A week has passed since GP Vegas, where I sneaked into Day 2 with a 7-2 record. My pool was pretty good with Vedalken Shackles and Meloku, the Clouded Mirror. I ended up losing Round 2 of my first draft pod and opted to drop because I was out of the money and pro points at that point. Being sick didn’t really help, as I didn’t get to explore the city or do much of anything outside the main event. During the days leading up to GP Miami, my plague-like sickness lingered on. Not being remotely close to feeling 100 percent on top of a real lack of sleep made my hopes for doing well questionable at best. But I did what almost every Magic player would do, and made the trip anyways.
Last time I left you with a Jund list that had adapted to the metagame at the time. A new breed of Naya Aggro had emerged, making a traditional suite of removal spells obsolete. Since then, however, the Aggro scene has somewhat diminished and Junk Reanimator has returned to the forefront. This is good news for Jund players despite the common misconception that it’s a bad matchup. Here’s my updated list:
Standard Jund by John Cuvelier
Even with decks like Junk and Bant Auras gaining popularity there are still many decks you can expect to face in a large event such as Esper Control, Naya Aggro, USA Midrange, Aristocrats, and even Naya Blitz. These are not all of the decks available in the metagame, but these are the ones I expect to face at least once and therefore have made sure my deck can account for them. With my expectance of Junk I moved Bonfire of the Damned back to the main along with the Thundermaw Hellkite for some evasive quick damage. Although the Liliana of the Veils are not great against Junk, they are excellent against Auras and Control. I also have two Abrupt Decays maindeck to help against Auras; they just happen to be great cards against other aggressive strategies as well.
-3 Liliana of the Veil, -2 Garruk, Wildspeaker, -2 Abrupt Decay, -2 Pillar of Flame
+1 Tragic Slip, +2 Ground Seal, +1 Thundermaw Hellkite, +2 Acidic Slime, +2 Slaughter Games, +1 Dreadbore. (If they have Lingering Souls, -1 Pillar of the Flame, +1 Curse of Death’s Hold.)
-2 Abrupt Decay, -2 Bonfire of the Damned, -1 Mizzium Mortars, -3 Pillar of Flame, -1 Putrefy, -1 Olivia Voldaren
+2 Slaughter Games, +2 Underworld Connections, +2 Acidic Slime, +1 Dreadbore, +2 Duress, +1 Ground Seal
Tournament, Day 1
Round 3 vs. Bant Auras: Following two byes, my opponent’s triple Strangleroot Geist draw in Game 1 eventually gets the best of me with some help from auras. I find enough removal in Games 2 and 3 to barely get the job done. (3-0)
Round 4 vs. U/W Control: Game 1 was decided by a turn where my opponent tapped out to cast Tamiyo, the Moon Sage to tap down my Thragtusk. Luckily I topdecked Rakdos’s Return to remove his hand and Tamiyo from existence. I had a near-perfect Game 2 with a Turn 2 Duress followed by a Turn 3 Liliana of the Veil. (4-0)
Round 5 vs. Jund: I won a close mirror match, where it really just comes down to who has a better draw and slightly better build for the mirror. (5-0)
Round 6 vs. Junk Reanimator: He hit his Turn 4 Angel of Serenity in Game 1, and that’s all it took. My Zhur-Taa Druid does work in Game 2 as I hit him with a well-timed Rakdos’s Return and finish him off with Thundermaw Hellkite. In Game 3, I hit him with another Rakdos’s Return and my Huntmasters do the dirty work to finish him off. (6-0)
Round 7 vs. Junk Reanimator: My opponent hits me multiple times with Acidic Slime in Game 1. I respond with the same mana-denial in Game 2, with Olivia Voldaren eating elves and Acidic Slime eating mana. I tear apart his hand in Game 3 and eventually hit a clutch Slaughter Games on his Obzedat, Ghost Council that was revealed off a Grisly Salvage. (7-0)
Round 8 vs. Four-Color Value Rites: It was a crazy Game 1 with both of us trading heavy hitters. I get far ahead with an option of potentially doing lethal if my Huntmaster of the Fells flips, and I spend all my mana pumping Olivia Voldaren. My other option is to draw seven cards with Garruk and let the game continue. I opted for the potentially lethal combat, and he ended up having a Grisly Salvage as the last card in hand. He untapped and drew Angel of Serenity. I dropped Olivia and Huntmaster, threatening lethal again, just for him to topdeck an Unburial Rites. Game 2 was much easier as I stick an early Ground Seal with pressure. I kept a one-land, Farseek hand at six cards in Game 3 and fail to draw land until it was too late. (7-1)
Round 9 vs. Jund: Getting paired down doesn’t help my tiebreakers, but I easily 2-0 my opponent while he asks me to concede. Really? (8-1)
I finish Day 1 in 27th place with an 8-1 record, which is much better than I thought I would considering my illness. We leave the venue at about 10:30 p.m. and try to make it off the island and to our hotel. Where the convention center is located, there are two routes you can take to get to the one road that leads off the island. The one particular route we took had a closed road, leaving us stuck in traffic and getting back to our hotel at roughly midnight instead of 11:00 p.m. Why not?
Tournament, Day 2
I am the first player at the site on the morning of Day 2. The reason is, though that my girlfriend Allie is working the booth for one of the vendors and is required to get there early. I hang out with Brad Nelson and Jarvis Yu, and it’s always nice to talk to these guys. They always have a positive vibe, which really helps when prepping your mind for an important Day 2.
Round 10 vs. Junk Reanimator: Another one! I mulligan to five in Game 1 but have Olivia doing some work early on. Eventually it pairs with a Thundermaw Hellkite to seal the game. He has a Turn 4 Angel of Serenity and that’s that in Game 2. I have multiple Huntmasters flipping in Game 3 while he struggles to find a board presence. (9-1)
Round 11 vs. Bant Hexproof: He has a Turn 2 Invisible Stalker, Turn 3 Geist of Saint Traft in Game 1, but I’m able to fight him off with multiple Huntmasters and secure a victory by Abrupt Decaying a Spectral Flight. He has the same draw in Game 2 as I mulligan to six looking for a Liliana of the Veil, Barter in Blood, Bonfire of the Damned, or Abrupt Decay. I found none and died to the hexproof army. Game 3 is a big surprise as he again has the Turn 2 Stalker, Turn 3 Geist after I Duress and take the only aura in his hand. I know I’m dead as I’m holding no answers. (9-2)
Round 12 vs. Naya Blitz: I win the die roll before Game 1 as we both mulligan. I stick a Huntmaster of the Fells on Turn 4 after killing his first two threats to seal the deal. He has a fast start in Game 2 that has me dead even with the Turn 4 Huntmaster. I have Thragtusk into Thragtusk in Game 3, and he cannot handle them. (10-2)
Round 13 vs. Junk Reanimator: My fourth Junk opponent. I’m still alive for Top 8, and I need to do what I’ve been doing all tournament. Well it would so happen that his Turn 3 Grisly Salvage hits both Angel of Serenity and Unburial Rites, and I’m unable to compete. He gets me in a soft Slime lock in Game 2 while I’m already struggling with mana. (10-3)
Round 14 vs. Junk Reanimator: This is definitely my most enjoyable match all weekend. Ben Friedman is a really good player and one of the few pros who you can tell really enjoys playing Magic. Mentioning getting revenge from GP Chicago before we start, he gets the early lead as my Turn 4 Ground Seal with an aggressive start wasn’t good enough for his Abrupt Decay followed by my ever-so-favorite Angel. Game 2 is a blowout as I have Huntmaster doing work while he has a few too many Sin Collectors and not enough action spells. Game 3 was a back-and-forth affair, and one pivotal turn in the game left Ben with an extremely difficult decision. He ended up choosing the wrong line of play and was punished as I just overwhelmed him. (11-3)
Round 15: I was 24th going into the last round of Swiss. A win would not get me Top 16, while a loss would certainly put me out of Top 32. My opponent and I opted to draw in an attempt to squeeze out a Top 32 finish for both of us. The math was correct and I ended in 28th place.
The Road Ahead
The deck performed very well, and although I was disappointed that I didn’t finish in the Top 8, I have the framework to still make a run at the Pro Tour with the few PTQs still left in the season. After my experiences with the deck, I would make a few minor adjustments to my list.
Maindeck: -1 Pillar of Flame, -1 Liliana of the Veil, +1 Ground Seal, +1 Tragic Slip
Sideboard: -1 Curse of Death’s Hold, -1 Duress, -1 Acidic Slime, +1 Bonfire of the Damned, +1 Liliana of the Veil, +1 Barter in Blood
M14 is here and I am quite excited to see what it brings to Standard. I have at least two new decks I am very excited to try and I may just audible for my last local PTQ if they turn out to be as good as I think they will …
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