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Compulsive Research: Pulling the RUG Out

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Standard

This week, we are joined by LegitMTG’s own Rudy Briksza (@itssobza), recently seen championing RUG at the SCG Open in Somerset and right here on Legit MTG. The list has been through some changes since Somerset, but you can watch Rudy’s Deck Tech from the SCG event here. Here is the list as we ran it this week:

The first section of the stream goes through some of the decisions about the build right from Rudy himself. On first inspection, I was really interested in this decklist because there are so many amazing cards that are available in this color combination, and many of them are Dragon’s Maze standouts such as Turn // Burn, Ral Zarek, Progenitor Mimic and Ruric Thar, the Unbowed.

Initial Thoughts

The way that the deck looks on paper is quite interesting; it should be able to remove just about any early-to-midgame obstacles and allow you to land one of the huge finishers in Thragtusk, Thundermaw Hellkite, or Progenitor Mimic. Between Farseek and Ral Zarek, mana development should not be an issue, and every one of our four-drop spells helps to stabilize an early board presence from the opponent (along with a little help from Bonfire of the Damned and the other early burn spells).

The sideboard gives us some extra game across the field, with extra removal and countermagic, and we can even go deep on the Acidic Slime / Progenitor Mimic plan against midrange decks.

Let’s get to the games!


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I guess it was just the kind of night where the “ugly variance faerie” was on shift!

Playing It Out

I really like the deck on paper, and when it managed to execute the right mix of mana and spells, it felt absurdly powerful. In hindsight, I think we got punished on more than one occasion by having a glut of four drops with no relevant Turn 3 plays. This made the Turn 2 Farseek basically a mandatory play in order to remain in the game, and this was not always a possibility. I never really got color-screwed, but instead had to simply hope that we hit the magic number of five mana or else just be pushed out of the game.

There was very little draw or selection available in the list as it stood, which didn’t assist us at all with hitting our land drops. There was more than one game we lost because we couldn’t get more than four lands in play. There were also more than enough games that we lost to a 4/4 that we couldn’t effectively answer.

Turn // Burn seems like a wonderful card, but having the experience of running it has brought me to a different opinion. I almost never wanted to have more than one in my hand at a time. Requiring five mana to kill most of the relevant creatures in the format is about three too many for my liking. Having to keep the mana available to fuse these cards impeded our ability to develop the board a few too many times for my liking; if we had Izzet Staticaster available and could make Turn // Burn into a removal spell in its own right, then I would likely feel better about it. Moving forward, the circumstances would have to very different in Standard for me to play more than two of them in my 75.

The other thing that became extremely apparent to me was that the deck itself had a problem that Rudy’s Glory Seekers podcast co-host Dan Dusang (@capntopdeck) claims Jund has — it often draws the wrong half of itself. Jund gets away with it due to the overwhelming power of each and every one of its cards, along with Garruk, to draw out of problems. This deck, however, felt a little underwhelming by comparison. Without enough card draw, this really can’t be fixed.

Rudy had proposed a more control-oriented build of this deck, which is here:

There is no sideboard here, but you can tinker with it as desired. We also recently saw this list do well in an MTGO event:

Rudy and I both agree that this seems pretty insane, and would be a nice place to start if you want an established list to start from.

There was one card in particular during our games that impressed me with its raw power – Ruric Thar, the Unbowed is the real deal. It was in some of the later games in the stream that we played a set against an Esper walkers list, not unlike the one our first guest Shaheen Soorani played with us on Week 1 of Compulsive Research.

Ruric obviously seems great against a control deck, but what I didn’t really realize is that he deals damage, and that damage can be redirected to planeswalkers. This makes the mighty Gruul warrior a force to be considered moving forward for both Jund and Big Naya strategies, as he allows you to deal a lot of damage for little to no investment.

Big Naya is often almost completely creature-based, and having only one of each color requirement is a nice relief on the mana. Jund mirrors are very skill-intensive in the sideboard space. There are a few different ideas about how to approach them, but one of the schools of thought is to board into a neverending stream of threats while hoping that your opponent doesn’t do the same, and simply crush them with your consistent card quality. If I’m pulling spells out of my Jund deck, I would love to run Ruric Thar, the Unbowed in the mirror, especially since the 6/6 body is tough to deal with in a creature-on-creature matchup, and he both attacks and blocks in the same turn thanks to native vigilance. I for one can tell you that I am looking forward to playing more with this card in the coming months.

Closing Time

Congrats to this week’s winner, Allen Wiggs!! Thanks for the comment on the show. Please make sure that you send the email address with your legitmtg account to sales@legitmtg.com for your prize.

Huge thanks go to Rudy for joining me. Please don’t forget to check out his podcast, Glory Seekers on MTGCast. It’s about the current tournament scene and how to grind it effectively. If you are playing in a bunch of events each week or just want to stay current on the metagame, this is for you.

Next week, I’m trying to get my hands on some hot Bant Flash action; the week after that, I’ve got a recent ninth-place Platinum pro on deck to go over the ins and outs of his trademark deck. I can’t even wait!!!

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