Ever since Gitaxian Probe got hit by the Modern ban hammer, Infect has been on the decline. And by “on the decline,” I mean the deck basically ceased to exist. Until recently.
A couple weeks ago on Magic TV, I referred to Infect when I was talking about some of the stronger decks in Modern. Someone in the chat then mentioned that I must have been talking about a metagame from a year ago, because Infect was no longer a competitive deck. Well, my evidence today seems to contradict that.
A couple weeks ago, Emma Handy managed to clinch a Top 8 finish with Infect at a Modern Classic in Cincinnati. Her deck was unique in that it included 2 copies of Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. The next week Zan Syed managed a similar feat, taking 6th place at the Modern Classic in Washington last week with a list that was similar to Handy’s.
Now, aside from the latest additions, this decks looks likes a stock Infect list, which is both reassuring and disheartening. It’s reassuring in that the deck could still be a competitor, despite the banning of Gitaxian Probe. It’s disheartening because, well, the deck could still be a competitor, despite the banning of Gitaxian Probe, and Infect can be one of the most degenerate decks to play against in the format.
Despite that, while the deck has seen some recent success, it hasn’t begun tearing up the Modern queues just yet, digital or otherwise. So today I’m looking to see if the deck is all that it once was, or if it’s merely a shadow of its former glory. Let’s take a look, shall we…
Well, I’m impressed. There were more complete blowouts than I expected, signaling to me that Infect still has what it takes to be a contender.
The biggest weakness of the deck is being one land (or one card in the graveyard, as was sometimes the case) shy of a victory. You’re not playing very many lands, and you’re frequently using two of them to attack. This means that you often only have about 2 mana to play with when it comes to your pump spells. For this reason, I was a little more fond of having a Blossoming Defense in my hand than a Vines of Vastwood. I would often want to use one pump spell, then follow up their removal with a Blossoming Defense—something that isn’t possible when you have 2 mana and your only “counter” is a Vines of Vastwood. (Okay, it’s still possible, but you don’t get any additional power and toughness boosts.)
As you may have noticed, my only losses were to the heavy disruption/removal decks. This makes sense. When your entire deck is controlling and geared toward removing creatures or cards in hand, it’s hard for Infect to win. The deck has limited creatures, and most of their spells act as combo pieces—you usually need several to push through a quick victory. Nevertheless, if you dodge these black-based midrange/control decks, you should be in good shape.
Infect is several shades faster than a lot of the other combo decks, occasionally granting you wins as early as turn 3. Heck, turn 2 is even possible with a Glistener Elf, two +4/+4 pump spells, and a Mutagenic Growth. Not an impossible hand to put together, mind you, when the deck contains both Groundswell and Might of Old Krosa.
Do I think Infect is still a Modern contender? Most definitely! The deck is also fairly cheap by Modern standards, with cards like Inkmoth Nexus and Noble Hierarch being some of the most expensive in the deck. I’m convinced that you can swap out the Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy with something else if you don’t have them. Either way, give the deck a shot and let me know what you think about Infect. Is it still a deck? Is there any new secret tech? Thanks for reading and I’ll catch you next time!