Jul 20, 20171918 views

Fervently in Love with Affinity - Massdrop East/West Article #26

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Hello this is Ricky Chin, Gold Pro and member of Team Massdrop East. For this week’s article I wanted to take a look at a specific deck in Modern: Affinity. While the format has seen some dramatic shifts due to new cards being printed and cards being banned, this one deck has put up consistent results. I’ve been a fan of Affinity since Wizards of the Coast invented the Modern format. The complexity of every turn makes the deck very appealing to me. The free breaks you get between quick round wins is also a plus. With this deck, you have an opportunity to win most of the games you play, it's often only a matter of execution, knowing what cards to play around, and managing the odds. That being said, the decklist barely had any changes made to it over the last five years. Somehow none of the cards that were printed were good enough to make the cut.
“If it ain't broke don't fix it”

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Every single card in Affinity is usually weak on its own, but benefit from a synergistic environment. That is the requirement we set when we consider any new addition to the deck. Does it cost zero? Does it say artifact somewhere on the card? Yes, great let's try that card. What about that 4 mana 5/4 creature that has nothing to do with artifacts, do you think it’s playable in Affinity?
This is the Affinity list I used to qualify for the quarterly Magic Online Championship Playoff event.
Maindeck
  • 4 Cranial Plating
  • 3 Galvanic Blast
  • 4 Mox Opal
  • 4 Springleaf Drum
  • 4 Arcbound Ravager
  • 3 Etched Champion
  • 1 Hazoret the Fervent
  • 2 Master of Etherium
  • 2 Memnite
  • 4 Ornithopter
  • 4 Signal Pest
  • 4 Steel Overseer
  • 4 Vault Skirge
  • 4 Blinkmoth Nexus
  • 4 Darksteel Citadel
  • 4 Inkmoth Nexus
  • 1 Mountain
  • 4 Spire of Industry
Sideboard
  • 2 Ancient Grudge
  • 1 Blood Moon
  • 2 Ghirapur Aether Grid
  • 1 Grafdigger's Cage
  • 1 Hazoret the Fervent
  • 1 Rest in Peace
  • 1 Rule of Law
  • 2 Spell Pierce
  • 2 Thoughtseize
  • 1 Wear // Tear
  • 1 Whipflare
At first glance Hazoret the Fervent doesn't fit the profile. There’s no way to reduce the casting cost, she doesn't receive +1/+1 counters from Steel Overseer, she doesn't count as an artifact towards Glimmervoid, Etched Champion or Master of Etherium and you can't move your Arcbound Ravager counters onto her. Those are some major issues when your entire deck relies on a streamlined strategy.
Despite all of those negative aspects, I was completely impressed by Hazoret the Fervent when I tried her. My goal was to cast Hazoret by turn 3 and be able to attack with her. While playing only 17 lands may seem like a disadvantage, you also have four Mox Opal and four Springleaf Drum. You are less likely to have 2 lands stuck in hand by turn 3 and you still have a good number of mana sources.
Affinity is a deck where you expect to win game one, sideboard against whatever anti-artifact cards you expect your opponent to bring in game two (it could be Stony Silence, Ancient Grudge, Shatterstorm) then adjust in game three. Hazoret the Fervent let's you fight on another axis. It would force your opponent to have cards in their sideboard that are less effective against artifacts but could also deal with Hazoret. There are also some minor positive interactions such as: You don't take damage from a Eidolon of the Great Revel when you cast Hazoret and it can't be discarded with Inquisition of Kozilek.
If I could choose two abilities for any creature in a hyper aggressive deck in Modern, it would be Indestructible and Haste. The way to beat Affinity is either to destroy every single threat they play (ie. Grixis Control or Jund Midrange) or win a turn earlier than they can (ie. Ad Nauseam or UR Storm). Somehow, Hazoret fits right in those 2 scenarios. When you are up against a Midrange or Control deck in Modern, your gameplan is often to deal as much damage as you can in the first four turns and play a Etched Champion to deal the last points of damage. This used to work every time but as new cards got printed, the other decks have adapted. You see more board sweeps in the form of Kozilek’s Return (Devoid is colorless) and Flaying Tendrils but also counterspells like Ceremonious Rejection that makes Etched Champion way less impactful after sideboard. Etched Champion is also a card you do not want to draw against most combo decks since it’s a vanilla 2/2 for 3 in most cases. Hazoret gives you an alternative to Etched Champion. The three additional points of power and Haste makes a huge difference in being too slow against combo.
One of the downside with Hazoret is that it can be blocked. If you are up against a bunch of creatures such as Merfolk or any Collected Company deck, you lose a part of your “inevitability” when one of your big threat isn’t unblockable or doesn't have trample. That is a minor issue since the rest of your flying creatures (Vault Skirge, Signal Pest, Blinkmoth Nexus) are rarely ever challenged against those types of deck.
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Best Matchups
The Modern metagame right now has two major tier one deck, Grixis Death’s Shadow and Eldrazi Tron. Through different means, they both play hand disruption, removal spells and bigger creatures at a discount. Due to the colors they choose to play (or lack of color), they are both unlikely to survive a Hazoret the Fervent that hits the battlefield. Either you get to attack with your creature or block to a board stall if you are facing a 6/6 Death’s Shadow. Even when that is the case, you still have the advantage since you can deal the last remaining points of damage with Hazoret’s activated ability and still have an indestructible blocker.
Jund Midrange/Delirium plays close to Grixis Death’s Shadow but takes a lot more time to close the game. It also doesn't have any answer to Hazoret (Beside a Liliana of the Veil -2 with no other creatures on the battlefield).
When you are up against Lantern Control, it also gives you another card that can win through Ensnaring Bridge. They usually name Cranial Plating with their first Pithing Needle and Arcbound Ravager with their second to stop you from attacking with an Ornithopter that then grows, but Hazoret means they need three to stop everything.
Worst Matchups
The weaker side of Hazoret is when you are playing against a deck with Path to Exile. You spend four mana on a threat that doesn't have a enter the battlefield effect and doesn't protect itself against that type of removal. I usually sideboard Hazoret out against G/W or Mono-White Death and Taxes, R/W Nahiri Control, G/W Hexproof, Jeskai Control and Abzan Midrange.
You don't want Hazoret against Merfolk but that is already a great matchup for Affinity. Merfolk rely heavily on Harbinger of the Tides to stay alive and it doesn't make much sense to bring in a 4 mana creature without evasion.
Living End is a very complicated matchup and you either need to be lucky and have your opponent not draw a cascade spell, be able to either sacrifice your creatures to a Arcbound Ravager in response to a Living End or have a counterspell in hand for the Living End. Since Hazoret doesn't fit in any of those criteria, I don't really like having her against that deck.
Should you play Hazoret the Fervent right now?
Short answer; it depends. Your choice of deck in Modern is often dictated by the metagame in your area. Sometimes everyone catches on the new trend and you get a high percentage of the field playing the same two or three decks like Grixis Death’s Shadow and Eldrazi Tron. That is often the case on Magic Online. If you’re thinking about playing Hazoret Affinity at you local game store, I would recommend making a list of the decks you expect to be playing against based on who you know is attending the event. If there aren't too many “bad matchups” then by all means go ahead. I’ve played a large number of Magic Online Leagues, Modern Challenge and Magic Online Championship Series events and I have had great results. Currently the list I am using only has one Hazoret the Fervent in the main deck and one in the sideboard, but I could see playing two in the main deck. Thanks for reading, and please post any questions or feedback below!
We had an exciting reveal of two Amonkhet masterpieces , check out the video here: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1482/scouting-report-massdrop-east-west-on-2-amonkhet-masterpieces
If you are curious about our team, check out our intro: https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1117/announcing-team-massdrop-east-west or, read our previous weekly articles:
1. How to Prepare for an MtG Pro Tour by Ben Weitz (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1158/how-to-prepare-for-an-mt-g-pro-tour)
2. Approaching New Magic Drafts by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1193/approaching-new-magic-drafts)
3. Constructed Testing for Pro Tour Aether Revolt by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1213/recap-of-constructed-testing-for-massdrop-east-west-for-pro-tour-aether-revolt)
4. Breaking into Eternal Formats - Case Study: GP Louisville by Jon Stern (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1240/breaking-into-eternal-formats-case-study-gp-louisville-massdrop-east-west-article-4)
5. In Good Company - Top 8 at GP Vancouver by Eric Severson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1285/in-good-company-top-8-at-gp-vancouver)
6. Adapting to Full Block Kaladesh Limited by Jiachen Tao (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1323/adapting-to-full-block-kaladesh-limited-massdrop-east-west-article-6)
7. Sorry My Felidar Guardian Ate My Homework by Mark Jacobson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1364/sorry-my-felidar-guardian-ate-my-homework-massdrop-east-west-article-7)
8. Taking a Mardu Vacation - Top 8 in New Jersey and Heading to an Eternal Extravaganza by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1401/taking-a-mardu-vacation-top-8-in-new-jersey-and-heading-to-an-eternal-extravaganza-massdrop-east-wes)
9. A Guide to the Grind by Pascal Maynard (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1448/a-guide-to-the-grind-massdrop-east-west-article-9)
10. Asking Aggro-vating Questions by Timothy Wu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1493/asking-aggro-vating-questions-massdrop-east-west-article-10)
11. The Meat and Potatoes of Jund by Paul Dean (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1534/the-meat-and-potatoes-of-jund)
12. Hidden Values in Magic: The Gathering for Kids and Parents by Scott Lipp (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1572/hidden-values-in-magic-the-gathering-for-kids-and-parents-massdrop-east-west-article-12)
13. The Importance of Preparation in Competitive Magic: The Gathering by Ricky Chin (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1606/the-importance-of-preparation-in-competitive-magic-the-gathering-massdrop-east-west-article-13)
14. How to Find Amonkhet's Star Players by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1643/how-to-find-amonkhets-star-players-massdrop-east-west-article-14)
15. Top is No Longer on Top by Jarvis Yu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1692/top-is-no-longer-on-top-massdrop-east-west-article-15)
16. Casual Multiplayer Fun by JC Tao (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1731/casual-multiplayer-fun-bang-magic)
17. Monoblack Zombies at Pro Tour Amonkhet by Eric Severson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1764/monoblack-zombies-at-pro-tour-amonkhet)
18. To Puzzle or to Puzzleknot by Paul Dean (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1793/to-puzzle-or-to-puzzleknot)
19. The Evolution of Vehicle Aggro Decks by Ricky Chin (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1822/the-evolution-of-vehicle-aggro-decks-massdrop-east-west-article-19)
20. Putting down My beloved Bant Eldrazi by Ben Weitz (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1863/putting-down-my-beloved-bant-eldrazi-massdrop-east-west-article-20)
21. Breaching into Grand Prix: Las Vegas by Scott Lipp (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1895/breaching-into-grand-prix)
22. Tim’s Top Ten Tips for Team Trips by Timothy Wu (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1934/tims-top-ten-tips-for-team-trios-massdrop-east-west-article-22)
23. Breaking Through to the Next Level by Jon Stern (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/1983/breaking-through-to-the-next-level-massdrop-east-west-article-23)
24. Teaching New Dogs New Tricks by Mark Jacobson (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/2005/teaching-new-dogs-new-tricks-massdrop-east-west-article-24)
25. The Bug Lords of Amonkhet by Ari Lax (https://www.massdrop.com/talk/2033/the-bug-lords-of-amonkhet-massdrop-east-west-article-25)
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