Jund in Standard: Rats For Christmas!
Top 8 PT Kuala Lampur 2008
3 GP Top 8s
Winner GP Barcelona 2009
More Posts (10)
Pack Rat again? Let’s just say it; this card is currently the best Standard card by far.
Yes, Supreme Verdict, Jace, Architect of Thought and Sphinx’s Revelation are also pretty good; but they need too many requirements for them to be good.
Pack Rats on the other hand… Only needs three lands and itself to win. Really? Well, yes, you can pretty much add any card you want to the mix, but as long as it survives for only one turn, you are probably going to win. Every new card you draw… Will turn into a exponentially growing menace.
Did you know that you can actually win with a mulligan to 3 if your hand contains 2 Swamps + Pack Rat? (And I’m being reasonable, ignore all the jokes about Wandering Ones hitting 20 times with a Mulligan to 2 and your opponent missing land for 20 turns).
Yet, despite everything the card can do for you, I still find it pretty amazing how underrated the card is in most people’s minds. Followed by Thoughtseize and Underworld Connections, this monster can be REALLY hard to fight, and at the same time very easy to turn any battle around in your favor.
You could think today I’m going to talk about Monoblack or Orzhov control with this introduction, but I trully want to go beyond that. Even deeper. I just want you to look at the core, at the skeleton, at this three-card package that, no matter if you already know it or not, will just dominate Standard for weeks to come…
But this card is still missing some spicy components… What if we tried to build another deck around it? Do we really need to be only Monoblack to abuse it?
Let’s now look at one of the most underrated cards in the format: Abrupt Decay
What can we get from there?
When testing for this Standard season on MTGO, I found out that what made Monoblack trully good was the combination of Undeworld Connections + Thoughtseize + Pack Rat
But the removal package isn’t really amazing on Monoblack, if you think about it. Hero’s Downfall is very good, sure, and Devour Flesh is quite solid in this specific format… But Doom Blade and Ultimate Price are just near unplayable.
I wanted to build a deck that kept the core… but with more options than that. And guess what? Standard has some good manabases to try out other builds. Then I proceeded to think of other cards I might want in other colors… What could I possibly want in that case?
Abrupt Decay. It’s no secret that this card is one of the hidden gems of the format. At the time I’m writing this, many Monoblack lists are already including Golgari Guildgates, Overgrown Tomb and Temple of Mystery just to pack this little spell.
Can I list the number of relevant cards this can kill at only instant speed uncounterable two mana?
Chained to the Rocks
Hammer of Purphoros
Advent of the Wurm
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
This card is absolutely amazing right now. It does so many things, and yet it needs so little investment… You cast it on turn 2, and then it proceeds to net you 2 life per turn blocking all kinds of Ash Zealots, Burning-Tree Emissarys, Rakdos Cacklers, Dryad Militants, etc. Then, it permits you to cast your real threat one turn earlier AND… giving it the “protection” against Devour Flesh, which by the way is the only thing that can kill this mana producer.
But is going one turn earlier really of big relevance? Let me put it like this: It’s one of the best feelings you can actually have in this format. Underworld Connections + Activation on turn 3, and/or Pack Rat with 3 mana backup on turn 4 are some of the ways to get an awesome edge in the matchup against Monoblack or control. These situations can only made true with the power-enabler that is Sylvan Caryatid
But Abrupt Decay and Sylvan Caryatid weren’t the only things I liked in the format.
Trying to seek for the best options available, ignoring colour requirements, I realized that I also wanted to be playing cards like Mizzium Mortars and Stormbreath Dragon. Was Jund the direction I was moving towards?
Mizzium Mortars is great in this format for so many reasons: It kills all of the fast drops, and most of the mid-late drops other than Desecration Demon. But the most important of it all: It finishes off Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Stormbreath Dragon, which are seeing more and more play lately. But with the help of Sylvan Caryatid and its Overload, it can power-up some turn 5 critical effects killing the whole board; which can also include a mass of angry Rats, as long as they aren’t more than 4/4 up to that point. I guess this speaks wonders of a cheap removal like this one, don’t you think?
What about the finishers?
Which creatures would we want to play in this combination right now?
This creature is the nemesis of UW Control, and specially if you manage to sneak it after some Counterspell-Thoughtseize attrition war. Even if you don’t have Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx in this kind of deck, it can go Monstruous without too much effort if you have Sylvan Caryatid active. I have raced multiple Master of Waves and Pack Rats just by attacking for lethal with two swings of this enormous red flier. It is also one of the better ways to race Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Need anything else to convince you?
Reaper of the Wilds
If you put enough creature removal alongside this guy, this can keep the threat flow coming turn after turn. Scry for 1 everytime you cast a removal spell is actually a pretty sick reward, which can easily help you to find the next removal spell at the top of your deck, turning it into an unstoppable killing-machine. Aside from that, it is also pretty much immortal when you reach 6 mana, and it can attack unafraid no matter what’s the board on the other side. Sign me up!
It might not be a format super-star, and it tends to be ignored for most of the time. But for just 2 mana it always works hard and gets the job done. This one in particular is good against pretty much every deck, and does a lot of things: It grows very big when casting multiple removals, it hoses red decks and removes Chandra’s Phoenix; it becomes a real threat after a Supreme Verdict and at the same time it can be a very good blocker on turn 3 after a removal spell on turn 2 against aggressive decks.
But not only that, it also nets you the needed life to balance the battles against Gray Merchant of Asphodel and to keep the Underworld Connections engine going on.
Polukranos, World Eater
I will admit this creature isn’t performing as savagely as it can with a Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx online, but its still pretty big on itself, and can randomly kill 1-2-3 creatures depending on how long the game goes. A 5/5 creature cast on turn 3 through Sylvan Caryatid is really hard to fight for some decks. But it can also finish off your opponent in two attacks if he just forgets about it… The fact that you can put real pressure this soon, makes it really good against really every strategy. I wouldn’t play more than 2, though, because of the Legendary drawkback and the double green cost, which could be awkward sometimes. The best thing about it? It can kill Master of Waves for just 3 mana!
And, of course…
The reason for this deck to exist. The reason why I think it is different than most Jund decks in the format. Not playing this card should be punished, and I don’t think I’m exaggerating a single bit. I have seen people playing none, and even people playing just 2 copies. None of that makes any sense to me… Would you ever play 2 Bitterblossom or 2 Dark Confidant back in the day? I think it would be retarded, and probably people will look at it the same way when looking back to how good Pack Rat was.
I won’t tell you how to play the card, because there are already several articles talking about it, so my only advice will only be: Make sure it survives, and then don’t cast anything else, really. Keep discarding, you can never be wrong with that, and win. Easy?
What about the Sideboard?
Oh, yes, the sideboard! And this is probably the biggest reward to play this combination in Standard right now: the tools you have available to fight control…
Rakdos’s Return, Slaughter Games and Sire of Insanity are just “insane” answers to both UW and UBW. Slaugther Games in particular are there to point at Sphinx’s Revelation; without it, the matchup just turns into a 1×1 battle that you will eventually beat because they need very specific answers to all of your different threats.
But even better: In order to deal with cards like Underworld Connections, Stormbreath Dragon, or just any creature at the board, they will need to tap out sooner or later for presumably a timed Supreme Verdict or Detention Sphere. However, that might be fatal for them when you answer the play with Rakdos’s Return or Sire of Insanity after that.
The tools available to fight aggro…
Doom Blade and Golgari Charm can be all you need to clear the board while feeding up your Scavenging Oozes at the same time. Anger of the Gods isn’t there basically because it gets hard sometimes to get the double red mana without immolating your own Sylvan Caryatids. The solution? Pharika’s Cure is a much better answer to fast red or white decks, both because its easier to cast, it is much better against the almost creatureless monored version, and because it also combines much better with Scavenging Ooze
And the tools available to fight the Monoblack decks…
Of course, the matchup against Monoblack is one of the reasons I would try such strategy.
After board, you go up to 4 Underworld Connections and 4 Thoughtseize (which you trully can’t afford preboard because of all the extra damage you get from the Dual Lands) and pack Dark Betrayal and some Rakdos’s Return to gain the absolute control of the game once the time comes.
Ok guys, no more waiting:
Finally, for all of those who have read and followed the same path that guided me to this archetype, you have now the chance to look at the full decklist.
BRG Jund- By Joel Calafell
4 Sylvan Caryatid
3 Scavenging Ooze
2 Polukranos, World Eater
3 Reaper of the Wilds
4 Pack Rat
3 Stormbreath Dragon
4 Abrupt Decay
4 Hero’s Downfall
2 Mizzium Mortars
3 Underworld Connections
4 Temple of Abandon
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Stomping Ground
4 Blood Crypt
1 Underworld Connections
1 Scavenging Ooze
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Dark Betrayal
2 Slaughter Games
2 Rakdos’ Return
1 Sire of Insanity
2 Golgari Charm
2 Pharika’s Cure
I hope you will at least try this deck for your next PTQ; even though I’m assuming that won’t be possible until next year.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and happy 2014 to all of you around the world!
BONUS EXTRA FOR CHRISTMAS
I’m not done yet!
Seeing that today is no less than Christmas, I will share with you the TOP 10 most “Christmas flavoured cards” I found for this article… Enjoy it!
1. Dawntreader Elk
2. Goblin Snowman
3. Snow-Covered Forest
4. Goblin Sledder
5. Holy Day
6. Angel’s Grace
7. Falling Star
8. Gifts Ungiven
Yes, most of them are really pretty bad, but that won’t stop you from having the best possible eve!
Best regards and see you next year in MTGMADNESS!