The pool is more diluted than it used to be, but Infernus is still a very powerhouse troop. I can’t think of another troop like it.
Yes, the Infernus/Ubastet combo is weaker than it was. That means a lot of old discussion of Infernus will feel like hyperbole. But look at what it does:
It chooses an opponent. It hits that opponent pretty hard. Then it does half that damage to the 2 adjacent opponents. Then it repeats. Then it explodes some gems.
This cuts through Barrier like a knife through butter. It’s likely to hit at least 3 troops, yet Submerge cannot block it. The only things that really make it less powerful are Spell Armor (which is only on a few troops) and when you’ve killed troops in such a way you can’t get the splash damage.
The gem explosion is nice because it’s a board scramble. Sometimes you’ve got a troop like Apothecary that needs a certain color around and it’s not there. Infernus might summon more.
Infernus also burns enemies on 4/5 matches and summons Firestorms.
So it’s really hard to find a troop that Infernus doesn’t compare favorably to. Ketras comes to mind: in the right scenario it can outright kill a troop and severely wound its neighbors. But Ketras is powerless against Barrier, and is significantly weakened by true damage. Megavore’s armor stripping is a hard hit, and the followup damage is a likely kill shot. But again, it has trouble with Barrier and in the late stages of the game “hit one troop for damage” isn’t as exciting as “hit at least 3”.
I think the strongest argument for “craft this first” is still Pharos-Ra. I would still craft Infernus first, if I were in the position. I did Pharos-Ra first and “being able to farm for Dawnbringer sooner” didn’t feel good enough to stop me from remembering, “Every PvP/GW team setup I wanted to try needed Infernus.” But there’s nothing invalid about the argument that securing a soul farming team is more important.