Positive EV – Red Deck Wins versus Jund: The Jund Perspective

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Monday, April 5th – Late last week, Antoine Ruel brought us the Mono Red perspective in its battle against the formats undoubted powerhouse. Today, Manuel Bucher rounds out the matchup with stories and sideboarding tips. Is there nothing that can stop Jund’s relentless advance?

I’m back from Grand Prix: Brussels, and both Antoine and myself posted disappointing results. At least our flatmate managed to make Top16 and qualify for the Pro Tour in San Juan!

Today’s matchup of choice will be Jund versus Mono Red, and you will be reading about the Jund side from me. Since the Grand Prix was won by Jund, picking up a list was pretty easy, as the Jund lists floating around in the near future are very likely to be very similar builds.

What I like most about this build is the number of basic lands it’s running, and this will definitely affect the results versus Mono Red in a positive way. The sideboard is not built to improve the Mono Red matchup in any way, with only one Terminate that is screaming to get boarded in, and several not-so-good-in-this-matchup cards in the main.

As a reminder, here’s the decklist Antoine is playing.

Preboard Games

Whenever your opponent opens with Goblin Guide, it will be very hard to catch up and win the game. On the play, the best answer you can have to Goblin Guide is a second turn Putrid Leech. This leaves you the removal for bigger threats the turn after, against cards like Ball Lightning. If you are on the draw, Putrid Leech is not as sexy, since your opponent can just tap out for one of his big Ball Lightning effects the turn after you make it, leaving you in burn range very quickly. Your opponent’s draw has to be very bad in order for you to win the game against a Goblin Guide when you’re playing second.

If you are on the play and your opponent does not open with Goblin Guide, you can play your good draws aggressively. Your opponent will have a hard time dealing with Putrid Leech into Sprouting Thrinax. This lets you use the Blightnings whenever your opponent has two cards in hand, meaning you are able to cast another spell (most likely instant speed removal) on the same turn, if you can cast anything. On the draw, this card is more complex. If you have such a draw, you often want to start using your manlands early, swinging for more damage rather than casting spells like Siege-Gang Commander, Garruk Wildspeaker, or even Blightning.

O the draw, the games are a little tougher. You might want to slow roll a second turn Putrid Leech for a turn, instead using a removal for Ball Lightning or Hell’s Thunder. Blightning will be very difficult to cast at the right time. Usually, you want to cast Blightning the turn after you get aggressive, without leaving your opponent a window to deal you too much damage with a Ball Lightning the turn you DO go aggressive. The turn you go aggressive is often the turn you cast Bloodbraid Elf, revealing a good card like Blightning or Sprouting Thrinax. This leaves your opponent with two turns left to act, and one of them is likely to be in topdeck mode.

There is a rare form of draw where Broodmate Dragon will shine. If you draw a ton of removal (Maelstrom Pulse doesn’t count as a removal spell, since it is very unlikely to kill something), you can play a very controlling game where you opt to cast a removal spell from turn 2 through 5 and then end the game with Broodmate Dragon. This will work a lot of the time, even if you only draw three removal spells, since your opponent often doesn’t realize what you are doing and tries to play their Ball Lightning around removal, expecting you to tap out eventually.

In many games, Siege-Gang Commander is very similar to Blightning, as it threatens a one-turn clock. Your opponent has many more answers to Siege-Gang Commander than he has to Blightning, and you should almost always prefer the Blightning over the Commander.

The Sideboard
-3 Maelstrom Pulse
-3 Broodmate Dragon
-2 Siege-Gang Commander

+4 Goblin Ruinblaster
+2 Jund Charm
+1 Mind Rot
+1 Terminate

Maelstrom Pulse is just a complete blank.

Broodmate Dragon can be decent in removal-heavy draws, but since those draws are so rare, I don’t think it is a winning play to keep Broodmate Dragon in.

Siege-Gang Commander is very, very fragile, and on the more expensive side of the curve. This means it’s a card you might sometimes want to cast, but more often than not you end up attacking with a manland and not casting the Commander.

Goblin Ruinblaster is meant to be more of a three-drop than a four drop. Its kicker might keep your opponent from unearthing Hell’s Thunder or casting Quenchable Fire from time to time, but it is more meant to be Blightning 5-8 in post-board games.

This card is unlike Mind Rot, which is not meant to be Blightning number five. This is more like a life-gain card, as your opponent is discarding spells that otherwise would deal you damage. Since we are running Goblin Ruinblaster, if your opponent discards two lands, it leaves a window for us to screw him.

Terminate is an obvious addition to deal with Hell’s Thunder or Ball Lightning.

Jund Charm is not very good, but all of the abilities might come in handy from time to time. Removing their graveyard is best when your opponent taps out to Unearth Hell’s Thunder. I don’t know if the two counters ever matter against a good player like Antoine (other than shock value), but against a weaker player I am sure it can win a game once in a while. The most obvious use of the Pyroclasm effect will be as a super-expensive removal option for Ball Lightning.

Postboard Games

Goblin Ruinblaster was really, really good. The kicker ability doesn’t even matter around half the time. That’s the reason I now board in Goblin Ruinblaster no matter if my opponent is running the Black splash or not. The tempo the card adds to your deck (especially compared to Broodmate Dragon) is just unreal. On the play, with such a low curve as you have with my suggested sideboarding, you will now be able to play the beatdown role a fair amount of the time. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be trading Putrid Leech with your opponent’s Goblin Guide.

On the draw, Goblin Ruinblaster is a bit weaker, but still much better than anything else you could be adding. Both Mind Rot and Blightning go up in value a lot in these games and. assuming you draw two, you should be able to cast them as early as possible (if you have Lightning Bolt, this means turns 4 and 5; otherwise turns 3 and 4).

You shouldn’t play around your opponent’s Blightning a lot, since it will be a lot weaker than yours.

The most important thing in this match up is to always play for your outs. Sometimes games are looking bad, but you get a chance to win if Bloodbraid Elf reveals the perfect card. There is no reason not to go for that play, and if you get there it can often put your opponent on tilt (as “cascades that get there” do in general).

When you hold up Jund Charm on turn 3, make sure you end up using it, as a wasted turn can easily cost you the game. Even killing Hellspark Elemental to prevent 3 damage is better than Time Walking your opponent. An open Jund Charm also deals with both the major three-drops Mono Red plays: Hell’s Thunder and Ball Lightning. Even though your opponent won’t unearth Hell’s Thunder a lot, you should still take care of it immediately.

Even though all the games are over extremely quickly, it is one of the most interesting matchups in the current Standard format and, assuming you are going to play Jund, it is worth testing it. If you make mistakes, they are definitely likely to cost you the game. It is hard to explain every single scenario, since your plays change a lot with every play. Knowing the point when you should move from the defence to the offence is really important.

How To Make The Matchup Better

The simplest solution is to add 3-4 Dragon’s Claws do your sideboard. The card is very effective cast on turn 2, mainly because the majority of your spells are Red as well.

Another surprisingly good card in the matchup is Trace of Abundance. It not only helps to accelerate your mana to play threat plus removal in the same turn, it also weakens Quenchable Fire from a game-winning card to a really mediocre burn spell.

Cards like Burst Lightning in the sideboard, over other spot removal spells, also helps this particular matchup. Burst Lightning helps you a ton in the early game, but it’s also never dead when you reveal it with Bloodbraid Elf, and it can help you race your opponent.

With the results I got from the postboard games, I would play Goblin Ruinblasters main deck if I was attending another Standard event. Being a major player versus Jund, Mono Red, and U/W Control — which should be a huge percentage of the field — has to be a reasonable addition. If only I had that information a few days earlier…

Sadly, I failed with Jund at Grand Prix: Brussels. If you are a Jund player searching for “new” tools, I recommend you trying out Chandra Nalaar. She is awesome in almost any non-Mono Red matchup.

Thanks for reading…

Manu B