Fifteen Years Of Magic And The Return Of Myr Enforcer

Myr Enforcer isn’t part of Affinity anymore…is it? JDB explores an unusual build that pairs the seven-mana robot with Sanctum of Ugin and takes a moment to reflect on his fifteen years playing Magic.

Fifteen Years of Magic

This past Sunday, I celebrated fifteen years of playing Magic: The Gathering. If you’ve done the math (or even if you haven’t), yes, that means I started playing Magic on September 11, 2001. I was stuck in a classroom on 9/11, two kids near me started playing, the art got me curious, and that’s how it all began. On a horrible day, Magic was a comforting distraction, and it’s served the same role for me on days of more personal loss.

I’m 31 now. Magic’s been part of who I am for almost half my lifetime — and I’ve been part of Magic for well over half its lifetime in turn. I remember how giddily Wizards of the Coast celebrated the game’s tenth anniversary in 2003; I can only imagine what they have planned for Magic’s silver anniversary in 2018.

I can’t say I grew up with Magic, but I have matured with it. And while I don’t want to take up a whole article with self-indulgent reminiscences, I do want to spend a couple hundred words to reflect on how much poorer my life would be without it.

Magic gave me a way to meet people when I felt lost and alone in college, which introduced me to my best friend.

Magic gave me my first experience writing for peers, rather than teachers, professors, or contest or scholarship judges.

Magic gave me a way to blow off steam as I went out into the working world and learned the hard way what goes into making a hobby a career.

Magic gave me a chance, through StarCityGames.com, to express myself with the discipline of a regular column schedule and celebrate my rare triumphs.

Magic gave me the opportunity, by way of the Magic Cruise, to get my mother to fulfill her childhood dream and visit Alaska.

Magic gave me my first paid creative work, writing names and flavor text for Born of the Gods.

Magic gave me, again through StarCityGames.com, a way out of an unhealthy work environment and into one that respects my skills and my needs as a human being.

I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my adult life, and Magic is a huge part of why.

Thank you.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled article.

The Return of Myr Enforcer

I’m vaguely envious of those nimble players who can switch between Modern decks from week to week. I’m a one-deck wonder: if I’m not playing Affinity, I’m messing up. My long (as in “over a decade, played in a Standard environment where Broodstar was the bomb”) practice with the deck may not put me in a high tier, but it does give me the best chance of winning any given event. I made my only old-school Pro Tour Qualifier Top 8 in Extended with (a horrible version of) Affinity. In 2011, I took a Legacy version of Affinity to an undefeated record in the second-ever Invitational…and still didn’t make Day 2 because I played a silly lifegain deck in a Standard field full of Caw-Blade. I wasn’t good enough to try that deck in that metagame, and I was bad enough to think it would work.

While it’s good to learn such lessons, an Invitational field with fewer than 150 players and $50,000 in prize money was not the time!

But back to Affinity. It’ s been my go-to deck since Modern became a format, and while I’ve never put together a spectacular Modern result with it, I’ve always felt I have a chance. And in the current Modern environment, where the powerful decks are so spread-out that I’m unlikely to see more than two dedicated Affinity hate cards in any opponent’s sideboard, that’s the time for someone like me to step out and play.

The Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier at the Star City Game Center this past Sunday was the perfect opportunity, and I took out my Affinity deck for inspection. Right on the bottom, staring out at me, was one of my least favorite cards.

It’s been an automatic four-of in Affinity since the moment it became legal, and it’s brought me little but trouble.

Its ability to attack as a creature with Infect has done me precious little good; I’ve poisoned out exactly one opponent with Inkmoth Nexus in my life. Far more often, its ability has been the equivalent of “T: This land becomes an artifact until end of turn.” It doesn’t block well. It doesn’t mesh with the deck’s main plan of dealing twenty regular damage.

And in a world where Infect is one of the premier decks in Modern, everybody has the cards to take it out.

For free.

Of course, if I wanted to remove Inkmoth Nexus from my Affinity list, that put the burden on me to find something better. I went searching through the nonbasic lands of Modern and eventually came across Sanctum of Ugin. I had a chuckle at it. Maybe it’d have a chance if I were playing Myr Enforcer.

Then I stopped chuckling. Maybe playing Myr Enforcer wasn’t as silly as it seemed.

In most circumstances, Inkmoth Nexus and Sanctum of Ugin do pretty much the same thing: tap for one colorless mana. While Inkmoth Nexus can become an artifact (and rarely a way to win with poison damage), Sanctum of Ugin embeds a two-card combo within Affinity: cast Myr Enforcer with a Sanctum of Ugin on the battlefield, and you can sacrifice Sanctum of Ugin (any number of them, actually–it’s not just one per customer!) to put any colorless creature card from your library into your hand.

Need to win this turn? Grab an Arcbound Ravager and start moving counters around. Need some evasion? One Etched Champion, coming right up. Just want a cheap beefy creature? Get another Myr Enforcer and cast it at even more of a discount than the previous one enjoyed.

After some experimentation, here’s the list I registered for the Preliminary PTQ.

I’ll cheerfully admit the list is imperfect. The balance is likely off by a couple of cards at least in the maindeck, where I have seventeen cards that are not natively artifacts (though Blinkmoth Nexus can make itself one). The question then, of course, is what to cut and what to put in — trimming a Glimmervoid for a Memnite, perhaps, to increase the number of explosive draws?

And the sideboard, sad to say, is a mess. The Master of Etherium is just plain a mistake; I had it there in place of a Ghirapur Aether Grid I couldn’t find in my collection. Thoughtseize should be Spell Pierce. There may be other issues.

All the same, it’s what I registered, and the tournament itself went about as I expected.

In Round 1, I faced a Burn opponent. I was on the draw with a “better than my average six but not great” hand, and when my opponent slammed a second-turn Eidolon of the Great Revel in Game 1, I thought my goose was cooked (Lightning Bolted? Searing Blazed?), but a Myr Enforcer off the top said hello, giving me a blocker that couldn’t be stopped with just one spell and didn’t burn me. Had Myr Enforcer been something more typical like Etched Champion or Master of Etherium, I would’ve lost. Casting Myr Enforcer for a single mana forced my opponent to work around it, and eventually he traded off his Eidolon of the Great Revel, hoping to burn me out.

But once I got the Eidolon off the battlefield, a bit of Arcbound Ravager fancy math defeated my opponent with a point to spare. As he noted later, if he’d gotten the chance to untap, he would’ve killed me, but Affinity’s great about not giving such chances.

Game 2 went his way, but Game 3 was one of those gross Affinity draws that started with Sanctum of Ugin, Ornithopter, Mox Opal, Springleaf Drum, Arcbound Ravager. I let him cast and swing in with a Goblin Guide for his opener. By the end of my second turn, I’d cast a Myr Enforcer and cashed in the Sanctum of Ugin for a second. He never had a chance.

Whereas in Round 1 I won a matchup that’s generally in Affinity’s favor, Round 2 brought me in contact with Jeskai Control. There’s not much to write aside from multiple castings of Electrolyze in Game 1 and a second-turn Stony Silence in Game 2.

He did Nahiri-ultimate me twice in Game 2, though. That was fun, in a weird way.

In Round 3 I faced a Thopter Foundry / Sword of the Meek deck with a few other goodies like Krark-Clan Ironworks and Open the Vaults. In Game 1, he wound up a mana short of comboing off, while I had just enough mana to fight through a Remand and stick the winning Arcbound Ravager. In Game 2, not knowing exactly what his plan was, I sideboarded out Etched Champion and promptly got punished for it when he had a natural Thopter-Sword combo on turn 3 that locked me out. Unfortunately for my foe, he mulliganed into oblivion in Game 3 and Affinity gave him little chance to draw out of it.

That put me at 2-1 in a five-round PPTQ, very much live for drawing into the Top 8 should I make it through the next round. Unfortunately for me, I faced Vic Sansing, who makes frequent appearances in local IQs, and he was on Jeskai Control.

In Game 1, his removal smothered my offense and he won easily. In Game 2, though he was in control most of the way, I had him surprisingly nervous. I’d played a Sanctum of Ugin…and a second…and a third.

“What the hell,” he muttered. “Eldrazi? Elder Deep-Fiend?”

He had The Fear in his eyes, and it was delightful.

Unfortunately for me, he found a Stony Silence before I could find a Myr Enforcer, and though I got him within burn range, I never found a Galvanic Blast before Lightning Helix brought him back out of reach.

At 2-2 with ghastly tiebreakers, I dropped and headed home.

In the end, Myr EnforcerSanctum of Ugin Affinity felt like…Affinity. Over a ten-game sample, there was one game the Sanctum / Inkmoth swap swung, and that was to my good, but the range is far too small to draw any firm conclusions. More testing is definitely required.

And while Affinity players ordinarily might not think such testing to be worth the trouble, two Grand Prix next year, San Antonio and Madrid, will feature Team Unified Modern, where a card appearing in one deck precludes its appearance in another deck or sideboard. Traditional thought is that Affinity and Infect can’t go on the same team, for example, because Affinity would be deprived of Inkmoth Nexus due to its inclusion in Infect. A perfected Sanctum of Ugin build of Affinity, however, could play alongside Infect and perhaps a fast combo deck to create a scary high-octane trio.

Have you tried Sanctum of Ugin and Myr Enforcer in Modern Affinity? What were your experiences?