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August 15, 2011

7th Edition: Infestation Review (Part 2 of 2)

by Dredd77

At last we have arrived at the final match for the 7th Edition reviews, one which sees me pitting the mono-Red Infestation against the mono-Green Wild Way. As you might expect, Wild Way is filled with fat Green beaters, making it the perfect deck to put into the hands of Sam. Would Infestation have what it takes to secure the early advantage? Or would it wither before a massive beating dealt out by a stompy deck given too much time and space to establish itself? With only one way to find out, we sat down for our customary match and took the following notes.

Game One

Sam has a very strong start as she ramps with a turn-1 Wild Growth into a turn-2 Grizzly Bears and turn-3 Trained Armodon. I hit my land drops, and while I have none of the cheap early-turn fodder the deck offers, I do have a Pillage which takes care of her enchanted Forest in a two-for-one. By the time Sam’s turn-4 attack rolls around, taking me to 13 life, I have an answer for the Armodon as well: Blaze.

But Sam’s relentless as Green decks can be. She swings for 4 more on turn 5, then adds a Llanowar Elves. I deploy a Goblin Chariot. Sam swings with the team next round, and I trade out the Chariot for her Bears, taking 3. Back to me, I play a Goblin Matron which allows me to tutor up the Goblin King, and I’ve just enough mana left over to play him as well.

Sam attacks with her Grizzly Bears on turn 7 to keep the pressure up and prune my army, and I accept the trade for the Goblin Matron. Over to me, I find an answer in the form of a Goblin Glider which at least gives me the option to start whittling away at Sam’s life total. But it’s not meant to be- next turn Sam enchants her Llanowar Elves with Regeneration and Blanchwood Armor, giving her a 6/6 beater that I can’t hope to kill. She forces chumps for a couple turns, then when I run out of critters I’m done for.

Game Two

Again Sam leads off her play with a turn-1 Wild Growth after I lay a Mountain and pass, giving her fast ramp. This time, though, I have better creature options for the early game, as evidenced by my turn-2 Goblin Raider. Sam obliges by casting Grizzly Bears.

Now turn 3, I again luck into having a Pillage at the right time. Although I’ve not fully exonerated the card from my rather pessimistic assessment in the previous deck review, it is paying its way here today. The loss of her mana factory sets Sam back- she attacks for 2 with the Bears and passes. Next turn I drop the Goblin King before swinging with the now-3/3 Raider, taking Sam to 17. Sam fires back with the Bears for 2, leaving me at 16.

And so it goes with sallies through the red zone. I swing for 5 on turn 5, then play a Goblin Glider. Sam, unconcerned as yet, returns the attack for 2. Next turn I go in for 7 before playing a Goblin Gardener, Sam plays a Pride of Lions. With Sam at 5 life, I swing with only the Glider on turn 7, then finish her off with a Shock and 1-point Blaze.

Game Three

Back on the play, Sam starts off with a Forest and passes, while I bring out the fearsome Goblin Digging Team. Next turn Sam still has no play, so I attack with the Digging Team for 1. Back to Sam, she finally manages a Wood Elves to bring up her manabase, and I land another early Goblin King after attacking for 4.

Now turn 4, Sam shows me what she’s been saving up for when she trots out a Gorilla Chieftain. With no other play to work with I Pillage a Forest and pass. Sam surprises me when she returns the favour, blasting away one of my Mountains with a Creeping Mold and setting me back. She adds in a 3-point attack on top of that, then ends her turn. Over to me, I add a Goblin Glider and pass.

Sam continues the assault with the Gorilla for another 3 points on turn 6, leaving me at 14. I then counterattack for 2 with the Digging Team, then follow it up by Pillaging another Forest. My hope is that by throttling her mana development, she might think twice about sending in the Gorilla when she wants to cast a spell if she doesn’t have the mana to regenerate it. Next turn, though, the Gorilla charges in right on schedule, then she follows it up by playing a Grizzly Bears. Not willing to start forcing trades just yet, I play it safe by sending in the Glider for 2, leaving Sam at 11. I then play a Goblin Gardener to further disincentivise Sam from attacking and pass.

Undeterred, Sam swings again with the Gorilla on turn 8- she’s relentless! The Gardener dies, Sam regens her attacker and then loses another Forest (she has four remaining). Alas for Sam, I have another Gardener lurking in my hand, so I immediately replace the one I just lost. back to Sam, she draws another Forest and breaks out a Spined Wurm, but wisely calls off her attack. Meanwhile I’m continuing to whittle her down in the skies for 2 points at a time, and by now Sam is at 7 life with the end in sight.

But Sam has plenty of fight left in her, as her turn-10 Giant Spider can attest to. That dries up my Glider attacks, so I content myself with playing a Goblin Chariot. Next turn the bottom falls out when Sam casts Lure on her Wood Elves, with plenty of damage to kill me through creatures. I’d been holding a Shock since my opening draw, however, and I’m immediately thankful at having done so. It’s Sam’s last chance, and it’s thwarted. Next turn I send in everything in a largely suicidal attack, but I manage to get in enough damage that the Blaze I’m holding wins the game.

Thoughts & Analysis

Red aggro decks typically have no shortage of consistency. The question is seldom whether or not you’ll have an early play, but rather, will your early plays be enough? Given the rather poor creature options at the cheap end of the curve, and the rather bloated back-end (over half the creatures cost three or more mana, though most of them are no larger than a 2/2), Infestation feels like a fairly weak attempt at its archetype.

Certainly the second game we played was indeed a blowout, and Infestation contended and won the third game, but a fair share of credit for that needs to go to Goblin King and Blaze. Without the latter to finish Sam off, it’s hard to say I would have won that last game, and having the King out early so often was purely a factor of luck. To be certain, there’s an element of luck in every deck, but recognising the role it played here prevents me from crediting Infestation overmuch. It still tries to do a little bit too much, and ends up coming up short.

Hits: Strong burn package offers some removal consistency; Goblin King a strong choice for rare; good landkill package even if meta doesn’t really call for it

Misses: Too midrange for a Goblins deck- loses steam in the mid- to late-game; Trained Orgg a poor rare due to casting cost in aggro deck

OVERALL SCORE: 3.75/5.00

Read more from 7th Edition, Core Sets

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