[Modern Magic] Greatness, at any cost

Hi everybody, and welcome back to another discussion about Modern. I mentioned last week that I would talk about my favorite Shard deck. A deck named after a Shard (a deck that consists of three colors, which you can read more about here) usually provides some level of synergy between the card choices. A lot of you may think it’s Esper. However, as much as I have tried it I have always fallen back to Azorius colors, dropping the black to be more consistent.

So with that said truly my favorite three color combination is:

For all of the years I played Magic: the Gathering, mostly at the kitchen table before 2006, I always thought the colors of black and green could do some powerful things. There was even a time that these colors made a powerful deck.

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The above were just some of the cards I wish I played in Standard when they were legal, and represent some of my favorite cards in the game’s history. While my first adventures at Friday Night Magic events (FNM) revolved around decks such as Dredge, The Rock, and Doran-based decks, it wasn’t until the Shards of Alara expansions were released that my love for Jund started to flourish. Standard also gave us cards like Siege Rhino, and Sidisi, Brood Tyrant (which were great by the way), but my continued love for Jund was with me as I took my first steps into Modern. So let’s take a further look at one of the format’s best decks.

What’s new with Jund?

War of the Spark may have introduced cards for other decks, but Jund already has the tools to deal with the many threats in the format. After about six months of play it has made an important adjustment to confront the metagame.

What changed?

This card.

Thoughtseize is amazing, and while before most Jund players were running only two copies, having a third copy main deck gives the deck something I thought could never be possible in this deck. Acceleration.

This may not make a lot of sense, but let me explain. As the format started to shift with the release of Guilds of Ravnica, casting non-creature spells became more important to many strategies. If a key card was taken early, then your opponent’s deck may not play optimally during the first few turns. This gives you the advantage to deploy your threats immediately, and sometimes without them being removed.

You may be saying “well yeah, Thoughtseize has always been good, but so what?” That would be fair. Sometimes putting your thumb on the pulse of ideas happening within an archetype can lead to conclusions such as this. Around the time of Mythic Championship London (or as I call it MC (900 ft Jesus) II) I was reading up on what others were doing with this archetype. I saw many different builds, some even running three Blackcleave Cliffs and two Blooming Marsh, to get a sense of what others were preparing with in order to attack the format.

Having consistency with your key spells will only benefit you, and in the main deck (of any deck really) you should avoid being too cute with fun-ofs, or single cards that may only work in specific matches. Save those for the sideboard.

Let’s take a look at where I am now.

My current version

Creatures (15)
Bloodbraid Elf
Dark Confidant
Tarmogoyf
Scavenging Ooze

Planeswalkers (4)
Liliana of the Veil

Sorceries (7)
Inquisition of Kozilek
Thoughtseize

Instants (10)
Lightning Bolt
Kolaghan’s Command
Assassin’s Trophy
Fatal Push
Lands (24)
Blackcleave Cliffs
Verdant Catacombs
Bloodstained Mire
Raging Ravine
Forest
Overgrown Tomb
Swamp
Blood Crypt
Blooming Marsh
Stomping Ground
Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15)
Fulminator Mage
Collective Brutality
Ancient Grudge
Extirpate
Huntmaster of the Fells
Liliana, the Last Hope
Maelstrom Pulse
Seal of Primordium
Grafdigger’s Cage
Nihil Spellbomb

 

With the exception of three Scavenging Ooze, you want four copies of your best creatures, including Dark Confidant. You also want the same for your most important spells including Liliana of the Veil, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Lightning Bolt. Being consistent is the key, as your early spells can easily overwhelm an opponent. There are times, especially when going first, that you may want to play a discard spell, and on your next turn remove their creature and play a shockland tapped. This can put an opponent very far behind, as they are off tempo due to the discard spell, and their first play provided them no results. That’s too great to pass up, and as long as the draws are great for you then you will accelerate (there’s that word again) to victory.

I know that Thoughtseize costs you two life to cast, but I would rather lose the two life than die to anything I allow the opponent to play. This may also feel bad against a deck like Burn. However, removing key cards such as removal, Boros Charm, and Eidolon of the Great Revel (just as a few examples) can really push you ahead. The plus side of having this third copy of Thoughtseize means that it is relevant in more matchups than having a third Assassin’s Trophy, or some other two-cost removal spell. Chaining two discard spells together into a Liliana of the Veil on time can put a lot of pressure on the opponent, and keep their threats from harming you.

I thought this was a 50/50 deck, and…what is that in the board?

While decks like Jund lose a lot of favor in the community due to it being a “fair” deck (even though people still complain about Thoughtseize) it still does quite well in a lot of matchups. Some of those even get better when you go to your sideboard. The most glaring inclusion in my sideboard is a certain color shifted card from Planar Chaos.

That’s right! It’s a Seal of Primordium, a color shifted Seal of Cleansing. Cards in Planar Chaos were shifted away from their original color (in this cases white to green) to provide a spell or effect to a different color. You may be wondering why I have this card in the deck. Thanks to War of the Spark I had to include it in case I came into a situation where my opponent had these two cards in play.

Tron decks have adopted this strategy as Karn, the Great Creator can obtain cards from the sideboard, and if they have ten mana available they can do this in one turn. The Seal of Primordium is there to destroy the Mycosynth Lattice in the event this happens. Now although I doubt opponents would run into this you also have instant speed artifact hate in your deck with both Assassin’s Trophy, and Ancient Grudge from the sideboard. Keep in mind you can “float” mana (tapping your lands to add mana to your mana pool before a spell resolves) to cast either of those cards I mentioned after the Lattice resolves.

Seal of Primordium also deals with the following:

Remember when I mentioned not to have cute singleton cards in the main deck that are not part of your primary plan, or may be bad against some decks? This is a primary example of using a sideboard slot for that purpose.

Let’s take a look at some other possible sideboard cards for the deck that I may include in future versions of Jund.

Other sideboard options

I’ll be honest. While Huntmaster of the Fells is a fine card, I already have plenty of cards that cost four mana in the deck. Against decks such as Burn that is not only too slow, but the two life gained is very minimal when Burn players can do twelve damage in a turn (two Rift Bolts coming off suspend followed by any two cards that do three damage to a target for a single red mana). Having this early allows you to cast it on the end of their turn to get back a creature you may have discarded with Liliana of the Veil, and gain six life. It’s another Kolaghan’s Command from the sideboard, and the life gain is very relevant. Couple this with the two copies of Collective Brutality, and that’s very solid vs Burn.

Currently Dredge has not appeared a lot in Modern, however that does not mean it will never appear again. You already have tools in Extirpate, Grafdigger’s Cage, Nihil Spellbomb, as well as Scavenging Ooze (in the main deck). If they get off to a fast start, however, you may need a reset button. I personally don’t think it’s needed right now, but if you see a decline in decks such as Burn or artifact based creature decks, consider putting a copy or two of this in the sideboard.

While Surgical Extraction is an option that grew in popularity due to the Izzet Phoenix decks arriving in Modern, this card is honestly only good when you have Snapcaster Mage to cast it again with flashback. Extirpate not only does the same job, but due to Split Second prevents any other spells or effects from being played before it resolves. For instance, Dredge players will activate a fetchland to get their Bloodghasts out of their graveyard. Extirpate prevents them from doing that allowing you to exile their recursive vampire.

I would not run this card. It feels like a trap card (no, not Ravenous Trap), and in order to have it in your opening hand you should run three or four copies. It’s also a terrible reveal with the Dark Confidant‘s ability, regardless of why it is in your deck.

Speaking of bad cards, cascading into this with Bloodbraid Elf feels awful. The fact you can place the Sunburst count at any number between one and three does seem like this would be good, but if you treat your discard spells as removal then this won’t be needed.

Of all the cards I’m looking at today, this is the one I want to find two spots for in my sideboard. Cascading into Choke off of Bloodbraid Elf would be brutal against Azorius Control decks. But it’s not that good if Teferi, Hero of Dominaria is already on the battlefield. Being able to either untap lands, or put it back into your deck makes it easily handled. If blue based control decks are appearing a lot in your local metagame then I would consider running it. Keep in mind that Grixis Death’s Shadow plays only Islands (either basic, or shocklands) so you can also use this as a tool against those decks to lock them out of blue mana for quite a few turns.

The sideboard for Jund is quite flexible, with many slots open depending on what’s happening in your area, so pay attention to what deck shows up more often than others, and prepare accordingly.

In conclusion

Although I know Jund is not the top deck of the format, I have played this deck for several years. One of the reasons for doing so is that it is rare for a card from a new Standard set to impact it that much. This helps keep upkeep costs down; once you have it built the deck maintains its strength while other decks may still be changing and adapting to find the most optimal plays. Constructed formats are about being consistent, which Jund does in spades.

Thank you all for reading today’s article. Do you play Jund? What do you like about what was discussed above? Is there a sideboard card I didn’t mention? Leave a comment below, and follow me on both Facebook as well as Twitter.

As you are reading this, the Banned & Restricted update has occurred, and Modern Horizons previews have officially started. Will there be something sweet to talk about in the first week of official previews? Will something become removed from the banned list in Modern to set the internet on fire? Only time will tell.

Until next time…

TAP MORE MANA!!!

 

 

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