I have long prided myself on being a submissive drafter: I don’t believe in forcing strategies, but rather in learning how to draft different strategies and identifying the under-drafted colors at a table.

By the end of the first Modern Masters format, though, I was drafting the same deck basically every time. My buddy Tom Huteson crushed me with an Affinity deck in a draft where I thought my deck was excellent, even after he mulliganed repeatedly, so I decided to give it a try.

The draft seemed to go terribly: I was taking so many mediocre cards! However, once those mediocre cards piled in to the same deck they turned into something else — just like the Affinity deck that is persistently tier one in Modern. I won the draft easily, and I was hooked, drafting Affinity about 90% of the time thereafter.

The heart of those decks was Sanctum Gargoyle and Faerie Mechanist: simultaneously card advantage, evasion, and more artifacts! They would draw you the cards to hold off your opponent while finishing them in the air. (God forbid someone opened an Esperzoa and floated it around the table…) Due to the Affinity mechanic, you could often play the extra card immediately, but the best part was that no one else really wanted these cards so you could rely on having three to five of them.

With Modern Masters 2015, Faerie Mechanist was on it’s own: no Gargoyle in sight. Some of my favorite uncommons, like Esperzoa and Shrapnel Blast, had also been removed. Given those changes, I suspected the Affinity draft deck might not hold up, so for my first MM2015 draft, I started by picking some black and green cards. Then, around the sixth pick, I saw a Glassdust Hulk, and I couldn’t help myself.

The rest of the pack offered solid artifact picks, and I was off to the races. It turns out that the Affinity deck is very much alive and well, just replacing the powerful recurring top-end with more aggressive cards like Glassdust Hulk, Glint Hawk Idol, and Cranial Plating. There’s still plenty of card advantage to mix in with Mechanist and Thoughtcast, too. I went undefeated.

I have a feeling I’ll be drafting Affinity a lot. One of the advantages to staying open in drafting is giving yourself the best odds of wanting the cards no one else does: either by identifying an open color or an open strategy. Affinity is not a deck that pulls people in: even a player who opens a Cranial Plating is apt to be more tempted by solid traditional cards than the Myr Enforcer in the next pack, and without that second pull into artifacts will rapidly abandon the Plating.

As a result, choosing to draft Affinity usually offers you that “no one else wants these” effect.

Dispatch is the flagship for this effect: the card is total trash for everyone at the table who is not drafting Affinity, meaning you are far more likely to get one of these than another drafter is to get a more universally useful uncommon like a Lightning Bolt. Drafting Affinity feels like building a castle out of everyone else’s trash. Just don’t try it if you are sitting to my left!

Gabe Carleton-Barnes has been playing Magic for over 20 years, mostly as a PTQ grinder and intermittently as a Pro Tour competitor. Currently based in Portland, Oregon, where he is an Open Source web developer by day, Gabe lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, for three years. While there, he failed to make a documentary about competitive Magic but succeeded in deepening his obsession with the game. Gabe is now a ringleader and community-builder for the competitive Magic scene in Portland, wielding old-timey slang and tired cliches to motivate kids half his age to drive with him to tournaments.

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