Here's a some sample gameplay from way back when by the deck's original creator, MTGAids (the guy who came up with humans):
While the deck has certainly changed since then, with Matt Nass (of KCI fame) in particular helping set the standard list, it still plays along similar lines.
- This deck feels very fun for those who like triggering a lot of abilities. At least at the lower tournament level, many opportunities exist to blow out players with clever counters movement. It is not uncommon for opponents to accidentally allow lethal because of the inherent complexity of the basic gameplan.
- Fast clock and linearity. Oddly, our tricks give the deck a fair bit of linearity; decisions usually follow a set path with relatively few real branches. That is to say, the way our creatures work means we don't have to play around removal, or sometimes even sweepers. This makes it less tiring to play over a long period of time, as long as you get good at counting damage. [may not be a pro for some people]
- Very strong anti-creature matchups. Decks like Affinity, Humans, Spirits, GB, Value Company, Merfolk have atrocious matchups against us due to their inability to remove or efficiently deal with value engines like Walking Ballista, Steel Overseer and Hangarback Walker. Lifegain decks are also particularly open to Inkmoth Nexus swings
- Decent Tron and Burn matchups. Tron can't wipe our board with Ugin, and, oddly, we actually go bigger than them with a modicum of time. We also don't mind things like Oblivion Stone as much, given cards like Hangarback Walker and Inkmoth Nexus avoid it. Burn is actually around our speed, but doesn't have a good way to deal with our creatures. Post board, Nature's Claim swings the matchup as well.
- OK matchups against Land based combo, and Spell based combo. These depend heavily on sideboard cards. Damping spheres give us a nice catch all against Land/Spell combo, and Dragon Claws give us a decent way to fight Burn.
- Weaker matchup with Jeskai, Jund, UW, and Grixis than normal affinity. We don't have 4 Etched Champion to bail us out in these matchups, and we aren't consistently presenting as fast a clock when disrupted.
- Volatility of hand quality. Your clock and flexibility swings wildly depending on what you draw, and our mulls are very bad. This means that sometimes the deck just won't seem very strong.
- Still get dumped on by Stony Silence and Kataki, War's Wage
- New Weakness to Rest in Peace
Blinkmoth Nexus - Affinity afficianados may be confused by us running only 0-2, but the reason is that in many cases, the deck ends the game in one or two big swings. Because of this, Inkmoth Nexus is actually way more valuable than in normal affinity, where you plan to use multiple turns to increment out damage. Additionally, scales needs all of its mana and can't dump hands quickly, unlike normal affinity. With only 20 lands and 4 opals, Getting green/more artifacts is just more important than eventually being able to use Blinkmoth.
Problem 1: Graveyard:
Without sideboard, we're very bad against graveyard decks, but we can devote a lot of the sideboard in order to patch that up (typically 6-8 slots)
Damping Sphere - this is why our storm matchup is ok. The deck typically plays 4 as part of its "graveyard" hate suite, though the banning of KCI has made 3 common as well. Grafdigger's Cage - a more graveyard focused hate card which performs better against Dredge but worse against tron as compared to damping sphere Relic of Progenitus, Tormod's Crypt - Yet more gravehate which is played to supplement the above two. Relic's are better vs. Control and GDS than the others, because they can keep cards out of the graveyard. Tormod's is typically prefered though because it requires no investment, which is slightly stronger in this deck because you can still sac it to ravager.
Problem 2: Gotcha Sideboard Cards
We're actually a graveyard deck in the sense we need to sacrifice things for them to proc effects. We need to deal with Rest in Peace and Stony Silencce
Nature's Claim - Almost always a 4-of, because it doubles as life gain when targetting our own Hangarbacks.
Metallic Mimic - the two main reasons this finds itself as a one of in some lists are that it can name construct (cast Hangarback Walker and Walking Ballista for 0. And because it can name servo (Animation Module gives you a 1/1 for evey mana you have open. However, by itself it's quite weak and easy to remove, and you don't really want more than one. Aether Vial - Not really played anymore, due to our X/X's not working well with it. Voltaic Servant - Not worth playing without Aether Vial
Taplands (Llanowar Reborn, Ruins of Oran Rief - there are various lands which may be useful, depending on the meta. Llanowar Reborn in particular has appeared in recent GP lists, and is useful chiefly because this deck is very mana inefficient (we have too many 2 drops, and often leave land untapped anyway).
Metallic Mimic + Animation Module - If you name "Servo" with Metallic Mimic, you can make as many servos as you have mana whenever a +1/+1 counter is put on something
Arcbound Ravager + Arcbound Worker + Hangarback Walker -> This is just a sample interaction, but remember that modular triggers are seperate from Ravager's counter ability. So you can move the counters from a modular creature to a Hangarback, Ballista, or Inkmoth. Also remember than if you have Hardened Scales, it triggers on both.
So this deck has been a lot of fun to play and I have been testing it for a few weeks now. I have gone 3-0, 1-2, and 2-2 this past week but the two games I lost this last were super close. I have been trying to think of color variants of like a U/G version and or R/G and I'll post the deck list concept. I haven't played with the animation module yet but it seems pretty spicy. I will say this deck struggles with spot creature kill, board wipes and hand disruption. So that is why I playing 4 ancient stirrings over vials, and Scrap trawler for bringing back artifacts. I was thinking Myr Retriver would be fun with scrap trawler or combo with arcbound ravenger.
The deck list I ran this past Friday, I could of very easily went 4-0 but I went 1-2 against Valakut and living end.
Not sure I'm sold on the 2x Sparring Construct; just doesn't do much unless you have a sac outlet. I've found I'm winning through one of two ways with this deck: (1) consistent (enough) goldfish kills on T4/5 against decks that don't want to interact much and (2) grinding with individual card value against more midrange-y decks. Don't think the Constructs help enough with (1) to hurt (2).
Re: the conversation above -- it hasn't felt like the deck is missing another sac outlet. There are probably 3-5 flex spots in my estimation and I think I want those to be some combination of value cards like Shapers' Sanctuary, Karn, Scion of Urza, Evolutionary Leap, etc.
That 5-0 list above is actually Matt Nass piloting the deck, with Sam Pardee and Andrew Baeckstrom as side kicks. You can watch him rolfstomp two leagues 9-1 here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/275696402
It's impressive stuff actually. I'm really tempted to buy into this deck after watching, probably after the ban announcement.
The Sparring Construct inclusion, if I remember correctly, was just for another 1 drop to help play on curve and turn on metalcraft
Yeah I'm really not sold on the sparring construct, but I really like the list. It just opts to go a bit grindier, which seems like a good idea in the current meta. What to replace them with? Metallic Mimic? Animation Module?
Private Mod Note
Rollback Post to RevisionRollBack
Modern UWUW ControlUW UGWSpiritsUGW GHardened ScalesG WGRUKiki PodWGRU [RIP]
AEther Vial is very good in this deck. Being able to cheat in Arcbound Ravager in response to spot removal overweights the fetching of Ancient Stirrings. Cheating in Steel Overseer EOT also messes up your foe's tempo. Vial has only 18 targets maindeck, which is not low, but not high, so I usually cut one or two after sideboarding against some decks.
Welding Jar and Animation Module are surprisingly good. Throne of Geth underperformed for me, so I cut it, but it can be playable as a 1-of.
Deck is very fun, nobody expects to be murdered by a Walking Ballista that had 2 counters ten seconds ago.
I have tried this deck multiple times with Aether vial and I don't miss it at all. I know it allows you to cheat in creatures but it slows you down so much for getting a hardened scales out or a animation module or even a turn 1 ancient stirrings to set up a land plus late game it is even worse since I don't run throne of geth. I do run two cavern of souls in the main to get around control decks. I played this deck Monday night for a modern event and 4-0, this deck is very solid and is running great for me.
I don't think this deck cares that much about Liliana, but she's a nice Gut Shot target. It's in the list as your standard colorless deck interaction. Pinging Noble Hierarchs and Champions before things get out of hand.
Personally, I think there's room to hone the sideboard still, it's kind of a generic good stuff pile right now. Since so few cards are actually boarded out typically, so as to not throw off the engine, I'd like to see some more silver bullets added perhaps.
So I finally got round to sleeving up and getting some games in with a hardened affinity build.
I originally had 2 Voltaic Servant but I'm pretty certain that card is trash, too slow and does very little without steel overseer.
I havn't received my Thrones of Geth yet so i'm not sure how they will fare without trying to max sacc value through Sparring Construct.
I was pretty impressed with animation module, has some nice synergy with ravager, chucking out servos which can be sacced to boost up the counters.
I was wondering though if it stacks with itself? For example I have two Animation Modules out and let's say Arcbound Worker enters the battlefield, can I pay 1 cmc and get two servos? Or would I pay 2 cmc, one for each animation module?
I pretty copied fncmtg's sideboard because I have all these GW cards sitting around since I deconstructed my boggles deck, although I'm really not sure it's worth it. White can bring us Dromoka's Command and some other white cards but it might be simpler to just go straight up green to make matches against Blood Moon and multiple Path's a bit easier.