Deck Tech: Affinity

Posted in Event Coverage on February 26, 2004

By Paul Sottosanti


Did you ever think you would see a card that says, ": Target creature gets +0/+1 until end of turn" make its way into Pro Tour constructed decks? What if it gave +1/+0 instead, would you want it then? How about a 0/2 flier with no other abilities?

Welcome to Crazy World, otherwise known as Affinity for Artifacts. It seems like every time Wizards R&D fiddles with discounted mana costs, it becomes one of the dominant decks in both Standard and Block Constructed. Well, maybe it was just Madness, and now Affinity, but it certainly feels like it's becoming a running theme. Both Nightscape Familiar and Sapphire Medallion have also been finding their respective ways into decks over the past few years, so it's obvious (and not at all surprising) that making things cheaper is quite desirable.

Affinity has been tearing up the scene in Standard for some time now, despite the fact that the Standard-legal Akroma's Vengeance is a giant kick in the proverbial nuts. Here's a glance at one of the decklists that took home a Pro Tour slot at yesterday's Last Chance Qualifier:

Hideaki Maeba

Download Arena Decklist

There are eighteen spells that will almost always hit the board for no mana. Four more usually will in the form of the Myr Enforcers. Every other spell in the deck costs two or less, meaning that the draws in this deck are consistently explosive. The unstoppable refueling power of Skullclamp means that, despite the cheap cost of all the spells, it rarely finds itself running out of action. In addition, the incredibly low mana curve means that the deck can get away with running only sixteen land.

This deck starts putting pressure on almost immediately and never lets up. A single Arcbound Ravager on the board means that every artifact creature becomes a lethal threat. Tooths and Scales mean that even the Ornithopters can be more than just annoyances. Add in the deck's tendency to drop multiple 4/4s and 2/2s into play, and you're looking at a very quick clock.

It stands to reason that the obvious deck for this Pro Tour would be Affinity. Looking at the above list, only three cards from the maindeck and five cards from the sideboard aren't legal in Block Constructed. It's not surprising that many players are shuffling up decks very similar to the above at the tournament today.

The only question is, how do you change it? With Mana Leak no longer being an option and Akroma's Vengeance no longer a factor, one of the first decisions was cutting the countermagic. What do you replace it with? Arcbound Worker, perhaps. The 1/1 creature has been enjoying a good degree of play due to its cheap cost and synergy with both Skullclamp and Arcbound Ravager.

Another change that everyone seems to agree on was going up to a full four copies Darksteel Citadel. With all the Oxidizes and Detonates running around, the safety of knowing that your first land can't be destroyed is more than worth it. After that, the land bases vary. Some players, like CMU-TOGIT, are running just Blue and Black cards. Others have stuck to Black and Red. I've been on the lookout for a Blue/Red variety, but I haven't seen one yet. Disciple of the Vault is just too good to pass up.

Viridian Zealot

Other than that, the decks seem to be similar. Myr Retriever has showed up in a few builds, again due to the synergy with Skullclamp and the added resilience against artifact removal. One surprising card that I've seen is Æther Vial. Opinions are mixed on the usefulness of this card, but if nothing else it's a one mana artifact. It also puts Disciple of Vault into play without black mana and speeds up otherwise slow draws by say, adding an extra Arcbound Ravager to the board.

I won't even begin to dive into the full diversity of the sideboards, but it's safe to say that all colors and strategies are represented. With Glimmervoids in the main deck (and sometimes extra land in the sideboard for heavy artifact removal matchups), the sideboard options are nearly limitless. Genesis Chamber, Terror, Slobad, Oxidize and Furnace Dragon are just some of the cards that players have brought as part of the fifteen card package.

Being the obvious deck certainly doesn't guarantee being the best deck, but it does mean that everyone is gunning for you. Oxidize, Detonate, Shatter, Deconstruct, Viridian Zealot, and Echoing Ruin are just some of the cards that non-Affinity players have in their maindecks today. Will the power and speed of Affinity be enough to overcome all the hate?

Many of the players of the CMU-TOGIT and YMG mega-teams think that it will be. We can only wait and see.

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