Saturday, 14 July 2012


Okay, it has become very clear to me that I need to explain my position on Infect. In short: I absolutely despise Infect. Is it because I hate poison counters? Quite the contrary, I actually like the idea of poison counters as a way to slowly chip away at your opponent's health. But, there's the key: slowly chip away at their health, which is the opposite of what Infect does.

Now, for those of you who don't remember back when poison counters were a fair and likable mechanic, I'll give you an example.
Marsh Viper

This is Marsh Viper, one of the original cards with poison counters. Why is it so much more balanced than a creature with Infect? First, look at it's cost. It's a 1/2 for 4. For what it does, that's actually a fair price. Second, and most importantly, it gives a set number of poison counters, unlike Infect, which varies on the power of the creature. But, rather than pull out card comparisons, I think it would be best if I just ran down some arguments that I've come up against and explain my position on them.

#1 - "Infect is balanced because there are cards to deal with poison counters"
Actually, there's only 1 card in all of Magic that removes poison counters: Leeches from way back in Homelands. Now, if you're talking about cards that prevent you from getting poison counters, that's not necessarily true. You're probably thinking of Melira, Sylvok Outcast as a solution to Infect, and it is; if you're running green! Where's the white, blue, black, or red solution for Infect? You can't just claim "there's a solution" when only 1 colour in block has a viable method of prevention and only 1 card in the entire game exists that can solve the problem.

#2 - "Infect creatures are really expensive"
For the most part, yes this is true. A lot of creature with Infect are overcosted in a vain attempt to make Infect balanced. However, Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon is a reasonably priced 4/4 Flying Infect with the possibility of Haste and regeneration for 5. Hand of the Praetors gives players poison counters and powers up Infect creatures for 4. Blighted Agent is unblockable for 2!

#3 - "There aren't that many good creatures with Infect"
You mean besides the ones I just mentioned? Well, even if that were true, there are a multitude of ways you can give other creatures Infect. Grafted Exoskeleton gives a creature +2/+2 and Infect for 6 (or 4 if you have the right cards out) and Glistening Oil and Phyresis give creatures Infect as well. Tainted Strike is an instant-speed powerup and it gives Infect. Finally, Triumph of the Hordes could be seen as a better Overrun since it's cheaper and much more deadly.

#4 - "It's just as unfair as Wither and you never complained about that"
I don't even think this warrants a response. Wither was a much better mechanic because it forced you to chose whether or not it was better to kill an opponent's creature in exchange for weakening one of your own or letting it deal you damage so that you could swing with a better creature. One of my friends has an excellent Wither deck that I find is one of the most tactical decks I've played against recently for that reason. Infect is not a choice. You have to block a creature with Infect whether you want to or not because you will die and there is no way to recover from a hit with Infect.

Those are the biggest arguments I've come across in favour of Infect. If you have anything you'd like to say about Infect and attempt to convince me why it's balanced, post them in the comments below. I am willing to take back all of this if someone can prove to me that Infect is a balanced mechanic, but I find that very unlikely.


  1. A friend told me about how you have a problem with this mechanic, so I thought I would try and answer some of your concerns.

    First, infect is definitely more balanced in Standard than it is in Casual, which is what I think you're referring to. You can sideboard cards in standard to shut down infect, things like Arc Trail, anything with First Strike, etc. You mentioned that creatures with infect are vulnerable, and it's very true. I have an infect deck, and there's nothing worse than having your Plague Stinger be Disfigured after your Vines of Vastwood or whatever. Heck, the only thing that can survive Disfigure in my infect deck is Putrefax, and he's a 2/3.

    You said that only one colour can deal with infect, referring to green with Melira.
    White: First strike, oh man, first strike. Also Blunt the Assault and similar effects.

    Blue: Bounce, counters, frost effects. Infect relies on creature boosts to win and countering it will completely shut them down.

    Black: Removal of any kind. Infect is, by its very nature, aggro based, so shutting down the creatures will shut them down. Disfigure, Grasp of Darkness, Dismember, etc.

    Red: Red has the easiest time of all the colours with infect. Buuuurn.

    Green: You already mentioned Melira, but simply having big creatures is usually enough. Most infecty creatures don't have much power at all, unlike wither, so they'll usually be able to take a few hits, while infect creatures won't.

    You also mentioned that part of the problem is there are many cards that grant infect. This isn't a problem for one reason: If you're running them, that means that you're running creatures that don't already have infect, which means you need both cards in your hand to win through poison counters. It makes your deck lack synergy.

    In short, I don't think that infect is unbalanced at all in standard. It also doesn't see much play in extended and beyond to my knowledge either, because the "famous" Glistener Elf, Assault Strobe, Mutagenic Growth x2 combo dies to any form of 1 drop removal, and anything else just isn't fast or reliable enough.

    I do have a question though, have you played with an infect deck? Often I've seen players, myself included, believe a deck broken until they play it, to see the weaknesses.

    Thank you for reading, I hope I was able to answer some of your questions.

    1. I think you missed the entire point of why I have a problem with Infect, but maybe I didn't make it as obvious as I thought I did. My MAJOR problem with Infect is the poison counters. Once they're there, they stay and there's nothing you can do about it, and the fact that it's not a set number like with Marsh Viper, but rather the number of poison counters depends on the power of the creature is what makes it unbalanced.

      As for the question of playing with an Infect deck, yes I had two back when New Phyrexia just came out. In Legacy casual, I was able to consistently beat everyone else within 2-3 turns barely trying (Forbidden Orchard, Oath of Druids, Blightsteel Colossus and Blighted Agent, Burning Shoal). And that was against an aggro Silver deck for crying out loud! It just made the game not fun for anyone involved; I was getting bored with just repeating the same process over and over and my friends hated the fact that they could do little to stop their quick deaths.

      I know there are solutions to Infect, but I REALLY don't like the incurable damage that results from it. If they had printed several viable ways to remove poison counters in set (at least 1-3 per colour) then I wouldn't have such a problem with Infect, but since I have to go all the way back to Homelands to find a way to deal with the poison counters, I'm ticked off. Also, the presence of Proliferate, while a good mechanic by itself, didn't make things any better. Thrumming Bird, Fuel for the Cause, all those cards just made Infect that much worse.

      The reason you don't see Infect outside of Standard is because, at least in the club I play in, everyone outside of Standard hates Infect. Now, I'm not trying to speak for everyone out there, but when the 70-odd people I play with on a weekly basis (even some Standard players) all agree that a mechanic is broken and makes the game not fun to play, I think more people are angry than WoTC lets on.

      Sorry, but you haven't convinced me that Infect is balanced.

      P.S. Read "My Backstory". You'll notice that I don't review cards in block or in the context of Standard; I review them from a casual Legacy perspective, completely removed from tournaments and the guys who drop $700+ on a deck. Sure, my decks aren't as powerful as tournament or Standard players', but I can guarantee you that I have more fun than they do!