Pauper: The New Post-Ban Affinity

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Pauper: The New Post-Ban Affinity

In today's article, I discuss the new Affinity variants with Alexandre Weber, also known as _against_, who took third place on September 26th's Challenge!

By Arinaldo, 10/11/21, translated by Romeu, with help from our readers

Versions:

A little over a month has passed since Sojourner's Companion was banned from Pauper on September 8th. And was that short period of time enough for Affinity to reinvent itself? The answer is

yes

! Affinity is a deck that can adapt very well to changes in the format's metagame, precisely because it can move through different color combinations and game styles, such as aggro, midrange and combo.

Jeskai Affinity on Pauper

Before Modern Horizons II was released, the most played Affinity was the Jeskai variant, sometimes more aggressive with the presence of Robocop, also known as Ardent Recruit, other times with a midrange approach, abusing the interaction with Kor Skyfisher.

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Modern Horizons 2 introduced several new possibilities for Affinity, but unfortunately, it got its math wrong. It appears that banning Sojourner's Companion (also known as Salamander) has balanced the equation, and the result is greater resilience and slower speed. But what does this mean in practice? It means that when you opt for lands that enters tapped, strategies like those of the old Temur and Jeskai are less viable, since playing Carapace Forger or Prophetic Prism on turn two, or Thraben Inspector and Ardent Recruit on turn one are essential plays for these versions. In other words, it's important to protect yourself from hate, but there's no room to do this by delaying all the deck's initial plays by one turn.

Pauper's New Affinity

Right after Sojourner's Companion was banned, I tested some different variants. I started with the Izzet version, replacing the Salamander with Somber Hoverguard and trying to keep Etherium Spinner, but Hoverguard's fragility bothered me a lot, but dying to Galvanic Blast without metalcraft isn't the biggest problem, what really made the difference is the blue mana cost, which most of the time delays the turn the creature enters the battlefield.
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After accepting that it wouldn't be possible to keep Etherium Spinner in the deck, I started testing the Rakdos version, as the UR variant showed me how less stressful it is to play with a two-color manabase. On Rakdos, Deadly Dispute has an evident enormous potential just by making me play Affinity without Thoughtcast. The deck really has a cool feel, but Affinity's new face really seems to be

Grixis

. The Grixis version isn't all that new, the deck even did some results even before Sojourner was released or banned.

Hamuda

used the list below, without adding Deadly Dispute, when he went to runner-up in the Pauper Challenge in June.

Grixis Affinity on Pauper

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Competitively speaking, Thoughtcast and Hydroblast are the cards that justify blue in the deck. In my case, I also like the feature that Gearseeker Serpent brings to the list, it reminds me a lot of two versions of Affinity that played in late 2019. I would say that, without the snake, the deck looks more like the Atog Shift, while using the Serpent, the footprint is more similar to the Affinity Monsters. In today's Grixis, Disciple of the Vault which has always been in the format but wasn't as widely used, is now very well positioned in a setting where we have Deadly Dispute interacting with artifacts like Ichor Wellspring, Chromatic Star and Treasure Token, not to mention the lands that are safer on the battlefield waiting for a better time to be sacrificed. Makeshift Munitions is an important piece to enhance the Disciple's lethal power, as well as dealing very well with faeries and elves. This partnership is here to stay.
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Interview with Alexandre Weber

Grixis Affinity has been doing excellent results in tournaments of the format, and today we'll talk to

_against_

(Alexandre Weber) about the experiences he's been having with the deck, since he recently made a Top 3 on September 26's Pauper Challenge with the list below:

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Check out the player's impressions of the deck:

1. It's been a few weeks since the ban. Which Affinity list do you think is best positioned for the current metagame?

I didn't play with many, I tested some UR lists, but using Disciple of the Vault seems crucial as a way to kill the opponent in the absence of Sojourner's Companion. The big question is whether to play Gearseeker Serpent or not, it attacks very well, but it can also be chump-blocked and doesn't contribute as much to the combo. So far, I've only tested the Grixis version without the serpent and I really liked it, but I have to test it with the card too.

2. We are no longer seeing Temur and Jeskai lists. At what point do you think they lost space?

The Temur and Jeskai variants lost space because the color black has added more to the deck with another angle of attack with Disciple, Deadly Dispute and with Reaping the Graves on the Sideboard.

3. The lists moved from using Electrickery on the sideboard to using Makeshift Munitions on the main deck. What do you think of this change, and what is your opinion about the match against Faeries?

Makeshift Munitions is great, as it's a tough threat to take off the field because it's an enchantment, and it goes a long way with Disciple, killing in an alternative way to Atog and Fling. Electrickery has been losing ground in Affinity, as Krark-Clan Shaman is a much more flexible and powerful way to kill multiple creatures at once.

4. Of the tier decks, in your opinion, which are the worst matches for Affinity?

There aren't many bad matches. I imagine Tron can be quite difficult with the sideboard plan they have been using: (Ancient Grudge and Fangren Marauder). Elves tend to have a good game 1 and a good sideboard plan with lots of Hydroblast to counter Krark-Clan Shaman. Decks like Auras and Heroic can be tricky too.

5. Finally, how you would sideboard this challenge list against the main decks of the format?

On the mirror, it's important to know which version you're up against. The more blue cards like Serpent, the more Pyroblast you will bring (even bringing all Pyroblast if you see many snakes in the first game). As for what to side out, usually you'll cut the quantities of some cards, taking some combo cards like 1 Fling and 1 Makeshift Munitions, and some less structural draws in the deck like Ichor Wellspring and Deadly Dispute to make room for big the number of cards sided-in. Against Dimir Faeries, I usually take out all Flings, because of the high density of one or two mana counters they have post-side. And I tend to cut some draws like 1 Chromatic Star a bit to make room for the Pyroblasts, Reaping the Graves and Duress. It is very difficult to side with Affinity and many times you will only reduce the number of cards in the main deck, since its structure needs to remain solid, so with this deck, it is quite normal to take only 1 copy of several cards when sideboarding.

Conclusion

We can see that Grixis Affinity has been gaining ground in the format with all its versatility, carrying some of the best cards Pauper has to offer. But what about you, what is your favorite version of Affinity and why? Leave it in the comments for us to know! Thanks for reading, and see you next time!
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Arinaldo

Systems Analyst. MTG Player and content creator. Creator and presenter of the Youtube and Podcast Mana Delver. Despite being in love with Pauper, he also plays and enjoys all other formats.

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