One of my friends recently asked for help with building a mono-black infect deck.  I thought this would be a great opportunity to use the decklist format form my last article.  Let me know what you think down in the comments.

Deck Construction Template

Basic Breakdown

  • Commander: 1
  • Pump Effects: 10-15
  • Tribal Fun: 10-15
  • Graveyard Hate: 1-5
  • Recursion: 5-10
  • Naturalize: 5-10
  • Ramp: 5-10
  • Card Advantage: 5-10
  • Mass Removal: 1-5
  • Spot Removal: 5-10
  • Utility Lands: 5-15
  • Basic Lands: 25-35

Theme Mechanics

The Primary mechanic for the deck is infect. The preference would be to play creatures that already have infect, but the deck will benefit from having ways to give utility creatures infect as well.

The secondary mechanic for this deck is proliferate. Proliferating will give the deck more reach in later rounds. It will also allow the deck to kill off creatures that get -1/-1 counters placed on them.

Critical Pieces

Hatred is probably the closest these decks will come to having a critical component. The deck is a broad themed aggro deck, so no individual component will make or break the deck.


Category Breakdown

Commander: 1

  1. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

Pump Effects: 10-15

  1. Banshee’s Blade
  2. Bonehoard
  3. Cackling Witch
  4. Caged Sun
  5. Dance of Shadows
  6. Dark Triumph
  7. Death Pit Offering
  8. Eldrazi Conscription
  9. Fireshrieker
  10. Grafted Exoskeleton
  11. Hall of Triumph
  12. Hand of the Praetors
  13. Hatred
  14. Howl from the Beyond
  15. Inquisitor’s Flail
  16. Lashwrithe
  17. Liliana of the Dark Realms
  18. Loxodon Warhammer
  19. Nighthowler
  20. Nightmare Lash
  21. Paragon of Open Graves
  22. Snake Cult Initiation
  23. Sword of the Paruns
  24. Vow of Malice
  25. Mikeus the Unhallowed

Tribal Fun: 10-15

  1. Blackcleave Goblin
  2. Blightsteel Colossus
  3. Contagious Nim
  4. Core Prowler
  5. Flensermite
  6. Flesh-Eater Imp
  7. Glistening Oil
  8. Ichor Rats
  9. Ichorclaw Myr
  10. Necropede
  11. Pestilent Souleater
  12. Phyresis
  13. Phyrexian Crusader
  14. Phyrexian Digester
  15. Phyrexian Juggernaut
  16. Phyrexian Vatmother
  17. Plague Stinger
  18. Reaper of Sheoldred
  19. Scourge Servant
  20. Sceptic Rats
  21. Toxic Nim
  22. Vector Asp
  23. Whispering Specter
  24. Throne of Geth

Graveyard Hate: 1-5

  1. Chainer, Dementia Mater
  2. Coffin Queen
  3. Nezumi Grave robber
  4. Phyrexian Furnace
  5. Leyline of the Void
  6. Puppeteer Clique
  7. Phyrexian Furnace

Recursion: 5-10

  1. Corpse Cur
  2. Nim Deathmantle
  3. Phyrexian Reclamation
  4. Rise of the Dark Realms
  5. Champion of Stray Souls
  6. Dance of the Dead
  7. Mimic Vat
  8. Animate Dead
  9. Stir the Grave
  10. Living Death
  11. Stitch Together
  12. Tempt with Immortality
  13. Trading Post
  14. Mikaues, the Unhallowed
  15. Whip of Erebos
  16. Tortured Existence

Naturalize: 5-10

  1. Powder Keg
  2. Lux Cannon
  3. Ratchet Bomb
  4. Oblivion Stone
  5. All is Dust
  6. Spine of Ish Sah
  7. Argentum Armor
  8. Steel Hellkite
  9. Choice of Damnations
  10. Undercity Plague
  11. Nevinyrral’s Disk

Ramp: 5-10

  1. Sol Ring
  2. Caged Sun
  3. Gauntlet of Power
  4. Extraplanar Lens
  5. Gilded Lotus
  6. Charcoal Diamond
  7. Leaden Myr
  8. Liliana of the Dark Realm
  9. Nirkana Revenant
  10. Magus of the Coffers
  11. Star Compass
  12. Crypt Ghast
  13. Wayfarer’s Bauble
  14. Solemn Simulacrum
  15. Plague Myr

Card Advantage: 5-10

  1. Bloodgift Demon
  2. Runescar Demon
  3. Graveborn Muse
  4. Phyrexian Arena
  5. Necropotence
  6. Erebos, God of the Dead
  7. Greed
  8. Disciple of Bolas
  9. Liliana Vess
  10. Sanguimancy
  11. Seizan, Perveter of Truth
  12. Demonic Tutor
  13. Vampiric Tutor
  14. Read the Bones
  15. Fated Return

Mass Removal: 1-5

  1. Black Sun’s Zenith
  2. Contagion Engine
  3. In Garruk’s Wake
  4. Hythonia the Cruel
  5. Extinguish All Hope
  6. Life’s Finale
  7. Decree of Pain
  8. Dread Cacodemon

Spot Removal: 5-10

  1. Contagion Clasp
  2. Grim Affliction
  3. Spread the Sickness
  4. Skriekmaw
  5. Fleshbag Marauder
  6. Grave Pact
  7. Ob Nixilis, Unshackled
  8. Shrike Harpy
  9. Avatar of Woe
  10. Big Game Hunter
  11. Devour in Shadow
  12. Dictate of Erebos
  13. Cruel Edict
  14. Hero’s Downfall
  15. Flesh to Dust

Utility Lands: 5-15

Basic Lands: 25-35

Detailed Strategy Guide

Infect decks are interesting to play because they play out more like draft decks than the usual battle cruiser aggro we see in Commander. Instead of trading blows between giant creatures, the decks lean heavily on combat tricks. This usually means swinging with multiple creatures and then casting Hatredor Howl from Beyond on whichever one they don’t block. You can also do things like cast Tainted Strike on a creature that one opponent is swinging at another.

When playing a deck that relies on tricks you need to pay close attention to your hand size. Your creatures are not big enough to protect you. Protection comes from players feeling the necessity to always having enough blockers available so that you can’t pull the tricks mentioned above on them. You will also have spot removal, so they will most likely have to keep more blockers than you have creatures.

If you have ever heard the term ‘rattlesnake’ in regards to Commander, this is exactly what they are talking about. The more cards in your hand, the more likely you have the ability to pull off a combat trick based victory. By keeping a healthy hand size, you can exercise control over the table using a combination of bluffing and intimidation. This is perfect for my friend who asked about the deck; he is known for using Jedi mind trick to win games.

Infect decks play with -1/-1 counters which have the advantage of not disappearing at the end of the turn. This allows a player using an infect deck to make plans that span multiple player turns. Since most players only do the math on combat for their turn, thinking ahead and planning for how to best kill them in future turns will put you on a different plane.

In commander players get used to playing the game in certain ways. Whenever players forget about a style of play an opening is created that a clever player can exploit for easy victories. For example; if players in my local group stopped playing heavy recursion because so many people were running graveyard hate, eventually players would take out the graveyard hate because it wasn’t useful anymore. When the amount of graveyard hate got down to few cards, or nothing, I could play Baalthor the Defiled. Operating out of the graveyard when no one has a meaningful way to interact would lead to me winning a decent number of games before people adapted and started putting answers in their decks. That period of time where I am using the graveyard and no one is even interacting with it is what I am referring to as operating on a plane.

On an even grander scale, infect players need to make decisions at the beginning of games that will set them up for victory later on. If you play turn to turn, you are depending on luck to win the game for you. If you plan early, you can win through inevitability. For example, if you play your Inkmoth Nexus turn one, on turn two you have a choice to swing with it or play something else like Plague Myr. If you play the myr you will have additional mana and a creature for next turn. If you swing with the Nexus you give someone a single infect counter. A blocker could stop that myr from being relevant the next turn. The infect counter can be proliferated repeatedly until that opponent dies. This early game decision affects the impacts of your options down the line, and these little differences add up to large advantages over the course of a game or several games, which is what you need as an infect player.

Aside from that, the strategy is just to pump your creatures and find a way to force through damage.

Have fun playing!