[Modern Magic] Robots, In Control.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to Strictly Average for more discussion about Modern. This week I’m going to talk about a deck that has been at the foundation of the format since its beginning. Through many banned & restricted announcements, as well as new Standard sets, this deck has remained unscathed. If you bought into this deck a few years ago, and have not played since then, your deck is still viable while only needing to add a card or two if you choose!

That deck is (probably incorrectly called) Affinity.

While this archetype is mostly known for the sheer destruction in the player base that it wrought when the first expansion sets in Mirrodin were in Standard, the archetype now should truly be called Robots as the cards provide synergy around the Metalcraft mechanic presented in the expansions sets when we visited Mirrodin a second time in Scars of Mirrodin.


The deck, pure aggro in nature, looks to play cards as quickly as possible, and secure the win by attacking a few times with creatures.

I recently rebuilt this deck. I wasn’t getting much play with Tezzerator, and that deck felt like another control or midrange deck in my gauntlet. As much as LOVE Tezzerator, the community was starting to lean away from the agent of Bolas into more of a prison-style strategy. I also felt like the Robots strategy was primed for a comeback of sorts. Many players shifted away from traditional builds in favor of those built around Hardened Scales. While that version of the deck is perfectly fine, I would rather play the original instead of fumbling around with counters and triggers. The only logical thing for me to do was to switch back to Robots, as it’s been a deck I have had off and on since the format started.

Let’s take a look at where builds are now:

Creatures (23)
Arcbound Ravager
Steel Overseer
Vault Skirge
Signal Pest
Master of Etherium

Artifacts (14)
Cranial Plating
Springleaf Drum
Mox Opal
Welding Jar

Enchantments (2)
Experimental Frenzy

Sorceries (4)
Galvanic Blast
Lands (17)
Blinkmoth Nexus
Darksteel Citadel
Inkmoth Nexus
Spire of Industry

Sideboard (15)
Wear // Tear
Etched Champion
Rest In Peace
Spell Pierce
Sai, Master Thopterist
Ghirapur Aether Grid
Damping Sphere

How does it work?

More or less you want to play as many cards from your hand as possible. There are times you could be left with no cards in your hand on turn 1, but that’s ok. You usually have two or three left over on good hands, and if you know in advance you will face a lot of artifact hate in game one, you can keep a few cards in hand not to over extend.

Regardless of how your hand is, and what your opponents have sleeved up, attack as much as possible. The earlier you can get damage in, the less you have to do later. While the addition of Experimental Frenzy can help you avoid running out of gas (and be left drawing a single card a turn) is does cost four mana to cast. The turns before you play this card should be spent swinging in for damage every turn.

Why should you play this deck?

Why you should not play this deck.

Needless to say, you should be faster than your opponent with this deck. Galvanic Blast can deal with many threats, and your sideboard can help you against others you run into. Keep in mind the sideboard cards are true scalpels; you don’t have a lot of cards to side out, and you don’t want to disrupt your primary plan too much. Treat your non-artifact cards as support cards.

However what else can we put in this deck? Let’s take a look.

Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas seems like a great choice, however even with his first ability we can only keep one card. You do only need to activate this one time in order to get a possible ultimate game win with him by draining life from your opponent, However while at this mana cost Experimental Frenzy is a better choice don’t let that deter you from giving this a try.

Look ma! A card with the Affinity mechanic! How many of us want to draw two cards for one mana? Ok it looks like the green mages were the only ones not raising their hands. This card used to be a mainstay in these decks. However, if all of the cards in your deck are good, why have a draw spell? Right? Right??

With that said, if your deck still runs a playset of these that’s fine. This is a very serviceable, and inexpensive card for what it does, and it plays well with the rest of your deck.

To continue finding cards with the Affinity mechanic here we have Frogmite. There has been some concern that the deck does not have enough punch for an aggro deck, and I could see running a few of these to spice things up. A free 2/2 should be nothing to sneeze at.

While Walking Ballista might seem odd, and perhaps slow, it does add an additional form of removal. Also on turns where you have played nothing you can always add an additional counter to it (or more depending on how many Steel Overseers are in play). The tricks you can use with this, and Arcbound Ravager are not without mention. This is especially true if your opponent has an Ensnaring Bridge in play.

In Conclusion

While “Affinity”…err…Robots might not always be on everyone’s radar, it is a solid choice for a deck if you are not only looking to get into Modern, but are either coming back, or even looking for a deck to play the format occasionally. The deck has only picked up a few cards over the years as additions, and usually they are as a single copy, if not two at the most, making this one of the few decks you don’t need to put a lot of money into when a new set comes out. If you are looking for a low upkeep cost deck then this is the one for you.

Thank you all for reading. Based on the last few articles this one felt a little short didn’t it? Well aggro decks do work quickly so I suppose it fits.

What cards have you tried in this deck? Do you have any tips for others? Make sure to leave a comment below, and please follow me on Facebook as well as Twitter to share them there as well.

Next week I want to talk about something magical that happened recently where for me the sport of baseball, and Magic: the Gathering, collided…and it was glorious.

Until then…


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