Firstly we have the core cards. Each of these are auto includes in my book and they make up about 60% of the deck. This means you should only really have about 16 cards to work with that are choices. While this doesn't seem like a lot but it is huge. You can use all the core card and exclusively other good cards yet end up with a horrible list that struggles to win. Affinity is an aggro deck and a synergy deck both at once. This means consistency and redundancy are at their most important. The main thing the core cards have in common is that they are able to be played regardless of colour or having coloured mana and they are predominantly artifacts themselves. Every card that needs coloured mana to use that you add to the deck reduces the consistency. Every card that you add which is not an artifact reduces the synergy.
I should note that I am not going to talk about the power, this article will exclusively discuss affinity in an unpowered cube. Affinity is one of the best decks for scaling with power and by far and away the best aggressive deck. All the Mox, Sol Ring and Mana Crypt are bonkers good in the deck. Black Lotus is obviously decent too as are all the stupid blue things (Ancestral Recall and Time Walk). Black Lotus, Mishra's Workshop and Tolarian Academy are all auto includes if you can get them in the archetype but they are also all a little bit overkill. You don't actually need that much mana with the deck and while they give you some busted starts you do quickly find that you are wasting all that extra mana. Massive card advantage spells start to become more important when you have things like Academy.
24 Core Cards
6x Artifact Lands
City of Traitors
Basically these are all the lands that are artifact creatures, permanent artifacts or that tap for more than one mana right away. The on colour artifact lands are the best but you should still play all the off colour ones too. The man lands are great mass removal protection, a great way to use spare mana as you approach the midgame and provide a lot of general utility for the deck. They hold modular counters well, are often evasive and can even one shot people out of nowhere! A turn one City of Traitors is a little bit dodgy in a lot of other decks but in affinity you can get so far ahead from just using it turn one and two that it is totally worth it.
The core spells include all the best cheap artifact creatures for the deck, all the premium ramp and fixing and the mighty Cranial Plating. Plating is your big card, you main payoff for having such a high artifact count and your main threat even when you don't have it (as far as your opponents will be concerned). It is the Sulphuric Vortex of the deck, the thing everyone is most scared of.
Mox Opal is generally better than a real power Mox in this archetype. It may not always tap on turn one but the fixing of any colour is super relevant. With so many cheap and free creatures Drum is not far off being a one mana Mox Opal which is still a really good deal for both fixing and burst.
You need a certain mass of bodies, ideally ones that attack in some relevant way and with such a small selection of cheap aggressive artifacts to chose from these are very much the cream of the crop. I could go on about why these creatures are good in affinity but with the majority having been constructed staples in the deck I am sure there is more than enough literature out there already on why they are good. They are all artifacts that have no colour requirement to cast that either bring utility, value, evasion or low casting cost, the best have several of these things. Myr Enforcer is likely the closest to not being an auto include. If you find yourself with a relatively low cheap artifact count then turn two Myr Enforcer is hard to do and as such far less worth playing. It is only because of access to the artifact lands which decks in modern do not have that enables Enforcer to be viable. Enforcer is just big and cheap, he has no evasion or utility. It is because he is a colourless artifact more than because he can be good value that gains him this high esteem spot. In cube it is a little easier to get high artifact counts quickly and so Enforcer and Frogmite are somewhat replacing the 3rd and 4th Ornithopter and Memnite you wold like to play (Modern lists typically run 7/60 of these 0 mana dorks and this translates to wanting roughly 4/40 in a cube list).
The next best thing to an Ancestral Recall! While on paper this is a no brainer it is more what you need to have in place before you can play this than makes this not an auto include. You need a healthy amount of blue mana in your deck as well as a high count of zero and one mana artifacts before Thoughtcast is worth it. As it is just drawing you two cards Thoughtcast can be considered as an artifact ultimately, likely two. It is great for drawing you into bigger cards and more gas but it is useless for getting you setup. It will not help you draw into your fixing or your ramp because you won't be able to cast it cheaply or at all in those situations. One of the best cards off the top in the mid game but rather a liability in your opener. Even if you can fire it off for one mana on turn two you still have to spend that mana which is going to slow you down. You would much rather have a one mana threat to play in your opener than this sort of thing. Although better early than the bigger card advantage effects the fact that Thoughtcast isn't really something you want to do early I tend to find I play heavier draw over it if at all.
Etherium Sculptor 3/10
A nice way to increase your burst potential but needing blue mana makes it quite hard to pull off with any consistency. Often by the time you make this you have already made most of the things it would have sped up. Although an artifact the 1/2 body doesn't do that much itself. I will only actively want to play this if I am fairly heavily blue and have a much higher curve than I typically like.
Master of Etherium 9/10
This is one of the very best cards I don't have as an auto include. It is a cheap threat that pumps all your other dorks while being immense himself. It is like a Tarmogoyf and a Glorious Anthem all in one! The only reason he is not an auto include is because I don't always bother playing blue. Even with things like Mox Opal fixing any colour for you, without any actual effort made to support a colour even a single splash for a super powerful card such as this is just not worth it for your consistency. I would want seven sources of blue in my deck (including the three auto include ones) even if this was my only blue card. One of the best all round threats the deck has and one of the few ways you can attack for lethal on turn three without a Cranial Plating or sacrificing all your artifacts.
Somber Hoverguard 2/10
Fairly weak threat that needs coloured mana and isn't even an artifact. The best use for this is a counter to green decks which struggle against fliers and have no answer to non-artifact creatures. I think these days I would only ever have this as a sideboard option. The deck already has plenty of evasion and so this little guy really doesn't bring enough to the table. The same is true of the bigger options but more so. Both Qumulox and Broodstar being double blue are just far too onerous on the deck and building aroudn them properly would lead to a very different (and much weaker) sort of deck.
Tezzeret the Seeker 6/10
This is by far and away the most onerous card I ever play in affinity. Both in terms of mana cost and colour requirement. Double blue is a real chore to get online and demands too much of most affinity mana bases. Five mana is also a really tall order, affinity never really wants to pay more than three for anything. Tezzeret does typically win the game when you make him. He finds the Plating or the Ravager you need or he just untaps some stuff and sends in an army of 5/5s the next turn. The only time I will want to play Tezz is when I am packing things like Mana Vault, Chomratic Star and Talisman in my deck. This way you can much more reasonably expect to cast Tezz on turn three and have him be utterly bonkers rather than too late to the party.
Ensoul Artifact 2/10
A cute little trick that has some good synergy with Inkmoth Nexus and Darksteel Citadel but has much of the same problems as Somber Hovergaurd. It is blue and not an artifact itself. You have very limited space for such cards and you can get a lot more power than this with most of the others on this list. I think Copy Artifact would be more useful, perhaps even Phyrexian Metalmorpth and those are just more examples of cards that are a little too situational, slow or hard to cast to be worth it.
Trinket Mage 3/10
Back in the day when there were that much fewer options this was pretty hot in affinity, a two for one with some utility was pretty good. These days this is really rather on the slow side. Mostly it is a Civic Wayfinder which is great for fixing but generally to late to save the day. The more diverse your range of targets for the Trinket Mage the better it becomes but it is very much a card I try and avoid. You only have so many slots for 3 drop coloured cards and a lot of the alternatives to this offer a much more powerful effect.
Spined Thopter 3/10
Although this ticks a lot of the right boxes (no need of colour to play, an artifact, an evasive body) it is still a very underwhelming two drop with very low power level. This is easy to race, easy to kill and all together a bit too fair. Affinity can find evasion on lands, token producers and cards that cost half this or less. This is acceptable filler but you don't really want it ever.
Galvanic Blast 9/10
Comically I think this is one of the very best coloured non-artifact for the deck. I love me a Lightning Bolt and this is almost always just better. This is reach, it is removal for a lot of stuff and it packs a big punch for a bargain price. Any aggressive deck is made better with a bit of burn and affinity is no exception.
This hits a bit harder than Blast but is twice the price and needs you to sac something. A great finisher and a reasonable way to shift a fat midrange dork out of the way but a little too costly to be a good early interactive tool. There is some merit to having the ability to sacrifice stuff but overall it is still quite the drawback. Galvanic Blast would still be better in this deck even if you didn't have to sac something for Shrapnel.
Goblin Welder 8/10
One of the reasons affinity is so bonkers in cube is that it gets to abuse all manner of otherwise powerful cards. While Welder is never swapping Wurmcoils and Battlespheres in and out of play in affinity it still does far far too much for a one mana card! Just recurring your powerful cards like Ravager and Plating is a huge problem for most decks. Welder also yields loads of value from quite a wide selection of your cards. Loads have effects when they enter the battlefield or die. Even if it is just one card or a +1/+1 counter it is quite a big deal every turn from the get go. For one mana Welder offers about as much value and utility as you could hope for. It is like super proactive Mother of Runes.
The poor mans Ravager. Atog is fairly killable and fairly blockable. It is nice against colours without hard answers to be able to represent lethal every turn with a two drop but this is pretty rare. The mono green deck can probably chump it all day without a second thought! The black decks are just begging you to try and go all in on the Atog for the kill so that they can change the text on their Terror variant to "win the game". Unlike Ravager, not only is Atog not an artifact, but going all in on it is a one turn thing. Going all in on Ravager is fine against removal and chumps enough of the time as you can save and move the counters. The best reason to play Atog is to have another sac outlet. There are a number of good affinity cards that highly benefit from a sac outlet. The more you have of those the more Atog rises in value. If you just want a threat play one that is an artifact and doesn't need coloured mana.
Bomat Courier 8/10?
A new little option for affinity and one I have not yet tested. There is a good chance this is actually an auto include just because it is a Raging Goblin that fulfils the no colour casting cost and artifact types criteria. When you can activate the draw aspect profitably the card shoots up in value and this is fairly likely with affinities ability to dump its hand rapidly. Haste is not something affinity has had before and as such the Courier makes a Plating even scarier! They can Wrath your whole board and you can still untap and hit them with a Plated creature right away.
Wheel of Fortune 8/10
Speaking of affinities ability to dump its hand quickly we have this little gem as an option. There are loads of ways to refill on gas in affinity but this is one of the best. Affinity is also probably the best place for Wheel of Fortune! You can cast it on curve and discard nothing! It is better disruption against most other kinds of deck than most other symmetrical draw effects too. Wheel returns more cards per mana than Thoughcast (for one). It is still quite a big risk to play it as it will sit in hand hurting your burst and synergy until you are able to play it. I only want to play Wheel in my affinity decks when they are starting to look really cheap, consistent and good. If I have a bunch of situational stuff or expensive stuff then Wheel is just going to make that worse before it makes it better.
Slobad, Goblin Tinkerer 4/10
While Slobad is an awful proactive card he is one of the most brutal defensive ones you can find in affinity. If you are up against, Wraths, Pernicious Deed and Meltdown effects then Slobad is your man. Not only does he make such effects pretty limp he also makes combat even more of a headache than usual. He is an OK sac outlet as well. Generally a sideboard style of card but one that is often overlooked. Affinity really wants to extend, being able to do so without fear of mass removal is a delight.
Thopter Engineer 5/10
This is a little like Etherium Sculptor, a weak body with colour requirement to play that then buffs you other cards somewhat. Haste is a lot easier to abuse than a cost reduction effect and continues to be of use throughout the game. A 1/1 flier is also way more useful than either a 1/2 or 1/3 body on the ground and so Thopter Engineer is a much more rounded and independently playable card. Being a 3 drop the haste is still quite late to come into effect. I feel like the more powerful dorks and the higher your curve the better this will be in general. Those things however move you away from the optimal sort of build and as such Engineer is still probably the kind of card I would try and avoid if possible. Really very well suited to the deck and lots of potential power but just a little bit too much of a luxury card. Pia Nalaar is another new card that could work in affinity and has many similarities to this. Pia is a mana sink, offers a wide array of utility both as a threat and as a sac outlet and is generally all round good. Overall I think Engineer offers more impact and more power yet both suffer the same issue of being coloured three drops that take a little while to proffer a good return. They are all a bit like a Trinket Mage too. More proactive power makes these new Grey Ogre like offerings more appealing at least.
Disciple of the Vault 9/10
The main reason you want sac outlets is the mighty Disciple. Back in block this was the card you feared and not the Cranial Plating. This wasn't because Plating was worse for some reason back then, Disciple is just that good. In constructed you could have multiples of these which you cannot in cube and that does detract quite a lot from its potential value. The ability to drop two of these and just sac all your permanents to a Ravager at any given point for the win was the norm. Although cube affinity does have the suitably high artifact count to abuse the Disciple it is a fair amount of effort. You need a couple of extra sac outlets, you need the black mana and you need to cut a non-artifact for it. Disciple is also a pretty useless one drop and tends to do nothing until the late game. A good way to compensate for only having one is to play it with some burn so that you can realistically burst someone down without having to attack.
Salvage Titan 3/10
This is a bit of a Myr Enforcer dork. Just big and cheap. He can come out quicker than Enforcer but to do so really hurts your ability to further your board. Later on he just gets blocked loads and doesn't really get any easier to play. The recursion starts to get more relevant against the slower and more control decks but you typically have better ways to gain value and gas against them. Titan also offers some mild utility as a sac outlet but being sorcery speed it really is mild.
Salvage Slasher 3/10
Cheap and hard hitting but way too vulnerable and colour intense. Back in the day this was a great counter to creature light decks but there are so few of those these days that I can't see this being worth it ever. Perhaps if a good way to make stuff hard to block presents itself then this will become viable again but for now I would steer well clear of this. The one nice thing about this is that it is the one card that gets better with more stuff in the bin rather than in play so a brutal follow up to a Wrath or a good pairing with an Atog.
Scrapheap Scrounger 9/10?
Another new and untested affinity potential. Hard hitting, cheap, easy to play and some late game utility as well. This has all the hallmarks of an auto include. My reservations (other than a lack of testing) on that matter are down to it just being a dork when in play. It is easy to block and kill and isn't above the curve in any way. If they trade with a Frogmite you have gained a big tempo lead, if you trade with this you are probably fairly even on tempo. Lands like Ancient Tomb make this a lot better, this is a lot more impressive turn one than turn two... As a generic two drop artifact this is probably one of the better things to be getting on with. While it doesn't overly interact or offer synergy beyond being an artifact with your other cards it is one of the best stand alone cards. A lone Ravager is a bit of a 1/1, a lone Signal Pest or Vault Skirge get very little done. This at least hits hard enough that your opponent will feel it.
Yawgmoth's Will 8/10
One of the best gas and value tools on offer to the affinity deck. It doesn't help your opponent in any way like Wheel of Fortune and it gets you back important key cards which is of huge value in the singleton format. The issues with Will are that it is even harder to be in a good position for it than with Wheel. If you don't have your good cards it won't help you find them, if you don't have anything in the bin of value then the Will is doing very little. Further to this there are loads of subtle things you can do that go a long way to making Will a lot better in the deck. Things like Chromatic Sphere instead of Chromatic Star suddenly seem like they have merit. Will benefits from sac outlets so you can set it up as you need it. It also benefits from free artifacts or those that generate mana like Lotus Petal and Mana Vault. It is one of the better reasons to pack an Etherium Sculptor too. I do love the power of Wheel or Will in my lists but typically it is one or the other for me. Both is too much greed!
Dark Confidant 6/10
Zero synergy with the deck but just so good that it is a fine inclusion. You are aggressive enough to not care about the life and bursty enough that card draw is really valuable. Even with things like Myr Enforcer in the deck this is still great in most matchups if you can reliably play it.
Glaze Fiend 3/10
This is pretty weak in general but it does have some nutty scaling potential in combination with the right cards. If you have loads of draw or token generation then you can have this represent a one shot kill pretty well. Although much less robust than an Atog the card has built in evasion, it itself an artifact and does not require you to go all in to represent lethal damage. Typically I am looking for consistency in my cheap filler artifacts and so playing ones that further require build attention to are a bit of a turn off.
If you really need to interact and disrupt your opponent than black discard is the way to go. Duress, Thoughtsieze and even Inquisition are the best way to deal with the very few combo decks that can outpace you as well as the control decks that have some brutal counters to you. Obviously including these kinds of card makes your deck a lot worse so you have to be pretty sure you are going to lose without it before you take that leap. Good sideboard tools at the least if you are able to avoid needing them main.
There is little to no reason to be in green. The metalcraft dudes that get huge are fine enough in pauper formats but they fail pretty hard in the big boy league. I briefly experimented with Birthing Pod in affinity but I created something unholy. Tree of Tales is generally just a bad Darksteel Citadel in the deck which is enough that it is still one of the top ten most important cards in the deck! There are at best a couple playable affinity card in green and they are not even that exciting;
Shardless Agent 2/10
Fine enough filler as it is an artifact and draws (and plays) you a card. Rather too intense on the colour for my liking and a bit late in the curve for what is essentially just a good value dork. If there was other reasons to be in green then this would get more play but as it stand I wouldn't bother. If you think of this as a Frogmite where you have to pay 1UG to draw and play a random card from your deck it sounds a lot less value, more like a Think Twice...
Ancient Stirrings 3/10
I thought of another green card you could play (and shouldn't). Aggressive decks don't want card quality. Being so light on colours this isn't going to be that helpful very often for fixing you so it is just a way to increase your chances of seeing the key cards like Ravager and Plating. Likely not worth the mana but for more viable in cube than in constructed variants of the deck.
Time Sieve 4/10
Colour intense and very costly to use. It is somewhat of a safe Final Fortune in the deck but it is pretty rarely a Time Walk. If saccing three artifacts for Salvage Titan is a big deal then losing five for this is going to be super hard work. Where Time Sieve starts to become good is when you have a variety of ways to produce a bunch of tokens. Genesis Chamber is the most potent of these producers but there are others you can use as well.
Thopter Foundry 8/10
This is probably the second best sac outlet after Ravager. It is a cheap artifact, it provides ongoing instant speed sacrifice options and most importantly of all it does not diminish your artifact count when you sac stuff. Being able to turn anything into a life and a 1/1 flier is a pretty big deal, well worth the mana activation cost over the other good sac outlets. While fairly colour intense the option on black or white makes a pretty huge difference in the ease of playing it. Foundry is a great stand alone card in affinity but you can still fairly effectively pair it with Sword of the Meek. You give yourself some powerful late game options as well as potential infinite turns courtesy of Time Sieve. While you have little tutoring to piece together the combo it doesn't matter much as all the cards conveniently support affinity as well as the combo. Sword is great to sac to loads of things and is triggered by quite a wide selection of the cards you want to play in the deck anyway.
Baleful Strix 7/10
Being an artifact in addition to one of the best all round creatures ever printed makes this a viable option for affinity as well as every other deck that can produce black and blue mana! Flying is great, deathtouch isn't irrelevant and drawing a card is spot on. This is a better body than Shardless Agent, is in better colours, costs less and typically gains you the same amount of value. I have lost to basically just Baleful Strix in combination with Academy Ruins when playing against affinity so the card actually can offer some pretty powerful late game in the right situation.
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast 5/10
Removal, artifact producer, sac outlet and a dangerous threat. Although a three drop in two colours Daretti is about as much utility as you can get from a playable affinity card. In a meta with lots of midrange or lots of sweepers then Daretti is a great way to diversify your stuff and have a bit more longevity.
While untested Saheeli does seem rather too weak for the deck. The +1 is far to low impact to be worth it so the -2 has to do a lot of work. While you can certainly do some scary things with the -2 it isn't going to be as reliable as an aggro decks needs. Goblin Welder gets away with not reaching his full abusive potential because he is only one mana. Saheeli really does need things like Wurmcoil kicking about to cut it I fear.
Tidehollow Sculler 4/10
Super colour intense and not that great of a tempo play. Due to them getting the card back should this die much of the value of it being a body and being an artifact is lost. Despite this it is still one of the only proactive disruption cards affinity has access to. If you really want to disrupt and you have a really solid mana base then this is a good call. Otherwise, steer clear.
Breya, Etherium Shaper
Mental though this looks this is just so stupidly powerful you might go to the efforts of being able to play it. In a generic four colour good stuff list you should have good enough fixing to play this, you might need to lose some of the colourless lands that tap for two and play a Talisman or two to house her sensibly but it actually might be worth it. This card is just such a joke in any deck yet naturally scales the best in affinity! Three artifacts and three bodies in one card, 6/6 total stats with some evasion for four mana, a sac outlet and basically a freely equipped Jitte! She is hard to cast, pricey and slow but she is supremely powerful easily able to win just one her own and brings all of the synergy. I will absolutely try her. If Tezz can be good then this has to have a good build.
Glint Hawk 2/10
While a good aggressive body the fact that this is neither an artifact nor colourless makes this a far far weaker one drop than it might seem. To my mind there is only one good reason to play this card and that is when you can abuse the return effect. Mox Opal and Pearl work well with the card as do the few come into play effect artifacts in the deck. You need a fair few of the latter as well as a heavy commitment to white before you can look at this for your list. Kor Shyfisher also starts to look good in your deck when you have the things to make the Hawk good.
Glint Hawk Idol 5/10
This is actually quite comparable to Scrapheap Scrounger. It evades removal to some extent, all be it in a different way. It is also a colourless two drop that is just a fairly reasonable aggressive body. You don't need the coloured mana for either for them to do most of what you want of them but you should have access to the colour at the very least before playing either. You have a fair amount of protection against removal and loads of evasion anyway and so the Idol isn't fulfilling any role better than your staples. To me it is just a fine filler card. Certainly keeping Spined Thopter well out of the running!
Court Homunculus 6/10
A much weaker body than Glint Hawk but a far better card just because it is an artifact itself. It is still a fine enough one drop. You don't expect to be winning the game with just your one drops. As such it is far more important to have them support your deck than it is to have them as individually powerful as possible. This is a pretty low powered card but it is a solid inclusion if you have strong white mana support.
Because affinity needs the only removal spell in the game that is better than Path or Plow.... Oh wait, it doesn't. That is right, affinity is so powerful that it doesn't need or care that much about Dispatch. It is incredibly powerful and almost always useful but it doesn't further your synergy or do anything proactive. It is a bit like playing a Thoughtsieze, your consistency is better without. Galvanic Blast kills most of what this does and it can go face or take out walkers. Typically this is the kind of thing I keep in the board for reanimate decks or some other archetype that can produce something before affinity kills it that four damage can't handle.
Tempered Steel 8/10
This is the main reason to go white. It is so powerful and so demanding on your build that I would almost consider a Tempered Steel deck to be a distinct archetype. It is a lot like Plating in effect, it just turns all your dorks into total beat sticks. You can be attacking for over ten on turn two with the card! I think you can attack for 19 on turn two in modern with it. The issue is of course the double white in the cost which makes it a massive chore to include. You are probably having to dedicate a significant number of deck slots to reliably playing it and with only one copy of the card this is a blow to your overall consistency. So much so that it might be worth running some kind of tutor effect for such as Vampiric or Enlightened if you do go down that route. Tempered Steel is by far and away the best way to beat aggressive red decks which are one of your only tier one matchups that is not a good one pre board. The trick is to hold all your cards like Ornithopter back until you cast the Steel, then they are all far to hard to remove with burn.
Servo Exhibition 6/10
In a lot of ways I feel this new offering is like a cross between Thoughcast and Court Homunculus. Like the Homunculus it is a decent enough tempo play that provides artifacts. Like Thoughtcast it is something that can provide multiple artifacts in one card yet like both cards it is heavily hobbled by the colour requirement to actually play it. You want this out asap so that it does the most for you but to do that you have to have a focused selection of white mana producers. Obviously this scales with most things in the deck pretty well however it is especially good with Tempered Steel. It is also good with Chrome Mox as it increases your imprint targets without reducing your potential artifact count.
Stoneforge Mystic 8/10
With Plating being the best card in the deck and with most cube equipment being somewhere between viable and good in the deck the Stoneforge is a pretty potent tutor effect. Another case of generically good and powerful cards happening to work out well in affinity. The card is pretty slow in such a quick deck and is quite substantially worse than just drawing your Plating. I like to run two equipment in almost any deck in which I play Stoneforge. For affinity the penalty for having no targets left in your deck for the Stoneforge is steeper than most other decks. It would be like having a Squire in your Splinter Twin deck.
Ethersworn Canonist 6/10
Great sideboard card or maindeck hedge card. It almost never harms you and can be a pain against quite a like of normal decks not just the silly storm combos. The thing again is that your deck is so damn good that you just don't want to downgrade the quality of your threats so as to get a bit of disruption. Nothing is quicker than you and so reducing your power and consistency is really not worth slowing them down. This is just a Grizzly Bear and not even a free disposable one like Frogmite.
Porcelain Legionnaire 5/10
Apart from being like the hardest card to spell in the game this little card is fine filler in affinity. Although perhaps a more rounded dork than Scrapheap Scrounger it plays into red which is probably your biggest fear in cube. Both paying life and having just one toughness makes this a risky two drop
Far too slow for conventional aggressive affinity lists but with the way magic is going I am fairly sure there will be a midrange version of affinity which has loads more legs than normal and a much slower curve as well. In such decks this could start to be pretty good as an ongoing source of value. It is also probably worth it in a well constructed Tempered Steel deck because it scales so well and already has sufficient white mana. It does make Young Pyromancer look really quite good by comparison however.
Affinity loves to draw cards, more so than most decks. It also loves to power out with cheap and useful artifacts for which Skullclamp is the top of the pile in terms of power. Affinity and Skullclamp are both really hard to play well, combine the two and you have a head melting experience. Affinity is a tempo deck and Skullclamp typically costs you tempo. Ideally you use it to get profitable trades and protect things against removal. Sometimes you just use it as a mana sink to convert your weaker cards into more gas. You can certainly throw a lot of games by overusing the card. Clamp is greatly improved in value with token producers and with sacrifice outlets. Obviously nutty good but at least this rating comes with a caution!
This is the best disruption card available to affinity. It fairly well shuts down most other decks for a couple of turns while barely having an impact on you. Once it is done Time Walking your opponent you can recycle the card with one of your sacrifice outlets. You can even reuse it with things like Glint Hawk and Goblin Welder for a horrific lockdown experience for your opponent. The only reason this is not an auto include card is that it isn't a threat. You are already the quickest deck in the format and so you don't need to slow your opponents down if that comes at any cost to you. While this does cost you a card and three mana the effect is so powerful and one sided that it is still worth it most of the time.
Chromatic Sphere 7/10
Chromatic Star 9/10
All three of these cards are some of the best filler you can find. They are all one mana artifacts that ultimately cycle helping you dig to your big cards and powering you out. In addition to this they offer a one off fixing which is huge for a deck that has so few specific coloured sources and often wants to play three or four different colours! Star and Terrarion both offer great synergy with sac outlets when you don't need the fixing. Sphere works best with Yawgmoth's will and the exile effect it has. Star and Sphere offer more consistency with cheaper and quicker activations possibile. Terrarion does keep up with the others in usefulness as it is able to double fix and is a great tool when you have things like Baleful Strix, Thopter Foundry and Tempered Steel to play.
Chrome Mox 7/10
Quite awkward to imprint. Even in your opening hand you rarely have options on what you can imprint, far more often you just can't at all. Even when you can imprint it it doesn't always provide the fixing you want. By imprinting a coloured card you massively reduce your need for that colour in your deck. You can't even imprint things like Thopter Foundry despite being coloured they are also artifacts. All this is a little academic, when you do imprint stuff it gives you a vast tempo boost and when you don't you still have a card which you can put to use. It still adds to metalcraft and affinity and can still be sacrificed for value later on. I have played Chrome Mox in 60 card constructed affinity with no regrets. That was in standard too where nothing like Wheel existed to refresh your hand size. Mox is best when you have a lot of coloured non-artifact cards but this is how to make your affinity deck worse as a general rule. Even with as low as five imprint targets I still find Chrome Mox to be quite reasonable in the deck. It gives you a lot of options and is far less of a cost when you don't use it than it is for other decks. The fewer different colours you have the more you can rely on it for fixing. In a two colour affinity deck I often look to play Chrome. With more colours than two it would only be something I used to solve other issues with my deck and patch up some holes.
Mox Diamond 7/10
Fantastic fixer and pretty decent burst tool. When I am three or more colours I am generally quite keen to include a Mox Diamond in my list. While you have a low land count you don't need much mana to go nuts. You still get a lot of benefit from a turn one Mox Diamond even if you then cannot make your second land drop on turn two, sometimes even the first! Once you have three or four mana sources all further ones are your weakest draws and so losing them is far less severe than losing a coloured card. The real issue with Diamond is that you cannot usefully use it when you have nothing to discard as you can with Chrome. There are absolutely times it does nothing at all for you and that is a little bit painful.
Hangarback Walker 8/10
A great filler dork that has a lot of different angles. This is a colourless two drop, it offers wrath protection, evasion, ongoing value and powerful synergy with Steel Overseer and modular. It acts as a great one turn mana dump should things get to the late game. The only reason this is not an auto include is that the card is really rather slow to do all that much. Myr Sire is not something to get excited about and a lot of the time Walker will essentially be just that. Walker benefits from a sac outlet so that you can generate fliers as and when you need them.
Bonded Construct 6/10
Savannah Lion with a Mogg Flunkies style drawback. While this has quite a lot more individual tempo and power than most of the other one drop filler dorks you can play it doesn't further your synergy. Being a synergy deck you want your cheap support cards to further your options rather than just be efficient linear cards. No one is going to argue that Goblin Sledder is a better card than Goblin Guide yet in the tribal goblins deck the Sledder is far more powerful. I can't believe I am comparing Bonded Construct to Goblin Guide but still... In decks with Skullclamp, Tempered Steel and such things the value of this goes up. Without these things to improve upon the card I don't think it is really worth it any more. Pre Memnite days this would have been straight into the archetype, now it looks a little fair.
Phyrexian Walker 3/10
This is basically all the bad bits of Memnite and Ornithopter combined. It doesn't do anything offensive on its own and it is very easy to block. The extra toughness is pretty irrelevant, it is not like they are gutted they have a Shock not a Bolt because of it. They will be aiming that burn somewhere else 99% of the time. You can only play the Walker if you have loads of creature buffs. Just Plating and Ravager is no where close to enough. Powering up with cheap artifacts is great but you do need some of them to actually do stuff. Both Frogmite and My Enforcer are much much better at what this is trying to do, play them.
Phyrexian Revoker 7/10
A decent filler card that can become something you actively want if you are facing specific known nasties such as Pernicious Deed or some combo like Painter's Servant / Grindstone. Even in matchups without things you would play the Revoker for there are almost always good targets to chose that will make it act quite like removal. It is similar to Tidehollow Sculler in that it is a fairly limp tempo play and a little too easy to deal with to be a super strong answer to anything. Fortunately for it the lack of colour in the casting cost makes Revoker substantially better than the Sculler in a general sense.
A decent protection tool for an affinity list that is spread quite thin and going in a couple of directions. Perhaps one that is trying to include a light Thopter Foundry combo. Spellskite is generally very annoying regardless of what you are playing and with three more Toughness than Revoker it is often a more effective disruption tool. The issue faced by Spellskite is that it is basically just a slightly bigger Phyrexian Walker that does nothing aggressive on its own. Much better in Tempered Steel lists or ones with higher equipment counts but generally still very playable filler even when you have no specific use for it.
Hex Parasite 4/10
More low impact utility filler. There are some cute things you can do with this but it is all a bit too much mana to be super powerful. Most of the time this is just an over cost Memnite. This probably means I am somewhat overestimating Bomat Courier's potential for the deck.
Mana Vault 6/10
While this gives some nutty burst potential it is a pretty dead draw anytime after turn two which greatly reduces its value. For a non-threat card this doesn't do enough throughout the course of the game to be a high priority. The more colourless stuff you have in your deck the better this becomes. The more stuff that draws huge amounts of cards like Wheel of Fortune and Yawgmoth's Will the better too. In the optimal lists this isn't a thing I want but the more off piste you go with the deck the more powerful and important Mana Vault and even Grim Monolith can become. They do give you access to some otherwise non-viable cards that are pretty potent in the archetype.
Cursed Scroll 6/10
A bit of reach, a bit of removal and an OK mana dump. The more consistent the deck the better this becomes. The more exotic stuff you have such as Wheel of Fortune the weaker this gets. The versions of affinity that look less powerful are often the ones that benefit most from Scroll. If you have loads of burst mana and high impact threats then you will either do nothing or auto win. In both of these situations Scroll does very little to help you. If you have a good spread of things and few do nothing or situational cards then Scroll will typically do enough work to be a good inclusion. Cards like Grim Lavamancer are a real pain against you and being able to take them out with Scroll is delightful.
Myr Retriever 9/10
This is the only card I initially had on the auto include list but ultimately decided it should be here. The reason being that you really want a sacrifice outlet for this guy to shine and you can't always have enough of those. Basically this card is a value filler insurance card. It is easy to play, clogs up the board and contributes to your synergy. It makes mass removal less scary and it allows you to get back your key cards should they get dealt with. In singleton formats recursion is far more valuable. While a weak tempo play the ability to have a second Ravager or Plating is super worth that cost. Just the ability to play a little more loosely with your valuable cards can alone be enough to return that tempo cost. Retriever has fantastic synergy with Goblin Welder, so much so always try and play them as a pair.
Smuggler's Copter 9/10 at least I presume
Obviously this can't be bad. Wrath proof, evasive threat that is also a cheap artifact. If Glint Hawk Idol can get a look in this certainly can. Looting is amazing for any deck, those with consistency issues even more so. There is synergy with graveyard stuff on a bunch of decent affinity cards and so you can get some bonus value there too. The one issue there might be with this card is that the deck already has equipment in it and is not the most threat dense of the aggressive decks. Even with just this and Plating you risk situations where you are tied up each turn pissing around with man lands and re-equipping or worse still just doing nothing. The looting should help with that a bit but still, playing this will demand a slightly higher creature count than normal. Neither Signal Pest nor Ornithopter help to crew this either which is not ideal. There is also negative synergy going on with Springleaf Drum and Copter. On the reverse side of things Suggler's Copter does allow you to play a little greedier on things as you have some ability to loot them away. Perhaps you play both Chrome and Diamond or even both Will and Wheel!
You don't really ramp this late in the day as your curve ends at three for the most part. The Talisman simply offer a great way to fix your mana without costing you too much tempo or synergy. As they come down untapped you can usually put that mana to use right away making your card only a one mana investment and as such a smaller tempo hit than most alternatives. They are basically a Chromatic Star that finds a land and continues to fix for you in future turns. I do like what Talisman bring to the archetype however you have to be careful to not play too many of that sort of thing. Threat density is something you have to keep an eye on. As an aside, the Signets are significantly worse being that much more awkward to use immediately. I would advise against ever playing Signets. Play Felwar Stone instead if there isn't the appropriate Talisman and hope it fixes what you need!
Genesis Chamber 7/10
This is quite the big risk card but it does offer huge returns, likely more so than any other support card you can add. Even against decks that are full of creatures you get far more from Chamber than they could hope for. Not only do your guys frequently cost nothing and come down in one big go giving you massive tempo you can also put a horde of 1/1 artifacts to really good use. They will make Plating nearly twice is painful, they will make Ravager twice as scary. The reasons to not play Genesis Chamber have little to do with your opponent. Firstly the card is an awful top deck once your hand is empty. Secondly, you have to invest a little bit of tempo to get back that huge swing. Against fair decks this is well worth it but against a combo deck where it is just a pure race this massive momentum swing can be too late. Lastly you need to built somewhat with Chamber in mind. You need a very high creature count to ensure you are getting triggers every turn. You also need a very cheap creature count which in turn means you run out of gas a bit quicker. Sac outlets that offer good returns, global pump effects and/or Skullclamp are the best things to pair with the Chamber.
Cultivator's Caravan 2/10
I think this is too slow to really be the thing affinity is looking for. I am more interested in the ability for it to fix than I am about the 5/5. Crew three is quite a tall order and a generic 5/5 isn't very exciting. As a threat I prefer Myr Enforcer, as Fixing I probably just prefer a land. I think that you probably need burst mana from things like Mishra's Workshop before you want to include this in your deck but as I haven't tested it I cannot be totally sure.
Aether Vial 4/10
This is yet another non-threat card that becomes pretty weak beyond the first couple of turns. It is also a little more awkward than something simple like a Springleaf Drum in terms of how it helps you play out your stuff. It can offer some good fixing but only on creature cards. This means you can afford to be more exotic with stuff like Tidehollow Sculler and Baleful Strix. One of the biggest perks of the card is it's ability to let you flash in things. All the utility cards like Ravager become far scarier when they can turn up at any time. Obviously it is quite nice against countermagic but your raw speed is usually enough there. I try and avoid playing it, despite a huge upside I feel it lowers overall consistency. When you have such a potent archetype you are just best off trying to do your thing as reliably as possible and Vial in singleton is not what you call reliable.
Lotus Petal 5/10
Fine for both burst and fixing but a fairly hefty price on your power level and threat density. A lot of the coloured cards you play are things you play at the end of your curve and so the burst this offers typically isn't useful. If you use this for mana you are a card down and you no longer have an artifact in play. There are plenty of situations this is good in but I want a lot of card advantage in my list before I am super happy about playing it. Yawgmoth's Will is perhaps the best reason for playing this.
Black Vise 6/10
Somewhat of a threat, arguably the most efficient one you can make on turn one. The issue I have with it is that ultimately it is not a threat making it much like Mana Vault and Aether Vial and all those other dead draws in the mid game. Vise scales very well with any mana disruption (Port, Wastelands, Tanglewire) and also any symmetrical draw seven effects you may be packing. Decent filler and very good in the right time or place but all the wrong sorts of consistency for what you are trying to do with the deck.
Engineered Explosives 3/10
A versatile removal effect that you can tutor for with Trinket Mage should you need that sort of thing. As with all the reactive cards this is something I try and avoid playing. If I do it will be for a specific thing I struggle with. While this fits it neatly with a lot of things it is a pretty expensive and inconvenient way to remove stuff. Generally you are better off with cheap targetted removal like Dispatch for known problems. Being a deck that makes a load of stuff on the board you generally wind up killing some of your own stuff with the Explosives and that is really lame.
Lupine Prototype 2/10
Lots of power and pretty easy to turn on yourself. The issue is that you don't really need fat efficient dorks. You have plenty of those already and they are far less unreliable. Myr Enforcer may only be a 4/4 but you can often make it for nothing on turn two which makes it wildly better than a 2 mana 5/5 even without the drawback. The better your deck is in terms of consistency the better this will be. If Cursed Scroll is good in your deck then this is likely not that much worse than Myr Enforcer. As soon as you have things like Wheel of Fortune in your deck or several colours of different cards then your Prototype is pretty unplayable.
More slow filler two drop dorks. This one is one of the best midrange dorks but affinity is not at all afraid of midrange decks. This is like an even slower, less powerful Hangerback Walker. There is enough exile effects going around that it isn't even that tenacious of a threat anymore. You need lots of sacrifice outlets to turn this on so to speak otherwise your opponent will just perpetually ignore it as a 1/1. Some mild Wrath protection but really still too slow and generic to be a counterplay to any strategy.
Arcbound Stinger 3/10
The most fillery of filler dorks. This is utter poo but having extra guys with modular is nice for retaining counters. Basically, if you already have a ravager this is quite a nice thing to have access to however before that it is very limp indeed. Poo cards that tick all the boxes and support your deck synergies well often become good. I would at least play this before I played Spined Thopter I am pretty sure.
Lodestone Golem 7/10
This dude is surprisingly good in cube affinity despite being a four drop with no cost reduction or alternate casting mode. Having access to some lands that tap for two combined with a small amount of other ramp makes a turn two Golem possible and a turn three one pretty reliably. He is a much better disruption effect than Aethersworn Canonist or any of that non-sense and a pretty meaty threat as well. Tanglewire is probably the only better disruption and you can't hit people for five with a Tanglewire. I only run Lodestone Golem when I have a healthy amount of ramp and a low non-artifact count.
Umezawa's Jitte 4/10
Surprisingly weak in this deck. Being so expensive to use it really slows you down and leaves you wide open to painful disruption in the form of instant removal. You already have two better equipment for the deck (Plating and Clamp) and equipment (and now vehicles) have diminishing returns. While it looks like a good problem solver card it feels like it exacerbates your weaknesses first. Like against a red deck, sure, it can kill a Lavamancer but you need to get it on something that lives to do combat damage first. Certainly powerful, a lot more so if somehow it is your only equipment, but not what you want to optimise the deck.
City of Brass/Mana Confluence/Glimmervoid
These are your go to lands whenever you are three or more colours. If you are just two then any dual that comes in untapped is better. Glimmervoid might seem like the best but it is so ruinous those few occasions you do have to put it in the bin. I'll take some pain over that chance with such an aggressive deck all day. While there are some exotic colourless lands you can play beyond the auto includes I think it is much more important to finish off your land count with reliable fixing.
Academy Ruins / Volrath's Stronghold
Both of these add some lasting power and help to let you reuse key cards. Ruins is generally better as it gets back Plating and Ravager but Stronghold gets back most of the things you want as well as some of the really spicy creatures like Welder and Disciple. I prefer to use things like Myr Retriever or Yawgmoth's Will for recursion so that I can rely on a better mana base. Without those adding one of these to your deck may be worth it but it is the kind of thing I would counterbalance by adding more fixing or increasing my land count to do.
Rishadan Port and Wasteland
Both are pretty good disruption effects that you can use to burst out early and then get to using that spare mana slowing down the opposition. If for some reason you end up with a basically colourless deck then these are the next best lands you can include after the auto include (and the banned power stuff). Mostly you want some of the coloured stuff and so, again, you are better of with colour fixing lands to take you to the appropriate land count. Also again, you are hte quickest deck and so hurting your consistency isn't really worth the disruption most of the time. That said, affinity is yet again one of the best placed decks to take advantage of these effects. You can have emptied your hand on turn two and be ready to use your spare mana to tie up theirs with little to no impact on your curve at all.
I am now going to try and give three example lists of how you can build affinity in different ways. Sadly my personal bias on builds and card has lead them to look more similar than I had hoped!
Four Colour Best Stuff
6x Artifact Lands
City of Traitors
City of Brass
Disciple of the Vault
Master of Etherium
Tanglewire / Smuggler's Copter
Two Colour Refined
6x Artifact Lands
City of Traitors
Disciple of the Vault
Talisman of Indulgence
Wheel of Fortune
6x Artifact Lands
City of Traitors
Hopefully that should be enough information and examples of what goes with what, ratios of things, and ultimately what you are aiming for to be able to build any sort of cube affinity deck with good success. I don't think I have missed anything, certainly nothing that isn't greatly overshadowed by another card for that role in this breakdown but I am keen to hear if anyone thinks there is something worthy I have missed mentioning. Have fun swiftly and powerfully ending people with this archetype!