Jund boasts a slew of Top 8s, including a GP. At this point, it’s one of the few tier one decks of Legacy. It might even be the best deck for a while, as it fills all the requirements of a great tournament deck for a diverse field.
1) It’s super consistent.
2) It has game against everything.
3) It has sweet sideboard options.
Let’s take a look:
4 Bloodstained Mire
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Wooded Foothills
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Deathrite Shaman
3 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dark Confidant
3 Abrupt Decay
4 Lightning Bolt
3 Punishing Fire
4 Liliana of the Veil
3 Hymn to Tourach
1 Sylvan Library
3 Red Elemental Blast
3 Mindbreak Trap
3 Engineered Plague
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
2 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Bloodbraid Elf[/deck]
This is a fairly stock list with a few tweaks. I run the full four [card lightning bolt]Bolts[/card] because I want to consistently answer my opponent’s [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] on the draw. I agree with BBD’s decision to eschew basics—having all three colors by turn two, as well as double black, is important. I cut his [card]Taiga[/card], though, as drawing multiple GR sources when you need to cast a [card liliana of the veil]Liliana[/card] or [card hymn to tourach]Hymn[/card] is the most frustrating thing ever.
What makes the deck so good? Jund has always lingered on the edge of playability, but [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] gave it a shot of juice. Now, [card]Bloodbraid Elf[/card] is actually castable, and a turn two Liliana is a common, powerful nut draw that can run away with a game.
I’ve considered [card]Liliana of the Veil[/card] the best planeswalker in Legacy for some time now, even when I had to play a [card]Veteran Explorer[/card] into [card]Cabal Therapy[/card] to get it out turn two. The constant drain on your opponent’s resources taxes them of things like countermagic, removal, and combo pieces while the edict effect is great against creatures. Oh, and every once in a while the ultimate wins the game. While it isn’t a win condition like [card jace, the mind sculptor]Jace[/card], it doesn’t need to be. It costs three!
[card]Dark Confidant[/card], [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], and [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] are some of the best threats in the game. Confidant is fragile for a two-drop, but when it lives it gets there. BBD Top 4’d last weekend, and his Confidants died “almost never.”
In the end, Jund is a pile of the best spells in the game. It plans to strip away the synergy of the opponent’s deck and crush on individual card level.
Now that we’ve established why Jund is good, let’s take a look at beating it. How do you combat goodstuff.dec?
The Unfair Decks
Unfair decks are so labeled because they deny you the possibility to interact. Belcher, for example, wins on turn one, outracing whatever the opponent was planning. Since discard is Jund’s primary way of stopping unfair decks, Belcher has a strong Jund matchup.
Unfortunately, the options that are most consistent and resilient are also the worst for the unfair deck mirror. Decks like 12 Post, Lands, and Enchantress all fit this category. I imagine they all have immaculate Jund matchups, but over the course of a tournament you’ll probably have to beat a combo deck. I haven’t ever recommended one of these slow, glass-cannon strategies, but they’re probably better now than usual.
The Unfair decks I prefer don’t combo until turn three or four, but have a bit of disruption and resiliency backed by a powerful draw engine, like Elves or Time Spiral. While both of these decks boast a strong maindeck matchup, the current sideboards are hostile to these strategies. In the Atlanta Open, I lost a few rounds with Elves because I couldn’t find the mana to [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] an [card]Engineered Plague[/card], leading to a disappointing 6-3 record.
Then there are the [card]Show and Tell[/card] decks. I tested some game ones, and the matchups felt roughly even, if swingy. Of the Show options, Sneak and Show is slightly better since [card]Sneak Attack[/card] is immune to [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card]. Post-board, Jund will have even more discard, making [card]Leyline of Sanctity[/card] a strong choice.
Don’t bring a Show and Tell variant to a field of Liliana decks.
Belcher isn’t the only deck that can win turn one, of course. Grizzlebrand Storm features a strong turn one win percentage, especially if you know your opponent isn’t running permission. Yet, unlike Belcher, it has some discard, filtering, and redundant pieces to fight through the countermagic it does face.
TinFins, by Greg Mitchell
1 Marsh Flats
2 Misty Rainforest
4 Polluted Delta
2 Scalding Tarn
3 Underground Sea
2 Children of Korlis
1 Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
1 Tendrils of Agony
4 Shallow Grave
3 Goryo’s Vengeance
3 Cabal Therapy
4 Dark Ritual
4 Lotus Petal
2 Chrome Mox
3 Pithing Needle
2 Chain of Vapor
1 Echoing Truth
4 Show and Tell
2 Cabal Ritual
1 Lim-Dul’s Vault
This list is the product of a few hard-working combo types on the Source. It has become remarkably polished, and I wouldn’t hesitate to shave a card and jam it in a major event. The main changes I’d consider are maximizing the number of combo pieces over cantrips, fitting a third [card]Chrome Mox[/card] in over a land, and finding a better sideboard plan than [card]Show and Tell[/card]. [card]Doomsday[/card] is a reasonable alternate win condition that could avoid graveyard hate and fit in the sideboard.
The deck works by reanimating a fast [card]Griselbrand[/card], attacking, drawing 21 cards, and reanimating [card]Children of Korlis[/card] a few times to draw the entire deck. Eventually, it casts [card]Tendrils of Agony[/card] for the win. Functionally, it’s a storm deck that gets to run four [card]Yawgmoth’s Bargain[/card]s, giving it a level of explosiveness that helps it race disruption and a large advantage in combo mirrors.
I first saw the deck in action in GP Atlanta, which was a while ago. Then, [card]Ancestor’s Chosen[/card] was the main way to gain back life to keep comboing. [card]Children of Korlis[/card], however, frequently gains more life and, since it costs a single white, can be cast off a [card]Lotus Petal[/card]. Since you can also reanimate the Children (but not Goryo’s), drawing your deck on turn one is remarkably consistent.
The deck has a number of advantages over typical Storm or Reanimator lists. With three mana, an [card]Entomb[/card], and one of the 2-mana reanimation spells, this deck can generate an attacking [card]Griselbrand[/card], which is much more efficient than the five mana required for [card]Sneak Attack[/card]. If you lack [card]Entomb[/card], the discard can always point at yourself to get a creature in the graveyard. If you lack one of the hasty reanimation spells, Reanimate can suffice, though you might want to wait a turn to gain some life back before drawing through your deck.
[card]Shallow Grave[/card] and [card]Goryo’s Vengeance[/card] work at instant speed, which allows you to respond to graveyard hate with a second reanimation spell. [card]Shallow Grave[/card] is particularly good here. Like [card]Exhume[/card], it doesn’t target, so you can let the graveyard hate resolve and then [card]Entomb[/card] with the Shallow still on the stack. Because of the instant speed, getting a hasty [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] is also an option.
The miser’s [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card] plays an interesting role as a shuffle effect, say if your opponent made you discard your lone [card]Tendrils of Agony[/card]. Greg told a story from Atlanta in which his [card]Dark Ritual[/card]s got [card surgical extraction]Surgically Extracted[/card]. In order to get to enough mana for the kill, he had to crack his extra [card]Lotus Petals[/card], bin [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card], shuffle his graveyard in, and draw his deck again. In a typical game, you could use this loop to generate 15 mana and actually hardcast [card emrakul, the aeons torn]Emrakul[/card]. It sounds far fetched, but that might be a necessary line against an opposing [card]Leyline of Sanctity[/card].
[card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] exiling [card]Griselbrand[/card] is your main concern, which can be answered by either having a second combo piece, winning the die roll, or boarding in [card]Pithing Needle[/card]. Since Needle also hits randomness like [card]Faerie Macabre[/card] and [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card], it’s a solid board slot for this matchup.
Unlike the Show and Tell or typical Storm decks, you can win from under a Liliana making you discard every turn, as [card]Entomb[/card] can set up a to-be topdecked reanimation spell. Still, most games end before that’s ever an issue.
Post-board, they might have anything from [card]Faerie Macabre[/card] to [card]Mindbreak Trap[/card], increasing the value of your discard.
The Fair Decks
There are a number of fair decks that don’t care about [card]Punishing Fire[/card] and can deal with a [card liliana of the veil]Liliana[/card]. Here are my picks:
While Nic Fit can go over the top of Jund nicely, it’s vulnerable to all the combo decks that people bring out to fight Jund. Still, whenever a fair deck is dominant, Nic Fit is a strong choice.
Scape Fit, by David Clark
1 Phyrexian Tower
4 Grove of the Burnwillows
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Volrath’s Stronghold
2 Eternal Witness
1 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Veteran Explorer
2 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Wood Elves
1 Primeval Titan
4 Burning Wish
3 Sensei’s Divining Top
4 Cabal Therapy
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Pernicious Deed
4 Punishing Fire
1 Life from the Loam
1 Innocent Blood
1 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Slaughter Games
1 Virtue’s Ruin
I haven’t spent much time on Nic Fit lately, but I can see this list is smooth. I like how the [card valakut, the molten pinnacle]Valakut[/card] win isn’t the focus of the deck, but rather another angle of attack that it can back door into.
One of the reasons [card]Punishing Fire[/card] is a fantastic choice is because it hits the popular threats, including [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], [card]Stoneforge Mystic[/card], and [card]Dark Confidant[/card]. More importantly, it pressures planeswalkers, which the deck can have trouble with otherwise.
My main concern with this list is that, aside from [card]Pernicious Deed[/card] and a few [card]Burning Wish[/card] targets, it’s relatively weak to an early [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] plus disruption. [card]Thragtusk[/card] looks like it should be able to trade most of the time, but the 3 toughness makes it weak to a well-timed [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] or [card]Punishing Fire[/card] combo. A couple [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]s and maybe a maindeck [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] would do a lot to alleviate the ‘Goyf issue, possibly shaving a [card]Punishing Fire[/card], [card]Eternal Witness[/card], [card]Wood Elves[/card], or [card]Sensei’s Divining Top[/card]. If I cut a [card huntmaster of the fells]Huntmaster[/card], I’d want it to be for another 4-drop like [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card].
Strangely, this matchup plays out nothing like it looks on paper. You’d think [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] would help in the [card]Wasteland[/card] battles, [card]Lightning Bolt[/card] would answer [card insectile aberration]Delver[/card], [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] would answer [card tarmogoyf]Goyf[/card], and [card liliana of the veil]Liliana[/card] and [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] would keep [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] in check.
In reality, RUG plays a lot of free spells, and has a curve that ends at two. Jund’s curve goes up to four, with multiple cards that need double-black. This plays into RUG’s mana denial plan, and RUG ends up running the show.
[card]Punishing Fire[/card] vs. [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card]: Fight!
3 Tropical Island
3 Volcanic Island
4 Flooded Strand
4 Wooded Foothills
4 Delver of Secrets
4 Nimble Mongoose
2 Forked Bolt
1 Thought Scour
2 Spell Snare
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Force of Will
3 Red Elemental Blast
2 Sensei’s Divining Top
2 Sulfuric Vortex[/deck]
This list has all of the important pieces for a Jund-centric metagame. Answering [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] on the draw is important, and I have more specific answers to [card]Tarmogoyf[/card] ([card]Spell Snare[/card] and [card]Dismember[/card]) than I usually run.
Due to Jund’s presence, most expect the metagame to become more combo-heavy for the next couple of Opens. In that light, Countertop is a terrific sideboard option over cards like [card]Sulfur Elemental[/card] or [card]Ancient Grudge[/card]. Many bad or even matchups, like Elves or Ad Naus, become much easier with a resolved [card]Counterbalance[/card]. It’s irrelevant against [card]Sneak and Show[/card], but I’m fine with that.
Rough/Tumble might be good enough for a main deck slot. The last time I played the deck, in the LA Open, there were a number of game ones where I felt things would’ve been easier if I’d had access to this card. The only problem is that it competes with [card]Dismember[/card] and [card]Grim Lavamancer[/card] as the random one-of that’s dead against non-creatures.
The Jund matchup boils down to the typical RUG plan of either protecting an early Delver while ignoring the opponent’s creatures or pumping a [card]Nimble Mongoose[/card] and clearing the opponent’s board, ignoring removal. Since the Jund deck is a relatively even mixture of both creatures and disruption, you should be able to follow whichever path is most appealing to good success. Your cantrips ensure that you can find whatever you need at any given time, and your main source of losses will be hitting your sixth land drop (cantrip accordingly!).
Jund Perspective: If [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] ever lives, you have a chance. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live very often. Keep in mind that your [card]Wasteland[/card]s function very differently from your opponent’s, as your curve goes all the way up to four and you typically don’t want to aggressively trade lands in this matchup. On top of that, most RUG players run [card]Stifle[/card], which makes them a much better [card]Wasteland[/card] deck.
When keeping hands, keep in mind that [card]Dark Confidant[/card] rarely lives, and sometimes when it does you’d wish it hadn’t. RUG has a surprising amount of reach, after all. In sideboarding, I’d look to cut [card]Dark Confidant[/card] and [card]Punishing Fire[/card]s for cards like [card]Nihil Spellbomb[/card] and [card]Red Elemental Blast[/card].
If you have the decision between [card]Punishing Fire[/card]ing or [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]ing a flipped [card insectile aberration]Delver of Secrets[/card], it’s often better to burn the [card]Abrupt Decay[/card]. It’s a counterintuitive play, since [card]Abrupt Decay[/card] is the best way to get rid of a potential [card]Tarmogoyf[/card], but getting your [card]Punishing Fire[/card] [card]Daze[/card]d or [card]Spell Snare[/card]d can set you back the necessary tempo needed to crawl back into the game. It won’t always be correct, but think hard about your odds of straight up losing to [card]Daze[/card].
That’s all for this week. Feel free to share your thoughts and frustrations in the forums. What decks have you been having success/unsuccess with vs. Jund?