Very few things make me happier than seeing a Mining Modern deck break out on the pro circuit. Not only is it really cool to be able to watch a "weird" deck at work finding success and being able to say, "hey, I played that deck!" but it's also great to think Modern is still – even after all these years – a format where new and innovative decks can pop up on the fringes and with the right pilot and the right tuning send someone to the Pro Tour.
This week's deck is the perfect example. I've toyed around with Hardened Scales and modular creatures like Arbound Worker going all the way back over a year, and while I was one of a handful of players to pick up this deck after I saw it hit the Top 16 of a SCG Classic back then, we've come a long way since then – all the way to a Top 16 finish at Grand Prix Barcelona, courtesy of Johann Fink.
Enjoy this, because it's a thing of beauty.
I know coverage decided to call this an Affinity deck, and in some ways it looks similar enough to typical Affinity that it is. But in my experience it actually plays out quite differently, with different strengths and weaknesses. For instance, we're actually playing a full playset of Arcbound Worker and the notoriously powerful Dominaria common Sparring Construct. Those are definitely weaknesses.
But on the other hand, we're less an Affinity deck all-in on its typical plan and more of a tribal modular deck that uses the Worker and Arcbound Ravager – plus an underutilized Modern all-star in Evolutionary Leap – to make and distribute a ton of counters. Well, make that two tons since Hardened Scales does truly broken things in this deck with all those counters (I never understood the full power until I attacked for 20 with one Arcbound Ravager on turn three – through a Blood Moon). Heck, even Throne of Geth does some silly things in this deck and all its counters.
We even have payoffs for those counters past "make a few big creatures." Hangarback Walker was ubiquitous in Standard during its time and is a perfect home for counters here – as is the current lynchpin of Standard Walking Ballista. Steel Overseer does Affinity things for the entire team, giving you multiple paths to victory even when you don't have a huge modular creature, as it can pump the creature lands in the deck or just provide so much value on Walking Ballista and Hangarback Walker that you can actually just grind out a bunch of midrange decks, something Affinity could never hope to do.
And, of course, we get to tie it together with the best cantrip in Modern: Ancient Stirrings. The card dodged the banhammer (for now), and continues to be just as great in this deck as it is in any deck it appears in. Add the entire package together and you have a deck perhaps more than any other in Modern takes a truly "bad" pile of cards and turns it into a truly great deck.
Thanks for reading,