This thread is here to discuss various different forms of "Infect.dec". It is also to reduce the obnoxious amounts of clutter on the forums, since everyone and their mother is posting an Infect deck these days. As such:
Post your Infect-based decks in this thread, not in individual threads.
I promise that, if you do such, you will be able to share your ideas in a more organized environment where players who've been using this mechanic succesfully in competitive format can critique, evaluate, and assist you in building a better deck. At least I will.
Infect decks are a difficult deck to generalize, especially how early it is in this new Standard season. However, two basic sub-types exist within the genre of “Infect”: aggro and control. Successful Infect aggro decks are geared towards consistent victories on turn 3-5, exploiting the limited amount of removal and early game play in our current metagame. On the other hand, an Infect-based control deck either abuses the Proliferate mechanic in unison with Infect or simply controls the board until they can seal a victory with a sudden punch to the nads.
Playing an Infect deck – even an aggressive variant – requires a very control-oriented mindset. Most of the plays you will make will be responsive, baiting an opponent’s burn or removal so that they intentionally waste it and you swing through. Imagine that the deck you are building is like a rocket-launder made out of ply wood and PVC pipe – from turn one you’re fighting to survive yourself, but you have an incredibly high possibility of blowing your opponent out of the water before their deck’s even come online.
Infect is a beautiful mechanic in that it is completely broken. Essentially, Infect creatures deal damage that breaks all of the typical checks and balances in Magic: The Gathering:
- The damage they do to other creatures lasts longer than until the end step.
- The damage they do to other creatures lessens the damage those creatures can do in return.
- The damage they deal to players is in the form of Poison counters.
- Poison counters, as of yet, cannot be removed by any means in all of Magic.
That being said, playing an Infect deck against any non-Infect deck is like running a 50-yard dash while your opponent is in the mile run. As soon as your first creature hits the board you force your opponent to play by your rules. Every creature demands removal. Every turn is a clock that ticks and demands answers. And, unless you hit a pocket of mana, a properly-built Infect deck will consistently lay down a single-turn game-ending threat.
Since Infect is based entirely in Black and Green (save for a few random artifact creatures), at least one of these colors must be included in the deck. As far as I have seen from playtesting, Green is more suited as the basis of an aggro build and Black is more suited as a Control variant. Thus:
Green – Has the least creatures but the ones with the most significant bodies. Putrefax is king here, essentially a Ball Lightning for Infect. Mono-Green can abuse ramp to put him out a turn or two too early for other decks to deal with. Cystbearer provides a good body and double the average Infect creature’s attack, and [c]Blight Mamba[/b] has recursion.
Green also has Infect’s most important assets: evasion and protection.
Black -- Has the best creatures hands-down, as well as removal and disruption. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon is a tough card to argue with, and Plague Stinger is the absolute best turn-two drop for any Infect deck. Having an Infect Lord also helps, as well as creatures who simply put poison counters directly on to the opponent with no way of preventing suck other than a Mana Leak.
Green/Black – Has the availability of a full spectrum of Infect creatures, as well as Black removal for removing pesky blockers and Green pump and evasion. In theory, the best way to go. However, the mana base – without proper dual-lands – is just janky and inconsistent. Playing Green/Black is a lot like flipping a coin as the beginning of the match. If you always have the right color/amount of mana for the pumps you need on that creature to get the alpha strike, you win. If you don’t…
Black/x – “X” typically ends us a Blue for Proliferate and Control. Thrummingbird and Steady Progress, as well as the typical Mana Leak, help turn a single poison counter into 10 without allowing your opponent to beat you to 20. I also hear Jace, the Mind Sculptor is pretty good.
Aggro decks will definitely want as close to zero CiPT lands as they can, as these lands – no matter their benefit – never make up for the loss in tempo that a deck designed to win on turn 3 suffers. Thus, basic lands and fetch lands are the way to go – all 20-24.
Control decks will be able to slow down the tempo of the game and are almost always two colors. As such, Drowned Catacombs, Creeping Tarpit, Darkslick Shores, and Tectonic Edge do wonders. Mystifying Maze can also put a blocker out of the way at a crucial time for control’s surprise alpha-strike.
Ichor Rat – Has double the average power of an Infect creature, has an awesome come into play auto-poison counter ability, and only costs 3. As long as he hits the battlefield, he’s done his job – everything else is just bonus.
Hand of the Praetors – Turns every Infect creature in your deck into an Ichor Rat, makes them decent-sized for their mana cost, and is a fairly sturdy body himself for his mana cost. If you play black, you should probably have at least 3 of this guy in your deck.
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon – The best Black has to offer. “Skittles”, as he’s referred, has the recursion of Blight Mamba, the evasion of Plague Stinger, and the speed of Blackcleave Goblin or Putrefax. He comes down on turn six at the earliest, though, which in a non-control deck challenges his viability. Regardless, he helps gas up the mid-to-late game of a lot of Infect decks.
Blight Mamba – Non-color-intensive mana cost, has recursion, and is the same size-per-mana of most of the Infect creatures. If you run green, I recommend a 4-of.
Cystbearer – The best body for the least price out of all the Infect creatures, this will help deal with first strikers like White Knight and Vampire Hexmage. He also has twice the power of the average Infect creature, which is nice.
Ichorclaw Myr – This guy, as far as I am concerned, is psychological tech. No one wants to have their early drops eaten by a 3/3 Infecter, so they typically opt not to block. Two or three pumps on turn 3 and that mistake can cost them a game. No matter the color combination, I recommend a 4-of (I’d run 6, if I could).
Necropede – Best suited as sideboard material for control decks or decks with significant amounts of chump blockers. His enters graveyard ability is fantastic with Black/Blue’s proliferate. Regardless, he’s a nice addition as both a creature and removal.
Vampire’s Bite: The biggest pump black has to offer. Sadly, it provides no extra butt for your creatures in case of a Lightning Bolt – as such, these are best played when the opponent is tapped out or after you strip them with a Duress or Inquisition of Kozilek (or have a Mana Leak handy, in the case of Black/Blue).
Virulent Swipe: Two turns of pump for one mana, as well as free removal is they decide to block. Can be used as a surprise boost after attackers are declared first turn, and next time it comes around can force an opponent to either let a blocker through and remove the wrong creature.
Tainted Strike: This is something only recommended for Black/Blue control as a sinister combat trick to tack on to a Creeping Tar Pit or on someone’s Baneslayer Angel that you stole with Mimic Vat. Even without the Pit as base, a +1/+0 is a pump, regardless, and sometimes pushes a creature’s swing from almost to enough.
Doom Blade/Smother/Vendetta/Deathmark[/c]/etc: Removal. This gets a creature out of the way so that you can put foot to face and race to 10. Sometimes, in a stalled game, it prevents someone else’s creature from putting foot to your face.
Memoricide: In a Black control-oriented deck, this is just goodstuff. Strip them of their game so that you can Infect and Proliferate in safety.
Canopy Cover: Early game evasion that’s seriously effective.
Primal Bellow: Part pump, part tech – in a Mono-Green deck, this allow for late-game boosts of power akin to what Black and Black/Blue control get from Mimic Vat. Early game it’s a Groundswell, but mid to late game it simply keeps getting better.
Vines of Vastwood: The best card from Green pump-wise, this card is best used in response to an opponent’s removal – especially when you can kick it and punish them for trying to ‘Bolt or ‘Blade your critter.
Asceticism: Tech for removal-heavy decks/sideboards, such as MBC, Valakut, RDW, Big Red, Koth Deck Wins, etc. Best in the sideboard.
Garruk Wildspeaker: The only Planeswalker I’d recommend running in an aggressive Infect deck, as he actually extends the reach of your mana and your creatures. Infect + Overrun = Profit.
Mimic Vat: Best in control, but also useful in decks running Putrefax for some nice combo action. Along with Tainted Strike, this can turn someone else’s Titan or other random fatty into an Infect wincon. That, or it can simply recur Ichor Rat / Hand of the Praetors to put them on a clock that demands an answer immediately.
Thrummingbird: If you run blue, even if you don’t have a focus on proliferate there isn’t much reason to not run this little guy. After you’ve swung with a creature with Infect, it might as well have Infect as well.
Distortion Strike: More blue tech – unblockable, +1/+0, and Rebound. Yum.
Assault Strobe: Swing with Ichorclaw Myr, Groundswell, Assault Strobe – good game?
These will have to come later with more playtesting in tournaments.
For starters, here is my deck:
4 Llanowar Elf -
4 Blight Mamba -
4 Ichorclaw Myr -
4 Cystbearer -
4 Putrefax -
4 Primal Bellow -
4 Groundswell -
4 Vines of Vastwood -
4 Canopy Cover -
2 Garruk Wildspeaker -
4 Autumn's Veil -
4 Nature's Claim -
4 Corpse Cur -
3 Asceticism -