Mastering Etherium: Part 1 – Baby Blue Bots

I am, nominally, the ‘Master of Metal’ here at Master of Magics. That’s because I play with a Modern Affinity deck which is a tricky beast and, if I’m honest, I’ve not mastered it completely. It’s a complex set of swift equations and a high-wire balancing act of risk/reward. So I’m in no position to be telling you how to play Affinity just yet. But what I can tell you, in the era of expensive decks, is how to get yourself started with a relatively cheap affinity shell. I can even point you in the direction of a *dirt* cheap, if not especially effective deck.

I started off as a very casual Magic player. Just playing with friends, not reading anything on the internet about ‘modern’ or ‘standard’. Just looking at cards. In one such interaction, after buying a big box of random cards from an eBay clearance, my friend played a card called Seat of the Synod. It’s an artifact land, which I’d never seen before. But I didn’t think anything of it. It certainly didn’t seem to do anything special. Then there came a few more artifact lands of different colours. Still, no real worries. Then, relatively early in the game came an Esperzoa. A flyer. Very aggressively costed. With a weird drawback. Then a Qumulox, then a Broodstar. This was getting very messy. I was being assailed by robotic jellyfish and losing convincingly.

We played again.

This time on turn one he played a Darksteel Relic. A completely useless looking thing. Just indestructible. On turn two he gave it Ensoul Artifact and I lost. Swiftly.

Thus was born the idea of a blue robots deck. And so, with very little money to spend, I put together a list. But this was back before Magic was a primary hobby. And at this point I’d never even heard of ‘Modern’ and ‘Standard’. The people I played with were genuinely only interested in casual Magic on the cheap, and so was I. So here’s what I came up with…

Baby Blue Bots

Creature (28)
Ornithopter
Memnite
Etherium Sculptor
Esperzoa
Chief of the Foundry
Frogmite
Myr Enforcer

Sorceries (4)
Thoughtcast

Enchantments (4)
Ensoul Artifact

Artifact (4)
Darksteel Relic

Land (20)
Darksteel Citadel
16 Island
The supermarket opening took a turn for the bazaar…

Well, that’s the modern version at least and everything on there is cheap, common or uncommon and relatively easy to get hold of. It starts with the basic affinity mechanic with Frogmite, Myr Enforcer and Thoughtcast all using it, before you get to use the very Modern-esque Darksteel cards with Ensoul Artifact. Trust me, there’s little as satisfying as sending five indestructible damage to the face of your opponent on turn two as they swiftly realise that they’re in the middle of fetch/shocklanding themselves to an early grave.

Elsewhere in this deck are the also-rans and nearly-men of Modern Affinity:

Etherium Sculptor is, in theory, a great card – he turns on metalcraft, affinity and makes every artifact (nearly every card in the deck) cheaper. Except in the full Modern deck he’s not aggressive enough and gets killed by everything without generating value.

Frogmite is basically a big Memnite, except that there are occasions where you have to use mana to bring him out. Which, in the super-fast Modern world, is totally unacceptable.

Esperzoa is one of my favourite cards. Robot jellyfish are ticking all of my Lovecraft boxes whilst still being on theme for the deck. A 4/3 evasive creature for three mana is Mythic power level in the current standard and he’ll likely drop as the biggest creature on turn three in your games but the drawback is real and, as I found out, often difficult to remember.

Big lad, shiny, can’t miss him

Myr Enforcer. Essentially the Frogmite on steroids.

Chief of the Foundry. Three mana lords are all the rage in elves so why not here? Well, simply put, you don’t have much space for many, if any, three mana creatures on your curve. You need to be so fast you’ve spent your hand by turn four and playing three mana creatures is worse, in this deck, than playing and equipping that cranial plating.

Next time, I’ll be working out the cheapest rares and other commons that people seem less keen to part with that you need to start upgrading the robots. You also end up moving from mono blue to the sacred halls of the Dimir.

Of course, as a side note, I wanted to win games of casual Magic here so I needed to be doing something stupid and broken as well as being fast and furious. So I invested in four copies of Tinker (which I’ve since learned is banned for bloody good reason) and a couple of Darksteel Forge with a solo Darksteel Colossus. That’s a casual beatdown.

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