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Budget Magic: $68 (26 tix) Modern Mono-Black Infect


Tjike Budget Magic lovers! It's that time again. This week we are heading to Modern for an different take on the Infect archetype. If you follow the competitive scene you probably know that Green-Blue Infect, based around cheap infect creatures and pump spells, is one of the most popular decks in Modern. However, there's more than one way to poison an opponent in the format. Today we have a deck that is basically the Mono-Black Control version of Infect. While we aren't as fast as the Green version, we have a ton more answers. Instead of winning the game on turn three, we are looking to empty our opponent's hand, control the board, and stick one powerful infect creature to ride to victory!

Let's get to the videos, then I'll talk more about the deck. A quick reminder. If you enjoy the Budget Magic series and the other video content on MTGGoldfish, make sure to subscribe to the MTGGoldfish Youtube Channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest.

Mono-Black Infect Intro

Mono-Black Infect vs Amulet Bloom

Mono-Black Eldrazi vs Jeskai Delver

Mono-Black Infect vs UR Twin

Mono-Black Infect vs Mono-Green

Bonus: Mono-Black ELDRAZI vs Jeskai Delver

 

The Deck

First off, don't let the deck's poor record in the videos fool you. We were extremely close to going 3-1 or even 4-0 with the deck. It just ended up being one of those "everything that could go wrong, did go wrong" situations. In the world of budget decks, especially in Modern, just the fact that  we were in every game and matched against tier one decks should be considered a victory. Even though our opponents consistently drew the perfect out when we had them on the ropes, this won't happen every time. While the records says 1-3 on paper, it's 3-1 in my heart.

The Creatures

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One thing that jumps out about our deck is we only have twelve creatures. Thankfully they are all fairly powerful. Plague Stinger is the worst of the bunch, but once it is on the battlefield it is basically a Inkmoth Nexus that doesn't require an activation cost every turn (although it is worse than Inkmoth Nexus because it takes up a non-land slot in the deck). Remember, all of our creatures deal Infect damage. When they hit a a player, they essentially have double strike. Each Plague Stinger hit is the equivalent of two damage. Plus it has evasion, which makes it a pretty scary paired with equipment on the battlefield.   

Phyrexian Crusader is one of the prime reasons to play the Mono-Black version of Infect. Protection from White and Red means many Modern deck simply have no answer for the Knight once he hits the battlefield. In fact, if you look at the format staple removal spells in Modern, you'll see just how good Phyrexian Crusader is. The top two removal spells, far above the rest, are Path to Exile and Lightning Bolt, neither of which can target Phyrexian Crusader. Also in the top ten are Pyroclasm, Galvanic Blast, Anger of the Gods, Kolaghan's Command, and Terminate, which are all blanks. The only cards we really have to watch out for are Abrupt Decay and Dismember, which appear in 17% and 40% of decks. As such, Phyrexian Crusader is really hard to kill. Better yet, the combination of infect and first strike makes Phyrexian Crusader a great attacker and blocker. 

Phyrexian Vatmother is just huge. Considering that infect damage is essentially doubled, it is basically an 8/5 for four mana when it damages an opponent. It usually takes two hits (combined with early infect damage from Phyrexian Crusader or Plague Stinger) for Phyrexian Vatmother to win the game. While it doesn't have protection, it is almost as hard to kill. It dies to Path to Exile and Terminate, but if you look over the list of removal spells, having a converted mana cost of four and five toughness means it dodges all the other commonly played removal spells in Modern. Getting a poison counter every turn was intended to be the drawback of playing Phyrexian Vatmother, but in 95% of matches this was no cost at all. I've never lost a game because of it, although I imagine it will come up in rare instances, such as the Infect mirror or against decks with Inkmoth Nexus (i.e. Affinity). 

Equipment

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Being Mono-Black, we don't get the pump spells available to the Green versions of Infect. Instead we need to rely on equipment to turn our creatures into huge threats. Runechanter's Pike is awesome in our deck. Apart from our twelve creatures and three equipment slots, we are stocked full of cheap sorceries to power it up. It's not uncommon for the Pike to give a creature +5/+0 or more, which makes any of our threats lethal in two hits. Lashwrithe performs similarly, except it's also a creature, so we can use it to chump for a turn before sticking it on a Plague Stinger or Phyrexian Crusader. Since our manabase contains 18 Swamps, the bonus it grants is typically huge. Often enough we can steal games by playing it and paying four life to equip it to one of our infect creatures. 

Discard

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This discard package might look familiar, and that's because it is similar to the Modern 8-Rack deck we played a few weeks ago. Since we don't get free early wins like Green Infect, we are looking to control our opponent's hand with discard before finishing off the game with one of our creatures. Basically, Blackmail, Raven's Crime, and Wrench Mind are great in our deck because they limit our opponent's resources, while also filling our graveyard with cheap spells to power up Runechanter's Pikes. 

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Funeral Charm gets its own section, because in Mono-Black Infect it is so much more than just a discard spell. Most of the time we will choose the "target player discards a card" mode. Remember, it's an instant, so we can play it on our opponents' draw step to make them discard whatever they drew for the turn when they are playing off the top of their deck.

There are also circumstances where the other modes on Funeral Charm offer a sneaky way to win the game. The +2/-1 doesn't work with Plague Stinger, but on a Phyrexian Crusader or Phyrexian Vatmother we can use it as the Black version of Mutagenic Growth to close out a game. While I haven't done it yet, sooner or later I expect I'll get a surprise victory by giving a Phyrexian Vatmother swampwalk against a deck like Jund or Abzan. The points is, while Funeral Charm is usually a discard spell, some percentage of the time it's a one mana card that says, "You win a game you otherwise would have lost."

 

Removal

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Instead of using pump spells to get in damage, our deck uses removal spells to keep the board clean so we can continually attack with our infect creatures. Disfigure is a great turn one play, especially on the draw, where we can kill a Dark Confidant or Affinity creature. Doom Blade is the fifth copy of Victim of Night, which is about as close as you can get to a two-mana Murder. Dismember lets us kill Tarmogoyf for just one-mana (and four life), which can be relevant on turns where we want to play and equip a Runechanter's Pike. Like our discard spells, our cheap removal spells fuel our graveyard to pump Runechanter's Pike to lethal proportions. 

Card Draw

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One of the problems with playing a bunch of discard spells is that when our opponent is empty handed it does nothing. The same is true of our removal spells if we run into a deck like Scapeshift. In these situations having access to some card draw helps us through poor draws. 

Ultra-Budget Mono-Black Infect

The biggest issue with playing an ultra budget version of Mono-Black Infect is that you lose Phyrexian Crusader, which is just over $30 a playset in the paper world. Phyrexian Crusader is one of the best cards in the deck. While we get to run Ichorclaw Myr in its place, this is a significant downgrade. However, to compensate we go up to the full four copies of Runechanter's Pike. Basically we become a less resilient deck, but a deck with even more one-hit win potential. If you decide to start with this version, I would make adding copies of Phyrexian Crusader your main goal. The card is very, very important to the deck. 

Non-Budget Mono-Black Infect

For a non-budget version of Mono-Black Infect, who better to turn to than Infect Master Tom Ross, who published this list on SCG a while ago. Along with Liliana of the Veil, the most important addition to the deck is Inkmoth Nexus, which is an all-star in any version of Infect. This build of the deck actually plays a lot like the budget version, but with upgrades in both the manabase and discard. Instead of Blackmail you get Thoughtseize. Instead of all Swamps and Ghost Quarters, you get Inkmoth Nexus, Pendelhaven, and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth. If you are looking for something to build towards, this version is probably the best option. Unless you want to branch out towards Green, and play something like GB Infect, which has more in common with the Green-Blue Infect. If you have copies of Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, Liliana of the Veil, or Slaughter Pact, feel free to throw them in the deck, even if you don't have a full playset yet. Playing a single Thoughtseize over a single Blackmail is still an upgrade.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Despite having a poor-on-paper record, I think this deck is competitive in the Modern format. It has a solid mix of discard, removal, and hard-to-deal-with threats, which are the winning ingredients to a successful aggro-control deck in the format. You can certainly play it at the FNM level, and the upgraded version of the deck has been a real player in the format at various times in the past. I wouldn't be surprised if, sooner or later, it has another chance to shine. 

As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments. You can reach me on Twitter (or MTGO) @SaffronOlive.

 


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