Feature Article – Marijn’s Jund

Claim your territory at The 2009's State and Provincial Championships!
Thursday, November 26th – At Worlds, Marijn Lybaert seemed unstoppable, in the Swiss rounds at least. Flying in the face of naysayers, he picked up the best deck in the format and ran it to a straight 6-0 record. Today, he shares his take on the popular strategy, plus his latest build and sideboarding plans!

Everyone knew Jund was the deck to beat for Worlds, but that didn’t stop me from playing it… and I posted a 6-0 record in the Standard rounds. Losing the quarterfinals was a bummer, but I believe Andre Coimbra got really lucky, and Jund is still the deck to play in the upcoming State Championships.

After receiving the decklists for the Top 8, I talked to several people (including Frank Karsten and Tomoharu Saito), and they all said my deck should win quite easily. The manabase in the Naya Lightsaber deck is actually worse than the manabase in Jund (no Jungle Shrine… seriously?), and the White cards the deck plays are simply inferior to Terminate, Maelstrom Pulse, Broodmate Dragon, and Bituminous Blast. Yes, Coimbra beat me 3-1, and he beat another Jund deck 3-0 in the Top 8, but if you look at the games you can see that he got some really lucky draws, while we were drawing either not enough or too many lands.

Anyway, let’s take a look at my Jund list, and why I played those 75 cards.

For reference, here is my Jund:

– 4 Bloodbraid Elf
– 4 Sprouting Thrinax
– 4 Lightning Bolt
– 4 Blightning
– 3 Broodmate Dragon
– 3 Bituminous Blast

There’s not a lot to say about the cards above, and almost every Jund deck is playing these exact 22 cards. Blightning and Bloodbraid Elf are probably the most important, especially when you can combine them on turn 4.

– 4 Putrid Leech

At Worlds, there were some lists not running Putrid Leech, but I think that the mirror is too tempo-orientated to not play the guy. Your deck is already lacking two-drops, so I don’t think you can afford to cut them. A Turn 2 Leech, Turn 3 Thrinax, Turn 4 Bloodbraid is very hard to beat without a perfect draw. Siege-Gang Commander and Master of the Wild Hunt look sweet, but I think they are just too slow. Broodmate Dragon is the exception here, because you need a Plan B when the ground is stalled with creatures.

– 3 Garruk Wildspeaker

This is another card not everyone was playing, but the Planeswalker is so good in Jund because, in almost every situation, one of the three abilities will be fantastic. He accelerates into Broodmate Dragon, he makes a guy when you are attacking (or if need a blocker), he is an answer to Great Sable Stag, and he can fire a lethal Overrun when the board is stalled. Even in the Aggro matchups, Garruk is very good; they’ll have to spend a turn attacking him, saving you about five damage every time.

– 2 Terminate
– 3 Maelstrom Pulse

The removal package can vary from list to list, and during testing I tried out most configurations. I finally decided on 2 Terminate and 3 Maelstrom Pulse because I wanted enough answers to Eldrazi Monument and opposing Planeswalkers, but I also wanted some cheap removal against the Boros deck. I think five spot removal spells is the perfect number, because sometimes you have to be aggressive and play Bloodbraid on turn 4, and you don’t want to hit a dead removal spell too often.

– 1 Borderland Ranger

The manabase is definitely one of Jund’s weakest points, and Borderland Ranger was an attempt to fix that, while not being completely dead when you are flooded or when you cascade into it. The games you lose with Jund are mainly because of manascrew (sometimes because of Goblin Ruinblaster, sometimes because you just don’t draw land number 4), so I was fine running this guy. You’re basically running 25.5 lands, which is what I would run if I could play City of Ass from Unhinged.

– 4 Verdant Catacombs
– 3 Dragonskull Summit
– 4 Rootbound Crag
– 4 Swamp
– 3 Forest
– 3 Mountain
– 4 Savage Lands

I chose not to run Oran-Rief, the Vastwood because it sometimes screws up your draws, and it only really shines in the mirror, or when you play Great Sable Stag.

The sideboard:

– 2 Terminate

This is extra instant removal for the matchups where Maelstrom Pulse is a bit too slow, or when you are playing against a deck with 4 Baneslayer Angel plus more creatures you need to kill.

– 3 Goblin Ruinblaster

This card is so important in the mirror because it generates a huge tempo swing while attacking Jund’s weakest point: the manabase. It also helps steal games against slower control decks. Should have been four, but I ditched the fourth for an extra Mind Rot on Thursday morning.

– 3 Mind Rot
– 2 Thought Hemorrhage

Mainly there against control decks, but I was also siding in Mind Rot in the mirror. I wouldn’t run them anymore, as Ruinblaster is just better, and control decks are pretty bad anyway.

– 2 Caldera Hellion

The Mono-Green Elf deck was gaining popularity online, so I wanted something extra for that matchup. I also brought them in against the Boros deck, but they are sometimes too slow there.

– 3 Jund Charm

Amazing against Boros Bushwhacker, White Weenie, and the Crypt of Agadeem deck.

If I had to play a Standard tournament tomorrow, I wouldn’t change anything maindeck. However, the sideboard would definitely change. Here is what I’d run:

The Naya Lightsaber deck from André Coimbra and Mike Flores will certainly be played, and you really want more Borderlands Rangers against it to prevent losing games to Goblin Ruinblaster. There were a lot of White decks running Emeria Angel and / or Baneslayer Angel, and Malakir Bloodwitch is a perfect answer to those cards, which also can’t be killed by Celestial Purge or Path to Exile.

Matchups and Sideboarding

Versus Jund

+2 Borderland Ranger, +4 Goblin Ruinblaster
-3 Maelstrom Pulse , -3 Lightning Bolt or -3 Putrid Leech

As I said above, I think the mirror is very tempo-orientated, and Ruinblaster really helps there. Taking out the Leeches doesn’t really fit that plan, but if your opponent is running Stag there is a great chance you won’t be able to attack with the Black 2/2 anyway. Even if you have Lightning Bolt in your hand, you want to be spending your mana on other things like a kicked Ruinblaster or a Bloodbraid Elf. If your opponent is not running Stag, Leech becomes a lot better, and you can just take out Lightning Bolt.

Versus Naya Lightsaber

+2 Borderland Ranger, +3 Malakir Bloodwitch, +2 Terminate
-1 Broodmate Dragon, -1 Bituminous Blast, -4 Sprouting Thrinax

I think that when you can cast your spells you are in great shape, especially after boarding, when you bring in even more answers to Baneslayer Angel and Woolly Thoctar. The other cards in the Naya deck aren’t very threatening, so I think you should be fine. Sideboarding out Sprouting Thrinax might be a bit risky, but he doesn’t kill anything and they have Purges anyway. I would also take out one Broodmate Dragon and 1 Bituminous Blast, because you don’t want to have too many five-mana-plus spells.

Versus Boros Bushwhacker

+3 Jund Charm, +2 Terminate
-3 Maelstrom Pulse, -1 Garruk Wildspeaker, -1 Bituminous Blast

Your worst fear is their faster draw, so you bring in five cheap removal spells and take out some of the slower cards. Maelstrom Pulse is just a bad Jund Charm most of the time.

Versus Mono-White Aggro

+3 Jund Charm, +3 Malakir Bloodwitch
-4 Sprouting Thrinax, -1 Borderland Ranger, -1 Bituminous Blast

Sprouting Thrinax loses a lot of value when your opponent has 4 Celestial Purge and 4 Devout Lightcaster. Maelstrom Pulse is a lot better in this matchup because of Conqueror’s Pledge and Honor of the Pure.

Versus UWR Control

+4 Goblin Ruinblaster, +1 Chandra Nalaar
-3 Bituminous Blast, -2 Terminate

Probably one of your worst matchups, especially without Mind Rot and Thought Hemorrhage. If this deck gains popularity it’s probably worth running some combination of Duress / Chandra / Thought Hemorrhage.

I don’t think Standard will change significantly after Worlds. A lot of players were saying Jund was just bad, and they all tried to break it, but in the end it was Jund that was once again the best deck. Andre Coimbra might have gotten lucky, but I don’t think the Naya Lightsaber deck is very good, especially now that people know about it. What I hate the most about the Naya deck is the Ranger of Eos plus Scute Mob plus Wild Nacatl package. With only 4 Forests you won’t be casting a lot of turn 1 Nacatls, and even when you do so there is a big chance that he won’t become bigger than 2/2. Andre Coimbra noticed this problem himself, and sideboarded out the complete package against Jund in the Top 8. In doing this, he turned his deck into some kind of awkward, slow Naya deck that definitely needed Jungle Shrine to fix the mana.

If you really don’t like Jund, I’d rather play the WGb deck from Martin Juza, or the UWR Control deck played by the Austrians (like the deck played by Benjamin Rozmon). Or you can always change your mind of course, because there is nothing better than Cascading into Blightning.

If you have any questions, please post them on the forums, and I’ll gladly answer them.

Cheers, and good luck in the upcoming State Championships!