Have you caught Phyrexian fever yet? Are you excited to spread it across the multiverse and share the glory of Phyrexian plague with everybody? Well, then you’ve come to the right place.
I had fun playing Modern at #GPDFW last weekend. The weather was great, the food was unbelievable, and most importantly I liked—no, LOVED my deck. My 75 of choice in Modern? U/G Infect.
The only downside on the weekend was my hotel mate was ill with some lame, human, Earth virus. If he were Phyrexian like me, he’d have been immune. Get well soon, Devon!
Why I Quit Abzan and Became a Simic Mage
Infect was one of the best performing decks in the entire tournament. The archetype put 3 representatives into the Top 8 and was the most played of the Top 100 decks after Day 1 at 11%. Not too shabby Phyrexia, not too shabby…
I must admit I felt like a “blighted double agent” for turning my back on Abzan Company, but it was time to make a move.
Lately, I’ve found that Abzan struggles with both Dredge and Infect, two of the most popular decks in the format. Oh, and the irony that the deck with main-deck Meliras (PLURAL) and tutors to find them has a weak Infect matchup is not lost on me. I’m still a big fan of Abzan CoCo, but I think it needs a major tuneup to compete in the emerging metagame—for anybody looking to fight the good fight with Collected Company, I’d look to Nihil Spellbombs and Orzhov Pontiffs as a possible solution.
Another big selling point for Infect is that it has a great percentage against Dredge. The graveyard deck can do a lot of powerful, grindy things, but for all its huffing, puffing, and graveyard zip-a-dee-do-da it has very little game when it comes to unblockable infect creatures.
Blossoming Defense is a big-time printing for fans of spreading the Phyrexian virus. I’ve always felt the deck was most difficult to beat, and most fun to play, when it drew Vines of Vastwood. More copies of the best effect offer a great boon. My Infect lists typically lean toward playing Spell Pierce and/or Dispel in the main because I wanted extra protection against interactive removal. Defense provides more interaction with removal without diluting the critical mass of pump spells in the deck.
They should have named Blossoming Defense “Infect Charm” and the text could have been, “Choose two: PWN, PWN, PWN, or PWN.”
I went 11-4 with Infect at Grand Prix Dallas, which was good for 93rd place (I missed cashing on breakers) and 2 Pro Points:
Brian DeMars, 93rd place at GP DFW
As usual, I worked on the list with the Team Ann Arbor guys: Tyler, Andrew, and Max, and as always playing our finished product was a delight.
Infect is a known commodity and so there isn’t a ton of room to make crazy innovations. More or less, most of the changes people make are just to swap between the same dozen or so tried-and-true gems to gain a few percentage points in a changing meta.
It blew my mind that Botanical Sanctum did not make our final list. It turns out fetches are just superior because they do so much at a small price: they provide delve fodder for Become Immense, basics against Blood Moon decks, and summon Dryad Arbor.
The most innovative and unique attribute is the inclusion of all 4 copies of Blossoming Defense. The card feels tailor-made for Infect because it provides two desirable effects: pump and protection! I felt strongly about wanting 4 copies of Defense from the get-go. I’ve always thought that Vines of Vastwood was the best card, and more of that effect is gravy. Most decks rely on connecting with their removal, and being able to shrug off that Path or Decay can end the game on the spot.
A last cute fact about Blossom is that it can only target a creature you control and so it cannot be stolen with Spellskite, which was news to one of my opponents who sadly lost a Spellskite to the old Pendelhaven + Blossoming Defense block on my Glistener Elf.
Blossoming Defense lived up to my expectations and I was glad to have the maximum number of copies.
2 copies of Dismember was another questionable choice that ended up exceeding my expectations. I always get nervous about playing too much Phyrexian mana. There are many cards that pull at your life total. Fetches, Shocks, Probes, Mutagenic Growths, and Dismembers all come at the high cost of a lot of self-inflicted wounds. Stop hitting yourself! It is embarrassing to 12 yourself against a Burn deck.
We did shave an Apostle’s Blessing for Blossoming Defense, which opened up more Phyrexian mana slots. Dismember was strong all tournament and I left it in more than I took it out. There were several instances where an EOT Dismember removed a blocker that my opponent had just tapped out for and I won the game on the spot. It also kills troublesome creatures like Thing In the Ice, Spellskite, Melira, etc. for a low mana investment.
How to Use the Sideboard
The Infect sideboard is tricky. It is easy to look at a card and imagine blowing somebody out with it, but the key is to bring in the correct blowout cards in each matchup. There are too many decks to do a traditional guide, so I’ll explain what each card is for and where to use it most effectively.
When You Need More Creatures
There are two situations that reward having more creatures in your deck: Against decks that are overloaded with removal, and against decks where you need to block to survive. The best examples of these would be Jund and Zoo.
Typically, you’ll want to board out the least useful pump spells in these matchups and focus on having creatures actually stick around for more than a turn cycle. If you are playing against Burn you’ll also want to board out the lion’s share of painful Phyrexian mana spells like Gitaxian Probe.
Corrupter is a great niche card that can also come in when you want more creatures, though you’ll need to be careful because Corrupter’s ability is not a “may,” meaning he will eat your own Spellskite if you are not careful. Also, it is worth noting Corrupter is one of your few outs to a Chalice of the Void set with X=1. Eldrazi decks will almost always have Spellskite, Chalice, and Engineered Explosives, which makes Corrupter a great inclusion. Corrupter is also a slam-dunk against Affinity.
Speaking of slam-dunks against Affinity: Obvious card is obvious.
I see people go overboard with their use of Claim. I typically bring it in when there is a high likelihood of enchantments that must die. Blood Moon, Night of Soul’s Betrayal, Jeskai Ascendancy, etc. You have better answers to kill random Spellskites in the 75, so don’t fall into the trap of having 10 answers to 1 Spellskite and losing with all those situational cards rotting in your hand.
Cage is a concession to how busted Dredge is. You are good against them but they get better after sideboard because of Darkblast. Cage is the best card and wins the game for 1 mana if they can’t remove it.
I talked about how Blossoming Defense is like a Spell Pierce or Dispel earlier. But there are times when you actually want your counters to interact with things outside of their targeted removal—these are the moments when Pierce comes in.
If you need to counter proactive threats like Liliana, the Last Hope, Anger of the Gods, Pyromancer’s Ascension, or Night of Soul’s Betrayal, then Spell Pierce is a no-brainer. I also like Pierce against Bant Eldrazi because it stops Blessed Alliance (doesn’t target) and can stop Engineered Explosives as well.
Twisted Image is another card people over-sideboard.
There are 3 specific decks where I really want to be maxed out with TIMAGE: decks with a bunch of Birds and Hierarchs, Affinity, and U/R Aggro. Against these decks, Image is almost always going to be a 1-mana cantripping removal spell.
You don’t want it as a hedge against a random Spellskite—rather, you want it against decks that are flush with juicy targets: mana dorks, Thing in the Ice, Ornithopter, etc. You can also use it with great effectiveness against decks that pump power but not toughness. A switcheroo on Kiln Fiend that has been Battle Raged or a creature wearing Cranial Plating can win a game.
Infect is my second favorite deck to play in Modern that happens to be really well positioned in the metagame right now. I’m not sure if it is my favorite because it is super fun to play or just because it just wins a lot of games because it is busted. Either way, winning is fun too and you can’t argue with results!
Phyrexian creatures, Phyrexian mana, and a Phyrexian style of play. The Eldrazi may have been messing terraforming Modern in more devastating fashion over the past year, but let’s not forget who has been the fun police since straight-up day 1. #Blazingshoal.