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I’ll admit — math is hard, and my goal every time I play Magic is to do as little math as I can. I just want to know my opponent is dead by using which cards I have as a metric, and having to deal ten damage rather than twenty makes life just a little easier. In all seriousness, Infect is a rewarding deck that promises fast kills, exasperated sighs, and an abundance of salt.

In this article, I’ll be discussing the card choices available to the archetype, as well a sideboard options and recommendations.

The Threats

Glistener Elf | The premier Infect one drop, Glistener Elf contributes to quick kills with relative ease, as a single Scale Up and Might of Old Krosa represents lethal as early as Turn 2. While the backbone of the dead, Glistener Elf is most vulnerable to being blocked.

Blighted Agent | Like Glistener Elf, Blighted Agent is an efficient Infect threat that threatens an early kill, but is only capable of providing a Turn 3 kill. The upside with blighted Agent comes with unblockability — the only form of interaction is with removal or countermagic, making Blighted Agent one of the most feared threats in the archetype.

Ichorclaw Myr | While not as consistent an archetype staple as Blighted Agent, Ichorclaw Myr adds redundancy in a world of Lava Dart, while combining with Rancor to fight through most blockers. Two copies is sufficient, as this is a flex slot and can be replaced by a variety of options.

Noble Hierarch | While not an Infect threat, Noble Hierarch nonetheless is the scariest Turn 1 play. Contributing to slower but resilient kills, Hierarch’s mana advantage contributes to turns involving a threat plus protection. Additionally, Noble Hierarch gives the deck a mana neutral pump effect, as the exalted can chip away with two or more damage each turn.

Dryad Arbor | Likewise not an Infect threat, Dryad Arbor combines sacrifice protection with a backup plan involving a raw damage race. One copy is adequate, and many players opt for it in the sideboard.

Inkmoth Nexus | The final Infect threat, Inkmoth Nexus has both resiliency to removal and evasion like Blighted Agent, but this trade off comes at the cost of a tax. Requiring a mana to animate, and thus attack, can constrain many Infect games, but incorporating a threat into the mana base frees up spell slots to protect Inkmoth.

The Protection

Vines of Vastwood | Mostly serving as protection, Vines gives Infect access to a mirror breaker while doubling as a four power pump spell. While mana intensive, Vines is a necessary component in a removal heavy metagame.

Blossoming Defense | Like Vines, Blossoming Defense combines protection with power. Where Defense differs is in a classic mana to power exchange. Blossoming Defense can only provide two power, but always provides protection, and is ultimately less versatile. Still, it’s good enough to warrant four copies.

Teferi, Time Raveler | A recent addition to the archetype, Teferi gives the deck an out to Chalice of the Void and Ensnaring Bridge in Game 1, while preventing opponents from engaging at all with an infect threat. He does cost three mana, restricting the amount of copies you can run.

The Pump

Scale Up | This Modern Horizons stand out (which you can see in our Gruul Scale Up article) functions similarly to Become Immense, but affects the board much earlier. Contributing to ten infect with just Scale Up and Might of Old Krosa, Infect has never been faster than it is now. Play four copies for maximum poison.

Mutagenic Growth | The weakest of the available pump options, Mutagenic Growth is a four of despite this distinction due to its free nature. Exchanging life for poison counters is hardly a drawback in a deck as fast as this one, and it can also serve as protection against burn spells.

Might of Old Krosa | Like Scale Up Might of Old Krosa contributes to fast kills, however, this comes at the cost of a relatively weak reactive plan. Due to both Teferi and extra threats, the Sorcery speed nature of the starter spells is largely mitigated.

Support Cards

Distortion Strike | Giving utility against blockers is rare, but Distortion Strike can represent large Infect swings by jumping a Glistener Elf or an Ichorclaw Myr through a wide board. One copy is satisfactory, as it provides no protection or substantial power boost.

Rancor | Like Distortion Strike, Rancor gives Infect access to a recurring source of “evasion”, but lacks any protection. Still, the extra power and recurring nature warrant at least a couple of copies, but don’t be afraid to trim them if necessary.

Dismember | Earning its spot in a Thing in the Ice and Thalia heavy metagame, Dismember is the best form of removal available. One copy is satisfactory, as it has similar drawbacks as Distortion Strike.


The Sideboard

Island | An uncharacteristic aspect of traditional Infect sideboards, the Island lets the deck cast its blue spells through a Blood Moon, and increases the available Islands to maximize a reactive counterspell game. One is sufficient, and can be cut if few Blood Moons make their way into your metagame.

Ceremonious Rejection | Countering a Chalice or an Ensnaring Bridge is more important than ever, but it also prevents a Thought-Knot Seer or Walking Ballista from taking over the game. Primarily earning its spot due to the unique metagame created by the former Hogaak menace, Rejection is an easy cut if the format steps away from Chalice.

Dispel | Protecting against both removal and countermagic, Dispel adds to the diversified protective suite. Too many copies is detrimental, as the card has diminishing returns, but the first copy is potent.

Giver of Runes | With many lists cutting the Giver entirely due to the proactive nature of the pre-ban format, it may be time to add more copies to the list. With players more able to interact with opponents, Giver of Runes is set to dominate the early turns. A card to stay on the look out for if you play Infect.

Spell Pierce | A combination of Ceremonious Rejection and Dispel, Spell Pierce counters Chalice, Blood Moon, and early removal spells. A staple of most blue sideboard right now, I would recommend at least two copies.

Force of Vigor | A Modern Horizons addition, Force of Vigor gives Infect an easy way to remove Chalice or Bridge, without having to hold up mana. Often those matchups lack board presence, often relying on the haymaker artifacts to secure a win. This mitigates the drawback of pitching a pump spell,  and is why it is the perfect sideboard card for Infect.

Leyline of the Void | Most lists still have yet to adapt to the post-ban metagame, and this is one such take. Leyline made sense in a format filled with graveyard shenanigans, but with Bridge from Below banned I would trim some copies for a broader sideboard plan — perhaps more Giver of Runes.