Mycosynth Lattice | Anthony S. Waters

Hey everyone, this week I’m back with another Felling the Giants article. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a series where I talk about a popular format pillar in modern and discuss ways to beat it.

Affinity is one of the fastest decks in modern and can be really hard to beat. Many players cut their hate cards from the sideboard when affinity’s presence wanes, but my philosophy is to respect Affinity or lose to it.

Regardless of what deck you play, after reading this, you should know the best options in your colors or playstyle and have a gameplan against them.

If you haven’t read my other articles in the series, check below:

Control | Living End | Burn/Zoo | Melira Company

This deck is built to vomit out its hand blisteringly fast, enabling cards like Etched Champion, Master of Etherium, and, most notably, Cranial Plating to dominate - and end - the game very quickly.

Their alternate (and surprisingly common) win condition is Inkmoth Nexus, paying 2 black mana to attach Cranial Plating at instant speed for an instant win.

Their sideboard is mostly full of hosers for combo and midrange, because let’s face it: Affinity is faster than any other aggro deck out there. However, the deck does run Whipflare as a one-sided sweeper against certain decks.

Felling the Giant: Colorless

This card is very good at killing Affinity’s permanents, and, if you set it up beforehand, it can be sacrificed as early as turn 3. Also note that if you choose to set it to 3, it can be used on turn 4, killing Etched Champion.

This is most likely too slow to be used against an early Etched Champ unless you have something else to keep them from suiting him up with Cranial Platings.

That being said, here’s why I like this card:

  • Set to 0 kills 25% of their permanents.
  • Set to 1 kills 20% of their permanents.
  • Set to 2 kills a whopping 37% of their permanents.
  • Set to 3 kills 12% of their permanents, namely Etched Champion and Master.

Similar to Explosives, this is reliant on mana cost of your opponent’s cards, and Affinity is super low curve.

If it can be set to 0 or 1 early enough, then it can cause a lot of problems for the Affinity pilot.

This is a less versatile version of Engineered Explosives, but, if set to 0 or 1, it could be a sufficient replacement.

If you have access to a couple colors of mana, then Engineered Explosives will generally be better.

Felling the Giants: Red

The most basic of all artifact removal. There are many other cards that can Shatter multiple targets or Shatter plus another effect, so I wouldn’t recommend this.

A nice Shatter effect that has the option to effect the entire board if you draw it late in the game.

It is worth noting that if Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy is in your deck, his -2 can choose to pay the overload cost, but Snapcaster Mage cannot. Flashback is treated as an alternative cost, just like overload, and only one of the two may be used at a given time.

Solid option.

If you are not running cards that can flashback things, this is the best option to hose Affinity.

It destroys their entire board without affecting your own. This is one of those cards that Affinity downright loses to.

Notice that this card has the mechanic devoid, which means it can kill Etched Champion.

If you need a cheap board wipe and Affinity is also popular in your meta, this card could be a good option.

If you’re running something with large colorless creatures like Tron, this is even more attractive.

A great, cheap option that will kill many of Affinity’s creatures, but you’ll still have to deal with Etched Champion and possibly others like Master of Etherium.

Overall, this is still useful if there are many aggro decks in your meta.

Quite a bit better than Pyroclasm, simply because of the exile, which hoses Melira Company.

The 3 damage can also kill many other creatures that 2 damage can’t.

Like Pyroclasm, still can’t touch Etched Champion.

The ability to kill 1 creature per turn can do a lot in helping you keep up with this blistering fast deck.

Felling the Giants: Green

This is basically the same as Shatterstorm, except it’s green and allows regeneration.

Very good option, but if you have red and green, Shatterstorm is better.

Not too fancy, except the Split Second means they can’t respond and get value out of the artifact, which is relevant against cards like Arcbound Ravager, Steel Overseer, and Welding Jar.

These are great early game answers.

As long as your deck has the tools to continue to apply pressure, you can get to a point in the game where that 4 life gained by Nature’s Claim isn’t an issue.

None of these options are exceptionally good, except for Creeping Corrosion. If green is your only color, I’d go with colorless spells before I went with the spot removal cards here.

Felling the Giants: White

As a 2-drop, this is one of the most powerful answers to Affinity. It stops some of their most powerful plays, including equipping Cranial Plating for the rest of the game.

If you play white, I’d highly recommend you have 2-3 of these in the sideboard.

Another 2-drop, this one is more powerful than Stony Silence in the early game. The Affinity pilot has to choose between building his army/Cranial Plating buff, or paying mana to keep his army alive.

Obviously, in the late game, the Affinity deck will draw into lands and mana rocks, thus making this card less useful.

Possibly run 1 alongside your Stony Silences.

Great early removal that can supplement something like Stony Silence or Wrath of God.

This can be a pseudo-Stony Silence, that’s also effective vs midrange, control and some combo decks.

Affinity usually runs few lands, but they have enough mana acceleration that I’m not sure I would recommend this one for that matchup.

These are pretty much just like Damnation, standard 4 mana board wipes.

These are great, but you need additional support from early game removal or something like Stony Silence or Disenchant.

Felling the Giants: Black

Destroys all creatures, regardless of size or protection and as long as you have a way to draw cards, you can pull ahead of the Affinity opponent.

You’ll need support from cheaper, early game spells to survive until turn 4, usually.

Similar to Pyroclasm, except putting -2/-2 on the creatures can kill things like Etched Champion as well. He is neither targeted nor damaged in this case.

Devoid, just like Kozilek’s Return, it also exiles like Anger of the Gods, but I feel like Anger of the Gods is overall a better choice since it kills 3 damage creatures.

Unless you don’t have access to red or Affinity is a large portion of your meta, there are better options.

While this doesn’t kill everything in the deck, it does kill around half of their creatures when they enter the field, it also shuts down their manlands unless they have Arcbound Ravager counters on them.

If you can cast this, it can buy you time and make their topdecks really bad.

Felling the Giants: Blue

Unfortunately, blue doesn’t have many tools to combat artifacts specifically. There are plenty of ways to tap all creatures, etc, but Hurkyl’s Recall seems to be the only spell that’s good enough for competitive play. Hence, the Merfolk deck runs 4 in the sideboard.

The good news is most blue decks have the tools to stall the game and also the power to dig for whatever red or black hate card they brought.

Felling the Giants: Multicolor

Doing 2 damage to everything at instant speed isn’t the worst idea ever, especially when it’s stapled onto a nice toolbox spell. Kills activated manlands.

Overall good creature, buffs your attackers when you’re ahead and helps destroy artifacts when you need to.

Wear is basically a Shatter and for 1 extra mana you can destroy an enchantment, which isn’t relevant in this matchup, but it’s nice to have that versatility for other matchups.

Highly recommended if you’re running red and white.

Allows you to kill all their creatures, regardless of size. It can’t target Etched champion, although, it can target Cranial Plating, which is the real threat.

Giving -1/-1 to the enemy team can really hurt Affinity and mess with their math when suddenly their Cranial Plating attack power goes way down.

If you have red and green, this is an auto include; the flashback is so, so good.

Olivia is slow, but if you are able to untap with her, you can start killing most of their creatures and significantly reduce the amount of damage the Affinity pilot can do. After a few turns, she usually wins the game.

One mode of this spell is Shatter, which is useful here, but the only reason you’d include this spell in your sideboard is if you had a need for graveyard hate as well.

Final Notes

  • Green and red are the primary artifact killers of magic. If you play either (or both) of these colors, you have plenty of powerful sideboard cards to choose from.
  • White doesn’t have many options, but Stony Silence is the earliest hate card available and is very good.
  • Blue has very few options, but they have ways to dig and generally there are 1-2 other colors in the deck.
  • Black has no specific hate cards, but board wipes are plentiful.
  • Etched Champion is one of the biggest threats, especially with Cranial Plating. Everyone is aware of that, though, so don’t be surprised if your opponent is running Master of Etherium alongside or instead of the Champ.
  • Inkmoth Nexus infect kills can be very common and come out of nowhere.
  • Cranial Plating can be equipped at instant speed if they spend 2 black mana.
  • Arcbound Ravager can be a tricky customer and can buff himself up every time you kill something. When you finally kill him, he can buff one of the big threats, including manlands. Always kill Ravager first when you get the chance.
  • Finally, watch out for them to sacrifice Arcbound Ravager to himself to move the counters elsewhere during combat and kill you.

I hope I gave you enough info to fight Affinity next time you see them.

The deck seems straightforward to beat- Just bring removal and artifact hate, but the sheer speed of the deck makes it hard to pull off and they also have plenty of combat tricks for a surprise victory.

Like I said, respect Affinity and never cut your sideboard cards, or else a random Affinity pilot will come to your next tourney and wreck everyone.

Thanks for reading, good luck out there.

A photo of Cody Revels Cody Revels

Cody Revels is an IT Professional who enjoys playing Magic in his spare time. He’s a competitive player who has enjoyed relative success at a local level and hopes to attend a Pro Tour one day. His favorite thing about Magic is the Modern Format and the friends he’s made.