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Budget Magic: $35 Infect (Modern)

Ola, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Lately, I've been wondering just how cheap a deck can be in Modern while still being competitive, so today, we're going to try to find out by playing what I believe is the cheapest deck we've ever played on Budget Magic: a $35 build of Infect! Like all infect decks, our game plan is simple: stick an infect creature on Turn 1 or 2, protect it with cards like Vines of Vastwood or Blossoming Defense, and then use pump spells like Scale Up and Mutagenic Growth to grow our infect creature to 10 power and kill our opponent with one big attack, maybe as early as Turn 2! Can a $35 deck actually compete in Modern? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: $35 Infect

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The Deck

Infect is a Voltron-esque aggro deck. We're looking to stick a single infect creature, protect it, and throw enough pump spells at it to get it to 10 power and kill our opponent with just a single attack! 

Infect Creatures

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We have three different infect creatures in our deck: Glistener Elf, Blight Mamba and Ichorclaw Myr. On one level, all of our infect creatures are the same as 1/1s. That said, each of our infect creatures has a different upside. Glistener Elf only costs a single mana, which makes it key to our Turn 2 kill nut draw. Blight Mamba is a bit slower at two mana, but regeneration offers a bit of protection to fight through removal spells or, in a pinch, play defense. Finally, Ichorclaw Myr pumps itself when blocked, making it easier to attack through defenders. For our deck to work, we really need at least one of these creatures in our opening hand—without an Infect creature, we risk drawing a bunch of pump spells, not having anything to target with them, and doing nothing.


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Having ways to protect our threats is essential since having an infect creature on the battlefield is so important to our deck and they are also really fragile, dying to basically every removal spell played in Modern. Blossoming Defense and Vines of Vastwood offer protection by giving a creature hexproof while also doubling as pump spells to force through even more damage to close out the game.


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Modern Infect is mostly about counting up to 10—the magic number of infect damage that kills our opponent. Considering all of our infect creatures are 1/1s, getting one of them up to 10 power with cards like Blossoming Defense is hard. Thankfully, we have Scale Up to speed up the process. For just a single mana, Scale Up turns one of our infect creatures into a 6/4, which means one additional pump spell (or at worst, two) will get our Glistener Elf, Blight Mamba, or Ichorclaw Myr up to 10 power to win the game in a single attack. Become Immense can fill in for Scale Up, although it's just a one-of since our $35 infect build doesn't have fetch lands, making it hard to get enough cards in our graveyard to delve our Become Immense at a reasonable price. Along with Scale Up, Vines of Vastwood and Groundswell are our most important pump spells since either gives the creature it targets +4/+4, making our Scale Up creature into a 10-power attacker. 

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Rounding out our pump package are Mutagenic Growth and Rancor. These cards are our weakest in terms of how much power they give to our infect creature, only granting +2 power, although they do come with upsides. Mutagenic Growth is free thanks to Phyrexian mana, while Rancor gives the creature it enchants trample, which is essential to winning through blockers since none of our threats has any sort of evasion. While not as explosive as Groundswell or Vines of Vastwood, any combination of two Rancors or Mutagenic Growths plus Scale Up or Become Immense will be enough to get our infect creature to 10 power to close out the game. 

Other Stuff

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Last but not least, we have Season of Growth. While not especially helpful with our Turn 2 / 3 nut-draw kill, the enchantment helps us play the long game and fight through decks with lots of removal and disruption by drawing us cards whenever we target our creatures with our pump spells. One of the biggest challenges of our $35 build of Infect is that it can be tough to rebuild if our opponent can kill our first couple of infect creatures since we only have 12 total creatures in our deck (and don't have Inkmoth Nexus in our mana base). At least in theory, Season of Growth can help solve this problem.

The Mana

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As far as our mana base, we have 18 Forests and a single Pendelhaven as an additional free pump spell. Since all of our creatures are 1/1s, Pendelhaven is great in our deck, pumping any of our creatures at instant speed. 


Apparently, a $35 deck can be competitive in Modern! All in all, we ended up going 4-1 with $35. While we did have one match against a weird Pili-Pala combo deck, we also took down Amulet Titan, UW Control, and Ad Nauseam, all of which are real tier decks in Modern. Meanwhile, our one loss came to Scapeshift, but even in a losing effort, we put up a good fight, forcing a three-game match. While $35 isn't likely to be a top-tier deck at any time in the near future, it is certainly good enough to win matches against the top tier of the Modern format!

As far as changes to make to the $35 build of the deck, Season of Growth never really did anything. This was partly because we never really drew it, but it might just be too cute for the deck. Replacing it with another pump spell or maybe additional protection like Apostle's Blessing would probably improve the deck, to some extent. While it might be worth considering for the sideboard for slower, grindier matchups, the main deck is probably best off focusing exclusively on killing as quickly as possible. 

The other big upside of $35 Infect is that it is very upgradable. The easiest upgrade is adding Inkmoth Nexus to the mana base as an additional evasive infect creature. While this would add about $50 to the budget, even with Inkmoth Nexus, the deck would still cost less than our normal $100 budget! After adding Inkmoth Nexus, you can slowly upgrade towards the tier build of Infect, which splashes blue for counterspells (as additional protection) and Blighted Agent (one of the best infect creatures thanks to being unblockable). 

So, should you play $35 Infect? If you're looking for a deck that can compete with the top tier of the Modern meta but our normal $100 budget is too expensive for your tastes, I think the answer is pretty clearly yes. It's hard for me to imagine there are too many more $35 in the Modern format that are as competitive as this one. Toss in a solid upgrade path, and $35 Infect seems like a really solid starter deck for Modern. You could certainly win some games at an FNM and, with a bit of luck, maybe even win and FNM with the deck, which is pretty impressive considering the super-low cost of the deck. The only downside is that you'll forever be branded as a dirty infect player.

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This week, we have two upgrade decks: a $100 version of Infect and a fully powered tier version. For the $100 upgrade, as I mentioned before, the biggest addition to the deck is four Inkmoth Nexus, which is one of the best infect creatures in Magic, dodging sorcery-speed removal and being evasive. Plus, as a land, it's close to a free-roll. Otherwise, we drop Season of Growth for Apostle's Blessing as another one-mana way to protect our creatures from removal (and maybe even swing past blockers) and upgrade the sideboard with more copies of Dismember for removal and some Spellskites for additional protection post-board.

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For the fully upgraded version of Infect, we have a build that Audemin recently played to a 5-0 finish on Magic Online. The biggest change to the deck is splashing into blue for Blighted Agent as well as cheap counters like Spell Pierce and Mystical Dispute. Noble Hierarch is another huge upgrade. Remember the games from the video where we ended up one point of infect short of winning? Noble Hierarch helps solve this problem thanks to exalted, basically being a static pump spell that also speeds up the deck by allowing us to cast multiple pump spells on Turn 2 or play Blighted Agent and leave up something like Blossoming Defense to protect it. We also get Might of Old Krosa as another +4/+4 pump spell. Otherwise, the deck plays almost exactly the same as the one from the video: play an infect creature, protect the infect creature, pump the infect creature, and win the game on Turn2 or 3!


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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