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By: BlastodermMan, Carl E Wilt
Jul 02 2015 12:00pm
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 It was Thursday evening. I had just been eliminated from my first attempt at qualifying for the Modern Festival Finals, and I was playing my deck in the TPR, and continuing to get railed. Yes, it was a R/G deck, not tuned, and over all, rather bad. I started thinking to myself...did I want to qualify, or did I only want to qualify with R/G? This is a question I should ask myself more frequently, and answer more honestly. 

I hit up Josh on Facebook and we chatted for a bit, and commiserated with each other over our failures. Josh made a very good point early in the conversation. "Our problem is, we are doing fair things." Josh hit the nail squarely on the head. He had played a Fae deck, and I played my R/G. Neither of these decks is unfair. Sure, I have Blood Moon, but rarely does that enable a third turn win like you see from Infect, Bloom, or Griselbrand decks. I'm not sure Modern is a friendly place for fair decks that try to eke out incremental advantages over a long game. Sure, it's possible. And there are pros who seem to play whatever pet deck they want, broken or not, and do well. But most of us are not pros, and playing fair may not be the best course of action. 

I made the offhanded comment to Josh when he encouraged me and told me to qualify during the next one. I said, "I may feel dirty doing it. Like Infect dirty."  I was assured it didn't matter, as long as it was done. Five hours later, I jumped into another preliminary with R/G. Why? Was I even really interested in this, or was I just donating tickets? Honestly, I think I just wanted to give it one more shot. One last try. A final fling, if you will, with my beloved colors of preference. I failed miserably. Again. 

This got me to thinking as I went to bed that night. Why can't I play something else? There's certainly no shame in playing the fast, almost broken, decks. I've recently finished re-reading the Jamie Wakefield books, The Quest for the Pro Tour and Secret Force, The Quest for the Pro Tour II, so many of Jamie's wisdoms were still fresh in my mind. For those that weren't playing and following Magic back in the late 90's, Wakefield was somewhat of a legend. He played his way, and played fatties. Hell, his nickname was King of the Fatties. And he qualified and played in multiple Pro Tours. He was also a prolific writer, and many of us old guys cut our playing teeth on the words of wisdom that he passed on via his articles. As I laid there that night, before drifting off to sleep, one particular passage from Wakefield kept playing on repeat in my mind. I will quote it for you here: 

"On IRC the other day, we were discussing the hardest part about becoming good at Magic. I (Wakefield) mentioned the hardest part about becoming good at Magic is realizing that there is no such thing as cheese. That winning is winning. ... When someone Fireball's you to death, you don't whine about what a poor way to win that is. You adapt. You survive. You overcome! You get better. This is a game. There is no dishonor is using Hymns, Fireballs, or Black Vices." [Jamie Wakefield, The Quest for the Pro Tour, pg. 93]

I guess that means there is also no dishonor in playing Inkmoth Nexus, Glistener Elf, and pump spells. I made a decision. Time to poison some people.

That being said, there are a lot of ways to build Infect. Take this recent example from an SCG PIQ:

 

 This deck is very similar to pretty much all the U/G Infect lists that we've seen since their debut at Pro Tour Fate Reforged. It's known and expected, and I am not one to say that this is not the best version of Infect available. If I was going to travel this path, though, I was going to check out some other versions, as well as maybe dink around with a B/G Infect. While the B/G Infect list never came together for me (although I did find one a few days later), I did recall an old Mono Green Infect list that was pretty decent in Standard a few years ago. 

Mono-Green Infect
FNM World Championships, 2012, by CJ Steele
Creatures
4 Glistener Elf
4 Ichorclaw Myr
2 Necropede
10 cards

Other Spells
4 Wild Defiance
4 Mental Misstep
4 Gut Shot
4 Rancor
4 Apostle's Blessing
4 Titanic Growth
4 Mutagenic Growth
2 Ranger's Guile
30 cards
Lands
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Cathedral of War
12 Forest
20 cards

Mental Misstep

 

 This deck was piloted by CJ Steele, a local Fort Wayne player, as well as someone whom I count as a friend, during the FNM World Championships back during GenCon 2012. CJ has the illustrious honor of being the one and only crowned FNM World Champion, as WotC seemed to abandon the idea of an FNM World Champion after the event.  Whether true or not, I like to think that Fort Wayne was directly responsible, given that roughly 25% of the US qualified field came from our area.

Now, obviously, this deck is not Modern legal out of the box, what with the banned Mental Misstep being in the main. And there are better pump spells than Titanic Growth in Modern, so it would take a few tweaks to complete this. But, this was the deck I used as a starting point. After a few switches and swaps, this was the deck I ended up with:

Mono-Green Infect
Modern Festival Preliminary Qualifying List
Creatures
4 Glistener Elf
4 Ichorclaw Myr
4 Necropede
12 cards

Other Spells
4 Wild Defiance
4 Rancor
2 Apostle's Blessing
4 Mutagenic Growth
4 Vines of Vastwood
4 Might of Old Krosa
2 Predator's Strike
3 Gitaxian Probe
1 Become Immense
28 cards
Lands
4 Inkmoth Nexus
4 Cathedral of War
12 Forest
20 cards

Putrefax

 

 I will get to modifications, updates, and errors in deck building later, as this is by no means a perfect construct. I added extra creatures to the main, as I just felt that 10, even with the 4 manlands, were not enough and I had the fear of holding 7 pump spells and having no creatures to pump with them. Given the amount of removal, I don't think that was incorrect. One aspect I disliked in the mono-colored version was the overall lack of evasion, and not having the unblockable Blighted Agent did color some of my choices. With no unblockable creature, I chose Trample as the effect I would try to abuse to get around chump blocks, which is why I chose Predator's Strike in the main, and why I ran copies of Unnatural Predation in the board. Fortunately, this build came together just in a nick of time to allow me to jump into my third qualifier, with hopes of still being active beyond the third round.

Things did not start out well. Round one, I was paired against a Grixis Control deck. After splitting the first two games, I kicked off game three, on the draw, with a Gitaxian Probe, and saw, to my dismay, Terminate, Liliana of the Veil, Kolaghan's Command and Fulminator Mage, along with the other two lands needed to pair with the one in play to have a completely turned on hand. It matched up pretty well with my Glistener Elf, Inkmoth Nexus, Ichorclaw Myr, random land and pump spell hand. Needless to say, I lost that one. Starting out 0-1 in an event you need to 4-1 to qualify was not in the plans. I crossed my fingers, got a cup of coffee, and prepared for the next round.

I got to play against Burn in the next round. After losing in quick fashion in the first game, Spellskite, Vines of Vastwood, and Apostle's Blessing did some work early, until Wild Defiance hit the board and provided some big protection for my guys. Neither of the last two games were close, and I was starting my run. Round three saw U/W Tron entry the fray. I'm not sure if they just drew really badly, or possibly were unsure of the match up, but it was a quick 2-0 win for me. I did pull off the elusive turn 3 win in the first game, but game two was a little slower, although it netted the same result. In the fourth round, I played against Jeskai Twin in a match that had 2 completely non-interactive games, which we split, followed by a third game that went back and forth, and finally climaxed with my winning after casting a Vines of Vastwood on the Restoration Angel targeted by his Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, leaving him tapped out and unable to respond to lethal poison guys coming across on my next turn. 

So, the table was set. I was 3-1 and getting ready to start the final round. One match stood between qualification for the finals and needing to play another event. I strapped in for what I assumed would be a tough match, what with both of us playing for a spot. Turns out, I got all amped up for nothing. My opponent played a Seachrome Coast followed by an Urza's Tower, and I immediately got happy. The match ended six minutes into the round, with me getting a turn three win, followed by a turn four win in the two games. While my draws were very good that match, it feels like I am highly favored against U/W Tron, even if I can't seem to get past its R/G brethren.

Just like that, I was Q'd for the finals, and finished in 8th place overall. 

While I was happy with how the main deck performed, I'm not thrilled with the sideboard I put together. There were too many Viridian Corrupter and probably at least one too many Dismember. Unnatural Predation was brought in once, and is probably not really necessary. I can see swapping one into the main, in place of a Rancor, given that Rancor and Wild Defiance is a non-bo. That does open up a couple slots in the board for Torpor Orb or Damping Matrix, either of which can be useful against the various Twin or Collected Company decks. I'm also a fan of Beast Within as a catch all as well, and to give me an answer to any permanent that is problematic. Lastly, I've considered cutting down on one maindeck Cathedral of War, or possibly two, for an additional Forest and maybe a Pendelhaven. There were times when drawing multiple "comes into play tapped" lands was very detrimental. While I like the free +1/+1, basically taking a turn off at times in a deck with a low land count that wants to aggressively get after the opponent is sub-optimal. 

So, looks like I'll be spending the next several days locked away in the TPR. Probably playing and testing this deck, or varying versions of it. Hell, maybe I'll even get in some time testing the B/G Infect I stumbled across. I hear Phyrexian Crusader is pretty good in a world of Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile. Hopefully, I will have more tales of victory and plunder next week.

And remember, as you search for a deck to play, there's no such thing as cheese. 

Peace, 
Carl Wilt

5 Comments

Yeah, I'm from Vermont and by Joe Fiorini at Thu, 07/02/2015 - 21:17
Joe Fiorini's picture
5

Yeah, I'm from Vermont and know of that guy. Not a huge state.

Pretty smal sample of matches by drinkard at Fri, 07/03/2015 - 01:02
drinkard's picture

Pretty smal sample of matches to give up on those corrupters. Affinity is the #3 qualifying deck for the festival. I'm also surprised to hear you are having a hard time versus gruul Tron. All Tron variants are susceptible to t3 kills.

Hi... Perhaps I've just been by BlastodermMan at Fri, 07/03/2015 - 11:28
BlastodermMan's picture

Hi...
Perhaps I've just been really lucky, but I've run into less of it online than I expected. I do like the Corrupters, and bring them in frequently, but I'm not sold on a full set being required. Other removal, between Beast Within and Dismember, does give me additional interaction.

While all Tron lists (and really, probably most lists in general) are susceptible to the T3 kill, the issues I've run into with Gruul Tron many times center around Pyroclasm into Karn or Oblivion Stone. Most of the RG Tron lists are running 4 main. Sadly, it's the only deck I've consistently lost to in the 8-mans.

Nice article! I wrote about by olaw at Fri, 07/03/2015 - 09:07
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5

Nice article! I wrote about Mono-Green Infect a while back:
http://puremtgo.com/articles/becoming-modern-man-mono-green-infect

I like your idea of upping the number of creatures as the format does seem to be very removal heavy currently.

Other tech I got to test out included Sylvan Library to tutor for your Inkmoth Nexus, which I found to be the best card in the deck. Not sure it's necessarily worth 4 slots but often all I wanted was to have an Inkmoth on the field. Guttural Response in the board was an interesting inclusion - countering Cryptic or Electroylze for one-mana is nice but your mileage may vary.

I would definitely add in a Pendelhaven as you're unlikely to ever be too badly punished for it - it comes into play untapped and produces green, though I guess it is susceptible to Blood Moon and/or Fulminator Mage though I don't think either would be devastating to this deck.

Congrats on the qualification and I agree that there's no such thing as a cheap or easy deck. Use what you can be successful with.

Thanks. Glad you liked it. I by BlastodermMan at Fri, 07/03/2015 - 11:37
BlastodermMan's picture

Thanks. Glad you liked it.

I like the idea of Sylvan Scrying to grab the Inkmoth. I've found myself in the same boat, just wanting/needing an Inkmoth to win. Definitely will be testing that before Sunday.

I've enjoyed your videos and look forward to checking them out weekly. Keep up the great content.