3 MTG Decks to Poison With on a Budget

Welp, poison is back. The signature mechanic of the Phyrexian hordes returns for the first time in over 10 years. This go around, we have it in the form of the aptly named toxic mechanic and a plethora of proliferation, and innovations that we haven’t yet seen such as the cycle of spells that gives an opponent a poison counter without needing to connect via combat. While the efficacy of the strategy has waxed and waned over the last decade, the alternate win condition provided by poison’s existence has proven to be a fun and interesting option. Today, we’re going to take a look at a few different methods of delivering the toxin across the various constructed formats while on a budget.


Unlock CFB Pro and get all the benefits of a TCGplayer subscription for one monthly fee. Join now!



Traditionally, poison counters have needed a connection via combat to stick. This can be seen in both the infect and toxic mechanics, flavorfully being that the poisonous creature is making you sick when you touch it. There have been a handful of exceptions to this, though their potency was relatively lacking due to steep mana costs and being more of a restriction to gameplay. This meant poison was to be avoided by the opponent rather than something proactively established with effects like “Whenever enchanted artifact becomes tapped, its controller gets a poison counter.”

With the latest Phyrexian set though, we see a wide range of proactively costed control-adjacent cards that deliver poison in some capacity. Prologue to Phyresis, Infectious Inquiry and Vraska’s Fall all dish out the poison while offering effects that a Dimir Midrange/Control deck would want to be running anyway. Combine this with the large number of proliferate spells available in the colors and you’re left with a poison control deck that attacks from an angle that we haven’t really seen before. 

Budget Standard Poison Control by Darren Magnotti


Iterations on this Standard list are more or less dominating the low and mid tiers of the Standard Arena ladder due to their unique style of play that easily catches players off guard. Putting a subtle win condition that you can’t really interact with or prevent on to interactive spells allows what normally may be a reactive deck to focus on a proactive game plan and more or less flip flop between the two, giving the strategy a ton of flexibility. I covered a similar deck in last week’s write up, but honestly the strategy is so interesting that it’s worth the second look. 


Of course, in Standard you’re still offered the opportunity to attack opponents to death with poisonous creatures as well. The toxic mechanic proves that same feeling that infect once gave, but with more focus on making repetitive attacks over using pump spells to deliver one lethal blow. There are a few relatively overlooked cards in the set that I think have some real power to them if applied correctly. Jawbone Duelist is a two-mana 1/1 with toxic 1 and double strike, or effectively a 2/2 with toxic 2.

While this isn’t mind blowing at first glance, we need to consider two different key factors. The first is that toxic triggers whenever the creature deals combat damage, which means double strike creatures double up their toxicity in addition to their normal damage. The second is that multiple instances of toxic stack, so by giving a creature with toxic 2 and extra toxic 1, that creature now effectively has toxic 3. This is very relevant with my second card, Prosthetic Injector. Being able to cut any creature’s lethality clock in half for a mere two mana is something that shouldn’t be written off, and when played in combination with a high density of other toxic creatures, the Injector can really put on the pressure. 

Budget Pioneer Mono-White Toxic by Darren Magnotti


While Pioneer is less open to basic creature combat as Standard, bringing the beats is still generally a viable option. Combining these toxic creatures with some potent protection, Mono-White Toxic is capable of playing a very resilient aggressive game in a format largely dominated by grindy midrange decks. Skrelv and his Hive in specific do a lot of the heavy lifting here, allowing attackers to skirt by defending armies or simply outnumber the opposition with a hard-to-remove permanent type. This list plays similarly to the various Humans decks in the format, packing light yet potent interaction with many means to make the creatures in the deck into legitimate threats. The deck really thrives in its ability to push through damage and poison, with a large amount of evasion to turn any creature into the most important thing on the table. Part of the poison deck’s strategy is eliminating turns from a non-poison equivalent deck’s clock, so making inclusions to facilitate that is key to the deck’s success.


Moving into Modern, we see a similar theme as we have in Pioneer where combat really matters. While Pioneer and Standard versions of the deck are more in the business of making sure their threats can stick around long enough to connect with multiple attacks, the Modern Infect deck is all in on one attack. The distinct difference between the old and the new is that while toxic makes other instances of toxic better, infect makes any increase to the creature’s power better. This creates a scenario where the infect deck will go all in making one creature as large as possible if the coast is clear for a swing. We’ve seen many iterations of the Infect deck before, but there’s one key upgrade from All Will be One that gives the deck a renewed vigor in the format. 

Budget Modern Infect by Darren Magnotti


Infect has for years relied on the power of a turn one Glistener Elf backed up by one of the evasive two-mana creatures, either Blighted Agent or Plague Stinger. With these creatures, the deck can come hard out of the gate and end a game before it really has time to begin, asking if the opponent drew anything to deal with its threat in their opening hand and punishing when they didn’t. With a supporting cast of Ignoble Hierarch to power out even more spells while also buffing the main threat up with exalted, Gemrazer to dodge damage-based removal and provide some trample capacity, and a lineup of the strongest buff spells in the format, the infect deck is a force to be reckoned with in any field underprepared for it. 

The new addition of Venerated Rotpriest, however, completely turns the deck on its head, combining the strength of the buff spells that the deck was playing anyway with that extra proactive reach that we talked about initially. The Rotpriest can play offensively or defensively, disincentivizing opponents from using their removal spells on the wrong threat while also rewarding the cascading sweep of multiple buff spells and shortening the damage clock even further.

As we saw with the Standard list, making it so that defensive moves also provide a proactive kill condition is enough to make major waves over the course of a game. It shores up some of the major weaknesses of the deck because you no longer have to wholly rely on being all-in aggressive and can spend a turn or two defending creatures from removal with the likes of Tyvar’s Stand or Blossoming Defense without crippling yourself too much. This is a major innovation for the infect deck, and poison decks all around, that we can expect to see for years to come. 

That’s all for this one. Poison is one of the more divisive mechanics out there, and most players either love to play it or hate to play against it. It feels a lot like cheating because it can be so difficult to interact with, but it provides a crucial niche in many formats as a means to attack that format from an angle that it may not be prepared for. I expect that with Phyrexia’s return, we’ll be seeing a ton more of the poison counters in the coming months and years, and I’ll be here to update with any new developments that may come with it. Until then, remember to stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading. 

1 thought on “3 MTG Decks to Poison With on a Budget”

  1. firstName lastName

    Hi, would you be able to write a side board guide for the Meta decks. As a player learning, and subscribing to CF I learn the most and get the most value from the sideboard guides it really helps me understand what’s happening. Of course some are obvious but others aren’t so much. Thank you as always!

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top