Power Level: 3.25
Ah, Infect. EDH players love to hate Infect. You should see the amount of panic that ensues once people realize that I have brought an infect deck to the table…
I’ve always had a soft spot for Volrath since first reading about him. He is the sort of colorful villain that makes stories worth reading. A rather despicable sort, he makes the perfect representative of the Phyrexians’ powerful keyword, Infect. It also helps that he is a 7/5 that can become a copy of an infect creature while still remaining a 7/5, hehe. The deck is mainly built around having him do just that.
There are only a handful of powerful Infect creatures worth running in Commander, as many are otherwise vanilla creatures with a slight upside. Creatures like Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon and Phyrexian Crusader are better than most, and play invaluable roles in making sure our opponents get to 10 poison counters, since they are reasonably evasive. We usually want counters to be placed on non-legendary creatures though so that Volrath gets the most value. Blighted Agent is a great low mana creature to put a +1/+1 counter on, while Spinebiter is an absolute house to utilize as a copy target in the late game. We usually use Volrath’s -1/-1 counter ability to kill one toughness creatures out opponents control, not to put on our own creatures. We use effect such as a Master Biomancer and Experiment Kraj to put more beneficial counters on our own valuable infect creatures. There aren’t many of these effects in the deck, so you may have to use Volrath’s -1/-1 counter on your own creatures to utilize his copy ability. And don’t forget; you can have Volrath become a copy of your opponents’ creatures if they have any kind of counter on them as well. This is helpful when you are playing against an especially powerful commander with abilities you could benefit from.
There is a clone subtheme to the deck that keeps it quite interesting. Cloning your opponents threats is always fun, especially if you neutralize that effect at the same time with cards like Wall of Stolen Identity. Both our Sakashima creatures allow us to make more Volraths, increasing both his ability to whittle away at our opponents weak creatures AND put pressure on our opponents. Remember, a 7/5 commander only has to hit 3 times for it to kill an opponent with commander damage. There are also effects that aid us in killing with even minimal infect on our opponents, such as Proliferate. Contagion Engine is a powerful threat when our opponents have any poison counters on them, even allowing us to degen their creatures at the same time. Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider is a bit of a win-more card that doubles the amount of poison counters we give to our opponents. Giving him Infect with Grafted Exoskeleton can definitely kill an opponent, and is quite flavorful!
Being BUG, we have to run plenty of removal. And hey, there is plenty of fun removal in Golgari colors. Culling Ritual has been a blast to play with since its release. This card really punishes efficient decks, destroying their mana rocks and dorks while ramping us into Volrath most of the time. Soul Shatter is a great threat hoser, since it deals with each opponent’s biggest creature or planeswalker at once. Languish is a great mid-game boardwipe that doesn’t kill Volrath, and Maelstrom Pulse is incredibly versatile, albeit at sorcery speed. Corrupted Conscience just takes an opponent’s creature, usually their commander, and gives it infect! Some of my favorite games with this deck were when I killed an opponent with infect using their own commander.
As you can probably tell, this deck is a bit all over the place. Mixing Infect with Clone effects may seem strange, but it provides us to nearly double the amount of good infect creatures in our deck. And if the infect plan doesn’t work out, we can always use our opponents’ creatures as a way to beat them. And lastly, be mindful that despite this being an oft-feared Infect deck, it really is only about as powerful as an average Commander precon. With a few tutors and more draw power, it could be a lot more powerful. But I’m happy with my sole Infect deck being a bit underpowered. It makes most of the people I play with rethink their fear of the archetype!