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Getting into Modern on a Budget: Infect

Written by Tim Bachmann on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Getting into Modern on a Budget: Infect

Tim Bachmann

Hailing from northeast Pennsylvania, Tim has been playing since Mirrodin, and has been playing competitively since Dragons of Tarkir. With aspirations of playing on the Pro Tour, Tim plays in as many PPTQs and GPs as he can.

Last week, I went over how to get into Modern on a budget, chasing after one of the pillars and all-time hallmarks of the Modern format. This week, I want to do a similar thing, but with a different deck. Another one of my favorite decks in the format is Infect, and looking at a typical list for this deck, it looks overwhelming. It is by no means as overwhelming as Splinter Twin, or the kings of the cash tills, Jund or Abzan, but it still looks pretty expensive.

This list is from JensH87, who has been just tearing up Modern leagues lately. Given a lot of these decisions are probably concessions to the Magic Online metagame that this player is playing against on a regular basis, I think that Infect is one of the decks that most capitalizes on small fluctuations in the metagame.

For those who aren’t familiar with how Infect works, you essentially put down a creature with Infect, like your Blighted Agent, Glistener Elf, or Inkmoth Nexus, and then you’re trying to end the game by putting 10 poison counters on your opponent. You do this by protecting your Infect creatures with cards like Apostle’s Blessing, and Vines of Vastwood, and making them really big out of nowhere through cards like Groundswell, Might of Old Krosa, and Become Immense, as well as inherent abilities on some utility cards, like the Exalted trigger on Noble Hierarch, and the +1/+2 effect on Pendelhaven.

Looking at this list, it seems pretty difficult to build with the $200 entry fee to Modern that we used last week when we built U/R Splinter Twin. However, a lot of the card choices in the list above are just ones that make it look nice. Let’s look at the mana first:

Playsets of Misty Rainforest and Verdant Catacombs seem like the deck is already over our initial buy in budget. But if you notice that lands that these cards are getting from your deck, each of them is a forest. This means we can cut these, and play Wooded Foothills and Windswept Heath in their stead, which makes the manabase much more affordable. Also, we probably don’t even need to have full playsets of each, considering we’re trying to build on a budget. I think the most important land in this deck, however, is Inkmoth Nexus. I think that it may be the most important card in the deck, so we’re going to start with a playset of that card. We can get a playset of that card for about $88 with today’s prices, so that gives us $112 to build the rest of our deck. We’ll come back to the lands once we round out the rest of our spells.

On the non-land side of the deck, the real expensive cards in this list are Noble Hierarchs, and Spellskites. Firstly, I think that it’s fine in the deck, but Spellskite I think is a luxury that we can’t afford on a budget. It does help us protect our guys, and can win us the game in a lot of situations, but I think that we can’t play that card first.

Next, Noble Hierarch is a very good card in this deck. It is probably the best Noble Hierarch deck in the format. However, I want to pause on the Noble Hierarchs right now, and flesh out the rest of the deck. The rest of the deck is relatively inexpensive. So we’ll pick up the following cards:

These are thirty two cards that we can get for about $30. The expensive cards in this set are the Gitaxian Probes at about $13 a playset. Everything else is within the $0.20 -$1 range in terms of price for a singleton. So we put that $30 with our $88 that we have on our Inkmoth Nexuses, and we have $82 left to play with.

If we’re still playing with about the 21 lands that our Magic Online user JensH87 is using (Dryad Arbor included), we get space for 7 non-land cards in our maindeck. We can put in 4 Sleight of Hand over the 4 Serum Visions, and that means we’re spending $10 over the $28 that the Serum Visions would cost, putting us at $72 left. The rest of the deck can get filled out with cards like Sylvan Scrying or Twisted Image. Sylvan Scrying is probably better since we’ll be running on both a low fetchland count, which makes our mana slightly worse, and also we don’t have the Noble Hierarchs to hedge on for more mana, so we can use Sylvan Scrying to make sure we hit our land drops. On the other hand, Twisted Image is better for getting rid of Spellskites, and also draws us a card. This slot is personal preference, and can be split or even some other card that you’re partial to and want to try in this strategy. Some sort of counterspell may be useful as well. Stubborn Denial, Dispel or Spell Pierce may be worth looking at.

Back to our lands. We have about $72 left to work with, and we only have 4 lands in our deck, in Inkmoth Nexus. If our goal is run some number of fetchlands, it’s worth it to invest into at least one Breeding Pool for about $11. That means we have $61. Luckily, Windswept Heath is at around $13 right now, so we could get a set of them for $52. With our remaining $9, we can add some number of lands that help us fix our mana. We can splurge on 4 Yavimaya Coast, and also some number of Temple of Mystery. That means our mana would look something like this:

4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Windswept Heath
1 Breeding Pool
4 Yavimaya Coast
4 Temple of Mystery
4 Forest

That’s how I would build U/G infect in Modern on a budget. If you’re going to go this route, and eventually put more money into the deck to upgrade the deck to be more in line with what are perceived to be competitive top tier decks, I think that going the Noble Hierarch route first is more beneficial. You’re already in a base-green deck, so finding one green on turn one shouldn’t be too difficult to cast your Noble Hierach, and where another set of fetchlands would fix our mana, Noble Hierarch serves the same purpose, but makes our infect creatures bigger when they attack. After the Noble Hierarchs, I would go for Pendelhavens, and then Wooded Foothills and another Breeding Pool. The first lands I would drop would probably be the Temples of Mystery since they come into play tapped, and in general we’re trying to be very quick.

I hope you liked this write up of getting into Modern on a Budget. Stay tuned in the future for more of these types of articles.

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