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Arcbound Ravager

We're nearing down the end of our journey with Highlander. For this instance we are going to put the pedal to the metal and going Aggro! Benjamin Muller wanted to share his Affinity list, so that's what we will talk about this week. So no more durdling around with Celestial Colonnades, let's attack!

You can read the the first three episodes from Combo Cabals website:

What is Aggro?

Aggro decks use fast, hasty and efficient creatures + Burn spells to win the game as fast as possible. Their curve tends to be very low, anywhere from 1-3 generally. But different flavors can go bigger curve too, it depends on the strategy. Even though there are many flavors of Aggro, their game-plan has stayed pretty much the same. Attack fast, and kill the opponent before they have the time to stabilize.

Aggro has been a part of the game ever since Magic first saw the light of day. Back in the early days you had anything from Savannah Lions from White Weenie to Jackal Pup from Burn decks. Obviously things have evolved so those cards are not so prevalent anymore.

I've heard talk how Aggro is the most easiest and "nonskill" archetype in Magic. Since all you supposedly do is play Haste Creatures, turn them sideways and point some Burn at opponents face. Now let's make something very clear. This is absolutely not the case. All archetypes have their demanding moments and correct sequencing of your Creatures + Burn spells can be key between victory or loss.

Aggro can mean decent amount of decks, so let's take a look at few different styles of Aggro from Magic's history.

White Weenie

The classic Aggro and the deck of choice for the White Weenie Master Craig Wescoe himself! White Weenie combines cheap, disruptive creatures like Thalia, Guardian of Thraben and Leonin Arbiter + "Anthem" effects like Honor of the Pure or Crusade to pressure the opponent. Depending on what format we are talking about, they also present resource denial with cards like Wasteland and Rishadan Port.

Burn/Sligh

Burn was the first example of an Aggro deck. It introduced the idea of Mana Curve where the idea is to maximize your usage of mana every turn. The most successful build of Sligh was during Tempest block (long time ago), Mogg Fanatic, Jackal Pup and Cursed Scroll alongside Fireblast and Hammer of Bogardan gave the deck a terrifying curve and reach.

Affinity

Affinity was first introduced in Mirrodin block and it.. well definitely left it's mark on the game. It combines very heavy synergies along all of it's cards, good evasion and powerful, hard hitting spells. Affinity was the most busted deck in that Standard environment. The power of Arcbound Ravager, Disciple of the Vault, Thoughtcast and Artifact lands was just too good. Thus it got banned from Standard pretty effectively. Now Affinity still remains a true deck in the Modern format. But it's more controllable there with much more hate-cards available.

Stompy

Stompy means Green based Aggro decks. Play some ramp, play big fatty Creatures, and attack! There isn't much else to say here honestly, simple and effective. True Timmy will appreciate these decks for sure.

Suicide Black

Suicide refers to almost any Mono Black Aggro deck. Since many of their Creatures cost you life, that's where the name resonates from. So you take damage too, but not as fast your opponent which is good enough to win. Cards like Phyrexian Negator, Hatred or Flesh Reaver are fine examples here.

Highlander Affinity

I'm going to be perfectly honest, I didn't even know Affinity was a deck in Highlander, but this weeks guest, Benjamin Muller is here to prove otherwise! Here is Benjamin's current list:

Highlander Affinity
Creatures (47)
1 Akiri, Line-Slinger
1 Arcbound Ravager
1 Arcbound Worker
1 Ardent Recruit
1 Baleful Strix
1 Bomat Courier
1 Breya, Etherium Shaper
1 Chief of the Foundry
1 Court Homunculus
1 Deathrite Shaman
1 Emry, Lurker of the Loch
1 Etched Champion
1 Etherium Sculptor
1 Ethersworn Canonist
1 Foundry Inspector
1 Frogmite
1 Gearseeker Serpent
1 Gearsmith Prodigy
1 Glint-Nest Crane
1 Hangarback Walker
1 Inventor's Apprentice
1 Lodestone Golem
1 Master of Etherium
1 Memnite
1 Myr Enforcer
1 Phyrexian Revoker
1 Pia Nalaar
1 Porcelain Legionnaire
1 Sai, Master Thopterist
1 Scrap Trawler
1 Scrapheap Scrounger
1 Scrapyard Recombiner
1 Shimmer Myr
1 Signal Pest
1 Somber Hoverguard
1 Steel Overseer
1 Stonecoil Serpent
1 Stoneforge Mystic
1 Syndicate Trafficker
1 Thopter Engineer
1 Thraben Inspector
1 Tidehollow Sculler
1 Toolcraft Exemplar
1 Urza, Lord High Artificer
1 Vault Skirge
1 Walking Ballista
1 Whirler Rogue
Lands (29)
1 Ancient Den
1 Ancient Tomb
1 Arid Mesa
1 Badlands
1 Blinkmoth Nexus
1 Bloodstained Mire
1 City of Brass
1 City of Traitors
1 Flooded Strand
1 Glimmervoid
1 Great Furnace
1 Mana Confluence
1 Marsh Flats
1 Mishra's Workshop
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Plateau
1 Polluted Delta
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Scrubland
1 Seat of the Synod
1 Spire of Industry
1 Tolarian Academy
1 Tundra
1 Underground Sea
1 Vault of Whispers
1 Volcanic Island
1 Wasteland
1 Windswept Heath
1 Wooded Foothills
Artifacts (13)
1 Ankh of Mishra
1 Bonesplitter
1 Chrome Mox
1 Cranial Plating
1 Heart of Kiran
1 Lotus Petal
1 Mox Diamond
1 Mox Opal
1 Smuggler's Copter
1 Springleaf Drum
1 Sword of Fire and Ice
1 Tangle Wire
1 Welding Jar
Instants (5)
1 Dispatch
1 Enlightened Tutor
1 Galvanic Blast
1 Lightning Bolt
1 Shrapnel Blast
Planeswalkers (4)
1 Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast
1 Dovin, Grand Arbiter
1 Karn, Scion of Urza
1 Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas
Sorcery (1)
1 Thoughtcast
Enchantment (1)
1 Ensoul Artifact

 

This list looks sweet. It definitely is an Aggro deck at heart. You see many of the usual suspect when talking about Affinity. Arcbound Ravager, Cranial Plating, Etched Champion and Master of Etherium. The gang is all there. But I will let Benjamin introduce the deck a bit better!

When and why did you start playing Affinity in Highlander?

I started playing the deck about 2 years ago. After I started playing the format, I realized quickly that you have to be fast. I liked the idea of attacking with Creatures which I was comfortable with by playing a lot of Limited. I tried some Midrange decks, but fast Aggro decks stole my heart after a little while. Aggro decks always want to come on to the board quickly to overwhelm the opponent in the first turns. I thought to myself what happens if you bring that idea to new level by playing all the mana accelerators + doublelands etc. That sounded like a pretty fun idea to me. The best card in this regard is the infamous land Mishra's Workshop. That was the reason why I chose this deck, fast mana and the ability to attack fast.

The fact that this sort deck was playable in Modern, Vintage and to some degrees also in Legacy were also a factor. So I tried some versions at my local Friday Night Magic where I was at the time the new guy. And surprise surprise, the deck worked. I Realized quickly that with the fact that you play a lot of mana accelerators, and good synergies meant that your curve doesn't have to be like a typical aggro one.

What type of player would enjoy playing Affinity in Highlander?

I would say that Affinity is the deck for you, if you enjoy to puke your hand onto the board in turns 1 to 3 to give your opponents a tough time. It sometimes feels that you are playing a different kind of constructed format if that happens. I must also add, that your acceleration is on the one hand quite good, but what you are accelerating into and are killing your opponent with, is on the other hand SOMETIMES funny. On top of that, the game-play that this deck offers in comparison to other Aggro deck is fascinating. On some clumped up boards, both players including you sometimes don't realize that you have lethal on board. That is driven by the fact that a lot of permanents give you a dozen of possibilities to take action because they synergize so well together.

Tell us about Affinity, what type of deck it is? What is your gameplan when you play this deck?

As I mentioned earlier it is an aggressive artifact based deck. The benefit to play it, is that you get some lightning fast starts from time to time. Usually you play your hand out swiftly in the early turns to chip in with some ground creatures. Later your finish your opponent off with some flyers, a planeswalker or some direct damage.

Tell us the strengths of Affinity, what makes it good? How about it's weakness?

The strength of this archetype is obviously the speed that is offers. Even though that you are a four color deck, the mana is great because you play a lot of fixing in your manabase and your manarocks. The manarocks also can be used later for value if you don't need them anymore. Blood Moon effects often don't effect you because most of the mentioned rocks and your threats are colorless anyway. On top of that, you are also a Red deck and can get fixed from time to time by the Blood Moon effects.

What decks is Affinity well positioned against?

It sounds funny, but the most success I have against Midrange Green decks which are stalling in the mid-game. In the early-game you are usually faster coming onto the board and then later a lot of your threats have some kind of evasion to break through the opposing line.

What are bad matchups then?

I hate playing agains Jeskai (UWR) with this deck because they have a lot of spot removal. Thankfully True-Name Nemesis got removed from the format which the Jeskai deck benefited from a lot. So basically anything that is heavy on removal and sweepers is tough.

Name some cards you don't want to see from the other side of the table?

Split Burn like Arc Trail, Forked Bolt or Electrolyze are crucial. Everything that removes multiple creatures for 3 mana or less is good against this deck.

What is your favorite card(s) from your deck?

The effects that create 5/5 based power creatures and leave their main abilities like my boy Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas or Ensoul Artifact often win you games.

Any advice for someone if he/she wants to play this deck?

After every change in your hand or on the battlefield, especially in in stalled out games, check if you could kill your opponent or if you could set the kill up soon. You probably can... Also if you love this archetype, enjoy every spoiler season. There are often a lot of cards which fly under the radar, like Gingerbrute (which should probably be in my list). So you have decent amount of room to customize and new sets offer new options for this deck!

Closing Thoughts

Thank you Benjamin! This deck is definitely something I've never seen, and I might have to foil it out someday. That does it for Aggro, hope this gave you an insight for Aggro and how to kick the gears in faster motion. We have just one step left, and that is Combo. Ah yes, I'v saved the best for last right. So next week it's time to look at Combo, and more importantly my deck, Storm! I've been waiting for this one so long, and soon it's time to ride the lightning! Until next week, and turn those kavus sideways!

- Juuso