I’ve been grinding Standard on Magic Online lately trying to cook up a great new deck, and I’ve got something spicy to share with all of you today. It’s Jund. No, not Jund Monsters—just regular Jund:
This deck gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside and reminds me of old-school Standard Jund, like the one I used to make Top 8 of Pro Tour Gatecrash. Sylvan Caryatid is a perfect replacement for Farseek and Rakdos’s Return remains as powerful as ever.
The main draw to this deck was the combination of Courser of Kruphix and Underworld Connections. This combo is totally busted and allows you to get insane value every turn. As long as you control both, it basically lets you always draw a spell and play a land every turn while the life loss from the Underworld Connections is kept in check from the life gain of Courser of Kruphix. You can also do neat tricks like play a scry land off the top of your library, reveal a good spell, use Connections to draw that good spell and then resolve the scry trigger so you never “waste” it by leaving a good spell on top and not being able to put a land on the bottom. This combo also obviously works well because you can draw spells that sit on top and dig for lands, ensuring that you dig deep in your deck quickly to find whatever answer or threat you need the most.
I started with 4 Abrupt Decay and decided that I would lose to a Desecration Demon one too many times while holding it, so I went down to 3. It’s an extremely powerful card, there’s no question about that, but it’s not as flexible as I would like. The single most attractive part of this card is that it kills Detention Spheres at uncounterable instant speed. In my testing there have been many games where I killed a Sphere end of turn to free a Desecration Demon that dealt the final 6 points of damage to end a game seemingly out of nowhere. Abrupt Decay also answers Underworld Connections which is huge. When I used to slog through black mirrors, Underworld Connections was the most problematic card. I had no way to remove it and it provided a constant stream of card advantage which really couldn’t be beaten. Now with a deck that features both Abrupt Decay and Vraska I am less concerned with those cards than before. It’s nice to have a built-in resiliency to some of the format’s most popular cards.
I tried Mizzium Mortars and a few alternative removal spells in the two-drop slot but eventually I found myself coming back to Devour Flesh time and time again. It’s just the best option in Standard—it comes with no strings attached. If my opponent plays a creature on turn two I will be killing it with my Devour Flesh. It’s lean and crisp and it gets the job done. I also like how simply having it in my deck means I get a ton of percentage points in matchups where my opponent has Blood Baron of Vizkopa or if they’re trying to win via hexproof creatures.
Scavenging Ooze has seen intermittent play in Standard—it’s hard to grow it reliably and multiples are terrible. This is the main reason I chose to play only two, but it’s still exceptionally powerful. Gaining life matters in a long game, and can stabilize after a few Thoughtseizes or Underworld Connections activations. It exiles Chandra’s Phoenix against Burn—typically a very hard card for the decks I design to beat. I also like that now my deck, purely by coincidence, has a rock solid plan to beat the GB Dredge deck that floats around in Standard every once in a while. Their entire strategy just folds like a house of cards to a Scavenging Ooze.
Desecration Demon has really surprised me. At first I felt it was a horrible card and never understood why anyone would play with it, and now I understand that it’s just a strong option for black in Standard. I thought it was just another example of the usually-underwhelming punisher mechanic. It’s a classic casual player downfall of when they see a card like Browbeat and think it’s very good when in reality it’s very bad. When you would like Browbeat to deal 5 damage you draw cards and when you really want to draw cards you instead deal 5 damage, the same is true for Desecration Demon. If you really want to attack then the opponent is going to tap it and when you really want them to sacrifice a creature they will just choose to take 6 damage. Desecration and Browbeat differ in two important ways: The first is that you can actually control the Demon’s ability by just killing every creature your opponent plays, and it’s also good to realize that this decision happens every turn and not just once. The Demon sits on the table and puts the opponent to the test each and every turn. I like Desecration Demon, and not just because I won a Grand Prix with it.
Vraska is similar to Abrupt Decay but functions on a more powerful axis. I have grown to really like Vraska. I went 3-0 in an MTGO Standard 8-man earlier this week with a version of this deck that had 4 Vraska maindeck. It’s not everyday you see that. I like that Vraska is a big bulky green threat that is immune to Lifebane Zombie. The more green decks I make the more frustrated I become by Lifebane Zombie. It’s a ridiculous card. It’s incredibly oppressive and if you’re trying to build your deck in a way where you don’t totally get destroyed by it then you need to avoid any green creature that costs more than 3 mana. Often just having Courser of Kruphix in my deck can be problematic in games where I’m on the draw and don’t have a Thoughtseize.
Lastly one of the largest draws to playing a black-and-green based control deck in Standard is Golgari Charm. This cheap, versatile little instant threw me through a loop the more I played with it. One mode is regenerate all your creatures, which means in the absolute worst-case scenario it can protect one of your creatures from a removal spell or more importantly a Supreme Verdict. It can also destroy an enchantment, which comes up pretty frequently. I’ve found against Burn I often get to kill Chained to the Rocks or Eidolon of the Great Revel. It can also kill Detention Sphere, which means against a control deck it can singlehandedly shuts down their two best answers—this alone makes it a strong sideboard card. Finally it can give all creatures -1/-1. Shrivel is already a great card, and now I get to just have a Shrivel for free? Golgari Charm is great.
Sphinx’s Revelation Control Decks (UW/Esper)
I have always struggled with having Hero’s Downfall in my deck after sideboard against Sphinx’s Revelation decks, but in the end I go with my gut and play zero. The thing about Hero’s Downfall is that it’s usually only good in a losing position, where it is very good. It also does almost literally nothing when you’re in a winning position. In fact purely by existing in your opening hand it’s going to lead you to a winning position less often.
Unravel the Aether shines here as an out to Underworld Connections and Erebos, God of the Dead. Rakdos’s Return is huge as both a Mind Twist and a late-game, topdeckable Fireball. Thoughtseize is traditionally very strong in these matchups but my strategy is to play for the long game where Thoughtseize is a terrible topdeck.
This matchup is super straightforward and the plan is to kill, destroy, or prevent anything they do that deals damage. Always be aware of the potential for Stormbreath Dragons off the top to deal the final points of damage.
Golgari Charm here works well as both an answer to Master of Waves, but also as a way of destroying Detention Spheres that people often splash in this deck. If you’ve seen both Detention Sphere and Thassa then feel free to also sideboard in Unravel the Aether but until I know they’re splashing white I wouldn’t bother with it.
The Burn matchup is tricky, but here I have most enjoyed the addition of both Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix. Vraska and Abrupt Decay are also totally sick in this matchup because they can be used to kill Chained to the Rocks. Scavenging Ooze acts as life gain and a way to permanently solve the Chandra’s Phoenix problem. I still lose this matchup occasionally, but not nearly as often as I used to, and I feel that unless they get a particularly fast and uninteractive draw, they will usually lose.
I hope this deck continues to perform well for me in testing, because there’s nothing more I’d love to see than the return of Jund.
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