Today's deck is a Standard take on an old classic, Jund. Jund decks are more than just a pile of good green, red, and black cards. Jund decks are midrange in nature and look to control the game with removal and discard spells and then turn the corner with efficient creatures, especially those that provide you with card advantage.
Take a look at Jund in Modern for example. You have discard in Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek, removal in Terminate and Maelstrom Pulse, and efficient creatures in Tarmogoyf. There are even creatures that provide card advantage like Dark Confidant and Kitchen Finks. If you want to go back even further, Bloodbraid Elf filled that role also. In fact, Bloodbraid Elf was so good at being mana efficient while giving you an extra card that it was banned in Modern.
Jund excels at grinding out games. It's like the deck that never runs out of gas. Just when you think you've gotten an edge against the Jund deck, they draw a Liliana of the Veil, a Maelstrom Pulse, or a good creature, and then you are suddenly on the back foot. Not to mention that when they've stabilized against you they are suddenly in a winning position due to creature lands like Treetop Village and Raging Ravine.
My preferred playstyle has always been grinding my opponent out. While I've never really liked Modern Jund myself (I missed with Bloodbraid Elf far too often and never played the deck after the ban), I have always respected the archetype and have played many similar decks in both Modern and Standard.
Oath of the Gatewatch provides us with some key pieces to put together Standard Jund. The most important is Hissing Quagmire. This land is what the deck was missing to be competitive. It's so important to have an instant threat on the table after you've stabilized. Shambling Vent does a great job of this right now and most of the midrange decks in the Standard format are Abzan, Esper, or Mardu and they all play four copies of Shambling Vent. That's how good these lands are.
The next card that gives Jund a boost is Goblin Dark-Dwellers. This is the value creature that the deck was missing. This deck will be casting lots of spells and gives you some great options of which spells to "flashback" with Goblin Dark-Dwellers. This is the type of card you build decks around. The body he leaves behind is pretty sizable and in our removal-heavy deck, menace is synonymous with unblockable.
The third card that Oath of the Gatewatch grants us is Pulse of Murasa. This card may look weak; lifegain spells are usually bad and you'd never play a spell that only provided lifegain in Standard outside of a sideboard card against mono-red. Pulse of Murasa does a ton of work in midrange decks and the main purpose of this card is to catch up against aggressive decks. With this spell you are not only gaining six life and also getting a ton of value. Standard is full of fetchlands and Pulse of Murasa guarantees you to hit a fourth land drop. Late in the game, this card can get back a Goblin Dark-Dwellers or any other creature that died earlier. While these effects are unimpressive on their own, combining it with six life really pushes this card over the top.
Here's my take on Jund in Standard:
As you can see, there are a lot of comparisons we can make to the Modern version of Jund.
Fiery Impulse — This is our Lightning Bolt. We can't aim it at the face, but we can point it at the format's most important early creatures. Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Monastery Swiftspear, Seeker of the Way, Abbot of Keral Keep, and Warden of the First Tree are just a few of the creatures that this spell can hit. Later in the game it can take out larger threats including Mantis Rider. It's our most efficient removal spell, just like Lightning Bolt is in Modern Jund.
Grasp of Darkness — This is our Terminate. It can take out more creatures than Fiery Impulse but is more difficult to cast. It kills everything that Fiery Impulse can with the added bonus of being able to take out creatures like Dragonlord Ojutai and Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. While it can't kill a Siege Rhino and other big creatures, Grasp of Darkness can swing combat in your favor if you have attackers and blockers of your own.
Duress — This is our Thoughtseize replacement. We don't have access to the most powerful one-mana discard spell in the game but Duress is good enough for the Standard counterpart. The information we gain by learning our opponent's hand is helpful in knowing how to sequence our plays.
Ruinous Path — This spell is like Modern Jund's Maelstrom Pulse in that it gives us choices of what to kill. Late in the game we can awaken it for extra value.
Pulse of Murasa — I like to compare this card to Eternal Witness. Eternal Witness usually returns a fetchland to your hand on turn three. Later in the game it could return your most important spell. It usually chump blocked and saved you some life (maybe six?), which Pulse of Murasa does too. Pulse of Murasa can't bring back your removal spell, but it can return a Goblin Dark-Dwellers, which can then cast that removal spell.
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet — This card is comparable to Scavenging Ooze. It's exile trigger shuts down cards like Hangarback Walker and Zulaport Cutthroat and also nullifies entire strategies like Rally the Ancestors. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet also gains you lots of life and gets bigger, just like Scavenging Ooze. Reid Duke's Jund list from Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch played two copies of Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet which only proves how strong this card is.
Hangarback Walker — I'd love to make a comparison to Tarmogoyf here. Both of these cards are great two-drops that get better as the game goes long. However, it's not really fair to make that comparison, but Hangarback Walker does have a lot going for it in a deck like this. It can be cast on turn two and becomes a bigger and bigger threat. Late in the game it can be cast for a larger amount right away. There's a lot of hate for Hangarback Walker now in Silkwrap, Abzan Charm, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Anafenza the Foremost. While these cards are annoying, if Hangarback Walker is left unchecked he can win a game. I often kill my Hangarback Walker in response to an Abzan Charm so I still get the tokens.
Goblin Dark-Dwellers — This guy is our Bloodbraid Elf. It gives you a body and a free spell, but unlike Bloodbraid Elf you can actually choose that spell. On turn five it's pretty likely that you have a few options to choose from as this deck is full of variety. Goblin Dark-Dwellers can cast one of our many removal spells, Duress, or even Read the Bones. My favorite play is to cast Pulse of Murasa to return another Goblin Dark-Dwellers for even more value.
Read the Bones — Read the Bones is a classic two-for-one. Casting this on turn three is a great follow up after a Duress on turn one and a Grasp of Darkness on turn two. The loss of life is negligible to us as we are playing three copies of Pulse of Murasa to make up for it. What's even better is that it's castable off of Goblin Dark-Dwellers in case you need even more cards.
Catacomb Sifter — This is a defensive little creature that provides value by giving you a 1/1 Eldrazi Scion token. This token can be used to ramp for a turn, to chump block, or simply to sacrifice if you need to scry. Our deck is full of tokens and these tokens will probably die, either by chump blocking, gang blocking, or to Chandra, Flamecaller's ultimate, and the extra scrys really add up. A defensive creature that gives you a card… maybe this is our Wall of Blossoms, for those of you who remember The Rock.
Pia and Kiran Nalaar — Speaking of tokens, Pia and Kiran Nalaar is one of the more efficient four-drops in the format right now and is very well-positioned in a world with lots of one-for-one removal. Most of the time your opponent will have to deal with all three creatures individually. Even if they have mass removal like Radiant Flames or Kozilek's Return, they are still only dealing with one card. Pia and Kiran Nalaar have great synergy with Hangarback Walker.
Chandra, Flamecaller — Rounding out the deck we have three Chandra, Flamecaller. Chandra, Flamecaller is great in this deck and in my opinion great in Standard in general. I'm more than happy to play three copies. If the format slows down at all I wouldn't be opposed to playing the fourth copy. Chandra, Flamecaller does a lot here. It can be used as a Pyroclasm and most of your creatures survive it. It can fill up your graveyard for your Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Pulse of Murasa while giving you a new set of cards to work with, and last but not least it also flat out kills your opponent. One of the coolest synergies with Chandra, Flamecaller is with Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet. You can use the ultimate to kill small creatures, netting you zombies. You can also make 3/1s and attack. If your opponent blocks and trades you'll be getting more zombies. We have a lot of ways to protect Chandra, Flamecaller in this deck and it will win you the game if you untap with it.
Standard's mana right now is near-perfect. It's common to see four-color decks getting the right lands in play without missing a beat. In our three-color deck, we'll have an even easier time getting the lands we need.
Fetchlands are our most important lands in the deck because they make Pulse of Murasa castable on turn three. We don't even care about the life loss as Pulse of Murasa will more than make up for it.
When fetching, you're often going to want to fetch for basics on turns one and two so that all future battle-lands enter the battlefield untapped. Sometimes this is not possible so it's important to think about how you sequence your lands in the early turns. For example if you have a fetchland and a Hissing Quagmire as your only lands, you are going to want to lead with the fetchland and search up a Smoldering Marsh tapped. This will allow you to cast Duress and Fiery Impulse, as well as plan for a Grasp of Darkness on turn three.
Four Hissing Quagmire is another key component of our manabase. In our 25-land deck we are going to need some lands that can trade with our opponent's creatures. Hissing Quagmire is another great target for Pulse of Murasa.
Transgress the Mind and Infinite Obliteration are our cards for the Eldrazi Ramp matchup. Transgress the Mind is also great against midrange and control decks that rely on big late-game plays.
Flaying Tendrils and Jaddi Offshoot are our Atarka Red hosers. I did some testing against Atarka Red and found the matchup to be extremely favorable, so it's possible that I'm overboarding and the Jaddi Offshoots aren't necessary. Flaying Tendrils are also great against decks like B/R Dragons because they take out Hangarback Walker, Flamewake Phoenix and Pia and Kiran Nalaar.
Ob Nixilis Reignited is for control and slow midrange matchups. Control, specifically Esper Dragons, is this deck's worst matchup. We have too many cards that do nothing (Fiery Impulse, Grasp of Darkness) and not enough cards to replace them with. What's worse is that we have to leave in some amount of removal to deal with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and Dragonlords. Ob Nixilis Reignited can give us cards and kill off important creatures that our spot removal can't deal with.
My goal in writing my rogue deck articles is to keep Standard fresh and exciting for you. I know that many players don't like to play with and against the same decks week in and week out, so I am looking to provide some interesting alternatives to the Tier 1 decks. If you like Jund in Modern, this is a great Standard deck for you. The deck does everything that a Jund player wants to do, from gaining value to killing everything in sight. The deck has been pretty fun to play and while the games tend to go long, that's usually fine. Who doesn't want to play more Magic?
I'm always interested in hearing your feedback or ideas for cards to brew around. Please leave a comment!
Thanks for reading and see you next week!
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