Every so often Infect rears its head and has a short little run in Standard. A while back Monogreen Infect was a thing. This was when Zendikar block was still legal, however, and the deck would use things like Ancient Stirrings and Expedition Map to find one of their four Inkmoth Nexus. If you didn't know, those were the only four creatures in the deck. They protected them with things like Vines of the Vastwood and simply avoiding a fourth land in order to steer clear of Tectonic Edge. Then Monoblack Infect was a thing, with Phyrexian Crusaders and Lashwrithes. We also had versions of UG Infect and BUG infect, using anything from Plague Stinger, to Glistener Elf, to Blighted Agent to deal their controversial ten points of poison damage.
Well, it would appear that Infect is back. But don't take my word for it! Check out the following list that made the Top 16 of the Magic Online PTQ less than a week ago:
While this isn't the deck we're going to be showing off today, it should be evidence that a single card has seemingly been able to bring back Infect from the brink of death. What might that card be, you ask? You guessed it...
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By now you might have realized two things. The first thing is that our own Steve Guillerm wrote about UG Infect just last week. You can find his article here. The second, and arguably most important thing, is that Avacyn Restored is now legal on MTGO! That being the case, I'm obviously going to start using it in my decks. My only hope is that I can pick it up quickly enough!
Now I saw Steve's list in his article last week, but I don't want to write about Steve's list. After all, Steve wrote about Steve's list. I noticed in the comments that Rafael Quadros posted an alternative version. The qualification for the deck was that it had just won a 7.5k tournament in São Paulo, Brazil. Well, that was good enough for me! Apparently the event was won by Roberto Edo and you can see a mini recap of the event here, which is apparently a Brazilian Magic site! While the site is in Portuguese, the decklists are in English. This was the list Roberto won the event with:
Let's get right into the meat and potatoes and see how the deck fares...
T2 UG Defiant Infect vs. Mage-Blade
T2 UG Defiant Infect vs. 4C Control
T2 UG Defiant Infect vs. GW Humans
First off, let me say that I love the four Spellskites in the main deck. I mean, did you see when I was able to deal like 26 damage with a Spellskite!? They're a very subtle addition, but they do so much work. For one thing, they protect both your Inkmoth Nexus' and your Blighted Agent, which are the only four Infect creatures in the deck. Another thing is that, with a Wild Defiance out, these guys are actually very formidable in combat, being able to both block effectively, and even attack with the assistance of either a pump spell or a protection spell. I mean, with Wild Defiance out, a Spellskite is a 5/9 when targeted with a single Mutagenic Growth! Huge! Not to mention when you have multiple targeting spells or multiple Defiance out!
One of the more odd - or rather unconventional - choices for the deck was the inclusion of Runechanter's Pike in lieu of more Livewire Lash. Whenever I see choices like this, I always hope that they're the result of extensive testing and not card availability. I guess I can see the logic though: with Livewire Lash, you need to have pumps in hand for it to be most effective; with Runechanter's Pike you simply need to have already used some of your best spells. This makes Runechanter's Pike a much better topdeck for your later turns, when you've already used up a lot of your resources, whereas in the same position, a Livewire Lash would be a mere +2/+0.
It may seem odd that there are only eight infect creatures in the deck, but to be fair, you should only need one. This isn't the kind of deck where you just run out guys without being able to protect them. In fact, often you probably want to wait to activate an Inkmoth Nexus until you have a Wild Defiance out. This makes cards like Shock or Gut Shot, well, absolutely useless against your creatures, and you essentially have eight “counterspells” in the form of Ranger's Guile and Apostle's Blessing to protect them from things like Doom Blade and what not as well. Oh yeah, did I also mention Spellskite?
Speaking of Gut Shot, they're actually hilarious in the list because they work as both a way to clear out blockers, as well as a way to buff your own guys. As you might have noticed, when you target one of your creatures with a Gut Shot while you have a Wild Defiance in play, the Wild Defiance trigger goes onto the stack last, allowing it to resolve first, making your 1/1 into a 4/4 that only takes one damage from the Gut Shot. It's pretty elegant, and brings the total number of one (or zero) mana spells that can target your own creatures up to 15!
The sideboard allows you to change gears, since things like Control decks and certain Planeswalkers (presumably Liliana of the Veil, Gideon Jura, or Tamiyo, the Moon Sage) might give you fits. After all, Apostle's Blessing certainly isn't going to prevent a Day of Judgment from killing your guys. You also want to be able to get rid of Curse of Death's Hold; need I mention how thoroughly this card destroys us? So you bring in the Mana Leaks for such situations, and Disperse isn't bad either as it allows you to bounce the Curse in order to get in with an Inkmoth Nexus. Disperse can also allow you to bounce an Oblivion Ring at the end of their turn that might be targeting one of your crucial spells.
I'm not positive, but I have to assume the Mental Missteps are in there for the Delver matchups. Delver of Secrets is an annoying blocker for your Inkmoths and I have to imagine that they're going to be able to out Vapor Snag you at some point (as you can see in my match against them...), so the Mental Missteps will put the kibosh on that plan. Other than that, they might be used for any one mana removal spells - such as Gut Shot, Pillar of Flames, etc. - when you want to save your pump and protection spells for the kill.
Well, that's all I have for this week guys! Definitely give this deck a shot, as one of the best parts about it is the cost; it has to be one of the cheaper decks in Standard, right? The most expensive card is Inkmoth Nexus, and that's in an Event Deck now! Other than that you have some Hinterland Harbors, and...uh...Wild Defiance.
The one caveat is that the deck is difficult to pilot. There is a lot of math. Heck, you might say all there is to the deck is math, figuring out when you can win, alternate plans, how much damage X deals, etc. You basically need to figure out the most efficient way to deal them ten before they deal you twenty, and there is very little room for error. This is a deck where you are very likely to utilize all of the tools at your disposal before the end of the game...and for different purposes!
So yeah. If you're looking for a really powerful budget deck, with a lot of depth and decisions to make, this is definitely for you!
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next week. And if you see me at GP Anaheim, be sure and say hey! I'll be on coverage all weekend!
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