Last week my private messages were blocked on Facebook for three days. The reason? Apparently I replied to too many messages, sent a lot of links (to articles), and screenshots (of deck lists) in a short span of time. It would be totally reasonable, if 99% of these weren’t related to Modern Jund/BG decks. Either the Facebook algorithm can’t detect proper spam, or it was designed by someone that likes to cast Sphinx’s Revelation, time will tell. I try to reply as many questions as I can, but apparently due to PTQ season, a lot of people are interested in the subject and I just couldn’t reply to them all, so here I am.
First of all, I wrote a Modern Jund guide a couple months ago here and I still stand on the main concepts. I may be biased, but if you didn’t read it at that time and have PTQs to play, I think it will worth your time. Of course the proposed deck list is a little dated, but the thought process of building the deck remains the same. One exception: you can Top 8 a GP (or PT) losing 2-3 matches. For PTQs, anything other than winning the whole thing will probably make you very sad, so you just can’t “ignore” a matchup (like I recommended in the other article) if you know good players in your area will play it.
So let’s get down to business. Today I want to talk about the three flavors of Jund: The regular version (BRG), BG Rock, and White Jund (Junk). I just call any deck with the Thoughtseize–Confidant–Tarmogoyf–Liliana core Jund (unless you go too deep and add Islands to the mix), since the play style is very similar.
A couple months ago I finished 10th at GP Minneapolis with Jund going X-3 in the Swiss portion. I played a lot of tough matches and great players (the three opponents that beat me made Top 8, including the eventual winner), and I felt that the deck list was pretty close to perfect for that tournament. I built it expecting mostly UWR, Twin, Pod, and random creature decks—basically giving up my Affinity and Tron matchups. For reference:
I’d recommend the main deck as a starter point for anyone playing Jund at the moment. The mana base, creature mix, and removal suite all are very good. When I build Jund I like to play versatile cards, hence the Jund Charm maindeck, and this list really shows it in the number of one-ofs. But they are not really one-ofs—if you look at the SB with a sharper eye you will see (roughly): 8 cards versus Affinity, 6 versus Zoo, 10 versus Rwin, 7 versus UWR, 6 for the mirror, 7 against Tron, 6 versus Pod, etc.—it is like having a 40-card sideboard! You completely change your deck depending who you are playing against making it more aggressive, more controlling, and so on. To be able to do this, it is necessary to build the deck as a 75-card whole, so you can have an optimum 60 cards against each deck (I wrote about this in my old Standard Naya article).
If you expect a lot of Pod, Twin, and random creature decks, traditional Jund is the way to go. Twin is a good matchup for any BG deck and Anger of the Gods is a really busted card that turns the tide versus Pod. From the above list, I wouldn’t run Sowing Salt because Fulminator Mage is just a lot better. I’d also probably try to include a Batterskull somewhere, maybe replacing the second Chandra.
And what if you don’t expect a lot of Pod decks? And to make things worse, you know you will face a lot of Scapeshift and Tron strategies? In this case, it is totally fair to cut red entirely and go for the good ol’ BG. Lightning Bolt was the main reason to play red in the BG decks a while ago. Now, I think the main reason to play red is Anger of the Gods. If you are playing Jund without it, you shouldn’t be running red at all. I love the versatility of both Jund and Rakdos Charm, but I love a stable mana base even more. Being able to play Tectonic Edge is pretty amazing as well.
This was the list Marcio Carvalho used to win a 200+ people PTQ in Portugal two weeks ago. There are a lot of different card choices that I can get behind here, but the first thing that caught my eye was the mana. There are 24 lands, with four colorless-producing lands, and five that only produce green—leaving us with only 15 black sources. This used to be enough when we had Deathrite Shaman, but it is not the case anymore. I only feel comfortable with at least 16 sources of black (including filter lands and Urborg).
So, to accommodate that, we need to add a 25th land or cut a Treetop (or Tectonic Edge). My advice is to add the extra land. The 7 discard spells, 11 two-drops, 4 Lilianas, and the removal package are all pretty common. Thrun maindeck is a nice metagame call, but I think 2 is too many. The second one would be the first candidate to be replaced by the extra land I want. Lifebane Zombie is the real innovation here. Marcio said it was his MVP during the PTQ, destroying Pod and the mirror match while being pretty decent versus UWR. It can even hit unaware Scapeshift players that go for the Baloth plan post-sideboard!
Honestly, I tried it on mtgo and wasn’t really impressed. Maybe because I didn’t face a lot of Jund/Pod/Hatebears, maybe because I drew them pretty late in some games. My sample size wasn’t exactly big, so I will trust Marcio’s judgment that they are the real deal. But I don’t think it belongs in the main deck. This is the slot that people used to run Finks/Courser, and if you do not expect a lot of aggro it makes sense to omit those, but in this case I’d replace them for an extra removal (Slaughter Pact probably), maybe a Batterskull or Garruk Wildspeaker (more on this guy later), or even the most hated card in Return to Ravnica block: Pack Rat.
The mighty Rat is amazing when there are no decks playing real sweepers. There’s no Bile Blight, no Detention Sphere, and Wrath of God is really falling out of favor. Add to it the fact that you can have up to 8 one-mana discard spells so the odds of the dreadful opener of discard into Pack Rat is real. Of course it will be really bad against some combo decks and Zoo, but Pack Rat is probably the only way BG can beat Pod. It is also good against Tron and some other random decks, and after a full year of Mono-Black Devotion in Standard, we all know what a topdecked Pack Rat can do in a empty board with five lands in play.
Another move I’m seeing recently is that some people are playing Mutavault (without Pack Rats!) instead of Tectonic Edge. Well, I don’t advise this unless you are totally sure you will not need the land destruction—maybe a mix is the right call (if you chose to play Pack Rat, of course).
That said, I’d take Marcio’s list as a starting point and take out the two Thruns for the 25th land and a Batterskull. Then I’d take out a Treetop Village and one Tectonic Edge for two Mutavaults and the three Lifebane Zombies for three Pack Rats. The last change would be swapping the numbers of Thoughtseize and Inquisitions of Kozilek. Inquisition is much better in the aggro matchups, but Seize is much better against UWR, Scapeshift, Tron, and Pod. Personally, I prefer to be better geared for these decks in game one.
As for the sideboard, it really depends on your prediction of your local field. First of all, I’d add the second Slaughter Pact—an extra removal is much needed in several matchups. The 8th discard stays in and so do the Affinity hate and the Fulminator Mages.
For the last slots, I’d use more versatile cards. I don’t think Bitterblossom does much to turn the tide in your bad matchups so it is out. I’d use only one Infest and complement it with a Golgari Charm and one Engineered Explosives. To round that out, add two or three cards to fight Burn/Zoo (Finks, Bow of Nylea, and Baloth are good candidates). I’d pick one of each and for the last two cards add a Thrun and some sort of graveyard hate which can be a Nihil Spellbomb (if you are really afraid of Living End) or a Grafdigger’s cage if you want a more versatile card (Storm, Pod). Cage doesn’t work well with Finks, but you are not usually sideboarding them together against the same deck.
In another scenario, what if, besides not expecting Pod and expecting Tron/Scapeshift, you also expect a LOT of mirror matches and some relevant number of Affinity players? Well this was the scenario one of my friends presented me and asked what version of Jund he should play in the PTQ this weekend. I haven’t played much Modern since GP Minneapolis so I started trying several lists on MTGO to find a good answer. Three days later, I Tweeted this:
Modern is a cyclic format. Jund was the most popular deck, and then people splashed white for Lingering Souls in their Jund to beat other Junds. Then Jund started running Thundermaw Hellkite to beat these Spirit Junds. Then Deathrite Shaman was banned and people (foolishly) thought Jund was dead and they started playing Twin. Then Jund emerges again, so what’s the next move? Yes, Lingering Souls.
Im pretty confident this is a great list and I would play something very similar to it in any upcoming Modern event. Some thoughts:
• Stirring Wildwood is very good and a lot of people do not realize it has reach and attack into it, and even more people do not realize how good reach is in Modern with all these Nexuses (Nexi?), Vendilions, Pestermites, Resto Angels, etc. This list only has one, but I’m strongly considering playing a second one.
As I said for BG, 25 lands is a must. I see that running a Gavony Township is really tempting. If you are that greedy, one Tectonic Edge or a Treetop Village are the candidates to replace. I don’t think it will fix any of your bad matchups and like some people say, it is a “win more” card.
• Pack Rat is an option here as well (and it even “combos” very well with Lingering Souls–especially when you do not have white mana) but here they would be in the sideboard. As I said in my Tweet, I’m not totally convinced by Lifebane Zombie so I’m totally fine removing them from the sideboard–just remember to include some other card for the mirror match since there’s a lot of cards you would like to board out.
• If you are in the market for cards costing more than three mana, Garruk Wildspeaker is your man. He works REALLY well with Lingering Souls and these two cards can add a really strong clock by themselves. Just think of turn 3 Souls, turn 4 Garruk + flashback Souls, turn 5 ultimate Garruk. 18 damage on turn five with an awful slow hand and only two cards. It’s insane. I call it Juncapeshift.
• Finks are there because I was toying with Gavony Township and they really work well together. I can see a split between it and Obstinate Baloth. It’s sad I cannot run Bow of Nylea because it doesn’t work well with Stony Silence. On a side note, Engineered Explosives also doesn’t work very well with Stony Silence, but you really need another all around answer in the sideboard. If you have no fear of Tron, just take out all Silences and add another Creeping Corrosion.
I think I gave you enough to find the optimal list for your local field, but if you put a gun to my head and tell me to say which 75 I would register for A RANDOM (please do not take my advice blindly, consider your local field before you copy/paste) tournament tomorrow, they are:
Yes, again 16 cards in the sideboard, but this time* I’ll make it easier. Just cut one Stony Silence or Creeping Corrosion based on what you fear more: Tron or Affinity. If you choose to play 2x Stony Silence, consider adding a second Stirring Wildwood for a Treetop Village.
*Last time I listed a 16-card sideboard saying that you (my loved READERS) should cut one card based on your local field. Two weeks later, I got a message from someone saying that he copied the deck list I posted and got a game loss in the Top 8 of his local FNM for having 16 cards in the sideboard. Awkward. If at least he read the article instead of just copying the list and sideboard guide… Ah, he won the tournament anyway, he wasn’t even mad.
Here is a quick sideboard guide against the most popular decks for reference:
(Or 1x Corrosion and 2x Stony depending on the configuration you chose.)
Finks are pretty bad here. Fulminator kills Nexus (please do not ever attempt to kill a Glimmervoid with it). Do not try to beat Affinity by mana-screwing them—it will not work most of the time, trust me.
Your chances are slim here, I’m not going to lie. There’s several ways to sideboard in a different way (example: bring in Fulminators on the play). Just remember IoK is really bad.
The matchup is great for us, but the way we sideboard changes a lot depending on the version of Twin and the way (and the cards) your opponent plays/sideboards. For example, if it is a value Twin, leave Souls in. If you see Electrolyze, consider taking out Dark Confidants, and Baloth/Finks get better, etc. Play around Blood Moon and fetch basics.
UWR varies a lot, but usually you need some removal for Colonnade (their main win condition by far) and Restoration Angel. If you see planeswalkers, keep Pulse in. If you see lots of Burn/Electrolyze, consider taking out some Confidants on the draw. Remember that your LDs should be used 90% of the time on the COLONNADES.
7 Discard Spells
Also, it depends on the mirror you are playing against, but discard spells are really bad and are the first to go. If you are playing against a 4-color Jund, consider bringing in some Fulminator Mages.
For other matchups, please check the sideboard guide in my last article where I covered more than 10 different matchups—the concepts are the same and easy applicable here.
Another big hit on Twitter/Facebook is people asking about some specific cards and their Jund (or BG or Junk) playability, so let’s do a quick FAC (Frequently Asked Cards):
Phyrexian Obliterator – Do not play it unless you expect A LOT of Zoo. The mana is obviously a challenge, but I would not play a what is essentially a vanilla 5/5 in other matchups, even if he cost 4 colorless.
Putrefy – Some people started to play it as a one-of instead of a second Pulse. I can see its merits but Pulse is just so much better. I’d only consider playing Putrefy AFTER I have 2 Pacts, 2 Pulses, and 2 Dismembers in my 75.
Slaughter Games – Do not play unless you expect A LOT of Scapeshift.
Jund Charm – Always have at least one in your 75. The card is really good. Versatility is key in Modern.
Rakdos Charm – See Jund Charm.
Courser of Kruphix – Only VERY GOOD if you are playing Anger of the Gods or Chandra(s), i.e. versions with red.
Sowing Salt – Do not play unless you expect A LOT of Scapeshift/Tron
Bloodline Keeper – This is not Innistrad Block Draft.
Olivia Voldaren – This is not Innistrad Block Constructed.
Ancient Grudge – Always have at least one in your sideboard. The right number of Grudges is the number you would bring in against NON-AFFINITY decks. If you want extra Affinity hate, play Corrosion/Shatterstorm.
Terminate – Do not play it in a deck that has Forest(s), Treetop Village(s), and Twilight Mire.
Duress – Only play after you have 4 Thoughtseize and 4 Inquisition of Kozilek. More than 8 discard spells is probably too much.
Harmonize – I like it a lot for the grindy matchups but you have more options with red (Chandra) and with white (Lingering Souls). If you are playing straight BG and want an extra gas spell versus midrange, consider a couple Harmonizes.
Choke – I’d definitely play some instead of Fulminators if I didn’t expect any Tron at all. They are obviously great versus the blue decks but probably too narrow. If I lose to Shaun Mclaren’s UWR again I may start playing some.
Sword of [insert all your hate here] – Obviously metagame calls, the Swords are all great once they connect. If you have a clear read of your field, I can see it as a one-of main deck. After sideboard, people will have answers to it, so if you want to steal some games, steal game one with it and then (if there is any chance your opponent has an answer to it) sideboard it out.
Prophetic Flamespeaker – I really want this card to be great, but it won’t be in Jund. No reliable sources to pump it, poor synergy with Anger of the Gods, body too fragile, bad for the mana base. One day this card will shine, but it will not be today and not in the more midrange Jund version. Remember Ohran Viper is legal (I know it is worse), but never was remotely close to see play.
Torpor Orb – Not necessary versus Twin and not the best answer to Pod.
Spellskite – All around good and versatile card. Consider it if Hexproof starts to show up more.
Bow of Nylea – This card is the one that raises a lot of eyebrows. This may not be Theros draft, but this card is still good in Modern. Of course it is very good versus burn and the burn-heavy version of Zoo, that is obvious. Now consider the UR (and RUG) Delver decks. How can they beat a card that kills almost all of their creatures and totally nullifies their backup plan (burning you out)? They have ‘Goyfs, fine—your ‘Goyfs have +1/+1 counters.
Now think about Twin, especially the value twin that Patrick Dickmann made popular. It is pretty hard to lose to the combo with all the removal Jund has, so usually they go for the flyers + burn back-up plan, which Bow handles easily. It is also fine versus Affinity since most of your non-Etched Champion losses come from their manlands. They are also randomly fine versus some other decks like BW tokens. After all these, do you really think it does not earn a spot in the sideboard as a one-of?
One of the questions I get most is “which deck should I play?” and this usually means BG or Jund or Junk. To answer it, I present you the JUNDINATOR spreadsheet. While I think the weights make sense, do not take it as the final word. Oh, no more than one person may access it at one time to simulate their field, so be polite and wait until they finish.
Until next time,
P.S.: If you win a PTQ with a Jund(ish) deck playing Pack Rats, message me and I will give you some extremely beautiful Rat tokens.