This past weekend I played in the SCG Invitational and to say the very least it didn’t go well for me. Luckily for me they ran a Legacy Open the next day so I still had a shot at making the trip a success. I had with me UW Stoneforge, a list very similar to the one I used in my Running the Gauntlet video, but after posting a 2-2 with it I was really unimpressed with the deck. My friend [card pulse of the forge]James Gates[/card] played Affinity in the Invitational and after he finished 3-1 with it I was hooked. I’ve played the deck before in Legacy and have always liked it. I think the main reasons people don’t play it more are that it hasn’t really done well in a Legacy GP, and that good players don’t focus time and energy on trying to break the format for the SCG tournaments because it’s easy to just play an old list of a known deck and do well anyway. I only ended up changing a couple cards from the list he had made from scratch so here is what I ended up running:[deck]4 Cranial Plating
4 Springleaf Drum
4 Etched Champion
4 Master of Etherium
3 Myr Enforcer
4 Signal Pest
4 Mox Opal
2 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers
4 Darksteel Citadel
2 Ancient Tomb
1 Underground Sea
4 Relic of Progenitus
1 Tormod’s Crypt
3 Mindbreak Trap
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
4 [card]Memnite[/card], 4 [card]Ornithopter[/card]: These are effectively your enablers. At first glance they are the weakest cards in the deck but it doesn’t take long to figure out that most of your good draws will include at least one of these. They just lead to such explosive starts, powering up [card]Springleaf Drum[/card] and [card]Mox Opal[/card], reducing the cost of [card]Frogmite[/card] and [card]Myr Enforcer[/card]. They are dead draws less often when you have [card]Master of Etherium[/card] and [card]Signal Pest[/card] to pump them up and they can never really be that bad when you have access to [card]Cranial Plating[/card]. If I were to play the deck again I would keep 4 of each, but I am relatively flexible with them when I sideboard often taking out 2 [card]Memnite[/card] against decks where I expect the game to go long. I don’t hate having one in my opening hand, but in topdeck mode [card]Memnite[/card] can be quite underwhelming. I prefer the [card]Ornithopter[/card] since flying can be relevant in a long game thanks to [card]Cranial Plating[/card].
4 [card]Springleaf Drum[/card], 4 [card]Mox Opal[/card]: These again are pretty obvious, they play your best cards faster and they allow you to play a lot less lands than normal. Providing excellent mana fixing and acceleration makes them both cards I always want in my opening hand. I even got to keep a hand in the tournament with no lands in it.[draft]mox opal
master of etherium
4 [card]Signal Pest[/card]: At times he can be a little on the weak side, but when you have hands with excess [card]Ornithopter[/card]s, [card]Memnite[/card]s, and [card]Frogmite[/card]s he can be really sweet. He reminds me a lot of [card]Steppe Lynx[/card] in the Zoo deck we played at Worlds. He is a little high variance but he is really strong in your bad draws, and when you have all weaker cards he can produce a quick kill. He also randomly pumps [card]Etched Champion[/card] and anything you can play that enhances [card]Etched Champion[/card] is going to be worth your time.
4 [card]Frogmite[/card], 3 [card]Myr Enforcer[/card]: More quick creatures that just help put pressure on and provide bodies for [card]Cranial Plating[/card]. [card]Frogmite[/card] is the best of them and more than deserves his slot in the deck, but I am a little more skeptical on [card]Myr Enforcer[/card]. I played 3 in the event, and when he resolved he was always good, attacking past [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] and surviving [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] or [card]Lightning Bolt[/card], but I can’t help but think for the price I pay if he might be better as something like more Tezzerets or even [card]Arcbound Ravager[/card].
0 [card]Arcbound Ravager[/card]: In a format with this much cheap spot removal Ravager loses a lot of value. You can’t just sac everything and go all-in like you used to. A small thing that may not be obvious is Ravager is much better when paired with 4 [card]Arcbound Worker[/card], so playing 0 Workers (because he sucks) means your Ravagers get worse. The same can be said for [card]Disciple of the Vault[/card]. People seem to have the idea stuck in their heads that “OMG RAVAGER IS SO GOOD HOW CAN YOU PLAY 0!!!!” Well this is a different format where every blue deck has 4 [card]Spell Snare[/card] 4 [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] and Ravager isn’t good against any deck trying to do something unfair. I considered playing 1 for a long time since he does work really well with [card]Etched Champion[/card].
4 [card]Cranial Plating[/card]: WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
2 [card]Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas[/card]: This one I’m still not certain on, it’s possible this should be a 4-of or a 2-of. I played 9 rounds and I just rarely drew it. One thing I know for sure is that you want 4 after sideboard against UW Stoneforge. When they have 4 [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] 4 [card]Path to Exile[/card] 4 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] it can be really tough to stick a threat. But Tez sidesteps that problem altogether and produces a threat that’s near-impossible to deal with. UW Stoneforge is by far the deck’s worst matchup and having just finished my first tournament with the deck I haven’t had the time to formulate a solid plan against it, but I’m more than convinced it’s doable. It’s possible having 3 [card]Dismember[/card]s and 4 Tezzerets makes you a favorite and you may even be favored game 1. I just know that if they draw a good number of Swords and Snapcasters they can totally blank your Masters and better creatures.
2 [card]Ancient Tomb[/card]: I was a bit uncertain on these but now having played with them I can say that they are awesome. Multiple times during the day I got to cast turn 1 [card]Etched Champion[/card]. Hands like [card]Ancient Tomb[/card], [card]Memnite[/card], [card]Springleaf Drum[/card], [card]Mox Opal[/card], [card]Etched Champion[/card], [card]Cranial Plating[/card], Anything really put serious pressure on them and demanded a [card]Force of Will[/card] or a concession. It was also deceptively really strong at playing around [card]Daze[/card]. I played against so many [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] decks and the only realistic way I could lose was if they counterspelled my big threats and as long as I was careful to avoid not getting [card]Daze[/card]d it left them with just [card]Force of Will[/card] or they were dead. And as far as I know with [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] being the flavor of the month every single list that runs Delver has 3 or 4 [card]Daze[/card]s.
As for the sideboard:
4 [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card], 1 [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card]: This was my dredge hate and to be honest I might want another [card]Tormod’s Crypt[/card] here. I opted to play the full amount of Relics since I would side in 4 against any deck with [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], [card]Knight of the Reliquary[/card], and [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] since it’s a freeroll cantrip and can shrink their guys at any point in combat. Plus the added bonus of being able to just tap it an remove a card is pretty nice against slower dredge draws and [card]Life from the Loam[/card] decks. Relic was really nice against the RUG Delver deck since it put [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] to shame and could at any point make [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card] much less effective. It’s a card I want 4 of in my sideboard should I chose to play this deck again.
2 [card]Spellskite[/card]: This one I wasn’t totally convinced on, but James said I should play more because he played 1 in his sideboard and it was good for him. I ended up running two and admittedly when I drew [card]Spellskite[/card] it ended up being pretty nice. I sided it in against a UR Delver deck and just having it in play made his [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] significantly worse and could even blank stuff like [card]Chain Lightning[/card] and [card]Lightning Bolt[/card]. I tried using [card]Spellskite[/card] as a sideboard card against UW Stoneforge since they have 4 [card]Swords to Plowshares[/card] and 4 [card]Path to Exile[/card] so he can be a road block and help get [card]Master of Etherium[/card] to stick, and it worked ok.
2 [card]Dismember[/card]: I added these to the sideboard as help against
Kataki [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card]. The cost of playing them seemed pretty low and adding to my deck a way to interact with creatures at instant speed seemed pretty nice. I would look to side this in against UW Stoneforge, Zoo, and it’s probably pretty sick against all the Bant decks.
3 [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card]: I ended up adding these at the last second since my sideboard was pretty horrible against Storm and although I didn’t expect it to be a widely played deck since it never is, I knew I didn’t want to lose to it and it’s a pretty bad matchup. I got paired against Storm once in the tournament and won because I drew two of them and beat a hand that had a quick kill and 1 [card]Thoughtseize[/card]. It’s possible this should be either a 2 of or a 4 of all depending on how much Storm you expect in your metagame. When researching Affinity lists every single one I came across had some sideboard [card]Thoughtseize[/card]s which are okay, but I believe [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card] is much better. The surprise factor of being able to steal a game with it when it’s unexpected is not to be underestimated and on top of that it’s free, so you can just run out your [card]Master of Etherium[/card] or [card]Cranial Plating[/card] applying as much pressure as you can while still having defense against their nuttier draws.
2 [card]Perish[/card]: I had almost no sideboard options against [card]Green Sun’s Zenith[/card] decks so I opted to play a couple [card]Perish[/card]. Costing 3 mana and being a black spell would usually be an issue for affinity, but with 4 [card]Mox Opal[/card] and 4 [card]Springleaf Drum[/card] for acceleration and color fixing means you can play just about anything you want. I didn’t sideboard this in against the RUG Delver matchup I faced since the matchup seemed good for me already. I added 4 [card]Relic of Progenitus[/card] to help deal with [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] as is, and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] is the only green creature in their deck. As long as I could land a Relic/[card]Etched Champion[/card]/[card]Cranial Plating[/card] I wouldn’t straight up lose to [card]Tarmogoyf[/card]. Plus I would feel sick to my stomach if I lost to a [card]Delver of Secrets[/card] because I had no pressure and I was holding a [card]Perish[/card].
Moving forward I would definitely recommend this deck if you are looking for something new in Legacy that allows you to stay aggressive and have bonkers opening hands. I played against UR Delver in the tournament multiple times and it was just an auto-win matchup, if that deck continues to be popular then Affinity could completely destroy upcoming tournaments. I’ll be the first to admit this deck has soft spots. It has pretty weak game against Dredge and Storm but most decks I like to play are bad there so for me that isn’t exactly a dealbreaker. It gets hard having to admit that the deck is an underdog against UW Stoneforge, one of the most popular decks in the format. But as I suggested earlier if you have 3 [card]Dismember[/card] and 4 [card tezzeret, agent of bolas]Tezzeret[/card] after sideboard I think the matchup actually becomes pretty good. I lost my match against it in the tournament, but overall I didn’t play well and when I looked back later at the decklist my opponent used I saw he had 3 [card]Wrath of God[/card]s in his sideboard, which is close to a nightmare for me should I not draw Tezzeret. Also, nothing feels better than putting [card]Cranial Plating[/card] on [card]Etched Champion[/card] and watching your opponent squirm in their chair with no outs.