JUND! No, not the Modern deck – the Legacy version! Last week I wrote about creating a deck for a specific metagame. This week is somewhat similar, but instead of creating a deck for a small local metagame this week’s deck is focused on beating the top tier decks – two specific decks that are a large portion of the metagame. Maverick and Stoneblade are currently the decks that a player should be focused on beating if winning the tournament is in mind. The downside is neither deck has too much in common making being able to defeat both decks a difficult task.
Maverick is full of utility creatures to answer problematic situations and Stoneblade has very few creatures but powerful spells. What is the key to beating these decks? Card advantage. I know, I know, it’s a basic concept in Magic. They player with the most cards will usually win. Well, oddly enough a Green, Black, and Red deck can create enough card advantage to beat UW Control and packs enough removal to beat a deck filled with pesky creatures. The card advantage is created through Dark Confidant, Bloodbraid Elf, Hymn to Tourach, Liliana of the Veil, Pernicious Deed, and Punishing Fire. That’s a lot of cards that create small advantages that collectively pool together and synergize for a much greater effect.
Dark Confidant is a pretty obvious way to create card advantage, however, with Bloodbraid Elf at the top of the curve it can be dangerous if the deck is already low on life. Speaking of Bloodbraid, it’s a decent clock that creates a change in tempo and replaces itself when cast, not too shabby for four mana. Hymn to Tourach and Lilliana create an advantage though a plus one system where it’s a card for two (usually), Liliana can create more than the plus one if paired with a Punishing Fires/Grove of the Burnwillows or simply not having any cards in hand and using her first ability. Aside from discard Liliana can create the advantage though her second ability causing the opponent to sacrifice creatures. Pernicious Deed and Punishing Fire are similar in the fact that they can kill multiple things, the first all at once, the second repeatedly over time.
Besides creating card advantage, Jund actively attacks the opponent from a couple of different angles. The first, as I mentioned, is overwhelming the opponent with card advantage, the second is hand disruption, and the last one is board control. We’ve already talked about card advantage, next up is hand disruption. Hand disruption isn’t as important against Maverick as it is against Stoneblade, but it’s still very useful, hitting Knight of the Reliquary and Elspeth, Knight-Errant, for example. The hand disruption is also Jund’s saving grace against combo. Being well rounded certainly doesn’t hurt the deck. I choose Thoughtseize over Inquisition of Kozilek because of the Stoneblade match-up. Being able to discard Jace, the Mind Scultor, Batterskull, and/or Force of Will can be make-or-break in crucial turns. Jace can be a serious issue for this deck, if he sticks for more than a turn things begin to look very rough for the home team. This is also why there’s a pair of Maestrom Pulses in the deck. Bloodbraid Elf isn’t too shabby at taking down the ‘walker either – Bounce that! Hymn to Tourach, besides being card advantage, is a somewhat obvious choice because of the fact that it’s a high impact card if resolved. The same could easily be said for Liliana in the control match-up discarding access lands to hit their relevant spells since usually control decks need land in order to succeed.
The creature package has been partially discussed. Dark Confidant and Bloodbraid Elf are both great at putting the deck ahead, but Tarmogoyf and Ooze are fantastic too. Tarmogoyf is good in the Maverick match-up because the only creature in the deck that can trump the Lhurgoyf is Knight of the Reliquary. Something interesting or at least I find cool about this deck is that it packs Instant, Land, Sorcery, Artifact, Creature, Enchantment, and Planeswalker creating a theoretical 7/8 Tarmogoyf! Who needs tribal? Not Jund. If only Tarfire or Bitterblossom were good in this deck! Scavenging Ooze is decent against Maverick because it can make Knight of the Reliquary smaller as well as filling the same role as Tarmogoyf- being larger than most of their deck. Gaining life probably isn’t too shabby either. There’s a lonely Kitchen Finks in this list, when I piloted the deck I ran a maindeck Thrun, the Last Troll because I couldn’t find a Finks. Thrun maindeck was never too impressive, but he wasn’t terrible either. There were definitely a couple of situations where the troll lived through Pernicious Deed or dodged removal spells. The uncounterability and regeneration were never relevant in that specific tournament, but it was a small sample size. I imagine if I played over a hundred games it would be. I don’t have any testing done with Finks, but when I have looked at Rock type lists or modern Jund lists the creature has been in the lists. It’s up to you, the reader, to decide on that slot.
The removal in the deck is versatile and effective for it’s mana cost. Lightning Bolt to begin is probably the deck’s weakest slot, but it’s fantastic at what it does! Lightning Bolt does a few things, it’s a one casting cost removal spell for Goblin Lackey, Delver of Secrets, Noble Hierarch, etc. Bolt can finish the game if the deck is in a situation where it needs a little more reach or is out of creatures. It’s not always the best card to flip off of Bloodbraid Elf, but the six point swing isn’t exactly terrible. Punishing Fires is essentially the same role except it’s more of a creature removal spell than anything else, it’s interaction with Grove of the Burnwillows to continually return to the hand is where it’s true value is at. Shock has never been Legacy playable in the ten years I’ve played this format, but a Shock that returns practically every turn, sign me up! Being a midrange deck, winning can sometimes be more about inevitability than speed or the current state of the board. Speaking of the board, BOARD SWEEPERS! Pernicious Deed.
Deed single handily will win the Maverick match-up all on its own. With Deed not targeting, it kills the opponents Mothers (of ruins), their mana creatures, and threats! All with one card. If activated for at least three, the game will most likely be a blow-out. The only downside to Deed is it doesn’t answer Planeswalkers, which can and be beneficial or not. Not killing Maverick’s Elspeth is a pain, but on the bright side, the side of the field with Grove of the Burnwillows will still have a Liliana of the Veil. Maelstrom Pulse steps up here to get rid of pesky Planeswalkers, it’s also another way to kill an unreasonably sized Knight of the Reliquary. If it happens to kill two, high-five yourself later, not during the game (that might be awkward). The last piece of removal the deck has besides the aforementioned Liliana is Umezawa’s Jitte, the swiss army knife. A way to kill Mother of Ruins without Pernicious Deed which can be important, but even more important than that is the life gain in a deck that can sometimes get very low. The added clock on the opponents’ head is added value.
The manabase is pretty standard, more black lands than anything else because hitting two black mana sources is important for Hymn to Tourach and Liliana. Besides that there’s basics to avoid Price of Progress and to search for because of Path to Exile. Yes, there’s also Wasteland, there’s also three colors. There’s enough pesky lands currently in the Legacy metagame where Wasteland is almost necessary in a lot of decks. This is one of those decks. It has a tough time dealing with Tabernacle, Glacial Chasm, Gaea’s Cradle, Riptide Lab, (I’m sure there’s more).
Ah, to the sideboard. I actually think this is a fantastic sideboard for this kind of deck. Sulfur Elemental, as I mentioned last week in my article on Grixis Tempo, this card is great against Lingering Souls and Maverick. I currently don’t see a reason not to rock this card in the sideboard in the current metagame if you’re playing red. The same could be said for Choke in green. I originally wanted to play a few other cards (like Pyroblast) until I remembered their interaction with Bloodbraid Elf. Making Choke the best option against Island based decks. The next best option in these colors is Thrun, the Last Troll. I opted for two, Wrath of God does see play in some Stoneblade lists, I wanted a second copy for insurance purposes. The only downside of Thrun is that the Troll can’t be cascaded into. But that happens to be the benefit of Leyline of the Void. Decks want to open-hand their graveyard hate, not draw into it turns later, which is part of the reason why Jund plays Leyline. It’s possible to hardcast, you can’t cascade into it, and it is probably the most effective card against Dredge and Reanimator. I wouldn’t say it’s an auto-include, but it is a great slot in this deck. There’s just something about playing a deck with Red and Green that forces me to play Ancient Grudge, I just love that card. Between Stoneblade, Affinity, and Metalworker decks, I’m always happy to see that card when it’s boarded in. Krosan Grip is a metagame call, but I enjoy it, it stops Batterskull from returning and can kill an opponent’s Pernicious Deed.
Well that’s Legacy Jund, it’s extremely good at what it does – beating the upper tier decks. If out card-advantaging the opponent is fun, especially with non-blue decks, this is probably a deck worth trying out. The deck plays with a couple of different styles, but for the most part it’s fairly easy to play, and a blast to pilot. Bloodbraid Elf with every flip just becomes more and more exciting.
Well that’s all for this week, come back again next week! Until then, keep Storming!
Bryant Cook on MTGthesource