Translation by Marco Alvich,
Cooperation Matteo Mentasti
“Back in the days”, during the long gone 2018, when Atogs were still runnning wild and flinged gracefully, I won the Emilian Pauperwar of that year with a peculiar version of Affinity listing the goodness of 4 Gearseeker Serpent.
Affo Monsters was born: no Frogmite, no Springleaf Drum and no frippery, all to go full big guys and just a touch of Muddle the Mixture in case everything wasn’t already enough clunky.
The tournament was attended by 48 people, at the time that was a big success with a young me so thrilled to have gone all the way through 6 turns of swiss, and to think that today I can find this many people on a regular Friday night of my dear reborn Lega Pauper Padova it makes me smile and consider about how much the format has grown during the last 5 years.
Time goes by and Affo Monsters took its fall: the Atog ban was quite a hard hit but the departure of Prophetic Prism, if possible, was even more harsh as the double blue needed to cast the Gearseeker Serpent was a priority. Truth to be told in the meanwhile the Bridges were making their appearances to improve the manabase but with them came into the format cards that were pushing the archetype towards a more control and less monstruos direction: from draw spells as Deadly Dispute and Reckoner’s Bargain to cards with unique attack/defense aspects as Kenku Artificer and Makeshift Munitions, everything spiced up with such a synergic counter as Metallic Rebuke.
Gearseeker Serpent shows sometime in single copy in todays lists even if more often is undermined by Gurmag Angler for being too heavy with its two blue mana cost, end of the story.
Or maybe not.
Affinity by Pietro Bragioto, Top4 Split Paupergeddon Milano 2023
4 Myr Enforcer
4 Gearseeker Serpent
2 Kenku Artificer
2 Krark-Clan Shaman
4 Reckoner’s Bargain
2 Deadly Dispute
4 Chromatic Star
4 Blood Fountain
4 Ichor Wellspring
2 Galvanic Blast
2 Cast Down
4 Mistvault Bridge
4 Silverbluff Bridge
2 Drossforge Bridge
2 Waterfront District
4 Seat of the Synod
4 Vault of Whispers
2 Great Furnace
1 Krark-Clan Shaman
1 Vampiric Link
2 Breath Weapon
2 Gorilla Shaman
Before answering the questions that inevitably come at mind looking at a so atypical list, I would like to begin with idea at the base of the build: consistency.
Too many times with traditional builds bind their fate, in serveral match ups, to the quantity of Myr Enforcer that happen to be in the first 15 cards of the deck and often the loss comes from missing the third land drop or from color screw, for this recently my obsession was to stabilize Affinity.
From here it comes the full set of Gearseeker Serprent to reach eight threats already playable the third turn with mana base with 2 or 3 lands more than usual.
The idea is simple, now let’s move to answer questions like “Why no mainboard counters?” or “Why do you split Galvanic Blast and Cast down?”, or even more “No Makeshift Munitions, really?”.
0 Munitions – 2 Krark
In this monstruos build Makeshift munitions often proved himself during many tests as a overwin, as we are playing the “real” threats and 4 Blood Fountains for recursion.
It’s true that Munitions is a MVP against Mono U and Gates, apart from Dawnbringer Cleric, nonetheless it’s also true that in match ups like Mono Red, Affinity and Walls combo it is not great, so i preferred to devote the 2 flexible slots of extra interaction to Krark-Clan Shaman in a meta where i expected Mono Red as the more popular deck.
Somebody may object that Munitions is essential in the Affinity mirror match but in regard of this version I do not agree: in game 1 the board on the ground gets stalled thanks to the serpents and the life totali s kept high thanks to the 4 Reckoner’s Bargain so it’s difficult to find yourself in danger of being burnt from some combinations of Galvanic Blast and Munitions, post side I would not want to keep a card so needy of rocks to throw and useful only in late game when my opponent brings in at least 2 Gorilla Shamans.
That said, if the meta you expect is crowded with Mono U and Gates, you may find on mainboard slot replacing one Krark-Clan or a serpent or a Kenku, even if i would advise against lowering the number of threats.
0 Metallic Rebuke
When I could not resolve Blood Fountain, I always found Rebuke to be sub-optimal and, even if it shined in defensive games, I always felt a strong tension between playing an Ichor Wellspring or a threat and keeping myself open of Rebuke delaying the board development.
I couldn’t stand this tension, especially in this version that constantly wants to go tapped out to cast a serpent or draw looking for Bargain o Krark-Clan to retroactively respond in some match ups.
Even against Mono Red where many people, including my Golden Pigs teammate Walker735, consider Rebuke essential, I personally found it better to propose a consistent board presence trying to stall and gain life with Bargain, with Krark-Clan as emergency plan; too often I drew Rebuke too late post Kuldotha Rebirth or post Reckless Impulse finding them useless in my hand while dying on the board.
Giving up Rebuke in the main, however, forces you to play at least 4 to 6 counters in the sideboard to protect against the now ubiquitous Dust to Dust and Revoke Existance or even simply to have a chance of playing in match ups like Tron and Familiar.
Play less on the stack and more on the board, that has been my philosophy regarding the G1s in this meta.
22 Lands with 2 werid UB lands
The extra lands are obviously needed to stabilize the deck and make the serpent castable on turn 3 with some consistency, for this reason the number of colored sources are:
- 14 Blue,
- 12 Black,
- 8 Red,
- 10 Untapped sources.
The only sources in doubt are the reds of which number I would like to raise to 9, even if the only card I would want to cast consistently early is Galvanic Blast since Krak-Clan Shaman and Gorilla Shaman can easily wait until turn three or four.
In case you want to raise the red sources whatever the cost, the only change I see possible in the manabase is-1 Vault of Whispers and +1 Drossforge Bridge, even if doing so the untapped sources are going down.
The 2 Waterfront District, aka the weird lands, are used to get to the colored sources I deemed necessary, especially the blue ones, which would max out at 12 maximizing Seat of the Synod, UB Bridge and UR Bridge.
Draw 1 paying 5 and sacrificing a land is really a bad effect but it’s the best I could find for an UB land, I tried to adapt the new cycle-lands like The Surgical Bay that would require “just” 3 mana to cycle, but doing so I could not be able to reach the 12 black sourced without converting the furnaces in BR Bridges, getting back to the problem of not wanting to go too low on untapped sources.
In case you are fine going down to 9 untapped sources, cutting one furnace, I recommend trying -1 District, -1 Furnace, +1 BR Bridge and +1 The Surgical Bay.
What’s matter of every change is not to lower the Blue and Black sources total which, in my opinion, should remain respectively 14 and 12 for the solidity of the build.
2 Kenku Artificer
I would not go down to a single Kenku for its ability to stall the skies or to block oversized threats, in MU like Monu U, Gates, Boros, Mirror and UB Terror it is decisive, to this we add that we don’t play Munitions and we don’t lack lands.
The perfect number for this card is 2 since we surely don’t want to have two of them in hands but in many MU, digging, we want to find it at least once.
4 Blood Fountain
Usually I always played it in 3 copies with 11 drawing cards but I realized that playing an artifact the first turns to put a threat on the field on turn three was a priority, other than the fact that the Blood token is fundamental to discard eventual extra lands on the midgame of to serve as emergency food for Dispute-like effects.
Fountain is also the only card that puts two artifacts in one shot and therefore allows to play Myr or Serpent on the third turn even if our third landrop comes in tapped, fact which seems negligible but is actually incredibly relevant as it is the power play Blood Fountain + Thoughtcast on turn two.
At the beginning I thought it was an eresy to take out a draw spell for yet another Fountain, then I changed my mind because if the idea of the deck is solidity/consistency it is worth to bring it to the limit and push it all the way through.
4 Reckoner’s Bargain
This paragraph may be unnecessary but it is always good to make things clear: we live in a meta where Mono Red and Affinity are 2 pillars and gaining life points in bunch of 7 is a great recipe for survival in midgame and maybe not getting scammed by multiple burn spells or munitions in lategame.
I may seem not mentally healthy but I choose to prioritize the full set of Bargain over Dispute, the counterpart more hyped and stronger in a regular meta.
But this is no regular meta.
2 Deadly Dispute – 4 Thoughtcast
This is the point that will shock all readers and lead some to close the article, however “let me explain”.
I often found myself not having a convincing amount of fodder on the field for the Dispute effects since the Chromatic Stars often were sacrificed for the red and sometimes for additional blue, sacrificing fountain or its blood is not great since we need the Blood token to cut through eventual floods and Fountain is a source of recursion.
There are the evergreen Ichor or you could sac a creature in response to an opponent removal, you could say.
Absolutely, however the fact remains that too often I had to make difficult choices like sacrificing a land or the Blood token with 2 or 3 Dispute effects nailed in the hand and just as often in MU like Mono Red I had to sac the Ichors or the stars with Krark-Clan Shaman.
To this we add that we are playing a deck with a strong blue component and that the manabase is solid and more often than not it doesn’t require the Dispute token as a mana fixer, so here it comes the heresy of replacing two Deadly Dispute with 2 Thoughtcast.
Maybe it is the addiction to Fountain + Thoughtcast turn 2, or the satisfaction of being able to cyle double Blood token in late game saving the match, whatever the case I’m not going back on this heretic swap.
2 Galvanic Blast & 2 Cast Down
This split is mainly due to the need of artificially widening the sideboard to make room for two Gorilla Shaman amid having a decent sideplan in the mirror.
I think of the Cast Down to be necessary in the 75 both for UB Terror and to manage eventual Tron’s Fangren Marauder or annoying Walls’ Crimson Acolyte
Having noticed that against Tron and UB I used to always take out 2 Galvanic Blasts to put in two Cast Down from the sideboard, and being not willing to give them up in the 75, I opted for this weird split.
1 Vampiric Link SB
During the construction of the Excel table of sideboard plans, I realized I was missing a slot against UB Terror and Mono Red, Vampiric Link seemed like the perfect link in the chain because it acts like a sort of Pacifism if casted on Monastery Swiftspear, Tolarian Terror and Gurmag Angler, still holding the pseudo-lifelink effect if casted on one of our threats.
It’s been in the ballot with the fourth Krark-Clan Shaman for a long time but, after the introduction of the 2 Breath Weapon and so with the rise to 5 wrath effects against Kuldotha Rebirth, I’ve got convinced to renounce to the fourth wrath-monkey for something that would cover another angle even in rare MU like Stompy, BR Burn, Heroic and Mono White Weenie.
Needless to say, during the tournament the choice paid off abundantly against Mono Red and BR Burn.
4 Negate & 2 Counterspell – 0 Pyro SB
As already mentioned before, having no counter in the mainboard at least 4 counters are needed in the side to protect against opponent’s Dust to Dust or Revoke Existence, or however interact in MU like Tron, so at least 4 Negate are mandatory.
The two Counterspells cover any Fangren Marauder against of which I would like to bring the answers to 4, and vicious creatures like Goliath Paladin of BW Ephemerate, as well as to increase the chances against Walls, Tron, Familiar and other strange MU.
At the Geddon they give their best in a MU I did not expect and for which ther are definitely not on the sideboard: Mono Red Blitz, where they countered “back to back” his hot dogs.
The 0 copies of Pyroblast can be explained by the absence of slots since 6 side slots are dedicated to counters and I think saving from hate is a higher priority than the cheap answer of excellence against Mono U and Tron, especially in meta set against Affinities like the current one.
2 Breath Weapon
For how much of a brilliant card in the meta Krark-Clan Shaman is, it doesn’t touch the fliers, much relevant fact when we talk about MU against Mono U and Boros, and if we want also Bullies and Mono White Weenie.
I choose to pay respect to these MU by inserting the new cannonades since with Mono U often you cannot attack in midgame until you’ve cleared his ninjas and that often, thanks to Barbed Batterfist, the new Boros put on an extremely dangerous race.
They may seem two waisted slots but with the fact that the deck draws a lot and takes time also with Bargain, often to win you just need something to reset the opponent board giving us the space to breathe and set up or monstrous race.
Mono Red Kuldotha
Notes: you necessarily have to cut down a few draw spell and put in a side this consistent, in this case I prefer leaving the Disputes in because they help the production of red mana and they remain one of the few methods of drawing the second card from Ichor as we want to use the Bargains always on a creature.
I would avoid to touch the rocks since they are the food of our beloved Krark-Clan Shaman and they allow us to play our monsters in curve, one Serpent can be cut in extremis since we usually want just 2 of them in hand and that post side playing our monsters on the board slips in second place to cleaning the op board with our 5 wraths .
Notes: many could turn their nose up at the cut of Chromatic Stars set, but keep in mind that the deck has a really stable manabase and in Mus where you side out Krark-Clan Shaman, there is no extreme necessity of playing a monster on the third turn and you need to play defensively often open of Negate in the first 4 turns, it may be necessary putting up this kind of side out.
Notes: same argument for what concerns the stars, only that there was not enough room for Counterspell so I preferred to fill the slots with two Breath Weapon given the aggressiveness of the latest Boros after the arrival of Barbed Batterfist.
Notes: I’m not too sure about the side out but I’m convinced that at least 2 Krark-Clan must remain in order to clear the board of his ninjas in midgame allawing us to attack with myrs and serpents.
Notes: I decided to side out two Bargains instead of the rocks to maximize the chance to play our monsters already at the third turn putting up the more pressure possible.
Notes: The Galvanic Blast can be useful to end the trade of one of our Myr on a 5/5 or one Serpent against his 6/6 with Unexpected Fangs, however I don’t see what else could be cut and I prefer to keep all the card engine of the deck active in case he plays some more counters, seeing the latest versions siding heavily effects like Annul and Steel Sabotage.
Krark-Clan Shaman is great to recover from shenanigans of double or triple 5/5 in the midgame which is the main scenario of winning for the opponent, also we can allow ourself to place Krark-Clan Shaman on the board with the solely intention to round up trades like with Galvanic Blast in case of Fountain on the board or having another one in hand.
Notes: We have to entrench ourselves in defense hoping to stop him or to take enough time to see and resolve a decisive Krark-Clan Shaman, for this we give up every hope of race with serpents and we side in every available counter.
Geddon in few words
Many kind words have been spent for the organization of Paupergeddon and for the mythical Nina aka Shivan Altered Art who has gifted the top 4 with some Dragonball theme arted Bolt, so I’ll contain myself writing the MUs and some thanks.
But not before “thanking” ziofrancone aka franco Cicchini for his repeated jinxs during the tournament since he had tied his finger that I had chosen him as my winning horse for this Geddon, in fact, going by his saying, nullifying his chances of victory.
R2: Mono R 2-1
R3: Mono U 2-1
R4: BW Eph. 2-0
R5: Kiln 2-0
R6: BR Burn 2-1
R7: Mono U 2-0
R8: Altar Tron 0-2
R9: Affinity 2-1
R10: Walls ID
Q: BR Burn 2-0
Top 4 Split
S: Flicker Tron – Concession
I want to thank the Lega Pauper Padova that shows itself with many people at the Geddon and managed even to undermine the Lega Pauper Milano e Trentino for the World Cup 2023, a dream I promised but, to tell the truth, I didn’t think it was possible so soon; credit to my league teammates Gravina and Mazzuchelli who accompanied me towards the 70 final points to win the trophy.
I want to dedicate my top 8 to Berto.
I promised you that we would have play a Geddon together and, even if you could not come, I brought your Arcane playmat on the apron.
I dressed myself like a clown even with pajama shorts and a huge potatoes chips container as deckbox, to smile however the tournament would have gone.
The set of Serpents that I played probably were not the one you expected and maybe you will feel deceived but I don’t remember to have ever specified which snake I would have brought.
I hope to have make you laugh, I did my best.