Death to all but Metal: Taking Up (metallic) Arms

On Sunday I went to my first proper constructed tournament that wasn’t an FNM or Game Day. It was a feeder event for the Axion Now Mega Modern tournament being held at Patriot Games in Sheffield. This meant taking my freshly powered up Affinity deck to its first big outing, writing an actual decklist and getting my mental arithmetic in order to deal with those complex Arcbound Ravager sums.

I’ve written before about building up to owning a full modern affinity deck and eventually, after some careful trading and eagle-eyed e-baying. I’ve got one. I’ve been playing with it for about 4/5 months now and it really is a complex beast but, over time, I can feel the ludicrous power level of the cards becoming slightly more malleable and controllable. Slightly. In the last couple of FNM modern nights I’ve made it to I managed to go 6-1 in total and started to get to grips with the seriously aggressive mulligan approach, the different angles of attack and set-ups that you can manufacture and the constant wrestle with sequencing and sideboarding.

So, what do you approach a tournament with in your affinity deck? I have a rough idea of the metagame, there’s plenty of the usual suspects, Burn, Death’s shadow, Tron, Control and Jund as well as some tricksy Polymorph, Skred red and tribal stuff. So, with an all-round sideboard needed and plenty of variety I decided to go as aggressive as possible and main deck three Galvanic Blast and drop my usual Thoughtcast in favour of Claim // Fame for maximum value. Even dropping my usual main deck island for a mountain. I even toyed with a shrapnel blast or two for maximum reach but settled without it. Then I went to FNM with this list:

Creatures (27)
Signal Pest
Vault Skirge
Steel Overseer
Arcbound Ravager
Etched Champion
Master of Etherium

Artifacts (12)
Mox Opal
Springleaf Drum
Cranial Plating

Spells (4)
Galvanic Blast
Claim // Fame
Lands (17)
Darksteel Citadel
Blinkmoth Nexus
Inkmoth Nexus
Spire of Industry

Sideboard (15)
Blood Moon
Wear // Tear
Spell Pierce
Ghirapur Aether Grid
Grafdigger’s Cage
Etched Champion
Ancient Grudge
Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Ethersworn Canonist

I even prepped a little in advance in the style of Frank Karsten by writing out a sideboard plan based on what I was likely to come into contact with at the tournament.

Now, the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley and in my case having my arse handed to me by GB Rock and in the mirror prompted some minor changes. First up, I dropped Claim // Fame ,  I like the idea but that seems far too situational in the swift world of Modern so I put the fourth Galvanic Blast back in its place and then, to try and give me a modicum of late game I dropped one Blinkmoth Nexus for a Sea Gate Wreckage. At one point I even toyed with the idea of going full white and having the Tempered Steel build, but I’ll save that for another day.

Here’s the deck registration sheet showing my late alterations (as well as my dreadful handwriting…

Round 1: vs BW Control – loss 0-2

I swear that this deck is my nemesis. Supreme Verdict is such a winner against my team of bots, especially in game one as it proved here. My mistake was slamming down an Etched Champion when I was ahead on board and not saving him for the post sweeper game. Hindsight is glorious. Even post side boarding I couldn’t get to Tezzeret or Blood Moon quickly enough to do the work. Despite playing around counters and removal as much as possible, the more I played around them the more I got stung with other answers. Two Stony Silence in the second game stung bad and the Ghirapur Aether Grid and Tezzeret remained elusive…

Round 2: vs Grixis Delver – loss 1-2

Do you ever play games you swear you should have won? This. Anyhow, lesson learned here is mull, mull till you can’t bear the pain because you need to either have answers or go off and on the two games I lost, I did neither. Sea Gate Wreckage did serious work in the game I won and seems to be a bit of a star if you pull it late into proceedings. I’m also really regretting having a Grafdigger’s Cage instead of a Relic of Progenitus for the Snapcaster Mage action that keeps hitting me, hitting me hard!

Round 3: The Bye.

Well, when you’ve punted your way out of contention the only thing left is commiserations. So of I went to the excellent Street Food Chef. Bless their hearts. Their burritos offer sustenance to the ailing soul. So, if you’re in Sheffield and hungry get yourself down there. Here’s the website.

Round 4: vs GB Rock – win 2-1

For my final match I got a rematch with the GB Rock deck I managed to get steamrollered by at FNM. This time, instead of getting steamrollered by Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet in the final game I managed to save a Dispatch for the horrible vampire value generator and squeezed a win in. However, most notable was the generosity of my opponent Kris, a stalwart of Sheffield Magic, he stayed behind after to take me through all the mis-plays I made and offer advice and, boy oh boy, did I misplay.  It’s always good to take lessons from defeat and victory. Here I managed to miss several plays available with my various Inkmoth/Blinkmoth and my Arcbound Ravagers. Repeatedly calculating how far you are from lethal and how much your opponent can actually do to disrupt your attacks is a mentally taxing affair but one that gives you a great chance of closing down games.

So, overall, disappointment, but enough to be learning from and certainly the time where I can leverage more death to all but the metal is nigh. Affinity is a testing deck to pilot, you need to be leveraging each moment of value that you can and pursuing the most likely lines of combat. The deck is explosive and powerful, if you can pilot it but I’m some way off being in control of it fully.

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