Analyzing Jund

Christian Calcano

Christian Calcano

Hello everyone.

I’ve been playing quite a bit of Modern since the unbannings of 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 and 《Bloodbraid Elf》. I have fond memories of casting both of these cards in Standard back in the day, so I was excited to get to play them again. While finding the best home for 《Jace》 is still an on going battle, there’s little doubt where the best home for 《Bloodbraid Elf》 is. Jund is a deck that has always been a part of the Modern format, but over the last couple of years, the deck has somewhat fallen to the wayside.

Jace, the Mind SculptorBloodbraid Elf

However,《Bloodbraid Elf》 has come to the rescue as it single-handedly makes Jund one of the best decks in Modern once again. The Magic Online Championship just ended, and 9 out of the 23 competitors decided to show up with Jund! Both Steve Rubin and Niklas Dahlquist finished in 2nd and 3rd place respectively with the deck, both going 5-3 in the Modern portion. I’ll be comparing their decklists, as well as share my own list that I’ve been playing in the MTGO Leagues.

Let’s get started with Steve Rubin’s list!

I think the first thing that sticks out when looking at Rubin’s list is the 3 《Fatal Push》 main deck. This seems like a metagame call, which definitely paid off for him as over a quarter of the field played Jund. It’s the best removal spell in the mirror as it deals with the majority of the threats which includes 《Raging Ravine》 which can sometimes get out of control once it’s out of 《Lightning Bolt》 range. He also went down to 3 《Lightning Bolt》 and as a result played a 2nd 《Treetop Village》 over a 《Mountain》. Going down on 《Lightning Bolt》 makes your 《Bloodbraid Elf》 cascades a bit better, but in general it’s probably best to play 4 in a normal field as it’s one of the ways to steal a game in a bad matchup.

Fatal PushLightning Bolt

The other things of note in the main deck are that he chose to play 6 discard spells and 5 creature lands. I think the difference between 5 and 6 isn’t huge here, but I definitely wouldn’t go below 5 or above 6. You need enough interaction in the early game, although choosing which split to run is a bit difficult. 《Inquisition of Kozilek》 is of course better against the aggressive decks and Burn, but 《Thoughtseize》 is better against the Big mana, Midrange, Control, and Combo decks. So I think the numbers you choose here totally depends on the decks you expect to face.

Inquisition of KozilekRaging Ravine

As for the creature lands, I’ve so far disliked playing more than 4 as casting 《Bloodbraid Elf》 on turn 4 is not possible if your 4th land is a 《Blackcleave Cliffs》 or a creature land. However, they are very good not only in the mirror, but against any Jace deck as well. It’s clear to me that Rubin had both Jund and Jace decks as the top decks that the other players would show up with, and you can see it in the way he constructed his list.

Liliana, the Last HopeGrim Lavamancer

As for his sideboard, he has many of the usual cards you can expect to find in a Jund sideboard. I like the 《Liliana, the Last Hope》 as a sideboard card more than a main deck card as I’ve found it to be a bit too weak against decks like Burn and any Big mana deck. 《Grim Lavamancer》 is a great sideboard card and while we’re used to seeing 0 or 1 in most sideboards, Rubin opted to play 2. It’s great in the mirror as it deals with 《Dark Confidant》 and 《Bloodbraid Elf》, but can also take down an opposing 《Tarmogoyf》 depending on what’s in your graveyard. It seems great against any creature deck and might be good against Control as well but I haven’t had a chance to try it out but definitely plan on it.

The last card I wanted to mention in his board is 《Thrun, the Last Troll》!

Thrun, the Last Troll

Most Jund decks have 1 slot in the sideboard reserved for a 4 mana threat of some type, for example Reid Duke had 1 《Huntmaster of the Fells》 in his sideboard. 《Thrun, the Last Troll》 is clearly best against Control decks. It’s an uncounterable threat that they have a very difficult time dealing with outside of 《Wrath of God》 specifically, since you can regenerate through 《Supreme Verdict》. It’s ok in the mirror but not great as it can still die to 《Liliana of the Veil》 and is often smaller than a 《Tarmogoyf》. I’ve tried it a bit myself, but as of now I’m not entirely sure it’s necessary, but certainly a fine card to include if you expect more Control decks going forward.

Now lets take a look at Dahlquist’s 3rd place list!

Dahlquist’s list is more of a stock version of Jund, although the notable difference is that he opted to play more 2 mana removal in 《Terminate》 and 《Abrupt Decay》 and 0 copies of 《Fatal Push》 in his 75. He definitely gives up a bit in the mirror and against decks like Burn and Affinity, but gains a bit of value against decks like 《Death's Shadow》 and 《Hollow One》. 《Tasigur, the Golden Fang》 , 《Gurmag Angler》, and 《Hollow One》 are difficult threats to deal with so going up on 《Terminate》 is a good way to fight those decks. Some players will opt for 《Dreadbore》 in the 2 mana removal slot, but I’m a bigger fan of cards like 《Terminate》 and 《Abrupt Decay》 as they’re both instant speed. 《Abrupt Decay》 specifically is great as it gives you a way main deck to interact with decks like Affinity, Bogles, and decks playing 《Blood Moon》.

TerminateAbrupt Decay

Going over his sideboard, the card that sticks out immediately is 《Hazoret the Fervent》! We’ve seen this card in Modern before in decks like Affinity, but they’re starting to show up in a few Jund sideboards as well. I’m not exactly sure how good it is, but clearly the type of threat that can win the game in a mirror or in a Control matchup. However, Jund isn’t a deck that’s particularly great at getting “hellbent” early in the game, so I wouldn’t expect 《Hazoret the Fervent》 to be attacking until later in the game, but certainly a strong draw in a late game top deck scenario.

Hazoret the FerventChoke

The other card in his sideboard that we’ve been seeing a bit more of lately is 1 copy of 《Choke》 against the Blue decks. The card can certainly be devastating against Blue decks, but most of these decks generally have a decent number of non-basic lands to work with such as 《Celestial Colonnade》, 《Seachrome Coast》, and 《Field of Ruin》 in UW’s case. However, it’s especially nice against the UR Moon deck as that deck relies very heavily on basic 《Island》 due to 《Blood Moon》. Also the fact that it can be cast off a 《Bloodbraid Elf》 cascade is a nice bonus as well. I haven’t tried it myself yet, but will certainly give it a try as there are a decent amount of Blue decks in the metagame right now.

With all that said, it’s time now to share my current version of Jund which I’ll be playing for a bit this week heading into GP Madrid!

The big difference between this list and the ones from the MOChampionship as you can see is that I love 《Tireless Tracker》! I’ve been fairly happy with it against most matchups, especially because there are so many more Midrange and Control decks since the unbannings. I’m going with 5 discard spells at the moment just to try to have more impactful cascades off 《Bloodbraid Elf》. I went 4 《Lightning Bolt》, 1 《Fatal Push》, 1 《Terminate》, 1 《Abrupt Decay》, and 1 《Maelstrom Pulse》 as my spot removal. I like 4 《Lightning Bolt》 because as I said earlier, it’s generally one of your best ways to steal games in bad matchups.

I was mostly on 2 《Fatal Push》/ 0 《Terminate》, but decided to split these because of the issues I was having particularly against dealing with the big threats in the 《Hollow One》 decks. The 《Abrupt Decay》 as I mentioned earlier I like as a generic way to interact with almost every deck. Same with the 1 《Maelstrom Pulse》 except that it serves as a main deck answer to 《Jace, the Mind Sculptor》 as well as 《Leyline of Sanctity》 out of the Bogles deck which just won the MOChampionship in the hands of Dmitriy Butakov.

Surgical ExtractionFulminator Mage

I’d say the rest of the deck is fairly standard so lets talk about the sideboard! I opted to play 2 《Surgical Extraction》 over 《Grafdigger's Cage》 because not only is it a fine graveyard hate spell, 《Surgical Extraction》 can also be another way to steal a game in a bad matchup. For example, destroying a Tron land with 《Fulminator Mage》 and exiling the land to keep them off Tron for the rest of the game.

The 《Mages》 are of course mostly for Tron, but can also come in against Control decks, 《Living End》 decks, and have even seen some players bring it in for the mirror. I could see it being good on the draw as a way to keep them off 《Bloodbraid Elf》 then cast your own, but I think I’d rather just have a more powerful card. 《Kitchen Finks》 isn’t a card I’m a huge fan of, but it does allow you to get on the board on the draw in the mirror, since running a 2 drop into 《Liliana of the Veil》 is rough. It’s also good against Burn and okay versus Control decks especially Jeskai.

Golgari Charm

《Golgari Charm》 is one of the more uncommon cards you’ll see in a Jund sideboard, but it’s been somewhat impressive for me. I won’t go as far as saying that I love it, but it does have applications in a wide array of matchups. It’s clearly good against Bogles as it does the most important thing and that’s remove a 《Leyline of Sanctity》 off the battlefield. It’s without a doubt the best card in the Bogles deck against Jund, as it shuts down all your ways of interacting with them. I also like the 《Charm》 against Affinity with their many x/1s, and Control decks to regenerate off a 《Verdict》 or destroy a 《Detention Sphere》.

Tireless TrackerAncient Grudge

I have an extra 《Tireless Tracker》 which i like to bring in for the mirrors and Control decks and the same goes for 《Liliana, the Last Hope》. The 2 《Ancient Grudge》 are to respect Affinity as the matchup has been quite problematic, but luckily the deck has gone down a bit in popularity since the Pro Tour.

Well thats it for this article, I hope you enjoyed reading it and that you get a chance to try Jund. 《Bloodbraid Elf》 is too strong I feel and I foresee myself playing this deck quite a bit in the future.

Thanks for Reading!

Christian Calcano

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