I didn't expect the Event Decks to be that impressive, but I was happily surprised after playing a few games with the original 75 cards from Infect and Defile. Event Decks go above and beyond what theme decks have been in the past. Here's the original list for Infect and Defile:
The deck performs very well straight out of the box. There are, however, a few quick changes that can be made to make the deck more competitive. The deck can actually evolve in a lot of different directions. We could add Plague Stingers and Phyrexian Crusaders and bash people with Distortion Strike, or we can go the more controlling route and focus on the card advantage game.
If you like the way the original deck plays, you probably want this to be a more controlling evolution. The first thing I would like to do is add a few lands. We're just asking to miss land drops if we play fewer than 25 lands here. I'd go ahead and add two Darkslick Shores in place of the two Contagion Clasps. If you can't find any of the Mirrodin Besieged rare land, then you could simply cut the two Contagion Clasps for extra Islands.
After playing a few games with the deck I was most worried about how it planned to handle planeswalkers. Mana Leak and Deprive are both excellent here, but I felt like the deck needed more. I decided to cut two Swamps and one Jwar Isle Refuge to make room for some Creeping Tar Pits. Creeping Tar Pit may not deal your opponent poison counters, but it gives you a much better chance of beating resolved Planeswalkers.
Since we're playing more lands and better fixing I figured it was safe to add a few copies of Tectonic Edge, this gives me a great late-game answer to creature-lands or a midgame form of disruption. I would like to play a playset of Inkmoth Nexus, but the Mirrodin Besieged rare is very difficult to acquire. If you're lucky enough to open any number of Inkmoth Nexuses, I would advise cutting up to all three Tectonic Edges and one more land to add the card.
Planeswalkers still seemed troublesome to me, especially Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Playing a few copies of Jace Beleren seemed like it could increase the overall power level of my deck and give me a better chance of beating Jace, the Mind Sculptor.
Black Sun's Zenith is an excellent tool for a deck like this. A lot of decks have access to a large enough swarm of creatures to overload your spot removal. Playing a few copies of Black Sun's Zenith gives the deck a better answer to the most aggressive decks in the format.
Anyone who plays with the deck will realize that Corrupted Conscience is the best card here. My personal favorite is when my opponent taps out for an Inferno Titan and I snatch it up with the Mirrodin Besieged Aura. It's an excellent answer, especially for Titans and Baneslayer Angels. I've had White-Blue Control opponents cast Sun Titans only to have them stolen. I even had a Jace Beleren in my graveyard to return when I attacked!
Phyrexian Vatmother is surprisingly strong, and it's nice that it can profitably block a Vengevine. The Vatmother is obviously good enough for any deck that plans on winning with poison. It acts a lot like an 8/5 for four mana, that seems good enough for me. It's so good, in fact, that I've actually cut two other cards for additional Phyrexian Vat Mothers.
Gerard Fabiano and Ben Lundquist chose to play Doom Blade over Go for the Throat last weekend at the StarCityGames.com Standard Open event in Edison, New Jersey. It makes sense; these days it's more important to kill Precursor Golem and Kuldotha Forgemaster than it is to kill Grave Titan. Crazy world, I know. Even cards like Signal Pest can be troubling when you can't aim your spot removal at them. I'm going to change the main-deck Smothers to Doom Blades. I expect a Doom Blade trend, at least in the immediate future. This trend will only make Phyrexian Vatmother stronger.
I also wanted to find room for the fourth Preordain. The Magic 2011 sorcery is the perfect addition to any control deck that seeks to gain an advantage by grinding opponents out in a long game. You have a lot of cards that are very powerful for specific situations. It's important to draw the correct pieces you need to establish control of the battlefield and finish your opponent off with poison counters.
I updated the sideboard to give you additional answers to planeswalkers. Volition Reins is a great way to steal otherwise frightening planeswalkers and use them against your opponent!
Duress is a good way to clear out any counterspells so your Corrupted Conscience can do the work it needs to. It's also an excellent way to nab swords out of your opponent's hand after they cast a Stoneforge Mystic.
The deck needed better countermagic against Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Blue-Red-Green decks, so I decided to include a playset of Flashfreeze in the sideboard. Having a hard counter is important when you're trying to fight decks that have as much mana as Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.
Here's the final list:
Again, I would like to add a few Inkmoth Nexus to this list. If you're lucky enough to open them in booster packs or trade for them, then I would play the following list. Corpse Cur isn't as exciting when you can activate your lands to deal poison counters. I also like having 26 lands in this version.
I played a few games with the budget version of the evolved Infect and Defile deck to see how it fared against some of the decks in standard.
I won the roll and kept Plague Myr, Phyrexian Vatmother, Jace Beleren, Deprive, Jwar Isle Refuge, Darkslick Shores, and Island. I played my Jwar Isle Refuge, went to 21, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Terramorphic Expanse. I drew another Island, played my Darkslick Shores and cast Plague Myr. My opponent used Terramorphic Expanse to find a Forest on my end step, then untapped, cast Explore, played Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and passed the turn. I drew a Mana Leak, played my Island, cast Phyrexian Vatmother, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Cultivate, searched for a Forest and a Mountain, put the Forest onto the battlefield tapped, played the Mountain, cast Lightning Bolt on my Plague Myr, and passed the turn. I took the poison counter during my upkeep, drew a Creeping Tar Pit, played it, attacked for four poison counters, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Primeval Titan, but I cast Mana Leak to counter it, and that was it for the turn. I took a poison, drew a Corrupted Conscience, attacked for four poison, played my land, cast Jace Beleren, drew a Tectonic Edge off his -1 ability, and passed the turn. My opponent attempted to cast Avenger of Zendikar, but I had the Deprive waiting—but it was a trap! My opponent cast a Summoning Trap for free and revealed an Inferno Titan. The Titan came down and shot me for 3. I took a poison from Vatmother and showed my opponent the Corrupted Conscience, and we were off to Game 2.
I mulliganed an awkward hand and kept Creeping Tar Pit, Swamp, Island, Deathmark, Flashfreeze, and Jace Beleren. My opponent played a Raging Ravine and passed the turn. I drew a Preordain, played Creeping Tar Pit, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land and cast Lotus Cobra. I drew another Creeping Tar Pit, played it, cast Deathmark on the Lotus Cobra, and passed the turn. My opponent untapped, cast an Explore, played a fourth land, and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, cast Jace Beleren, drew a Flashfreeze off the -1, and passed the turn. My opponent cast an Oracle of Mul Daya, revealed a land, played it, and passed the turn without a sixth land drop. I drew a Deprive, then drew a Doom Blade off of Jace's -1 ability. I cast Doom Blade on the Oracle of Mul Daya, and passed the turn after playing my land. My opponent drew the Cultivate revealed by the Oracle and cast it. I let it resolve. I drew an Island, used the +1 on Jace to draw a Spell Pierce, played my fifth land, and passed the turn.
My opponent cast a Primeval Titan and I countered it with a Flashfreeze, bringing a Summoner's Trap—but I had the Spell Pierce. Then came a second Summoner's Trap, but I had the Deprive. I drew a Tectonic Edge, drew a Phyrexian Vatmother off of Jace, cast the Vatmother, used my Tectonic Edge to shoot down my opponent's Raging Ravine, and passed the turn. My opponent played his land and passed the turn. I got a poison counter during my upkeep and drew Plague Myr, then drew a Mana Leak off of Jace Beleren. I attacked for four poison counters and passed the turn. My opponent played a seventh land and went for the Avenger of Zendikar again. I countered it with Mana Leak and my opponent was out of gas. I drew a Doom Blade, drew a Swamp off of Jace, attacked for four poison, and passed the turn. My opponent simply passed back, then conceded.
I won the roll and kept Island, Jwar Isle Refuge, Darkslick Shores, Necropede, Corpse Cur, Mana Leak, and Corrupted Conscience. I played my Jwar Isle Refuge, went to 21, and passed the turn. My opponent played a Plains and cast a Steppe Lynx before passing the turn. I drew a Jace Beleren, played Darkslick Shores, cast Necropede, and passed the turn. My opponent played a fetch land, attacked with his Steppe Lynx, I chose not to block, and he sacrificed the fetch land to find a Mountain. I went to 17, and my opponent cast a Plated Geopede and passed the turn. I drew an Island, played it, cast Jace Beleren, drew a Swamp with his -1 ability, and passed the turn. My opponent played another fetch land and attacked Jace Beleren with both creatures. I blocked the Plated Geopede and let it deal first strike damage, then put a -1/-1 counter on the Steppe Lynx and forced my opponent to pop the fetch land in order to kill Jace. My opponent did just that, then cast Sword of Feast and Famine and passed the turn.
I drew a Preordain, played my Island, cast Corpse Cur returning the Necropede to my hand, and passed the turn. My opponent cast a Mirran Crusader and passed the turn. I drew a Jace Beleren, cast Corrupted Conscience on the Mirran Crusader, and attacked for two poison counters. My opponent played a fourth land, cast Stoneforge Mystic, failed to search, equipped sword of Feast and Famine, and passed the turn. I drew a Doom Blade, attacked with the corrupted Mirran Crusader dealing another four poison to my opponent, cast Jace Beleren, drew Corpse Cur with the -1 ability, and passed the turn. My opponent attacked with Stoneforge Mystic, and I blocked with Corpse Cur. My opponent then attempted to cast Squadron Hawk, but I had the Mana Leak waiting
I drew a Swamp for my turn, played it, drew a Corrupted Conscience off of Jace Beleren, and attacked with Mirran Crusader, but it got Lightning Bolted. I cast Corpse Cur, returning Corpse Cur, and passed the turn. My opponent tapped out for Hero of Oxid Ridge, but I cast Doom Blade to kill it. I attacked with Corpse Cur, and my opponent blocked with the Sword-equipped Stoneforge Mystic to kill it. I cast Corpse Cur, returning Corpse Cur, drew a Deprive off of Jace, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Sword of Body and Mind and passed the turn. I attacked for two poison counters, cast Necropede, and passed. My opponent cast another Stoneforge Mystic, equipped both Swords, and passed the turn. I drew a Jwar Isle Refuge, and attacked with both my creatures; my opponent blocked the Corpse Cur and went to nine poison. I cast Corpse Cur and returned Corpse Cur and passed the turn, and my opponent conceded after drawing for the turn.
I kept Jwar Isle Refuge, Darkslick Shores, Deathmark, 2 Doom Blade, Corrupted Conscience, and Phyrexian Vatmother. My opponent played a fetch land, popped it, cast a Steppe Lynx, and passed. I drew a Preordain, played Darkslick Shores, cast Deathmark on the Steppe Lynx, and passed the turn. My opponent played a second land and cast Plated Geopede. I drew another Corrupted Conscience, cast Preordain, saw two Island, left both on top, played Jwar Isle Refuge, went to 21, and passed the turn. My opponent played a land, attacked for 3, cast Mirran Crusader, and passed the turn. I drew the Island, played it, and passed the turn. My opponent failed to play a land, and attacked with both creatures, and I cast Doom Blade on the Plated Geopede and took another 4 damage. My opponent cast a Cunning Sparkmage and passed the turn.
I drew a Necropede, cast it, played my land, and passed the turn. My opponent shot me on my end step, and I went to 13, then untapped and shot the Necropede. I used its trigger to put a counter on the Cunning Sparkmage to kill it. My opponent attacked for 4, putting me to 9, then cast another Mirran Crusader and passed the turn. I drew a Swamp, cast Corrupted Conscience on a Mirran Crusader, and passed the turn. My opponent cast Lightning Bolt to kill the stolen Mirran Crusader and bashed me down to 5. I drew another Corrupted Conscience and cast it on the remaining Mirran Crusader; my opponent simply played an Evolving Wilds and passed. I drew Jace Beleren, attacked for four poison counters with the Mirran Crusader, cast Phyrexian Vatmother, and passed the turn. My opponent just passed the turn again. I took a poison, drew a Black Sun's Zenith, and attacked with both creatures, and my opponent had been infected.
The deck did surprisingly well against a lot of the Standard field. Unfortunately, the Caw-Blade Matchup is very difficult. Still, if you're a newer player looking to get started with sanctioned tournaments, then an evolution of Infect and Defile may be exactly what you're looking for.
I'd like to do a series of articles that work on evolving the new Event Decks, I'd love to hear any ideas/suggestions about deck evolutions for them.