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Crafting Combo Affinity with Kozilek's Unsealing

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When I was first learning how to play Magic in 1999, my cousin who taught me how to play the game would babysit my siblings and I and bring some decks with him. I recall him piloting an artifact-heavy deck, relying on cards like Ivory Tower, Howling Mine, Booby Trap, and Nevinyrral's Disk (an admittedly weird choice in hindsight). Running into this deck left me enamored by the idea of playing artifacts and wanting to try out as many cool options as I could.

Fast forward a couple years to late 2003. Mirrodin is the newest set to come out, showing off the new Eighth Edition card frame with a world of metallic looking artifact cards left and right. With it came Affinity, and from the moment I could get my hands on some artifact lands, Frogmites, Myr Enforcers, and Broodstars, I was hooked.

Frogmite
Broodstar
Myr Enforcer

Affinity became the deck I played everywhere. I played it in Standard until both my friends made me stop, and then even further at FNM events when it was banned out of Standard. Several years down the road, in 2012, I got back on the Affinity train again by picking up lists for Modern, Legacy, and Pauper. If there was a format where I could play this classic deck that made me want to jam tons of powerful artifacts, I was there.

As time has gone on, Affinity as we once knew it has largely fallen off, especially once Mox Opal was banned in Modern. However, when Modern Horizons 2 came out, it gave the strategy a nice little shot in the arm. 8-Cast became a deck in Modern, Legacy, and even somewhat in Vintage as well, utilizing Thought Monitor to give you extra copies of Thoughtcast and also Urza's Saga to help get cheap utility artifacts on the board. This deck was seeing modest play, but got an even bigger boost barely a month ago with the release of Simulacrum Synthesizer in The Big Score.

Simulacrum Synthesizer

This card works great with many artifacts including Thought Monitor, Sojourner's Companion, and Frogmite. Each one is an artifact with a mana value of three or higher, making it easy to trigger Synthesizer. Heck, you can even just cast a second Synthesizer and that will also trigger the first one. That led to the creation of this type of list over the last few weeks, which has been rising up the rankings in the Modern meta a bit as a result:


Now, though, we have Modern Horizons 3 coming out, and with it is coming a whole host of new cards. With all the leaks and early previews springing up, something was bound to catch my attention, and something that caught my eye just a few weeks ago was Kozilek's Unsealing.

Kozilek's Unsealing

For an uncommon, the potential value you could accrue here seemed really potent. Cast a free pitch elemental and suddenly you're also getting two eldrazi spawns with it. Or you could find a way to stick it into Tron and draw off your Karn Liberateds while getting spawns for most of your other spells. Where the card really got my mind whirring, though, was in Affinity.

Take a look at that Simulacrum Synthesizer list once again. In it, you'll notice four copies of Frogmite that make tokens. More importantly, though, are the ten total copies of Myr Enforcer, Sojourner's Companion, and Thought Monitor. Each of these can be cast for extremely low amounts of mana and then draw you three cards off the back of casting any of them. Hell, if you cast a Thought Monitor with a Kozilek's Unsealing in play, you'll find yourself drawing a monstrous five cards at once! For a deck like Affinity, Kozilek's Unsealing ends up feeling like Up the Beanstalk on steroids

Ugin's Labyrinth

It also happens that you can combine these cards to work well with certain other cards from Modern Horizons 3 as well. For example, Ugin's Labyrinth is one of the most in-demand cards for the set currently. Many players quickly identified it as an easy sol-land option (i.e. it makes two mana) for something like Tron, which has plenty of potential imprint targets compared to most decks. In a deck like this, though, finding an imprint card is truly trivial, as you have eight potential cards that you can exile onto it. Oh, wait, make that twelve.

That's right, the set is bringing us yet another Myr Enforcer variant, and this one is especially silly when it comes to playing with Kozilek's Unsealing. The reason for this is that you can cast it either as a Frogmite or as a Myr Enforcer and easily get value off of a copy of Kozilek's Unsealing. Even without Unsealing, the flexibility is just really helpful in getting more creatures on the board, getting more artifacts to up your affinity count, or to simply have another big 4/4 to drop.

The sheer density of options made me wonder just how deep you could go off of Kozilek's Unsealing. I started talking it out with a couple of different group chats, and very quickly I realized you could probably go so deep that you could draw your whole deck. Think about it: we've been working with the idea of having only one Kozilek's Unsealing on the board. What if we got two online? Now all of your Myr Enforcers are drawing you six cards per cast and your Thought Monitors are nabbing you a whopping eight cards at once!

At that point, why not just use this to win you the game on the spot rather than having to try slogging it out in the red zone with combat damage?

Thassa's Oracle

I got to brewing and continued talking with a bunch of friends. My initial build wasn't super great until one of my local Buffalo buddies, Jerry, slapped this build together.


As a note, we originally tried Paradoxical Outcome given how many spells you were casting for free. With a Kozilek's Unsealing on the board, playing Paradoxical Outcome enables you to pick up your cheap artifacts again, draws you more cards, and lets you keep your chain going. In practice, though, it was too difficult to actually cast Paradoxical Outcome given how low mana you often have access to since you're trying to play your cards very cheaply. That led to a little bit of a choke point and is where the swap for the two copies of Urza, Lord High Artificer came in.

Urza, Lord High Artificer

Thanks to Urza, the deck gets a lot more flexibility. Not only do you get an extra large creature that helps count toward your affinity cost reductions, but it also gives you access to more mana. While it might've been a minor struggle to hit the mana to cast Paradoxical Outcome and keep things going, here utilizing Urza can actually allow you to cast additional copies of Kozilek's Unsealing and really go to town. If by some chance you happen to run out of gas, you can then activate the Temporal Aperture/Mind's Desire ability to try finding something that can keep your chain going.

Putting the deck into Moxfield and running several test hands felt awesome. It was like doing the kind of silly creature-based combo deck I loved with something akin to Elves but utilizing the Affinity core I grew up falling in love with. All the usual suspects you'd expect are here, with the various zero drops as well as your Urza's Sagas to find any cards you need - usually copies of Springleaf Drum to enable you to truly go off.

Orcish Bowmasters
Metallic Rebuke
Dismember

The big choke point for this deck is almost assuredly Orcish Bowmasters. Given how the deck relies on winning via drawing your whole deck, running into a single Bowmasters can seemingly spell out game over for you. This is a major reason why the deck is running a few copies of Metallic Rebuke. While no sideboard was put together, it stands to reason that you'd likely want to run additional copies as well as Dismember to shut the card down and allow yourself to continue with your main game plan.

If that doesn't work, though, you can always fall back onto the deck's powerful plan B: ignoring Kozilek's Unsealing and instead focus on the massive creatures you're putting onto the board. Even without the Unsealing, you're still running twelve Myr Enforcer variants. In other words, you have an army of 4/4s that will no doubt be able to go toe-to-toe with just about any creatures your opponent throws your way. You can also get more creatures with Urza's Saga or Urza himself, and it's not too difficult to cleanly swap out the combo package to bring back in the likes of Simulacrum Synthesizer if you're expecting some decent pushback.

While this list is almost certainly far from optimal, it absolutely feels like a rock solid baseline for where you can take this archetype in the wake of Modern Horizons 3. It'll be interesting to see how the archetype evolves, but I know one thing for sure: you'll absolutely see me in the trenches doing my best to combo people out. I love a good combo deck and I also am pretty much Affinity's biggest fan, so when you put the two together, it's hard for me not to do my best at making it work. It seems like there's legs here, and I can't wait to see what people do with it in the coming weeks.

Paige Smith

Twitter: @TheMaverickGal

Twitch: twitch.tv/themaverickgirl

YouTube: TheMaverickGal


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