Why is Infect Not Returning?

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Posted on Dec. 17, 2022, 11:11 p.m. by DemonDragonJ

WotC has created a new mechanic for Phyrexia: All Will Be One: toxic, which is very similar to venomous, so I am wondering: why could they not simply bring back infect? Is infect too powerful of a mechanic? What does everyone else say about this?

Caerwyn says... #2

Infect not only allows you to kill a player faster, it also makes it hard to block the creature with infect. That makes it doubly powerful - even a “safe” block of a 2/2 against a 1/1 with infect cripples your blocker, making it harder to survive on subsequent turns.

It is this double whammy, where ever single choice the defending player makes is bad, that makes infect a problematic mechanic.

December 18, 2022 12:22 a.m.

DemonDragonJ says... #3

Caerwyn, does that mean that wither is too powerful, as well?

December 18, 2022 10:49 a.m.

greyninja says... #4

Wither =/= infect

December 18, 2022 11:01 a.m.

Caerwyn says... #5

For reasons that should be obvious from my post, whither and infect are clearly on different levels in terms of power. As I said, infect is problematic because it allows you to kill a player faster and makes blocking (and attacking, which I should have mentioned as well) even more dangerous. Whither only does the second part, putting it in a compleatly different position.

December 18, 2022 11:10 a.m.

Gleeock says... #6

Honestly, I am not sure. There must be some design reason they aren't sticking with the same thing & gumming up the works with a new mechanic. Infect never felt like a scaling problem to me in a multiplayer format. Maybe they just plan on making wither more relevant soon & alot of [strictly better] infect would undermine that plan?

December 18, 2022 11:34 a.m.

Grubbernaut says... #7

Infect feels mostly played out. Unless they print something just abjectly broken, what else is left in that design space that would be really interesting?

December 18, 2022 12:27 p.m.

I feel like they were testing it out with the poison counter/deathtouch guy from Kaldheim, but even there it was (it seems) unpopular. That combined with the proliferate mechanic, and all the -1/-1 counter action from sets like Amonkhet, it seems like a pretty potent environment to print an additional set of tools into.

December 18, 2022 2:19 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #9

I believe you meant Poisonous, DemonDragonJ ^-^

Only two cards have that, the Sliver and Snake Cult Initiation. Although this hearkens back to my point in Your Elevator Pitch to WOTC about reusing existing content and mechanics, rather than creating entirely new ones each time.

Although, I suppose, Poisonous is only tied to combat damage. Toxic may not be; I'm not sure as I have not read any of the rules text for it as of yet. Still, the spirit of the argument remains.

December 18, 2022 5:21 p.m. Edited.

No game mechanic draws as much salt as Infect... which is exactly why I try to "give-the-HIV" as often as possible! lol..

But seriously. Infect was in Standard when I started playing mtg, and over the years, I have always heard people in every format say some variation of: "You only need 10 Poison Counters to win? But that's only 1/2 (or 1/4) our starting lifetotals! That's bullshit!! Infect should be nerfed and/or banned"..

The truth of the matter is that, outside of a small handful of cards, Infect is actually a pretty mediocre mechanic in application. But now imagine, what happens if WotC prints even one (or more) card(s) that suddenly gives rise to Infect builds being competitive in EDH, and Contructed formats alike? Suddenly the saltly ones will have a point.

I will put it this way. WotC cannot not "Return to Mirrodin/Phyrexia" eventually. But at the same time, WotC doesn't want to step in the same kind of mess they did the other two times.

Personally, I'm just looking forward to seeing what kind of "Toxic" cards we get from the set..

December 18, 2022 7:13 p.m.

Dead_Blue_ says... #11

Right there is literally only 3 relevant infect cards, Elf, Agent & Nexus …and 1 card we all wish didn’t have infect on it, Crusader

December 18, 2022 10:46 p.m.

wallisface says... #12

So two things are going on here:

  • The way infect deals poison damage is too powerful. It effectively doubles the power of any Giant Growth style effects, which make the set really hard to balance. Infect is really good at delivering turn 2-3 kills, and the way it unbalances other buff-effect cards is probably not something Wotc want to have to deal with.

  • Wotc have soured heavily on -1/-1 counters, and have stated multiple times that the bar to include such counters in a set is currently very high. I would not be expecting Wotc to be printing -1/-1 counters in any set for the next long-while - they're doing everything they can to only use these counters as an absolute last-resort.

December 18, 2022 11:36 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #13

Dead_Blue_, what about Triumph of the Hordes? After all, that is the most common infect wincon in EDH. Unless you were specifically speaking about other formats, which I no longer follow.

December 18, 2022 11:48 p.m.

wallisface says... #14

TypicalTimmy I can almost guarantee Dead_Blue_ is referring to either Modern and/or Legacy.

Modern decklist: MtgGoldfish link

Legacy decklist: MtgGoldfish link

December 19, 2022 12:04 a.m.

aholder7 says... #15

The balancing issues people are referring to are in regards to non-edh formats. infect in edh only really comes up with triumph. but in other formats Glistener Elf and Blighted Agent are the back bone of infect as the only half decent cards with infect. but even as simple as those cards are they are decks that can run away with Turn 2 or 3 kills because they can drop an elf turn 1 then swing turn 2 with something like Scale Up and Might of Old Krosa or any other combination of cards. In a way infect is sort of like doublestrike to players and wither to creatures. both really strong effects, but its hard to put powerful effects like that on a large number of cards without having to make most of those expensive or bland. and if they misbalance even 1 or 2 they are likely going to see those cards run away with the 60 card formats of all kinds. the other problem for the design of infect was that you could only play an infect card if you were going to play an infect deck. infect only deals poison damage to players, not regular damage. so if your deck was mainly regulars you'd never hope to kill with infect (Arcbound Ravager into Inkmoth Nexus not withstanding)) and if you were a majority infect deck, your non infects would have to be relegated to entirely support based roles as their damage on their own couldn't take out an opponent. There are a couple other minor reasons they wouldn't do it but i think the above ones are the main factors.

December 19, 2022 1:59 a.m.

Lordeh says... #16

December 20, 2022 8:58 p.m.

Gleeock says... #17

The thing I like about Toxic is that it plays more nicely in random, less dedicated decks, since I think toxic critters still deal combat dmg. I think the effect is additive instead of a replacement effect like infect. So, unlike infect you don't need as large of a bulk of the deck dedicated to toxic

December 20, 2022 9:26 p.m.

legendofa says... #18

poisonous 1. (Whenever [this creature] deals combat damage to a player, that player gets a poison counter. A player with ten or more poison counters loses the game.) Virulent Sliver

Toxic 1 (Players dealt combat damage by this creature also get a poison counter.) Karumonix, the Rat King

Poisonous is a triggered ability, Toxic is an additional effect. Otherwise, they're identical.

How much of a difference will this change make?

December 20, 2022 9:36 p.m.

aholder7 says... #19

legendofa the distinction is fairly minor and honestly i'd have preferred they just used poisonous. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a change made for the sake of arena having less triggered abilities since they all have to actually go on the stack and it might be a quality of life thing. but thats just conjecture on my part.

December 20, 2022 9:45 p.m.

wallisface says... #20

legendofa I would assume it's just a quality of life thing. The old Poisonous wording is old & outdated, and the new Toxic wording allows for a more streamlined play experience, even if the net result of both abilities is nigh-on the same.

I assume another part of Wotc's reasoning to introduce Toxic over Poisonous (other than rules-streamlining) was because the word "Toxic" just feels like a better fit with a broader range of creatures/effects. "Poisonous" evokes very specific imagery, and is possibly not what Wotc wanted to convey here for this set.

December 20, 2022 10:21 p.m.

legendofa says... #21

I guess nobody's really spamming Virulent Sliver and Strionic Resonator, or holding back a Nimble Obstructionist for Snake Cult Initiation triggers...

For the sake of devil's advocacy and nitpicking, though, deathtouch was templated as a triggered ability on Thornweald Archer and stayed that way until Zendikar (Giant Scorpion). Why not re-template poisonous? I'm not sure the connotations of poisonous and toxic are that different.

December 20, 2022 10:38 p.m.

wallisface says... #22

I would say that Wotc didn't re-template Poisonous exactly because they didnt' think the connotations met what they were after. It would have been super-easy for them to retemplate Poisonous, and the fact they didn't and went with Toxic instead is a pretty big indicator that they really didn't want to associate with the imagery of "Poisonous", and felt a lot more comfortable with "Toxic" as a new keyword.

December 20, 2022 10:47 p.m.

TypicalTimmy says... #23

Given we only have the two cards for Poisonous, I wonder if it is a simple case of "they forgot"?

December 20, 2022 11:01 p.m.

wallisface says... #24

0% chance imo - they’ll have entire divisions dedicated to rules and ability updates/tracking etc.

People rightfully give the company a lot of flak for being idiots, but there’s no chance this abilities implementation wasn’t intentional.

December 20, 2022 11:05 p.m.

TheoryCrafter says... #25

Crypt Cobra, Marsh Viper, Pit Scorpion, Sabertooth Cobra, Swamp Mosquito Suq'Ata Assassin are also creatures with poison even if they're not stated as such. Kinda like how cards like Evolution Sage were landfall cards without landfall written on it before the oracle change. Fynn, the Fangbearer gives creatures with deathtouch what amounts to Poison 2 and Serpent Generator creates snake tokens with what amounts to Poison 1.

December 21, 2022 7:29 p.m.

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