After the recent Mythic Championship Barcelona, we are now able to make a definitive conclusion on the current state of the Modern metagame (post the Bridge From Below ban). Hogaak may not be as degenerate as it had been before, but it still easily the top tier deck of Modern. It dominated the day one metagame of the MC with over a 20% share of decks, along with posting a 56% win rate in non-mirror matchups, the highest of any deck in competition. Its prevalence in contradiction is what led to it only putting up a single copy in the top eight. With Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis being such a dominant force in the metagame, it gave talented players the ability to make their deck choices on the decks matchup against Hogaak. Mono Green Tron, Hardened Scales, and Urza Sword were all put into top eight because for that reason.
But where does this leave us after the MC? Players are going to begin to shift towards decks that have favorable Hogaak matchups. This includes deck such as Mono Green Tron. Hogaak is a deck that thrives on overwhelming ‘fair’ strategies, meaning the most effective counter is to do something more powerful and faster than Hogaak.
People always talk about Infect as the premier of fast decks. This is why it is at a perfect position in the current metagame. When decks move away from interaction, a creature based combo deck, such as Infect, becomes better. With the interaction in the current format,the majority is based on graveyards or artifact/enchantment removal.
Modern Horizons has set depth that has yet to be explored due to the domination of Hogaak. Giver of Runes and Scale Up add significantly to shore up Infect’s weaknesses and improve its consistency. In the case of Giver of Runes, it serves as both a reusable Apostle's Blessing, which allows Infect to trim of both types of cards. Scale Up is a cheaper equivalent of Become Immense, the best pump spell in Infect. From my testing, without interaction the turn three kill rate averages at 50% and very few hands will kill later than turn four.
- 4 Blighted Agent
- 4 Giver of Runes
- 4 Glistener Elf
- 4 Noble Hierarch
- 1 Apostle's Blessing
- 3 Become Immense
- 1 Distortion Strike
- 4 Might of Old Krosa
- 4 Mutagenic Growth
- 4 Scale Up
- 3 Vines of Vastwood
- 4 Mishra's Bauble
- 2 Breeding Pool
- 1 Forest
- 4 Inkmoth Nexus
- 4 Misty Rainforest
- 1 Pendelhaven
- 2 Temple Garden
- 2 Verdant Catacombs
- 4 Windswept Heath
Mishra’s Bauble/Become Immense: The interesting count and inclusion of these two cards came from an observation I came across through my testing. With such high impact cards, less effective or more mana intensive cards become redundant. Mishra’s Bauble is a card that in essence allows lets a player to use a 56 card deck improving consistency. With Bauble and a higher Fetchland count, means that Infect would be able to run more compies of become Immense. If Infect has the graveyard to fuel it, it is the best pump spell in the deck.
Apostle's Blessing/Distortion Strike: Of these two cards, Apostle's Blessing serves as the better, but both have different purposes. Apostle's Blessing can serve as a fifth copy of Giver of Runes. The problem with this is that it leads to an issue against decks with multicolored creatures, such as Humans, leading to the inclusion of Distortion Strike. Distortion’s Strike’s pump effect can piece together a last points needed for a kill. Finally the rebound effect allows Infect to use its mana more efficiently, setting of a kill on the next turn of the game.
- 2 Ceremonious Rejection
- 2 Force of Vigor
- 4 Geist of Saint Traft
- 1 Kitchen Finks
- 2 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
- 2 Path to Exile
- 2 Spell Pierce
In: x2 Spell Pierce
Out: -2 Vines of the Vastwoods
Your Hogaak matchup game one is exceedingly good. They have zero interaction with Infect, have few creatures able to block and Infect is a faster goldfish deck than Hogaak is.
Game two and three are slightly more difficult, Hogaak bringing in more interactive cards such as Assassin's Trophy.Infect already have answers to deal with forms of removal, and there is very little sideboarding needed. Hogaak functions on a low land count, so Spell Pierce is just as effective against removal, but can also counter Faithless Looting.
In: +2 Ceremonious Rejection, +2 Spell Pierce
Out: -4 Giver of Runes
Might as well be a bye for Infect.
Eldrazi Tron: 55/45
In: +2 Ceremonious Rejection, +2 Force of Vigor, +2 Spell Pierce
Out: -2 Might of Old Krosa, -1 Distortion Strike, -3 Vines of Vastwood,
This is an interesting matchup. Eldrazi Tron has a lot of tools that are good against Infect, but their effective varies depending on how quickly they are leveraged. Chalice of the Void, Walking Ballista, and a count of other interaction spells play well against Infect. After game one, Infect is able to board in tool that interact against them, while Eldrazi Tron’s sideboard is devoted to the Karn package, giving Infect a slight advantage.
In: +4 Geist of St. Traft, +2 Path of Exile, +2 Spell Pierce, +2 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Out: -4 Mishra’s Bauble, -1 Become Immense, -4 Scale Up, -1 Might of Old Krosa
This matchup is extremely unfavorable. Infect has cards that can play well against Jund, but all of them can be taken by a discard spell. The Infect player can only pray.
Urza Sword: 75/25
In: +2 Force of Vigor, +2 Spell Pierce
Out: -3 Vines of Vastwood, -1 Mishra’s Bauble
Urza sword is a deck that is built to targets popular deck in the metagame. This does not include a fringe deck such as Infect. Urza Sword have basically no main deck interaction that can be leveraged quickly.. In the second and third games Urza Sword will bring in cards such as Fatal Push and Thoughtseize but it is not enough to swing the matchup in Urza’s favor.
Harden Scale’s Affinity: 60/40
In: +2 Ceremonious Rejection, +2 Force of Vigor
Out: -2 Mishra’s bauble, -1 Become Immense, -1 Might of Old Krosa
Harden Scales is a matchup that greatly improves for Infect after sideboarding. Hardened Scales has Walking Ballista, Infect overwhelms the four copies. The four cards brought in by Infect are extremely effective against an artifact based deck. .
Mono Red Phoenix: 25/75
In: +1 Kitchen Finks, +2 Path of Exile
Out: -3 Mishra’s Bauble
This is another polarizing matchup. The Infect player should just curl up and cry.
To sum up, Infect has a lot of polarizing matchups, but as long as Hogaak remains a deck, it will push the format towards more linear decks. Infect’s new tools allow it to be a much more consistent than before Modern Horizons and is a top tier consideration against the re-emerging linear decks.