UB Infect Control “Sick Deck Bro”
I haven’t played much Magic recently. I spent my festive period with my family, playing retro computer games from when I was a kid. I’ve been playing Diablo 2 over Battle.Net, which has been awesome, because when I was first playing it, when it originally released, I didn’t have the internet access to support playing online, so the co-op mode was something completely new to me.
When that got old, I ordered Fallout 2, and spent a retarded amount of my Christmas break killing the Enclave. Brilliant fun, and easily as good as I remembered it to be. It’s funny when you do these retro things from your youth, and more often than not, they’re nowhere near as good as they seemed.
A few years back, I bought a Super Nintendo, and a whole bunch of games that I’d enjoyed when I was a kid. Donkey Kong Country, Mario Kart, Street Fighter etc, and they were pretty much as I remembered. One of my particular favourites as a child was Pilot Wings. I don’t know if any of you have played Pilot Wings on the SNES, or indeed if you remember it fondly, but I was hugely disappointed. The graphics were appalling and the game play was worse. I feel like I cheated 10-year old me out of a lot of time, because it was just awful.
What does this have to do with Magic?
Well, for those of you with long(ish) memories, about a year ago, we had a deck design competition here on mtgUK. I came in second, with a UB infect list (I was robbed). This was the list I’d submitted.
Can we do another of these this year please?
I’d been playing a less budget conscious version of the list for a while, and had been impressed with how it had been performing. This version is obviously to the aggro end of the spectrum, and while that was fine, at the time, there were a few more controlling decks, often featuring Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas as a card advantage engine, as most Planeswalkers are.
I was interested to revisit this deck, to see if Innistrad could improve on it, or if the deck was a clunker, like Pilot Wings. Phyrexian Crusader is insanely well positioned in the current meta, so he’s been on my radar for quite some time now. Especially in the MODO meta, which is all Esper Control, Mono Red and Moorland Haunt decks. Mostly Moorland Haunt decks.
This deck is basically a mashup of the old infect strategies from Scars Block constructed and a UB Control deck. The result is actually really powerful, and really well positioned.
4 Phyrexian Crusader
3 Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
3 Black Sun’s Zenith
1 Blue Sun’s Zenith
3 Doom Blade
4 Forbidden Alchemy
4 Mana Leak
2 Runechanter’s Pike
3 Think Twice
3 Virulent Wound
This deck is so sweet. Look at it again. Seriously. It’s sooo sweet.
You have game against literally everything. You know how UB sucks against Mono-Red? Yeah, Phyrexian Crusader wants a word. You know how Moorland Haunt generates all those guys? Yeah, Phyrexian Crusader doesn’t care about that either. Homeboy’s insane.
Decks like this are so sweet for Runechanter’s Pike. I don’t think I’ve lost a game where I’ve managed to equip it. Honestly, you’ll 1-shot with this really often, and it’s really easy to get a couple of points here and there with Inkmoth Nexus in the early to mid parts of the game. It does mean you need to manage your graveyard slightly differently to if you were playing a more traditional UB control deck. Basically, don’t flashback Think Twice for value when you’ve got this down, only do it if you actually need to find something, be it something to carry the Pike, or something to clear the way for the Pike carrier. Essentially, in this deck, a Runechanter’s Pike should make your opponent more nervous than hearing a backpack ticking while you’re on the bus.
This is it. This is all we need. And Skittles is basically just here as a Fireball. I really don’t like him all that much in this world full of Vapor Snags and Spirit tokens, but he pulls his weight enough to justify his inclusion. As I said earlier, it’s really easy to get a couple of nudges with Inkmoth Nexus in the early game, and Virulent Wound certainly helps in this regard as well.
Should be no surprises here. Most UB decks are running either Wring Flesh or Virulent Wound at this point anyway. While Wring Flesh is good vs Stormblood Berserkers to buy a turn etc, they’re basically the same card in most UB lists. Not in ours.
Ours kills a guy and Shocks our opponent for free. I love this card so much, and I wish every creature had 1 toughness, so that I could run 4, but ‘they‘ keep insisting on playing bigger creatures, so I have to have a way to answer them.
Doom Blade is better than Go For The Throat at the moment, I think, but I could see this being a 2/1 split, and wouldn’t fault you for doing so. The only thing that you’re actually trying to kill that’s black is Grave Titan, but our Skittles will be a faster clock than their Grave Titan, so I’m not overly concerned by this. Plus, we’ve got Black Sun’s Zenith, and while far from ideal, it’s still an answer so we’re not totally cold to it.
I only need 2 hard counters in this deck. We’re not a draw-go deck, and the games don’t tend to go long enough that Dissipate is considerably better than Mana Leak that it’s worth making it a 3/3 split. Plus, your opponents will generally play like you’ve got 3/4 Dissipates anyway…
I’ve discussed Runechanter’s Pike above.
I’m really surprised that Despise isn’t seeing more love. I can’t get enough of perfect information and this is the only way we have to look at our opponent’s hand that actually lets you do something about it while you’re peeking. Gitaxian Probe is fine, but I’d rather be able to take a Hero of Bladehold or Liliana of the Veil than just knowing that it’s coming, and replacing itself. Again, your mileage may vary.
Alchemy gets the nod as the 4 here due to extra synergy with the Runechanter’s Pike. There’s nothing too exciting to see here. Standard UB Control stuff.
I really like the Proliferate mechanic. I think it’s probably one of the best designed mechanics of recent years. It’s a shame that most of the cards that have Proliferate are awful. Contagion Clasp has Proliferate, and is really good. Most people won’t bring in Ancient Grudges against you, so you’re quite content to sit behind this, and Proliferate your way to victory. Plus, it’s nuts against all the various x/1 creatures that infest the current Standard format.
Liliana and Negate are for our Contol ‘mirrors‘. Liliana is so hard for a pure control deck to beat, due to her +1 ability, and the edict is huge against opposing Thrun, Mirran Crusaders and friends. I could see her in the main, but I really like it as it stands, so would be recalcitrant to make the switch.
Snapcaster is Snapcaster. He’s always good value, and helps us morph into a more traditional UB deck if required.
This is how I’ve been boarding:-
Moorland Haunt decks
That’s pretty much all that’s going on that I’ve faced with any regularity on MODO, but if there’s any other matchup you need help with, feel free to sound off in the forums, and I’ll try to help.
Stay classy mtgUK,