Deck Spotlight: Affinity for Karn

The Modern metagame is constantly changing, so much so that decks fall by the wayside. Affinity is a deck that has been around since Modern magic’s creation, it has gone though a few changes but ultimately remains true to what it originally was. With my recent finish at the SCG Regional in Chicago, I was asked to write an article relating to my Affinity list. In this article I will go over my decklist, explain the unique card choices, and briefly go over how to sideboard with the deck to hopefully inspire some players to give Affinity a go.

Lands (17)

4 Darksteel Citadel
1 Island
1 Mountain
4 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Inkmoth Nexus
3 Spire of Industry
Creatures (26)
4 Arcbound Ravager
3 Master of Etherium
2 Memnite
4 Ornithopter
4 Signal Pest
3 Steel Overseer
3 Vault Skirge
2 Glint-Nest Crane
1 Hope of Ghirapur
Planeswalkers (2)
2 Karn, Scion of Urza
Spells (15)
4 Cranial Plating
4 Springleaf Drum
1 Welding Jar
2 Galvanic Blast
4 Mox Opal
2 Damping Sphere
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
2 Etched Champion
2 Spellskite
2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
1 Dispatch
2 Wear
2 Thoughtseize

The Build
The core of the Affinity deck is set in stone, or more accurately metal. The wonderful thing about Affinity is that it has quiet a few flex slots that can make the deck play drastically different depending on your approach. I was looking for an approach to the deck that made it bigger and more difficult for my opponent to answer as well as make it more consistent in both finding its threats and sideboard. We will be going over the cards that are more uncommon to see in Affinity and going over what their roles are in the deck and go over why they make the list opposed to other cards.

Karn, Scion of Urza
Now Karn is one of the deck’s best cards. It refills your hand and generates large tokens. This slot is normally saved for Etched Champion, but a lot of times Champion does not do anything and is effectively a vanilla 2/2 for three mana. Karn, on the other hand, is always a powerful card that usually warps the game once he resolves. This card is also a game changer in the control matchups as it is very difficult to immediately answer. Its ability to sift through your deck every turn giving you card advantage is another appealing feature as it helps fine everything from threats to sideboard cards.

Hope of Ghirapur
Hope is an interesting card as when it comes to how important it can be, it can go from one side of the spectrum all the way to the other. Hope is a replacement for the fourth copy of Vault Skirge. It replaces the Skirge because of how game changing its effect can be and even if you do not use the effect it is still a 1/1 flying threat. In combo matchups, Hope is one of your best threats because of what it represents. If it uses its ability you essentially Time Walk your opponent and can then kill them on the following turn. In control matchups, an activation from hope means that all your spells will resolve with no fear of counter magic or removal until your next turn. Hope compliments Steel Overseer in addition to everything else stated prior. If Hope resolves his effect you can guarantee that Overseer can resolve and also guarantee he will be able to use his ability to permanently boost your teams power and toughness.

Glint-Nest Crane
Crane is not something you normally associate with Modern. In standard it was a card that let you exploit Metalwork Colossus. Crane is one of the best standalone creatures in the deck as it is a 1/3 flyer that replaces itself when it enters the battlefield. It lets you look at the top four of your library for whatever you need currently, whether that be a threat or mana. It also plays an important role postboard as games slow down and it allows you to find hateful sideboard artifacts.

Modern is a “sideboard format”, meaning that many postboard games are decided by powerful effects that lockout a player from playing. Affinity thankfully has access to all five colors, so you can design the sideboard to your liking. The board I use is mostly Artifact based as they can be searched out with Crane while counting toward Master’s power and Plating’s boost. Most decks in Modern usually use effects that destroy both Enchantments and Artifacts so the old argument for playing more Enchantments post board is not as strong. We will be going over the sideboard and the matchups you bring them in against.

Damping Sphere
Wet Ball is a powerful card that swings games the moment it hits the board. It is a well known format staple and an artifact to boot. Whether it is stopping Tron or taxing Storm, this card does everything you need when you need it.

Brought in against: Amulet Titan, Tron, Ad Nauseum, Storm, Phoenix, Grishoalbrand

Grafdigger’s Cage
Graveyards are becoming increasingly relevant as time goes by. Cage does not completely stop the graveyard decks like Rest in Peace does, but for what Affinity is trying to accomplish it works wonders. By slowing the opponent down by multiple turns, Affinity can close the game where it would be surprisingly slow. Another upside of using Cage over RiP is that Ravager still can utilize Modular. It is also worthy of mention that Cage stops Chord of Calling and Collected Company.

Brought in against: Dredge, Storm, Grishoalbrand, Bant Spirits, Phoenix, Hollow One, Devoted Combo, Vannifar Pod

Etched Champion
Now while I stated earlier that Champion can at times be just a 2/2, there are also times it closes the game as it cant be blocked and can block everything on the ground freely. The main appeal of Champion is that nothing can target it as long as Metalcraft is active, so Champion is almost unstoppable in midrange matches. It is serviceable in removal heavy matchups and against decks that focus on a certain color for their spells.

Brought in against: Jund, B/G Rock, Dredge, Burn, Humans, Shadow, Spirits, Amulet Titan, Bogles, U/W Control, Jeskai Control

Spellskite is one of the best disruption creatures ever printed. It answers everything that targets at the low, low cost of two life. Even redirecting a Bolt to it is typically a good play so that you save one life. Skite is also exceptional in the mirror as it redirects modular triggers which will cause you opponent to wait until they can answer it before they can go for lethal. It also being a horror matches up nicely against Thing in the Ice.

Brought in against: Phoenix, Dredge, Burn, Bogles, Ad nauseum, Jeskai Control, Infect, Affinity, Hardened Scales

Ghirapur Aether Grid
Grid is one of the most back-breaking cards in certain matchups. Some decks cannot answer the constant barrage of one damage to either creatures or players. For decks like Infect or the mirror it is very hard to beat. Additionally, the card is one of the few ways to win under a Stony Silence as it gives your artifacts something to do without activating them; you are using them as a cost to activate the enchantment.

Brought in against: Jeskai Control, U/W Control, Infect, Affinity, Hardened Scales, Mardu Pyromancer, Humans

Not much needs to be said about Dispatch. It is an additional removal spell that exiles. IF you Metalcraft is not active you probably already lost. You want a PAth to Exile that does not ramp the opponent right? It is brought in for decks against which you prioritize spot removal.

Brought in against: Storm, Humans, Shadow, Amulet Titan, Phoenix, Affinity, Hardened Scales, Infect, Mardu Pyromancer, G/B Rock, Jund, Hollow One

Thoughtseize is the best hand disruption spell in Modern. It answers any non-land card for a single mana. It primarily comes in against decks that cannot answer your board without some setup. It is also premium disruption against the combo decks.

Brought in against: Amulet Titan, Storm, Ad Nauseum, Tron, Grishoalbrand, Vannifar Pod

Wear/Tear is an interesting card not because of what it does but the matchups you have to bring it in against. There will be the matchups that you bring it in against to disrupt important enchantments or artifacts, but there is an a good amount of times that you have to side it in out of fear. Stony affects the deck so harshly, you will need to proactively sideboard in Wear/Tear so that you still have a path to victory if it shows up.

Brought in against: Ad Nauseum, Tron, U/W Control, Jeskai Control, Spirits, Death and Taxes, Mardu Pyromancer, Affinity, Hardened Scales, Bogles

I hope you enjoyed this article on my rendition of Affinity. I also hope that you found at least one thing in this article insightful and can bring it to your future matches. As stated prior, Affinity is a flexible deck and can house many possible combinations from Experimental Affinity to this Blue Affinity. Do not be afraid to experiment and find out which list works best for you and your playstyle. If you have any questions, we would love to talk it over in our discussion group. Or if you would like to take a swing at writing content for the site you can contact us directly here. We will be back tomorrow to discuss our growing concerns about the future of Modern. Until then my friends.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s