Down with the Sickness – Budget Modern Infect – Deck Guide

This opening paragraph is usually where I talk about some loosely related anecdote or analogy, but given today’s topic, we’re just going to pass over that. Sometimes you want to do things but the circumstances present in the world at large make the thing you want to do a bit less than a propos. Instead, you get this handful of filler sentences that ultimately give the same effect, but with a sort of fourth wall-breaking twist to them that lets you peek behind the curtain a little bit. This sentence is usually used as the set up and transition to a joke. Let’s talk about Budget Modern Infect.




Budget Modern Infect by Darren Magnotti


As usual, some foundations before we begin:

  • You shouldn’t expect greatness from this build. This article is given as a starting point, not a finish line, and meant for those who are looking for an entry point into the Modern format.
  • Each Modern list at the time of posting sits at or around $150, as this is a fairly realistic goal for most budget-oriented players.
  • Every deck I post has been personally tested and is being posted for a reason, be it that it is a good teaching tool to learn some of the more complex aspects of the game, the budget version itself is extremely above rate as far as entry points go or the archetype is relatively simple to build into over time.


Header - The Deck

Modern Infect is a low to the ground, linear aggressive deck that aims to take complete advantage of the infect mechanic in order to effectively halve an opponent’s starting life total. The deck is brimming with pump spells to enable this plan which quickly become the best combat tricks in the game. As far as utility goes, the deck is rather lacking as it chooses to go all-in on the beatdown strategy. Linearity aside, the deck isn’t as simple as laying a starting hand on the table and declaring a win or a loss, as it’s also capable of some tricky defensive maneuvers to help stave off unruly removal and interaction. The main thesis of the deck is to end the game as quickly as possible by having each player ask the other “Do you have it?”


Header - The Infectors

Glistener ElfBlighted AgentPlague Stinger

In a general sense, all attacking creatures in this deck fill the same role, just with some slight variation between them. Glistener Elf acts as the standard for infect attackers, coming down on turn one to enable the deck’s most explosive openers. Blighted Agent and Plague Stinger, while coming down later, offer some additional evasion to help maneuver around blockers.

Some notable exclusions to this suite are Blight Mamba and Ichorclaw Myr, who are generally considered too mana-intensive to play if given the option not to, and are only really found in mono-green builds as replacements to the evasive creatures listed.


Header - The Modifications

Noble HierarchIgnoble Hierarch

The prevailing theme of the infect deck is the use of pump spells upon attacks. Their existence creates scenarios where opponents can be baited into misplaying by either choosing to play around the wrong pump spell or by neglecting to consider them entirely. Noble Hierarch and Ignoble Hierarch are essential to the pump arsenal as they advance mana while providing additional repeated value via their exalted triggers.

Blossoming DefenseMindlink MechVines of Vastwood

In terms of noncreature spells, the rest fall into two subcategories – protection and kill shots. Cards falling in the protection camp – Blossoming Defense, Mindlink Mech and Vines of Vastwood – are here simply to keep creatures alive either by outsizing burn spells, providing hexproof to keep those single target removal spells at bay, or otherwise making it difficult for an opponent to successfully get the creature off the board.

Might of Old KrosaMutagenic GrowthRancorScale Up

The kill shots on the other hand are included simply to end the game. Might of Old Krosa, Mutagenic Growth, Rancor and Scale Up are frequently combined with one other spell, maybe some additional exalted, to take opponents out in one attack. A common adage of Infect pilots, reminiscent of Tron’s famous 1+1+1=7 line, is 6+4, as 10 poison is all it takes to end a game. Achieving that with two one-mana spells frequently results in turn three wins, with turn two wins entirely possible.


Header - How Does It Play?

Infect is a deck that doesn’t want to play the long game. While the early aggression is extremely consistent, the answers to the deck are relatively plentiful in the format. The evoke Elementals can be particularly devastating to the game plan without the proper protection available. However, the deck can be blisteringly fast and anyone ill-prepared for it will easily get run over. The deck also rewards familiarity, as many lines that other decks will be taking against the infect player have the same responses. It will frequently be correct to maneuver in such a way so as to provide a sort of puzzle for an opponent to solve at each attack phase depending on the state of the board, since most of the cards in the deck perform similar roles while remaining distinct, and creating situations where an opponent is left guessing whether they’re dead this turn or not based off of limited hidden information can be a fun subgame that can lure them into a false sense of security if repeated.

The deck is an interesting take at the Modern format, and provides interesting and unique situations for both players in a match since games are typically quite short. It can be an excellent choice to spike a metagame that isn’t ready for it or a group of players unfamiliar with current builds. 


Header - Upgrades


Modern Infect by 2runnels


There are typically two paths players can take when upgrading Infect – Simic or Golgari. Simic tends to lean hard into the protection spells, with counters like Spell Pierce to backup the Blossoming Defense-style cards. Blighted Agent is also a major draw for the blue splash, and frequently justification enough for the inclusion.

Golgari tends to shut further away from the explosiveness in order to clear the way for it’s creatures via Thoughtseize and Fatal Push. Phyrexian Crusader can also be a huge draw toward black, as there are several prominent decks that can’t interact with it in any capacity. Some players even still go for the best of both worlds approach by running Sultai, which combines all of the major threats together into one explosive and difficult to deal with package. Inkmoth Nexus is a tremendous threat regardless of the path chosen with it’s ability to avoid sorcery speed removal while flying over blockers, and should be the first pickup for inclusion.

Infect was the Modern entry point for a good number of players, and holds a fondness in the hearts of many when it isn’t at the top of the metagame. Everyone will tell you that they hate playing against it, but it’s a good deck for the format to have access to as it can keep many other degenerate strategies in check. It’s linear design gives it a low floor while the tricky spell-based interaction can provide difficult challenges for players on either side of the table. 

That’s all for this one! As paper events open back up, if you decide to pick up this deck, please keep the sensitivities of the last three years in mind. It’s fine to make jokes amongst friends, but I’ll ask everyone and anyone to remain civil and keep our form of escapism separate from the devastating circumstances that may or may not have impacted your opponents’ lives. Be excellent to each other, and as always, stay safe, play smart and thanks for reading.


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