Earlier this week, on Monday, I played Esper Control and continued a series where I test my various options for the upcoming TCGplayer Diamond 5k in Orlando on March 16th. I'm choosing to go with a well-established deck for this event, and my articles leading up to the event will be an attempt to narrow down my options as I playtest a specific list of established archetypes.
The following decks are my frontrunners for the event and they've been changing pretty much by the week - or rather by the article - as I get a better feel for the format and what is or isn't doing well.
Today we're taking a look at Jund Midrange. Jund is by far one of the premier decks in the format, and it's been putting up solid results ever since you could combine Liliana of the Veil, Thragtusk, and Huntmaster of the Fells in the same list. The fact that the deck is also able to run things like Kessig Wolf Run is just gravy.
The list I chose to go with today is Reid Duke's from Grand Prix Quebec City. He made the Top 4 with the list and, well, it's Reid Duke. He's been playing Jund since before anyone knew who he was.
While I loved his maindeck, I think the sideboard could use a little work. That isn't to say it's not good enough - because I don't think I have the pedigree yet to criticize his list - I just know there were certain cards that I would have included myself that Reid seems to have omitted. I'm sure he had his reasons, but we'll get into it more below. Let's check out the games.
Jund Midrange - Intro
Jund Midrange vs. Human Reanimator
Jund Midrange vs. Wolf Run Bant
Jund Midrange vs. Gruul Aggro
Jund Midrange vs. Golgari Midrange
What can we say about the deck? People claim that Jund is one of the more “fair” decks in the format, in that it doesn't do anything particularly broken or degenerate. In other words it isn't playing two Burning-Tree Emissaries on turn two and attacking for 11 on turn three. It isn't milling itself to win through an infinite loop involving, uh, well, Burning-Tree Emissary on turn five. It's just playing one card at a time and hoping to grind the opponent out…but geez, some of these cards...
I was winning games I had virtually no right to be winning with cards like Bonfire of the Damned and Rakdos's Return. I've loved Rakdos's Return ever since I first saw it; heck, I liked it so much I crammed it into a 5C Mythic list that I created just because I knew it was so powerful (but really, who didn't?). My only complaint is that there are times when, yes, Bonfire of the Damned, like all miracles, is actually an inconvenient draw. The times I'm referring to are in the early game specifically; and of course when it's in your opening hand, well, there can be more optimal situations. Nevertheless, the card is unquestionably powerful and we simply don't have the option to omit it from the list. Them's the breaks, it seems.
The best part about Jund if how disruptive it is. I won games singlehandedly after being able to rip five cards from the opponent's hand or deal the final five point of damage to their face...all with the same card! Yes, the aforementioned Rakdos's Return. Another card that really sells me on the deck is Slaughter Games. Slaughter Games is the one card I was missing in all the other decks I've played so far because the ability to rip out Sphinx's Revelation or Thragtusks is so huge. The fact that it can't be countered is also very relevant, as Sphinx's Revelation is one of the few cards this deck seemingly has a hard time against (as do most decks); it just does such an amazing and essential job of putting your opponent back in the game. The card does such a good job at putting games out of reach, and Slaughter Games can cut all that nonsense out; it's even better when they have a couple copies in their hand!
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Jund's removal package is pretty solid; at least Reid's was. He seemed to go for a good mix, adding a lot of one and two-ofs to never get stuck with a particularly useless piece of removal when he didn't need it. I liked the Mizzium Mortars in the deck and kind of wished we had more to be honest. It's a sweeper in a somewhat sweeperless world; the only problem is that it costs six. Of course he had Abrupt Decay as well which is a premier removal spell right now, along with a single Tragic Slip and two Murder. The one thing I was surprised about was that the deck doesn't have any Searing Spears, but I know Reid knows what he's doing and from what I've seen, not many versions are running the card. Shows what I know!
The other benefit the deck has is playing arguably two of the best Planeswalkers in the format in the form of Liliana of the Veil and Garruk, Primal Hunter. As you can imagine these give the control matchups fits, and Garruk's ability to give any green deck access to efficient card drawing is nothing to scoff at (but who's scoffing?).
So how do we feel about Jund? Not bad...but I think I would have to tweak it a little if I were to just pick it up and play it. The other concern I have is that barring a couple cards like Olivia Voldaren and Huntmaster of the Feels, I did feel like the Junk deck I played was a little bit more solid and a little bit less random; at least for me. A few times I felt like I was just about to lose, and bam, there was a Bonfire of the Damned or a Rakdos's Return off the top. That's not say that these cards aren't amazing, or that that isn't their job; I just didn't like the feeling of having to rely on those cards. Kessig Wolf Run is another card that can really pull you from behind. Apparently every card with “X” in its cost or activation cost is just gravy in the deck.
Does this make Jund bad? No, of course not, and I would be an idiot to even suggest it. Jund is one of the best decks in the format right now and anyone who doesn't think so probably hasn't played with or against it...or looked at any tournament results recently. In fact if I had to state honestly, I think the order of my choices right now would be as follows:
- Junk Midrange/Dead Life
- Jund Midrange
- Everything else
That's about all I have for today. Make sure to check back on Monday as we continue our journey through the competitive Standard metagame, and most likely try on American Midrange to see how it fits as we go down the list of our options for the Orlando 5k. Thanks for reading, guys, and I'll see you in a few days!
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