So Scars of Mirrodin has been released for quite a while now and you’ve probably been trying out all the new cards. Like any new set Scars of Mirrodin introduces a few new abilities to the mix and this time some of them are quite nasty. Metalcraft gives yours cards bonuses for having other artifacts on the field and Proliferate adds more counters to things, but this week I’d like to talk about the most terrifying new ability in this set: Infect.
Infect is one of three new abilities to premiere in Scars of Mirrodin, but it may seem familiar to longtime players of Magic: The Gathering. A creature with infect deals damage to other creatures in the form of -1/-1 counters, much like Wither from Shadowmoor. I’ve always been a little wary when fighting against someone that can put these counters on my creatures. -1/-1 counters are permanent and once a creatures hits 0 toughness, there is no way to save them. A creature with 0 toughness is put right into the graveyard. Not even indestructible or regenerating creatures can stand up to the poisonous effects of -1/-1 counters. Infect is a threat to everyone’s biggest creatures and some may choose to just take the damage rather than weaken their biggest threats.
Taking damage from creatures with Infect is a whole new threat because the poisonous effects of these creatures can now be spread to you as a player. Poison counters were a relic of the ancient game of Magic: The Gathering last played over 10 years ago! They made a brief return in Future Sight’s time-shifted cards and their predictions are now coming to pass with Infect. While creatures with Infect deal damage to other creatures with -1/-1 counters, if they manage to deal damage to a player, they deal damage in the form of poison counters. A player with 10 poison counters loses the game, so be careful! It’s important to keep an eye on your poison counters because poison counters can never be removed.
So Infect seems like a pretty scary ability, how do you fight against it? Well the first thing to keep in mind is that Infect replaces normal damage with -1/-1 or poison counters. So if your opponent is playing with only a couple creatures with Infect then you can probably take some poison counters for a couple turns until you find an appropriate response to get rid of them. This also means that if your opponent’s deck is made up of tons of infect creatures, there probably isn’t a whole lot in their deck that can damage your life total.
But no matter how many creatures with Infect are in the deck, there will reach a point where you have to put your creatures up against them. The best way to get rid of Infect creatures, other than destroying them yourself, is to pit them against creatures with First Strike or Double Strike. These creatures can attack before their enemy gets a chance to get a swipe at them, allowing them to stay nice and healthy.
There are few ways to get around Infect without causing some damage to yourself, so what are some simple strategies to keep Infect creatures from poisoning you? You are going to lose creatures: you want as few creatures with Infect on their side of the board as possible and to do that you need to block, a lot. The early game can be crucial against a player with Infect because if you let their 1/1 keep at it from the third turn those poison counters are going to add up. Realize that Infect creatures will not be as big as regular creatures, and in the late game should have something big that can deal with two or more of their little guys at a time. My last tip can apply to any situation, but you want to try to have an answer for the occasional trick your opponent will pull. There are cards that can cause a card to gain Infect at instant speed or they may just beef up an Infect creature with something as simple as Giant Growth. Against Infect kill spells can be real handy because if they don’t have creatures, they don’t have anything that can Infect you!
With these tips in mind I hope you have a better understanding of Infect and how to deal with it. Again, don’t be afraid to block these creatures, yours are probably bigger anyway. They will eventually succumb to death by -1/-1 counters but only at great cost to your opponent. It is their noble sacrifice that will lead to victory against the Infected hordes of Phyrexia!