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By: olaw, Oliver Law
Jul 22 2019 12:00pm
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Hello!

Welcome to another Becoming A Modern Man!  I'll admit it - Modern Horizons ended up being much more impactful on Modern that I had anticipated and the reverberations of the sets release are still being felt in the format.  There are lots of deck and cards to talk more about and with Hogaak Vine neutered there feels like there is a lot more room for decks to carve out a niche in the metagame.

In this article I want to talk about an old deck that got some exciting new toys from Modern Horizons - Infect.  The one that had most people talking was Scale Up which for just one-mana can turn a creature into a 6/4.  When combined with Infect that is a huge power and toughness boost that leaves the opponent just 4-points of damage from death.  The second card is Giver of Runes which adds to cards like Blossoming Defense and Vines of Vastwood as cards that help protect your Infect creatures.

 

THE NEW CARDS

I've covered a few Infect decks in this series and the core is pretty much the same as ever so I'm going to concentrate on the new cards in discussing the deck.

Giver of Runes
Giver of Runes

Giver of Runes is a cheap creature that can grant valuable protection to our Infect creatures.  This can be used defensively to protect them from removal or offensively to allow them to attack past potential blockers.

I have mixed feelings about whether this really belongs in the deck.  Stretching the manabase to include Giver is slightly awkward and you generally don't want to play Giver over a Noble Hierarch or Glistener Elf if you have the option.  Giver probably works best with Inkmoth Nexus as you can cast Giver without it competing with Infect drops.  I wasn't fully sold that Giver belongs main deck and I feel like Blossoming Defense probably does a similar job at less of stretch.  Certainly repeatable protection is powerful but really the deck isn't looking to play long games where it can help it and I can't help but feel something that actually pushes you towards ending the game would be more effective.

Scale Up
Scale Up

Turning a creature into a 6/4 Craw Wurm is not all that impressive in itself but combined with Infect it's extremely powerful.  Scale Up represents a +5/+3 boost to our 1/1 Infect creatures which is at least 1 power more than any of the one-mana pump spells available in the format.  Every point of damage counts for Infect and that extra point over a Might of Old Krosa or Groundswell is significant.

The problem with Scale Up is that it doesn't stack in multiples like the other pump spells in the deck so you don't generally want to draw more than 1 at any given time.  It's much harder to one-shot the opponent that way so I think 3 copies might be the right number.

Waterlogged_Grove
Waterlogged Grove

Not to be ignored is the addition of a Horizon Canopy land in Infect's primary colours.  Infect is all about applying the gas as fast as possible so having a land you can cash in for more gas is very handy.

GAMEPLAY

I ran the deck through a Modern League and captured my results in the videos below.


Our first matchup is against Mono-Green Tron.  This match seems generally pretty favourable.  Outside of Walking Ballista, they don't have much early interaction so provided we have a sufficiently quick hand we should be able to kill them before Tron gets online or very shortly thereafter.  The aforementioned Walking Ballista can be a real problem once it has more than one counter on it as it can easily pick off our 1/1 Infect creatures.  Giver of Runes isn't particularly strong in this match and we are probably better sideboarding it out for disruption.


Our second matchup is against UW Spirits.  This matchup is less than ideal as they have lots of bodies to get in the way of our Infect creatures and also have Mausoleum Wanderer and Spell Queller that can counter our pump spells.  This feels like the type of matchup where Giver of Runes could shine being used offensively to get past potential blockers.  This matchup ended up being close but we got to find out the downside of drawing multiple copies of Scale Up which ended up costing us the deciding game.


Our third matchup is against Mono-Red Prison. This deck is definitely dangerous for us.  Blood Moon can completely cripple us and cards like Ensnaring Bridge and Chalice of the Void are also problematic.  If you encounter a lot of Blood Moon/Chalice decks then I would suggest putting extra copies of Force of Vigor into the sideboard which is a good solution to the problem.  (Dissenter's Deliverance) gives us an answer to the artifacts but not the Blood Moon.


Our fourth matchup is against Tron once again.  Thankfully this was a similarly favourable matchup and a pretty straightforward win for us.


Our fifth matchup is against Burn/Red Deck Wins.  This matchup is pretty troublesome.  The opponent can pressure our life total while also having plenty of removal options to kill us with.  It's a tough race to win and cards like Searing Blaze and Eidolon of the Great Revel cause us big headaches.

Overall we went 3-2 in the League which is a reasonable result and we weren't too far off beating UW Spirits.  The deck certainly feels like it has legs and its speed can beat even unfavourable matchups.  However, I expect the post-ban metagame to be more interactive which doesn't necessarily bode well for Infect decks.

CONCLUSIONS

Infect has got some new tools from Modern Horizons that do provide a new edge to the deck.  Scale Up seems like a real upgrade on some of  the other pump spell options of the past.  I was less convinced by Giver of Runes and I'm not entirely sure that stretching the manabase to include it is quite worth the effort.  Infect definitely feels more powerful than before but I don't think enough has changed to see it back at the upper echelon of the Modern format.  It is still a very solid deck and one that can achieve some serious results in the right field.

Thanks for reading,

Oliver Law (olaw on MTGO)