Hardened Scales Affinity by kcnight on MtGO

Creatures (24)
4 Arcbound Ravager
4 Arcbound Worker
4 Hangarback Walker
4 Steel Overseer
4 Walking Ballista
4 Winding Constrictor

Non-Creature Spells (17)
4 Hardened Scales
4 Mishra’s Bauble
4 Mox Opal
3 Fatal Push
2 Thoughtseize

Lands (19)
3 Blinkmoth Nexus
4 Blooming Marsh
4 Darksteel Citadel
1 Forest
4 Llanowar Wastes
2 Spire of Industry
1 Swamp

Sideboard (15)
4 Abrupt Decay
1 Fatal Push
1 Ghost Quarter
1 Natural State
2 Nihil Spellbomb
3 Scrapheap Scrounger
2 Spellskite
1 Thoughtseize


In the ever-changing landscape of Modern, Affinity has somehow always found itself as a major player of the format. The synergy of the core cards is hard to compete with, and when hate cards recede, Affinity thrives. Another reason why players love Affinity is that it rarely changes. If you buy the entire deck today, in a year or two you’re very likely to still have all (or almost all) of the cards you need if you want to play in a Modern tournament. Innovation is rare, but this version of Affinity featuring Hardened Scales and Winding Constrictor attempts to break the traditional mold by adding powerful +1/+1 counters synergies to the deck.

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When you look past the deck’s name, it actually features significantly fewer of the traditional Affinity cards than you may assume. Those cards are: Arcbound Ravager, Steel Overseer, Mox Opal, and lands. The two common effects of those cards are mana or +1/+1 counters, the latter of which play superbly well with the rest of the deck.

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In lieu of Affinity’s traditional small creatures and Cranial Plating, this deck opts for creatures with +1/+1 counters such as Arcbound Worker, Walking Ballista, and Hangarback Walker. The non-creature spells are very different from traditional Affinity as well, with Fatal Push and Thoughtseize offering more interaction and Mishra’s Bauble operating in a role similar to the banned Gitaxian Probe, but also helping with the artifact synergies in the deck.

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The real spiciness of this deck comes from the full playset of Hardened Scales and a playset of Standard powerhouse Winding Constrictor. The synergies with the +1/+1 counters creatures and either of the aforementioned cards makes a very sizable attack force with little-to-no effort. In this way, this deck operates very much like a combo deck that plays linearly and can present lethal damage very quickly. With some middling creatures, a Winding Constrictor, and a Steel Overseer, you can very easily present an incremental 8-10 damage every turn.

Decks that don’t deal well with large creatures will have a very difficult time dealing with the damage output of Hardened Scales and Winding Constrictor. This deck also has a very decent matchup against some combo decks. The golden rule of dealing with combo decks is pressure plus disruption, and this deck is excellent at the first, and has some decent elements of the second. Going forward, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this deck pop up more and more, as certain metagames may lead to it being the best-positioned version of Affinity.

Here are the changes I would make going forward:


-1 Llanowar Wastes

+1 Thoughtseize


-1 Ghost Quarter

-1 Natural State

+2 Grafdigger’s Cage

This is day 55 of Spellsnare.com’s 2017 Deck of the Day column, where each day we’ll feature a different Standard, Modern, or Legacy deck that caught our eye. You can read day 54 here, where we featured a Standard deck that beats down with powerful colorless creatures.

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