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Battle Tog

Written by John Cuvelier on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Magic Culture, Modern

I’ve had an interesting couple of weeks. After booking a last minute ticket to GP Dallas and picking up another uneventful pro point I set my eyes on something more local. The first of its kind in the Tampa area, I got my friends Keith McLaughlin and Nathan Kirchmeier to participate with me in the Battle of the Stores. Eight stores in the greater Tampa area represented themselves for a chance to be the “champion” along with some cash for the top 4 finishing teams. The swiss portion of the event was Legacy/Modern/Standard with each of us choosing our format of choice. The top four was a 3v3 booster draft and the finals were back to constructed.

A unique event for sure I was pretty pumped to play some team magic. If you listened to my interview with Zuby you’d know how much I appreciate and enjoy the team format. With this tournament being an event I knew I could have some fun with I decided to go with an unconventional deck list. Keith ended up playing Omniscience in Legacy and Nathan played a stock Delirium list in Standard. That left me to play Affinity because Beep Boop. I didn’t want to play the traditional build since although it’s fun I don’t get an opportunity to play in a somewhat casual environment very often. After a couple of test runs I threw together this little number.

The awesome deck name is the combo kill of the deck – Atog + Temur Battle Rage. You’ll also notice some old school staples making a return with Disciple of the Vault and Chromatic Star. The final change I wanted was Blackcleave Cliffs over Glimmervoid since everything but the Flashback on Ancient Grudge is Black or Red in the colored spells portion. This allows you to keep those double Blackcleave Cliffs hands where traditionally if those are Glimmervoids you have to mulligan. This also allows you to cast Disciple of the Vault turn one without another Artifact which is a minor upside as well.

Why deviate from the normal? That’s how you find new decks and learn new things. This also gives something prior Affinity builds don’t have in a turn two kill. Some additional benefits I’ve found so far include a lesser weakness to Stony Silence. Atog doesn’t care. He simply doesn’t. He’ll just eat your dysfunctional Artifacts and continue on his merry way. Another great benefit is Atog dodges all the popular burn spells of the format such as Lightning Bolt or the gaining popularity of Anger of the Gods thanks to Dredge. The combo of course is being able to sacrifice all your artifacts and giving Atog a Temur Battle Rage for an easy win. The Temur Battle Rage shenanigans don’t just stop there however. Cranial Plating equipped to anything is already a huge powered creature. Temur Battle Rage allows you to one shot opponents’ with ease. It even works reasonably well with Arcbound Ravager and I did that a few times during the event.

Not just finished yet let’s go over Chromatic Star. Chromatic Star gives us a few more colored sources to help us cast the additional colored spells that a normal Affinity mana base isn’t accustomed to supporting. This is also an ideal card to sacrifice for value to Atog or Arcbound Ravager since you draw the card when it goes to the graveyard and not just when you activate it.

Finally I added Disciple of the Vault back to the fray. In conjunction with Arcbound Ravager or Atog it gives you a lot of reach when you otherwise might be short on damage. If you ever get multiple on the battlefield it gets silly really quick. It also is a great way of mitigating your losses to removal spells that everyone is bound to bring in against you since most removal spells from the sideboard target your artifacts and not your colored creatures. In fact, my favorite moment of the tournament itself came round two when I had an Atog in play and I dropped down a Disciple of the Vault. My opponent immediately called “judge”! This was promptly followed by “Is that card even legal?” as he pointed to Disciple of the Vault. I had a good laugh that’s for sure.

After all the hype here you’re probably wondering how the deck and my team did.


We managed to win the entire thing after losing round 1 of the event. It was even a little more epic than that because our round 1 opponents who beat us is who we had to overcome in the finals. The irony of beating Death’s Shadow Zoo with Temur Battle Rage on an Atog is quite fitting. These are the decks I ended up playing against:

Death’s Shadow Zoo (1-1)
Infect (2-0)
Burn (1-0)

We had a pair down in the final round and the opposing team scooped us in to top 4. In the top 4 the draft portion went pretty smoothly. I had to play against a Fumigate which was pretty annoying but our team ended up on top in the end. Albeit it took about an hour and a half to do so as it turns out control against control in limited with wrath effects and counter spells takes some time.

The big question is this better or worse than a stock Affinity build? My answer is I honestly don’t know. I definitely plan to continue testing this build and making adjustments. I’m sure there is something powerful here and it’s just a matter of figuring out if making these changes makes the deck better or worse as a whole. The speed of the deck thanks to Temur Battle Rage is quite noticeable. With the speed of modern increasing drastically to be considered widely by the pros a turn three format, Temur Battle Rage might be the necessary switch to keep Affinity from fading out since it’s more like a turn 4 deck historically than a turn 3 deck in Modern.

My next big tournament is the Invitational in Atlanta. That’s happening the first weekend of December so it’s right around the corner. My goal is to get this deck to the point where it’s big league ready. If it is I’ll have a sweet deck tech for you I’m sure. Until then.

John Cuvelier
@JCuvelier on Twitter
Gosu. On MTGO

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