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By: mattlewis, Matt Lewis
May 31 2009 9:40am
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I got into Pauper to scratch that constructed itch without having to invest a huge amount of tickets.  Pauper seemed to be just the place, and I started out with an aggressive mono green build based around 10 Land Stompy decks of a previous era.  It was mostly terrible with a distinct lack of punch.  I felt underpowered compared to the decks out there, so I decided that I might revisit this deck after Rancor is released with Urza's Legacy.  I fooled around a bit with the BUG rock deck, MBC and MUC, but control has never been my style really.  I started tinkering with a BUG dredge/threshold deck, and although I had some fun with, it became apparent to me that the power level of Slivers, Burn and Affinity should be the starting point for any deck in competitive pauper.  With my knowledge of the field expanding, I started honing in on Affinity, to figure out what made it work, and how I could build a deck that I was happy with.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion that the easiest way to win with Affinity was to cast spells that read Draw 7 cards.  Whenever I could get off a Rush of Knowledge with a Myr Enforcer or a Somber Hoverguard, inevitability of a victory would start to build on my side of the table.  After casting a Rush of Knowledge for 6 or 7, often you will draw another Rush, allowing you to quickly overwhelm any opposition with an avalanche of card advantage.  Rush and Trinket Mage also allow you to bring in copies of single spells that you can reliably expect to get to use in an average game.


Another idea that I have tested out was that Disciple of the Vault is not an auto include.  Without good sacrifice outlets, it's just not as powerful as you might remember if you played Affinity in other constructed formats.  I also wanted to make my deck slightly more resilient to artifact hate, so that Burn was not an auto lose, and to be able to have an advantage in the mirror match, so you'll see it's different in a few regards to the version which won the recent Premiere Event, which you can see here.

The Trinket Mage and Leonin Squire package was another recent development.  After losing a couple of times to G/W and W/B decks powerful enchant creatures like Edge of the Divinity, I wanted to make my affinity more robust and able to handle a wide variety of situations.  Also, against MUC, I found that the threat light version of Affinity I was running was too easily dealt with.  Adding more creatures with some recursion and card selection allowed me to regain the upper hand against MUC.


Mono Black, MBC:  This is a balancing act.  You want to empty your hand to a point, loading up the board with spellbombs and creatures if at all possible.  This way, you can simply ignore discard and live off the top of your deck.  If holding a Rush of Knowledge, make sure you have something else to discard!  Once you get that first Rush off, it can be difficult for MBC to catch up, just don't dump your hand blindly though.  After the early stages of the game, you'll be vulnerable to getting the board swept by Crypt Rats.  Now you'll have to balance threats on the board with threats held back in hand.  This is easier after getting off a big Rush.  Also, dig for those Aether Spellbombs, they are great for fizzling Corrupt and Tendrils, or even just recurring Leonin Squire.

Mono Blue, MUC:  The game plan is simple.  If you have a fast start, keep up the pressure.  If a little slower, build up threats in hand so that you can overwhelm their counterspells in one big turn.  Try to tease out counters so that you can get off a Rush.  Practice this matchup.  Playing it badly will make it an easy victory for your opponent, but good thoughtful play will tip the balance decidedly in your favour.  Bonesplitters shine out of the board.  They are easy to slip under counterspells, and all of a sudden all your dudes will be trading with their Spire Golems, instead of just dying.

Slivers:  An early Behemoth or Enforcer is needed to hold the ground.  Try to pick off Muscle, Sinew or Virulent Slivers with spellbombs.  If you can stabilize, then the long game favors you, as eventually you should be able to sweep the board with a Shaman and reload with a Rush.  Remember the following trick; with Temporal Isolation on a Myr Enforcer, you can attack, put damage on the stack, and then sac it to a Krark-Clan Shaman.  When the damage resolves, it is no longer prevented as the Temporal Isolation is in the yard.  Little plays like this can often be the difference in a win.  After boarding, if they bring in a full package of Dust to Dust, you can be in trouble with your mana.  Bring in the extra Island as an 18th land and board out your Hoverguards and 1 Rush.

Burn:  This is a tough one.  Dig for your Lifespark Spellbomb and try to recur it with that Leonin Squire.  Sideboarding can make the match up even tougher.  I've seen Affinity try to bring in Cop Red, but then lose with no mana on board due to an opposing Gorilla Shaman.  Bring in all copies of Hydroblast, the extra Island, and make sure your opening hand has some mana.  One landers can work out sometimes, but rarely is that the case against Burn.

Mirror Matchup:  The usual Affinity builds will not be using Trinket Mage and Leonin Squire.  Combined this with your more resilient mana base, and this is where your advantage lies.  Use your Aether Spellbombs to protect your Enforcers and Behemoths in combat, and to fizzle an opposing Rush of Knowledge.  Trade your Hoverguards with their Hoverguards if you have to, or take them out with a Pyrite Spellbomb.  You will be at a disadvantage due to their Disciple of the Vaults, but you can recover with Lifespark Spellbomb recursion.  After the first game, your goal should be to control the game with your better mana and greater selection of answers.  Board in your Pyroblasts, Ancient Grudges, Shamans, and the extra Island.  You want your post board hand to start with either a) Gorilla Shaman b) a way to kill Gorilla Shaman or c) a hand that is resilient to Gorilla Shaman, ie, having a Darksteel Citadel, and/or an Island, and/or a Prismatic Lens.  Krark-Clan Shaman doesn't seem to be so good in the mirror, I usually board out one. Trinket Mage


GRW:  Aether Spellbombs are a key here.  Savor them so that you can get rid of nasty enchant creatures like Armadillo Cloak.  Remember your Hoverguards can block the ledgewalkers.  If you can sustain yourself through any initial onslaught, a Rush Of Knowledge for 6 or 7 will be enough to win the game.

Hope that helps, and if you have any specific questions on how to sideboard properly or anything else, go ahead and leave a comment.


h by Anonymous (not verified) at Sun, 05/31/2009 - 15:58
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Someone already wrote this article on affinity in pauper already on this site. Something new please.

We are taking submissions by JXClaytor at Sun, 05/31/2009 - 18:16
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Please write!

I've never been disappointed by jayhoegh at Sun, 05/31/2009 - 16:37
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I've never been disappointed to have Disciple of the Vault. He makes blocking bad for your opponent, and at the very least diverts a removal spell from one of your more imposing creatures. As for a sac outlet, you have the perfectly fine Krark-Clan Shaman.

Some of your choices seem odd. Prismatic lens over Springleaf drum? No lotus petal?

I'm always glad to read an article, and thanks for taking the time to read it, but I do have to agree with the other person in that we just had an Affinity pauper article (and I happen to like his list better, though I've tried trinket mage before for effect)

All the choices in this deck by mattlewis at Sun, 05/31/2009 - 17:26
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All the choices in this deck were carefully worked on and tested in the Queues. I'm not going to claim this is the best version of Affinity but it does have a plan for every matchup. I ran with the average Affinity build for quite a while, but I don't like a deck that has no answers to a G/W creature with a Shield of the Oversoul/Armadillo Cloak on it. As a general philosophy, I always like to have outs.

I'm not sure you could say that Springleaf Drum is better than Prismatic Lens; they are different in how they play. I tried out the Drum, but am much happier with the Lens, as it is more resilient in the face of Gorilla Shaman. The Shaman will take out a Drum for 3 mana, while you need 5 mana to blow up a Lens.

As for the timing of this article, I began writing it prior to the most recent PE, and submitted it the following week; I thought people would enjoy a build that was different, with some more choices and a different strategy in how it plays. Thanks for reading.

Typo in my last comment. by jayhoegh at Sun, 05/31/2009 - 19:56
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Typo in my last comment. Should be "taking the time to write it" not "taking the time to read it"

Queues as testing by SpikeBoyM at Sun, 05/31/2009 - 20:26
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Using the queues to justify your results is a poor strategy for determining a deck's strength in Pauper. The queues do not present anything similar to a PE metagame, as you are just running into random decks with 0-0 records; it is the same as playing round one of a major event over and over and over- you just never know what you are going to get. The queues are not totally without value, especially if your goal is to just win queues. However, when preparing for a PE, you would do much better to have a group of people to test against who would be running the decks you expect to see in a PE. There is also the dirty little secret that a lot of the queue players are, well, bad- I have managed to win totally unwinnable matchups (RW aggro with no Obsidian Acolyte vs MBC) in the queues thanks to people just picking up a pile of sixty and running it at you. Know who you're testing against if you want to use queues as proper testing grounds.
Perfect example: Burn. This deck was just over 2% of the recent PE (2 people out of 92 competitors), yet you list it as a key matchup. If these results were from PE 1, I'd agree with you tagging that deck as one to beat, but Burn has been a fringe player since March.
You also completely ignore Storm combo, which is a consistent threat to any Pauper tournament. How do you go about this matchup, as your entire game seems to be based around winning with Rush of Knowledge, unlike other Affinity which has the DotV back up plan (being able to go Oops, I win, on turn 3 is pretty key against a deck like Storm).
How do you plan on combating the hate that is sure to come with the deck recently winning the PE? While you are set up to fight in the mirror (resolving Rush first, for example, with Lens [which doesn't matter, since other Affinity runs Lotus Petal and Drum, enabling at earliest a turn three Rush]), you do not really have a way to fight hate. Now I understand that this was written before the most recent PE, but still, many of the choices seem knee jerk and not carefully thought out. Cards like Echoing Truth slide into Affinity very well and can blow out Aura aggro. I would have liked to have seen a more in depth discussion about they you went with these cards and why you eschewed DotV, since you are running the Sac Outlets anyone.


reply to Alex by mattlewis at Mon, 06/01/2009 - 01:51
mattlewis's picture

First of all, thanks for this in depth comment. Hopefully this reply fleshes out some of my ideas and card choices.

I agree, my results are skewed to the Queues. I have no relevant data from participating in PE's or in the PDC events. However, I have played well over 200 matches in the 2 man Queues. When I am running my list, my constructed rating will bounce between 1750 and 1800.

I ran 1 copy of Disciple of the Vault for a long while, as it was nice to know there was one in the deck that I could dig for if needed. I found that Disciple was best against control decks (naturally), but was often just a way to finish an opponent quickly. With careful play, the most important aspect of the deck was to successfully cast Rush of Knowledge for 6 or 7 cards. This was what I found to be the most critical element for winning a game. Inevitability swings your way when you do this, and Disciple of the Vault doesn't contribute to casting Rush of Knowledge in any way in this deck.

Storm Combo: Should have definitely covered this, as it is an important matchup. Not much you can do pre board, but hold back a Shaman in case they go Goblins, and dig for a Sunbeam Spellbomb to try and get out of Grapeshot range. It gets better for you after boarding, as you can bring in some good disruption. Board in all your pyroblasts and hydroblasts. Target the blue card drawing spells and the red mana producers. Keep Krark Clan Shaman in the deck in case they go with producing goblins. Board out 2 Quicksilver Behemoth, 1 Bonesplitter, 1 Leonin Squire, 1 Rush of Knowledge, 1 Aether Spellbomb. Board in the 6 blasts.

As for combatting hate, I would choose not to run this deck if the field was fully prepared for it. If someone wants to beat Affinity, they can beat Affinity. Having said that though, I'd take my list over the standard list. When trying to fight through hate, the most important thing is to be able to maintain your mana base. This list allows you to run 6 lands that do not die to artifact destruction (outside of Dust to Dust, which is a death sentence for Affinity). With Squire and Trinket Mage, you can get lands back from your graveyard or dig them out of your deck.

Being limited to 15 Sideboard cards, I wanted main deck answers to pesky decks. Having Trinket Mage, with recursion possible with the Squires, allows a pseudo silver bullet strategy, allowing me to dedicate more sideboard slots to what I think are the most troublesome matchups. Echoing Truth does not recur with the Squire, and you cannot dig for it with Trinket Mage. Plus, it does not contribute to your Affinity count.