Last fall, the Pro Tour quickly brought Deathrite Shaman to prominence in Modern. It wasn’t long before the card was being tried out in various GBx shells in Legacy as well. I saw a couple early experiments with Legacy Jund in person at a Star City Open last fall, and became immediately intrigued. I played Jund in Modern, so when I got home later that night, I hopped onto MTGO, loaded up my Modern Jund deck, fixed up the mana base with proper duals and Onslaught fetches, and started from there.
After a couple play sessions, I ended up with something that still looked quite a bit like a Modern Jund list, with Bob and Goyf and Bloodbraid Elf and all the usual suspects, and a set of Hymn to Tourach tossed in. Here’s my old list, circa November 2012:
Boring Old 2012 Jund by RexDart
I had some success, but felt that while the deck could do an adequate job of early disruption, it often had trouble closing out games. I also lacked a sufficient density of threats, or perhaps variety of threats, to handle the many UW Control lists then running amok.
When Channel Fireball‘s Legacy writer began publicly working on Jund, the archetype quickly ascended into prominence. Tournaments were won, and certain cards quickly became cemented into lists. Early suggestions such as the use of Destructive Flow failed and faded away, and new innovations such as the use of Punishing Fire and Grove of the Burnwillows became popular.
Through it all, the deck remained true to its traditional nature as a giant pile of two-for-one’s, a board control deck that slowly ground you up, stripped your hand of answers, and then beat you down. That kind of deck was clearly good enough to win, and it did. But Legacy is a very fast format. Sometimes what you need is not just raw card advantage, but card selection. The Rock archetype, in which Jund remains firmly rooted, was born in an age when you could play up to four Vampiric Tutor to find the exact card you needed. Furthermore, lacking countermagic, the deck has always been vulnerable to a timely topdeck from the opponent. The longer it takes to close out the game, that much greater is the chance that everything will fall apart in the end.
There’s nothing quite as frustrating as drawing the wrong half of your Rock deck. Unless, of course, you’re drawing the wrong half of your Rock deck twice as fast and killing yourself in the process. I respect Dark Confidant, and you better believe I’ll try to kill yours when you land one, but I’ve just never really liked having him on my team. He doesn’t do what I need him to do as often as I would like.
To remedy the card selection problem and make Dark Confidant better, you could add in Sensei’s Divining Top, like the Junk decks do. But unless you’re really in love with the Punishing Grove combo, you may as well just be playing Junk and have white’s superior sideboard options, a Green Sun’s Zenith package, and big beaters like Knight of the Reliquary.
Rather than go this direction, I decided to make a fun and dramatic change. I cut Dark Confidant and replaced it with Lotus Cobra. Now free of Bob’s icy grip, and with the potential to generate huge amounts of mana, I could experiment with additional big-mana threats that would more effectively close out the game and/or frustrate control opponents. Here’s the list I’ll be running in today’s videos:
Cobra Jund by RexDart
Lotus Cobra is one of my favorite cards, and he does a lot of work here. Like Deathrite Shaman, he works very well with fetch lands, helps fix mana, and helps you recover from a Wasteland. With a Cobra in play, your opponent’s mana denial plan is always one top-decked fetchland away from being overcome with a vengeance.
Thundermaw Hellkite is a fun and powerful threat. Although Lingering Souls is seeing less play these days, there are still plenty of Baleful Strix and Vendilion Clique running around for him to kill. It may seem risky to play a 5-mana creature, but this deck can make the mana, and many decks have few good ways to stop him. Control decks often rely on Spell Pierce against opposing haymakers, not expecting a big creature. He’s out of Abrupt Decay range. Right now, BUG Control is the popular favorite, so there are fewer Swords to Plowshares out there. If you do go up against white, the deck is equipped to clear the opponent’s hand of spot removal with the six targeted discard effects.
The planeswalker suite is a bit different as well. The new addition is Chandra, Pyromaster. She replaces Bob, in her own fashion, as my card-advantage machine. It’s nice to have a card-advantage engine that isn’t just another fragile creature, and planeswalkers are a great way for midrange decks to fight control. The +1 ability helps push damage through opposing Tarmogoyfs, and kills a number of important x/1 creatures. Chandra’s ultimate is also a legitimate threat to win the game, thanks to the presence of four Lightning Bolts in the deck. It’s risky and you may not always go for it, but your opponent will have to respect the possibility. The threat of a Turn 2 Liliana of the Veil is enough to warrant her continued inclusion. Also, she is incredible early and at least functions as an edict effect later on, but my deck is not designed to fully exploit her +1 ability as some of the other Liliana decks will be. Now that the Legend Rule no longer lets me nuke their ‘walkers with mine, there will be matchups where I board her out more frequently.
I have a heavy amount of spot-discard effects as a hedge against combo and control in Game 1. Against aggro, I can board out the set of Thoughtseize for the Kitchen Finks, Umezawa’s Jitte, and additional removal spells. Red Elemental Blast works to blow up opposing walkers at a cheaper cost, as well as fight blue-based combo decks. Speaking of combo decks, I am trying out Underworld Dreams against Show and Tell. I can cast it naturally or drop it into play off of my opponent’s S&T, and it immediately doubles the cost of their Griselbrand activation, as well as making Enter the Infinite suicidal. The deck has a sufficient number of edict effects to handle Emrakul, so Griselbrand and the OmniTell variants are the primary concerns. Underworld Dreams does not target, so Leyline of Sanctity — which they are certainly going to board in against any Jund deck — doesn’t protect them from the damage.
I took the deck into the 2-man queues and had a surprising amount of success. After the video deck tech, you will see the deck take on UB Tezzeret, Mono-black Control, and finally a beautifully foiled-out BUG Control deck. Two of those matches are against Tier 1 and 1.5 decks, and I was very pleased with the deck’s performance. I didn’t miss Bob at all, and the big threats did just what I wanted them to, dismantling opposing ‘walkers left and right. I did lose a match earlier in the night to Elves, and with that deck gaining in popularity right now, you may want to be prepared for it. With Elves’ adoption of Thoughtseize, you can’t rely on any sideboard spell, so I’m not sure precisely the right way to attack them now.
Be sure to check out the deck tech and videos, and let me know what you think in the comments! I’ve also changed audio equipment, so let me know if you like this better.