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Rise and beyond for Jund

May 7, 2010

Rise of the Eldrazi have struck the magic scene for real when I’m writing this. Tons of data from drafting have poured in (and even more when Rise of the Eldrazi is released on MTGO later next week) and a decent amount of Nationals qualifiers all over the world along with 5k in the States to boot have seen Eldrazi action.   

Good since '98

The most immediate impact we have seen is what Wall of Omens has done for the format. This pseudo reprint of Wall of Blossoms is a very effective card in the current Standard format. It replaces itself and holds Sprouting Thrinaxes and what nod at bay. At worst you Mending Hands yourself with a cantrip versus a Putrid Leech. All in all a very valuable card in consideration for what resources you put into it…and fits perfect in the curve to.   

Mostly on the back of this card UW control (with offsprings) have propelled towards the very top in Standard. Most recently we saw a UWr control brew featuring a whooping 12 Planeswalkers took down the StarCityGames 5k in Atlanta last weekend. Other new stuff we have seen is a rise of various form av Polymorph decks, a new take on the Bant archetype (featuring the killer combo of Sovereigns of Lost Alara and Eldrazi Conscription), “Devestating Red”, a new red deck that utilizes the very interesting card Devestating Summons. The point I’m driving towards is Rise of Eldrazi have brought many new or new versions of decks towards the top tables. Jund “complete” dominance as it was a month or so ago seem initially be over…or not?   

You see, here’s the thing I think you a lot of people can and will be misguided when they see the results from the events that has been held where Rise of the Eldrazi have been legal.  They look at the results and they think “oh, Jund seems like not the best deck anymore, that means that I can play x or y instead!”. Those are dangerous thoughts. Why that is the following reason. We have just had a new set released. The set brought a lot of interesting cards to the format, but most of the ones that are easy to spot as good cards has gone into none-Jund decks. People see the “shiny buttons” in the new card set and they off course feel the need to press them. This is commonly called “the danger of cool things”.  

What people miss at this stage is looking back. Most of the testing people have done the past weeks and what they are testing right now the new flashy decks. What I’m saying is that people haven’t payed much attention to the old mare, Jund. At least in comparison to what UW, Bant, Red etc. have received. This means that the results from the last few tournaments are a bit jaded, in the sence that folks have pitted their new Rise of the Eldrazi pimped out decks versus pretty much pre-Rise of the Eldrazi Jund decks. Off course Jund is going to fall behind a bit here. Seems natural, right? One deck constructed from a bigger card pool will in the dark be a better deck than the others.   

So, if I say that Jund is currently stalled in its evolution, what would I propose to make the deck better (or at least better in the current field) right now? That is a tricky question. I don’t have a final answer (if I did, I probably would hold on to it a bit) but I have spent a lot of thought process into it and slinged around with the various ideas a bit.   

Spread them Seas!

Probably the most popular way people are messing with Jund is attacking their manabase…primarly with Spreading Seas. This card is, like Wall of Omens, very effective for what resources you put into it. Even if you don’t completely screw your Jund opponent, you have still gain tons of momentum. As a “response” to this I have tried out to counteract them Spreading Seas with Trace of Abundance, Rampant Growth or Borderland Ranger. Trace of Abundance is pretty nice since it has tremendous synergy when you put it on a manland. The card is though kind iffy in Jund since it requires both green and red mana to play (which could be troublesome if your on the draw versus Spreading Seas) and it’s usually very annoying to cascade into. The other two are however quite nice, both have their ups and down. Alex Bertucini played Rampant Growth in his list which he finished second with at the StarCity 5k in Atlanta. So this is something to look into for real.   

Further on we have the never-ending question of Bituminous Blast or not. This cards power in the meta game seems to shift from every week. Usually Bituminous Blast tended to suck versus decks like UW Control but now between Wall of Omens, Celestial Colonnade and Knight of the White Orchid the card is actually quite decent in this matchup. Also with more and more Planeswalkers popping up in the control deck lists, Bituminous Blast is a legit way in trying to overrun them with threats. Jury is still out on how Bituminous Blast actually is, time will tell…   

Then there is also the option of taking Jund to a place where we haven’t seen before. Implementing Vengevine is an option as well as building the Jund deck around Eldrazi Monument like GerryT have been advocated. Both options means quite the overhaul from the decks usual configuration but I definitely see the strength in both.   

Lastly we have the sideboard. Malakir Bloodwitch is a very strong card to have in your sideboard right now and I assume we will be seeing more of that card in the future. I heard a lot of complaints on Goblin Ruinblaster lately, but I still think the “oops, I won” factor of that card, particular in the mirror, is just to big to ignore. Some games in the mirror just come down to turn 4 when you ask your opponent “do you have it”? The game might just be over right there if they got the Ruinblaster. 

I think Thought Hemmoraghe is a card which value will rise during the upcoming weeks. Right now there are a respectable amount of combo deck in the format, in the form of Open the Vaults, Polymorph and Summoning Trap. How good those deck actually are is yet to be determine but they do get there and Thought Hemmoraghe is really strong versus those decks. The final card I want to raise a flag for is Pithing Needle. Against the Planeswalker heavy control decks this card seems pretty effective against them. Basically it’s a 1-mana cranial extraction for target Planeswalker, which also can shut down Celestial Colonnade. The real beauty is that you can even play it off a “flooded” land! Also the card is quite the damper versus a deck like Time Sieve.   

Conclusion   

I have to say though even if I belive Jund is better in the field than we have seen so far, it might be so that Jund doesn’t sit on the very top of the format anymore. The PTQ season has just began and National Qualifiers with Nationals themselves will follow later on this summer, so more intel about the Standard format is bound to come shortly.   

So hang in there and stay tuned!

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