Mirrodin Besieged: Infect & Defile Review (Part 2 of 2)
Yikes! A long, long day at the office (on my day off) trying to hit a deadline means that we’re racing to the table when I get home, looking to sort out the customary three-of and see how Infect & Defile ranks next to its fellow Mirrodin Besieged Event Deck, the blitzkrieging Into the Breach. Without further preamble, here are our match notes.
On the play, Jimi opens up with a Mountain and a Panic Spellbomb. I drop an Island and a Preordain, keeping a Plague Myr to draw and banishing the other card- an Island- to the bottom of my library. Next turn Jimi presto’s her Spellbomb into a trio of 1/1 Goblin tokens, courtesy of a Kuldotha Rebirth. She follows it up with a Signal Pest, and suddenly that nuisance is a full-fledged problem. For my part, I play a Drowned Catacomb into the Plague Myr, and reluctantly pass.
If I thought I was in trouble with Jimi’s trio of 1/1 Goblins and the battle-crying Pest, it was only half the beating I would have taken had her kicked Goblin Bushwhacker not shown up. Swarming across for her first attack of the game, I’m already down to 7 life. I attempt to buy time with a Consuming Vapors, but even I know it’s not nearly enough. Jimi finishes me off with a Lightning Bolt after her next attack. Dead on turn 4.
I open the next game with a Preordian, and ship both land cards that were on top of my library to the bottom, having enough in my hand for the time being and more in need of options. Jimi drops a Mountain, a Spikeshot Elder, and a Memnite– nice start. But if there’s any hand that has a chance against Into the Breach, it’s mine, with cheap and early stall tactics aplenty. The first of these is a Necropede, which I play on turn 2. With no profitable attack, Jimi avoids the obvious two-for-one and instead plays a Darksteel Axe.
Knowing that an Axe-equipped Elder makes his ability suddenly very efficient, I pop him off with a turn-3 Contagion Clasp. That removes the threat of a two-for-one against Jimi, though, so her play is to equip the Axe to the Memnite and chop in for 2. Happy to trade blows, I next swing in for my first poison counter with the Necropede, while Jimi swings back for four after playing and activating a Contested War Zone.
Now turn 5, I attack for another poison counter with the Necropede, giving me control of the Contested War Zone. I drop a second Necropede, and pass. Jimi then proceeds to virtually hand me the game with a calculated gamble that blows up in her face when she tries a Devastating Summons, sacrificing all four of her land. I show the Mana Leak, and she’s just Armageddoned herself. Lucky for her she’s piloting a deck that can recover quickly, needing very little mana to function. It’s still a major setback, but sometimes you just have to make the aggressive play. She ends with a Memnite, then passes back.
For the next two turns (turns 6 and 7), I swing in with a Necropede while keeping one in defense. I’m able to trigger the War Zone to pump it, and Jimi’s in trouble. For her part she’s retrenching, and lands an Ornithopter to supplement her meager forces. The game moves slowly towards its inexorable conclusion. Jimi tries to Lightning Bolt a Necropede, but it gets Deprived. A Consuming Vapors suppresses her creature count, allowing one Necropede at a time to swing in on the attack, and even after it gets traded out with a Memnite it’s able to come back with a Corpse Cur. Although the board stalls, I simply ride the Contagion Clasp to victory, proliferating Jimi’s poison counters.
Jimi starts the game with a Memnite and a turn-2 Goblin Wardriver, while I’m slow to develop with a pair of Jwar Isle Refuges. A turn-3 Signal Pest draws a Contagion Clasp to squash it, but on turn 4 (with me only showing one open mana) Jimi gets off the Devastating Summons after bringing out a Spikeshot Elder. While she loses all of her land, I can do nothing but watch while she deploys a pair of 4/4 Elemental tokens to the board. I’m able to get out a Phyrexian Vatmother on turn 5, but it’s not nearly enough. Next turn she swings with the team and kills me.
Thoughts & Analysis
Infect & Defile is undoubtedly the poor stepchild of the two Event Decks, well in the shadow of the mono-Red blazingly fast Into the Breach. Certainly if nothing else, one can safely conclude that it has a very difficult time dealing with fast, aggressive decks, as it’s combined 1-5 record against its counterpart in both reviews illustrates. It just doesn’t have enough early defense, and later-game cards are simply dead in your hand. It’s nothing a sweeper or two couldn’t fix, but the deck’s designers didn’t see fit to even put one in the sideboard, be it a Black Sun’s Zenith or even a Consume the Meek. That’s a shortcoming, as aggro decks are not at all uncommon sights at most any level of play.
Instead, Infect & Defile seems positioned to take on mid-range decks, particularly ones that field only a few, large creatures such as one of the Titans from M11. The playset of Corrupted Conscience in the mainboard has exactly this scenario in mind- wait for them to cast a fattie, then steal it and kill then quickly with their own infected brute. But that may be the deck’s biggest weakness.
Contrary to their own hype, these decks aren’t quite at the competitive level. Your mileage will vary at your Friday Night Magic, and Into the Breach might well do a passable job, but the deck’s own packaging promises to let you “enter the world of tournament play” with a deck that lets you be “immediately competitive.” While as mentioned in Into the Breach’s writeup it has the ability to flat-out steal wins due to speed with the right draw, Infect & Defile has no such luck. Indeed, its slower, plodding pace means that your opponent has plenty of room to develop their board state, and they might well be resolving their Primeval Titan or Gideon Jura while you’re fiddling with a Hand of the Praetors.
To be fair, there’s certainly the makings of a solid deck here, though it will take adding things like additional Vatmothers, Phyrexian Crusaders, Inkmoth Nexuses and the like to get to the right power level. Until then, it’s just an advanced Intro Deck. Take heart- although the deck will lose points due to not living up to its billing, it’s still a very solidly-constructed deck that’s fun to play. In that light, it’s certainly a success even if you never get serious about taking top finish at your FNM.
Hits: Solidly if unexcitingly constructed infect/proliferate deck; good rare selection with a pair of Phyrexian Vatmothers, two Drowned Catacombs, and twin Consuming Vapors
Misses: Lack of power can be made up for with speed, but lack of both speed and power is a recipe for trouble; sorely-needed sweepers not included in either the main or the sideboard
FINAL SCORE: 4.40/5.00