Last updated on May 16, 2024

Blightsteel Colossus - Illustration by Chris Rahn

Blightsteel Colossus | Illustration by Chris Rahn

Infect. Some players love the mechanic as others hate it. Craig Blanchette, also known as Mr. Infect, who appears regularly on the Command Zone podcast and their Game Knights specials, loves to play with infect cards! Where do you fall into the spectrum of the love/hate relationship with Magic’s infect mechanic?

Your answer to that question may change or stay the same as you learn more about infect cards. Before we get into ranking the 32 best infect cards in Magic, let’s first define what they are. How do they deal damage? How can they help you win the game?

Just, uh, don’t get too close. Don’t want to get infected yourself, right?

What Are Infect Cards in MTG?

Septic Rats - Illustration by Cos Koniotis

Septic Rats – Illustration by Cos Koniotis

Infect cards in Magic: The Gathering are usually creature cards that deals combat damage as infect damage on players and as -1/-1 counters on blocked creatures. This infect damage is transformed into poison counters when distributed to players. If a player receives 10 or more poison counters, they automatically lose the game.

Say that you have a Lost Leonin on the board which has a power of 2 and the infect ability. If you swing with it and the opponent doesn’t block the attack, they automatically get 2 poison counters from Lost Leonin. Now, if the opponent blocks Lost Leonin with a 3/3 creature, the blocker receives two -1/-1 counters and becomes a 1/1 creature, and Lost Leonin dies.

Some aura cards in Magic give any creature you’d like the infect ability. Even a few instant cards make creature tokens that have infect, but those are for another article! One special sorcery card gives all your creatures infect until the end of the turn.

#32. Pestilent Souleater

Pestilent Souleater

Pestilent Souleater is on the bottom of the list because you have to pay 2 life or every time you want to give it the infect ability. It’s still an okay infect card because when it gains that ability, you’ll already be a third of the way there with infect damage on an opponent to win the game.

#31. Viridian Corrupter

Viridian Corrupter

Viridian Corrupter acts simultaneously as an infect creature staple and a targeted removal spell when it enters the battlefield, making it so you have a more versatility and value for only 3 mana. It’s most popularly played in Commander decks featuring infect creatures like Ixhel, Scion of Atraxa, Vishgraz, the Doomhive, and Fynn, the Fangbearer.

#30. Septic Rats

Septic Rats

Septic Rats band together in small, powerful groups, getting a small buff as long as the defending opponent already has one or more poison counters. Make Septic Rats harder to block with Piper of the Swarm, which gives your rats menace. Throw in as many Rat Colony cards as you want into the deck for flavor.

#29. Putrefax


Putrefax is essentially a one-hit wonder infect creature with haste and trample because at your end step after casting it on your turn, you must sacrifice it. Have graveyard recursion cards like Bala Ged Recovery and Road of Return to get it back into your hand to recast to deal that last blow of infect damage to win the game.

#28. Phyrexian Vatmother

Phyrexian Vatmother

Phyrexian Vatmother is an awesome infect creature to have on the board because it has 4 power. However, you get a poison counter on your every upkeep that it stays on the field. It’s like a race against time to see who can lose the game first with 10 poison counters.

Again, Melira, Sylvok Outcast can help with that. As long as Melira is on the field with Phyrexian Vatmother, you won’t receive any poison counters on your upkeep if you need more time to draw into your win condition.

#27. Contagious Nim

Contagious Nim

Contagious Nim is a great addition to any mono-black or Dimir zombie deck. Pair with Bladestitched Skaab, Liliana's Mastery, and Diregraf Captain for zombie anthem effects that increase Contagious Nim’s power to deal more infect damage in one blow.

#26. Blightwidow


Blightwidow is the only creature with infect that also has reach. This is a great addition in an infect or spider-themed deck to ward off flying creatures your opponents control. Synergistic commanders for this creature are Blex, Vexing Pest because of its anthem effect of pumping spiders, among others, and Shelob, Child of Ungoliant, the best spider commander in MTG, because it gives spiders deathtouch and ward 2.

#25. Chained Throatseeker

Chained Throatseeker

Chained Throatseeker is a good mid-game infect creature to cast because the 5/5 big hitter can only attack if at least one of your opponents have one or more poison counters. Ping your opponent with a flying infect creature like Viral Drake to get the ball rolling on poison counters so you can then attack with Chained Throatseeker for more infect damage.

#24. Necropede


Necropede is a good infect creature card for -1/-1 counters decks because it distributes one any creature when it dies. The Scorpion God lets you draw a card when creatures with -1/-1 counters on them die. You can cast Necropede from the graveyard with Zask, Skittering Swarmlord because of its insect typing. Necropede can come back onto the battlefield at the next end step as long as Shirei, Shizo's Caretaker is also on the field.

#23. Ichorclaw Myr

Ichorclaw Myr

Artifact creature matters decks can benefit from Ichorclaw Myr. It becomes a 3/3 when it’s blocked, which can easily destroy opponent’s creatures that are 1/1s and 2/2s.

While it can act as an early-game blocker and infect damage dealer, it can also help you in a myr deck later in the game. Tap Ichorclaw Myr and four other myr creatures you control to look for a myr card in your library with Myr Turbine.

#22. Flensermite


Flensermite is the only infect creature in Magic that also has lifelink. This unique infect creature can go great in Golgari sacrifice decks. Choose from commanders like Baba Lysaga, Night Witch and Izoni, Thousand-Eyed.

#21. Whispering Specter

Whispering Specter

Whispering Specter throws around some shenanigans before your opponent loses the game to poison counters. If it deals combat damage and your opponent has 7 poison counters, you can sacrifice Whispering Specter for your opponent to potentially discard their entire hand. Now, they’ll, unfortunately, have to do some top decking unless they have some card draw resources in their mana base or other permanents on their field.

#20. Blight Mamba

Blight Mamba

Blight Mamba can easily regenerate using its activated ability if an opponent destroys it, so despite having no opposable thumbs, is great to wield equipment. The phyrexian snake helps guard against the removal that Glistener Elf also sees. Among the few things better than an infect creature that is hard to kill, is a faster or evasive infect creature.

#19. Blackcleave Goblin

Blackcleave Goblin

Blackcleave Goblin is one of the few infect creatures that have the evergreen ability of haste. This synergizes well with commanders like Mauhúr, Uruk-hai Captain, Yawgmoth, Thran Physician, and The Mimeoplasm.

#18. Glistener Elf

Glistener Elf

Glistener Elf may just be a 1/1 creature with infect, but it can get threatening quickly when operating an elf ball deck. Imperious Perfect, Leaf-Crowned Visionary, Canopy Tactician, and Elvish Clancaller are popular creature cards that provide anthem effect for elves, which can steadily elevate Glistener Elf’s power for more infect damage.

If you have 9 counters already from casting creature spells power 2 or less thanks to Ezuri, Claw of Progress being on the battlefield, you can cast Glistener Elf and it’ll become an instant threat because it comes in as 10/10 with infect.

#17. Corrupted Conscience

Corrupted Conscience

Corrupted Conscience has so many possibilities because you never know what creatures your opponent has in store until they cast them. Analyze their board state and nab their best creature to deal enough infect damage to win the game in a few combat steps.

Do the ultimate ability of Teferi, Master of Time to win in one fell swoop with this creature in which you have gained control, so you don’t have to wait for the full turn cycles to claim victory.

#16. Phyresis


Phyresis is one of the other aura enchantments in Magic that gives a creature infect like Corrupted Conscience, but it doesn’t take control of an opponent’s creature like the blue aura. Opponents can lose life based on how many auras including Phyresis are on the field with a Eriette of the Charmed Apple Commander deck.

Phyresis can be your win condition in a Ramses, Assassin Lord as long as you attach it to an assassin you control and attack with it. The infect damage causes the opponent to lose the game, and you win the game from attacking with an assassin.

#15. Blighted Agent

Blighted Agent

Blighted Agent is already an unblockable infect creature to guide you to a slow-but-steady win condition. Enhance how fast you win by having Deepchannel Mentor on the field to make all your blue creatures unblockable. Incorporate other blue infect Chained Throatseeker and Viral Drake while Deepchannel Mentor is on the field to freely deal infect damage.

#14. Spinebiter


Spinebiter doesn’t care about an opponent’s chunk blockers because it still assigns combat damage as though it weren’t blocked. It only takes four combat steps without other modifications to its power to win the game via infect damage with Spinebiter.

#13. Plague Myr

Plague Myr

An infect creature that’s also a mana dork? Yup, that’s Plague Myr! While you can use it as ramp in an artifact creature heavy deck, it can turn into a hidden win condition with the right cards.

Have Darksteel Forge on the field to make it indestructible plus anthem effects for artifact creatures from Tempered Steel and Chief of the Foundry. Now the only way an opponent could evade infect damage would be to always have a chunk blocker ready, exile Plague Myr, or enchant it with a Pacifism-type aura to prevent it from attacking and blocking.

#12. Viral Drake

Viral Drake

Viral Drake is a flying infect creature with a higher-than-normal toughness of your usual infect creatures. Plus, you can activate its ability to proliferate as a last resort to hasten the game. Better ways to proliferate without paying so much mana include Yawgmoth, Thran Physician or casting a low-cost sorcery like Thirsting Roots.

#11. Ichor Rats

Ichor Rats

Before Ichor Rats can even start attacking for infect damage, an opponent gets a poison counter when the phyrexian rat enters the battlefield. If you are running a Dimir infect deck, you can have Displacer Kitten on the field to exile and return Ichor Rats each time you cast a noncreature spell to further abuse its ETB effect. This is easier to help accumulate poison counters than attacking for infect damage with the potential of your opponent blocking your attack with a creature they control.

#10. Phyrexian Hydra

Phyrexian Hydra

Phyrexian Hydra is an infect creature that can essentially become a pseudo-indestructible blocker as long as you have Melira, Sylvok Outcast on the field. When it comes time for Phyrexian Hydra to have -1/-1 counters placed on it from the damage you prevented on it, then it won’t get those counters because of Melira’s ability. Cast it at the right time in the game to when it only takes a couple swings to end the game with infect damage because of its high power.

#9. Grafted Exoskeleton

Grafted Exoskeleton

Grafted Exoskeleton gives an equipped creature a buff and infect but at the cost of destroying said creature if the equipment becomes unattached. Voltron decks with commanders featuring Balan, Wandering Knight and Ardenn, Intrepid Archaeologist with your choice of a partner commander can be a great home for Grafted Exoskeleton. You can win in one single blow dealing not only enough commander damage but also enough infect damage thanks to Grafted Exoskeleton depending on how many equipment and auras you have attached to a creature.

#8. Phyrexian Crusader

Phyrexian Crusader

Phyrexian Crusader isn’t your normal 2/2 creature with infect. Its first strike ability helps it stay alive when it goes against another 2/2 creature with deathtouch. Plus, having protection from red and white can mean an easy win with infect damage if you’re up against an opponent with red and/or white in their deck that won’t be able to block Phyrexian Crusader’s attacks.

#7. Phyrexian Swarmlord

Phyrexian Swarmlord

Phyrexian Swarmlord gives you Phyrexian Insect tokens on your every upkeep based on the number of poison counters your opponents have. Have anthem effects from Gaea's Anthem and Sylvan Anthem to pump the tokens to deal threatening amounts of infect damage. Hopefully an opponent has a Farewell or a Shatter the Sky to save themselves, or you’ll take the win by dealing enough infect damage.

#6. Glistening Oil

Glistening Oil

Glistening Oil is best paired with Melira, Sylvok Outcast in a Golgari poison counters deck. Melira protects you from getting poison counters plus when Glistening Oil places -1/-1 counters on the enchanted creature, it won’t happen because of Melira’s ability.

However, you can place it on a creature with power 5 or greater without Melira, Sylvok Outcast on the battlefield so that the enchanted creature lasts a while. Once the creature does die, Glistening Oil goes to the graveyard, then it returns to your hand per its ability.

#5. Hand of the Praetors

Hand of the Praetors

Hand of the Praetors can get out of control fast with enough infect creatures in your hand ready to cast. The phyrexian zombie buffs creatures with infect by +1/+1 while also distributing a poison counter to an opponent for each creature spell with infect that you cast. Ichor Rats, Viral Drake, and Phyrexian Hydra are examples of infect creatures that can trigger Hand of the Praetors’s ability to distribute poison counters to opponents.

Thrummingbird and Bloated Contaminator can help you proliferate these poison counters from Hand of the Praetors quicker as they deal combat damage to your opponent.

#4. Inkmoth Nexus

Inkmoth Nexus

Inkmoth Nexus is an unsuspecting card that can be utilized as an alternate win condition in any deck. It only takes one mana to transform it into a 1/1 Phyrexian Blinkmoth artifact creature with flying and infect. Place equipments such as some of the popular swords like Sword of Fire and Ice and Sword of Truth and Justice when your opponent does not have any creatures with flying or reach for an instant win depending on how many buffs you give it. Hopefully they don’t have any responses to remove this creature!

#3. Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon doesn’t know when to quit when it comes to dealing damage. Without any modifications, it only takes three combat phases to deal enough poison counters to an opponent to make them lose the game.

Give it haste with its first activated ability so that it can start dealing infect damage right as it enters the battlefield. If it’s about to go to be destroyed, you can respond and pay to regenerate it rather than paying the commander tax after returning it to the command zone.

#2. Triumph of the Hordes

Triumph of the Hordes

Hordes are scary for opponents, but delightful for you if you’re the one in control of them! Any deck, especially creature token decks, can utilize Triumph of the Hordes as a win condition of epic proportions. If your opponent only has 10 blockers and you’re attacking with 20 creatures, they’re toast. I mean… infected!

#1. Blightsteel Colossus

Blightsteel Colossus

Here comes the most feared and hated infect card in Magic: The Gathering: Blightsteel Colossus! With just one unblocked hit because of its trample and infect and power of 11, an opponent can instantly lose the game.

Fortunately for you and unfortunately for your opponents, because Blightsteel Colossus is indestructible, if they don’t have an exile card, a creature 11 power or greater, or a horde of creature tokens with a total power of exactly 11, the game is done!

Cards like Enlightened Tutor and Fabricate can easily get Blightsteel Colossus into your hand. Have Mycosynth Golem on the battlefield to give Blightsteel Colossus affinity for artifacts to get your best threat out faster.

Best Infect Payoffs

Infect cards work synergistically with those that have toxic. The toxic mechanic was introduced in Phyrexia: All Will Be One, which is just another word for the poisonous mechanic. For example, a creature with toxic 1 like Skrelv, Defector Mite deals one poison counter if it deals combat damage. Tyrranax Atrocity has toxic 3, which means it distributes 3 poison counters to the opponent in which it deals combat damage and so on.

One of the most popular cards to include in an infect deck, especially ones featuring green, is Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider because it doubles the number of any type of counters placed on a permanent or a player. If an opponent gets 5 poison counters from a combat step, they’re actually receiving 10 poison counters and losing the game if Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider is on the field.

Another popular card and commander for poison decks is Atraxa, Praetors' Voice because it allows you to proliferate on your every end step. There are cards with infect in all four of the creature’s colors, making it easy to incorporate them as well as creatures with toxic for a formidable poison counters deck build.

Your opponents would have to remove any creatures you have with proliferate after they receive a poison counter or they’ll inevitably die to poison counters at some point in the game.

Contaminant Grafter

If you’re running a green toxic/poison themed deck, include Contaminant Grafter for card draw and to place a land onto the battlefield on your every end step as long as your opponent has 3 or more poison counters.

Necrogen Rotpriest

You can increase poison counters from creatures with infect or toxic with Necrogen Rotpriest. It distributes an extra poison counter to an opponent as long as a creature with toxic dealt combat damage.

Activate Necrogen Rotpriest’s ability to give all your creatures that have toxic deathtouch until the end of your turn. Creatures with deathtouch lessen an opponent’s desire to block so that they can keep their best creatures, which means you have the potential to accumulate the number of poison counters an opponent gets from infect or toxic creatures.

Venerated Rotpriest

Venerated Rotpriest can cause massive shenanigans. As you pump your creatures with auras, instant, and sorcery spells, since they’re considered targets, for each spells done in this manner, Venerated Rotpriest distributes a poison counter to an opponent. As you attack with creatures with infect, opponents are more apt to blocking with their creatures to decrease how many more poison counters are dealt to them via combat damage.

Wrap Up

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon - Illustration by Chippy

Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon | Illustration by Chippy

Infect cards can be creature cards that deal combat damage in the form of infect damage or poison counters. Creatures can temporarily gain infect with activated abilities or sorcery spells. You can create creature tokens with infect with other creatures or instant spells. Overall, creatures with infect and toxic can band together and deal 10 poison counters to an opponent for you to win the game.

Pardon me for the infectious cards, but I hope you have learned more about the best infect cards in Magic: The Gathering. If you’re ready to jump into brewing an infect deck, check out more on the Draftsim blog for further inspiration. Don’t forget to follow the Draftsim Facebook page for regular updates when we post more content to our blog.

Until next time, stay infectious with your love of Magic: The Gathering. Fair warning: this infection is liable to spread!

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  • Avatar
    David December 29, 2023 3:13 am

    Regenerate does not work the way it is described in #20 Blight Mamba. You cannot regenerate a sacrifice effect.

    • Jackson Wong
      Jackson Wong January 16, 2024 6:57 am

      Good catch David, I revised the article and hope you find the infect creatures you’re looking for.

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