Becoming the Menace or How I Learned to Stop Durdling and Love the Robots.
It’s me again, Alex “Sudsey” Wilson.
You might remember me from such hits as “Turn Three Blood Moon” and “Cryptic Command, Counter, Draw.”
But today I speak to you from the other side and have a tournament report from the TrollTraders Southport Open, a 51 player event. Whilst prepping for said tournament I thought to myself:
Well now Alex, Blue Moon does not do well against Abzan Coco does it?
No – thought I.
Nor does it do particularly good against Nahiri or the inevitable swathe of Burn players Modern attracts.
So what was my solution?
That’s right, I asked the Hawk Report’s very own neighbourhood Affinity player, Chris von Weaver – the current Mayor of Value Town, if I could join the Dark(steel) side.
He gave me a main deck and a stack of sideboard cards to choose from and sent me on my way. So I dived in head first into the wonderful world of Arcbound Ravagers, Etched Champions and Mox Opals.
I took the list I was given, threw together a board designed to beat some of the cards I was expecting, artifact hate in case of other Affinity players, Spellskites as a generic answer, some ‘yard hate and some ways to interact with hosers. I also, despite the best advice of my generous sponsor, swapped the three maindeck Dispels for Galvanic Blasts.
You see I was planning to race Game One, then bring in cards like Spell Pierce to deal with the expected hate.
I fully intended to put images of my maindeck and sideboard in this article but my room is gloomy as hell and the flash on my phone disagrees with sleeves, so the only photos I got were grainy and awful.
Sorry about that one.
(Editor – When Alex says room, he actually means his MTG Love Dungeon)
Below is an account of my results with the robotic monstrosity.
Arcbound Ravager x4
Etched Champion x4
Steel Overseer x3
Master of Etherium x2
Vault Skirge x4
Signal Pest x4
Mox Opal x4
Cranial Plating x4
Springleaf Drum x3
Galvanic Blast x3
Darksteel Citadel x4
Blinkmoth Nexus x4
Inkmoth Nexus x4
Relic of Progenitus x2
Spell Pierce x2
Ancient Grudge x1
Ghirapur Aether Grid x1
Aven Mindcensor x1
Round 1: Burn – 2:0
I started a trend of winning dice rolls, which is always nice with the blisteringly fast aggro deck.
This essentially came down to some good blocks with Etched Champion. Protection is quite a strong keyword.
Out: 2x Etched Champion, 1x Memnite, 1x Steel Overseer
In: 2x Spell Pierce, 2x Spellskite
Etched Champion came out because it is kind of slow but it blocked well in the last game and I didn’t have the heart to cut all of them. I was happy to cut the first two though!
Memnite is an easy cut and Steel Overseer disagrees with Bolt. Spell Pierce is fine against Burn, it can be used to protect key creatures or just to stop a particularly painful Burn spell. Spellskite is stellar against burn, blocking threats and reducing damage taken from spells.
This was a fairly typical start, my opponent opted to Rift Bolt my Vault Skirge, which I pierced. After he tapped out to resolve the Bolt I went all in on the Skirge, eating the majority of the board with Ravager. Burn players find it very difficult to beat multiple swings with Lifelink.
Round 2: Scapeshift – 2:0
Won my second dice roll, vomited my hand and resolved a one mana Thoughtcast.
Fair and balanced magic all round.
To his credit, my opponent made me work hard for the win. I had to fight through Cryptic, Snap, Cryptic but he failed to draw the Scapeshift and got squashed by the Robot overlords.
Out: 2x Etched Champion, 2x Galv Blast, 1x Memnite
In: 2x Thoughtseize, 2x Spell Pierce, 1x Aven Mindcensor
Champions go down to two because they’re kind of slow and going off fast is quite important against Scapeshift who will just combo if you don’t kill them fast enough.
Gal Blast and Memnite are 1 of cuts because I’m a lazy sideborder. Thoughtseize and Pierce interact well with not only the hate card of choice, Shatterstorm but also give me a chance not to die to a Scapeshift.
Not always auto losing which is nice.
Mindcensor reads “get ‘em” against Scapeshift.
My opponent lead off Game Two with a search. I did a hand vomit and Thoughtseized him, seeing no more land. I took an Izzet Charm as his best way to find lands. He proceeded to naturally draw his next two land drops (grumble grumble), whilst I Plated up a Vault Skirge and gained a bunch of life. Hmmm Scapeshift and more than 20 life….
This turned out to be super relevant.
When he hit his seventh land drop, he Electrolyzed me and then Scapeshifted with the remaining four mana. I spell pierced it and crushed him.
On discussion of the Electrolyze he reminded me that at seven lands Scapeshift deals exactly eighteen damage, so he needed that Electrolyze damage to kill me.
You live and you learn I guess.
Round 3: Elves – 2:1
This guy turned out to be on more green merfolk than the traditional “make a million mana, coco into a million elves then kill you with an Ezuri activation” build.
He seemed to just lean on lords and lots of elves to kill which was my demise game one. My opponent flooded the board out, had 3 lords out and outraced my massive Vault Skirge.
Out: 2x Master of Etherium, 2x Memnite
In: 2x Thoughtseize, 2x Whipflate
Against swarms of elves, ground pounders are never getting through. Thoughtseize goes after the Stony Silences or Fracturing Gusts and Whipflare crushes armies of elfy pests.
I mulled to six and kept a fairly slow hand on the back of Whipflare.
This turned out to be the right choice.
I murdered a bunch of elves with the whipflare and won whilst my opponent tried to reassemble.
My opponent went T1 Heritage Druid, T2 Dwynen’s Elite into Ezuri. That gets super blown out by Whipflare and he never really reassembled again. My opponent later confessed that he’d put the deck together hungover that morning and forgotten to put his Affinity hate in the board.
Round 4: Bogles – 0:2
If you read my Blue Moon report you know how much I love Bogles. The basic plan as Affinity, as I understand, it is to go for the fastest infect kill possible since you’re pretty much incapable of racing the massive murdery, hexproof monstrosity with real people damage.
I tried to do so but my opponent gave it protection from creatures and I lost horribly.
Out: Happiness and Enjoyment
In: Sadness and Hatred
I’m pretty sure I bought in Spellskite just because I needed something. Whipflare should have come in but didn’t.
I kept a slow hand on the back of Spellskite. Opponent did the Bogles things and my hand wasn’t fast enough. Some weirdness happened involving pathing a Spellkite in response to a redirection.
I hate Bogles.
Round 5: Tron (Or “bye” as I believe it’s known in Affinity circles) – 2:0
Not a lot to be said here, other than to note the amusement that was the 4 signal pest hand I kept. It was a bit slow but the Tron player durdled real hard and failed to assemble Tron at a decent rate.
I’ve been consulting images of my maindeck and sideboard up until now to work out my board for Tron, since I failed to write it down at the time. All I can remember about the board is that Etched Champions came out because they match up very poorly against all the scary colorless Tron stuff. I’m sure I bought some cards in but I’m fairly sure I never drew them.
I smashed Game Two in a similar but faster fashion to Game One.
Round 6: Affinity (ID)
After a deck check, in which I received a warning for marked sleeves (Editor – if you ain’t duurty you ain’t here to paarty!!) we agreed to ID.
I was very happy with this since I suspected my opponent was a better Affinity player than me.
I ended up splitting Top Eight for actual ca$h dolla since the payout was only higher for coming first or second, so I’m afraid I don’t have any Top Eight data.
My main takeaways from the tournament were first that despite me having poopoo’d the deck for the last year, Affinity is surprisingly fun to play.
My second message was this: 4 mainboard Etched Champion is too many (sorry Chris).
Whist the card often does a fair impression of True Name Nemesis, it is also pretty much the slowest way the deck can win. Any hand with multiples feels super clogged.
Overall I had a super fun time playing the deck and liked being able to eat between rounds.
Off the back of this I’ve decided to join the Dark(steel) side, my winnings (roughly £180) are being devoted to building the deck myself.
So….Darksteel or Modern Masters Ravagers?
Affinity is the path to the Dark(steel) Side. Affinity leads to nut draws, nut draws leads to hate, hate leads to Spell Pierce…
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