Weekly Deck Tech: Pauper Grixis Affinity

Magic: the Gathering

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Weekly Deck Tech: Pauper Grixis Affinity

Today, we dissect the Grixis Affinity, which gained some new cards with Modern Horizons II!

By Romeu, 06/06/21, translated by Romeu, with help from our readers

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We are back with another Weekly Deck Tech! Today we'll talk about a list that got second place on Saturday's Pauper Challenge, played by Hamuda and with plenty of new cards from Modern Horizons II: The Grixis Affinity.
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Affinity has been present at Pauper since its inception, where it was already so much of a viable strategy that the first card banned from the format was Cranial Plating, lest this archetype obviously become the most oppressive deck in the format by a significant margin.

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The archetype has transformed and gained variants over the years: Scars of Mirrodin brought great Metalcraft cards that led the deck to its Temur variant, which for several years was considered the most viable version of the archetype until Thraben Inspector and Navigator's Compass added to the deck the possibility of playing a more value-oriented game with Kor Skyfisher, but still retaining aggressive creatures like Ardent Recruit, giving rise to Jeskai Affinity. Recently, with the introduction of Makeshift Munitions to the format, Grixis Affinity, looking to abuse Disciple of the Vault and high-value sacrifice cards like Ichor Wellspring, created a high synergy machine that can attack from many angles. Modern Horizons II is probably the most impactful set Affinity has received since Scars of Mirrodin. First because of the new artifact duals that, despite entering tapped, are indestructible and deal very well with two chronic problems that the archetype always had: the imminent weakness for artifact destruction, especially Gorilla Shaman and Shenanigans that could effectively lock Affinity out of the game, and the recurring possibility of losing to itself because of the bad manabase the deck used to have. In addition, the deck gained a new piece that has proved essential for all of its versions:
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Sojourner's Companion is one of the best creatures Affinity could ever have. In addition to being the 5-8 copy of Myr Enforcer, which means a massive increase in the deck's clock and, on some lists, a replacement for the less impactful Frogmite, the creature also serves as another means of fixing the deck's mana, thus serving basically everything the deck needs to do to win the game. Grixis Affinity has already been doing good results in the last few weeks, and it seems that with the release of Modern Horizons II, where many players are migrating and experimenting with Affinity and Storm, this variant stands out even more as it has a significant advantage against these decks.
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Starting with Disciple of the Vault, this card interacts incredibly well with Atog, where it can serve as a life loss machine gun against the opponent even when it can't attack, and turns Makeshift Munitions into basically a Shock on the opponent for every mana and artifact you have available. Also, in a metagame where players are experimenting with various Affinity variants, Disciple of the Vault shines as the best card you can have in mirror match, as its ability triggers for

any

artifact that is put into the graveyard.
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Splinter Twin The combination of Atog with Fling is probably one of the reasons Affinity is consistently among the top competitive decks of the format: the ability to establish a clock at a ridiculously fast rate and still have reach, which often works like a "free-win" button in the form of this combo makes the opponent need to respect the combo and keep resources to deal with it. Also, Atog is the last creature the opponent wants to see across the board when it has run out of resources and/or blockers, as the card will usually take the game alone in a few turns.
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The deck also features the massive impact creature pack that can be played for free or cheap in the form of Myr Enforcer and Sojourner’s Companion. There's not much to be said for these cards. They will commonly be 4/4 creatures for 3 mana or less from turn 3 onwards and will put massive pressure on the opponent when played in multiples.

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It's worth noting that the fact that these cards cost 7 is extremely relevant to mainly avoiding from Spellstutter Sprite, since it's impossible in almost every occasion for the opponent to have seven faeries in play to counter these creatures.
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The deck still needs relevant low-cost artifacts to function and that's why you have your manafixing package. Despite the inclusion of duals, it's still important to have artifacts that help to fix your mana and have good interactions with other cards in the deck. This is the case of Chromatic Star, which in addition to being a color fix, can also be used with Atog or Makeshift Munnitions to get value since you'll draw a card if Chromatic Star goes to the graveyard, regardless of how. Prophetic Prism is a more straightforward card as a permanent manafixing that draws a card, and it's the best card available at what it does.
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The complementary artifacts for the deck are Ichor Wellspring and Witching Well. Witching Well is an interesting card for the list, as it not only helps the deck filter the top in the first turns (which is essential in a deck that doesn't have cantrips and works with a sensitive and/or inconsistent manabase), but it also operates as a great late-game mana sink to generate value. Ichor Wellspring interacts absurdly well with Atog and Makeshift Munitions, while playing the role of drawing a card from ETB and increasing affinity.
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In addition to creatures, there are spells that also benefit from the artifacts as well. Thoughtcast is card advantage and mana advantage at its best, as long as you have enough artifacts on the board, operating almost like a mini-Treasure Cruise. Typically, the deck's most explosive turns involve a Thoughtcast, and this is the card that will commonly make the archetype keep the gas running during the game. Galvanic Blast is the best removal and reach this deck could want, as 99% of the time the card will be dealing 4 damage to any target for a single red mana.
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In the one-ofs, we have cards that play different roles. Makeshift Munitions is a card that has been gaining space on the Affinity lists as a great way to have reach against fog decks and respond to the most diverse Elves, Faeries and other X/1 or X/2 creatures. Temur Battle Rage serves as another free-win button with Atog which relies on combat to work, but which also interacts very well with Myr Enforcer and Sojourner's Companion, especially at crowded boards and/or against unsuspecting opponents. The card can also be used as a combat trick. Dispel is a staple of the format and commonly serves to handle the most diverse responses and spells, from Counterspell to Vines of Vastwood, going through Cast Down, among others.
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The deck now features new duals, which have a great advantage in fixing mana and being indestructible, but also have the disadvantage of entering the battlefield tapped, which is extremely relevant for an aggressive deck like Affinity. Because of this, the deck chooses to run a total of 5 duals, two of each color with blue, which is important to cast Thoughtcast and Witching Well, and one in black and Red.

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Darksteel Citadel is used as another indestructible land that enters untapped, totaling nine mana sources that the opponent cannot destroy.
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The traditional artifact lands. A set of each color that is used most by the deck and a Vault of Whispers, which can be tutored with Sojourner's Companion.

Sideboard

The traditional Elemental Blasts that have already become standard staples in the format. Pyroblast works well against most Blue-Based decks, serving as an answer for core cards present in their strategies. Blue Elemental Blast serves as a great answer against red removals, commonly used hate cards like Gorilla Shaman and Ancient Grudge, as well as serving against Cleansing Wildfire, Burn and to respond to Atog or Fling on the mirror. It is worth noting that the inclusion of Blue Elemental Blast instead of Hydroblast was probably a conscious choice due to the rare but possible occasion where the opponent has a Standard Bearer and a red permanent in play, since Hydroblast targets a permanent or spell and destroys or counters it

if

it's red, while Blue Elemental Blast can only target red permanents or spells.
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There's not much to say about Dispel that hasn't already been said in the maindeck copy. Duress is an interesting option, especially as a one-of, but I believe the rise of Storm decks demands a cleaner response against Chatterstorm and Duress is the best option while also providing additional information.
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Your anti-aggro package. Krark-Clan Shaman will often enter against aggressive decks in addition to Bogles, and will always do an impressive job of clearing the opponent's board, as well as being a clean answer against the Chattterstorm tokens that cannot be removed with Duress. Fiery Cannonade operates on the same way, but it also works as a great response against Faeries, where Krark-Clan Shaman doesn't deal with flying creatures.
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With the rise of Affinity and less consistency in the use of Gorilla Shaman, it becomes preferable to deal with other artifacts from the opponent, especially its creatures, and in this regard, Ancient Grudge is superior to Shenanigans or Gorilla Shaman.
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Reaping the Graves is one of the most powerful cards Affinity can have against removal-oriented decks, as most of the deck's creatures are cards with huge impact on the board and the deck can sequence enough spells to cast this card with a huge storm count.

Conclusion

This is the Grixis Affinity that the player Hamuda used to reach the second place in the Pauper Challenge last Saturday (06/05). As we can see, after a long time the archetype finally gained new elements that made it much more consistent, scaling it to probably one of the main competitors on Pauper's Tier 1 in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading!
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Romeu

Writer and translator for Cards Realm. Plays virtually Magic: The Gathering competitive formats. Pauper Masters' Organizer.

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