Hello everyone from Singapore,
In today's article, I'm going to write about the king of the Modern format: Jund. Most of us realized that Jund was a good deck a long time ago, but I was really surprised when I saw two Jund decks in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Denver. It doesn't sound like such a big deal, but the format of the tournament was Legacy!
What is in this deck that can successfully fight in a format like Legacy? The answer is simple—every card in the deck is very strong on its own, and all of them have good synergy. In fact, Jund has everything I'm looking for when I'm choosing a deck: it's consistent, doesn't have unwinnable matchups, and has great sideboard options. If you want to hear more about why Jund is so good, I suggest you read Reid Duke's latest article.
In Modern, you can build Jund in order to have a good matchup with any deck in format, but the problem is that you can't build Jund to beat everything, so there is a never-ending war. Decks that are good against the current version of Jund become popular; Jund players change some cards to improve the matchup; and then these decks are replaced. If you want to be a good Jund player, you need to know not only how your deck works but what the metagame looks like and how the other decks work. Jund is an interactive deck, so if you know the matchups from the other side, it will help you pick the right card with discard spells, use your removal properly, etc.
Jund is constantly changing. After Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, the important matchups were Affinity, Infect, and the mirror, so adding Lingering Souls was a logical step. At GP Toronto, the field was unhealthy because it contained too many Jund decks with Lingering Souls, so the decks that were able to beat this version (Scapeshift, Tron, and Willy Edel's Jund) had success. All these decks are bad against combo decks, and the Lingering Souls Jund isn't ideal against combo either, so now the Modern is flooded with Pod, Storm, Splinter Twin, and even G/W Aura decks. I think now is a good time for the comeback of the "old" Jund.
The current list I'm using on Magic Online is:
This deck is very similar to the list Yuuya played at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. Yuuya played extra Finks and extra removal where I'm running manlands and Inquisition, and even our sideboards are very similar.
Most Jund decks plays 20 "normal" lands and four or five manlands. I like playing five manlands slightly more because they allow you to keep more hands and help you not run out of gas. Also, some of my sideboard cards are mana intensive.
Deciding between Treetop Village and Raging Ravine is kind of tough. My instincts told me that Treetop Village should be better due to its cheaper activation cost, but after playing more games, I realized that I was missing red mana more often than I expected. It was very common that I had to take two extra damage from fetching Blood Crypt instead of Swamp in order to have a red source. Sometimes, I couldn't cast Lightning Bolt or activate Grim Lavamancer, so I'm running four Raging Ravine and one Treetop Village now.
Another small decision I made was to run the ninth fetchland instead of the second Twilight Mire. The main reason is that I wanted more gas for Deathrite Shaman and Grim Lavamancer. Also, I wanted to be more ready for Blood Moon. The downside is that I'm taking slightly more damage from lands, so if your field contains a lot of aggro decks, I suggest you stick with two Twilight Mire.
The creature suite contains auto-includes like Deathrite Shaman, Tarmogoyf, Bloodbraid Elf, and Dark Confidant. Some versions of Jund are running Lotus Cobra instead of Bob, but that would be nonsense here because we are not playing expensive cards like Lingering Souls or Thundermaw Hellkite. There should also be some Kitchen Finks in your 75. I decided to play them maindeck because in the mirror match they are much stronger in game 1; after board, they can be trumped by something bigger like Batterskull.
This list runs four Liliana of the Veil because I think she is extremely well positioned in the current metagame. Liliana's major enemy, Lingering Souls, dropped in popularity last week, and the field is full of combo decks against which Liliana is an all-star. She is also great against the G/W Aura deck.
I'm playing seven discard spells, which is one more than the average. That's because I want to be ready for combo decks, but I have to say that I almost always run an extra discard spell when I play Jund because I feel information is extremely valuable for me in order to set up the right plays. I can't afford to play nine fetchlands and four Thoughtseize because I would take too much damage from my own cards. I also think that Inquisition is slightly better at the moment.
For removal, I obviously run four Lightning Bolt. I decided to play two Abrupt Decay main, keeping two Maelstrom Pulse in the sideboard, because I think Abrupt Decay is better in the mirror in game 1 unless you face Lingering Souls. Also, Decay is extremely problematic for Splinter Twin, even more so now because most of lists aren't running Mizzium Skins.
Matchup and Sideboard Guide
If you are on draw, you can keep in some Inquisitions (like two) and side out Liliana.
Discard is not very appealing for me in the mirror match since games get into topdeck mode where discard is really bad. Also, it isn't very good to cascade into.
Jund with Lingering Souls:
This matchup is tough for you game 1 because you have no answer to Lingering Souls, but it gets much better after sideboard since you can destroy tokens with Pulse or simply go bigger with Batterskull or Olivia. You can keep more Lilianas in if you are on play, especially if you think your opponent isn't running four Lingering Souls.
Twin is a very good matchup for this version of Jund because you have a lot of discard and Abrupt Decay and play only two cards that are bad against Twin: Kitchen Finks. After sideboard, you have to care about Blood Moon; often, your best plan is fetching a basic land quickly. It's worth considering siding in one Lavamancer if they run more creatures like Snapcaster Mage. It's possible to side out one Bloodbraid Elf on the draw if they have enough targets for your Lightning Bolts because usually you can't afford to tap into Elf and risk getting killed by the combo.
-2 Abrupt Decay
Scapeshift is usually good against Jund, but this list is really well prepared for it because you are not running slow cards like Souls and your discard and Lilianas are great. Sideboarding depends on which version are you playing against. You always want two Slaughter Games over Abrupt Decay unless they play Prismatic Omen; in that case, you can side out Kitchen Finks. If you know they have Wurmcoil Engine in the sideboard, you can answer with Deglamer.
Discard and Liliana are simply great against combo decks, so you can consider almost every combo deck a good matchup for this Jund list. One or two Pulses are sideboard cards you should play if you expect Empty the Warrens, and you should side in Deglamer if they run Pyromancer Ascension or if they side in Pyromancer's Swath.
This list of Jund is not ideal against Affinity because Lingering Souls is great against it and having extra discard and Liliana is not very helpful. It gets obviously better after board because you can bring in a lot of hate, but it's very difficult for you to deal with Etched Champion, so you should keep some Lilianas in.
In the first game, it's all about whether your opponent resolves Pod. After board, you have a lot of answers to it. Goyf is not ideal in this matchup because your plan is to deal with the opponent's threats and win a longer game with Olivia or card advantage from Confidant. Against Melira Pod, you should bring in Pyroclasm. On the draw, you can side out more Lilianas.
+1 Grim Lavamancer, +1 Maelstrom Pulse
-2 Abrupt Decay
Liliana is by far your best card in this matchup, but discard is really good as well since a lot of their hands contain only one creature and you can buy a lot of time by making them discard it. After board, they could bring in Leyline of Sanctity to avoid the Edict from Liliana, so having some disenchant effects is really important in post-board games.
Tron is your worst matchup because both Karn and especially Wurmcoil Engine are extremely problematic cards for you and Relic of Progenitus can buy the Tron player enough time to get them online. After board, it gets slightly better for you, but you need more specific hate cards like Fulminator Mage or Sowing Salt if you want to make this matchup good for you.
There are more sideboard plans possible in most matchups because there are a lot of ways to build Jund's sideboard. You can add Creeping Corrosion if your field contains a lot of Affinity, more Kitchen Finks for aggro decks, Fulminator Mage to help against Tron and Scapeshift, more Grafdigger's Cage if Birthing Pod strategies are popular, etc.
That's it for today. I wish you good luck in your Modern PTQs, and if you have any questions or any ideas to share, feel free to post them in the comments.