11/05/2010 LD: "Infection Spreads"

20 posts / 0 new
Last post
This thread is for discussion of this week's Latest Developments, which goes live Friday morning on magicthegathering.com.

Tom should ideally have put in an aside in the first paragraph that making -1/-1 counters go away is only impossible in Block and maybe Standard; Extended still contains Shadowmoor, where Grim Poppet is only too happy to block that Cystbearer turn after turn.

The traditional means of giving a deck reach don't always work for an infect deck; Overrun still gets the job done nicely.  I would have liked to see the sacrificial version of Contagion Clasp, which would have played very differently since it could only ever kill a 2-toughness creature, but presumably would have been free or cheap to proliferate with, leading to nice interactions with things that efficiently raise dead artifacts.  With luck, we'll see such things in Beseiged.

Untamed Might is much better with infect than with normal damage, though still hilariously bad compared to Primal Bellow in monogreen.  It'd be nice if Tom were not so vague here about "the players who could best use Untamed Might"; he should have just said "players with green as their splash color and a base of mostly black infecters".

Today's Darksteel Sentinel wallpaper makes me very happy.  And yes, putting indestructible and infect in the same set is sensible; Sentinel and Juggernaut are both excellent.  I'm not so happy about Darksteel Myr, since his ONLY shtick is being a 0/1 that nothing can kill, and so that should have been a literal "nothing" for at least one set before the infection set in.  At least it's limited to two colors, so you have maybe a 20-40% chance that your infinite-toughness (versus non-tramplers) wall will actually do the job you hired it for.

Hey Tom, if you think those four cards you mentioned constitute "strong" lifegain you're insane; the only one that even begins to do the job is Hippogriff.  Lifesmith would have worked very nicely if it hadn't cost mana to activate, and Kemba's Skyguard might have mattered if it gave 4 life instead of 2.  The cards that give small "riders" of lifegain like the Hippogriff and the Lifestaff are okay, but the ones that do nothing else - Lifesmith, Trigon of Mending, and Whitesun's Passage are all basically unplayable - and I'm Willpell, I never call things unplayable!  These cards should have been far, far stronger to make up for the fact that they're entirely useless against the set's strongest mechanic; making Whitesun a cantrip and letting Trigon of Mending also prevent up to 3 damage and gain that much life would both have been good moves in the direction of saying "non-infecters are almost incapable of winning", which is clearly the intent of this entire block anyway, or else you would have overruled MaRo on the no-antidote clause for poison.

Speaking of which, I really do like one thing about the no-cure-for-poison part, even if I don't otherwise approve of it (had infect given "plague counters" or "phyresis counters" I'd have been fine with it, but MaRo is smoking something when he says that being incurable is somehow part of the definition of poison).  The overriding flavor of Mirrodin tends to be "don't let them touch you, not even once", because even if you have 100 life, a single scratch from a Plague Stinger will mean you're the walking dead, as Phyrexia can just sit back on its Throne of Geth, pumping gas into its
Contagion Engine and making Steady Progress until you lose your last shred of humanity (or
felinity or vedalkity or vampirity or whatever).  So cards like Soul Parry needed to be much more "disposably" playable for this flavor to really come through.  Again, Soul Parry should have cantripped, because as-is it's not usually going to be worth the card.  Auriok Replica is not too bad, since at worst it's an Ogre in any color.  But there needed to be a lot more of these cards, and they had to be things akin to Kemba's Skyguard in that you would have played them whether you needed the damage prevention or not.

Benevolent Bodyguard, Holy Day, Lashknife Barrier - these are the cards we needed to mount a strong Mirrodian defense against a strong Phyrexian attack.  You made Infect that strong, but deliberately sabotaged Mirrodin to be incapable of winning a defensive battle (my version admittedly makes Mirrodin incapable of winning an offensive battle, but I have no problem whatsoever with saying that black and green get to be the only aggro colors for a little while, as it makes a nice change of pace; let the usual Goblin Burn and White Weenie constructs go suck an egg for one year, it's not like they haven't had more than a decade of being effective).

I'm very happy that Bellowing Tanglewurm exists, but if its intention was to be a subtle Infect helper, why the heck did it go in green rather than black?  Green intimidate is very weird and I love it, but it seems out of place serving this purpose when the only other color that a subtle infect helper could go in is the exact color that usually gets intimidate, let alone mass intimidate.  (Also, insert my long-standing complaint that intimidate is dumb and the Bellower should have had and granted "green fear".)

As usual, the poll does not contain the answer I would have liked to give.  I answered "I don't like it", but this is inaccurate; the real answer is "I kind of like it on principle but am unhappy with the way it's been executed".  I figured that my overall opinion was slightly negative, but that's not because I don't like what they were trying to do in making the mechanic; I do consider it a success, but it's a marginal one IMO.  There were so many things that I believe should have been done differently that my answer comes out to No Point Yes and I'm forced to round down.

My New Phyrexia Writing Credits My M12 Writing Credits
As far as the benefit of the rest of Magic is concerned, gold cards in Legends were executed perfectly. They got all the excitement a designer could hope out of a splashy new mechanic without using up any of the valuable design space. Truly amazing. --Aaron Forsythe's Random Card Comment on Kei Takahashi
Pretty good article.  I managed to use Bellowing Tanglewurm in my last draft with infect.  It worked pretty well but was generally a removal target.
IMAGE(http://pwp.wizards.com/1205820039/Scorecards/Landscape.png)
"Why, people ask, would we include a card that facilitates random one-shot kills in the same set as infect creatures?"

You didnt really answer that question. You just said that it was better with this then giant growth. That doesnt answer the question about random one-shot kills now does it? You also said people will be aware. And yes, you are always aware, so aware that you always every time must play like they have this common spell that everybody else leave to them. Which means you must every time give up enormous edge even if they dont have it. Because you cannot afford if they do.
"Why, people ask, would we include a card that facilitates random one-shot kills in the same set as infect creatures?"

You didnt really answer that question. You just said that it was better with this then giant growth. That doesnt answer the question about random one-shot kills now does it? You also said people will be aware. And yes, you are always aware, so aware that you always every time must play like they have this common spell that everybody else leave to them. Which means you must every time give up enormous edge even if they dont have it. Because you cannot afford if they do.



My guess is that the complete answer would be: 

Not printing either of these options would leave green without any pump-spells in this set, and we feel that it is a vital part of greens arsenal.

Of course that is just a guess and I admit that I am to lazy to check every magic set for green pump spells, to see if there ever was a set without it. (I did check scars itself though and the only other effect I found in green was Ezuri, renegade leader and he only works on elfs, the rest are creatures that only grant such an effect to themselves.)
As a new MTG player, I find Infect interesting, but suddenly all my decks have to be geared towards attacking with Infect and defending against Infect. This seems to force me to lose my mono-colored deck strategies, (like Green for big creatures, White for defense and extra life), so that all my decks must be Infect-themed. This kind of takes away from the flavor of the different colors, for me.

Now, with barely any effort on my part, my mono-black deck is my most powerful deck of the five colors because of Infect, while my favored mono-white deck that I built up during M11 can compete without transforming into Infect attacking/defending.

My main defense against Infect is for all my decks to become Infect decks, or pile on excessive creatures and tokens onto the battlefield to remove my opponents Infect creatures by defending against them with bigger creatures that can destroy them with battle damage while defending me.

While Metalcraft seems to be a dud in Scars of Mirrodon, because it takes an overwhelming amount of artifacts in your deck to consistently, (if at all), get three artifacts on the battlefield at the same time to trigger Metalcraft; Infect seems to also require making Infect the main theme of every deck.

Unless its a black deck, the other colors seems to be losing their identity because of Infect.
I answered "I'm indifferent" to infect, but that's not the whole story. It's more like "I love it" for the Wither half and "I don't like it" for the Poison half.

I don't like the poison half of infect because I think MaRo failed spectacularly in his attempts to make it "not just another life total". Poison has turned out to be precisely just another life total, and that's due to infect. If the poison cards had been separate from the combat step, things like the Rats and a Contagion Clasp equivalent that gives players a poison counter, plus proliferate (at higher density than we got it in the actual set), I would have found it much more interesting.

As it is, the poison-counters-via-combat gets a big fat Meh from me. We now have two life totals. Tainted Strike is an interesting trick to shift an attacker from one life total to the other. Shrug. Sure, infect is much better than poisonous because it's damage so it interacts with pump/shrink/Furnace/Healer/Fog effects. No arguments there. But it's still distinctly unexciting.

So I don't like the poison half of infect at all. But I do love wither, and you brought back wither as part of infect. So that counts for quite a bit. I love that there are indestructible creatures in the set, but they're no good against wither. That kind of interaction is awesome.

So... it adds up to "neutral". But it's not a "No opinion" kind of "neutral". More a kind of "diametrically opposing energies in self-sealed plasmodermic bubbles" kind of neutral.
As a new MTG player, I find Infect interesting, but suddenly all my decks have to be geared towards attacking with Infect and defending against Infect. This seems to force me to lose my mono-colored deck strategies, (like Green for big creatures, White for defense and extra life), so that all my decks must be Infect-themed. This kind of takes away from the flavor of the different colors, for me.

Now, with barely any effort on my part, my mono-black deck is my most powerful deck of the five colors because of Infect, while my favored mono-white deck that I built up during M11 can compete without transforming into Infect attacking/defending.

My main defense against Infect is for all my decks to become Infect decks, or pile on excessive creatures and tokens onto the battlefield to remove my opponents Infect creatures by defending against them with bigger creatures that can destroy them with battle damage while defending me.



Mono-white seems particularly strong against infect, especially in Standard Constructed. Before Scars was released I remember losing quite a few games to Ajani's Pridemates that got too big to handle. Well, in combat with infect creatures the pridemate won't get so big, but they'll never get too small either. +1/+1 and -1/-1 counters cancel each other out. If you have as many lifegain effects as your opponent has pump spells then the pridemate can block and be blocked by infecters indefinitely. And Ajani Goldmane himself provides the same effect.
I answered that I like Infect since I do indeed like what was done with the mechanic, but the effect on Sealed deck play of its presence in Green and Black (and nowhere else) is unfortunate. More Sealed testing next time please WotC!

Also, for my tastes there's too little Proliferate in Limited. It comes up occasionally of course, but zero playable Proliferate cards at Common is a shame in my view.
I answered that I like Infect since I do indeed like what was done with the mechanic, but the effect on Sealed deck play of its presence in Green and Black (and nowhere else) is unfortunate. More Sealed testing next time please WotC!

Also, for my tastes there's too little Proliferate in Limited. It comes up occasionally of course, but zero playable Proliferate cards at Common is a shame in my view.


I imagine infect could also work well with blue, considering how much evasion and proliferate blue has. And there are six artifacts that have infect or can grant it somehow (Corpse Cur, Grafted Exoskeleton, Ichorclaw Myr, Necropede, Trigon of Infestation and Vector Asp). Those can go in any deck (although the asp requires a splash of black mana to actually use infect, and the trigon can be used with any colors but is much better with the option of green). Infect is a very linear mechanic, so it doesn't work well with non-infect damage like someone said upthread, but I'll bet you could make a decent deck with the infect artifact creatures to get some damage through early and blue to delay and deny until proliferate finished them off.

Also, I'll bet the next two sets will use infect in more colors. The whole storyline is about the Phyrexian influence spreading, taking over the world. By the third set of this block, white will probably be the only color without infect abilities.
I'll bet you could make a decent deck with the infect artifact creatures to get some damage through early and blue to delay and deny until proliferate finished them off.

Nice idea... you don't play Limited, do you? Wink
I'll bet you could make a decent deck with the infect artifact creatures to get some damage through early and blue to delay and deny until proliferate finished them off.

Nice idea... you don't play Limited, do you? Wink


Now and then, but not much, no. Why, is it a horrible idea for some reason? Could be; I wouldn't know.
Why, is it a horrible idea for some reason?

Well, no... it's a good idea, it just doesn't have a snowball's chance in a supernova of actually working in this particular Limited environment. That's not straightforward to work out by just looking at a setlist, but after half a dozen drafts you start to get a feel for what decks need to be playable.


Tom should ideally have put in an aside in the first paragraph that making -1/-1 counters go away is only impossible in Block and maybe Standard; Extended still contains Shadowmoor, where Grim Poppet is only too happy to block that Cystbearer turn after turn.

It was a bit jarring when he said that, he simply could have said there are no ways of removing them "in-block" though.
he traditional means of giving a deck reach don't always work for an infect deck; Overrun still gets the job done nicely.  I would have liked to see the sacrificial version of Contagion Clasp, which would have played very differently since it could only ever kill a 2-toughness creature, but presumably would have been free or cheap to proliferate with, leading to nice interactions with things that efficiently raise dead artifacts.  With luck, we'll see such things in Beseiged.

Ideally.
Hey Tom, if you think those four cards you mentioned constitute "strong" lifegain you're insane; the only one that even begins to do the job is Hippogriff.  Lifesmith would have worked very nicely if it hadn't cost mana to activate, and Kemba's Skyguard might have mattered if it gave 4 life instead of 2.  The cards that give small "riders" of lifegain like the Hippogriff and the Lifestaff are okay, but the ones that do nothing else - Lifesmith, Trigon of Mending, and Whitesun's Passage are all basically unplayable - and I'm Willpell, I never call things unplayable!  These cards should have been far, far stronger to make up for the fact that they're entirely useless against the set's strongest mechanic; making Whitesun a cantrip and letting Trigon of Mending also prevent up to 3 damage and gain that much life would both have been good moves in the direction of saying "non-infecters are almost incapable of winning", which is clearly the intent of this entire block anyway, or else you would have overruled MaRo on the no-antidote clause for poison.

I have found the "life-gain is good in Scars" line they've been pushing lately to be utterly laughable.  I love the prevention effects but the lifegain is soooo bad.  Yes, many games get down to aggro-vs-aggro but that's normal limited play, Infect is the interesting match-up and the one where life-gain is not important in the slightest.

And now...I have to start disagreeing with you Willpell.  It was nice while it lasted right?
Speaking of which, I really do like one thing about the no-cure-for-poison part, even if I don't otherwise approve of it (had infect given "plague counters" or "phyresis counters" I'd have been fine with it, but MaRo is smoking something when he says that being incurable is somehow part of the definition of poison).  The overriding flavor of Mirrodin tends to be "don't let them touch you, not even once", because even if you have 100 life, a single scratch from a Plague Stinger will mean you're the walking dead, as Phyrexia can just sit back on its Throne of Geth, pumping gas into its Contagion Engine and making Steady Progress until you lose your last shred of humanity (or felinity or vedalkity or vampirity or whatever).

It's funny that you don't like the flavor execution even though you basically just described EXACTLY what they wanted to communicate.  lulz
So cards like Soul Parry needed to be much more "disposably" playable for this flavor to really come through.  Again, Soul Parry should have cantripped, because as-is it's not usually going to be worth the card.  Auriok Replica is not too bad, since at worst it's an Ogre in any color.  But there needed to be a lot more of these cards, and they had to be things akin to Kemba's Skyguard in that you would have played them whether you needed the damage prevention or not.

Incorrect on most points.  Soul Parry in limited play is incredibly flexible.  You can double block a single creature, block two seperate creatures or block a creature and let another through...and then cast Soul Parry and come out unscathed.  A cantrip is unneccesary.  As you stated Replica is decent...in fact, it's pretty much the Benevolent Bodygaurd you request below. Compared to Lone Missionary the extra white gets you an additional toughness and flying.  Maybe gain 3 life?  Okay, it wouldn't be broken gaining 4 so that's fine I guess...but then I'm not sure I would ever play Missionary over Skygaurd at that point (I have Missionary in a deck actually).
Benevolent Bodyguard, Holy Day, Lashknife Barrier - these are the cards we needed to mount a strong Mirrodian defense against a strong Phyrexian attack.  You made Infect that strong, but deliberately sabotaged Mirrodin to be incapable of winning a defensive battle (my version admittedly makes Mirrodin incapable of winning an offensive battle, but I have no problem whatsoever with saying that black and green get to be the only aggro colors for a little while, as it makes a nice change of pace; let the usual Goblin Burn and White Weenie constructs go suck an egg for one year, it's not like they haven't had more than a decade of being effective).

I disagree.  I've played quite a bit of Scars limited and I've rarely lost to Infect.
I'm very happy that Bellowing Tanglewurm exists, but if its intention was to be a subtle Infect helper, why the heck did it go in green rather than black?  Green intimidate is very weird and I love it, but it seems out of place serving this purpose when the only other color that a subtle infect helper could go in is the exact color that usually gets intimidate, let alone mass intimidate.  (Also, insert my long-standing complaint that intimidate is dumb and the Bellower should have had and granted "green fear".)

Except that is exactly what it is.  Green Fear.  Also, would you stand against the Wurm?  I wouldn't.  That thing is massive and scary!  Which means I'm running...which means it's buddies have an opportunity to get me. Works for me.  You really need to re-access the level to which you suspend reality.  Creative endeavors demand a certain leeway from their consumers and Magic is good because it actually tends to maintain a decent level of reason (as far as fantasy goes).  Note: This does not apply to Magic Novels.

Play more limited Willpell.

For the poll, I voted 'Im indifferent'. I think Infect was balanced correctly; it's not harmful to either Constructed or Limited, and it's still good enough to be played and win its share of games. It's an interesting mechanic by the fact that it's an alternate win condition, and that it makes pump spells better. I'm not overly excited by it, but not offended by it either.

About Bellowing Tanglewurm : What's really fascinating to me about that creature, and that I wish Tom would have discussed further, is how it is just alright in Mirrodin but would be ridiculously powerful if it would have been in any other format than an artifact set, especially at uncommon. Imagine if it had been printed in M11... An average green deck in an environment that's not full of artifact creatures would have many more creatures for it to affect, and a non-green deck would have very few to no creatures that can block.  The stats would have needed to be drastically different for the card to be balanced.

As a new MTG player, I find Infect interesting, but suddenly all my decks have to be geared towards attacking with Infect and defending against Infect. This seems to force me to lose my mono-colored deck strategies, (like Green for big creatures, White for defense and extra life), so that all my decks must be Infect-themed. This kind of takes away from the flavor of the different colors, for me.

Infect may be the main force in your playgroup, but on a global scale, it is in fact considered pretty weak, and experienced players do not fear it. It doesn't post real results in tournaments at the moment. Being fairly new to the game, your problem is simply your lack of knowledge of the options to beat it. The first and most important advice I can give you is to play removal spells (spells that destroy or exile creatures). Every color but green has a good number of those spells, and they're all common/uncommon and inexpensive. For monogreen, it's a little more complicated, but you can try and play good blockers, ideally with reach, if you don't think you can win the race. Deadly Recluse from M10 might be a good choice; it will kill any infecter it blocks, pumped or not. It's not standard-legal, but if you're not playing in standard tournaments and your playgroup doesn't care, it's easy to find for next to nothing in shops. Wall of Tanglecord, also in Scars, comes down early and blocks for a good while.

A good black deck can be something else than an Infect deck, and it can beat Infect easily as long as you play such spells as Grasp of Darkness and Disfigure, as well as Doom Blade for non-black infecters.
Magic The Gathering DCI Lvl 1 Judge Don't hesitate to post rules question in the Rules Q&A forum for me and other competent advisors to answer : http://community.wizards.com/go/forum/view/75842/134778/Rules_Q38A
 It's funny that you don't like the flavor execution even though you basically just described EXACTLY what they wanted to communicate.  lulz


Re-read the post you just quoted.  Specifically this part:

(had infect given "plague counters" or "phyresis counters" I'd have been fine with it, but MaRo is smoking something when he says that being incurable is somehow part of the definition of poison).


The "incurable disease" mechanic is a good flavor match for the Phyrexians.  It is a terrible flavor match for poison.

If you get poisoned in real life, you seek medical attention.  If you get poisoned in most RPG's, you find an antidote or cast a spell to cure it.  In both cases, if you don't cure the poison, it's either going to kill you or seriously hurt.

The poison mechanic in Magic is the complete opposite of this.  You can't cure the poison, but you can have nine poison counters for a year and it won't adversely affect you at all.

I have a strong feeling that if the poison mechanic were designed for Scars (rather than resurrected from a decade ago), it would be called something other than poison.

Consider the card Giant Growth. Those of you who have played infect decks in Constructed have likely discovered that Giant Growth is very, very powerful on an infect creature. It is also likely that many of you who played those infect decks also did not play Untamed Might in them, instead choosing to play cards like Primal Bellow and Vines of Vastwood. This suggests that in an infect deck, these fixed-number Giant Growth effects are actually more powerful than Untamed Might.
It didn't take us long in the Future Future League to make that discovery. However, we also discovered that this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. In decks that weren't built around infect, Untamed Might was much less efficient than most sets' Giant Growth effects. This meant that the infect players who could best use Untamed Might were more likely to get what copies of that card were opened. We also found that Untamed Might was an important part of the power of infect decks in Limited, and chose to keep the card the way it was because it was doing the right things.



Yeah, this answer is totally misleading.

Because Untamed Might is worse than Giant Growth in Constructed Poison doesn't mean it's worse in Limited Poison; the most obvious example of this possibility is that Lightning Bolt is worse in Limited than Fireball, while the reverse is true in Constructed.

Then you segue/conflate this into a comment about how the Poison drafters will scoop all the Untamed Mights in circulation. Huh?? How is this relevant to the preceding point??

Classic LaPilles
The problem it's not the answer, but the question. The real question is: why creature pumping is even worse than usual in Scars? Of course, it has been heavily reworded to sound polite and make said pumping look good. The answer is satisfying although it's a little obvious given the same explanation was given before for the Rancor being canceled on M11.

But the really good thing of the article is the poll. Unless someone thinks it can't be translated into player's format preferences, it is resounding: 78,3 % prefers to play constructed, only 14,1 % are interested in Limited. That roughly gives a 5 : 1 ratio.

Guess how you should distribute your articles, and whether you should say a card is a success or not based on the reader base.
If Limited gets in the way of printing good Constructed cards... Screw limited
I'd like to think that as I would get more articles to read, but I wonder if it is just that booster draft is dreadful as a Top 8 webcast. That's how I looked at it and how I voted. I never want to see a draft webcast again. 

Not that draft wouldn't have finished dead last for me anyway.
Draft is a significantly less interesting format to read/watch wizards coverage of (the wizards video team can never manage to actually make anything visible). Not that I don't think that the people who read wizards.com skew towards constructed (and that is reflected in the majority of articles on the site).

Limited seems like the easiest format to write a weekly about in relation to set development (especially early on in the season when writing about FFL decks for instance seems risky) its the format where the internal set interactions can be most strongly seen. Really the complaint that two (three if it was the format of a major event recently) of the nine columns discuss limited seems sort of weird.

On an unrelated note, I'm not a big fan of the article not really addressing the annoying poison pump interaction or the R/W is the color of 90% of the sealed builds in this format issue. Hopefully someone writes more on that in the future.