If you've read my articles over the last couple years, there's one thing you probably know about me by now: I love Affinity.
As I talked about last week with my personal Jumpstart packs that represent myself as a player, Affinity is one of my defining archetypes. I played it first in the days of Mirrodin and it was one of the first decks that I built in a more serious manner, though not quite the fully tricked out Raffinity builds of the day. Instead it focused on spitting out Frogmites, Myr Enforcers, and Broodstars fast and then taking down opponents with the likes of Cranial Plating and Skullclamp. It was a house and my friends eventually stopped wanting to play with me.
Fast forward seven years later and I was getting back into Magic after a couple year hiatus and picked up Tempered Steel as my first true competitive deck. With this deck, I played in and cashed my first major event and also started grinding online events for the first time. With it I also bought and played with Affinity in Modern and Legacy for my first deck in each format. Both would continue to serve me well for some time. I even recently got to re-experience Tempered Steel a bit with its introduction into the Historic format on MTG Arena.
There's one more version of this classic archetype I've played over the years: Pauper Affinity! It's actually somewhat funny, even. Over the last few years, I've tried to write up articles talking about some of the most popular decks in the Pauper format. As I was going through my articles to find a resource for my Tempered Steel article I wrote a few months ago, I realized I hadn't written a piece on the deck yet! Let's check out a list:
Temur Affinity | Pauper | yamakiller, Pauper Challenge 8th Place
- Sorceries (4)
- 4 Thoughtcast
This is how your typical Pauper Affinity list looks. It's amazing how close it is to the old Affinity decks from Mirrodin Standard. You've got artifact lands, Frogmites, Myr Enforcers, Thoughtcast, and Atog showing up in place of Arcbound Ravager. But where's the Disciple of the Vaults? Turns out we don't need them when we've got Fling to throw our Atogs at our opponents' faces. Sometimes (not in this list) we might even run Temur Battle Rage to push through a ton of damage!
Essentially the deck is what you might expect Affinity to be: an aggro deck that can also have a sick combo finish if the stars align right. Just be careful with those Flings against Blue decks! You could find yourself getting countered and then having no board to speak of. Truth be told, I didn't quite care for this deck when I first played it. It always felt kind of off to me. Believe it or not, it was actually the very first Pauper deck I ever played with, for reasons that should seem obvious given my track record with the format.
As it turns out, though, I was playing in a field of Storm, Delver, and Infect back when Grapeshot, Empty the Warrens, Invigorate, and more were still legal. Games played at a blisteringly fast pace and Affinity just felt sort of clunky and lacking the consistency of builds in other formats. It's not uncommon to mulligan numerous times just to find the right lands you need, after all. As time has gone on, I've come around to the deck more, though not as much as some of the other decks the format has to offer.
It's still an excellent archetype, though, and one that's easy to pick up and get into. What's more, is there's actually a surprising amount of ways to customize Pauper Affinity. While the usual builds look more Temur like the above list, we've seen others like Grixis with Disciple of the Vaults and Reckless Fireweaver. There was even a version of the deck for a bit called "Atogshift" that crafted a list which cut out a lot more of the creature aggro and leaned in more heavily towards the Atog + Fling combo.
Here's the newest in Pauper's long line of sweet Affinity builds:
Jeskai Affinity | Pauper | _against_, Pauper Challenge 13th Place
This list is really cool. It's still focused on the aggressive strategy rather than the combo one, but takes a different approach in how it goes about it. Here we're using cards like Ardent Recruit and Thraben Inspector to fuel cheap Of One Minds for additional card draw alongside Thoughtcast. By having so much card draw, we can spit out cheap creatures at a rapid fire pace and overwhelm our opponents. In addition to the aforementioned critters, some variations of this list run Auriok Sunchaser as a cheap flier that has the Of One Mind synergy you might get with something like Somber Hoverguard.
The great thing about this archetype is how cheap it tends to be to build, how often you might actually have a lot of the cards for it in your collection, and how nostalgic it is all at the same time. After all, it plays very much like the old Affinity decks of yore once did. Affinity is really sweet - even in a format of all commons - and can do really well. You do have to watch out for all the rampant artifact hate, but if you can dodge that, you should be set to get in some easy wins.
Have fun, and let your big smiley Atogs go, "OMNOMNOMNOMNOM" on your opponents' life totals!
YouTube: Kendra Smith