Jund has been one of the defining decks in Modern since the format’s inception. Jund is the most efficient and lean midrange deck, trying to leverage cheap interaction to disrupt its opponents game plan and give them no time to recover. Jund accomplishes this by gaining value through Dark Confidant, Liliana of the Veil, while assembling a menacing board state through Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet and Tarmogoyf.

Jund is known in Modern as a deck that has close to 50/50 matchups across the board. I don’t think this is necessarily true right now. Jund has what I believe to be below 50 percent game 1’s against many decks, and tries to leverage a powerful sideboard to flip match ups into its favor post board. Additionally, Jund’s matchups have gotten more polarized over time, with linear decks rising in power while more balanced decks like blue control decks, other midrange decks, and collected company decks becoming less prevalent. This makes matchups less 50/50 and more 60/40 in one way or another across the board.

I actually think that Jund is weaker than it normally is, because the format is so wide open, and decks are doing extremely punishing things in a wide spectrum. While individually Jund can beat all of these decks if it tried, the sheer volume of them makes devoting powerful and needed sideboard hate to each matchup impossible. To illustrate the scope of the problem, the most represented winning deck besides Jund, as shown on MTG Goldfish, is Death’s Shadow Zoo at 7.43% of the metagame.

Despite these pitfalls in the current metagame and state of modern, Jund has a very low ceiling as to how bad it can be, being that it is comprised of extremely powerful and efficient cards. Here is my Jund list:

 

Creatures (13)

4 Tarmogoyf

4 Dark Confidant

2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

1 Grim Lavamancer

2 Scavenging Ooze

Planeswalkers (4)

4 Liliana of the Veil

Spells (19)

4 Lightning Bolt

4 Inquisiton of Kozilek

2 Thoughtseize

2 Terminate

2 Abrupt Decay

1 Dreadbore

2 Kolaghan’s Command

1 Maelstrom Pulse

1 Seal of Fire

Lands (24)

4 Raging Ravine

4 Blackcleave Cliffs

4 Verdant Catacombs

4 Bloodstained Mire

1 Wooded Foothills

2 Overgrown Tomb

Stomping Ground

1 Blood Crypt

2 Swamp

1 Forest

Sideboard (15)

1 Thrun, the Last Troll

1 Pithing Needle

2 Anger of the Gods

2 Kozilek’s Return

1 Obstinate Baloth

3 Kitchen Finks

1 Duress

1 Ancient Grudge

2 Fulminator Mage

1 Painful Truths

 

This Jund list is pretty stock, and I have been tuning it over the last month or so while playing it in events such as PPTQ’s and SCG Classics, as well as at my local game shop.

As far as card choices go, nothing is that far out of the ordinary. The biggest deviation in my list is the 4 red Wraths in my sideboard. People skimp on these cards and I don’t know why. They are unbelievably impactful and feel like crippling hate cards such as Shatterstorm or Night of Souls’ Betrayal, giving up a little bit of power in matchups that I already think are favorable in exchange for applications in many more matchups. The addition of Pithing Needle is a new one proposed by Andrea Mengucci in his recent Jund article (found here). He advocated cutting Fulminator Mage because Tron is on the downswing because of the Eye of Ugin banning, as well as linear aggro decks being hugely popular and already a bad matchup for Tron. He also doesn’t like that Fulminator Mage is brought in in a ton of matchups as a kind of filler sideboard card. Instead, he advocates 2 Pithing Needle as a slightly more efficient card that filled Fulminator Mage’s role in the deck, while being very impactful against Jeskai Nahiri. I like Pithing Needle, but I disagree with this logic. Fulminator has impressed me time and time again serving as a way to mana and color screw my midrange and control opponents, while serving as a disruptive element against Infect to kill the otherwise hard to deal with Inkmoth Nexus.

Sideboarding and Matchups

B/G/x mirror – Even

+1 Thrun, the Last Troll

+1 Obstinate Baloth

+3 Kitchen Finks

+2 Fulminator Mage

+1 Painful Truths

-2 Thoughtseize

-4 Inquisition of Kozilek

-1 Seal of Fire

-1 Grim Lavamancer

Game 1 of the mirror is very polarizing and unfun to play. Because both players have 6 discard spells and 4 Liliana, both players are effectively hellbent or close to it by turn 4. I find game 1s come down to Liliana of the Veil parody, and Raging Ravine serving as an extra spell. One thing to note is that sometimes not playing your 2 drop on curve on the draw is correct if you will get blown out by Liliana of the Veil.

Postboard games are really fun, interactive, classic attrition wars. Liliana and Raging Ravine are still very important, alongside most sideboard cards.

Suicide Zoo – Favorable

+3 Kitchen Finks

+1 Duress

-2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

-2 Kolaghan’s Command

Jund is really well situated to beat suicide zoo. Most modern decks don’t play nearly as much removal as Jund, and Suicide Zoo takes full advantage of this to combo off very early and kill its opponent explosively. Against Jund, they don’t have this luxury, and because of the deck’s threat-light nature, Jund can dismantle their offense and hand consistently. Additionally, Tarmogoyf and Raging Ravine in conjunction with Lightning Bolt can kill the Suicide Zoo player quickly, before they have a chance to rebuild their board.

Affinity – Favorable

+1 Pithing Needle

+2 Anger of the Gods

+2 Kozilek’s Return

+1 Ancient Grudge

-4 Liliana of the Veil

-2 Thoughtseize

This matchup is still great even with the lack of dedicated hate in Shatterstorm or multiple copies of Ancient Grudge, because the red Wraths and Pithing Needle do so much work. Going back up to 2 Kolaghan’s Command is great here, so is the Seal of Fire and Grim Lavamancer. Even with what I feel is a great matchup, Affinity has nearly unbeatable nut draws, so as a Jund player you have to play really tight in order to squeak out the games that are in your control. I think that if you are a Jund player, getting in games as the Affinity player in testing can be really useful to see when and what to attack as well as understanding all the intricacies of both decks. This concept goes for a lot of the unique decks in Modern, as in reality those decks get tons of percentage points from opponents misplaying because of lack of knowledge against them.

Burn – Unfavorable-to-Even

+3 Kitchen Finks

+1 Obstinate Baloth

+1 Duress

+1 Anger of the Gods

-4 Dark Confidant

-2 Thoughtseize

As it turns out, cards like Thoughtseize and Dark Confidant that deal you damage are bad against Burn. I find this matchup to be 40-60 overall in Burn’s favor. Kill their creatures on sight and get them hellbent as quickly as possible. Mulligan aggressively to your good cards in the matchup (Tarmogoyf, Liliana, Lightning bolt, sideboard cards). Game 1 is really tough, postboard is 50/50 or slightly in Jund’s favor, although not always enough to make up for game 1.

Bant Eldrazi – Unfavorable

+1 Obsinite Baloth

+2 Fulminator Mage

+1 Pithing Needle

+1 Painful Truths

-1 Seal of Fire

-1 Grim Lavamancer

-2 Lightning Bolt

This matchup is rough because they have a super high density of powerful, hard to deal with threats; Thought-Knot Seer, Matter Reshaper, Reality Smasher, Drowner of Hope, and Eldrazi Displacer. This creates a really frustrating matchup dynamic where Bant has card advantage and inevitability advantage in the matchup, which is essentially out-Junding Jund. Liliana and Dark Confidant are the most important cards from Jund in the matchup, so playing them on curve and protecting them are what Jund should be looking to do. Taking Path to Exile with a turn 1 hand disruption spell over a powerful Eldrazi is often correct if you have a Dark Confidant or Tarmogoyf. Play Jund like a delver deck in this matchup, going for tempo, putting Eldrazi behind early. Killing their mana accelerants on sight and hoping that they don’t have an Eldrazi Temple in conjunction with executing your delver style game plan is a good recipe to win the matchup, I’ve found.

Infect – Favorable

+1 Pithing Needle

+1 Duress

+1 Painful Truths

+2 Fulminator Mage

+1 Ancient Grudge

+2 Kozilek’s Return

-2 Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

-2 Scavenging Ooze

-1 Raging Ravine

-3 Liliana of the Veil

I really enjoy playing this matchup, as it’s very skill intensive and complex. Infect is another deck where playing with it in testing will give you a huge edge against it in a tournament. Always be aware of Vines of Vastwood. It will often be correct to not cast your removal spells mid combat while they are attacking. If you do, they can have Vines of Vastwood or Apostle’s Blessing alongside other pump spells to punish and kill you immediately. Cast your removal spells main phase or at the end of the Infect player’s turn. Leverage the advantage that you get by being able to see the infect players hand through discard spells, and sculpt your game plan with that knowledge in mind. Be aware of the potential presence of Spellskite and understand how good Inkmoth Nexus is against you and respect it.

Merfolk – Favorable

+2 Anger of the Gods

+2 Kozilek’s Return

-4 Liliana of the Veil

Merfolk is overall a good matchup, if you play well as Jund. Your deck is great at nullifying their strength-in-numbers Lord of Atlantis plan, because of your spot removal, hand disruption, Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet, and Wraths. Spreading Seas is the way that Merfolk will win a lot of games against inexperienced Jund players, so sequencing your lands while thinking 2-3 turns in advance and accounting for  your opponent having Spreading Seas is a necessary skill to have in the matchup. Easily the most important card in the matchup is Master of Waves. It is extremely hard to remove from the board for Jund, and can end the game quickly. Play every single turn with Master of Waves in mind. Dark Confidant and Kalitas are great in the matchup, so play them when you can and sculpt your game plan around them

Conclusion

While I don’t feel Jund is the best deck in the format, on account of the sheer range of decks in the format, and being ill-equipped against some of the fringe decks, I like Jund and believe that it will almost always be tier 1, and right now is no different. As with any deck in modern, format knowledge and reps with your deck are quintessential to success.

Click here for an analysis of a Modern deck that most people considered dead, but is primed for a resurgence.

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