There will be Jund



  • I wanted to post a list I've been having fun with in the practice rooms (less so in the leagues, where I'm getting stomped), in part because I think there are a few similarly minded plucky underdogs on here who occassionally like to turn dorks sideways, and I suppose in part also as a lament for where fish decks are in the format these days. My goal is not present you with a format-breaking list with which to take down the next Vintage challenge, but to show you something I've been having completely subjective fun times with, in case you may have some wisdom to share on building decks like this in the format - however much of a folly that at times feels like.

    So: I've barely played Magic over the last 9 months or so, let alone Vintage. I just can't really get excited about the game or the format at the moment. When I have played Vintage though, I've been playing a bit of RUG Cascade. In doing so, I discovered how much fun it was casting Bloodbraid Elf, a card Modern players are currently having a blast with, too. I decided to try and knock together a Vintage Jund deck, as best I could, to keep Bloodbraiding for fun and profit. After many thrashings, here's where I'm at.

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    Card Choices
    As far as I can tell, the number one problem to try and solve when building decks like this is, how do you fight both decks that play on the stack and decks that flood the board. And frankly, it's almost bloody impossible. Trying to get enough disruption in, whilst being able to deploy threats is a real challenge and it's possible that these days, we don't have the card pool for it in Jund (I think White/Thalia based decks, especially with Caverns probably have a better chance). Still, I've tried to pack in discard and modal spells (Command) to do what I can. Why play black at all then? Well, given how hard it is to have a very linear disruptive strategy (for example, as per the Null Rod decks of yore), I think there's virtue to playing silver bullets plus black tutors. In this case, I have the singleton Null Rod, and a card I've found critical if you want to even attempt to hang with blue, Chains of Mephistopheles. I was trying to jam Leovold in here orginally, but he's just too slow. You need a chance at getting down a first turn Chains to slow down cantrip and Paradoxical decks enough to apply pressure.

    I've including a pair of Spirit Guides to help cast 2-drops early (and get to 4 quicker for Bloodbraid) - ultimately, I decided a 2/2 body was mostly a better 'bad' cascade than an off-colour mox.

    I'm always trying out Kitesail Freebooter - a card that feels a little underpowered, but does give you the kind of valuable 2-for-1 the deck desperately needs. The card I haven't tried in this slot is the classic Jund staple Hymn to Tourach. Whilst I'm playing, I do generally hate seeing the opponent has cards in hand... but I struggle to believe Hymn is actually good. If you have thoughts on that, I would love to know!

    Three-drop-wise: There's certainly some questionable choices here. I've liked the one-of Liliana as an out to Oath/Tinker targets and a helpful tool against control. Scab-clan Berserker has also generally impressed me. I love having another haste creature, and I love the slightly disruptive side to the card. I've been toying with the idea of playing a second, but I suspect having double Command is just about better. One of those commands though could be something else... Tried Ramunap Excavator, but never really drew it, so that's a bit inconclusive. I've wondered if something like Collective Brutality might be worth a shot, but it feels a little weak. Possibly a Young Pyromancer? Peezy is a card I've not yet tried to jam in here - but may be the only way you stand a chance at keeping up with opposing token-makers (though as we have to pay for our spells, it's probably a lost cause). What do you guys think? Is cramming Pyromancer in here somehow the way forwad (perhaps with some number of Cabal Therapies?).

    Regarding paying mana for spells: It turns out, that in this format, it's a pretty catastrophic thing to do. For that reason, I'm playing the full four Bloodbraids. I keep going back and forth on this, having previously tried a Chandra and a Tasigur in place of Elf #4 and Kologhan's Command #2. I really wanted Chandra to work out, but basically, on turn four against a blue opponent, you won't resolve it. So I tend to think you have to turn to Bloodbraid, so you at least get something out of the exchange. I just wish the body was better. Get swole little elf!

    On Goyfs: I quite like where this card is at the moment, or where big-butted creatures are generally. I wish it cantripped or something... but you can't have everything. But since the peak Eldrazi menace days, there are fewer Swords out there in the world, and Tarmo is sometimes just the dumb beater you need. In lieu of a better disruptive beater, he stays for now.

    The Sideboard:
    Mostly self-explanatory I think. I like Trap against combo, but also on the draw against anything from Shops to Oath... anything that risks barfing something unstoppable out before you. Fire Convenant could possibly be a different sweeper - Slice and Dice, Deluge, maybe even Simoon? Crypt and Spellbomb frustrate me slightly - I often find against Storm/Paradoxical, I wouldn't mind having both a Spellbomb and a Null Rod in after side, which is of course nonbo territory.

    Some General Remarks
    Boy -is it a tough time to be a Fish deck. Overall, the one-time pillar of Vintage has never-recovered from the printing of Delver and co - the cards that allowed URx to be the best Aggro-Control deck in the format, which unlike previous Blue decks, did not struggle against Null Rod and could even play the card itself. Without a consistently disruptive crutch like Rod, it feels like Fish - certainly any non-blue attempt at such a deck - is kind of dead in the water. Something like Jund will need some radical printings to really catch up - or perhaps another Blue apocalypse...but, it can still be fun to jam in the practice room, if you like a change of pace, if you like come-from-behind wins etc. It's unforgiving, but I've enjoyed playing a lot of cards that simply give me pleasure - Bloodbraid and its inherent variance to me is one of those cards - it just makes for exciting in-game moments.

    I suspect if there is a Vintage aggroey deck out there, it either plays blue (like RUG Cascade) or White for Thalia. Thalia though comes with a whole bunch of deck building constraints that I personally haven't really thought about yet - is Junk for example just straight up better than Jund? Oscar Rubi from the LCV seems to consistently do well with it. We've also seen how central Thalia was to White Eldrazi. And she's the glue (along with Caverns) that makes Vintage Human decks tick... she's probably aggro's best chance in Vintage - and I will certainly be jamming Humans next time I fancy a change...

    Still, for now, I'd quite like to make this Jund pile as good as it can be and would welcome any thoughts to that end. I'd also just love to hear generally from anyone else who wishes there was a little more variety to Vintage and more competitive ways to beat down with non-artifact. non-blue, non-zombie duders. What do you think? Is Thalia plus Caverns the only real option out there? Will Dampening Sphere change anything (I can imagine it as a one of in a deck with tutors for example)? Are any of the non-Human tribes being overlooked at the moment, or any color-combinations - RG beats was once a thing etc.

    Beatdown players of the world unite!



  • Thank you for taking the time to write this up.

    Is it sad that my first thought when looking at the deck was that a Blue splash would be great? Bloodbraid Elf Cascading into Leovold on turn 2 against an unsuspecting Mentor opponent? I'm tempted to build off of that but don't want to hijack your thread.

    My first thought is that I'm not sure about the SB Fiery Confluence. Weird right? I've been a big proponent of the card for the past month. That's mainly because of the card's versatility, which is much more valuable in the main against an unknown opponent. It's a sweeper, artifact hoser, or burn spell when you don't know if your opponent is going to poop out Monks, Ballistas, or Oath of Druids. Is the card perhaps worth a maindeck slot? It doesn't seem bad as a follow up to a turn 3 Bloodbraid Elf as I can easily see the opponent dead to 6 damage the next turn. As a sideboard option, I just find myself wondering what more efficient cards could replace it.



  • @chubbyrain Hey dude - and thanks for the reply! I did actually start off with a blue splash for Ancestral, Time Walk and a Leovold. I felt like Ancestral, without Missteps to protect it was useless and kind of started cutting from there. Leovold is OK, but I sometimes feel like he's a little too fair, so I opted for Chains, which you have a better chance of getting down turn 1. What I do wonder though, is whether BUG cascade as per Legacy might be a way to go.

    I shall try the Fiery Confluence main - I love it generally, but have found the double red hard to come by at times. The reach would certainly be welcome - another reason I tried Chandra in the main. I'll see how it goes.

    Appreciate your input - just wanted to contribute something over here, if not the most competitive of decks 🙂



  • Some thoughts/questions:

    • Is Freebooter better than Hymn or Thoughtseize? Seems nice to have a body, but it doesn't hit creatures against Shops g1
    • I think the two Shattering Sprees should be replaced by Grudge. With access to G, I think the instant speed of Ancient Grudge is worth having 4 copies
    • Simian Spirit Guide might be better off as a 2nd Elvish Spirit Guide as green seems more important to have access to rather than red
    • Any considerations to Ramanup Excavator?


  • @qq Hey thanks for the comments - I have taken your suggestion and am giving Hymn a try. I've added a pair of Pyromancers at the same time, due to the increased spell count and because you have to somehow keep up the threat density. After playing with Hymn a bit, I think that's really the major downside of the card - you strip the opponent's hand all you want, but it's worthless if you can't also keep up the pressure. You're still succeptible to dying to basically any top-decked draw spell, of which blue decks have many. The more you try and compensate for the tempo loss of hymn, the more I think you start wanting to be something akin to Team America... how insane is it that in Delver, blue has the best agressive one-drop in Magic?? The mind boggles...

    It's possible more Grudges a good thing to pair with Pyromancers...I wonder if anything like either Chapin's ultra agressive Bauble/Prowess/Tarmo deck or Gerry T's Mardu deck from the last Modern PT are possible in Vintage? Might be something to explore next.

    I did try Excavator but it was inconclusive... may try again. Maybe I should run more Null Rods with it if I do, and push the mana denial angle - though I feel that's less effective than in FIsh's hey-day.

    Anyway, will keep trying stuff - thanks for your help!



  • First of all, thanks for sharing this idea for such a nice deck!

    I've got questions about 2 points (beside the hymn-kitesail which was already addressed):
    Is tarmogoyf big enough most of the time? I'm not sure he would help catching up with value decks.

    Also it seems to me like the deck relies a lot on few moxen and deathrite shaman (which is the best target for misstep of the deck). Is the null rod that valuable for the deck? I mean, you don't even run additional copies sideboard. Wouldn't it be better to cut it and put more moxen? I think it would help a lot the deck to cast more than 1 spell each turn.

    I think I'll give this deck a shot, sounds fun.



  • Thanks for writing this, I wish there were more posts on here like this. I'll never play modern, but I love to look at the decks and imagine what vintage versions would look like and play like even though it's clear there are better options. Honestly I'd like to see a vintage stream that focused on this sort of content.



  • @gutocmtt Hi and thanks for replying. I was previously running a second Null Rod in the sideboard and just got squeezed out - kind of going back and forth on that or third Chains. I do think it's a valuable tool to have access to - I just think the reality is, it doesn't stop the meta's best decks in their tracks, in the way it did when blue decks meant Big Blue decks, rather than Xerox decks.

    I think the other factor with avoiding the off-colour moxen though is that your moxen are poor cascades. Hence the mix with Spirit Guides. if anything, it might be better to go all Spirit Guide for acceleration and have another Null Rod main... but I'm not sure only having one-shot acceleration is where you want to be in a world of Shops.

    Regarding Goyf - he gets plenty big enough, but yes, at the end of the day, he's just a dumb beater. I'm not convinced there's a better option currently - unless the deck went all-in on the Pyromancer route instead? But that way you end up a worse blue deck, so I'm not sure it works. (That's what makes me wonder about the Modern Mardu decks, and if all the flashback cards and Bedlam Reveller might compensate).

    Ultimately, it's just a very difficult deck to make work given the current cardpool and meta. 😕



  • Every deck in the format needs efficient mana acceleration beyond moxen.

    • MUD has Tomb and Workshop
    • Dredge has Bazaar
    • Storm has Rituals
    • Blue decks have Force of Will (turns all blue cards into rituals considering the fair cost of Counterspell is UU)
    • Fish/Hatebears have Spirit Guides and DRS/Hierarch

    The intrinsic problem of the super-archetype is that its acceleration isn't as good as the other pillars. (All the reason why White Eldrazi was the best Thalia deck the format has seen.) Every designer who has spent time in splashing around with these decks comes to appreciate this fundamental flaw.

    Keep on fighting the good fight.



  • @wappla said in There will be Jund:

    Every deck in the format needs efficient mana acceleration beyond moxen.

    That's "sorta" true. I think conceivably if your deck was low enough on the curve maybe not. Lands kinda does not need it even though it does it by virtue of what it is. Dredge uses bazaar as a replacement but really its because all of dredges stuff is free.

    I'm not saying that deck actually exists but I could imagine a freespell.dec ala affinity of old just having a mana free way of going off one day. It's cheating costs that is more important than mana acceleration, which is just a method of cheating costs at the end of the day. Semantics I guess.


  • TMD Supporter

    @wappla said in There will be Jund:

    Every deck in the format needs efficient mana acceleration beyond moxen.

    • MUD has Tomb and Workshop
    • Dredge has Bazaar
    • Storm has Rituals
    • Blue decks have Force of Will (turns all blue cards into rituals considering the fair cost of Counterspell is UU)
    • Fish/Hatebears have Spirit Guides and DRS/Hierarch

    The intrinsic problem of the super-archetype is that its acceleration isn't as good as the other pillars. (All the reason why White Eldrazi was the best Thalia deck the format has seen.) Every designer who has spent time in splashing around with these decks comes to appreciate this fundamental flaw.

    Keep on fighting the good fight.

    By your definition, this makes Bloodbraid Elf the acceleration. Perhaps there's a way to better maximize Bloodbraid's potential?



  • Right, haven't thought about cascading. Still, I'm not sure the spirit guides would be good as it's kinda bad when comes to hand (I don't see a lotus petal in this kind of deck being really good, but maybe it is), and is speeds a little bit the clock when cascaded. I agree with you as to accelerants density, but I think the upside of being reusable overcomes the downside of being a bad cascade target.

    About acceleration, I don't think BBE is acceleration, since it's very overcosted for a 3-2 haste, I don't think we should consider as if the second spell is free. I'd say the second spell costs 2 mana in terms of card power/cost (3/2 haste seems like something we'd want for 2 mana tops). It's card advantage, but not acceleration IMO.

    In regards of tarmogoyf, tbh I was just trying to go another route to not have to spend a lot in 3 or 4 (since BBE's unban in modern it's really gotten overpriced), maybe even find something better. Pyromancer sounds kinda bad in this deck due to instant/sorcery density, goyf seems really betterthan it at least.

    It's really hard to get an oppinion of the deck without playing it, as it's so different from what we are used to see in the format. But still, I think scab-clan berserker sounds too amazing in vintage. It's not worth very much when not cast on T0 against shops, and against dredge at any point, but against blue decks it's just awesome when it sticks. I think with 6 0mana accelerants and 4 DRS we can rely on it for turn 2 most of the times, and it sounds enough to consider running 2.

    I wish I had the resources to play it now (as tarmogoyf seems really necessary for the deck), I think I'll have it soon and then have a more concrete oppinion about it.



  • @hierarchnoble No, Bloodbraid is not acceleration the same way Dark Petition and Chandra, Torch of Defiance, are not acceleration.



  • @wappla Chandra is acceleration in thee way that Hedron Archive is acceleration. It's not usually meaningful for Vintage, but in the strictest sense, it absolutely is.

    Especially if you're hard casting Inferno Titan or the like 🙂



  • I'm talking about Moxen and Mishra's Workshop. You're talking about Hedron Archive. You're correct identifying Chandra and Bloodbraid as belonging to the latter category.


  • TMD Supporter

    And with that, the thread is no longer a discussion about Jund.



  • @wappla Are you talking about zero investment acceleration? Chandra doesn't count because you need to invest 4 to get 3 later. Where does Dark Ritual fit, does it count as this kind of acceleration?



  • @hierarchnoble As is tradition on the Drain.

    I give us about 10 more posts before someone shouts "Restrict mental Misstep!"

    That said, re: Jund--I feel like we should be casting at least some deck smoothers. Maybe something like Faithless Looting? Or Sylvan Library?

    Just having 2x Chains isn't going to solve the problem of "ah crap, they drew a lot of cards"--I'd rather have the ability to just keep on K-Commanding/Scab Clan Berserkering them.


 

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