11/02/2010 LI: "Put Your Hands Together For ..."

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Limited Information, which goes live Tuesday morning on magicthegathering.com.
Nice article.  I too wouldn't have put the  Tangle Angler so high.  I do see why it would be fairly high though.  Personally, I would have Corpse Cur higher than it is, even in an aggressive infect deck, since it returns one of your infect creatures.

For the record, Vector Asp is playable.  Obviously you don't want more than 2 at the most, but if your 8th or 9th Infect creature is a Vector Asp, you should play it rather than not have enough.  The worst thing that can happen with an Infect deck is not getting enough Infect-ors because then you can't deal 10 poison counters.  Vector Asps come pretty late, and you often get to take them in a pack with nothing else (and yes I'd pick it lower than Blackcleave Goblin - unless I'm short on early plays).

The reason to play Vector Asp is to have your first creature down on turn 1 - if you play an infect creature on the first 4 turns, and have tricks to back up, you basically win.  The other thing is that if you are piling on the pressure like this, your opponent will tend to trade their cheap 1/1 (eg a mana myr) for the Vector Asp because blocking Necropede or Ichorclaw Myr is worse, and Plague Stinger flies, so the end result is you don't usually have to activate it too many times, and you take out a blocker for your other guys. 

Also Carrion Call didn't get mentioned - it is fine as part of a swarm strategy.  A lot of the support cards (Trigon of Rage, Untamed Might, equipment) don't care how bad the creatures are so long as you've got enough of them to kep pounding and get through.

Relic Putrescence might be made to work in a deck that already has Tumble Magnets - a kind of build-your-own-Proliferate combo. (Poison is pretty shallow so sometimes you've got to get creative...)

I agree Tainted Strike is bad (just reads B +1/+0 in a deck with all infect creatures) - though I'd consider it if I had a couple of Skinrenders already.

The really hard decisions with Infect decks are when you're choosing between an Infect/Proliferate guy and a support card (eg removal or equipment).  Eg which do you pick in these cases?

Cystbearer vs Grasp of Darkness?
Tangle Angler vs Slice in Twain ?
Carrion Call vs Trigon of Corruption ?
Contagion Clasp vs Skinrender ?
Grafted Exoskeleton vs Nim Deathmantle ?
Trigon of Infestation vs Trigon of Rage ?

Plague Stinger vs Wurmcoil Engine !?

In every case, the second card is (much) more powerful in the abstract, but if you keep making picks like that you won't be doing much poisoning. 

I think drafting poison is a gamble, but if you do it half-heartedly it definitely won't work.  Winning poison decks are going to require making a few picks that look suboptimal at face value.
Infect creatures are so good, it's like they have double strike or something.

And on the pick order: Both corpse cur and Tel-Jilad Fallen seem pretty low on the list. I think that both are better than necropede actually. Fallen can easily win the game on its own against metalcraft decks.
I just don't get it how some people are able to put together such a deck in a draft. Hand of Preator 7th pick ?? Did these poeple not heard of hate drafting ? But most of the time the problem with infect decks is that too many people are trying to make one. Like a last draft I had I opened Hand of preator but 2 other people also open skythyrix and putrefax. And then you have too many people trying to make infect work.
Excuse my rookie ignorance, but isn't infect an ability, thus rendered powerless against a card like Leyline of Purity which protects a player from abilities?
Excuse my rookie ignorance, but isn't infect an ability, thus rendered powerless against a card like Leyline of Purity which protects a player from abilities?

Did you mean Leyline of Sanctity? If so, that will only protect players from auras and being targeted by spells or abilities. If something doesn't specifically use the word 'target', the leyline won't stop it. And attacking doesn't involve targeting

Yes, thanks, I did mean Leyline of Sanctity. Thanks for the explanation that "target" is a keyword for Leyline of Sanctity. I will take Infect more seriously after today's column and your reply. Thanks!

Another fine article by Kazuya Mitamura. ;)

Actually, Steve did a great job with this article. I do, however, agree with benbenbenl - it would be nice to see an explanation of when to pick support over infectors. I know you want to draft removal highly, but how highly do you want to draft it when you're also trying to cut every infect creature in the packs to reap some nice rewards come pack two?
Another reason to pick Tangle Angler very early is that it is quite playable outside Infect decks, so it is extremely unlikely to wheel, while an Ichor Rats is only going to be picked by another Infect deck.
Infect creatures are so good, it's like they have double strike or something.

I find a good way to value Infect cards is to imagine doubling their power and removing Infect, and then think of how high you'd pick them in a beatdown deck.  This is because you're effectively playing a beats deck that only needs to do half the damage to win.  (Obviously Infect doesn't deal twice the damage to creatures, but given they have "Wither" and you are probably packing Profilerate, it's not too far off the mark.)

For example:

Plague Stinger 1/1 Flying Infect for 1B
 - becomes 2/1 Flying for 1C 
 - looks like Stormfront Pegasus (cost 1W)
Verdict: High pick, possibly first pick

Blackcleave Goblin 2/1 Haste Infect for 3B
 - becomes 4/1 Haste for 3C
 - looks like Lightning Elemental (cost 3R)
Verdict: Pick 6th-10th as a one-of, two at the most

Cyst Bearer 2/3 Infect for 2G
 - becomes 4/3 vanilla for 2C
 - strictly better than Centaur Courser (3/3 for 2G) and Order of the Sacred Bell (4/3 for 3G) both of which were reasonably high picks in their format. 
Verdict: 1st-4th pick

Vector Asp 1/1 for 1, with an activation cost to turn on Infect
 - becomes 2/1 for 1
 - looks like Savannah Lions (cost W) but quite a bit worse due to activation cost
 - you'd consider playing Savannah Lions with an activation cost, depending on your curve
 - should come late because nobody else can use it (except maybe Metalcraft)
Verdict: Useful late pick

Carrion Call - Instant to get two 1/1 Infect tokens for 3G
 - becomes Instant to get two 2/1 Savannah Lions for 3C
 - this is pretty good in power level as part of a beatdown deck
Verdict: 1st-4th pick behind bombs but maybe ahead of removal (subject to overload of 4-drop slot)

Corpse Cur 2/2 Infect for 4 that brings another Infect creature back
 - becomes 4/2 for 4
 - looks like Giant Cockroach and Gravedigger (both 3B) put together, seems strong
 - the problem as with Giant Cockroach is finding a way to swing through for damage, so needs support to be really good. 
Verdict: Pick 3rd-6th

Sylvok Lifestaff - Equipment that gives +1/+0 for Cost 1 and 1 to equip
 - becomes +2/+0 in an Infect deck
 - looks like Bonesplitter (also costs 1 and 1) which we all know is insane
 - and it also has the lifegain ability if you need to stall out while proliferating the last few damage
 - hence Sylvok Lifestaff should be a high pick in an Infect deck, and you've got a reasonable chance of getting this as a later pick because it's not as good in other archetypes
Verdict: Pick 3rd-10th

Contagion Clasp - has 4, T: Proliferate
 - in an Infect deck the ability roughly translates to 4, T: Deal 2 damage to target player that has been dealt damage this game.  You may deal 1 damage to each creature that has been dealt damage this game (this damage doesn't wear off at end of turn).  Add a charge counter or loyalty counter to any number of target permanents.
 - vaguely resembles Cursed Scroll
 - with the -1/-1 counter on ETB, this card is very very good because it's so versatile
Verdict: 1st-4th pick

Last one: Darksteel Axe +2/+0 looks like discount Sunforger +4/+0!  1st pick!!!  (But you knew that...)