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Jun 15 2016

Michael Montano

The Modern Learning Curve: Infect

Welcome to the Modern Learning Curve, my debut series of articles where I aim to introduce new players to the Modern format with budget builds of existing archetypes as a means of gaining a foothold in the format and exploring different decks without an overwhelming financial commitment. Along with an introductory list, options for upgrading to more competitive builds will also be provided to help you evolve your experience with a deck and move toward the more competitive side of the format. With that said, let’s start the series off with a deck I began my foray into the wild world of Modern with, the ever dangerous Infect!

Infect is the namesake mechanic of this deck, which is the unique ability of select creatures to deal combat damage to other creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters and to opponents in the form of poison counters, which end the game if they accumulate a total of 10 or more. Utilizing the quicker count to 10, the basic idea is we play an infect creature and when the coast is clear, we pump up our creature and swing. The sheer speed and raw power of an infect deck can end the game before your opponent has a chance to implement their game plan, or can provide the opportunity to steal the game away in the later turns if your opponent leaves even the slightest of openings for your Phyrexian assassins to strike. The different angle from which this deck approaches the game has the added benefit of keeping your opponent off balance as you set up for a lethal blow. The biggest benefit of this archetype though? It can be assembled and run for less than the price of a Fat Pack!

Super Budget Modern Infect Deck

Coming in at around $30 (the sideboard adds about $5-$10 to the total cost), this list strips away all the fat and leaves only the essentials in an attempt to go all in on the primary plan and end the game before your opponent can mount an effective defense. Glistener Elf is the captain of this infectious squad and is your primary means of connecting to your opponents face, while Ichorclaw Myr and Necropede fill the role of supporting infectors with beneficial abilities. Pump Spells like Giant Growth, Phytoburst, Mutagenic Growth and Predator’s Strike are meant to add as much extra punch as possible on the end of an attack, leaving little room in the way of main board evasion. While even more budget cuts and substitutions can be made, I feel this list keeps the cost as low as possible while still providing enough of a competitive edge to keep most games interesting. Also in considering the budget nature of this deck, the sideboard included both keeps the total cost down while still providing some of the more vital lines of defense that keep you in the game. Once you’ve honed your poisonous skills, some efficient upgrades can be made.

Spells
Rancor
At around $2 a pop, this card gives some much need punch to our original list and allows us to power through troublesome blockers.

Might of Old Krosa
This card comes in at around $7 a piece and makes a turn 2 kill much more likely (1x might of old krosa, 1x groundswell, and 1x mutagenic growth adds +10+10 to any creature, as does double Might or double Groundswell)

Sideboard
Wild Defiance
At around $2 per copy, this card can put a damper on damage and state based removal, all the while allowing you to boost your own creatures each time you target it with a pump spell.

With these potent upgrades, your improved list comes in at about $90 and looks like this:

Budget Modern Infect Deck

This iteration is more capable of pulling off the potential turn 2 kill while also making turn 3 kills more consistent. A slightly more resilient and explosive version of what we started with, the basic game plan remains the same, but subtle choices in game play begin to matter more as both your skill and card pool increase. Might of Old Krosa benefits from being cast during your main phase, whereas playing your instants both defensively and after blockers are declared can be the difference between swing for lethal and falling flat. Once you are able to see and understand the effects of play sequencing on the outcome of a game, you are ready to move beyond the kitchen table and venture into local competitive play.

While explosive and more than capable of getting you a win or two at your local game store’s modern night, our current list would struggle against some of the top tier decks of the format, especially those that pack both main board and sideboard plans that stop you in your tracks. Once you get some rounds under your belt and small taste of victory, however, it’s hard not to keep pushing until we end up with a competitive version that can claim the top prize for the night. Here are the cards that will complete your upgrades.

Lands
Inkmoth Nexus
This card provides you with the ability to create an evasive threat that is hard to get rid of and can present constant pressure along with an expanded board state.

Pendalhaven
This card is legendary, so we will keep it at 1 copy, but the potential to buff any of our creatures both offensively and defensively is definitely worthy of inclusion.

Cathedral of War
This card is an optional upgrade, but I find the consistent exalted trigger to be worth a 1-of inclusion.

Non-Creature Spells
Gitaxian Probe
Not knowing the right time to strike and running low on gas are both issues this deck struggles with, and this card can solve both at the same time. The life loss is usually inconsequential, and the insight into your opponent’s options is invaluable.

Sideboard
Spellskite
One of the biggest threats to your plan are targeted removal, and Spellskite does a great job of sticking a wrench in that plan, and also acts as an alternative win condition in a pinch.

Dismember
Another problem can be a big blocker or single creature (such as a fellow infector or prowess creature) that looks to take the game from you if you don’t do something about their clock. Though this spell costs you 4 life, it is well worth removing that troublesome creature facing you down.

Grafdiggger’s Cage
With the ability to prevent cards from being cast from graveyards and libraries, Through the Breach, Collected Company, Snap-Bolt and graveyard based strategies are severely hampered, giving you a chance to get in the for those precious 10 poison counters.

With your upgrades complete, this deck is sitting at just about $300 and is ready to make every game a competitive match-up where you have the very real opportunity to steal the game away at any moment and finish the night with a winning record.

Mono Green Infect Deck for Modern

This fully powered list can be built toward one card at a time, but will eventually give you a powder keg of a deck that will serve you well no matter where you play. Now, there are other versions of Infect that are popular with high level players, but these builds (such as Green/blue, Green/black and Green/red) require specialized mana bases and a high price tag for an advantage that is marginal at best and comes at the price of consistency.

For newer players and those just new to the format, This step-by-step guide can present a window of opportunity to enjoy the best format around, no matter what your budget is! Thank you for reading, please leave a comment below and we’ll see you next time on the Modern Learning Curve!

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Michael Montano

Michael Montano

I've been been entrenched in Magic: The Gathering since Core Set 2014 and my passion for the game has only grown since brewing my first deck. By no means a high level player, I simply aim to share what I've learned in the past few years with those who are new to the game yet eager to learn all they can. I'd also like to introduce a couple original ideas to the ether and share my general enthusiasm for the game.
Michael Montano

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1 comment

  1. Wally D.
    Wally D.

    Great intro article! I like how you went from super budget to fairly competitive with regards to the Infect deck. Well done!

    I don’t currently have a Modern deck but have a few friends that play. Who knows, I may be swayed to put a budget Modern deck together in the near future.

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