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Compulsive Research: The Duke of Jund

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

I have a confession to make: I love Jund.

In any format that Jund is legal and remotely well-positioned, I will likely be playing it. Modern Mastery saw me take Jund to GP Toronto, and I was very happy with its play even if I did not make Day 2. Jund is traditionally the most midrange of all the decks in a format. It plays a bunch of powerful cards, with versatile removal and effective disruption designed to progress the game to a topdeck war, where the card quality of Jund will ultimately outpace the opponent’s. Jund is the most played deck in any given Standard tournament today. It is very popular because of its linear game plan and resilience against the field. If there was going to be anyone that I would want piloting us through the demonstration of this deck, it was of course none other that the Jund Master himself, Reid Duke.

Reid has been a longtime advocate of Jund across a number of formats. He has been called the progenitor of the deck for Modern, and everyone looks to him for the lead on tech for it in Standard. He has also been working with Owen Turtenwald at length since preparation for PT Gatecrash, where Owen took their collaborative efforts to his first Pro Tour Top 8 finish. Reid’s intimate experience with the deck and his decidedly “Canadian” attitude made him the only choice for this project. After looking at recent results and consulting Owen Turtenwald’s recent article, we opted to run his exact list. Here it is:

I have always played this deck with the Survivor mentality: Outlast, Outwit, Survive. It has always suited my playstyle, despite my torrid love affair with Islands and control decks. Imagine my shock and amazement when Reid said this.

“I like to play Jund like a control deck.”

I almost fell off of my chair. No WONDER I love it so much!

It makes sense, though. You play a board control game with this deck, exhausting your opponent’s resources and then dropping a threat that you can ride to victory after your opponent is spent. The only real change to this list that we played this week was the addition of a second Rakdos Keyrune over the main deck Liliana of the Veil, and without double-black needed, swapping a Dragonskull Summit for a Rootbound Crag.

“You’re never really disappointed to draw the Keyrune.”

The thing that has always given me the most trouble in Jund is settling on a specific sideboard. There are so many good cards that are available against so many different matchups. I’ve always been good at identifying the cards that are good against a particular strategy, but have often found myself in the situation where they let me down when I use them because they often just aren’t as effective as I wanted them to be. I have always looked at Reid’s sideboards, and wondered why Vraska, the Unseen specifically was often included, and equally as often in multiples. I was never able to figure out what matches she was good in, and what you wanted her to answer. I got this amazing piece of wisdom from him that I will never forget.

“You’ve gotta sideboard against the deck that they’re going to become against you after sideboard.”

MIND. BLOWN.

So if you were there live with us, I want to thank you. It was a super amazing experience having Reid show us how it’s done, and if you missed it, then there’s not much point in keeping you in suspense much longer. Here is the stream.


Watch live video from Legit MTG on TwitchTV

(I have to apologize for the technical difficulties with Reid’s connectivity. Between Canadian Internet and Skype’s reputation as a masterfully built application, I can’t really tell you what happened.)

We began the night with a couple of two-man queues. The first one was against Four-color Reanimator, and we ended up losing after some very long games exacerbated by our technical difficulties with the connection. I knew the deck was very powerful, but it put on a virtual clinic, showing us what an all-in graveyard strategy is capable of. One card that impressed me out of the board from that list was Warleader’s Helix. It dealt with all of our relevant creatures while pulling the life total further and further away. Seeing this in action alongside Thragtusks bears future considerations.

The next battle was against a UWR Flash deck. Game 1 we curved out perfectly with Rakdos Keyrune into Thragtusk with Huntmaster of the Fells and Olivia Voldaren in hand. With our opponent stumbling on land drops, we win before needing to cast Olivia. We boarded out a lot of our removal in Game 2 in favor of a higher threat density, further straining the potential answers that our opponent could have. Turn 1 Duress shows us a perfectly beatable hand, which we set up for demolition with Rakdos’s Return before dropping huge bombs one after another until the opponent simply crumbles.

We take this opportunity to jump into an eight-man event and find ourselves in new territory for Reid against Junk Aristocrats. We play as best we can against the opponent, and eventually receive a late stream of lands, allowing our opponent the necessary opening to put us away. We fight back in Game 2 and eventually fall in Game 3. The next opponent is a monored deck, and it shows us in short order why this deck is so successful online, killing us on Turn 4 on the play through a Huntmaster of the Fells. Game 2 puts us into an interesting opener, but when the boss says keep, you keep. (Hint: The boss isn’t Reid …) we mulligan into basically a nut start in Game 3 and kill every creature he plays before we kill our land-light opponent with a string of threats. (He also doesn’t take it well …)

Lessons Learned

There are some pretty strong lessons that I learned after playing the deck:

  • Huntmaster of the Fells is at its best in Jund. This deck has a great mix of instant-speed removal spells at its disposal and abilities on your permanents that can be used to flip Huntmaster back and forth nearly at will while still pressuring the opponent. Garruk Primal Hunter, Kessig Wolf Run, and Olivia Voldaren all can interact with the opponent without needing to cast spells, while all of the cheap answer spells allow us to easily flip Huntmaster back over when needed. I have always felt like Huntmaster was only an acceptable card. In Jund, it can be a very real threat.
  • Thragtusk is always the bait spell against control. Many of your other threats have a greater impact on the tempo and plays that your opponent can make, while Thragtusk simply lengthens your game and provides a wrath-resistant threat. If you’re on five mana, cast the Tusk. If they counter it, they’re probably not countering the Sire of Insanity or Rakdos’s Return next turn.
  • Use your resources as effectively as you can. This is very much a deck that relies on squeezing every bit of value out of your cards. The removal is very flexible, and selecting which spell to use in which situation can be complicated and later impact the game. This was clearly seen in Game 3 of our honored match. Mana utilization and spell selection are very relevant items to consider.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Knowing what hands are keepable and how to sequence your mana producers is a huge part of ensuring you have success with this deck. This is most easily determined through extensive playtesting and determining your role in each matchup. Understanding the relevant threats at your disposal, and the ones you are facing, will only further your goal of reaching a 60/40 field percentage that Reid boasts the deck has.

This week’s winner of LegitMTG money is Keith Iosso. Please make sure you email sales@legitmtg.com with the ID of your legitmtg.com user account to collect! If you don’t comment on the article, you can’t win any money. Get with the program folks!!!

I want to send a huge thanks out to everyone that watched the stream this week. Tonight we have the one and only Jay Boosh (@jayboosh) from The Eh Team on board to show off his recent Game Day-winning Junk Servitude list. Make sure you tune in at 9:30 p.m. EST to twitch.tv/legitmtg to listen to the Boosh himself taunt our opponents live!

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