Friday, November 23, 2012

Mull to Five: Deck Tech - Jund Midrange Part 2

This is part 2 of my Jund Midrange Deck tech article. When I started writing this, I didn't think it would go overboard and be extremely long, so long in fact that it might have been unreadable and boring. I decided to just split the article in two, which also gives me an excuse not to write an article today (kidding). Anyways, I hope that decision would allow you to have fun reading my article as much as I had fun writing it. Enjoy!

Meta-gaming Jund's Creatures

First up is a creature I've grown to love, and would run in any deck that has Red, if possible. Meet Mr Thundermaw:


If you want to have more explosiveness, or just a faster way to beat your opponent, run this creature. Right now, some Jund lists I have seen run a pair, but I can imagine myself going to 3 copies, just because I love how dominating this card can be. In a midrange or control heavy field, resolving this (maybe with the help of Cavern of Souls) presents your opponent with a threat they cannot simply shrug off. That Thragtusk heals you for five? Let me just take that five back and put you on a four turn clock, thank you!

Whenever I draw this card, I tend to change gears and actively look for ways to just bring my opponent down low enough for me to finish the game with it. His Haste is a huge thing, as you can kill a complacent opponent who thinks he or she is safe at 10 life and can survive one more Thragtusk attack from out of nowhere. It's also almost unblockable, as his enters the battlefield ability taps down most blockers (just be careful of instant speed Restoration Angels). He can also kill Lingering Souls tokens, which can be big deal since some decks rely on those tokens to stall the game long enough to craft their win.

If you're looking for a way to speed up your Jund games, or if your meta is filled with slower midrange or control decks, or even tempo decks (just make sure to run some Caverns), you cannot go wrong with The Dragon.


I cannot think of a more honest and at the same time swingy creature than Vampire Nighthawk. Jund decks have recently been running one or two of these as an early game defense against Geist of Saint Traft and against aggressive decks. While I would normally just run a few Rakdos Keyrunes, this guy does not need any mana commitment apart from the initial 3, so consider that when deciding whether you want Nighthawks or Keyrunes in your deck. Decklists I've been seeing now run either a 1-2 split or a 2-2 split between the two; if your meta is full of tempo or aggressive strategies, or if you just want to lower  your curve, include a few Nighthawks in your deck.


Traditionally a sideboard card, some Jund decks have promoted this card to the main deck, because of the recent prevalence of graveyard strategies. It's almost never dead, and almost always the best card to have on the battlefield. It counters Snapcaster Mages handily (wait for them to target - no - ask them to target, then exile the target they picked), and blanks out Unburial Rites, all while giving you significant value. He can also end games on his own, and save you in a pinch if needed.

Do not forget too that, sometimes, he can also help with the acceleration plan. While you don't have any means of supporting this, Evolving Wilds has been seeing some play lately, so you can use his first ability on those.


Although you can run any number of them, I'm actually rather unsure of the numbers. These cadre of Avacyn Restored cards are viable on a Jund deck, but I don't consider them under normal circumstances. Borderland Ranger has seen play in the past to help with the acceleration plan, but with the Standard metagame not packing a lot of non-basic land hate, (ehem ehem, Ghost Quarter, ehem ehem) the acceleration card of choice had swung over to Farseek. Still, a 2/2 creature is nothing to scoff at, and if you're running a number of  Basics (which I think you shouldn't), you could probably justify the inclusion of this little Green Ranger that could.

Sombarwald Sage is a card I wouldn't have thought of considering seriously, but seeing it in Martin Juza's reanimator deck had me rescinding that decision. Still, I wouldn't probably play her in my Jund deck, but you can try and experiment with her if you wish. She can enable quite a few shenanigans, such as dropping an Olivia and still having enough mana to shoot a few times (note that she will not be able to provide both Red and Black for Olivia), or drop a Thragtusk with mana open for other things. She's definitely for the avante garde Jund player though, someone who wants to try novel and rogue-ish stuff.

Ulvenwald Tracker had been a personal favorite in the past, but Delver decks have made him all but unplayable. Now that those decks have more or less rotated out or are relying on different means of playing the tempo game (countermagic and removal over bounce effects), Ulvenwald Tracker might see play again, and given the huge size of Jund's creatures, he can provide a repeatable removal effect that can even deal with flyers. If you are looking for more utility in your creatures, this guy is worth considering.

Finally, Wolfir Silverheart is more of a win-more than anything else. The deck runs Kessig Wolf Run, so you may justify the inclusion of this noble creature because you have a Trample enabler. Then again, since you already have Kessig Wolf Run, you don't need any more pump effects in the deck. I guess, if you really wish to, run this card alongside the other three mentioned, as those guys need the stat buffing the Silverheart can give.

Whew, now, I'm sure there are a lot more innovative creatures out there for Jund, but what I outlined is basically just a skeleton of sorts of creatures that, I think, are most viable for Jund midrange. Feel free to experiment however, as the Standard metagame is still pretty much open.

Let's move on now to a different kind of threat, one that does not attack but still causes major damage...

Superfriends Assemble!

Some people do not want to put Planeswalkers in their decks; others do. I am definitely the latter, as they provide threat variety; which means you would have another angle of attack in case the creature plan fails. Sure, your creatures would win you games more often than not, but there's nothing more satisfying than watching somebody concede to a barrage of Planeswalkers slowly accumulating card and board advantage due to their repeatable and devastating abilities.

Here are the Planeswalkers that I think are viable in a Jund deck.


While she is often used to kill a nonland permanent (most of the time a blocker), Vraska accomplishes a variety of other roles for Jund. She can deal with non creature threats, which Jund might not be well equipped to deal with main board, most notably Planeswalkers (Tamiyo, Jace, etc), Enchantments (Detention Sphere, Oblivion Ring, etc) and Artifacts (Keyrunes). She can also provide confounding board states for opponents, especially on her last tick up before going ultimate (should I commit an attack to Vraska to stop her from going ultimate and lose my creatures in the process or should I just let her be?). Her ultimate can also win you games, as the card explicitly says. She is also just a really nice card to topdeck; I've never been unexcited to topdeck her. Since I only run 1 Vraska in my deck, I haven't had a lot of chances to use her other than as another removal spell, but she provides a lot of utility, and is a card that Jund would really love to have.



I couldn't resist lumping them together as they are both Garruks, but they cannot serve any more different roles. While they share the responsibility of pumping out creatures turn after turn, Garruk Relentless is chosen more for his overall utility while Primal Hunter is considered for his ability to draw you cards. Remember that Jund does not have a way reliable way to draw cards, which means you could potentially run out of gas quickly. Having a means to either search up a creature (Garruk, the Veil Cursed's second ability) or to draw a bunch of cards (Garruk, Primal Hunter's second ability) is a good thing to have. Which would you want more is I think of personal preference more than anything else.

Do not run a 1-1 split of the two Garruks though, just stick with one. I personally prefer Garruk Relentless just because he can do so much more than Primal Hunter, but drawing five off of a Thragtusk is a good counter argument. It's totally up to you, and what effect you think your deck would benefit more from. For me, I really just like to have the ability to kill a creature and then search up an Olivia or a Thundermaw later on.


Another sideboard card that has seen promotion into the main board, Liliana is once again seeing a lot play, owing its resurgent popularity to the prevalence of Geist of Saint Traft tempo decks and the perceived decline of Zombie decks. She, however, does a lot of other things for the deck other than answering Geist of Saint Traft: providing excellent hand disruption, another removal spell and a threatening ultimate. Control decks would simply fold off of a timely Rakdos' Return and Liliana of the Veil, and aggressive decks do not like it when they can't profitably cast creatures.

Sometimes, however, she becomes a dead card, as you wouldn't really want to discard a card to her first ability and her second ability would just be a waste if used on a mana dork or some other insignificant creature. To this end, she is often partnered with Underworld Connections or Bloodgift Demon, to mitigate the discard. Just be advised that Jund isn't really that well equipped to break the parity of her first ability; play her accordingly.

Whew, this blog post is getting rather long now, but there are still quite a bit of cards to talk about. Jund will not be Jund without its excellent removal package, so let's head on over to those now, shall we?

Dealing with Threats the Jund Way

Jund has a ton of excellent, cheap and flexible removal spells, and allocates at least twelve slots for removals (not counting Planeswalkers and Creatures that can double as removal). Lets start with the cheapest of them all...


But fifthStitch, didn't you just say Tragic Slip has not seen a lot of play recently in Standard? True, which is also why I don't know exactly how many to play, but its still a flexible removal spell, and is an effect Jund would like to have. However, since Jund does not have any way to reliably trigger Morbid, Tragic Slip is normally not played in Jund.

Pillar of Flame on the other hand is very very relevant and useful. I normally use Pillar to deal with mana dorks early, or to completely shut down Gravecrawler or Geralf's Messenger. You can also use it to deal the last points of damage on a Thragtusk or Angel of Serentiy for example, to make sure they cannot be graveyard looped. Against decks that do this graveyard looping, however, I would more often than not board out the Pillars as they cannot deal with the large threats these decks tend to play, opting for Severs instead (more on Sever later). Do not forget too that, while often used to kill a creature, Pillar can dome, and can be used to deal the last few points of damage on an unsuspecting opponent.


Dreadbore is the flagship removal spell for Jund. While only playable during your own Main Phases, it's ability to deal with any creature and any Planeswalker unconditionally makes it an excellent removal of choice for Jund. Post board, you can side this out for more specific instant speed removal spells like Abrupt Decay or Ultimate Price as necessary, but being as flexible as it is, I couldn't imagine myself not running at least three Dreadbores.

If Dreadbore is Jund's Superman, Abrupt Decay is it's Batman (sorry for the weird analogy, I just couldn't help it). It's a little more narrow than Dreadbore, but it's uncounterability and Instant speed more than makes up for that. It's a shame, however, that due to the tight card count of Jund, I don't normally run this card main deck in favor of more flexible removals like Dreadbore and the soon to be discussed Mizzium Mortars. However, I can see myself playing these if I had to add more removal spells in the main.

Mizzium Mortars. When I first ran this card, I was skeptical about it's power. I always thought that damage dealing removal spells are inferior forms of removal, but given the meta-game and the most played creatures, I cannot be any more wrong. While it is still inferior to Dreadbore or Ultimate Price, the fact that you can use this to kill off an early creature and then, in the late game, wipe the board off of most creatures really justifies it's inclusion in the deck. Heck, I would even say Mortars is in the same league as Bonfire of the Damned, and at times might be even better than Bonfire. I would, personally, run a 2-2 split between Mortars and Bonfire, if I could.

Ultimate Price is a card that has seen quite a bit of main deck play recently as well, if I remember, either in Grand Prix Bochum or Grand Prix Charleston. Creature threats in Standard right now that cannot be dealt with by Pillars or Mortars are often mono-colored: Thragtusk, Restoration Angel, Angel of Serenity, Thundermaw Hellkite; heck even Geist of Saint Traft's Angel is mono-colored! This could justify the inclusion of at least 1 Ultimate Price main deck and a few more in the sideboard. Again, identify your local meta-game and tune your removal spells accordingly.


Now we get to the big ones. Bonfire of the Damned is an absolute beast. Miracled or not (with Miracle being the preferred mode), it provides the deck with reach and the ability to just wipe the board from out of nowhere. Imagine top decking this after accelerating to six or seven mana; absolute shut out.

Another word of warning however; be careful when tapping out to cast Bonfire, especially when you Miracle it. It's a very real and very big temptation to just tap out to a miracled bonfire, on account of being a very huge splashy effect that does not happen all too often. Sometimes, though, you just need to Bonfire for a few points, then use another removal spell or cast another threat to finish off the rest. Tapping out is a huge commitment as it allows your opponent to Syncopate you or to cast another threat when you inevitably wheel back the turn to them (on account of not being able to play anything because you tapped out). Should you tap out for a Bonfire then? Sure, if you know you would win by doing so, otherwise, do some math's first before you cast your Bonfire.

Sever the Bloodline is another removal spell that I was skeptical at first, because of it's huge casting cost. However, after facing against a bunch of Thragtusks or Zombies, the card has more than proven it's worth. Being able to just exile even one card is often times backbreaking; hitting other cards of the same name is just gravy sometimes. Then you get to do it again sometime later. Just the threat of having one in the graveyard ready and waiting is enough to deter some opponents from committing threats until they are absolutely sure they would be able to finish you off, buying you time to set-up and either get back in the game if you are losing or finish off your opponent when you are winning. This card is so good that I would run another copy in the sideboard, just so I can have access to the effect more in games two and three.

Again, before I proceed, there are indeed other removal spells out there that might be playable or viable in the Jund deck. Searing Spear for one might be viable (although, given the current meta, I would wonder why you wouldn't rather have Ultimate Price instead). Jund midrange is very flexible and can be adapted to whatever meta-game you are playing against. Experiment, test and just keep playing the deck, trimming cards which do not work and adding cards that do.

Anyways, there are a few other cards that I'd like to talk about before I finally wrap up. Whew, this blog post has become uncontrollably long, just goes to show how much I like to talk about Magic, hehe.

For What Now?

For five please. Thanks.


Probably the most backbreaking card in Jund midrange's arsenal, Rakdos' Return has been responsible for more victories than any of the other cards I run.

Tapped out? Rakdos' Return for your entire hand please, and oh you were at 15 life? Down to 10?

It's always so so sooo satisfying to just cast this and strip the opponent of resources and options for the rest of the game, putting them into top-deck mode where Jund is most dangerous. With their hand destroyed, you can cast your threats without worry, and you can play a lot more aggressively.

Run at least one, and if possible two, to maximize your chances of drawing the card. Do not run more than two however, no matter how tempting. This card costs a lot of mana to cast effectively, and it would be really clunky to have more than one in hand at any given time. Also, be careful when you cast this card against decks that run it's counterpart Sphinx's Revelation, as they could just "counter" it by gaining life and drawing cards. Be careful as well against decks that run Green and White, as they might have a Loxodon Smiter waiting in hand to punish you for making them discard. Not that you cannot handle a pair of Smiters though. Sever away!


Jund's sideboard is more about streamlining your plan of attack against specific decks. Against Zombies and decks that make use of the graveyard, board in more Deathrite Shamans or Rakdos Charms, or board in more exile-based removal like Sever the Bloodline. Against control decks, board in Underworld Connections and Liliana of the Veil, to destroy their hand while accruing card advantage of your own. Against decks that rely on certain cards, board in Slaughter Games and name away.


Sigarda, Host of Herons is your Waterloo card. Against decks that run this card, board in Slaughter Games and Appetite for Brains.


You can even swap your flexible removals for more focused ones, if you think you don't need the flexibility and you want the ability to cast them on your opponent's turn.

What do you swap out? Basically, cards that wouldn't do anything or would be counter productive against a certain match-up. Be careful however when you consider "counter productiveness". For example, it might be tempting to board out Rakdos' Return against Zombies, as this can enable their Gravecrawlers, or against Selesnya as this can enable their Loxodon Smiters. These decks tend to run out of gas (options) faster than most decks, and robbing them prematurely of their gas can cripple them completely. Besides, as mentioned, you can use your other removals to deal with these cards, and if they happen to have four Smiters in hand, then they just do, and you would just have to deal with that.

As Gavin Verhey (of ReConstructed fame) once said:

It's easy for the human mind to think of every possible permutation of terrible things that could happen. Maybe they're playing twenty-four main deck counterspells, or maybe they're playing Havoc Festival, or maybe even as you're playing a gigantic ferret jumps off of your opponent's shoulder and bites you on the nose. Bad things can happen. However, many of those situations aren't that realistic. You don't need to prepared for them... I would rather just stick to the core plan to ensure that plan is strong and, if they Havoc Festival, they Havoc Festival me.

Remember that sideboarding too much dilutes your core plan. Plan ahead, think of your possible match-ups and make notes about possible sideboard decisions. Then test those notes in real combat, and further refine your approach and your plans against decks that you would most likely face. Refine your main board, and your sideboard and never stagnate. Keep evolving and keep on looking for more avenues of improvement.

Anyways, whew, after that juggernaut of a blog post, its finally time I wrap things up and bid you guys adieu. If you find any errors or points of arguments or anything you don't like about this post, or if you have any suggestions or card considerations you want to put up, feel free to comment away. These inputs would be greatly appreciated.

Until then, may your brews remain bold and strong.

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