Pauper Deck Tech: Affinity

Winston Atkinson
April 25, 2023


Affinity for Artifacts is a historically powerful mechanic, and is the main thing people think of when you say Affinity. It’s shorthand for a toolbox of efficient artifacts that build up incremental advantages, and use their accumulated value to overrun the board or to lock out the opponent. Pauper Affinity takes the form of the former- securing the board with cost reducing threats, while leaning on a sacrifice removal and direct damage package.


Affinity runs a collection of beaters that get discounted for each of your artifacts in play. These beaters act both as early game threats, being available on turns 2 and 3 with artifact lands in play, but also can serve as fuel for the cards Krark-Clan Shaman and Makeshift Munitions. Krark-Clan Shaman acts as a way to sac your artifacts to wipe boards, and in response to the sacrifice trigger entering the stack you can sacrifice as many artifacts as needed. Makeshift Munitions acts in a role similar to Modern Tron’s Walking Ballista: we can swing with artifact creatures, then sac them for extra damage to secure a kill. Since all artifacts can be sacrificed to both sources, the Affinity can push an extra burst of damage through sacrificing the artifact lands present in the format, ensuring an extra 3 damage by turn three. This ‘free’ damage is highly impactful, and combined with other value options in the deck, Affinity can keep the pace to shut down other present decks in the format.

With sacrifice as our primary gameplan in Affinity, we’re putting in all tools that benefit from trashing our artifacts. Affinity decks frequently run black for Deadly Dispute and Reckoner's Bargain to refill. Ichor Wellspring is a cheap artifact that draws for the same cost while still upping our Affinity count. In the same realm of creating Affinity value, Blood Fountain creates two affinity sources on turn one, enabling a turn two Frogmite, or even a turn three Myr Enforcer. It’s important to keep cards in your grip, since Affinity often can cheat cards out for cheap if not free. Nihil Spellbomb is a main deck graveyard hate card that also can cantrip itself, or be tapped for improvise costs, though some lists will cut the Spellbomb for other tempo options, such as Gearseeker Serpent.

Finally, Affinity land bases are a bit more unique in Pauper, as most of the artifact lands are unbanned. This helps the affinity and sacrifice counts, but also gives reason to run the tapped duels from Modern Horizons 2. As such, Affinity usually runs 3 colors, but can dip into a 4th color for different matchups. Your sideboard has the usual Blue Elemental Blast and Pyroblast to hose Mono Blue and Burn matchups, but also sports Annihilating Glare as a cheap removal option that plays into the gameplan. These should be sided in based on the main color of your opponents deck, but also against more aggressive creature matchups. Affinity usually has trouble trampling over or flying over other creatures- so it is imperative you keep the board cleared out.