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Simic infect is one of the most powerful decks in modern, but also one of the most fragile. Is this a fair assessment? Why or why not?

Simic infect is one of the most powerful decks in modern, but also one of the most fragile. Is this a fair assessment? Why or why not?

68000_ducklings

Fast kills vs. no interaction and the ability to win through certain kinds of interaction make infect very good vs. un-interactive decks with low creature counts (usually spell-based combo and land-based ramp decks like Tron or Titan). Infect and decks like it usually see an uptick in play whenever one of the decks it preys on is sitting at the top of the meta (see: early KCI meta, early Oko meta), and typically drops off once the \[\[chalice of the void\]\] players jump in to prey on Infect and Death's Shadow (see: late KCI meta, late Oko meta). It struggles as soon as its opponent starts dropping blockers into play or has removal for its evasive threats. Decks overloaded on interaction (midrange and control decks, usually) do not have a hard time shutting infect down. Right now, infect is mostly being kept down by all of the X/1 hate in the format. \[\[lava dart\]\] is absolutely brutal, and the sheer number of prowess and B/R burn/removal-heavy decks in the format right now means that infect isn't doing well at the moment. Additionally, Hammertime and Death's Shadow decks usually perform similar roles in the meta (fast aggro/combo clock with (sometimes) a small amount of disruption), and the current iterations of those decks are better-positioned against red removal.


MTGCardFetcher

[chalice of the void](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/1/f/1f0d2e8e-c8f2-4b31-a6ba-6283fc8740d4.jpg?1562433485) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=chalice%20of%20the%20void) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/a25/222/chalice-of-the-void?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/1f0d2e8e-c8f2-4b31-a6ba-6283fc8740d4?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) [lava dart](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/b/1/b16dd041-451d-4914-8c46-aa315a90d802.jpg?1562201890) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=lava%20dart) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/mh1/134/lava-dart?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/b16dd041-451d-4914-8c46-aa315a90d802?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) ^^^[[cardname]] ^^^or ^^^[[cardname|SET]] ^^^to ^^^call


TheSkoomaPlug

Thank you for the insightful response. So can it be said that, regardless of infect's weaknesses, there are just decks out there that are equally, if not more, powerful? With the upside of being more stable?


thornn3

It's not really a power scale kind of thing, imo. Coming from EDH, you're used to seeing "my deck's low/mid/high/etc" which just doesn't exist in competitive 1v1 format. Think of every deck in the meta being a cedh deck. Every established deck in modern has to be doing something powerful to compete. The difference between decks is what kind of cards that power is placed into. It could be speed, it could be powerful interaction like cryptic commands or thoughtseizes. ​ Every deck's "power" is determined by the meta around it. ​ Infect can kill on turn 2. It's advantage is speed. At times when non-interactive decks are popular, you could say it's powerful because it's faster than most of those other decks. In a meta like we have currently with W6 & Dart everywhere, the speed advantage that the deck had didn't change, but it doesn't fit well into what's going on in a larger picture of the format. ​ Without any cards in the deck changing, it will become more or less "powerful" based on what your opponents are likely to be playing. This is true for every deck. ​ Another note is that almost every deck has a silver bullet style answer to it. An example is Leyline of the Void or Rest in Peace against a dredge player. These cards prevent anything from hitting the graveyard, so they disrupt the dredge player's entire gameplan. When dredge becomes "powerful" (read: popular - the actual power level of the deck's strategy didn't change, just it's meta share) people will pack grave hate, making the deck less likely to be successful in a tournament environment when people are ready for it. Now, in a meta where there's very little graveyard shenanigans, and people don't expect to face dredge, they might not bring those powerful silver bullet cards in their sideboard. If this is the case, dredge can go off and do it's thing and take down a tournament because it's "powerful" when not interacted with. Exactly the same scenario as infect, but with a different deck.


TheSkoomaPlug

Wow, thank you for the eye opener. You have me thinking now about how my idea that one deck/mechanic/etc. is more or less "powerful" than another is flawed if not irrelevant because it's relative to multiple variables. This might not have been your point or what you were getting at, but I already stated in an earlier comment that winning is winning and efficiency can be perceived as exerting the minimum amount of effort as necessary to win. I was applying it to individual cards being efficient but it could apply to perceiving a deck as "powerful". A couple years ago someone said to me about legacy that delver decks were so powerful in the format because they were able to do the bare minimum to win very well. Modern shouldn't be too different in that philosophy. Thank you, I think card selection makes a bit more sense to me now


SkredBoi420

Infect is not great nowadays. Fatal push is premier removal and the meta is hostile. It used to punish uninteractive decks and bad hands but there’s other decks that do not fold to spot removal and have better game in more MUs. Infect is most infamous for its meme status as a salt farm, especially in EDH. In modern we just bolt/push/path the dude and continue on our way. Modern dedicates a lot of slots to removal.


TheSkoomaPlug

Thank you. Would you say, then, that the issue is in the deckbuilding or is the premise of pump one creature to 10 just too fragile to make up for having to deal less damage


SkredBoi420

It’s mostly concept. Prowess can play a similar plan except it’s spells interact with the board or can go face. Bolt is MUCH more valuable than a pump spell, especially if there’s a blocker and no trample.


TheSkoomaPlug

Understood. The premise for my perception of infect was based on just how much easier it is to deal 10 damage than make 20 life reach 0. But if other decks can effectively bridge that gap, if not perform better, more easily or efficiently that sheds a lot of light on the format for me.


JustinClarkv1

Infect needs a meta shallow on removal to really thrive. It does not have any density of interaction to slow opponents down much. Only having 12 threats means that those that do land must stick around, and inkmoth nexus for all its upside does eat effectively two mana to use, making kills with that a lot more difficult than with your 1/1 bodies. There have been a number of times in modern over the last 5 years where it has been a major player that decks need to account for. So when fatal pushes printing put a huge dent into the decks viability at the top of the meta, as do lava dart and W6 now. In a large portion of games your opponent only has to handle one threat and you're going to have to start topdecking, which is an awful spot for the deck to be. It's a creature combo deck at heart. Its combo is more fragile than most of the other combo decks in the format, as modern unlike legacy is already such a creature heavy format that therefore it has a large density of creature removal to begin with. 4 of the top 5 most played modern cards are phenomenal against infect (and the last veil of summer, granted it's broken in infect as well against a large number of MU's). The tradeoff you get is that it is quite a bit faster than most of the other combo decks in modern, and in combo heavy metas you draw a big edge there.


TheSkoomaPlug

Thank you for the explanation. It's starting to sound like infect isn't as inherently powerful as I thought, especially when the meta is factored in.


JustinClarkv1

It's a good metacall deck. But right now I wouldn't say it's an *awful* one. Titan, eldrazitron, and heliod shouldn't be terrible matchups. Infinite life isn't a problem as you're not attacking their lifetotal. Through the breach, blitz, esper control, any death's shadow variant, are going to be nightmares though.


VoidZero52

Infect has its days in the sun when the meta doesn’t have creature removal *everywhere*. In a similar way, Dredge does well when the meta doesn’t have many graveyard decks because people don’t have as much graveyard hate in their sideboards or mainboard. When dredge starts doing really good, or when another graveyard deck comes along (like living end), it becomes much worse because the average opponent will have more graveyard hate to bring in for game 2 and 3. Right now, infect hate (lava dart, fatal push, lightning bolt) are INCREDIBLY common in mainboards. When they become less common, infect will be better positioned for the meta.


TheSkoomaPlug

Something that I'm still trying to grasp better is the modern format itself independent of the meta. Like basically how to explain how good infect is with the cards available to it, compared to how good something like jund is able to be based on the cards available to it. But that's probably hard to quantify, and not really relevant because of how the meta will affect the actual games played.


VoidZero52

Talking about the raw power of an archetype within modern is usually done by comparing to other formats: for example, Delver decks are great in legacy but not that great in modern because legacy has better cheap disruption to amplify the efficiency of [[delver of secrets]]. If modern had [[daze]] and [[force of will]] and [[wasteland]] then deliver would be more powerful, just like how modern infect would be better if [[invigorate]] was legal here. However, no deck in modern can stand alone in power: every deck must be evaluated by the current mix of complicated rock-paper-scissors meta that exists. Some decks are really incredibly powerful but too slow, so they die to fast aggressive decks. Some decks are super fast but they crumble apart if their opponent is playing interaction. So what decks are common and popular has a lot of influence over whether a deck is good or not for any given day.


TheSkoomaPlug

Good points to think on, thank you. You pointed out that there are flaws in what I perceive power to be. Like, I could say that infect having to deal half as much damage is comparable to tron playing cards whose mana values are at least twice as high as the number of lands tapped to play them. Tron sounds like a lot of raw power as well, just expressed differently


MTGCardFetcher

##### ###### #### [delver of secrets](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/1/1/11bf83bb-c95b-4b4f-9a56-ce7a1816307a.jpg?1562826346)/[Insectile Aberration](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/back/1/1/11bf83bb-c95b-4b4f-9a56-ce7a1816307a.jpg?1562826346) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=delver%20of%20secrets) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/isd/51/delver-of-secrets-insectile-aberration?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/11bf83bb-c95b-4b4f-9a56-ce7a1816307a?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) [daze](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/f/0/f05e9a3e-8a35-4687-85cb-e31b3927a5e2.jpg?1580013916) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=daze) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/ema/44/daze?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/f05e9a3e-8a35-4687-85cb-e31b3927a5e2?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) [force of will](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/d/d/dd60b291-0a88-4e8e-bef8-76cdfd6c8183.jpg?1598303900) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=force%20of%20will) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/2xm/51/force-of-will?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/dd60b291-0a88-4e8e-bef8-76cdfd6c8183?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) [wasteland](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/a/a/aaafb9bc-7cea-4624-a227-595544fa42b0.jpg?1590511888) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=wasteland) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/ema/248/wasteland?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/aaafb9bc-7cea-4624-a227-595544fa42b0?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) [invigorate](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/e/0/e0899da3-7beb-4161-81a3-e2d694e5b8a5.jpg?1599707311) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=invigorate) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/2xm/172/invigorate?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/e0899da3-7beb-4161-81a3-e2d694e5b8a5?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) ^^^[[cardname]] ^^^or ^^^[[cardname|SET]] ^^^to ^^^call


Phyrexian-Drip

It’s fragile but it has the tools to deal with removal. The issue is a lot of players just go all out instead of playing playing around removal.


MXPi

Prowess is the better infect deck


TheSkoomaPlug

Would you be willing to elaborate what you mean a little bit?


MXPi

Both decks operate by putting some creatures on the Battlefield and pressure the opponent while casting cheap spells which pump the creatures. The difference is that infect pump spells need a target to stick and do nothing else than pumping and protecting, while Prowess spells all do something by themself and pumping all the creatures simultaneously. Prowess has card draw and filtering, removal, damage to face and all that with insanely efficient beaters. The upside of quicker goldfish kills with a class cannon infect style isn't just worth it anymore. EDIT: Also prowess' 1cmc beaters having 2 toughness and don't die to W&6 or lavadart helps a lot!


TheSkoomaPlug

Oh ok so in other words infect is too narrow


MXPi

Basically yes and more fragile. But If you enjoy infect and have some money to spare, just go for it. Beside the mana base (including noble hierarch) it's a relatively cheap deck. The only expensive card, which isn't used much in other decks is inkmoth nexus. At FNM and LGS level, you can go positive with basically any deck in modern. As long as you can pilote your deck and prepare for your meta. I can highly recommend you free mtgo alternatives like XMage and Cockatrice. There you can test different decks for free and decide if it's worth to buy the cards.


mafistola

MH2 introducing the jund noble opens up for BG Infect, I personally prefer thoughtseize over counterspell for the extra information (something infect was missing since gitaxian probe was banned) and you can also run phyrexian crusader, which dodges 2 colors of removals.


GlintNestSteve

It was one of the fastest at gold fishing. Fatal push was the real dampener as previously bolt was the premier removal which you could outgrow.


TheSkoomaPlug

Ok, thank you. I had to look up what gold fishing means lol so before fatal push was printed and subsequently swamped the format infect was safer to play? Do you think, hypothetically, if nothing else changed but fatal push didn't exist the meta would be different?


GlintNestSteve

There have been a lot of minor and major changes, I would say push was one of the biggest downfalls for infect. Porter recent cards like Wrenn and Six and lava dart make relying on one small creature unreliable. Infect being not tier one is I think a sign of a healthy meta game with more interaction usually.


JustinClarkv1

Probably to some extent it'd be a better call. Right now we also have lava dart and W6 that simply SLAUGHTER infect and practically make those matchups unwinnable.


TheSkoomaPlug

Ah yeah good point. Examples of how i perceive efficiency in magic as "winning is winning, exert the least amount of effort to win"


JustinClarkv1

That's a great way to put it. And to some extent why I usually am playing remand in GDS over temur battle rage (well those are in the board but still). If I'm ahead enough on board to attack, then a remand is often enough to buy me one more turn to just win the game with in the same fashion as TBR. Lategame its a better topdeck in grindy games as it can let you snipe problem cards with otherwise dead discard spells. T2 it's infinitely better as there's a lot of cards you might not be able to hit with stub or a removal spell.


TheSkoomaPlug

I actually considered doing gds for my first modern deck before ultimately deciding on infect. How do you like it and how does it hold up?


VoidZero52

I’m not sure how much I agree, but people seem to see dark days ahead for Death’s shadow decks because of the new card [[Solitude]] coming out soon. It kills all shadows and makes future shadows harder to play, and it’s a free spell. Death’s shadow decks are great though, and they will still have their place in the meta. Probably just a little bit smaller of a slice though.


MTGCardFetcher

[Solitude](https://c1.scryfall.com/file/scryfall-cards/normal/front/4/7/47a6234f-309f-4e03-9263-66da48b57153.jpg?1622388385) - [(G)](http://gatherer.wizards.com/Pages/Card/Details.aspx?name=Solitude) [(SF)](https://scryfall.com/card/mh2/32/solitude?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher) [(txt)](https://api.scryfall.com/cards/47a6234f-309f-4e03-9263-66da48b57153?utm_source=mtgcardfetcher&format=text) ^^^[[cardname]] ^^^or ^^^[[cardname|SET]] ^^^to ^^^call


TheSkoomaPlug

Oh wow I haven't seen solitude yet. That does seem pretty great against deaths shadow, but my first impression is it seems to be too narrow of a card to really be super worried about. It hoses death's shadow but not necessarily scourge. Maybe deaths shadow is a big enough concern to warrant running solitude in the sideboard? My second modern deck is actually rakdos deaths shadow. I haven't had a chance to play it yet because of covid and I'm a paper pleb but it seems fun


VoidZero52

I’m a hardcore paper pleb so I know how you feel. There are some places to play on webcam with discord, so you can play paper while at home


TheSkoomaPlug

Good to know!


JustinClarkv1

Eh, I'm not too afraid I solitude. Cards solid but 2-4-1s against shadow are extremely painful. I've played a go of amount of legacy shadow. Sword to plowshares is a similar card you have to get good at playing around, but good shadow players shouldn't be getting blown out by it.


JustinClarkv1

I absolutely love it. Discard spells in a tempo deck where you're spending a lot of turns intentionally hurting yourself create extremely interesting decision trees. You've usually got to think 3-5 turns out at any given time. I'm playing esper shadow ATM, silent clearing, t3feri, pte in just a normal grixis list. Lotta fun.


TrashhPvnda

Not likely there are a lot of functuonal replacements for push in the format like bloodchiefs thirst etc... obviously not as good, but in the context of the infect match-up it's the same outcome. Infect is kind of a glass Canon, you can definitely steal wins, as not a lot of people tech against it anymore but there's just so many decks with main deck answers in the format now