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Priemers Standard Primers: Making Monsters

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

It’s the time of the year, when everyone qualified to participate in the World Magic Cup Qualifiers starts getting their Standard decks ready. While Standard isn’t really my cup of tea, I once again I find myself qualified to play in the WMCQ. This year my local store, Legends Warehouse, is hosting the one in Toronto, and I feel obligated to at least put up one hell of a fight.

Many moons ago, back in the before Born of the Gods times, I played a PTQ with Jund Monsters. It was the deck I owned the most cards for, and Jund has typically been my default archetype to play when there isn’t a viable combo deck in Standard. While I didn’t do nearly as well as I had hoped, the Standard card pool has nearly doubled since then, giving Jund a multitude of options that we didn’t have before. With both Born of the Gods and Journey into Nyx in Standard, Jund Monsters has fleshed itself out into a real contender, most notably championed by SCG’s Chris VanMeter. However, due to card availability and weeks of testing, I’ve found that the stock Monsters list just doesn’t do it for me any more. I believe that my current build has evolved Jund Monsters into something bigger, scarier, and far more devastating.

With a little research, it’s easy to see how this list differs from the traditional, StarCityGames circuit Jund Monsters deck. First and foremost, I run zero planeswalkers in the maindeck. Normally, when you see Jund Monsters at a tournament, there are going to be Domri Rades and Xenagos, the Revelers in the maindeck. I tried them out, but quite frankly, I didn’t like them. Domri was fantastic for digging into creatures once you started falling behind, but it lowered the actual threat density of the deck. More often than not I found myself activating Domri only to find another planeswalker on top. By running the suite of Reaper of the Wilds, Desecration Demon, Ghor-Clan Rampager, and Stormbreath Dragon, I increase the number of live draws should the game stall out into the dreaded topdeck war. One final note, and it’s astonishing to me that regular Jund Monsters decks haven’t caught on to this yet, is that Reaper of the Wilds and Ghor-Clan Rampager are a match made in heaven. Swinging into the fray with Reaper with Rampager Bloodrushed onto it is so much better than any other Bloodrushed creature because Reaper can give itself deathtouch. This means you can assign one damage to a blocking creature, which is lethal damage dealt, and trample over for the full seven damage!

The biggest change I made, and one that I’ve found to be the most controversial when I show people the list, is that there are no Polukranos, World Eater in the 75. A 5/5 for 2GG is nothing to scoff at, but you know what’s better than a 5/5 for four mana? A 6/6 flier for four mana! Desecration Demon has proven utterly terrifying over the past months. While your opponent sacrificing a creature every turn to tap it down seems like a drawback, you just have to remember the one fundamental rule to the Demon: eventually, they run out of creatures. With all the removal we’re packing, we can clear the way for a massive attack after the opponent has sufficiently grown the Demon. As well, with Reaper of the Wilds in play, sacrificing a creature to Demon gives you a free scry while decreasing the opponent’s board. Polukranos, while gigantic in the regular Jund Monsters, is downright puny in comparison.

Several of my card inclusions, namely my removal suite, were determined by how the Standard format has changed since Journey into Nyx. Now, some people say that four Golgari Charm in a 75 card list is too many. I call these people quitters. Eidolon of Blossoms and Banishing Light have given way to a whole new swath of enchantment-based decks, from Tomoharu Saito’s Green/White Enchantress deck to Brian Braun-Duin’s Junk Constellation deck. Having a two mana, instant-speed Vindicate against these decks makes a huge difference, from shutting off their draw engines to recovering banished creatures. As well, Green/Black D.I.N.O. (Dredge In Name Only, as I call it) relies on heavy-hitting enchantments like Nighthowler and Whip of Erebos to function, and Golgari Charm shuts them right down.

So how does this deck stack up in the current format? After six weeks of testing, I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re favoured in any midrange or aggro matchup by way of just being bigger than the opponent, and having more removal than most decks are prepared to face. Nine maindeck removal spells is something a lot of aggro decks can’t deal with, especially sweepers like Golgari Charm and Mizzium Mortars. The fact that we have extra copies of Charm, Mortars, Dreadbore, and Abrupt Decay in the sideboard make these matches go even smoother postboard. Other midrange decks like Junk or Jund Monsters get outclassed by the sheer size of our beasts, as well as the removal package of Dreadbore and the postboard Vraskas. As it stands right now, most creatures in opposing midrange decks sit at about 4 toughness, like Archangel of Thune or Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Mizzium Mortars is an absolute beating in these matches, as overloading it can clear out the smaller creatures as well, making way for Desecration Demon and its friends.

One thing worth noting is the deck takes a bit of a beating game 1 against Control decks like Esper and Blue/White/Red. There are just too many dead cards in these matchups that, while I hate using the term “unwinnable”, it comes pretty darn close. Mizzium Mortars and Courser of Kruphix do next to nothing in these matchups, and Desecration Demon is less than optimal against a deck packing Banishing Light, Detention Sphere, and Supreme Verdict. However, the majority of the sideboard is geared toward fighting Control.

Mistcutter Hydra is a powerful, non-interactive monster best played after the opponent plays Supreme Verdict. This guy is at its best putting extra pressure on the opponent when they aren’t ready for it, often forcing a Sphinx’s Revelation earlier than expected to dig for answers. As well, having an uncounterable, hasty creature is great for pushing through those last few points of damage when they are trying to stabilize. Backing up the Hydra is Ruric Thar, the Unbowed, also known as the Ravnican Titan. Resolving this guy against Control decks is a surefire way to anger your opponent, as they have to take 6 damage per spell they play. Every Dissolve, every Jace, every Azorius Charm all smack the opponent for 6, and it can even negate the life gain from Sphinx’s Revelation. These two creatures can make short work of any Control player, so they form the backbone of your sideboard plan.

Vraska the Unseen, Rakdos’s Return, and the other copies of Golgari Charm are also incredibly powerful against Control decks. Vraska has the power to not only kill any nonland permanent, including planeswalkers like Elspeth, she also becomes a win condition unto herself if left alone. Those seemingly harmless 1/1s she makes can end the game on their own, and barring a Jace or a Detention Sphere, chances are they’re going to connect. Rakdos’s Return, the Black/Red parallel to Sphinx’s Revelation, does wonders for stripping away the opponent’s hand and pushing through damage. A Control player with no cards in hand is nothing more than a sitting duck, so resolving a Return for their hand is usually game over. It’s also worth noting that the damage from Rakdos’s Return can be used to kill planeswalkers, letting you just ruin a person when they tap out for Elspeth, Sun’s Champion. Finally, Golgari Charm is utterly insane in this matchup, so we go up to a full four copies. Blue/White Control relies on Banishing Light and Detention Sphere for spot removal, so destroying one of these on their end step with Charm allows you to get back an exiled creature so you can attack on your turn. As well, regenerating your team is one of the only ways to get around Supreme Verdict and Elspeth’s -3 ability. This means you can continue pressuring them while blanking one of their only answers to Mistcutter Hydra and Stormbreath Dragon.

Overall, I’m incredibly proud of how well the deck has been performing. Back in June I took this exact list to the finals of a Grand Prix Trial for Grand Prix Chicago at the Niagara Falls Comic Con, and I have nothing but high hopes for this deck going forward into the WMCQ. After looking at the spoilers for M15, there are certainly some cards I’m looking to test, such as Generator Servant, the Soul cycle, Reclamation Sage, and even Goblin Kaboomist. But for the time being, if you’re looking to stomp your opponents flat at FNM, you can’t go wrong with Jund Monsters!

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