Devoid Eldrazi was the runaway breakout deck of Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, but for those of us who didn’t test with a “superteam” and figure it all out beforehand, options were limited.
A week and a half out, I had my deck choice narrowed to three decks I liked: Affinity, Jund, and Infect.
All three felt like reasonable choices with regard to MTGO data, but each deck also had some degree of risk or a troublesome flaw:
- Jund is solid—but suffers from being “fair.”
- Affinity is busted—but suffers from being vulnerable to hate.
- Infect is busted—but is hard to play and a little wobbly.
I decided that given my options, Infect was the most attractive deck, and I set about trying to become as proficient as possible with it. I figured that if I didn’t feel comfortable enough piloting the deck that I could always fall back on Affinity as I have years of experience with it.
I got very positive results with Infect as I played it in several local Modern events and saw progress in my ability to pilot the deck well. I spent a lot of time talking to Infect savant Tyler Hill and felt I had a very good list and an above average understanding of what to do. I made the leap into uncertain territory:
My Pro Tour was solid but mediocre. I went 9-6-1 and finished 83rd (8 spots out of the money), which was good for 5 Pro Points. I ended up going 5-5 in the Constructed portion.
Looking back, I think my deck choice was solid given the circumstance and I was happy with my decision even though Affinity might have worked out better. Infect was in fact “one of the best decks” for the event—even though it didn’t make Top 8 it had a 78% conversion rate (second only to Eldrazi).
I don’t think I’ve ever played a more difficult event under more pressure in my entire life. I practiced hard and put a lot into this one. The competition I played against was insanely talented—I didn’t draw favorable matchups (despite having good odds to), and I didn’t get lucky either. I’m not going to blame bad luck and pairings for my losses, but having to take an excessive number of mulligans and having to play second 8/10 times didn’t help my chances either.
Here is a recap of what I played against:
RG Tron: Win 2-1
BR Eldrazi: Win 2-0
Devoid Eldrazi (Nathan Holiday): Loss 0-2
Zoo Burn: Loss 0-2
Infect (Owen Turtenwald): Loss 1-2
Infect: Loss 0-2
Death’s Shadow Zoo: Win 2-0
Melira Chord (Jesse Hampton): Win 2-0
UWR Control (Kyle Boggemes): Loss 1-2
Jund (Christian Calcano): Win 2-1
Not the pairings I was looking for, and even the Tron match was razor thin (as he had turn-2 Spellskite each game).
So much for “No Twin = Less Spellskites!” My opponents had turn-2 Spellskite eight times. Moving forward, I’m not operating on the assumption that people will play fewer ‘Skites.
The other thing that I learned is that the Eldrazi deck is insane. My match against Nathan Holiday was a comical slaughter.
Getting to play ten rounds of the Pro Tour with a deck teaches you a lot about a deck and I’m interested in sticking with Infect for Grand Prix Detroit. The Eldrazi matchup needs to be addressed.
Infect is fundamentally good against the Eldrazi strategy so long as they don’t have their “hate” cards in play:
The fact that people are going to play more of these cards moving forward needs to be addressed for Infect to remain a force in the metagame.
The overachievers of my tournament were my two Corrupters. They came through for me in clutch moments and, in games that I lost, were often the cards I was most hoping to draw. Viridian Corrupter is another Infect creature that insulates your threat density against heavy-removal decks, even if they don’t have artifacts.
Also worth noting, Affinity is still very much a tier 1 deck and Corrupter really shines in that matchup.
This is close to the list I played before. The biggest difference is that I’m maxing out on Viridian Corrupters in the 75 by not playing Spellskite. Spellskite was certainly the underperformer for me. I drew it in the mirror and it promptly got smashed by Nature’s Claim and Viridian Corrupter both times.
I brought in Spell Pierce for every single one of my post-sideboard games. It seemed like a sign, so I moved them into the main deck to open up some sideboard space.
All three of these spells are “push through” spells to help all creatures less sneaky than Blighted Agent into stealth mode. All are unique, so a split is nice.
I was unhappy with Apostle’s Blessing almost every time I drew it. The one big upside is that you can cast it off Inkmoth Nexus for <> mana. The downsides were many: I couldn’t counter Vines of Vastwood (because it would also counter my Become Immense), and Warping Wail and Spatial Contortion are colorless, and Eldrazi are colorless blockers.
The Zoo matchup is notoriously horrific and both cards go a long way. The Wall is much better than it sounds. It essentially makes mana and prevents damage, which is exactly what the doctor ordered.
The Eldrazi onslaught has begun and it is going to change the way that Modern looks in the coming months. The deck certainly isn’t the only viable strategy by a long shot, but it will continue to shape our ideas about what is and isn’t good right now. Infect is a deck that is absurdly powerful and capable of ridiculous starts, and punishes people for not interacting right away. I’m not typically a big fan of the Phyrexians (what they did to Mirrodin was pretty rude), but given the choice between Phyrexians and the Eldrazi, I’ll choose the lesser of two evils every time.