Grand Prix Richmond is rapidly approaching, and the big show will finally begin this weekend. At the time I write this, there are already over 3,400 players preregistered for the tournament, and it is shaping up to be one of the largest Magic: The Gathering tournaments ever. The Grand Prix will feature two full days of Modern rounds, and it marks the first major Modern tournament in the wake of Pro Tour Born of the Gods. Players have digested the results from the Pro Tour and have started to form opinions about what defines the new metagame. The new post-ban metagame is starting to take shape, and I believe the Grand Prix will be a major stepping stone in the development of the format. If the Pro Tour was the initial Exploration of the new Modern, the Grand Prix will begin the first refinement.
In the spirit of the Modern format, this week I decided to play some Modern on camera and show what the format is all about. Magic Online has been a hotbed of Modern activity this week, and grinders and Pros alike are infesting the queues in hopes of gaining a better grasp on the format. There are a ton of great deck options in the format and everybody wants to make the right choice for the Grand Prix this weekend.
The format is split into a few different camps, and these camps resemble the typical aggro-combo-control metagame that has been seen in so many formats historically. The aggressive side is dominated by the Zoo deck, which is defined by Wild Nacatl. The combo decks come in many shapes and sizes, but most importantly Splinter Twin, Storm, and the Melira Pod deck, which bridges the gap between aggro and combo. Finally there is control, with a UWR Snapcaster Mage deck as the de facto control option. Also in the control camp is Jund, which has adapted into a slower, more controlling midrange deck with the loss of Deathrite Shaman.
The banning of Deathrite Shaman stunned the Jund deck, but it has recovered. Jund was not heavily played at the recent Pro Tour, but it put up some solid numbers. It's one of my favorite decks in the wake of the event because the discard hand disruption plays well against the combo decks that have risen to dominance in the format, and it also plays plenty of removal to combat the aggressive decks. I believe it's a great time to play Jund because players have started to stop fearing it, and they have started to play strategies weak to it. Jund preys on the complacent.
This past week Jund saw popularity on MTGO, and it won a Premier Event last weekend. Willy Edel, who had a video Jund deck tech at the Pro Tour, finished third in the Premier with the following list:
Willy has a strong pedigree with the Jund deck in Modern, including a Grand Prix win and a Pro Tour Top 8. He worked on the deck extensively for Pro Tour Born of the Gods, and he has continued to play it online. His updated list looks strong, and it was the perfect choice for my video this week. Join me this week as I pilot a Jund deck through a Magic Online Modern 8-man queue.
Jund vs. Jund
G1: On turn 3 I should have used Lightning Bolt on his Dark Confidant. I used Terminate because I wanted to use my mana most efficiently, but in reality I used a valuable, high-powered removal spell when I could have used a lesser one. With Deathrite Shaman out of the picture, Lightning Bolt is less important in the mirror and ideal only against Dark Confidant. My play left me exposed to Tarmogoyf and Courser of Krupix. This was an example of in-game card value misevaluation.
Jund vs. Melira Pod
G1: When I cast my second Liliana of the Veil, I used the +1 ability to make us both discard a card. In this situation, my opponent was very likely to have an instant speed card, either Abrupt Decay or Chord of Calling, or unlikely a land. There is really no card in his range that I could make him discard profitably at that point. In any reasonable case I give up my Chandra, Pyromaster for nothing. Ticking up Liliana of the Veil towards ultimate was not a route to victory at that point.
G3: I cast Inquisition of Kozilek when I know my opponent has only lands in play. By not writing down his hand or making a point to memorize it when I cast my Thoughtseize, I opened myself up to making a mistake. When he played his Kitchen Finks, which was not in his hand previously, I did not register the fact that he now only hand land. I simply played fast, moved on, and made the auto-pilot play of using my discard spell. I played that turn in a vacuum as opposed to within the context of the game, and using the information I had. This highlights the importance of writing the opposing hand a habit. I have seen friends physically write down the opposing hand even while playing an online game. This was a great mistake for me to make personally because it taught me something about my thought process and highlights the sort of mistakes I am likely to make in an important game.
Jund vs. RUG Twin
G1: On my turn three upkeep he casts Deceiver Exarch to tap a land, and I use Terminate. I think I should have waited until his next turn. If he does go for the combo, I blow him out. If does not, I still have the end-of-turn play of Terminate on his Deceiver Exarch. I would be punished by Cryptic Command, but I would still be in fine shape on turn four. The way I played it gave my opponent no room to misplay.
I did not play that tournament perfectly, but it was a success. Jund has a high power level and can be forgiving to mulligans and mistakes. It's capable of beating anything, while it also has powerful draws that most opponents cannot beat. It also has tools to punish opposing mulligans and mistakes. Jund is a proven archetype in Modern, and it's a great choice for a grueling, multi-day tournament. I think Edel's maindeck is great, but Jund is a flexible deck. The sideboard in particular can be tailored for what is expected. Jund has a huge number of possible sideboard options to be considered, but the correct choices depend on the specific metagame. The best options are highly specific, highly effective cards against specific matchups and problems, or broadly powerful cards with multiple applications.
As an example, here is the sideboard of the Jund deck that won the Premier event I took Edel's list from:
1 Choke2 Creeping Corrosion2 Damnation2 Duress3 Fulminator Mage1 Golgari Charm2 Obstinate Baloth1 Sword of Light and Shadow1 Thrun, the Last Troll
If you have questions or comments about my games, the Jund deck, or Modern, please post in the comments.
In my article yesterday I interviewed players who won Standard PTQs. One question I asked them was about any serious blunders they made throughout the event. All three of the players made some sort of terrible mistake, including not conceding game one against a control deck when the game was already lost, which wasted too much time, therefore forcing him to take a 0-1 loss, forgetting to play a second land while down a game in the finals, and arriving late and losing round one! All three of those guys won their respective PTQs through those blunders. Magic is a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure, and while mistakes may make things very difficult, they do not always mean the end of a tournament
The Standard PTQ season is wrapping up, but a sealed PTQ season is starting soon, followed by a Modern PTQ season this summer that will be here before long. Best of luck to those competing in Grand Prix Richmond, and to anyone else playing Modern this weekend!