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January 3, 2012


Whispers of the Muse: Fangs’s Phyrexian Poison (SOM)

by Dredd77

Happy New Year to everyone, and to kick off the cleanr slate each year brings we have a new Whispers of the Muse. If you’re a new reader to Ertai’s Lament, Whispers is a deckbuilding advice column for folks who are looking to base their decks off of a precon. What makes the column so fun is that the answers don’t come from one place, but rather throughout the readership of the site. Call it “the wisdom of the masses,” call it “crowdsourcing,” it’s a great opportunity for folks to put their minds together and come up with a winning deck!

Today’s feature comes to us today by way of Fangs, who has already done some extensive tinkering with Scars of Mirrodin’s infect-filled Phyrexian Poison. Although we’ve run both a Whispers and a Meddling based on that deck before, you’ll find Fangs has a very different vision of where he’d like his deck to go. Here’s what he has to say.

Hello good people at Ertai’s Lament! I need help with a rather peculiar Infect deck I plan to make.

After some extensive searching, it seemed almost everybody that ran Infect, ran Hyper Aggro decks with 95% of the same cards in almost every deck, dependent on the color(s) used. Sure, I could jump on the bandwagon and be like everybody else, but that’s not how I roll, so I decided I wanted to do something fairly unique with the deck, something not too many people would think to go, and that’s a “Decay” deck. Gradually eating away my opponents defenses so my Infected legion can make a beeline to my opponents life with ease.

Here’s what I’ve concocted:

Creatures: 17
4x Rot Wolf
4x Hand of the Praetors
4x Blight Mamba
3x Melira, Sylvok Outcast
2x Phyrexian Hydra

Spells: 21
4x Mutagenic Growth
4x Prey Upon
4x Withstand Death
3x Black Sun’s Zenith
2x Curse of Death’s Hold
4x Ranger’s Guile

Lands: 22
13 Forest
9 Swamp

I realize the deck has had a drastic facelift compared to the original product, but I like seeing the deck in a new light (and I hope you do too of course) and it shows how far you can really take them. Now without getting too wordy or in depth, the basic strategy is to rot away anything that touches my opponents board leaving my creatures free to spread their disease. Using Prey Upon+Withstand Death with that of Rot Wolf during main phase 1 to clear potential 2/2 blockers and also get a card, giving me more options for the actual combat phase AND 1 less threat to deal with.

It also gives me the ability to downsize any bigger creatures, making them lose at least -4/-4. Melira protects my Hydra from itself, and protects my own creatures from Black Sun’s Zenith’s effect. This type of strategic play of knowing when to use what fits my style much more then a one trick pony like a Hyper Infect deck with nothing but buffs.

I’m basically looking for feedback on the deck, and suggestions on if there’s better cards to use for my strategy as I’m not familiar with anything but M12 core set. I want to make the deck as competitive as possible, but still be very fun to play. I’ve been thinking of dropping 2x Curse of Death’s Hold and upping Black Sun’s Zenith to 4x instead of 3 because, even though the Curse is a permanent, it cost 5CMC to drop, while Zenith can be cheap if need be, and it goes back into my deck for use later (Though I’m not guaranteed to draw it).

Should I go ahead with that plan? I’ve also thought of swapping the Hydra for Putrefax for more speed, using Prey Upon on Putrefax after I attack with it to clear any remaining enemies before hitting Self Destruct. Then again, the Hydra is a 7/7 and stays on the battlefield. I want to keep deck playable in Standard format and would like to keep it a B/G deck.

My budget for the deck is $30, at least for now as I don’t have 90% of the cards yet (I plan to buy them after getting some more opinions on it if it’s worth the investment) and don’t want to spend too much. Things to get later on would be 4x Woodland Cemetery, swapping out 4x Swamp. Creating a sideboard is also something I’ll do later, if I can get suggestions on that too that would be great!

So what do you think? Does Fangs have the kernel of a solid, working infect deck here with this novel approach to the mechanic? Any cards you think he might benefit from that he’s not included in his list? Anything he is including that might be cut for something better? As always, we look forward to the feedback in the comments!

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jan 3 2012

    Interesting deck! The Woodland Cemetery is an all around good idea because you can never really go wrong with lands and you know that you’ll be able to make use of them for this block and the next.
    On to the important stuff, you don’t have an early game. You mentioned that other decks with Infect are hyper-aggro. You need some blockers at the very least. Consider, Necropede for dealing with all the 1/1s that are running around these days. Glistener Elf and Ichorclaw Myr are also early game Infect creatures that will at least keep you alive.
    You might need some all-purpose removal too like Beast Within or Doom Blade instead of 3x Black Sun’s Zenith. BSZ can only be used at the earliest turn 3 and is really only effective later in the game. Since it can cycle back through the deck you don’t necessarily need three and it has the downside of destroying your creatures as well. For the effect you get out of Curse of Death’s Hold, you might want to think about LIfe’s Finale or something else instead if you’re looking for boardsweepers.
    Perhaps in your circle, you see a lot of infect decks, but I don’t see a reason to have three of Melira. Besides, she’s Legendary so any others you draw would be dead draws. I’m also unsure about how effective Withstand Death would truly be. It works as a possible combat trick, but not with Infect creatures and doesn’t counter being exiled so it’s kind of a one trick, best scenario thinking type of card. Honestly, a Giant Growth type card might be better suited to this deck even though I know you’re trying to avoid the hyper-aggro approach. Ranger’s Guile is an excellent choice.
    All in all, you have some good card choices and I’m interested to see what others have to say!

  2. Jan 3 2012

    Hey everybody, just wanted to inform you that I’ve changed the budget slightly, and also changed the deck around a bit. My deck suggestion got featured so fast I was unable to inform Ertai’s lament on the changes ^-^’ Budget is roughly $40 now.

    So here’s the down low!
    -4x Prey Upon (An less effective removal card, liked the flavor though)
    -2x Curse of Death’s Hold (Slow, and doesn’t really contribute much to the game plan)
    +4x Doom Blade (Can’t believe missed this one)
    +2x Tezzeret’s Gambit (

    For things I’ve been thinking about, as Stric9 said, 3x Zenith and/or Melira may be a tad over board. So, I’ve been thinking of adding in a copy of Diabolic Tutor, as means to grab the Zenith OR Melira when I need them (or any other card for that matter if I have those 2 in my hand). So a copy of Diabolic tutor in place of either 1 copy of Zenith or Melira?? Perhaps trim them both and add 2x Diabolic Tutor? Or maybe trim both, add 1x Diabolic Tutor and 1x more Tezzeret’s Gambit or any other card? So many options haha it’s difficult to make on my own.

    I’ve been thinking of more control cards, in the means of to actually survive early game. Cards like Virulent Wound, Go for the Throat, Tribute to hunger, and Victim of Night all come to mind. Another card I’ve been thinking about that fits the flavor of the deck is Glistening Oil. Awesome card, and it has recurrence, so I’ll always have it come back to me unless it’s exiled or shuffled back into my deck. Withstand Death is gonna get removed. I like it, but as Stric9 said it isn’t my best option. Just don’t know what to add in it’s place. 4x Glistening Oil?? Perhaps 2x Glistening Oil and 2x of the mentioned removal spells?

    As for creatures, I think their fine. Blight Mamba is my defense, while Rot wolf is my offense while drawing me cards. Hand of the Praetors is to make my team stronger for when the Zenith gets drop so I have more chance of getting a OHKO. The problem with Ichorclaw Myr’s is that they don’t get to be a 3/3 if they don’t attack, what I need now is more defense then anything.

    As for sideboard, I’ve made a simple list: 4x Autumns Veil / 4x Viridian Corrupter / 3x Cystbearer / 4x Contagion Clasp. These should help against certain decks like artifact, aggro, and control decks.

  3. Varo
    Jan 3 2012

    You could try a few Grim afflictions, i think they can be pretty good powering up a Black Sun Zenith you had to drop too early and possibly killing a new creature your opponent has landed on his turn, apart from adding a poison counter if they already have them.

    I have a modified Infect & Defile U/B poison event deck, and i can assure you that if you want to play infect and it’s not hyper aggro green infect, Contagion clasps are pretty much needed. Being uncommon, they shouldn’t cost you too much, and having two or three in the deck means early removal against those pesky 1/1, while being a victory condition on their own later.

    As for early game creatures, all of the mentioned by Stric9 are superb (Necropede my favourite), but if you don’t like them, you could try another approach by using Plague Myr. They’re cheap infect creatures, and you can also use them for mana ramping.

  4. Jan 3 2012

    Ah, I’ve also thought about Grim Afflictions, but as I said I need help to figure out what to remove. Using a Zenith early is an option, but only if I had Diabolic Tutor in hand or another Zenith to bring it back indefinitely, as I usually would only have 1-2 shots at the OHKO. As without the Zenith, the deck isn’t in a prime state to inflict poison. Anything to speed up the gameplan would be nice, as the foe is for sure going to die once the Zenith blackens the sky.

    So as a recap, here’s what is definitely getting hacked: (5-6 slots available)
    -4x Withstand Death
    -1x Black Sun Zenith or Melira, Sylvok Outcast OR one of each, freeing me two slots to work with.
    Here’s what’s up in the air for inclusion: (this is where you guys help me decide what’s better in and what’s not)
    -Glistening Oil
    -Grim Afflictions
    -Virulent Wound
    -Diabolic Tutor
    -Go for the Throat
    -Plague Myr

    I like the idea of the Plague Myr’s providing mana. Mana ramp would help speed things up a turn, and the Myr is still a creature to attack unlike if I were to add Rampant Growth or a similar card. But what should I hack in place for the Myr’s?? The Blight Mamba provides me the only defense I have. Hand of the Praetors, is mostly offensive, so if anything were to be cut, it would be him, however painful due to him making my creatures stronger. He is slow though, and the Myr is fast with a benefit to speeding things up early game.

    Tough decisions, decisions that have a major impact on the deck. I could do this:
    -4x Hand of the Praetors
    -4x Rot Wolf
    -4x Blight Mamba
    +2x Tezzeret’s Gambit
    +4x Plague Myr
    +4x Necropede
    +1x Phyrexian Hydra
    +1x more of any of the earlier cards mention

    What do you guys think? Should speed up the deck slightly, with an extra (or 2) Hydra providing the attack power I lost with the cut of the 2 creatures. With the addition of 5-7 black removal spells to deal with anything in between, it might be on to something. Diabolic Tutor is now a must however with the loss of the key cards needed to win the game. Could also pull the Hydra as I’m relying more on it’s power as well. So should I go 1 or 2 copies????

  5. benwsf
    Jan 3 2012

    Phyrexian Vatmother is a relatively cheap card and great in this deck. It has a minimal drawback, and with Melira, it is a 4/5 infect creature for 4 mana, which is a great deal.

    • Jan 3 2012

      Oh, haven’t considered her! Nice recommendation! But the only thing I see viable to sub it with is the Hydra, and I love the hydra 😦 I either get a 4/5 creature early, or get a sexy 7/7 creature 1 turn late for 5 mana. Going pound for pound, the hydra would help more when I drop the Zenith, offering 3 more counters then the Vatmother. The Hydra can also kill and potentially “scare” bigger creatures like Titans if need be, whereas the Vatmother would just weaken a Titan, good enough to drop the Zenith, but wouldn’t be there to contribute to the chance at a OHKO. Still, that is unlikely to happen as I wouldn’t let a Titan live more then 2 sec after hitting the field (Doom blades).

      Then again, the Vatmothers are 1 turn earlier then the Hydra, which, if things go according to plan, the Hydra is usually 1 turn before the Zenith hits the field (For either 3 or 4 -1/-1 counters). So, I could potentially have 2 Vatmothers on the field, scoring a whopping 8 poison counters if I get a direct attack, on that turn alone. But that is not likely in every situation. hmmmm…I’m leaning towards the Hydra, but you can try to convince me otherwise.

      Can people please comment on the post I made earlier (Before this one) about the decisions I’m faced with? Those are mainly what I need help with, of course suggestions for different cards are still welcomed!

  6. Aaro
    Jan 4 2012

    Have you considered some equipment? I like Livewire Lash in this deck – it’d be great to help spread those -1/-1 counters around or give your creatures a bit of reach to put the game away. It’s nice because it works not only with spells you cast like mutagenic growth, but also for removal spells your opponent might cast as well.

  7. Jan 4 2012

    When I first started building the deck, I did have Livewire Lashes in, but the deck now is a total different beast then before. Livewire’s, although brilliant, are more suited to aggressive decks.

    Though I could add them in, taking the place of some removal, but again, that’s what I need help with guys 😦 What should I add in, then tell me what I should remove in place for that particular card(s).

    The game plan revolves around the Zenith, and Melira is needed to protect my creatures (thus I won’t drop a Zenith unless she’s out or I have no more then 1 creature), so those HAVE TO stay in, everything else is game for removal if there are better cards (Like the ones you guys suggested). TELL ME: What to take out in-place for those cards. Cards like Glistening Oil / Grim Afflictions / Livewire Lash / Go for the Throat / Virulent Wound / Phyrexian Vatmother / etc etc

    Here’s my deck so far with some changes that you guys suggested.
    What should I remove to put some of the above cards in???????

    Creatures: 13
    4x Plague Myr
    4x Necropede
    3x Phyrexian Hydra
    2x Melira, Sylvok Outcast

    Spells: 19
    4x Mutagenic Growth
    4x Tezzeret’s Gambit
    4x Doom Blade
    2x Black Sun’s Zenith
    1x Diabolic Tutor (Must to primarily grab the Zenith or Melira)
    4x Ranger’s Guile

    Lands: 22
    11 Forest

    Total: 54 cards / 6 free slots

    • stric9
      Jan 4 2012

      Remember, the Livewire Lash allows you to deal Infect damage directly to your opponent so it could be a viable option. I might drop one Hydra and add in a playset of Rot Wolf or Glistener Elf. Otherwise, the deck looks like it’s about ready to go poison someone.

      • Jan 4 2012

        I see, but look at my decks contents. Livewire Lashes require me to use spells on my creatures to get the reach, besides Mutagenic Growth and Ranger’s Guile, that’s all I have. The opponent is not likely to use spells on my creatures as they won’t pose a threat (Plague Myr/Necropede), initially, the only one being the Hydra, in which it does help it as the Hydra is a big target and can combo with Ranger’s Guile, but then you asked me to limit the Hydra further.

        I’ll add in a few to see how it goes nevertheless 🙂 But how much do you think is good for playtesting? 2x / 3x / or 4x??

        Glistener Elves, while cheap, don’t contribute anything to my deck and imo a big waste of space. Think of my deck as “Preparing” for the Zenith. What does Glistener Elf add to that goal? Not much, if anything at all.

        Rot Wolves hmm? I do like their flavor, but they would take up the other potential spots for the spells that other people suggested. For example, the Wolves give me a 2/2, potential card draw infect creature for 3CMC; OR, I can get, say Glistening Oil instead, which provides me to kill weenies and stops 3/3 or higher creatures from being any threat, AND comes back to my hand to repeat the cycle. Which is the better trade?

        • Varo
          Jan 5 2012

          If the core of your deck is going to be Melira – Zenith, i would up them to three copies each. That leaves you with 4 free cards. Then i would add two Rot Wolves for creature presence + card advantage ( rot wolf + pump spell, now that you have 8 in the deck ) and two Contagion Clasps, i can’t stress how powerful they are when the board’s stalled, they’ve won me more games than any other card (and they also work as removal against weenies).

          In my opinion, Glistening Oil is too slow to work as removal, i wouldn’t include it. As for the doom blades, i would change them for Go for the throat or Smothers, since the doom blades can leave you defenseless against mono black vampires. Doom blades have been sitting useless so many times in my hand that i don’t trust them anymore. The other two kill spells are imo more reliable, and not very expensive ( i’d choose smother over go for the throat since you have late game removal in the zenith + proliferate ). I’ve never played serious tournaments so Stric9’s and the other’s ideas are probably more effective, but try these ones too if you happen to have the cards.

        • Jan 5 2012

          I agree about the Glistener Evles. They’re a very strong card in the right kind of Infect deck- the one that packs a million pump spells- but quickly lose their efficacy when you get away from that model.

          • Jan 5 2012

            Good point. I was just thinking of a one-drop spell to fill some slots. I also agree with Varo one the other choices. Now that I understand your vision with Melira and BSZ, I’d probably go with Varo’s suggestions.


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