It’s Infectious

Infect decks have been rising in popularity recently due largely to the power Rancor adds to the strategy. As a rule, decks like this are fairly inexpensive to put together, so I'd be remiss if I didn't give it a shot. Here's my version of the deck:

The Creatures

Glistener Elf
Glistener Elf is the undisputed king of the cheap infect creatures. At only 1 mana, you can play it out on your first turn and start tacking on some poison counters. It also helps you put more than one infect creature on the board so a single blocker won't stop you from going in for the kill.

Ichorclaw Myr is almost unblockable with a Rancor on it since it will pump itself up before simply trampling over the blocking creature. If your opponent blocks even an unenhanced Ichorclaw Myr with a 1/1 creature, which happens surprisingly often, you can easily blow him out with Unnatural Predation, which allows you to deal even more damage to him than you would have if he hadn't blocked.

Although you'll rarely have the 2 mana available to regenerate Blight Mamba, the ability can become very relevant in some situations, which gives this the edge over Necropede. The fact that it deals damage to creatures as -1/-1 counters allows you to eventually whittle down nearly any blocker, regenerating the Mamba each turn to keep it alive.

Spellskite protects your other creatures from most removal spells and makes things such as Kessig Wolf Run and Rancor useless for your opponent. In addition, its 4 toughness allows it to block most creatures and survive, making racing even more of a losing proposition for your opponent.

The Spells

Wild Defiance
Wild Defiance is the card that really gets this deck running on all cylinders. It tacks on a Giant Growth to every pump spell you cast, and it even allows you to use other spells such as Apostle's Blessing and Gut Shot to pump up your creatures. It makes your opponent's Gut Shots and copeies of Pillar of Flame unable to kill your creatures, and you can even use your opponent's removal against him. If your opponent casts a Vapor Snag on your attacking creature, for example, Wild Defiance will give that creature +3/+3, at which point you can cast Apostle's Blessing, giving it another +3/+3 and effectively countering the Vapor Snag.

Rancor greatly increases this deck's ability to push past blockers. No longer will your opponent be able to block with a random 1/1, safe in the knowledge that he'll be trading it for either your creature or one of your pump spells. Even large creatures can be trampled over once you add a Titanic Growth into the mix.

Unnatural Predation gives you three more sources of trample, which has become increasingly important with so many 1/1s in the format. With seven total copies, you should draw at least one of either Rancor or Unnatural Predation in most of your games.

Apostle's Blessing
Titanic Growth gives your creature a massive +4/+4. Combined with the initial power of your creatures, that's half the damage you need to close out the game in one shot. When you have Wild Defiance on the board and a Titanic Growth in hand, it's a good bet that the game will be ending that turn.

Mutagenic Growth allows you to dodge Gut Shot and Pillar of Flame even when tapped out, and it will often give your creature the last 2 points of power it needs to finish off your opponent. The ability to cast it for free is key, letting you cast one last pump spell even after using all your mana.

Apostle's Blessing protects your creatures from removal and blockers alike, allowing you to swing past a horde of creatures or save your attacker from a harmful spell. With these in your deck, your opponent will never truly be safe.

Gut Shot gets rid of the 1/1s that opponents will often leave back to block your creature, and it will stop any fast starts your opponent might have thanks to a Birds of Paradise or Avacyn's Pilgrim. With Wild Defiance, it can even be used to pump up your own creature in a pinch.

The Sideboard

Mental Misstep
The fourth copies of Blight Mamba and Gut Shot can help out against decks that have more removal or more small blockers, respectively. This deck is fairly light on both creatures and removal, so even a slight tweak on the numbers of each can go a long way in some matchups.

Mental Misstep and Ranger's Guile are largely to combat Delver decks. Between Vapor Snags, Gut Shots, and Snapcaster Mages to cast more of each, that deck is fairly well suited to combat this strategy. Having several ways to protect your threats from these spells is key to winning games against Delver.

Ratchet Bomb eliminates any token armies that stand between you and your opponent. And endless swarms of blockers can be tough for this deck to handle, but the ability to clear them all away without damaging your own position can often win the game on the spot.

Dismember can be switched in against decks that play more large creatures than small ones. First-striking Golem tokens from Blade Splicer can be particularly troublesome, and Restoration Angel likes to get in the way as well. Dealing with these creatures before they can block will often leave your opponent wide open for a lethal blow.

Playtesting

R/U/G Run – Game 1

Ichorclaw Myr
I won the roll and kept a hand of three Forests, Ichorclaw Myr, Wild Defiance, and two Gut Shots. I played a Forest and passed the turn. My opponent played Hinterland Harbor and passed back.

I drew Apostle's Blessing, played a second Forest, and cast my Ichorclaw Myr. I ended my turn. My opponent played a Mountain and cast Rampant Growth, fetching a Forest. He passed the turn.

I drew Mutagenic Growth, played my Forest, and cast Wild Defiance. I attacked with the Myr, and with my opponent all tapped out, I paid 6 life to cast Mutagenic Growth and the two Gut Shots on my Ichorclaw Myr, making it a lethal 12/12.

Sideboarding:
−3 Gut Shot
+1 Blight Mamba
+2 Dismember

R/U/G Run – Game 2

Rancor
I took a mulligan and kept a hand of two Forests, Inkmoth Nexus, Blight Mamba, Apostle's Blessing, and Rancor. My opponent opened with a Hinterland Harbor again, and I drew a second Blight Mamba. I played a Forest and passed the turn.

My opponent played a Forest and cast Rampant Growth, fetching a Mountain. He ended his turn. I drew Glistener Elf, cast it, then played my second Forest and enchanted the Elf with Rancor. I passed the turn.

My opponent cast Temporal Mastery for its miracle cost. He played a Forest and ended his first turn. On his second turn, he cast Bonfire of the Damned for 1 to kill my Elf and return Rancor to my hand. He then passed the turn. I drew a Forest and played Inkmoth Nexus. I cast Blight Mamba and enchanted it with Rancor before ending my turn.

My opponent played a Copperline Gorge, then cast another Bonfire for 1. He ended his turn. I drew a Forest, played it, and cast my second Blight Mamba. I activated Inkmoth Nexus and swung in for 1 poison before passing the turn.

My opponent cast Thragtusk, gaining 5 life. He then played another Copperline Gorge and passed the turn. I drew Titanic Growth and played my Forest. I activated Inkmoth Nexus, enchanted it with Rancor, and attacked. Titanic Growth pumped it up to 7 power, putting my opponent at 8 poison. I ended my turn, and Rancor went back to my hand.

My opponent drew his card and conceded.

Get the Leeches

This deck can be astonishingly fast, and it is very good at preying on ramp decks. Although winning the game before your opponent plays a third turn doesn't happen extremely frequently, it does happen often enough to make it a real concern when playing against this deck. In longer games, the evasion provided by Inkmoth Nexus can go a long way toward ensuring victory. If you like having some extra time between rounds, or if you just enjoy handing out poison counters, be sure to give this deck a try.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, you can find me on the forums under Twinblaze, on Twitter under @Twinblaze2, or simply leave a comment below.