Duel With Ruel – Standard Mythic versus Jund: The Mythic Perspective

The StarCityGames.com Open Series returns to Atlanta!
Friday, April 23rd – In this week’s edition of Duel With Ruel, Antoine and Oli thrash Jund against Mythic in a replay of the final of Grand Prix: Brussels. With Antoine piloting Zvi’s creature-packed Bant deck, does he finally get the upper hand over the format’s elephant in the room? Read on to find out!

I am very interested about the outcome of this matchup. Since Zvi played Mythic at the Pro-Tour, I have heard a lot about it, but I never saw it in action, nor have I tested it before now. As two Hungarians played against each other in the semifinal of Grand Prix: Brussels with the exact same 75 cards, I expect the deck to be much better than I thought. As it seems to be every week, the sparring-partner is the so-called deck to beat in the format: Jund.

As usual, the matchup seems okay main deck, but I am afraid that the 4 Deathmark in the opponent’s sideboard will be too efficient, and Jund will win in the end. But I have no idea if this I correct as, again, I had never seen a single game featuring Bant before this. One thing’s for sure: I am happy to play a deck with Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch and 13 Forest available on turn 1.

I will run Zoltan Szoke and Tamas Nagy ‘s Mythic decklist from GP: Brussels:

Oli will play Emanuele Giusti’s Jund, winner of Grand Prix: Brussels:

Maindeck Games (17 wins, 7 losses, 70.8% games won)

On the play: 7 wins, 5 losses
On the draw: 10 wins, 2 losses

Amazing! I beat Jund easily, and I actually think that the matchup is good! I mulliganed to five cards twice, while Oli did not, but he had to go to six cards more times than I did. I think that the result is accurate, but if he was playing Bituminous Blast, I would maybe get 10% fewer victories.

First, I must admit that Mythic is far better than I expected. It can kill on turn 4 when goldfishing with its best draw (although it did not happen), and the synergy and card power are excellent. It is probably the deck that abuses Baneslayer Angel the most. The manabase is reliable, and it turns into threats very quickly. The deck is really easy to play, as it plays three Finest Hours as its only spells, and those do not even interact with your opponent’s spells or board.

The games are straightforward. There is nothing like an aggressive strategy, or a defensive one. You basically attack with the creatures that can, and keep the others as potential blockers. The game is all about tempo, and unlike Boss Naya, Bant can actually cast the mana acceleration quickly, and use it the way it should always be used: to curve out starting on turn 2. I mulliganed every single hand that did not include Birds of Paradise, Noble Hierarch, or Lotus Cobra, as I wanted to have the tempo and start casting my threats before he had enough mana to abuse his own expensive spells, such as Broodmate Dragon or Siege-Gang Commander (which are better in the late game).

The problem with the aggressive mulligan strategy is that it makes you more vulnerable to Blightning. On the play, if you have Birds on turn 1 (which will be killed often enough), you’re already down to 4 cards in hand; with land turn 2, then land/spell turn 3, you have now 3 cards in hand and 3 or 4 mana available. Then your opponent plays Blightning, and you basically have to choose between keeping a 5 mana spell, an okay card you will be able to cast on the next turn, and a land. If you keep the 5 mana spell, you will need to draw a fifth land in order to cast it next turn, knowing that 9 lands (1/3 of the total) enter the battlefield tapped. If you keep the okay card, you will miss your land when you draw something good, and the impact of the spell on the game might be weak. If you keep the land and draw two more in a row, the game is over. None of those options will really be satisfying; I would recommend you keep the winning spell in hand and pray to get a land. If the expensive spell is not going to help you much (Finest Hour?), keep the land. Either way, do not keep a card that is not going to really help you to win, such as a Rhox War Monk.

It is really important to avoid losing to the Red/Black discard spell by itself. You have to be very cautious. For instance, rather than attacking with a Hierarch then playing a land to cast a spell, it will often be better to keep your land in hand if you can afford to lose it. Even though your opponent is not likely to have the discard spell in hand, it can show up at any moment thanks to Bloodbraid Elf.

Blightning is the reason why I won that many games on the draw, as it did not hurt too much with more cards in hand. It is also because Jund has to kill every creature that Bant plays, and it is a little easier to play around with one more card.

Jund really has to kill every guy that you will play: first the mana acceleration guys, then the expensive ones. He cannot keep his removal for Baneslayer Angels, or he will be killed by some man-lands, and by big guys which will enter the battlefield early. The Jund version that Oli played had only 9 removal spells: 2 Maelstrom Pulse, 4 Lightning Bolt, and 3 Maelstrom Pulse, and maybe Siege-Gang Commander.

He basically had 2 removal spells for Celestial Colonnade, and 5 for Baneslayer Angel (which races too quickly). If Broodmate Dragon can kill the animated land, it does not do anything against the Angel. I did not have the opportunity to play the Sphinx of Jwar Isle that much because it was always discarded to Blightning, but the few games I did, he did not have his dragons and I won easily (if the dragons are down, trade one for Celestial Colonnade then cast your Sphinx).

Considered by most of the people in the block Pro Tour in Hawaii as the best card against Jund, Thornling was game every time it hit the board and I had a mana to virtually make it indestructible. The only way that Jund has to kill him would be to Terminate it in response to its indestructible activation when you have no more Green mana up (or double Lightning Bolt, but whenever the Green guy enters the battlefield, your opponent will have already cast every single one from his hand). The important thing is to keep a land untapped, and not a Birds of Paradise or a Noble Hierarch which can get killed and not offer a reliable protection to your Elemental Shapeshifter. Then your opponent will have to chumpblock with many guys to avoid getting trampled to death, which will cost him all his potential racers. If you lose with Thornling with two untapped mana, I guess that you already were drawing dead before drawing it.

I often had to make the decision on whether to play Rafiq of the Many or Finest Hour. Every single time, the enchantment was the right card to pick. Rafiq is the only threat that you have that dies to Lightning Bolt, and that can fight endlessly with Spouting Thrinax and its Saprolings. With no attacking fliers, it did achieve much.

Finest Hour, on the other hand, was really good, the odds that you untap with it on the board and activate a manland are much higher. So you basically just attack with Celestial Colonnade for 11 damage, or 14 if you have a Noble Hierarch… this is just broken. If you have no fliers (notice that even Birds of Paradise become a threat with it), it will be good to attack twice into the Thrinax to free the way for you other creatures. I also won a few games by playing a Sejiri Steppe on a guy, making it unblockable, then casting the enchantment and attacking for a minimum of 9 damage, enough to finish every game. A Knight of the Reliquary in this spot is also really good, as you untap it with the enchantment and give it protection from the color of the blockers by fetching a Sejiri Steppe, but then it will only attack once.

Knight of the Reliquary is an auto-win whenever you untap with it. With two copies of Sejiri Steppe, it is insanely good against Jund. Do not cast it when it is smaller than 4/4, and it will deliver you the game.

As usual, try not to lose 2 permanents on Maelstrom Pulse when you can avoid it. Sometimes, you will still have to cast two copies of the same creature (not Rafiq, please). That is still okay if you need to do it to win, as no Jund deck plays four copies of the Black/Green sorcery.

Now comes the scary part… I remember only too well how easy the matchups became these past 2 weeks, when I was the Jund Mage boarding in 4 Deathmark against Naya and Allies.

Sideboard plan :

-3 Rafiq of the Many (too easy to kill, makes Spouting Thrinax even better than it already is)
-2 Finest Hour (pretty good in the matchup, but I think that the Control Magic will have more impact for 5 mana)
+1 Dauntless Escort (cheap pressure, your opponent has to kill it, then maybe he will run out of gas for your better threats, such as Baneslayer Angel)
+2 Mind Control
+2 Vapor Snare

I am not sure about this sideboard plan, as I could also board in a few other cards:

Day of Judgment: It might be okay if I plan it well and have some follow-up pressure afterwards, but I fear that his follow-up pressure might be better than mine, and in the best case, he will still activate a manland and continue a race that he was already winning, as I had to be greedy and not play my best threats yet. I will bear it in mind and see what the post-board games look like, and maybe eventually board them on the draw.

Negate: Even though many decks board these in against Jund, I think that it would be inappropriate here, as Mythic need to curve out every turn, then activate Celestial Colonnade. You should never have mana untapped to protect anything, and you might lose the tempo and die before you can cast it.

Harm’s Way: Maybe it would have been okay if I kept the Rafiq of the Many in, but now, the creatures that would die to a Lightning Bolt have one toughness anyway. Coupled with the fact that creatures don’t trade and that it is hard to keep an untapped White mana, it is not worth it.

Qasali Pridemage: The curve of the deck increased a lot, and maybe it would be okay to have lower mana-cost creatures, as I do not expect my Birds of Paradise and Noble Hierarch to last long.

Sideboarded Games ( 16 wins, 10 losses, 61.5% games won)

On the play: 10 wins,3 losses
On the draw: 6 wins,7 losses

I do not really know why, but playing first became really important. Maybe it was because the Control Magics help a lot in the race, but I did not draw them often enough for it to be a reliable conclusion.

My sideboard – basically Vapor Snare and Mind Control – was not as good as his, but the matchup seems so good that I still had a comfortable win in the end. Those 4 cards basically help getting rid of a Spouting Thrinax (he can Bolt it in response) or half of a Broodmate Dragon (your half is often better, as it is exalted).This is exactly what you need to counterbalance the removal: get rid of your opponent’s threats in order to free the path for your Rhox War Monk, Stirring Wildwood, and Knight of the Reliquary.

It becomes really important to sacrifice your Misty Rainforest for Islands, as the Celestial Colonnades become much more important as the games are longer. Oli won a few games by killing my 0/1 mana guy to prevent me from activating the land; try to avoid it as best you can.

I do not know how often the Jund players play Jund Charm in their sideboard. It is good to be a turn slower to avoid losing to it by casting an extra Birds of Paradise. Moreover, keeping those in hand will prevent you from awful Blightning results.

This time, you can cast Knight of the Reliquary as a 2/2 or 3/3, as you have more five-mana spells. It will be great if it survives, and you do not want to die with cards in hand that you did not have the time to cast yet. With Deathmark and an extra Terminate, it is very likely to die anyway, and it is still a way of protecting your other guys, as your opponent will not hold infinite removal.

Thornling kept on with its dirty work, as I did not lose a game with it here either. Oli did not board in the Goblin Ruinblaster (which I think is correct, as he needs high odds to hit a removal spell when cascading), but your opponent might, so keep a basic Forest untapped to make it indestructible if you do not want to get owned.

Many games were decided by Bloodbraid Elf (for a change…) into a removal spell or Blightning, but there is not much you can do about it. I am already very happy that Jund lost for the first time in this column, both pre- and post-sideboard.

I hope that I will test Mythic again to produce a more solid conclusion on how much of a good choice it is to run it. Too bad I rejected the deck and didn’t test it before Grand Prix: Brussels…