When last we spoke, I discussed my take on Maverick in Legacy. A couple of days later, Orrin, BenS, and I took a slightly updated version to GP Atlanta, where Ben Top 8′d.
Today I’m going to talk about the Jund deck that we took to Columbus. Luis and I weren’t able to convince Ben to go, but this time we had Reid Duke as a third playing the same list. And again ⅓ of us Top 8′d! I have a hard time telling Orrin and Reid apart, but I know it wasn’t me. As Luis put it, “so were you planning on Top 8′ing one of these, or…”
Deck Overview, Where I Refuse to Make Any Terry Soh Puns
Though Reid was originally the one to convince me to pick up Jund in Modern back at GP Lincoln, I assumed he would be on something else by now. He is much more apt to switch decks, and be up on the metagame, than I am. However a couple days before the GP, Reid messaged me on Facebook:
“Do you like Steppe Lynx?”
“Like as a card?”
“Well it was fine in Standard Boros decks, but it is terrible in Zoo-type decks since it is at odds with the goal of stopping at 3ish lands. It also forces you to play your hand out incorrectly to get any use out of it.”
“Okay, good. I think I’m going to play Jund.”
Orrin and I had already been talking about the deck for a month while we (mostly he) tried various builds on MTGO, so I compared notes with Reid. The main comments on my Jund video seemed to be:
Both of those seemed wrong to me, but after talking to Reid I was convinced that Jund Charm might be worth a couple of slots. Grim Lavamancer was one of the main reasons he was interested in playing the deck, so I felt confident in my reluctance to cut it. I think there was a little while where Lavamancer was unexciting, but the format swung back to vulnerable with all of the Delver and Pod decks floating around. It was one of my MVPs during the GP.
The main thing that Orrin and I had been talking about was the Kitchen Finks slot. The card just seemed tame to us. It is the best three-drop creature in a vacuum, but based on MTGO results, it didn’t seem to do a whole lot. Wasn’t there some three-drop that was more aggressive? Or disrupted the combo and Tron decks somehow?
We went through a lot of options:
Boggart Ram-Gang most excited me initially, since the haste provided a faster clock against the combo decks. Burning-Tree Shaman also sounded cool against [card kiki-jiki, mirror breaker]Kiki-Jiki[/card] decks, until we realized that you don’t need to activate Kiki-Jiki 20x to kill someone with Restoration Angels.
I’m not sure what made me think of Rakdos Augermage, perhaps it was in the back of my mind because I looked it up after playing Terry Soh at Worlds last year. It seemed pretty good against things like Storm and Tron, though. Your initial discard could slow them down, and then getting an active Augermage would just stop them from ever doing much. Also the 3-power first strike seemed perfectly reasonable against the creature decks.
Honestly, the reason we only played one is because we didn’t have much time to test it, and Reid convinced me that some number of Finks was a necessary evil given how much damage the deck dealt to itself.
Orrin and I ended up playing 2 Kitchen Finks/1 Rakdos Augermage, while Reid played 2 Kitchen Finks/1 Blightning. Who knows if Augermage was right, but definitely don’t play Blightning in this deck. You usually need to affect the board on turn 3, and by the time you have a good window to cast it you might only get one card (especially since you have spot discard anyway). Also, unlike when Jund is in Standard, there is no Jace to kill with the damage half of the card.
At first I thought it was sweet that Orrin Top 8′d with Rakdos Augermage. It was worth playing just because of how bewildered people were by it, and it obviously didn’t hurt us (I was the only other person playing it and I Top 32′d). But then Orrin, Luis, and all of Twitter started in on the Terry Soh puns. I don’t know how I can be such good friends with these guys, when I hate horrible puns so much. A few weeks ago, Luis started a Twitter thread with me on it that was just dozens and dozens of Ravnica guild-related puns. Why.
Here’s the Decklist
If you look at the manabase, you’ll notice there are a lot of green-only sources in a deck that is trying to cast a BBR card. Allow me to explain.
Originally, my plan was to fly into Columbus Friday night and then hammer out the mana base with Reid in the morning. But, due to a storm here in DC, my flight was pushed back 4-5x and then canceled. I rescheduled to the first flight in the morning, so I was still okay as long as I did the sleep-in special. However the TO didn’t allow other players to sign you up, and you had to turn in your decklist the night before (they often allow a friend to turn it in morning of). He was nice enough to let me sign up via email so that I wasn’t totally up the creek, but this meant I didn’t have time to figure out the mana base.
So I decided I would just copy Reid’s. Why not? I trust him.
Oh right. We added this very hard to cast card. Oops!
If I were to play the same deck again, I would cut a Forest for a Twilight Mire and a Treetop Village for a Raging Ravine. But even that is somewhat suboptimal: it makes you slightly weaker to Blood Moon, and, more importantly, Treetop Village is a much, much better manland. Being able to activate Treetop and cast a spell is pretty huge. As is the ability to just attack in the early turns when you have no other good plays. It is possible that the Rakdos Augermage should just be cut to preserve the mana.
The rest of the cards are pretty standard for Jund. You have some dudes, some removal, and some discard. This is probably a little more discard than previous iterations of Jund, but it’s not out of line with other Rock decks over the years. And given the current metagame, I think you want to err slightly on the side of discard versus removal.
Your ideal turn 1 sort of depends on what you’re playing against, but you basically always want turn 2 Dark Confidant. There is just not a lot of removal played in the format, so Bob will likely pull you ahead pretty quickly.
When I was testing on MTGO, I kept playing against combo and Tron decks, to the point where I almost wanted to switch to B/G Deathcloud. Basically the only cards I wanted in a given game were Bob and discard, followed up by Goyf and more discard. But the red cards shine against any sort of creature deck, and I expected to still see those at the GP.
I’ve played a lot of Liliana since she has been legal, and she might be at her best in Modern Jund. The discard ability goes very well with the hand disruption against combo/Tron, and the edict ability is strong against the creature decks, which basically covers all of the decks. I don’t think I ever sided her out. Besides, have you ever [card bloodbraid elf]Bloodbraid[/card]ed into a planeswalker? It’s basically cheating.
Sideboarding, Now with More Obstinate Baloth Anecdotes!
I tried Sowing Salt in the video that I posted here on CFB, and it was okay but not great. I though maybe the land destruction was just not good enough against Tron, after all, Sowing Salt did something more powerful than any other LD spell.
But Reid correctly pointed out that the issue was that it came down on turn 4: they often have already cast something. Fulminator Mage came down early enough to actually slow them down, and had the added advantage of being good in the mirror to both kill manlands and color-screw your opponent. And unlike Sowing Salt, it is always a passable card to bring in if you have too much to take out. It attacks for two or destroys a land. Everyone has a life total and lands, duh.
Grafdigger’s Cage seemed like the best option against Birthing Pod decks, since it preemptively stops Pod. Cage also stops Reanimation decks and, more relevantly, Storm decks—or it at least prevents them from using Past in Flames.
The Nihil Spellbomb has some overlap with Grafdigger’s Cage if you happen to play a Reanimator or Storm deck, but also does something against Living End. It can also come in against decks that use the graveyard, but don’t rely on it (Snapcaster Mage decks, decks with the [card gifts ungiven]Gifts[/card] reanimation package). I actually did play against Living End in the tournament, and having the Spellbomb was hugely relevant.
The Ancient Grudges were mostly for Affinity, though you also want to side in at least two against Tron variants to occasionally stop a Signet or Expedition Map, but mostly to deal with the majority of Wurmcoil Engine.
You might want one against Pod decks, but I’m still not sure about that. I wasn’t siding any in, but Orrin brought in one. I’d rather have a Cage or Thoughtseize to proactively stop Pod than kill it after they got some use out of it, but it is still probably good enough to kill Pod after only one activation. I never played against Affinity or Tron, so this is actually the one sideboard card I never brought in.
The extra Maelstrom Pulse is mostly just a catchall answer, and always a reasonable card to side in if you have dead cards in the matchup to take out.
The two copies of Duress are for various combo decks, Tron, or if you happen to play against control. The main purpose for them is Storm, since you basically want as much discard as possible against them.
I discussed Jund Charm a bit earlier, but the card vastly exceeded my expectations. I sided it in easily half of my rounds, and I actually used all three modes about equally. The +2/+2 did its normal “pump for lethal” thing, but I also used it to save a Grim Lavamancer from an opposing Lavamancer activation. Which, as you might imagine, was quite the swing, and helped me take over the game. The Pyroclasm killed multiple guys against both Pod and Delver, and even let me kill a Geist of Saint Traft that might have otherwise been problematic. The graveyard removal was instrumental in my lucking my way to a win against Living End. I don’t think I want more than the two total copies of the card, but it is definitely worth those two slots.
Reid ran a couple of Kitchen Finks in his board, but I really wanted at least one Obstinate Baloth. Finks is obviously a good all-around card, but if you are really looking to gain life, I’d rather guarantee that I get all four. It is very possible that Finks will never die against Burn, which is the main reason we wanted this type of card at all.
As it turned out, I actually played the Jund mirror twice in the tournament. Baloth is awesome here. Finks is fine as well, but the 4/4 body is huge. Only [card tarmogoyf]Goyf[/card] can get past Baloth, and he laughs at Lightning Bolts. Plus, this happened:
I kept a great opening hand that included Obstinate Baloth, but only one green source. My opponent Fulminator Mages my sole green land, stranding the Baloth in my hand for the foreseeable future. After trading cards back and forth, I end up a little behind on the board, with only lands and Baloth in hand. My opponent Thoughtseizes me to see what’s going on, and has no choice but to take the Obstinate Baloth. Suddenly I’m both ahead in life and have the biggest creature in play!
If you play Obstinate Baloth in your sideboard, I guarantee this will probably maybe happen to you.
A Meticulously Detailed Tournament Report
Nah, I’m not going to go into the round-by-round details. But this is what I played against:
RUW Delver 4-2
RUG Delver 5-2
Living End 6-2
Bant Auras? 7-2
Naya Pod 8-2
4-Color Pod 9-3 (Luis is very lucky)
Of these, only Living End seemed like a truly bad matchup. Fun fact: Living End (in the hands of CFB’s own Travis Woo) knocked me out of my first GP Top 8 ever. I was pretty sure it was going to knock me out of this tournament too.
Your hand disruption is typically good against combo, but is awkward here since they actually want their guys to go to their graveyard and have plenty of redundant copies of Living End. I ended up making my opponent discard, and then removed his graveyard before he could make use of the cards, but this isn’t exactly a foolproof plan.
Also, Pod’s popularity highly incentivizes you to play Grafdigger’s Cage as your graveyard hate, but Cage counterintuitively doesn’t do anything against Living End. If you wanted to play more Nihil Spellbombs, the matchup would be more manageable.
Burn is also not a great match-up, but if you expect a lot of it you can play the full amount of Finks and more Baloths in the board. I briefly brought up Loxodon Warhammer as well, but no one else seemed interested in going that far.
The various creature decks like Delver and Merfolk are pretty much what you want to play against every round. You have a ton of removal, plus Grim Lavamancer, and Dark Confidant keeps the gas coming. (Or kills you, if you’re Orrin. Too soon?)
My Bant opponent wanted me to call his deck “Bant Blouses” because it’s “elegant,” but I figured you wouldn’t know what that meant so I called it Auras. Basically it was a bunch of shroud guys (Thrun, the Last Troll, Geist of Saint Traft, Troll Ascetic), with things like Rancor and Spectral Flight. Kind of a neat idea.
Pod decks are about an even match-up, but not the easiest thing to play against. In my match against LSV we had a game where he killed me on turn 4, and I think I made three plays total. I was not 100% sure of any of them: What to take with [card inquisition of kozilek]Inquisition[/card]? Kill the mana dork, or the higher converted mana cost creature? Get Bob on the battlefield, or leave up removal? Things are much easier if you draw a Grafdigger’s Cage or two, or if you can get an early Bob and ride the steady stream of removal he provides.
Verdict: Modern is Sweet
Aside from a few matches on MTGO, this was only my fourth time playing Modern (two PTs and two GPs)—and I have to admit that, even without Wild Nacatl, it seems like a great format. Wizards has done a good job of banning things to slow the format down and keep it from degeneracy. Also, how little it has been played so far has left the metagame a lot more open than Standard. Even Legacy might have a more defined metagame, thanks to the weekly tournaments. It feels like you can pretty much play a suped up version of your favorite Standard/Extended deck from a few years ago and put up decent results, which is pretty sweet. I mean I can’t play my favorite deck, but hey whatever.
Moving forward, the main thing I’d like to do is play more games with Rakdos Augermage (with fixed mana) to see how good it really is. Other than that, the deck is great as-is. Our metagame predictions were fairly spot on, so I wouldn’t have changed any of the cards in hindsight. I suppose Tron might be less played in the future, given how poorly it performed, so the Fulminators could potentially be cut from the sideboard. I did still like them in the Jund mirror, but not enough to side them exclusively for that.
Okay, that’s all I have for today. I’ll have some M13 Draft videos for you in the coming weeks as I prepare for GP “Boston.” In fact, I’ve already submitted one.
Thanks for reading!
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