Magic: the Gathering
Fling, while Storm needs to play against a board pressure or can wait as many turns as it takes to safely close its combo.
"There is no bad match if you win in turn 2". This saying was created by Leo (Bukareste) after the endless times I played the in-person events with lists that had as a strategy to win as quickly as possible, going through Inside Out, Infect, several variants of
Kiln Fienddecks, etc. But, in the case of JherjamesB, that's exactly what happened. In one of the matches, we saw the player win the event's champion, A_AdeptoTerra, winning both games in turn 2. This past week, I've come to the conclusion that Pauper no longer has room for attrition-oriented games or value-based decks. The Metagame is prone to non-interactive games, quick games and where your goal is to go to the race and try to do your absurd thing before the opponent does their absurd thing. The goal today in the format is not to be able to stop Storm and/or hold Affinity. You need to be faster than them, you need to be more explosive than them, you need to present a bigger threat than they present to you, and as unlikely as it sounds, this is the perfect Metagame for Infect because it's essentially the fastest deck in the format. The deck's primary objective is to make the opponent gain 10 poison counters as soon as possible. Because of how Infect's ability works, pumps like
Mutagenig Growthare essentially double what they would in other decks since the player has virtually 10 life. The task seems easy, and because of the amount of low-cost spells that increase the deck's power, this can be done even on turn 2. However, Pauper is a format that, in a common metagame, is heavily geared toward creatures and interactions with creatures. Until the release of Modern Horizons II, the main keys to the format were attrition and card advantage, and Infect doesn't have as much space when absolutely every deck in the format will have the removals needed to handle your deck, as that means needing to create a setup beforehand which often won't be enough, especially against Black-Based or Tempo decks. This doesn't mean that Infect can't play long games, it just has more difficulties in winning those games, as the opponent will always be planning to interact with it, which means it needs more resources and play more securely, looking to always take advantage of the smallest gaps that the opponent will use.
Galvanic Blast, so if he could play a creature on turn 1,
Mutagenic Growthwould commonly protect it from a
Galvanic Blastof the opponent. Making his list, therefore, a great Meta Call that earned him the Top 4 of the Pauper Masters Online. That said, let's go to the list:
Kiln Fiend, for example. In this method, Infect is more comparable to decks that have this same consistency in threats and/or effects such as Heroic or Burn. Essentially, your creatures in this deck are your
Glistener Elfis your primary threat and is the card you prefer, but is not required, to have in your hand, as it is the lowest-cost creature in the archetype. Most of your kills from turn 2 or 3 usually come from him, he is easier to protect than other creatures due to the low cost as well and is the card that will often, in the first turns, make the opponent regret to have kept a hand with lands that enters tapped or are not on the colors of your removals.
Ichorclaw Myrhas two advantages in the archetype: the first is that it is a punishing creature to block because it grows with blockers, and that makes it the best carrier of
Rancorin the deck. The second is that it's a colorless creature, so it escapes the effects of commonly used cards in the format, like
Blight Mambahas the significant advantage of being a great creature in attrition matches against decks that use effects that allow it to regenerate, such as red removals or
Cast Down. This also makes
Blight Mambaa great creature for combat since, as long as you have mana available, it will never die and will always be weakening or destroying the opponent's creatures. Finally,
Cystbeareris an interesting option. This slot is commonly devoted to more ways to speed up the deck's clock or
Rot Wolfas it will draw a card if a creature blocked by it dies. But since the deck's goal is to avoid validating the opponent's
Galvanic Blast(and you can make a Cystbearer on turn 2 with
Lotus Petal), the creature having 3 toughness makes a big difference, including in mid-game as well, as a
Mutagenic Growthwill leave you with 5 toughness instead of 4.
Lotus Petalhelps make room for the deck's most explosive starts, often ensuring turn 2 or 3 kill plays with backup protection or speeding up an
Ichorclaw Myr, or
Blight Mambain turn 1.
Quirion Rangerhas several micro-functions in the deck: guarantee your land drops since the deck operates with 16 lands, untap your creatures if blocking is necessary, guarantee the Landfall trigger of
Groundswellin any turn, and, finally, serving as a legal sacrifice target for cards like
Groundswellwhich, for just one mana, can give +4/+4 to a creature, which for any creature in the deck is enough damage to give at least half of the poison counters needed to win the game.
Mutagenic Growthis a great free spell for the archetype, and it allows for an even wider range of possibilities in both your proactive and reactive plays. It's also the card your opponent must respect at all costs.
Rancoris the main form of evasion of the deck and is usually one of the cards that allows the deck to gradually add counters to the opponent, since you can focus on using your pumps and other resources to keep your creature alive and deal some damage, without necessarily needing to go after the combo-kill.
Vines of Vastwoodcan be used proactively at certain stages of the game to give +4/+4 to a creature, but the deck's common purpose is to try to keep it to protect your creature at the right time. After all, it's better to spend 1 mana and keep your threat on the board longer than spend 2 mana and lose your creature because you were too greedy.
Apostle’s Blessinghas the function of, in addition to protecting your creatures against removals, to give them the necessary protection to make them unblockable against decks where the creatures tend to have a single color. This opens up more gaps for a combo-kill or to pull needed damage, when needed, to close the game.
Llanowar Augurserves both purposes, and is another card that can be sacrificed to cards like
Spellstutter Spriteis a very problematic card for the archetype to deal with as it can, on its own, counter most of its spells and offer a blocker. Therefore,
Gut Shotis the best option the deck can have to deal against this deck without spending any other resources, while also allowing the deck to deal with
Standard Bearerthat, despite not seeing as much game currently, it's one of the most problematic cards for this kind of strategy to deal with.
Hunger of the Howlpackis therefore a great way to take advantage of your creatures dying throughout the game, giving the deck an element of resilience and attrition by making your creatures permanently out of the zone of some removals and making them efficiently attack/block smaller creatures.
Life Goes Onis a cheap and efficient answer to that issue.
needscreatures to function. Everything else in the deck is completely useless if you don't have at least one creature on the board that you need to present as a constant threat to your opponent. Therefore, the use of your spells needs to be conscious and keep pace with the game. Of course, you can always take the opportunity given by your opponent and try to deal the lethal damage, especially if you have the necessary answers to whatever means the opponent might have to interact with you, but if your damage is not enough, there's no point trying to rush things, and it's often better to only deal 1 damage than deal 7 and not being able to protect your creature or push the rest of the damage later. Because of this, every spell used in Infect also counts as a protection spell, and this is essential for interactive matches and is something that players should consider. On the other hand, it's important to know when to try to seize the opportunities. A prolonged game against Faeries will often mean not getting enough damage because the deck has many cards that are commonly good against you and many ways to filter their draws. Therefore, Infect is a much more complex deck to pilot than you might think, as your perfect 2 or 3 turn hands come a lot less often than you would normally like, as you need a 4-card set. + lands, plus the deck doesn't interact well; therefore, often your option throughout the game is to plan ahead and sequence your plays to take advantage of each gap left by the opponent without getting carried away by the impulse that can often finish with your creatures dying before dealing damage. Another point to consider in your matches is that damage dealt by a creature with Infect is dealt in the form of -1/-1 counters. This is relevant in the current Metagame because a creature with Infect with the right pump spells can serve to weaken the opponent's attackers, permanently kill cards like
Atogor creatures with Persist, and prevent the opponent from regenerating their creatures. Due to the lack of interaction Infect is a great meta call for the format today, the hate spells commonly used to deal with the main decks of the format are not enough to stop Infect and/or are irrelevant in most occasions and are cards easy to play around. When a banlist comes out, it will be time to analyze how the format will develop. If we go back to the era where the format is geared towards creatures, removals and value, Infect will have its main Achilles heel back, which is a higher amount of targeted removals on the lists, in addition to the return of the Edicts effects that are so problematic for the deck as they are usually for other decks of the same style, such as Heroic. Until then, if you want to prey on the non-interactive decks of the format without necessarily being hated-out by cards like
Weather the Stormand you like lists that aren't on the Metagame's radar today, Infect is your best choice.
Glistener Elfand win the game before they have a chance to start their game seems like a viable option. Thanks for reading!