I’m picking up where I left off last week with my primer on Modern Infect and guide to how the deck plays out against many of the most popular and powerful decks you’re likely to face in a given Modern tournament. You can check out part 1 here. With that, I hope you are ready for more poison.
#13: Jeskai Control
Grixis Control has proved slightly more popular recently, and while both matchups are rough, Jeskai is slightly less bad. You don’t have to worry about Kolaghan’s Command, which is a devastating answer to Inkmoth Nexus, and Jeskai’s gameplan often revolves around Nahiri, the Harbinger. Resolving a four-mana sorcery-speed spell is a dicey prospect for them, and they will have to respect the potential of you killing them if they tap out. This is a matchup where Glistener Elf is a better threat than Blighted Agent. They don’t have many ways to block, and your goal is to resolve a threat with ample mana up to protect it, so the cheaper casting cost is great. This is another matchup to beware of Izzet Staticaster. It’s also a matchup where the newly printed Blossoming Defense is most appreciated, as it lets you protect your threats very cheaply, while keeping up the pressure (as compared to Vines of Vastwood, which can be a bit expensive and clunky when racing a grip full of red removal).
Their Key Cards: all those sweet, sweet removal spells
Your Key Cards: Glistener Elf
This matchup is generally a breeze. One of the primary attractions of Bogles is the way auras like Spirit Link and Daybreak Coronet can make racing very tough for many decks. Fortunately, we don’t care about lifegain. They’re not great at blocking and you’re faster. After sideboarding, you can bring all your copies of Nature’s Claim, which not only kills their most annoying auras, but also many of the sideboard cards they might try to fight you with, like Spellskite or Ghostly Prison (it’s been tried). Keep in mind that Twisted Image can answer both Spellskite and Kor Spiritdancer, so depending on your particular list, you may want to continue to have access to it as well.
#11: Death’s Shadow
I would give this a 2.5, but I’ve stuck to whole numbers so far and the aesthetic inconsistency would be too painful to me. This is another race, and both decks are blazingly fast. I put the matchup slightly in Death’s Shadow’s favor because they usually have a few more pieces of disruption, like Lightning Bolt and Thoughtseize. Pyroclasm can be a pretty big nuisance post-board, due to their copies of Monastery Swiftspear, Wild Nacatl, and others surviving it. Try to play around it if possible. This is one of the matchups for which Spellskite earns its place in my sideboard.
#10: Abzan Company
This deck not only has maindeck copies of cards like Spellskite, Orzhov Pontiff and Melira, Sylvok Outcast, but eight ways to tutor for them. It’s rough. Even if it weren’t for all that hate, Glistener Elf would still be largely dead due to their mana dorks and other ground creatures being very excellent blockers. Even Inkmoth Nexus’s evasion is less relevant than usual thanks to Birds of Paradise. This matchup is kind of “Blighted Agent or bust”. Twisted Image is good here at least, what with Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch and Wall of Roots, so there’s that, I guess. It’s a poor matchup.
#9: GR Tron
From one of your worst matchups to one of your best. Tron has to spend its first few turns spinning its wheels, which gives you plenty of time to get them dead. If they do have time to assemble Tron, many of their payoff cards aren’t even that effective. The lifegain from Wurmcoil Engine is irrelevant and Karn Liberated is, essentially, a seven mana sorcery-speed removal spell. The big baddy to keep an eye on is Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, whose minus ability is very potent—even though it doesn’t do much against Inkmoth Nexus. Bring in all your sideboarded Nature’s Claim, of course. You can use them to “yoink” the occasional Expedition Map, but you’ll mostly want to save them for Spellskite. Watch out for Pyroclasm.
#8: GR Valakut
This is largely two ships passing in the night. They do have slightly more interaction, with Lightning Bolt and Anger of the Gods, but you’re a tick faster against most of their draws. Even though they are ramping heavily, Spell Pierce is still important here to stop a fast Through the Breach, I think.
Their Key Cards: Lightning Bolt
This will likely be one of my more controversial ratings, but I think Infect is a pretty significant favorite in this matchup. It’s true that Jund does have a ton of removal and can present a quick clock, but most of your cards are more efficient than theirs. Don’t run out your threats unprotected and don’t go for the kill before you absolutely have to. Make them respect your ability to win out of nowhere. They’ll be forced to either constantly hold up mana while you peck in for a point of poison here and there, or else bite the bullet and let you trade your Vines of Vastwood for an Abrupt Decay. Inkmoth Nexus is your best threat because it can’t be killed by Liliana of the Veil or Decay.
The other trick to the matchup I’ve uncovered is that you can win a surprisingly large number of games simply by letting them die to their own Dark Confidant. They are often reckless with their life total and if you can keep a threat around, it forces them to hold up removal, rather than adding to their own clock. It’s not too difficult to take that alternate route to victory, occasionally with help from Dryad Arbor. I usually board in some number of the Kitchen Finks in my sideboard for just this reason. They keep you alive while Dark Confidant kills them and it forces them to use multiple removal spells to answer it.
#6: Bant Eldrazi
They have very little removal, so I like the matchup. Drowner of Hope is hard to beat once it lands, so try to be fast. This is another deck with a fair number of dumb blockers, and they’ll often have stuff like Eldrazi Skyspawner for your Nexus, so you’ll likely have to lean on Blighted Agent. Bring Dismember in post-board and try to hold them for Thought-Knot Seer. Also, beware of Chalice of the Void!
While the matchup is close, the games tend to be lopsided. You’re much faster than they are, but they have tools like Collective Brutality, and Conflagrate that can be a huge headache. This is yet another matchup where I lean heavily on Blighted Agent, thanks to the free copies Narcomoeba they are likely to hit when dredging. It sounds obvious, but keep a truly close eye on their graveyard so you know how fast their clock could be and be conscious of Conflagrate.
Your Key Cards: Blighted Agent
#4: Abzan Midrange
This is similar-ish to Jund and much of what I said there applies here as well. They gain Collective Brutality, but lose Lightning Bolt and Kolaghan’s Command. While it might be counterintuitive to mark this matchup less favorable than Jund, Lingering Souls is an absolute game-changer in this matchup. Zealous Persecution out of the sideboard is also a real nuisance. Additionally, since they tend to no longer play Dark Confidant—unlike Jund—the alternative path to victory and the Kitchen Finks sideboard plan are closed off to us here.
Your Key Cards: Blighted Agent
#3: Naya Burn
I always play at least three Kitchen Finks in my sideboard, which helps this matchup enormously, for obvious reasons. This is another case where you’re have the slightly faster goldfish kill, and you can force their burn spells into your well-timed pump spells. I would bring in at least one or two Nature’s Claim out of the sideboard, alongside the obvious stuff like Spellskite, since Claim can kill the extremely problematic Eidolon of the Great Revel. Additionally, Nature’s Claim gain you 4 life by killing your own Spellskite or Inkmoth Nexus in an unfortunate pinch.
All those copies of Twisted Image and Nature’s Claim you have truly shine here. This another opposing deck that can pretty easily block both on the ground and in the air, so Blighted Agent is important (don’t you wish you could play eight?). Watch out for sideboard cards like Ghirapur Aether Grid and Whipflare. You’ll already have Nature’s Claim for the Grid, but try to hold Mutagenic Growth to protect against Whipflare.
At long last, we come to the end, the mirror. I will level with you and tell you that I frankly have never found an approach to the mirror match that I’m truly happy with. If I bring in a bunch of Dismember and Nature’s Claim, I too often draw all removal and no pump spells, and when I pull back on the removal I find myself too often dead to my opponent’s faster draw. I’ve settled on boarding something like two Nature’s Claim in. Twisted Image is also good as a one- or two-of to keep Spellskite off the board and kill opposing Noble Hierarch. Vines of Vastwood is your best pump spell because it can counter an opposing pump spell as well.
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