory against decks like Ad-Nauseum or green-white value town because of their enchantments like Phyrexian unlife and worship as it gets past both of their ‘you don’t lose the game’ conditions.
To wrap it all up, I think Affinity is a very rewarding deck to pick up and learn as it benefits greatly from experience and knowledge of your matchups, learning to navigate around some of the most powerful hate modern has against you and coming out on top is honestly one of the best feelings you can have out of a game of magic and affinity is a deck that fully allows you to do that and more all wrapped up in a robot-themed package.
I’d like to thank Phyrexia Magic for letting me ramble about my favourite deck and thank all of you for reading!
So are there any other Foil obsessed players out there? What deck have you foiled out? We’d love to know! SHOW US YOUR SHINIES