Last week I investigated Modern decks that are able to take advantage of the format's extremely greedy mana. The idea proved itself an interesting one, so I'm going to continue to explore it today along with an attempt to revive a sometimes popular but poorly positioned deck. Jund players have improved their bad life loss situation, but they have to choose between being good in the mirror match and against everything else. Some players added Batterskull (I guess they successfully played four Dark Confidants with four Hit / Runs some years ago), while some, like Grand Prix Toronto winner Willy Edel, gave Kitchen Finks a second chance.
Willy's deck was still four-colored, and he even cut Liliana of the Veil to simplify the mana base (and because Liliana is bad against Lingering Souls). I dislike this idea, as turn 2 Liliana is still one of the best possible starts in the format, entirely obliterating the most of Modern's combo decks. It seems that there should be a way to beat Lingering Souls in three colors, which would allow Jund playing Kitchen Finks and become better against red-based aggro.
That's where we come to Jund Charm, Maelstrom Pulse, and older Jund builds (presumably ones from Pro Tour Return to Ravnica). There are also some other cards that can effectively beat Lingering Souls without devastating your entire team, but they all lose to Jund Charm's versatility. However, Electrickery, Hurly-Burly, and Wail of the Nim are considerable sideboard cards (remember that you can't pay overload when you cascade into Electrickery because it's an alternative cost, but can pay B to gain Wail of the Nim's entwine since it's an additional cost). If I wanted to play Jund (which, honestly, is not a realistic assumption), I'd choose something like this:
Lotus Cobra is a great idea, as we've waited for its debut since Modern became a format, but it doesn't really fit into this list. However, if Liliana of the Veil becomes better after Lingering Souls shrinks in popularity, two additional ways to play Liliana on turn 2 will be very welcome. This build isn't really good in the mirror match but doesn't fall far from a coin flip, is much better against red-based aggro decks, and has enough ways to beat Scapeshift (the matchup is still unfavorable but not as horrible as builds without Liliana of the Veil).
Red-based aggro decks are, however, still capable of beating the conventional four-colored builds, even this one if Kitchen Finks stays in the kitchen. Beating Jund is easier if your deck is very fast, so my B/R and W/B/R deck investigations led me from Dark Confidant to Keldon Marauders and from Ash Zealot to Hellspark Elemental. The only sideboard change is Flames of the Blood Hand instead of Shattering Spree, as Affinity is on the decline now with different versions of Birthing Pod being relatively popular.
As for the W/B/R deck, the changes are much more serious. I got rid of Gravecrawler since it's too weak despite the ability to reincarnate (which isn't really powerful against Deathrite Shaman) and finally came to some sort of Boros with a black splash. Zombies in Modern would be good, but I prefer Steppe Lynx and Goblin Guide right now.
- 3 Tidehollow Sculler
- 2 Anathemancer
- 2 Geralf's Messenger
- 4 Goblin Guide
- 2 Grim Lavamancer
- 4 Keldon Marauders
- 1 Kor Skyfisher
- 3 Restoration Angel
- 4 Steppe Lynx
I cut Anathemancer and Geralf's Messenger to two copies each because the first is good only in the late game and the second tends to get stuck in hand due to its complicated mana cost. The deck has become more aggressive, so the inability to cast our cards costs too much to tolerate. Kor Skyfisher is in the deck to help Steppe Lynx and even aid casting Messenger and Liliana. She's also respectable sized flier that doesn't die to one half of Lingering Souls, so I'm very happy with this singleton.
The deck probably needs an additional aggressive one-mana creature, but white and red just don't have one. A two-mana beater would be welcome too, but the deck can't use Thalia, Guardian of Thraben, so I considered adding a pair of Plated Geopedes (probably instead of Geralf's Messenger or the third Restoration Angel and some random card). However, it's not the only way to evolve the deck. While discussing the deck with my teammates, I was asked: "So you splash Boros into black for discard against combo? Why don't you try blue?" The answer was: "Because the best possible deck in these colors, U/W/R Delver, is awful against Jund." Nevertheless, Insectile Aberration is one of the best one-mana creatures in the format, so it's worth exploring
I tried to incorporate more direct damage spells into a U/W/R shell, but Geist of Saint Traft is so helpless against Lingering Souls, even with the help of Eiganjo Castle, that Jund has all the time in the world to take control over the game. I tried Izzet Staticaster, but it made the matchup bad instead of awful. Staticaster is better against builds with Grim Lavamancer and Lotus Cobra, but the pre-board game is so bad that there's probably nothing that can be done to improve the whole match to a considerable level. I thought about dismissing the whole idea when saul22 went 3-1 in Magic Online Daily Event with the entire deck I searched for. The more burn needed was not the two or three additional spells I tried but burn splashed for blue.
Note the lack of maindeck countermagic; this decision is great since it helps beat Jund in burn mode, while combo decks must take all sorts of possible countermagic into account. Bluff having a two-mana counter (Remand / Izzet Charm / Mana Leak, etc.) in the first game and you'll have a ton of free space to use your Spell Pierce profitably. I'm afraid of Tarmogoyf, so Threads of Disloyalty would be good sideboard addition, but because the deck doesn't have any double blue CC cards, it's hard to cast Threads (and to use Vedalken Shackles), so Vapor Snag may be exactly what the deck needs.
I missed Lightning Helix, but the U/R list compensates for the lack of life gain with a ton of basic lands. However, I still tried to make three-colored version, eschewing Geist of Saint Traft and the least flexible burn. Lava Spike is a fine card but there are definitely better ones, and there's the necessity to kill Deathrite Shaman. The result looks strange, but it worked better than expected—significantly better than conventional U/W/R Delver. Its prospects are not very bright, but the deck has some potential.
This list isn't a metagame breaker, but it's much better positioned than its ill-fated elder brother. I like its matchup against Jund much more than with the conventional version, and combo matchups are nice too—at least until it's possible to bluff and keep them away from fearless play.