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Priemer’s Primers: “Jund”erstanding Legacy

Written by Tyler Priemer on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Legacy

Priemer’s Primers:  “Jund”erstanding Legacy

Tyler Priemer

Tyler has been playing TCGs for nearly 20 years. A long brewer with a knack for Legacy, there's nothing he loves more than making crazy decks a reality

Ever since the Shard of Alara block, whenever multicolor decks were possible, Bloodbraid Elf Jund has been a powerhouse. Starting with the Bloodbraid-into-Blightning powerhouse that dominated Standard, it slowly crept its way to becoming the top deck in Modern with the addition of Tarmogoyf, Dark Confidant, and Liliana of the Veil. Jund enjoyed its “king of the hill” status until January 28th, 2013, when Bloodbraid Elf was banned in Modern. Dejected, a core group of Jund devotees began developing the archetype for the one format where Bloodbraid Elf could still cascade in peace: Legacy.

SO HOW DOES THIS DECK WORK?

As anyone familiar with the old Modern Jund can tell you, it’s the perfect storm of hand disruption, removal, and resilient threats. With Thoughtseize, Liliana, and Hymn to Tourach you can strip away the opponent’s hand and feed your Tarmogoyfs and Deathrite Shamans. There is card draw with Dark Confidant, and even some deck manipulation in Sylvan Library, and on top of all this Jund runs three of the best removal spells in Legacy: Lightning Bolt, Abrupt Decay, and Wasteland. Legacy Jund is one big, cohesive pile of threats and value and run roughshod over the fairer decks in the format.

The biggest reason to play Jund over something like Shardless BUG is Bloodbraid Elf. Being able to cascade into 3-drops like Liliana of the Veil and Maelstrom Pulse allow you to clear a path to attack. The deck puts a much faster clock on the opponent than its BUG counterpart, which is integral in fair matchups where you’re often in a racing situation. As well, thanks to Deathrite Shaman, you can start firing off Bloodbraid Elves as early as turn 3!

WHAT MAKES THIS DECK DIFFERENT FROM THE MODERN JUND?

The maindeck of Legacy Jund has three major distinctions from its Modern counterpart. First and foremost is Wasteland. As the premier land destruction card in Legacy, running a set of Wasteland is a no-brainer. It allows you to colour screw your opponent and keep them off their curve, but in Jund it serves a secondary purpose. Because you’re running Deathrite Shaman, Wasteland also allows you to not lose tempo when you blow up a land. Playing Wasteland, killing off a land, then exiling it with Deathrite lets you continue to curve out without having to slow yourself down like most other fair decks.

Second of all, and this is another massive advantage Legacy Jund has over Modern, is Hymn to Tourach. Normally, BB to make the opponent discard two cards is kind of bland, but what sets Hymn to Tourach apart is that the discard is random. This is your ace in the hole against combo decks like Storm, as you can strip away two random cards, then pick through the remains of their hand with Thoughtseize. As well, because Blue decks tend to cantrip rather than actually draw cards, Hymn does a great job of depleting the opponent’s hand beyond recovery.

Lastly, we have Punishing Fire, another member of the Modern banned list. On its own, Punishing Fire is an overcosted Shock, but with Grove of the Burnwillows, it becomes a recurrable engine for picking off X/2 creatures with ease. You simply tap the Grove for R, give the opponent a life, then use the floating mana to pay for the Punishing Fire trigger. Congratulations! You now have a veritable machine gun for 1RR. Given the considerable number of staple creatures with two toughness in Legacy such as Delver of Secrets, Deathrite Shaman, and Stoneforge Mystic, being able to torch these potential problems at will makes Jund’s job considerably easier.

WHAT KIND OF CARDS SHOULD I PUT IN MY SIDEBOARD?

For sideboarding, Jund typically wants cards that help in the combo matches, and cards that allow it to fight decks like Show and Tell that can go bigger and faster than Jund. The biggest advantage Jund has is that any deck that tries to fight fair against it will get blown out, which means you’re able to dedicate more sideboard slots to the “unfair” matches. Take, for example, Vidianto Wijaya’s sideboard from the SCG Legacy Open in Los Angeles:

Surgical Extraction, Scavinging Ooze, and Grafdigger’s Cage for fighting graveyard decks like Dredge and Reanimator. Engineered Plague, Golgari Charm, and Umezawa’s Jitte for creature-based decks such as Elves and True-Name Nemesis decks. Duress for Storm and Pyroblast for Show and Tell decks, and Chainer’s Edict to kill off Emrakuls. Life from the Loam to both fight Wasteland decks and to abuse their own Wastelands. This simple toolbox gives you answers to damn near every threat that comes your way, at which point it just becomes a matter of practicing and knowing when to deploy these weapons.

Other more metagame-specific options are Choke, Leyline of the Void, and Chains of Mephistopheles. Choke is an incredible tool for shutting down Blue decks like Delver, OmniTell, and High Tide. For a measly 2G you get to shut down your opponent’s colored mana, and it’s a very key step to locking them out of the game. These decks tend to not have any enchantment removal, so once Choke is down it’s game over for them. While Jund usually has a good matchup against these kinds of decks, should your metagame have an influx of Blue, throwing a Choke or two into your 75 can be a key to success.

Leyline of the Void is another graveyard hate option, and one that doesn’t rely on such inconveniences like “mana” and “the stack”. For decks like Dredge that can play around creature-based graveyard hate like Scavenging Ooze, it’s definitely an option worth looking into. Because Jund has maindeck Deathrite Shamans, Dredge is inclined to bring in Firestorm to kill them off, but some opponents will not be prepared for both Shaman and Leyline. Bringing in a secondary permanent type that they have to interact with buys you the time you need to get your own game plan going. As well, because turn 0 Leyline comes into play regardless of whose turn it is, it can be a lifesaver against decks like Reanimator and Tin Fins that can get a giant monster into play before you can even cast a normal hate card.

Lastly, we have Chains of Mephistopheles. Go ahead, read that card and try to guess what it does. If this is your first time seeing this card, congratulations! Whatever you just said it does is probably wrong! The current errata for Chains reads:

“If a player would draw a card except the first one he or she draws in his or her draw step each turn, that player discards a card instead. If the player discards a card this way, he or she draws a card. If the player doesn’t discard a card this way, he or she puts the top card of his or her library into his or her graveyard.”

Did you get all that? To break it down, with Chains in play, whenever someone draws a card aside from their normal draw, they discard a card instead. For example, if your opponent tries to Brainstorm with Jace, they discard a card and then draw a card for each card they would draw, then put two cards back as per Jace’s ability. If they don’t have any cards in hand when they Brainstorm, then they mill three cards. For just 1B, Chains of Mephistopheles slaughters cantrip-heavy decks like Delver and Storm by ruining their hand and any card advantage they were hoping to get out of their spells. The only real barrier to playing Chains is the recent spike in price (to about $200) once this piece of tech started seeing tournament play, but if you have the money to do it, Chains of Mephistopheles can be a backbreaker.

BUT THE DECK DOES HAVE WEAKNESSES, RIGHT?

Right. Two of the easiest ways to defeat Jund are depleting its graveyard and going bigger than it. Because so many of Jund’s threats rely on graveyards, namely Deathrite Shaman and Tarmogoyf, cards like Planar Void and Rest in Peace do wonders for neutering these creatures. These enchantments render your options for winning to attacking with Dark Confidants and Bloodbraids, or hoping to dig for an Abrupt Decay to get your creatures back on track. While having four maindeck Abrupt Decays helps remedy these problems, the decks that bring in Rest in Peace either use it as a tempo play to slow down your clock while maintaining their own clock like UWR Delver, or they simply want to buy time so they can gain control of the game like UW Miracles. It really comes down to making them discard their Rest in Peace or having the Abrupt Decay soon enough after they cast it that you aren’t too hurt by it.

Jund’s other big weakness is that unfair decks like Sneak and Show and Reanimator can go over its head with giant monsters. Look at Jund’s removal suite. There is NOTHING in the maindeck capable of interacting with Sneak Attack. Stripping away their hand only works to stem the bleeding, as any topdecked monster can come crashing in for just one red mana. If they are on the Sneak Attack plan, you have to hope that you have the discard spells to get rid of Sneak Attack. Otherwise, you’re in for one hell of a rough time. To protect against a creature cheated into play via Show and Tell, you have to hope that Liliana of the Veil resolves and you can make them sacrifice it. The main problem is that you have so many dead cards in this matchup that your draws and potential outs get incredibly clunky, potentially giving them enough time to assemble their giants and crush you.

FINAL VERDICT?

Overall, Jund is a “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of deck, with answers for a wide array of threats. You can fight off Delver, tear through Combo, and outpace Control. If you’re looking for a deck to play in Legacy, and you’ve got the deck in Modern, Jund is the deck for you. With the current rise of Delver and True-Name Nemesis decks in the Legacy metagame, Jund is very well-positioned right now. So with that, my friends, trigger your cascades, bash with your Goyfs, and Hymn to your heart’s content.

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