Are you having a hard time dealing 20 damage to your opponent in order to win? What if you had to deal only 10 damage? Then the answer you’re looking for is the deck called Infect. Infect is a mechanic from the Scars of Mirrodin block. Creatures with infect deal damage differently than other creatures. If a creature takes damage from a source with infect, that creature gets a number of -1/-1 counters equal to the damage that would have been dealt. If a player is dealt damage by a source with infect, that player gets a number of poison counters equal to the damage that would have been dealt and it only takes 10 poison counters to eliminate a player.
Currently there are just under 50 creatures that have the infect mechanic and only 2 of them are must-haves: Glistener Elf and Blighted Agent. Glistener Elf is just a 1/1 for a single green mana and Blighted Agent is a 1/1 for 2 (1 generic and 1 blue), and as an added bonus, it is unblockable. There are other creatures with infect if you feel that you want some more, but remember to keep their costs low; don’t go over 2 mana for a creature with infect. The deck also runs some mana dorks to fill out the creature curve. Noble Hierarch is one of the best mana dorks out there right now, but it also commands a high price tag because it can produce 3 colors of mana and 2 of them are the colors of this deck. It also has exalted, which is just a nice bonus because you may find yourself attacking with a single creature most of the time. Birds of Paradise is another great card and Llanowar Elves or Elvish Mystic will work just fine for a budget version. You may have a harder time producing blue mana, but with the right mana base it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The total number of creatures should be on the lower end, between 10 and 20, so around 15 feels right. The rest of the deck is primarily pump spells that can be cast for little to no mana. Some of them also protect your creatures like Blossoming Defense and Vines of Vastwood. Become Immense is worth a copy or two since delve allows you to exile cards from your graveyard to reduce the cost of the spell, which in the end can translate to giving a creature +6/+6 for 1 green mana. Mutagenic Growth is a free spell since it has a phyrexian mana cost. Might of Old Krosa and Groundswell give +2/+2 but have the potential for +4/+4. Obviously you will use these on your infect creatures to dish out some massive amounts of poison counters.
Now one of the weak points of this deck is that the cards are so cheap, manawise, you risk dumping your hand quickly. Be judicious about when to play what. You can try to sneak some card draw like Serum Visions into the deck if you want, but don’t dilute the rest of it too much. The deck also doesn’t need too much in the way of removal since your creatures have the potential to kill anything that the opponent decides to block with. Even an indestructible creature can’t survive -1/-1 counters. A few copies of Dismember should help with any high toughness creatures. The only keywords you need to worry about are protection from green, from black, from creatures, or from instants. Protection from blue doesn’t matter since the only blue creature in this deck is unblockable. To protect your creatures from your opponent’s removal spells, a few copies of Spellskite should help. This deck also runs a playset of Inkmoth Nexus for an additional creature that has infect as well as the ever relevant flying keyword making it harder to for the opponent to block.
The basic shell of Infect should look something like the following:
Glistener Elf x4
Blighted Agent x4
Mana Dorks x6-8 (3-4 Birds of Paradise and 3-4 Noble Hierarch are ideal)
Pump spells x18-20 (2-4 of each, but only 1 or 2 of Become Immense are ideal and any substitutes must be instant speed.)
Inkmoth Nexus x4
The mana dorks and the pump spells can be flexible in most cases. Burn and Jund are scary match ups because of all the removal that they run. This is why Spellskite is in the deck and I would recommend having the rest of a playset in the sideboard. For 2 life or 1 blue mana, you can redirect their Lightning Bolts and other creature targeting spells away from your infect creatures. Blossoming Defense also helps in this regard. Tron can also be a tough match up. Wurmcoil Engine’s lifelink doesn’t matter since getting their life total to 0 is not your goal. However, deathtouch is what you need to watch out for. Karn can be a little harder to deal with, but Spellskite can handle his +4 one time, so you better take Karn out on the next turn or end the game.
That wraps up Infect. It’s not complicated to understand. As far as modern decks go, it’s very straightforward. This is one of a few decks or maybe even the only deck that utilizes pump spells in a competitive environment beyond standard.
I do have some pioneer stuff coming down the pipeline. I didn’t want to jump into it too quickly because of the potential for bannings. While most of the problematic cards have been banned by now, I think that there are still more to come so don’t be surprised if I put up a deck analysis and soon after that it gets hit with a ban, especially since Wizards has shifted to a more immediate ban strategy.
Any questions? What deck do you want to see next? Let me know in the comments below.