When Infect was re-introduced in Scars of Mirrodin, I built a very flavorful, very unsuccessful Glissa, the Traitor Infect deck. Aside from the general inexperience I had as a Commander deckbuilder, I grew frustrated because the deck seemed to have a card power limitation. It was like having a word on the tip of my tongue; the deck needed one or two cards that could exist within the rules of the game, but didn’t. Soon, the deck became un-fun to play, so I took it apart, but I’ve been waiting for a day when I could re-imagine Infect in a way that fit my style.
Although we’ve spent a lot of time since Ixalan talking about the cards that helped Commander push designs for Tribal decks, Infect happens to be one of the other emerging archetypes. The addition of Saskia and Ravos in Commander 2016 provided strong, flexible color schemes and card advantage for the small pool of poison counter makers, while Kaladesh and Amonkhet blocks have added incredible support and utility, like Whir of Invention and God-Pharaoh’s Gift, that power up the New Phyrexian menace.
While Saskia or a Ravos partner combo is enticing, my Commander impulses favor building decks that I’m incentivized to play. Going back to Glissa, one of the biggest takeaways from my first foray into Infect was that I needed to create a deck capable of providing several different play experiences. At the time, it was an important realization; I’d spent a lot of time sleeving and unsleeving decks in an effort to find what I liked, creating decks with good cards, but never quite finding something I was excited to play every time I looked at my box of decks. Challenging myself to make decks I couldn’t unsleeve helped me focus on the specific qualities I did and didn’t like, and have helped me cultivate my deckbuilding techniques.
There are a lot of exciting layers to Temmet, so let’s do as we shouldn’t with the typical mummy, and unwrap. The design is right up my alley: we have a weird triggered ability, a sweet graveyard ability, and a cheap, efficient, re-castable body to work with. Collectively, it’s reminiscent of Tymaret, the Murder King, which happens to be a deck I already play.
Color-wise, Temmet is the antithesis of Infect, and I like this very much. One of the things that draws me to playing mono-colored decks often is the ability to demonstrate robust dynamics in relation to a color’s implicit strengths and weaknesses. Inverting and subverting color pie expectations is the best way I’ve found to get to understand your deck and the greater game of Magic. Being somewhat of a color-skewed mechanic, we can do this translation with Infect more than other static abilities because non-creature cards like Corrupted Conscience and Grafted Exoskeleton, at least in this deck, have significant recursion support.
The last and best reason we’re playing Temmet is for fun. Not only is it the best time to build around characters resembling classic horror archetypes, it’s always a great time to do fun things that will amuse and excite your opponents. A few months ago, I joked around with my playgroup that I was going to be making this deck (which, at the time, I didn’t know I would), and that I would be bringing a roll of toilet paper to wrap up my Embalm/Eternalize my creatures instead of making tokens. They didn’t think I would do it.
Obviously, our goal is to hit our opponents for ten points of Infect damage, but there are a lot of challenges to playing a deck like this. Many people don’t like Infect, and many people also don’t like what they don’t know, but they especially don’t like the unknown with Infect.
Normally, this is enough to keep people from building Infect decks themselves. However, our deck’s plan is to assume the worst. With God-Pharaoh’s Gift and Hour of Eternity, our deck can turn our one- and two-power creatures into unblockable 5/5’s with Temmet. With access to Corrupted Conscience, Grafted Exoskeleton, and a few ways to recur them, we can ensure a consistent damage plan, and back it all up with a few timely counterspells.
Ultimately, this deck is going to play somewhat like a Combo deck that turns sideways. The best creatures to have in your opener are the two-drops: Blighted Agent, Lost Leonin, or Plague Myr. Infecting our opponents early, even with one or two poison counters, helps the 4/4’s or 5/5’s look a lot more dangerous.
Our goal is to Infect two or three players, and we know we’re going to draw some hate, so the key to the game is patience. The longer the game goes, the more our opponents will kill our Infect creatures, giving us a great chance to win once we stick God-Pharaoh’s Gift.
As I mentioned in our plan, the deck’s core competency is access to Infect and our best cards. The recent influx of artifact support from Kaladesh makes some of this possible. Refurbish and Whir of Invention are very nice, and we’ll reserve the latter for small artifact Infect creatures like Plague Myr or Grafted Exoskeleton rather than our God-Pharaoh’s Gifted tokens. Sequestered Stash and Inventors’ Fair are also great budget lands that can snap up a missing piece when necessary.
Some of my favorite tutors are the Transmute spells, like Muddle the Mixture and Drift of Phantasms. Having so many cards sitting at Converted Mana Cost 3 (Hour of Eternity, Phyrexian Digester, Loxodon Warhammer, Trophy Mage, Forsake the Worldly, Treasure Mage, Whir of Invention, Windfall) give us a great toolbox from which to troubleshoot, while Muddle continues to be the timely counterspell for removal, a Martial Coup, or an extra Infect creature for later on.
Copy effects are awesome, and this deck can make them more dangerous than normal. Saheeli’s Artistry, Stolen Identity, and Cackling Counterpart are awesome ways to double up and get Temmet’s ability working in the middle part of the game, where there’s probably more emphasis on persisting to the end than there is trying to attack and win. These cards can do either while also having the flexibility of getting your opponent’s best thing.
Overall, I think this is a good first draft with serious potential. More competitive players can easily translate this concept into a Scarab God deck, with even fewer constraints on power due to a higher budget and a few more powerful Infect creatures than, say, Priests of Norn.
Although I’m really pleased with this list, I can see the need to make changes. There hasn’t been enough data in my testing process to determine how much removal and countermagic I’ll need to make my plan work. Once I can answer that question better, I think it will be easy to see whether or not I need to remove my budget constraint to add cards like Academy Ruins, or if I need to move to a more card-draw-focused version with Champion of Wits and Merfolk Looter. Either way, it won’t stop me from turning my creatures into toilet paper mummies.
Header design: Justin Treadway
Header image: “Temmet, Vizier of Naktamun” by Anna Steinbauer