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February 7, 2017

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Budget Brew: Affinity

Howdy Budget Brewers! It’s that time of the week for us to take a gander at some of the more budget options we can play at our local FNM’s. While our main goal is ultimately to just have some fun, it’s all gravy if we’re able to win some matches as well. It’s true, janky combo’s are my bread and butter but I’ve been known to sprinkle in a dash of control or a smidgen of aggro. Then, sometimes a smattering of something in between the two. We tackle new and exciting ways to play that’s easy on our wallet, and can have some fun at the local level!

This week, we’re back to the Modern format after a couple of sweet Standard brews. I also wanted to challenge myself a little bit. I wanted to take a Tier 1 strategy and bring it down to the Budget level. It might still not have Tier 1 status on a $100 budget, but I’m betting it’ll be good enough to win you some games at FNM.

This article also marks a year that I’ve been writing for you fine folks, and working with MTGCanada.com, so I want to do something a little special.

Yup, we’re going deep here folks. Affinity aka Robots. Taking affinity back to it’s golden years when it played cards with well… affinity.

Since Affinity is kind of a tribe, the tribe of Robots, we’re going to get a history lesson this week.

Affinity as a Keyword didn’t show up until we hit that grimy plane known as Mirrodin. The plane itself was created by the Planeswalker, Karn where the whole world was made of metal. The tree’s, grass, mountains… everything was metal.

Around the world were 4 satellite’s which orbited the plane and were called both Sun’s and Moon’s interchangeably. They were there to correspond to red, black, blue, and white magic with Green noticeably absent from the Metal world.

Mirrodin is infamous for the keyword “Affinity” or Affinity for Artifacts where each artifact can make a card with Affinity 1 cheaper for each artifact on the field. It’s also noted by Wizards to be one of the biggest mistakes they made, right along with Infect.

In play, Mirrodin and Affinity certainly affected the various ways to play games. Originally the Affinity deck used Disciple of the Vault as a win condition. A seemingly unthreatening 1/1 at common rarity which caused your opponent lose 1 life each time an artifact goes to the graveyard.

This paired with a card like Atog can bring your opponent in for a life of pain.

Magic Deck

Creatures: (24)
Atog
Disciple of the Vault
Frogmite
Myr Enforcer
Myr Retriever
Steel Wall

Spells: (18)
Shrapnel Blast
Thoughtcast
Thirst for Knowledge
Talisman of Indulgence
Talisman of Dominance
Pyrite Spellbomb

Lands: (18)
Glimmervoid
Seat of the Synod
Great Furnace
Vault of Whispers
Swamp
Island

This had everything you wanted in an Affinity deck. Ways to win, ways to sacrifice and bring artifacts back, and it synergy with the kings of Affinity, Frogmite and Myr Enforcer, plus the Artifact lands, which caused a whole lot of other problems.

Then 2004 hit and Affinity turned not only powerful, but downright nasty.

Darksteel was released and gave Affinity nothing but new toys.

and last, but nowhere near the least… the always deadly….

Thanks to Darksteel, some might say that Standard was “broken.” If you weren’t playing the archetype, you were playing something to hopefully to try and beat it.

Magic Deck

Creatures: (24)
Arcbound Worker
Myr Retriever
Frogmite
Myr Enforcer
Arcbound Ravager
Disciple of the Vault

Spells: (16)
Shrapnel Blast
Thoughtcast
Skullclamp
Chromatic Sphere

Lands: (20)
Seat of the Synod
Great Furnace
Vault of Whispers
Darksteel Citadels
Glimmervoid
Blinkmoth Nexus

In standard up until this point, the only way to really win a game was through creature damage ala Creatures: The Smashening. This new deck gave players a powerful sac engine that dealt damage, but it also gave them powerful drawing cards like Thoughtcast.

Eventually, however, all powerful things must be brought down to size. When Fifth Dawn was released the B&R announcement struck Skullclamp from Standard and Mirrodin block constructed forever.

Fifth Dawn however, gave Affinity players a new tool to replace their Skullclamp it gave them the now great Cranial Plating, affinity players had to change their game plan a little however. Without Skullclamp the game plan of sacrificing artifacts got weaker. The deck thrived however for the next year as it was synergies and power abound.

Then, came the real dark days.

March 2005, standard saw the greatest sweep of bans it has ever seen.

Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault and the artifact lands finally leave the format.

Eventually Affinity leaves standard and Extended and is buried and forgotten.

August 2011 brings new light, the Modern format becomes an official sanctioned paper format. The intial ban list? Includes Affinity’s biggest hits. Skullclamp and the colored Artifact lands, leaving Darksteel Citadel allowed.

Affinity always being one of the best decks in whatever format it was in looked to breakthrough in Modern however. How would it make it in a format as diverse as modern without it’s lands and Skullclamp?

It still had powerful suite of burn spells in Shrapnel Blast and Galvanic Blast.

Magic Deck

Creatures: (24)
Arcbound Ravager
Etched Champion
Frogmite
Memnite
Ornithopter
Vault Skirge

Spells: (21)
Galvanic Blast
Shrapnel Blast
Steelshaper’s Gift
Springleaf Drum
Cranial Plating
Mox Opal

Lands: (15)
Glimmervoid
Blinkmoth Nexus
Inkmoth Nexus
Darksteel Citadel

Even to this day, this looks a lot like the modern day Affinity deck list. Some cards that didn’t originally make the cut see play like Signal Pest and Master of Etherium now see play in the standard deck list it’s also gotten some new toys to help make it a solid Tier 1 strategy.

Magic Deck

Creatures: (28)
Arcbound Ravager
Etched Champion
Master of Etherium
Memnite
Ornithopter
Signal Pest
Steel Overseer
Vault Skirge

Spells: (15)
Galvanic Blast
Cranial Plating
Mox Opal
Springleaf Drum

Lands: (17)
Blinkmoth Nexus
Darksteel Citadel
Glimmervoid
Inkmoth Nexus
Mountain
Spire of Industry

Sideboard: (15)
Ancient Grudge
Blood Moon
Chalice of the Void
Dismember
Etched Champion
Galvanic Blast
Ghirapur Aethergrid
Stubborn Denial
Thoughtseize
Whipflare

In the ebb and flow of the Modern format Affinity is always a staple. It may not always be the best for a given tournament, but it always has a decent chance to do good. Affinity is always there lurking in the shadows, and then people forget about it, and take out some Stony Silence‘s from their Sideboard and then Affinity attacks and rules the metagame, until it can restabilize… and so on and on it goes.

The deck costs around $850 to build from scratch. Not one of the cheaper decks in the format. Which is why I wanted to try and bring the power of Affinity to the budget level. Let us cast these artifacts and have these explosive starts that ends games.

Is it possible?

I think so.

With our rules and guidelines, we lose a few cards right off the bat, however….

and

Sadly, we can’t even think of using these cards. The cheapest among them is Steel Overseer and he’s over $10 a piece by himself.

Ugh, he’s right over our $5 a limit for a card, and I almost want to break the rule just so we can use the Robot lord, but we’ve broken the rule before and I didn’t feel good about it. We just had to do it to make Eggs work. This time, we can go another route.

We’re going to harken back to the olden days. When Affinity used a bunch of cards that actually had the Keyword: Affinity.

Magic Deck

Creatures: (26)
Memnite
Ornithopter
Signal Pest
Vault Skirge
Etched Champion
Frogmite
Myr Enforcer

Spells: (5)
Galvanic Blast
Steelshaper’s Gift

Artifacts: (8)
Springleaf Drum
Cranial Plating

Enchantments: (3)
Ensoul Artifact

Lands: (18)
Blinkmoth Nexus
Darksteel Citadel
Spire of Industry
Mountain
Plains

Sideboard: (15)
Dispel
Duress
Wear / Tear
Tempered Steel
Whipflare
Pithing Needle
Tormod’s Crypt

This costs a fraction of the typical Tier 1 list, coming in right at $99 as per TCG Market Pricing. I even included the Sideboard week, since all affinity sideboards should look about the same. I threw in Tempered Steel into my SB for matches where we might want the extra oomph of power.

That’s all I have this week. Thanks for joining me while I try to Untap the Multiverse!

Have an idea for something you’d like me to brew up? Give me a shout in the comments!
Or in the usual social media ways –
Twitter – @maibuddha