Spoiler season and the first few weeks of a new standard format are exciting times! There are tons of new deck ideas, and no one really knows what the top tier decks are yet. This lets you get away with playing whatever you want without fear of getting run over by the 20% of the field that are playing Reid Duke’s latest Jund list. That being said, I still just want to run everyone over with a pile of mythic rares with no synergy.
Theros Jund by Lauren Nolan
Jund is back! I think this deck is well positioned to pick apart whatever various brews people show up with for the first few weeks. Our plan is simple: play removal and ramp spells in the early game, then run them over with enormous monsters. People tend to favor aggressive creature decks early on, and we are well set up to beat those. Like this season’s Jund deck, our game 1 against control is not amazing, but gets much better post-sideboard.
Sylvan Caryatid is essentially the new Farseek. This transition does have a significant downside; as a creature, the Caryatid is prone to dying. We can’t really leave this in against Supreme Verdict decks and we also can’t play cards like Anger of the Gods in our deck because of this. It’s not all bad though, having 3 toughness is very relevant, as long as people are playing Rakdos Cackler and Burning-Tree Emissary, you’re going to get the added value of a relevant blocker. The Caryatid also produces any color at any time, which is better than having to choose 2 colors when you cast the card and it plays very well with Xenagos, the Reveler.
This is where we deviate from the standard Jund gameplan as Xenagos does several things that we are interested in. Most notably, he allows us to do something Jund has never been able to do before; play multiple spells in the same turn! Xenagos does his best Huntmaster of the Fells impersonation, churning out a bunch of 2/2s, but he also lets us Rakdos’s Return for infinite, overload Mizzium Mortars, or cast and activate Polukranos, World Eater in the same turn. The fact that tokens have haste is also a much bigger deal than it would have been in current Jund. We no longer have Kessig Wolf Run, Olivia Voldaren, and Bonfire of the Damned to sink mana into, and are therefore looking to close games out a little more quickly.
This guy does everything we want! Polukranos, World Eater is big enough to stop any sort of aggressive start our opponents might have had as early as turn 3. He also threatens a 3 turn clock all by himself if we go monstrous right away. While we aren’t super interested in going monstrous for 5 mana, there are definitely scenarios where this option will be amazing. Polukranos provides an opportunity to use all that mana Xenagos, the Reveler can make, as well as being a giant beating when drawn off the top in the late game.
Desecration Demon may not be a new magic card, but it is a new addition to Jund. This guy, along with Polukranos, World Eater and Underworld Cerberus, mean that all of our creatures require answers, or will win the game on their own very quickly.
Underworld Cerberus is the real deal. For 5 mana you get a 6/6 unblockable, as no one is ever winning a game after triple blocking this. The Cerberus does prevent us from activating Scavenging Ooze while both are in play; however, Ooze plays very well with the third ability. If they are able to answer the Cerberus then we stand to gain a lot more off of the leaves play trigger than they do. Our creatures are all high impact, usually requiring answers immediately. If the opponent does answer the first few, then they won’t be able to afford killing Underworld Cerberus and giving us back the others!
Standard gives us plenty of removal options. For an undefined metagame, I’ve decided to go with a variety of them. Mizzium Mortars is great against most creature decks but it is actually quite bad against this Jund deck, while the rest of the removal should do something against everyone. Other options include; Lightning Strike, Doom Blade, Shock, Gaze of Granite, Putrefy, Devour Flesh, Clan Defiance, and
Go For the Throat Ultimate Price.
I won’t lie to you, the mana base took a huge hit going into Theros standard. Jund lost out on the scry lands, only getting 1/3 in the first set. We still have 16 dual lands and Caryatid, but we’re going to have to play some basics. That means we might not always be able to overload Mortars, and the mana really can’t support Mountains. There is also a chance that because of the mana, cards like Lifebane Zombie are not really a sideboard option for us.
First off, why no main deck Thoughtseize? I know this is a question I’m going to get asked, so I’ll talk about it here. While we are interested in trading one for one with our opponent, we don’t really have many opportunities to cast this. It’s a great opening play off of 1 of our 4 basic Swamps, but can we afford to play a Blood Crypt and Thoughtseize them on turn 1? I don’t think we can. We’re also looking to use all of our mana every turn once we hit 4 mana, so I can see Thoughtseize getting stranded in your hand often. Finally, one of the strengths of the deck is that if we go late, most of our cards are high impact while playing off the top of the deck, while Thoughtseize does nothing. I think it is better left in the sideboard, at least for now.
Sideboarding with Jund is straightforward. You want to optimize your removal package, which sometimes involves taking a lot of it out. I have a lot of sideboard slots dedicated to control, but you can customize the sideboard to suit what you expect to play against. Here are some more options dependent on your anticipated metagame:
I expect Jund to remain one of the top decks in standard, and recommend playing something like this for the first few weeks. I’ll probably be playing something similar at the Starcitygames.com Standard open in Cleveland next month. Let me know how you’re doing with the deck if you decide to play it, or preferably, track me down for a game of bbbbbiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggg twos!
Thanks for reading!
10k Champion, Lauren Nolen
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