Positive EV – Master Jund Revisited

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Monday, April 12th – At Grand Prix: Brussels, Manuel Bucher played his Master Jund list, and narrowly missed out on Day 2 play. Today, he tales us through the matches, the sideboarding, and the changes he’d make in the current climate. With the Standard format set to change in a few weeks with the introduction of Rise of the Eldrazi, will Jund still be the top dog?

The Master Jund decklist I ran at Brussels was slightly different than the one I recently talked about. Let’s get started with the latest configuration:

The only difference in the main is that I cut the two Maelstrom Pulse for two Chandra Nalaar. Maelstrom Pulse is not very good against what I expected to be a huge part of the metagame at Grand Prix: Brussels: UW Tap Out Control, Jund, and Mono Red. Chandra Nalaar is not good against Mono Red, but it is pretty decent in the Jund mirror, and it’s good against any White-based decks. I tried several other cards in that slot, such as Garruk Wildspeaker or even Ant Queen, but in the end I didn’t feel particularly comfortable without any direct removal for Baneslayer Angel. This changed the sideboard a fair bit. I didn’t run any Acidic Slimes, since I was not sideboarding out Chandra Nalaar anymore. This let me add a better card against control, one which would still be decent against White aggressive strategies: Garruk Wildspeaker.

The extra Chandra is in the sideboard, because it was really good during the games I was testing. It is decent in the mirror, especially when your opponent is boarding in Great Sable Stag, and it makes the games against any creature-based decks a lot more comfortable.

Here are my thoughts from the tournament floor:

Round 4 – Jund

The first game was over after he played Bloodbraid Elf on turn 4, after playing a creature spell the turn before while I’d not cast a spell before his Cascade Elf. The second game ended up being a lot closer when the board was almost stalled, but he had a Stag attacking. I eventually drew Chandra Nalaar to kill the Stag, and he played another one. I drew another Chandra Nalaar and killed it, but he drew a Bloodbraid Elf and his overwhelming forces killed me.

Versus Jund:

On the play:
-4 Lightning Bolt
– 3 Master of the Wild Hunt
+2 Garruk Wildspeaker
+1 Chandra Nalaar
+4 Goblin Ruinblaster

The Planeswalkers are really good on the play, since they often force your opponent to play Blightning instead of anything else. If you get several turns with Garruk, you are very likely to be winning, even though that should not happen very often.

On the draw:
-4 Lightning Bolt
+4 Goblin Ruinblaster

Garruk usually just dies, since your opponent should have a much better board, or even just Bloodbraid Elf. Chandra Nalaar is a bit slow now, and you don’t wanna be drawing two when you are on the draw. Master of the Wild Hunt is decent, since it gives your opponent a must-kill threat, and thus they can’t build up more board presence, which gives you enough time to play Siege-Gang Commander or Chandra Nalaar.


Round 5 – Naya

I played Master of the Wild Hunt on turn 3 and it survived, which was pretty much game over. The second game was closer, but my turn 4 Master of the Wild Hunt survived as well, which gave me a huge advantage. At one point I had to decide if I either play Bloodbraid Elf or Sprouting Thrinax. If I play Sprouting Thrinax I could lose to Bloodbraid Elf into Path to Exile followed by one or two Lightning Bolts. If I play Bloodbraid Elf and hit any card but Trace of Abundance or Burst Lightning, I couldn’t lose.

This is where I really don’t like the Cascade ability. I think it is great if you are playing against it, and have to think further on what could happen when your opponent cascades, and make the most optimal decision against whatever might come up. I don’t like it, however, if you are cascading yourself, and mainly have to cross your fingers and see what happens without being able to make optimal decisions. Obviously it doesn’t matter much in this example, since you have a ton of equity no matter what play you are choosing.

Versus Naya:
-4 Putrid Leech
-4 Blightning
+4 Deathmark
+2 Garruk Wildspeaker
+1 Chandra Nalaar
+1 Burst Lightning


Round 6 – White Weenie

Both games are very boring, as they are over within the first few turns. I keep two opening hands where I have a 50% chance of having a really good draw, while the other 50% of the time I just die. The second scenario happened twice, and I lost within five minutes.

Versus White Weenie:
-4 Putrid Leech
-4 Blightning
+4 Deathmark
+2 Garruk Wildspeaker
+1 Chandra Nalaar
+1 Burst Lightning


Round 7 – UW Control

I don’t remember a lot about the first game. The second game is fairly close, and when he cast a huge Mind Spring the game seemed as if it was turning in his favour. His Mind Spring totally fizzled, as all he was drawing into were mana sources and Jace, the Mind Sculptors. With no solutions to the board, he ended up dying to the remaining threats I had.

Versus UW Control
+4 Goblin Ruinblaster
+1 Chandra Nalaar
+2 Garruk Wildspeaker
-4 Lightning Bolt
-1 Oran Rief, the Vastwood
-2 Master of the Wild Hunt

Chandra Nalaar is decent enough even if they don’t have Baneslayer Angel; it is not worth taking the risk of them not having it. As said in the previous article, I board out a land since the games tend to go longer and you want to draw more threats.


Round 8 – Jund

The first game is not very close, as I played Bloodbraid Elves on turn 3, 4 and 5. He could have made a comeback if his Bloodbraid Elf had cascaded into Sprouting Thrinax. Fortunately, it didn’t. The second game was a lot closer, and it was here I made my biggest mistake. I was attacking for lethal with a Siege-Gang Commander and a bunch of Goblins, but ended up miscounting during the combat and ended up dealing one damage too little, which left him some outs. He didn’t get there, and the mistake didn’t end up having any impact on the game.


Round 9 – Jund

This was a feature match, and a rematch with Saito from the Pro Tour. I felt like I was at a huge advantage in Game 1, until he played two Broodmate Dragons. I was able to deal with the first one really easily, and even took down one half of the second, but he fourth dragon got me good. Later on, one of the people watching told me that he top decked both Dragons. Sad. The second and third games are over a lot sooner. In both the games, the player drawing first had double Sprouting Thrinax, while the other was unable to deal with them. Sadly, I was down one game before this happened, so I was out of contention.


I still think that cutting most of the removal is a good call in the current metagame. What I didn’t realize is how good Goblin Ruinblaster can be against Mono Red. With that knowledge, and the state of the metagame, I expect that main deck Ruinblaster would have been the right, call and if I were playing in a Standard tournament tomorrow I would be running following list.

4 Savage Lands
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Raging Ravine
2 Oran-Rief, the Vastwood
2 Swamp
3 Forest
3 Mountain
1 Rootbound Crag
3 Dragonskull Summit

4 Putrid Leech
4 Lotus Cobra / Trace of Abundance
4 Sprouting Thrinax
2 Master of the Wild Hunt
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Goblin Ruinblaster
1 Siege-Gang Commander

4 Lightning Bolt
4 Blightning
3 Chandra Nalaar

2 Master of the Wild Hunt
4 Deathmark
3 Dragon’s Claw
3 Doom Blade
3 Malakir Bloodwitch / Acidic Slime

By adding Goblin Ruinblaster, some of the more beloved creatures, such as Master of the Wild Hunt and Siege-Gang Commander, had to go. I still like both cards a lot, but I think that, with how the format is moving, Goblin Ruinblaster is just better. Chandra Nalaar gets better when you have main deck Ruinblaster instead of any of the removal guys, since you want to be able to kill a blocker immediately, and Chandra Nalaar gives you as similar long term advantage as the other two guys do too.

The main deck now is really weak against White, therefore there’s a more than excessive board against any White based aggro deck. There is no sideboard for the Jund mirrors. One of the ideas I am thinking about is to include Lotus Cobra instead of Trace of Abundance. In the mirror, the tempo boost you get from Trace is really good, and you probably won’t get it with Lotus Cobra. Against decks that are short on removal, the most likely being white Aggro decks, an early Chandra Nalaar or Malakir Bloodwitch could be really strong. They are very unlikely to spend their precious removal on the Cobra, since you still have cards like Master of the Wild Hunt they have to handle. At worst, it’s trading with Kor Firewalker, which is not too bad.

Where I see a really big advantage, though, is against UW Tap Out Control. In theory, this is a good mix between Putrid Leech and Trace of Abundance. Not having access to the Shroud manlands is sad, but imagine how sick turn 3 Goblin Ruinblaster or Bloodbraid Elves now become (even if you do reveal Ruinblaster and are unable to pay for the kicker…)

I haven’t played a game with Lotus Cobra, so it all is theory.

Doom Blade is over Terminate since you are losing to Vampires no matter what. Doom Blade is also better against Mono Red and White Aggressive decks. Against Mono Red, Doom Blade is a lot easier to cast. Against White decks, you obviously have more targets you can kill with Doom Blade than you can for Terminate.

If Lotus Cobra ends up being any good, you don’t need a sideboard for the mirror, since you need Lightning Bolts to be able to easily deal with Great Sable Stag, and you’re not losing too much tempo on the way… and Cobra is still able to attack. If Lotus Cobra ends up being bad, the Malakir Bloodwitches in the sideboard should very likely be Acidic Slimes, or another card that is good against Jund, White Weenie, and Control. The options are very limited, and Siege-Gang Commander is the first thing that springs to mind. When you don’t have Cobras, you don’t want any removal for the Stag, since it is going to die eventually to any of your threats, and you don’t care about a fast kill.

Another path is to cut the Dragon’s Claw in the sideboard, losing equity against Mono Red but winning small equity against Control, Jund, and White Weenie. However, I think that the benefits you gain by being able to put other cards in your sideboard are so small that Mono Red has to be a really small part of your metagame for this line of attack to be an issue

Thanks for reading, and enjoy Jund before the format changes!

Manu B