Top 10 Infect Cards in Magic: The Gathering

Updated on September 26, 2018
Jeremy Gill profile image

Jeremy casts spells in between his careers as a chemical analyst and campus manager.

How Does Infect Work in Magic: The Gathering?

Infect offers a deadly Magic combat trait that applies different effects when used against a creature or an opponent. When your infect-bearing soldier clashes with an opposing monster, rather than dealing regular damage, you'll dish out an appropriate number of -1/-1 counters. This helps, since unlike standard damage, these counters persist even in future turns, gradually weakening creatures.

That trait works just like the wither ability, but unlike wither, infect also converts damage to your opponent into poison counters. Poison counters are lethal, unremovable units that will automatically force your opponent to lose when they amass ten, giving you a fierce instant-win condition. These counters are particularly useful in commander format, where you can bypass the higher starting life totals with your venomous counters. But with dozens of diseased degenerates running amok, which units reign supreme? These are the ten best cards to infect foes in Magic: The Gathering!

Septic Rats
Septic Rats

10. Septic Rats

CMC (Converted Mana Cost): 3

Like many infect spells, Septic Rats belong to the death-ridden black faction and is a bit weak, wielding only 2/2 (two power and two toughness) for a three cost creature. However, when this vermin attacks a poisoned player, it gets +1/+1 for the turn, giving it a more respectable 3/3.

It's as simple as that. Use other warriors to first infect your opponent, then hit hard with Septic Rats's boost.

Blighted Agent
Blighted Agent

9. Blighted Agent

CMC: 2

Again, we see that infected creatures aren't generally very strong. Using the island lands of blue, you can cast Blighted Agent, relatively cheap for just two mana but only wielding 1/1 stats.

However, not only does Agent bear infect, he's also unblockable, making it annoyingly easy to land those crucial poison counters unimpeded. Use auras or artifact equipments to boost Agent's power and let each of his undefendable attacks swing with that much more poison.

Phyrexian Swarmlord
Phyrexian Swarmlord

8. Phyrexian Swarmlord

CMC: 6

Like Septic Rats, Phyrexian Swarmlord excels at finishing off opponents who have already been poisoned. 4/4 on a six-cost unit isn't great, but Swarmlord bears the infect trait. Even better, at the start of your upkeep, he'll construct a 1/1 green insect monster token with infect for each poison counter your opponents have.

Having those tokens gives you a bunch of weak blockers to defend against invading does (while permanently reducing their stats with -1/-1 counters) or lets you swarm with an all-out assault. Even if your adversary bears stronger creatures, they might simply not have enough to block all your locusts, letting you land multiple poison counters with each assault.

Tainted Strike
Tainted Strike

7. Tainted Strike

CMC: 1

Tainted Strike's first two benefits are its low cost (needing just one swamp's mana) and instant type, letting you cast it after blockers have been declared and catch opponents by surprise.

Strike gives a target creature +1/+0 and infect until the end of the turn. Use this to turn regular combatants into deadly, counter-giving behemoths while slightly boosting their power, ensuring they make the most of their temporary venom.

Corrupted Conscience
Corrupted Conscience

6. Corrupted Conscience

CMC: 5

Corrupted Conscience is a high risk, high reward aura enchantment. You'll want to attach it to an opposing creature, since not only do you seize control of it, it also gains the infect trait. In one fell swoop, your opponent is down a monster while you're up one—now ready to dole out those pesky counters.

Conscience both removes an enemy while giving it you and buffing it, but remember that as permanents, auras stay fielded, and if Conscience gets removed, your opponent will regain control of their titan (and it'll thankfully lose infect). Do your best to supplement Conscience with powerful instant counters to ensure your new creature never reverts to its old allegiance.

Triumph of the Hordes
Triumph of the Hordes

5. Triumph of the Hordes

CMC: 4

Rather than deal with the generally low stats of infect combatants, use this potent forest sorcery to give the keyword to your entire army. For a reasonable four mana, this green spell provides each creature you control with +1/+1, infect, and trample until the end of the turn.

That's a wealth of awesome abilities that combo terrifically. Extra power and toughness helps land numerous poison counters while surviving against blockers, infect of course dishes out the -1/-1 counters against creatures and poison counters against opponent,s and trample lets excess damage against blockers pierce through to hit your opponent. This makes it stupendously difficult to prevent the incoming attacks of your army; even if you're not playing an infect-centered deck, Triumph can give you a poison counter victory in a single turn.

Phyrexian Crusader
Phyrexian Crusader

4. Phyrexian Crusader

CMC: 3

Like Septic Rats, Phyrexian Crusader is a black 2/2 needing three mana. However, he comes with a surprisingly vast array of abilities, and his zombie and knight subtypes give him a good number of synergies.

In addition to infect, Crusader wields first strike, protection from red, and protection from white, making him invincible against two colors. First strike works especially well on infected units; on all monsters, it can potentially avoid a counterattack if you slay your foe, but with the infected, even if you don't kill your target, you'll land some -1/-1 counters that may let you survive the clash. Overall, a solid undead who is surprisingly easy to keep alive.

Blightsteel Colossus
Blightsteel Colossus

3. Blightsteel Colossus

CMC: 12

Costing a whopping 12 mana, odds are strong you'll only be able to play Blightsteel Colossus with cards that can gimmick monsters onto the field for free, like "Jhoira of the Ghitu" and "Elvish Piper".

But once Blightsteel hits the field, your opponent's in for a world of hurt. Not only does this golem brandish infect, he's also packing trample and indestructible, letting him smash through blockers and disregard damage. Plus, with a fierce 11/11 stats, a single hit accumulates eleven poison counters, more than enough to inflict an instant-loss! Blightsteel automatically shuffles himself into your library if ever placed into your graveyard, so you won't be able to field him with revivals, but his terrifying effects justify the effort you'll need to cast him.

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

2. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

CMC: 5

One of the best dragons in the game, legendary Skithiryx also makes a great infect commander in EDH format. A 4/4 with infect isn't such a bad deal for five mana, especially when accompanied by flying, letting Skithiryx soar over ground-based blockers.

Additionally, you can spend a black mana to give him haste for the turn, making it easy to swing fast, and you can pay two to regenerate him, useful in case he's hit with a removal. Powerful, quick, and wielding some nice support abilities, he's a great addition to any infect or dragon deck.

Grafted Exoskeleton
Grafted Exoskeleton

1. Grafted Exoskeleton

CMC: 4 (2 to equip)

Costing a base four mana, Grafted Exoskeleton is a bit taxing to field, but thankfully, you can attach this equipment for only two mana, letting you adorn it without much hassle. Remember, unlike auras, equipment remains fielded even if its original bearer dies, letting you reuse it on other warriors.

As a colorless card, you can fit Exoskeleton into any deck, and it gives its bearer +2/+2 as well as infect, granting any monster the ability to distribute poison counters and the strength to do it well. Now, if Exoskeleton is ever unattached from a permanent, you have to sacrifice that card, but that's a small price for such versatile infect prowess. I use Exosleketon in a variety of commander decks to deal out some surprise counters, and thankfully, it's a remarkably cheap bargain, costing well under four dollars!

Which card do you prefer?

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How to Support Infect Cards

To further disease your opponent, you can use the proliferate ability of cards like "Atraxa, Praetors' Voice" to force your opponent to add additional poison counters as long as one already exists (this also usefully adds loyalty counters to planeswalkers). Anything that renders your creatures unblockable helps you reliably land your infect damage, and defenses like protection and indestructible guard your generally-weak plague-carrying troops.

You can also counter infect with the legendary creature "Melira, Sylvok Outcast", who prevents you and your creatures from suffering wither and infect. But for now, as we eagerly await Wizards of the Coast's next expansion of poison counter-inflicting spells, vote for your favorite card and I'll see you at our next MTG countdown!

Questions & Answers

  • In Magic: the Gathering, is "Glistener Elf" good?

    She's weak, but only costs one mana, has infect, and can combo with other elves, so she's helpful in dedicated forest decks.

© 2018 Jeremy Gill

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    • profile image

      jack 

      4 weeks ago

      There are obviously a lot of infect cards here, but I believe phyresis deserve at least an honorable mention here. For two mana, you can just give infect to any creature (*Cough* Nekusar *Cough*)

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