Hi everybody, and welcome back to Strictly Average MTG. I hope you all have been enjoying Magic, and don’t worry. I’ll be talking about the Pioneer format soon, but before that happens I want to address a few things.
First as I mentioned last time I am going to update my article titles moving forward.
[Legacy’s Impact] While my articles on this format may be few and far between I will write about this format on occasion.
[Modern Magic] This has been the primary focus of my articles.
[Pioneer Building] This new series will be about the new Pioneer format, and I’ll be writing about that in a future article.
[Standard Register] Yes I may even write about Standard from time to time.
[By Your Command] I’ll get back to writing about Commander soon.
[Something to Ponder] My op-ed series will still continue from time to time. I will also use these to provide my thoughts on the game overall.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it? I hope you’ll all be here for the ride. Something recently I noticed though is I have not written about Jund since Modern Horizons was released. So that’s exactly what I intend to do today.
What is Jund?
(baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me no more…)
Jund is, in my opinion, the premier midrange deck in Magic: the Gathering. This is especially true in Modern where the deck has all of the following:
- Discard spells to keep your opponents off tempo.
- Removal spells to deal with opposing threats.
- Planeswalkers that must be answered.
- Powerful threats that can win the game on their own, or with very little help.
- Strong sideboard cards to swing a match in Jund’s favor.
This has been Jund’s game plan since it debuted in Shard of Alara, and continues to be the plan to this day. Typically these decks will have a number of creatures (ranging between 11 and 15), a suite of discard spells, and also use direct damage spells to both back up the removal spells as well as finish off the opponent. While the deck has changed a lot over the last year, the core of it remains the same.
(baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt…wait that joke doesn’t work here)
Jund is the deck that can pivot a lot. Interesting games of Magic: the Gathering are usually the ones that are the least repetitive from one match to the next. Mono Green Tron (for example) spends the first three turns of each game assembling the Urza Lands and playing a difficult to answer threat. Every game. Regardless of opponent. While that may seem powerful, and being consistent can indeed be a powerful thing, it can become boring very quickly. The times I have played it I have felt like I am on auto-pilot at times, and I would like to have games where I have to pay attention so I can try to learn something. Jund is not like that.
While you do want to start your games with a one mana cost discard or removal spell in your opening hand, you have to make the optimal plays each turn in order to advance your game plan. You impact the game, and especially the board, every single turn. Depending on your draws you could wind up being ahead of the game each turn from turns one through four, and oftentimes keeping that pace will lead to victory.
Sometimes, though, the deck does not do well with change. This could be a change in the metagame, a new card available for the deck, or both. Lately Jund has had to find its footing, and at least as of this writing, I feel it truly has.
Let’s take a look at my current build, and discuss some of the card choices in it.
4 Bloodbraid Elf
2 Scavenging Ooze
2 Grim Flayer
2 Seal of Fire
3 Lightning Bolt
2 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Assassin’s Trophy
2 Fatal Push
4 Liliana of the Veil
3 Wrenn and Six
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Verdant Catacombs
3 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Bloodstained Mire
2 Nurturing Peatland
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Raging Ravine
1 Blood Crypt
1 Stomping Ground
1 Wooded Foothills
3 Fulminator Mage
2 Plague Engineer
2 Collective Brutality
2 Collector Ouphe
2 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Ashiok, Dream Render
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Seal of Primordium
How the deck works
As mentioned above, you want to lead off with either a discard spell, or a low cost removal spell. Common play patterns are a Thoughtseize followed by a Tarmogoyf or Wrenn and Six. From there you continue pressuring the board, and try to be the aggressor in the match.
Let’s take a look at some of the components of the deck.
Bloodbraid Elf: The card I helped get unbanned in Modern via a Christmas card, this is your top end. One of the keys to winning with Jund is casting two spells in a turn, which this helps you do. The 3/2 body with haste, while appearing weak on the surface, can still inflict a significant amount of damage.
Tarmogoyf: This is your bread & butter. The backbone of your deck. Never run less than 4. Often times attacking, but when necessary blocking, the Lhurgoyf is your primary win condition.
Scavenging Ooze: There are three things every Magic: the Gathering player wants to do with their deck. Draw cards, deal damage with powerful creatures, and gain life. Jund can do it all, and this creature can check two of those boxes. Your most important card in the matchup against Burn decks, this is a card you should only play when you have a spare green mana left open. If your opponent kills it you can activate it in response to obtain some value. Every point of life matters.
Grim Flayer: While this card may be an unusual choice, I’m going to play this card. I’ve tried Dark Confidant, and did not feel impressed. That could be due to me wanting to run three or four of them again, but since Wrenn and Six was released the wizard affectionately known as “Bob” has been on the sidelines. I have tried other options as singletons (such as Tireless Tracker, and Chandra, Acolyte of Flame), but neither of them came up often enough to keep them. There are also times the other options may appear in a bad matchup. I would rather have a creature on the board earlier than I can land the other options I have tried. I also think we can get this up to a 4/4 because Jund is one of the few decks where you use all of it’s parts nearly every game. Stacking your deck for the Bloodbraid Elf you will cast next turn is quite powerful regardless of how much damage this creature represents.
There might be some options to help achieve Delirium that I will cover later.
Liliana of the Veil: Along with Bloodbraid Elf, and Tarmogoyf, this planeswalker is one of the backbones of this archetype. While you may not want to discard cards with the +1 ability this does pair well with both Grim Flayer, and…
Wrenn and Six: This is the key card for us from Modern Horizons. I’ll be honest I did not think this would do as well as it has been performing, so I will take the loss there. This card is also the reason why Dark Confidant is no longer in the deck. Being able to consistently Reclaim a fetchland on your turn helps you thin your deck, making your topdecks even better. Do not discount the -1 ability. You may not always have a removal spell in hand after your opponent plays a Noble Hierarch so this will help deal with those types of creatures.
Seal of Fire: This is probably where many of you may have scrolled to, and that’s fine. I know this may seem odd, but think about this for a moment. How often have you played a threat, but did not have enough mana open for removal? That’s happened to me, and with adding Grim Flayer to the deck I want to make sure I can hit Delirium. The vast majority of the Modern format is creature based, and usually has a toughness of two or less. This card will do some work. It takes care of Eidolon of the Great Revel without losing any life, and that’s always a bonus game 1 against Burn.
Lightning Bolt: This kills creatures, can deal the last few points of damage to win the game, and has been the best red spell since the game started. What else can be said about this card?
Kolaghan’s Command: When Stoneforge Mystic was removed from the banned list interest in this card started to rise. While the Kor Artificer has only been average in the Modern format, this is still a potent card. Just like with Seal of Fire, do not discount the two damage. It may not seem like a lot, but every amount of damage helps. You also want to use this to make sure your opponent discards their last spell before they can cast it.
Assassin’s Trophy: When this card was released I thought it would be four copies in every deck with no exceptions. Sadly that is not the case. Regardless of the matchup the land you provide your opponent often times can come back to hurt you. Pick your spots wisely when using this spell. I feel comfortable at two on this.
Fatal Push: We all know what this card can do, and why it’s inclusion is so important. What makes this card even better here is that you can trigger Revolt by activating Seal of Fire. Never run less than two.
Inquisition of Kozilek: Modern does not wait a few turns before playing cards. Nearly every deck has an early play of some fashion, and this card’s primary purpose is to keep your opponent off tempo. Run four. Never run less.
Thoughtseize: As much as I don’t want to run more than two copies of Assassin’s Trophy I do want to run more than two of these. I’ve tried a third one in the board before and it felt average. If you spend your focus on wanting to discard cards out of the opponent’s hand you could wind up not having enough threats to attack, or spells to answer what your opponent does play. Also with the recent reprinting of Leyline of Sanctity expect to see that played more. In that case your extra Thoughtseize is dead in hand. Two here is fine.
Maelstrom Pulse: To me this feels like a flex slot, however when triggering Cascade off of Bloodbraid Elf this is a really good card. You can also use this as removal instead of Assassin’s Trophy when needed to avoid providing your opponent an extra land.
23 lands may seem a little light, but keep in mind what Wrenn and Six can do. Also some hands where you have two lands you need to mulligan away so the extra lands will not help those decisions. Your curve is generally smaller allowing you to play less lands as it is. I can see having an extra copy of Wooded Foothills in the deck, possibly replacing the single Mountain, but that would be the only change I would make.
This is probably the most stock part of the entire deck. If you see a lot of Tron in your meta you can run a fourth copy of Fulminator Mage, and perhaps even a single Liliana, the Last Hope in the board. Huntmaster of the Fells, Collective Brutality, and even the single Seal of Primordium would be good against Burn. I haven’t found a good spot for Plague Engineer yet, but it’s still worth the inclusion, and if Urza decks increase in number so will the number of Collector Ouphes.
There are some other options that you can use in this deck so let’s go over those.
Bitterblossom: Not only an enchantment that can increase the power of Tarmogoyf, and Grim Flayer, it’s primary purpose is to pressure opposing planeswalkers. This might be ok as a singleton in the board.
Garruk Relentless: An unusual choice for sure, but by producing 2/2 creatures every turn on the front end that can be a lot of pressure. The -1 ability on the back end does help you find a Tarmogoyf, or Bloodbraid Elf to close out the game.
Seal of Doom: Now this may not seem that impressive, but imagine hitting this off of Cascade with Bloodbraid Elf. Clearing away any non-black creature the opponent has can open up their defense enough to get in for the win. Pay attention to your meta to see if you even need this, because you may have enough removal already.
Murderous Rider: If I was going to replace Maelstrom Pulse with anything it would be this (and maybe move Pulse to the board). In this era of Modern I feel fair decks need to apply more pressure to the board that requires an answer, and if not that could pivot the game in our favor. It’s casting cost matches that of Liliana of the Veil, but how many cards with that cost do we really need? The lifegain is also relevant especially game one vs Burn.
Remember these are just ideas, and although it may not be what others are doing sometimes you have to take a step back to look for other options. If it doesn’t work out, then it simply does not work, and you still have the core of the deck together. Don’t be afraid to try some new options, and branch out on your own. You might surprise yourself.
The Jund archetype is quite massive, and well beyond the 75 cards we can use. Many players state they have a “Jund box” full of playable cards to switch in and out as needed. If you’re interested in playing this archetype start with the core of the deck, and then build the extras outward from there. Once you have a solid deck to work with then work on making optimal plays, and reading your opponent’s play pattern. With enough practice you will find yourself obtaining more wins than losses, and we could definitely use more wins with the fair decks currently.
There you have it everyone. My long awaited update on Jund. What do you like? What do you not like? What other cards do you suggest trying? Please leave a comment below, and follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.
Many of you have asked my thoughts on Pioneer, and next week I’ll share them. Stay tuned.
TAP MORE MANA!!!
Scott Campbell, better known as MTGPackFoils, has been playing Magic since he was 17 (which was in 1993). He’s known for loving decks such as Azorius Control, Jund, and others (especially in Modern). He is a husband, father, and a former nightclub DJ.