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Modernizing Infect

Modern is a format where you can play whatever you want. Yet, while you can play anything, certain choices may reward you more than others in terms of win percentage. Infect is among the most rewarding.

Keep in mind that Infect is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Tons of games come down to a live-or-die decision. Two options:

  1. Win the game.
  2. Lose the game.

But it is unclear which is which.

Choose correctly and you may cross the bridge and continue down the X-0 path toward the holy grail. Choose incorrectly and be hurled into the abyss. Now, tell me, what is your favorite color, please?

I like blue and green equally—see you in the Top 8, bridge troll guy.

No matter the deck, your decisions impact the outcome of the game but not always in such obvious ways as when you are playing Infect.

I wish I knew what you had!

You cast Become Immense on Blighted Agent and your opponent topdecked a Lightning Bolt. The decision to make a move cost you the game, or if they didn’t miss the Bolt, would have won you the game.

The good news is that the stress subsides and the deck becomes fun once you know your way around it. When to push and when to stay becomes easier to identify with more games under your belt. Even when you get into those tough “push or stay” moments, you’ll have a better sense of which move gives you a better chance to win.

We Kick ‘Em to the Curb Unless They Look Like Simic Jagger

I’m confident in the list the Ann Arbor guys made and I have been jamming it the past month.

Infect

Brian DeMars

The more I infect the more I realize the strength of the deck as it becomes as streamlined as possible. I’m not trying to be cute, or fancy, or impress people with obscure tricked-out tech—my tech is to maximize consistency and good decision making to improve win percentage.

Let’s talk specific choices:

In the Phyrexian language, Dismember means: “Goodbye, sucka.”

Dismember does something fundamentally unfair for the amount of mana required. True, loss of life is a cost, but there is no way 1 is fair for unconditional removal. Not to mention, according to the color pie, U/G shouldn’t have access to such an effect at any cost, let alone at such an absurd rate!

It is common to kill a blocker and win the game right away.

The rare circumstance where it’s only 2 strikes and you’re out…

Distortion Strike competes for space with other options:

These are Jim Morrison slots because they help to “break on through to the other side!”

Alas, not every creature is Blighted Agent. The other 13 can be blocked. How annoying! So we need ways to help the others sneak or break through. Each option has upsides and downsides. Apostle’s Blessing can counter removal and be cast with Nexus mana, but it doesn’t beat 2 different color blockers and adds Phyrexian mana damage to a deck that takes a lot of self damage already.

I like Strike because it gives you 2 turns to win the game through blockers, which means you don’t have to go all in based on mana constraints. It is easier to leave up protection like Defense or Vines when you have 2 turns instead of just one shot.

Infect Sideboard

I’ve been happy with the sideboard. I know I said I didn’t have spicy tech, but I do have one treat to share:

If you want to make your deck better, just add 4 copies of the most expensive card in the format. Expensive = great.

I was bummed to learn that I’m not the first to ‘Goyf, but was nonetheless glad to finally figure it out. Most Infect boards currently include:

I was PERSISTent that ‘Goyf was better than Finks.

Finks is for two matchups: Burn and G/B/x midrange. I’ve had mixed results with Finks. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is clunky and fails. The last time I Finks’d it was heavily tilted toward being inefficient, which in turn heavily tilted me.

After the event I discussed the card with a friend and described why it didn’t work. It cost too much mana. I made the observation that if Finks had been Tarmogoyf that I would have been in great shape because I could have deployed it a turn quicker.

Against Burn. They play Goblin Guide. You play Hierarch. They Searing Blaze Hierarch. The difference between dropping a 3/4 ‘Goyf and having to wait a turn on Finks is the difference between life and death.

Tarmogoyf also lives through Anger of the Gods, which sees considerable play because of the popularity of Dredge.

Tarmogoyf is also great against the other Phyrexian mana aggro decks like Death’s Shadow. Tarmogoyf + Distortion Strike kills those decks dead.

No wonder Mirrodin fell. Phyrexia was clearly pre-boarded against artifacts.

I’m up to 2 Corrupter because there has been a noticeable uptick in Chalice of the Void. Chalice is bad news because it shuts down more than half your spells. The second Corrupter gives you another way to break free.

Corrupter does work elsewhere too. It kills Spellskite, is a warm body against removal heavy decks, and is great against Affinity.

Despite all my rage Dredge beat my Grafdigger’s Cage.

Without experience against Dredge I assumed Grafdigger’s Cage was the way to fight them. H8 CRD = GR8T CRD.

Once I had a better understanding of Dredge, I realized that Cage was not the way to win the matchup. Infect is faster than Dredge and they become the reactive deck post-sideboard. Dredge isn’t trying to race—they are trying to control the game:

Dredge has removal and can sit back and pick off your fragile creatures. Nice Cage. I think I’ll recur Darkblast again…

Dredge’s artifact hate is also good post-sideboard. It kills both Nexus and Spellskite (which is good against Darkblast) and as a bonus eats Cage. Boarding in hate an opponent can easily and effectively answer is weak sauce.

Admiral Ackbar approves of this sideboarding tip.

Ravenous Trap fits your Infect theme of being free. Mana is the #1 constraint when playing Infect and free spells are wonderful.

Trap sets them back in a big way. It nukes their entire ‘yard and requires them to have another Dredger and a way to get it into the bin before they can begin making progress again. It is also a sneaky way to deal with Conflagrate or Darkblast when they don’t expect it. I love the fact that Dredge just can’t interact with the card.

Good decks are a dime a dozen. Great decks are rare because you’ve got to constantly adapt to a changing metagame, and they only ever have a small window to shine. Infect is a great archetype and I think the list the Ann Arbor guys and I have been working on certainly flirts with being potentially great.

As always, if you have questions about the list or sideboarding, please drop them in the comments and I’ll be happy to respond. If you are not Infecting, be sure to remember that cold and Phyrexian flu season is here so be sure to dress warm, rest, and get plenty of Vitamin C to ward off the blight.

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