Do you know how to Jund? I certainly don't. I used to think it had something to do with putting your right foot in and your right foot out. I looked like a fool, until Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper taught me otherwise.
He is truly a man who knows how to Jund with the best of them. When life gives him lemons, he doesn't make lemonade, he makes Graveborn! He's a true optimist, and a pretty crafty warleader. However, that doesn't mean I am. I wanna take the lemons, squirt them into my opponent's eyes, and then swiftly attack them with my Graveborn tokens. By the end of the game you'll have your opponents screaming "OOF MY BONES!!!!!"
Original comic by Safely Endangered
This deck is all about death. And why wouldn't it be? Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper is the Deathkeeper after all. Whenever a nontoken creature you control dies, you create a 3/1 black and red Graveborn creature token with haste. While we already gain a token off of our creatures dying, we want to really maximize the death benefits. The must-includes in this deck do exactly that.
While not necessarily a specific card, Aristocrat effects are the bread and butter of Sek'Kuar's master plan, and he sure does love carbs. Cards like Blood Artist, Zulaport Cutthroat, Midnight Reaper and Judith, the Scourge Diva all ping your opponents when a creature you control dies (though certain Aristocrats only do this when a nontoken creature you control dies). These pings add up and can interact with the rest of the deck. Cards like Viscera Seer and Woe Strider allow you to scry by sacrificing a creature, which will then trigger your pingers.
These death triggers also interact with another must-include in the deck: Dictate of Erebos. This enchantment can be flashed in at a moment's notice and forces your opponents to sacrifice a creature whenever you do. Paired with the right cards, this enchantment can go from something purely ornamental to a mass board wipe in the blink of an eye.
The same can be said for Attrition, which allows you to pay one black and sacrifice a creature in exchange for destroying target nonblack creature. A one-mana kill spell in Commander is truly bananas, and Sek'Kuar knows it too. Coupled with your Aristocrats, you can sacrifice a creature to destroy another while pinging your opponents on the way out.
These two cards joined the battle late, but are still just as valuable to Sek'kuar's war effort.
Squee the Immortal may irritate Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper, but he still gets the job done. For just three mana, this feisty 2/1 can be cast from the graveyard or exile. This makes him an unstoppable token-generating machine. Sacrifice this devious Goblin to cards like Phyrexian Altar or Ashnod's Altar to help generate some mana to cast him yet again for a swarm of hasty, hate-filled tokens.
From a whisper to a scream, there is absolutely nothing quiet about Whisper, Blood Liturgist. This pallid yet personable 2/2 is a much needed sac outlet that gets back some of our most painful pingers. By tapping him and sacrificing two creatures you can return target creature card from your graveyard to the battlefield. This can be huge in helping return some of your biggest hitters and threats back from the dead. Sacrifice two of your Graveborn tokens to return cards like Meren of Clan Nel Toth, Korvold, Fae-Cursed King or Mycoloth the battlefield. Whisper knows that there is power in sacrifice, and our Graveborn army is more than happy to die for the cause.
This was a card I was truly sad to see go. Gutter Grime creates a green Ooze creature token whose power and toughness is based on the number of counters on Gutter Grime. These counters are placed on the enchantment whenever a nontoken creature you control dies.
I went back and forth a lot on this enchantment before ultimately cutting because I preferred to keep Outpost Siege. My reasoning was that our number of red permanents in the deck was already low to begin with, and Outpost Siege deals 1 damage to any target whenever a creature you control "leaves the battlefield." This wording is important, because creatures that are exiled or bounced to your hand trigger Outpost Siege, whereas Gutter Grime only triggers on nontoken deaths.
While Persist is not a single card, it was a mechanic that I ultimately cut from the deck as a whole. Cards like Cauldron of Souls, Murderous Redcap, Puppeteer Clique and Woodfall Primus were cut due to the fact that they were not central to the overall theme of the deck. Originally they were to be paired with Grumgully the Generous or Mikaeus, the Unhallowed. However, if these two creatures were not on the battlefield, the rest of the combo would fall apart.
If Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper is the commander of our army, then Mikaeus, the Unhallowed is our lieutenant (haha funny joke see what I did there?...cause Demon of Wailing Agonies Tyrant's Familiar Thunderfoot Baloth). This six-mana 5/5 essentially resurrects our non-Human creatures by granting them undying. If a non-Human creature you control dies with no +1/+1 counters on it, you return it to the battlefield under your control with a +1/+1 counter on it. Mikaeus also gives them the added bonus of +1/+1.
Mikaeus, the Unhallowed tops cards like Meren of Clan Nel Toth and Sheoldred, Whispering One due to the fact that undying triggers immediately upon death, whereas Sheoldred triggers at the beginning of your upkeep and Meren triggers on your end step. This instantaneous trigger is what makes Mikaeus truly stand out amongst the rest. This revered Zombie Cleric is the spiritual advisor to Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper, and allows your non-Human creatures one more chance to die dishonorably by proving their devotion to the Orc before walking towards the light.
I know what you're gonna say. Infect?! In this deck? It's more likely than you think.
Triumph of the Hordes is the secret spice that can turn one combat phase into pure lethality. Is it hateful? Is it downright dastardly? You betcha, and Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper approves. For a measly four mana, creatures you control get +1/+1, trample and infect until end of turn. Since 10 poison counters kills players in Commander just like other formats, this can be absolutely devastating. Cast this sorcery to take out the biggest threat, or spread the love (and by love, I mean hate) around the board to show that you mean business. Wars are meant to be won, and Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper is willing to call in a favor from his Phyrexian buds.
Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper is a renowned Orc Shaman who is rumored to be hiding in the Karplusan mountains, slowly building up the ranks for his undead army. Cards like Living Death and Wake the Dead not only tell this tale mid-game, but have added benefits to your boardstate as well.
Sek'Kuar is a tactician. He stands waiting behind a line of his Graveborn while his enemies charge at him in combat. This is what he's been waiting for. With a wave from his staff, he strikes! For X and two black, you return X target creatures from your graveyard to the battlefield during your opponent's combat phase. As your opponent's creatures come blazing in, you return a swarm of your fallen to the battlefield to act as blockers. At your opponent's end step, you sacrifice them, making more Graveborn tokens and possibly triggering abilities from Dictate of Erebos, Moldervine Reclamation or Butcher of Malakir.
Living Death also fulfills our crafty Orc's dastardly plans. Picture a battlefield littered with tokens. Your opponents have the uppe rhand. You are tired, weary and are unsure what to do. Suddenly the ground shakes beneath you. Rotten hands pierce the earth, pulling down at your tokens and your opponent's creatures alike. The fallen from both sides have returned, replacing your once-exhausted army. You just pulled the infamous switcheroo! Swapping a handful of 3/1 Graveborn tokens for some warm bodies is a great way to rekindle the morale on the once freezing battlefield.
Upon seeing Perilous Forays, I was a bit shocked. I had never heard of this card before and was surprised that it had taken me so long to stumble upon it.
You wouldn't know by the look of it, but Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper is also a fully licensed real estate agent on the side. His motto? Location, location, location. The right lands make the deck, and this unique enchantment helps solve any pesky mana problem. By tapping for one mana and sacrificing a token, you can tutor for any of your shocklands within the deck. No Forest or Mountain? No problem! With the flick of a wrist and the brandishing of a blade, Sek'Kuar presents to you a Stomping Ground for the measly price of one mana. He is required by the state to tell you that a Graveborn died on the premises within the last year though...
Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper looks over his roster of enlisted soldiers. His eyes wander past a name then dart back to it. Something isn't right...this must be a mistake...Tendershoot Dryad?! This jolly green Dryad has no place in the snowy Karplusan mountains. While this fair foliage does create tokens, her CMC is incredibly high and has little to do with the overall theme. I'm starting to think I should replace her with something like Smothering Abomination, which helps facilitate card draw with the added bonus of being a sac outlet.
When looking at Jund Bone Hurting Juice after the stream, there are a few thoughts that come to mind. I regret cutting Gutter Grime, as it makes a larger and larger Ooze creature token after each nontoken creatures die. In hindsight, I feel as though I should have cut Tendershoot Dryad in favor of the Ooze generator.
While writing this article I was reminded of Falkenrath Noble and was dismayed that I forgot of the card's existence. This card would have been wonderful in Jund Bone Hurting Juice because it triggers off of tokens as well as nontokens dying. Looking at the decklist now, I would definitely swap out Judith, the Scourge Diva for Falkenrath Noble. While the Noble costs one more mana to cast, the trade for "another creature" versus "a non-token creature" is well worth it.
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Well, here you are. The dust has settled, your numbers have depleted, and squeezed lemons litter the battlefield. You are war-torn and ragged, but you have done it! The battle is over, and you are victorious. Sek'Kuar, Deathkeeper slowly makes his way toward you, a smirk tugging at the corner of his olive-green lips.
"Well done, brave warrior," he says. "Hold out your hand."
With a wave of his staff, a bottle of Bone Hurting Juice appears in your hand. You begin to sweat nervously.
"Go on," he growls, "Take a sip. It won't hurt...much."
As if by some magical force, you lift the bottle to your lips with a shaky hand, taking a small sip. You cry out in pain. Owww my bones hurt a lot oww oof my booones!!!! You collapse. Sek'Kuar stands alone.