As many of you are aware, streaming has become a pretty big part of Magic. Not everyone does it but everyone can do it, and that is the most important aspect of it. If you are an up and coming Magic player or just have something to prove, you can show the world without too much trouble. Using social media as a means for advertisement, you can pick up in popularity at a rapid pace and generate quite a following in a short amount of time. While some of the game’s giants tend to corral more viewers than others, it is not unheard of for random streamers to have 500+ viewers as long as the content they are producing is entertaining and informative!
And that’s the trick, isn’t it? Having an entertaining personality is very important to streaming. Without something to draw the audience back and to keep them locked in while you’re playing, you’ll find yourself as just the flavor of the week. There is a lot of Magic content on the Internet these days, so you should bring something special to the table if you want to maintain that kind of attention.
But streaming isn’t for the streamer. Sure, there are occasional sponsorships or small amounts of money to be made through advertisement, but the act of streaming is for the audience. Without the audience, there is nothing. There is no use sending a message if there isn’t anyone to listen. Streaming should be used as a tool to showcase quality Magic content in real time, and viewers will follow anyone willing to put in the time and effort to entertain them while also making them a better Magic player!
Some of the biggest names in Magic are getting pretty deep into streaming:
These three people alone regularly get over 1,000 viewers for multiple hours, and they’re just playing Magic Online! While a lot of companies use streaming to showcase their events, such as the StarCityGames.com Open Series, I think that streaming can be just as effective when used on a personal level. It can teach people how to play a brand new deck, showcase an interesting series on deckbuilding, or even just give people something to think about when they play their next Magic event. There is a lot of knowledge to be gained from watching better players than you play Magic, and even I am no exception.
Every time I watch a stream, what I get to see is perspective. While I have my own ideas and my own feelings on some subjects, I get to hear other people’s opinions, whether I am the person on the stream or just watching. I get to hear hundreds of different voices give me their takes on a particular play, individual card selection, or even deck selection for a major (or minor) tournament. Everything you hear and see in a stream can be beneficial to your game. The people playing and the people watching all have something positive to say, and this gives everyone the ability to share ideas and information.
The sharing of this gigantic amount of information will make you better at Magic.
I began streaming again today for the first time in months. I used to look at it the wrong way, but I think I’ve found a good perspective on the whole idea. It is a lot of fun, and the environment I get to create and maintain feels special. It is my customizable Magic experience generated for you, the viewer. I get to play good music, disruptive people get the ban hammer, and I get to teach people what I know about Magic!
And that is the most important thing to remember.
After all, if you are streaming and no one is gaining any valuable information out of it, then what’s the point? Anyone can stream, but you have to give something to the viewer if you want them to watch, and your time is not enough. I used to stream without speaking, and I would just play music in the background while I played. But this type of interaction doesn’t help enough, and it really showed when people stopped watching. People want explanation, and they want to learn. They’re hungry to learn, and I’m ready to give them what they want.
In the future, you can check out my stream on twitch.tv/strong_sad.
This past Tuesday, I played a Standard Daily Event on Magic Online using Mono-Green Infect. If you want to see the deck in action, you can check it out here. As for the deck itself, I think that Infect is incredibly powerful. With so many protective elements as well as cheap ways to deal a ton of poison damage, Mono-Green Infect can be a tier 1 deck in Standard if built correctly.
Honestly, the best removal spells in the format against you come from Delver decks. This can cause some problems if they have their nut draw featuring an early Delver followed by a lot of removal and Snapcaster Mage, but you have ways to protect yourself. I’ve only lost to Delver once with the deck, and I’ve lost a decent amount with Delver when I’ve faced off against Mono-Green Infect opponents.
The trick with Infect is finding the perfect balance between the number of creatures in your deck, the protective measures, and the creature enhancements so that you don’t draw too many of one or the other. If you play too many creatures, you will get outclassed by your opponent’s larger monsters. If you play too many noncreature spells, then a couple of removal spells from your opponent is going to ruin your day.
With that said, the current lists cropping up from the Magic World Cup as well as Magic Online have been performing admirably. There were a pair of players who went undefeated in Standard with Infect at the Magic World Cup, and you will see multiple pilots with 4-0 records each day or two in Magic Online Daily Events. If you want to see more information on Magic Online decks, check out this page. I find it very useful.
I visit that page more often than I would like to admit, but it is a powerful tool for helping you gain a grasp on the metagame. Figuring out which decks are popular will allow you to build your deck to combat those strategies to the best of your ability or possibly even change decks altogether if you aren’t well positioned. For instance, if the entire metagame is full of Delver, then it is probably a bad idea to play U/W Control. However, if no one is playing Delver, then a random control deck can be incredibly powerful.
But let’s get back to the task at hand: Infect. Infect is an interesting ability and is definitely more powerful than most people give it credit for. While most creatures with Infect are scaled smaller, your ability to grow those creatures is not hindered in any way. Cards like Mutagenic Growth and Wild Defiance become serious threats when they’re effectively dealing twice as much damage. A free +4/+4 on a creature wouldn’t be anything to sneeze at even if it was just dealing damage straight to the dome. This is what you’re kind of getting with Infect.
When your opponent doesn’t have any creatures to block with, combat becomes much easier. But when your opponent starts dropping creatures like Blade Splicer or Restoration Angel, that is when the delicate dance begins. You need to maximize as much value out of every card as you can. If you ever get two for oned, and I mean really two for oned like your opponent uses a Gut Shot to kill your creature in response to your Rancor, then you are probably in a lot of trouble.
Much like Delver, Infect has trouble coming back from a board state where it is very far behind. However, unlike Delver, you don’t have to deal nearly as much damage to the opponent! A single connection with an Inkmoth Nexus bolstered by some combination of Wild Defiance, Rancor, Mutagenic Growth, and Titanic Growth can kill your opponent in one hit. That is when your deck is most dangerous, but you should do your best to kill your opponent as quickly as possible. Being too defensive can get you killed.
Take this example:
I cast Rancor on my Inkmoth Nexus, and my opponent didn’t try to kill it in response. My opponent had also cast a Dismember earlier in the game. At this point, I thought it was safe to assume that they didn’t have a removal spell. It is generally correct to go for the kill after this particular interaction, even if casting another pump spell leaves you much more vulnerable than you would have been. In this particular scenario, I then used an Apostle’s Blessing to give my creature protection from white so that his Lingering Souls tokens couldn’t block and followed it up with a lethal Mutagenic Growth.
While there is an argument that the Rancor would fall off at the end of turn, killing a creature in response to Rancor will make it stay in the graveyard. If the Rancor falls off at the end of turn, I could potentially use that Rancor on another creature later in the game. With the information given to me, I thought it safe to deduce that my opponent didn’t have another removal spell. It is important to use information like this to your advantage and make deductions about your opponent’s hand.
While my opponent could potentially just end the game by waiting for me to move all-in, I think it is a safer bet for the opponent to try to kill the creature in response to the Rancor. Once the opponent declined to do so, I assumed they had nothing, and I would rather end the game on the spot rather than allow the opponent to draw out of the current situation.
At its strongest, Mono-Green Infect can win on the second turn, but that takes a lot of jumping through hoops and a virtually perfect hand. However, winning on the third, fourth, or fifth turn through removal and disruption happens a lot. This makes Infect one of the fastest and most resilient decks in Standard. Only the best draws from Delver give the deck problems, and those draws can be negated with a single Wild Defiance or Spellskite blanking their Gut Shots entirely. At that point, their only defensive measure is Vapor Snag, but even that can be redirected to Spellskite in a pinch.
At its weakest, Mono-Green Infect can stumble early with mana problems and fall to just about anything. This is a case of "losing to yourself," but it happens less often when the pilot is unafraid to mulligan. The deck mulligans quite well since cards like Cathedral of War and Rancor generate virtual card advantage. While you have a lot of situational spells like Gut Shot and Mental Misstep, these are just tools geared to protect you from the format’s most popular decks.
In the matchups where those cards are much worse, you don’t need to do all that much to kill your opponent. They will probably have trouble beating your average draws, so your "dead" cards aren’t really an issue. After sideboarding, when you have access to more potent weapons, the matchup should become very easy.
During the last few weeks, I’ve played with Mono-Green Infect quite a bit, and there are some cards that I have strong opinions on. I’m going to go over some of the deck’s more flexible slots, and I’ll give my opinion on each as well as my recommended decklist.
So let’s break down this list and then talk about some of the omissions, as well as maindeck versus sideboard choices.
As you can see, the deck plays ten actual creatures. This does not include Green Sun’s Zenith or Inkmoth Nexus, bringing the virtual count up to sixteen in the maindeck. This is a fairly common number for the Infect decks and one I have grown to like. Now some of those creatures may look a little odd, but we’ll go over why they’re in the deck. Glistener Elf, Inkmoth Nexus, and Ichorclaw Myr are definitely your best threats, but let’s look at the rest.
This card is better than Blight Mamba for a few reasons. Blight Mamba rarely has time to regenerate, so the ability for Green Sun’s Zenith to get Glistener Elf at the cost of 1G is fairly comparable. Green Sun’s Zenith also allows you to play a singleton copy of Viridian Corrupter in the maindeck should your opponent present you with a dangerous or annoying artifact.
You are also able to run a singleton Melira in the sideboard for the mirror or to kill an opposing Melira with the legendary rule. Since you can’t afford to play too many creatures, Green Sun’s Zenith gets the nod over more copies of Blight Mamba. I don’t really like Necropede much other than the fact that it is colorless, but there are a lot of draws you can keep that don’t feature a Forest on the first two turns.
Along with Green Sun’s Zenith, Corrupter gives you a different angle and a slightly bigger monster against some decks. I don’t know if having the copy in the maindeck adds all that much to the deck, but I feel safer having it and have definitely used it against Blade Splicer. I think that the singleton in the maindeck, along with the sideboarded one, should give you sufficient ways to deal with artifacts (combined with Naturalize, of course).
While the singleton Blight Mamba isn’t spectacular, it does give you a better Green Sun’s Zenith target for three mana. Being able to regenerate could come in handy on occasion, especially so with cards like Rancor in your deck, so having one to fetch up is fine. It also isn’t that much worse to just cast than Ichorclaw Myr as long as you have a Forest.
Older versions of this deck played Spellskite as a defensive measure. I don’t think we have nearly enough time to do that against a lot of the format’s aggressive decks. I do think that having access to them is valuable against decks like Delver since it blanks their best removal spell against you: Gut Shot. This is why they’re in the sideboard and not in the maindeck.
Melira is mostly for the mirror, and she does an amazing job of buying you time. Additionally, having Melira gives you the ability to kill your opponent’s by searching it up with Green Sun’s Zenith. I don’t think that too many people are keen on playing a Grizzly Bear in their sideboard, but hopefully my video last week will demonstrate just how powerful this deck can be and entice people to start playing real answers!
This card is a pure metagame call but still has some synergy with Wild Defiance. Gut Shot is currently my pick for the definitive card of Standard because so many decks can utilize it or just fold to it. Just look at the current "best decks" in Standard, and they are all vulnerable to Gut Shot. Sure, it might not be able to handle the bigger threats, but the opponent is usually either dead or too far behind thanks to Gut Shot killing their early threat or mana producer.
Cards like Vapor Snag, Gut Shot, Tragic Slip, and Pillar of Flame are nothing to mess around with. Mental Misstep can protect your creatures from these spells on the turn where you’re going all-in for the kill. Additionally, Mental Misstep can provide you with a safety net against Delver of Secrets or any other aggressive deck with an early threat. You don’t want to fall too far behind, and Mental Misstep keeps this from happening.
This is the biggest divergent point with the deck, and I’m a big fan of Ranger’s Guile. In the first game, the +1/+1 effect should not be ignored. When all your creatures are effectively dealing double damage, it is important to note that a +1/+1 is really a +2/+2. Apostle’s Blessing doesn’t give a bonus, but it definitely has its upsides. Blessing allows you to get your creature past the fray, so long as all your opponent’s creatures are the same color. Both can protect your creature from a spot removal spell, while Blessing can protect from a damage-based sweeper such as Bonfire of the Damned.
After board, people will have ways to kill your artifacts so protecting Livewire Lash with Apostle’s Blessing is very effective. However, I feel like Ranger’s Guile is much better for the maindeck thanks to its bonus to power and that’s why I’ve chosen to play it maindeck over Blessing.
At this point, I think Dismember should be an easy include. It kills the creatures that you wouldn’t normally be able to deal with. If people pick up on playing Melira, then having more answers is important. It can also deal with Restoration Angel and the Golem from Blade Splicer.
I only like playing three of these because you just can’t afford to draw too many of them. With only 21 lands (and a lot of people play 20), it can be difficult to cast on occasion. You also don’t have that many creatures with evasion, making it much worse than it was when the deck played Blighted Agent.
This card comes in against decks that don’t have a lot of ways to kill your creatures but rely on clogging up the board via Blade Splicer, Thragtusk, etc. Livewire Lash can act as removal for Melira or just surprise kill your opponent out of nowhere with cheap pump spells. I have even used Gut Shot and Dismember on multiple occasions to deal my opponent a lot of extra poison damage with Livewire Lash. The card is very good against slower opponents and weak to people who play cards like Vapor Snag and Gut Shot since you are investing a lot of mana to do very little when they have the answer.
You have no way to kill enchantments other than this, and you actually can’t beat a Curse of Death’s Hold. While a corner case, I don’t think you should ever leave yourself dead to a certain strategy, let alone a certain card. Naturalize isn’t flashy and might be worse than Beast Within, but I don’t much like giving my opponent a blocker for my ground pounders.
I love this deck. I think it is powerful and incredibly underrated. Hopefully the results of the World Magic Cup as well as its finals appearance at SCG Standard Open: Kansas City will help people realize just how strong the deck is. I will be doing my best to perfect it over the next few weeks in preparation for some upcoming tournaments. I’m not sure why, but I tend to do well with mono-green decks….
Infect is going to be a contender for the last few weeks that it is in Standard, mostly thanks to Cathedral of War. The card is just bonkers, and if you play with or against the Infect deck you will see just how good it is! I will be attending the SCG Classic Series: Birmingham next weekend, so if you’re in town come say hi! I’d love to hear what you have to say about the content that we’re producing. I know that the playtest videos I’ve been making along with Brian Braun-Duin have gotten a lot of positive feedback. We’re looking to do better, but we need your help and input!
Thanks for all the support and constructive criticism over the last few months. It has helped me grow a lot, and I hope that is evident in everything I do. Please be sure to come watch my stream; if you do you’ll get some real time help with the flavor of the day! If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to me to play on my stream, post in the comments! And, as always…
Thanks for reading.
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P.S. The formats I can play on Magic Online: