I’ve been on a big Pauper kick lately. I’ve been playing it in real life at one of my local game stores as well as on MTGO. I find it to be a great format for Spikes, Johnnies, and Timmies alike. There’s enough broken stuff for Spike, enough combo-riffic pieces for Johnny, and more than enough game swingers to keep even the Timmiest Timmy entertained. While I could go on and on about the virtues of Pauper, I will distill it to this one line:
You can play Affinity in Pauper.
I would like to introduce you to Atog. Atog is awesome, and he is here to eat metal and ruin your opponent’s day. He doesn’t keep the power and toughness in the form of +1/+1 counters like Arcbound Ravager, but he is a powerhouse in this deck and if you manage to land one your opponent will either have to deal with it immediately or chump block him and play around his best buddy for the rest of the time he is on the board:
This is, of course, the dream. Saccing all of your artifacts to Atog and then Flinging him at your opponent when they try and resolve a spell on your end step is pretty sweet. I imagine it’s close to how most combo players feel when their deck goes off.
So we have our combo, but there’s a lot more to the Pauper Affinity list. There are even a few familiar faces! Take a look:
There’s a lot of the same cards as in Modern! I am of the opinion that any format that lets you play Springleaf Drum + Ornithopter has to have something to it, and this deck has that gusto in spades. In addition to the powerful Affinity cards like Thoughtcast and Myr Enforcer, we also have access to several spells that have Metalcraft, which we will always have thanks to our artifact lands.
Unlike Modern, Affinity is more of a mid-range deck with a potential combo finish than an aggro deck. The creatures quickly outclass other heavily played cards like Delver of Secrets, and two Frogmites is generally enough to go toe-to-toe with most goblin and elf boards.
The deck also has access to some pretty decent card draw. Ichor Wellspring feeds our Atog as well as drawing us cards, and Chromatic Star can be modal as either fixing or more Atog food. Prophetic Prism rounds out our fixing and draw artifacts. I have seen some versions of the deck that play four of them, but I believe that is a little too many.
Believe me though when I say we need our fixing. Cards like Ancient Grudge and Gorilla Shaman are repeatable Stone Rains, and I have lost a few games thanks to not drawing the right colors. The upside is that we get to play basically whatever we want. Much like Modern, our sideboard and mainboard are fairly customizable to the local meta, and I’ve seen everything from a sideboard much like to mine to one that just ran three of every Circle of Protection.
My own innovations to the list(although I am sure someone else out there has done them!) were to add Rusted Relic and Ornithopter. Rusted Relic is our best answer to Gurmag Angler, which I would argue is one of the premiere creatures in the format. You may be able to sideboad something like Journey to Nowhere, but I would rather have a 5/5 that can at worst trade. I replaced Flayer Husk with Ornithopter because I found that what I wanted was to have something to sacrifice to Monoblack Control’s edict effects and also have a creature to produce mana with Springleaf Drum. Since the ‘thopter costs 0 I found it to be a bit better. However, since Cranial Plating is banned, Ornithopter cannot go on the offensive, so there is a distinct trade-off.
Like I said earlier though, the deck has a lot of options and is quite flexible. You could play Auriok Sunchaser to go on the evasion plan, play Disciple of the Vault to get extra value out of Atog, or scrap the ground plan entirely and go full airforce with Vault Skirge and Bonesplitter. These options are one of the reasons I like the deck and the format so much. I would consider any of the above choices to be valid options, and I believe that level of flexibility stands with Pauper alone.
I hope you enjoy the content, and I hope to see you in a Pauper tournament queue soon!