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MTG Legacy Bant Infect – Deck Guide

Over the past 10 years, the infect mechanic has made quite a name for itself in Legacy as a part of one of Legacy’s scariest decks. While the deck has never fully reached the top of the Legacy metagame, it has always been a consistent force, waiting for the right metagame to strike. Unfortunately, one of the major things holding back the archetype has been a lack of printings over recent years since most of the best cards in the deck have already been printed. However, the fact that it still competes in the Legacy field with some consistency goes to show how impressive the deck is. This week, Magic Online player Shp2000dk finished 9th in a Legacy Challenge with a fairly traditional take on the archetype and this seemed like a good opportunity to cover the deck.

It is worth noting that Infect expert Sam Dams (Fenruscloud on Twitter and Magic Online) has been playing with Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes in paper and reporting back positive feedback. This card isn’t available online which has limited the amount of testing that could be done with it, but it’s fairly likely that the “best” version of the deck might include some copies of that, so keep that in mind.

 

 

 

Legacy Bant Infect by Shp2000dk

 

Header - The Game Plan

This is an aggro-combo deck that takes full advantage of the infect mechanic. The goal is to combine an infect creature with a combination of pump spells and finish the game fairly quickly. Since the creatures are so crucial, it plays a variety of ways to protect them that will help you enact this plan. Seeing that this is a creature-based combo deck, it has a fair amount of resilience built in since you can always just start attacking opponents if you can’t quite get enough pump spells going. 

 

Header - Card Choices

Glistener ElfBlighted AgentInkmoth Nexus

These creatures are the reason this deck exists. Each of the threats in Infect serve a different purpose and each have their upsides and downsides. Glistener Elf is the fastest of the threats. Being able to come down on turn one means that it can set up quick turn two kills if needed/possible. The downside is that Glistener Elf is fairly easy to block since it lacks evasion, so even unflipped Delvers can pose a problem. Blighted Agent sidesteps that issue and completely ignores any creature opposition, which makes it a premier threat in a lot of situations. The downside is that it’s slow, as a two-mana threat really changes the clock and may even have difficulty resolving against cards like Daze. However, it makes up for this by providing a consistent source of infect damage if it resolves. It will always chip in for one damage (two with exalted), which makes it much easier to hold onto your pump spells and save them for protection or a final burst when your opponent is at four or five infect.

Inkmoth Nexus completes the trifecta by both being evasive and protected against sorcery-speed effects. It also does both of these in a way that can be disrupted by countermagic with a very low opportunity cost. There are two significant downsides here, though: it costs mana to use on the turn you go for the kill and it’s exposed to Wasteland. Both of these are significant downsides when you view this as a threat alone, but Inkmoth Nexus is still right among the other two when it comes to best threats with infect. If Inkmoth is your only threat and you need to play through Wasteland, you need to be careful to hold up Vines of Vastwood

Noble Hierarch

While it’s not a proper threat, Noble Hierarch is the true workhorse of the deck. Opponents will often be compelled to kill it on sight since this deck, perhaps more than any deck in Legacy, can really abuse a mana advantage. It enables this deck’s most powerful starts and will leave opponents struggling to keep up. Exalted is a very powerful ability, both in this deck and in a vacuum, and it will frequently significantly change the clock at very little cost to yourself. In dire situations, Noble Hierarch can act as a threat, as well, since Berserk has the potential to deal a ton of damage.

InvigorateBecome Immense (Timeshifted)Scale Up

Invigorate is arguably the most powerful pump spell of all time and in this deck it has as close to zero downsides as you can get. Giving your opponent life doesn’t matter if you don’t plan to reduce their life total to zero. You do need to control a Forest, so be mindful of that, but that’s not usually a problem. Timing Invigorate can be somewhat tricky, especially against Lightning Bolt decks, so unless you have a clear, uncontested kill, carefully look for the best opportunity to safely resolve it. Become Immense is another very powerful pump spell that has significant diminishing returns in multiples. With Scale Up in the mix, it’s not as necessary to play more than one Become Immense since they are somewhat similar. Scale Up can’t really act as a trick (unless you have Teferi in play and used his +1), but it packs enough punch for one mana that it’s definitely worth it.

Berserk

Berserk is by far the best at what it does. However, it has a real cost. It’s not that effective if you haven’t already cast a pump spell and it doesn’t work that well in multiples. However, it’s extraordinarily powerful and makes it so that blockers will pose no threat to you. Make sure you remember that it kills the creature at the end of combat, as well, so don’t cast it without killing intent.

Vines of Vastwood

Vines is the best protection spell this deck has access to. While it is very effective at protecting your creatures, it’s a somewhat clunky pump spell, so playing too many of them can be a bit costly.

BrainstormPonder

Despite being a “combo” deck, this is a fairly low number of cantrips. This is because you can’t really spend too much time digging around for individual pieces of your combo. It slows down the deck far too much and really gives opponents time to set up a solid defense. This deck would generally prefer to draw its more impactful pieces rather than spend time looking for them. A lot of the pieces are fairly redundant and saving on mana is fairly important.

Force of WillDazeSpell Pierce

There have been times in the past when Infect has trimmed on some of the “stock” free counterspells, but this isn’t really the format for it. This is a really fast Legacy and you need to be able to interact as early as possible fairly often. Spell Pierce is included over something like Flusterstorm (despite Flusterstorm being better at protecting your creatures) because this format has a lot of threatening non-instant/sorcery spells, so Pierce goes up in value.

Sylvan Library

While Sylvan Library might share some similarities to cantrips (thus opening the argument that if you’re going to cut Ponder, maybe Sylvan Library is too slow, as well), Sylvan is far more of a card advantage engine in this deck. This makes it feel more like a threat than a cantrip since it will be fairly easy to convert Library into a huge advantage. Since this deck has so many free spells, it’s not uncommon for you to draw one or two extra cards in a turn and then cast all of those spells in the same turn.

Teferi, Time Raveler

Teferi might appear like an odd choice in this deck, considering that it’s a one-of planeswalker that requires adding an additional color, but this deck is an excellent fit for it. The static ability is generally annoying for opponents to play against but in Infect it’s downright game-ending since opponents will no longer be able to interact with your pump spells. In addition, the bounce aspect of Teferi is excellent at clearing the way for your creatures to punch through. While the cost of adding another color is high, this deck is splashing for Swords to Plowshares anyway, so it’s not as high of a cost to play Teferi in the main deck.

The Mana Base

This mana base is fairly barebones for a three-color deck. This is where the white splash starts to look a bit iffy, not just because it’s a third color, but because Infect decks don’t usually want non-green tapping lands. Drawing Tundra is like drawing a basic Island most of the time and that can slow you down or lead to non-functional draws. It’s likely necessary, but it’s important to keep in mind.

 

Header - The Sideboard

Flusterstorm (Buy-A-Box)

Flusterstorm is both one of the best anti-combo cards and an excellent way to protect your creatures.

Force of VigorSeeds of Innocence

Artifacts are more problematic in Legacy than ever, but fortunately there are some really powerful ways to interact with them. These cards will help make sure that you can always have a way to stop those decks.

Hydroblast

One of the best sideboard cards against Delver that also pulls some extra weight against decks like Moon Stompy.

Rest in PeaceSurgical Extraction

Graveyard hate is pretty much a requirement in Legacy and since you’re splashing white anyway (and this deck already has a ton of cheap interaction to survive early), Rest in Peace is a great option.

Swords to Plowshares

Creatures are too important in Legacy right now to go without a solution. It’s worth splashing white for this since Swords to Plowshares is the best there is and blue and green decks are generally lacking in this category.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

Uro doesn’t really fit the game plan of the deck, but it’s a nice way to sidestep hate. It’s difficult for opponents to keep up with the advantage Uro provides and it doesn’t take that long for a 6/6 to end the game.

Veil of Summer

When the time is right, Veil is arguably the best sideboard card in Legacy. Countermagic is fairly popular and a lot of combo decks run discard, so Veil is a nice inclusion.

 

Header - Tips and Tricks

  • Berserk can be cast on your opponent’s attacking creatures to act as a faux-removal spell which is always important to keep in mind.
  • Vines of Vastwood can be cast on your opponent’s creatures to stop them from equipping if you need to buy a turn against an Umezawa’s Jitte.
  • Keep in mind that opponents are not looking to cast removal spells on your creatures until after combat to avoid dying to pump spells, so use that information to your advantage.

 

Header - Sideboard Guide

Izzet Delver

Izzet Delver

Out: 2 Spell Pierce, 2 Force of Will, 1 Scale Up, 2 Berserk, 1 Sylvan Library

In: 2 Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath, 1 Flusterstorm, 1 Hydroblast, 4 Swords to Plowshares

There are so many different ways you could approach this matchup, so I implore you to try your own approach. With the way this sideboard is built, I think you’re best suited to convert your plan into a more grindy approach, rather than a get-them-dead strategy. Trimming on pump spells that don’t protect from Bolt seems good and I don’t think you need all four Forces. I could see going down to fewer Forces, but having some number is important for keeping them in check. If you see an opening for a kill early, I think it’s worth going for but otherwise be prepared to play a longer game against them since they have a lot of disruption.

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Jeskai Control

Jeskai Control

Out: 1 Berserk

In: 1 Flusterstorm

Despite them having a ton of removal, Infect is generally effective against control decks. It’s really difficult for them to effectively time their removal against your threats and protection which puts them in a tough spot. Inkmoth Nexus, Noble Hierarch and Sylvan Library are your best friends, so keep that in mind when casting cantrips and mulliganing and be prepared to cast your spells mindfully.

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Death and Taxes

Death and Taxes

Out: 1 Teferi, Time Raveler, 2 Spell Pierce, 1 Force of Will, 1 Sylvan Library

In: 1 Force of Vigor, 4 Swords to Plowshares

They have some creatures that can make your life tricky, especially if they can get Jitte online. However, they don’t have that much creature interaction so if you work towards protecting a single threat (hopefully a Blighted Agent), you should be alright. Solitude has made this matchup a bit trickier so make sure you keep that card in mind.

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Doomsday

Doomsday

Out: 2 Sylvan Library, 1 Teferi, Time Raveler

In: 2 Veil of Summer, 1 Flusterstorm

The sideboard is fairly light for this matchup but that’s because Infect is naturally good against combo decks. You can simultaneously work towards killing them while you disrupt them, which should be your plan in most games. 

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