Thursday, 14 April 2011

New deck: Mono-B Infect

Most of the time I have drafted since Scars of Mirrodin came out (which isn't a huge amount), I tend to be tempted towards playing infect, and have done so more often than not. This is probably also shown through some of the draft pick posts I've written. Infect is fun to play (at least I think so anyway), and I particularly like playing the strategy during the Mirrodin Besieged release, so I put together an infect standard deck. I've been putting it together for a little while, but haven't had much of a chance to play Magic at all recently, so have been unable to test it. At the draft I went to the other day I did manage to play it a couple of times between rounds, and it seemed to do OK, so I'm going to write about it here. 


The Cards
Here is the deck all squished together:

...and here is the actual card list:

Land

Creatures (Artifact)

Creatures (Black)

Artifacts

Instants

Sorcery

Card Choices
This section will cover why I included certain cards. The general summary of the deck is that it is mono black with various infect creatures (although that's pretty obvious from the title of this post) and a couple of other spells to help either winning faster of staying alive longer. 

Dealing Poison counters
Inkmoth Nexus - Survives board sweepers, can get in for some quick damage
Signal Pest - Early play, powers up all infect creatures (the battle cry is +1 usually, but in an infect deck it is closer to +2)
Necropede - Also good in defence if required
Corpse Cur - Recursion
Plague Stinger - Evasion, quick
Phyrexian Crusader - Very powerful, the protection can come in handy, but infect and first strike together is incredibly powerful
Flesh Eater Imp - Has the potential to end games quickly
Vampire's Bite  - A fairly significant swing if you can get it to go through
Contested War Zone - I am trialling this at the moment, it has the potential to swing things quite dramatically, but I have also played games when it would have been better if it was just a basic land. 

The Signal Pest is a good one drop, particularly if it is played with an Inkmoth Nexus, as it is possible to activate it and attack for two the next turn. The Phyrexian Crusader is very powerful, and can be quite scary if it has a sword attached. The Vampire's Bite is great for a surprise when something is unblocked; it is effectively +6/+0 and can get an opponent very close to being fully poisoned. I am not entirely sure about Flesh Eater Imp, but need to play the deck a bit more to see whether it should be kept or replaced with something else, although what that something else would be I am not sure. The Contested War Zone is also something I am trying out at the moment. All of the creatures are either black or an artifact, which means that Doom Blade is only useful half the time, and Go for the Throat is only useful half of the time. 

Control
Contagion Clasp - Handy early play to shrink or kill an opponents early play, and Proliferate is a very powerful mechanic
Inquisition of Kozilek - Very useful for disruption, this deck can sometimes be vulnerable to faster decks, so it is handy to slow them down a bit. It is also good for disrupting a more controlling deck slightly, and seeing what cards they have is useful so you know what to play around
Black Sun's Zenith - For when you really need to reset the board

There isn't a huge amount of control, just enough to keep things under control where possible. The deck is more aggressive than controlling, and infect creatures are pretty good in combat, so there is limited removal in the hope that the creatures will do that for me...

Support
Sword of Feast and Famine - Very handy to equip to something. Really good on the Phyrexian Crusader, if you can untap lands with it, it effectively gives Inkmoth Nexus vigilance
Morbid Plunder - Very good recursion when drafting, I'm mainly using Corpse Cur for returning creatures, although this is helpful as an extra way, and very useful after a board sweeper

Playing the deck
The deck really wants to get some creatures out and attacking as quick as possible. Getting information about their hand early and removing an early threat with Inquisition of Kozilek is something to be done on the first few turns if possible. 

Here is a couple of things you want to be doing in the first few turns, there are two of three main plans of attack, which vary in power depending on the cards you have and the deck you are playing against

Turn 1
The best turn 1 plays are one of the following:
A - Swamp, Inquisition of Kozilek, remove something and remember some of the cards to watch out for in the next few turns

Turn 2
A - Swamp or Inkmoth Nexus, an infect creature (or contagion clasp if they have played a good early drop)
B - Swamp, activate Inkmoth Nexus, attack. If they have no creatures to block the flyer, they get 2 poison straight away thanks to the battle cry trigger

Turn 3
ASwamp or Inkmoth Nexus (depending on last turn, hopefully having 2 swamps by this point), attack with creature played last turn if profitable, Phyrexian Crusader
BSwamp or Inkmoth Nexus, activate the first Inkmoth Nexus (keep a swamp open), attack; if they still have no answer, a Vampire's Bite using the swamp you didn't use puts them on 7 poison counters. 

Strategy A: This is the more controlling strategy, better when your opponent is playing a controlling deck or a fast deck. Ending the turn with a Phyrexian Crusader is a good defence to be in, ready to go onto the offensive next turn. You should hopefully have an idea of their next couple of turns thanks to the early Inquisition of Kozilek,which should have slowed them down slightly

Strategy B: This is the aggressive strategy (7 poison counters by turn 3...) to prevent someone going on the offensive too early. Good against slower decks, but can be used if your opponent has a fast deck that you can't easily react with and you have to race to stand a chance of winning. This will require another Vampire's Bite to win on turn 4, but even if you don't have that 7 poison counters is a heck of a lot of pressure to have someone on so early. 

Weaknesses
Be aware that when you play your fourth land, you are opening yourself up to an Inkmoth Nexus being destroyed by an opponents Tectonic Edge. This will slow you down and remove an efficient creature, but if you are applying enough pressure they will have to do it early which will slow them down too. Counterspells are something to watch out for, which you can try to play around by remembering what they have after resolving Inquisition of Kozilek, but the mana costs are fairly low so you should have some spare to pay for the occasional Mana Leak. 

Against Jace, The Mindsculpter, the two strategies are to either try and remove it as soon as possible, or hope you are fast enough to ignore it. In the limited play-testing I have done with this deck, it is possible to ignore Jace and race and still win, although I was ahead at the time they played Jace (this was a game I did Strategy B as described above). 

When I was first doing some play-testing, the only deck I had to hand was a Goblins deck (gotta love Goblins :D), which usually won because it was very fast, but since adding the Inquisition of Kozileks, they seem to have slowed it down enough for the deck to overcome it. 

Sideboard
The sideboard is mainly just cards that would also be good in the deck, without really thinking of any meta game choices. 
3 Go for the Throat - If you really need some non artifact removal
2 Doom Blade - If you really need some non black removal
Contagion Clasp - For decks with lots of low cost creatures
1 Spread the Sickness - For against slower decks, with extra proliferate action
2 Contagion Engine - Against slower decks again, but a board sweeper (albeit a slow one)
Morbid Plunder - Extra recurion if required (i.e. against 
1 Memoricide - If there is a card you really, really don't want to see (should probably have more of these really)
1 Phyrexian Vatmother - Big creature, did have more, but its slower than the non evasion creatures
Gruesome Encore - I'm probably ahead of myself with this one, but I think it would be good to side in against any other deck playing infect

Not in the deck
I'm not really sure where to put this section, but here seems as good a place as any. There are some cards that I have either thought about adding, or had in at one point but removed later on. I originally had the Trigon of Rage for pumping my creatures, which is nice with any proliferate spells, but I found it quite slow a lot of the time, which is a shame as I quite like the card. It also removes the surprise factor that Vampire's Bite brings, which is what I added instead. I did think about adding Virulent Swipe, but decided to stick with  Vampire's Bite instead as the extra point of power can be quite significant. The rebound would be nice, but it removes the surprise factor, and I thought deathtouch would be a little bit of overkill. For a short time I did have Infiltration Lens, another card I quite like, but removed it in favour of some faster cards, even though I do like the effect. I did have Bonehoard in the deck for a bit, but removed it as it is a little slow, and requires that a lot of stuff have already died, which isn't always guaranteed. 

Summary
In summary, the deck is quite fun to play, and can be fairly competitive, although I've only played it a few times so can't say how competitive. The fun factor is still there though, which is nice. The sideboard defiantly needs some work, and there are a couple of maindeck cards I am not sure about, but at the same time am not sure what to replace them with. I'll probably add another post if I get around to playing more more games with it.