Jesse Onland discusses the explosiveness of Mono-Green Infect in Pauper online, a tuned sideboard and its future with New Phyrexia.
That's how a Mono-Green Infect pilot wants the game to end. Take a look at this list:
The strategy should be clear: connect with an Infect dork at the earliest opportunity, pump it up to 10 power, and simply win the game. Burn decks in Eternal formats are sometimes characterized as combo decks, where the “combo” is simply any five spells. In this respect, Mono-Green Infect plays out much like a burn deck. Your “combo” is a creature and any three pump spells.
Until New Phyrexia is released on MTGO, the Infect creatures available at common in green and colorless are as follows: Blight Mamba, Blightwidow, Corpse Cur, Cystbearer, Ichorclaw Myr, Phyrexian Digester, Rot Wolf, and Tel-Jilad Fallen. Of these, only the most efficient make the cut. Hence, the creature base is comprised of aggressive two-drops, [card Llanowar Augur]pump spells with legs[/card], and Rot Wolves.
- Ichorclaw Myr is the best creature in the deck. The disincentive to block created by its triggered ability helps ensure it connects, which will often end the game. Mono-Green Infect’s nut draw involves casting Ichorclaw Myr on turn one via a Lotus Petal.
- While Blight Mamba is the only green Infect two-drop in the format, its ability to evade burn makes it well worth the inclusion. Unwary opponents will not be inclined to block while regeneration mana is available. That mana can then be spent to transform the Blight Mamba from a 1/1 garter snake into a 7/7 anaconda or more.
- While Cystbearer survives Disfigure, Rot Wolf is present instead because it provides the deck with a source of card advantage. In a longer game against opponents who would rather block with multiple creatures than risk the pump kill, Rot Wolf prevents the Infect player’s hand from becoming depleted. Some builds, however, opt for running a mix of Rot Wolves and Cystbearers, dropping a few lands.
Pump & Mana
The list above also contains 24 pump effects, half of which grant the all-important trample.
While Vines of Vastwood provides a beefy +4/+4—which, with Infect, is actually like giving a creature an additional eight power—its most important use is as means to win fights over removal. Casting a kicked [card Vines of Vastwood]Vines[/card] in response to Lightning Bolt or Chain Lightning often signals the end of the game.
Invigorate and [card Vines of the Vastwood]Vines[/card] are the most desirable pump spells in an opening hand, but these alone would not be enough. The pump suite is further filled out with Predator's Strike, Llanowar Augur, Rancor, and Giant Growth. The density of trample-granting effects prevents opponents from simply blocking every attack.
Rancor is a staple of creature-oriented green decks in Pauper, and so Mono-Green Infect would be remiss to exclude this pay-once, permanent pump spell. And it’s true that Giant Growth is not a very powerful spell in the abstract, but an aggressive Infect strategy allows it to shine.
The manabase is a stack of basic Forests, although the inclusion of Tranquil Thickets is acceptable.
Yes, Lotus Petal is common. This Vintage-restricted mana accelerant provides the opportunity to power out an attacker on the first turn of the game, threatening lethal poison damage as early as the second.
The sideboard is geared to deal with specific strategies that one is bound to come up against in the Dailies on MTGO.
- Corpse Cur comes in against Burn, Mono-Black Control variants, and other removal-heavy control strategies.
Burn in Pauper is similar to its Legacy counterpart. Expect Kiln Fiend and Keldon Marauders along with every quality common burn spell available. These include but are not limited to Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Incinerate. Every time Corpse Cur re-buys a creature that Burn spent a spell on, Infect gets further ahead.
The black Pauper strategies like Mono-Black Control and Rats involve a lot of removal and hand disruption in the form of cards like Disfigure, Grasp of Darkness, and Ravenous Rats. Corpse Cur ruins black's hand disruption and battles with most things a black deck is going to attack with. These games will often be a grind and Corpse Cur ensures that the Infect deck doesn't fall too far behind in cards. Also note that pump spells can be used to counter the -2/-2 and -4/-4 effects that black decks use for removal.
- Nature's Claim is a no-drawback, one-mana, instant-speed Vindicate against Affinity. Like Burn, Pauper Affinity plays out similar to the Legacy archetype. They have artifact lands, Thoughtcast, Frogmite, Myr Enforcer, Carapace Forger, and Galvanic Blast. When Affinity stumbles on land, Nature's Claim is there to crush their mana—the most important resource in Pauper. When Affinity plays a Myr Enforcer to block, Nature's Claim will happily remove it at instant-speed.
- Storm is format-defining in Pauper and the primary win-condition of red Storm decks is Empty the Warrens. Once a red Storm deck has gone off and put an army of 1/1 Goblin tokens into play, Sandstorm will usually be enough to put victory out of reach for them. If the red Storm opponent untaps, they'll be doing so without any creatures on the battlefield or cards in hand, often without any lands. They will not be coming back.
- Sandstorm is also reasonable against some weenie-oriented strategies, including White Weenie and Goblins. Their armies of 1-toughness creatures allows for many 2-for-1s.
- The final and most important sideboard card in this deck is Thermokarst. Mana is the most important resource in Pauper and several strategies involve abusing lands. Familiar Storm and the slew of Cloudpost-based decks are the format’s boogiemen.
Familiar Storm intends to repeatedly untap Azorius Chancery and Dimir Aqueduct with broken Urza Block cards like Cloud of Faeries and Frantic Search, generating an enormous amount of mana, casting several spells made cheaper by [card Sunscape Familiar]Sunscape [/card]and Nightscape Familiars, and finally Boomeranging their opponent's entire board with Temporal Fissure.
The tempo and mana advantage created by a Thermokarst targeting the Familiar Storm player's karooland, however, will set them far enough back that Infect will have time to assemble the kill. Similarly, many Cloudpost strategies, such as Blue-Red Post Control and Mono-Green Post, will be unable to operate effectively without being able to abuse the mana advantage produced by Cloudpost—a card considered a pillar of the format.
Variations, the Future, New Phyrexia and Masques
Others have advocated for a less "all-in" versions of the deck, featuring more creatures and fewer pump spells. Sometimes they'll even ruin the manabase by adding black.
This strategy gives up the real strength of Infect: the speedy kill. Who wants to be playing a dumb aggro deck in a format defined by Storm strategies? A combo-burn strategy sounds a lot more exciting than getting stuck on mana and hoping to eventually get there with a lone Flensermite.
The impending releases of New Phyrexia and Masques Block on MTGO are the real reasons you should be thinking about Mono-Green Infect. As some people have noticed, NPH contains both a 1-mana green creature with Infect and a "free" green pump spell. Expect these to significantly amp up Infect strategies in Pauper.
The Mono-Green Infect of the future involves only 1- and 2-drop creatures, which will push back the pivotal attack step to a very consistent second or third turn kill. Lotus Petal will no longer be necessary as a mana accelerant. Disfigures will also become less effective.
Furthermore, Masques Block will be greatly increasing the MTGO supply of Invigorates, a card which is currently only available in the Garruk vs Liliana Duel Deck and hence presently difficult to obtain.
Infect and other green aggro strategies fill about 3% of the Pauper Daily metagame, which is a significant number in a format as diverse as Pauper. Expect that number to be on the rise.
The cost breakdown of the deck is as follows:
- 4 Invigorate at 5.50 = 22.00
- 4 Lotus Petal at 5.50 = 22.00
- 4 Rancor at 2.25 = 9.00
That’s 53.00, plus about 1.50 more for the rest of the deck, for a total of about 54.50 tix.
Certainly on the pricier end for a Pauper list.
Invigorate is currently very difficult to find. I had to give up on bots and haggle with other Pauper players for mine.
Lotus Petal is an Eternal staple. It's played in Classic, Legacy, and Pauper, and is integral to Pauper Affinity strategies. Consider Lotus Petal an investment in Pauper as a format rather than one in Mono-Green Infect.
Rancor is another Pauper all-star and is played in every aggressive green deck. A strong investment.
If the price tag is turning you away from the deck, simply wait until the release of Mercadian Masques on MTGO. The price of Invigorate is bound to fall steeply.
If you're interested in picking up a combo-burn aggro deck and killing your opponents out of nowhere, consider Mono-Green Infect. If you run this or a similar list in some Pauper events, let me know how you do!
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