The next Pro Tour will be Rivals of Ixalan, and it will bring about the return of the Modern Pro Tour for the first time since Oath of the Gatewatch. As someone who is very… medium on Modern, this isn’t super exciting for me, but I know many fans of the format are stoked for it to be back. With the date getting closer and closer, people are starting to talk about potential unbanning in the format either preceding or following the Pro Tour. Instead of discussing which cards I think should be unbanned, *COUGH* Birthing Pod *COUGH* I’ll go into what the lists would look like if one particular card was unbanned.

Bloodbraid Elf

The first card on many people’s unban wish list is Bloodbraid Elf. The card was a powerhouse before it was banned, but much of its oppression very likely came from Deathrite Shaman being legal, and not the Elf itself. Here is Jeremy Dezani’s list from Grand Prix Bilbao 2013, a week before the card’s banning:

Spirit Jund by Jeremy Dezani at Grand Prix Bilbao 2013 – 12th

Creatures (16)
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Dark Confidant
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Tarmogoyf

Non-Creature Spells (20)
3 Liliana of the Veil
1 Blightning
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Lingering Souls
1 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Thoughtseize
1 Abrupt Decay
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Terminate

Lands (24)
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
1 Forest
1 Godless Shrine
4 Marsh Flats
1 Overgrown Tomb
2 Raging Ravine
1 Stomping Ground
1 Swamp
1 Temple Garden
3 Treetop Village
4 Verdant Catacombs

Sideboard (15)
1 Blightning
1 Thoughtseize
1 Aven Mindcensor
1 Batterskull
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Obstinate Baloth
1 Rule of Law
1 Shatterstorm
1 Slaughter Games
2 Spellskite
1 Stony Silence
1 Thundermaw Hellkite
2 Torpor Orb

Now lets take a look at a current Jund list from a M3 Masters Series:

Jund by Jonas Elpers at M3 Masters – 3rd

Creatures (14)
4 Dark Confidant
2 Kitchen Finks
1 Olivia Voldaren
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Tarmogoyf

Non-Creature Spells (22)
1 Abrupt Decay
4 Fatal Push
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Kolaghan’s Command
2 Lightning Bolt
4 Liliana of the Veil
1 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Terminate
3 Thoughtseize

Lands (24)
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
3 Bloodstained Mire
2 Blooming Marsh
1 Forest
2 Overgrown Tomb
3 Raging Ravine
1 Stomping Ground
2 Swamp
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Wooded Foothills

Sideboard (15)
1 Kitchen Finks
2 Ancient Grudge
2 Anger of the Gods
3 Fulminator Mage
1 Golgari Charm
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Nihil Spellbomb
1 Painful Truths
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
1 Bontu’s Last Reckoning

The first thing you’ll notice is that the decks are astoundingly similar. With a couple of changes to the manabase because of the introduction of Khans fetches into the format, the lands remain largely the same. For the sake of not going through five years of Modern format changes, I will exclude the sideboard when comparing lists. Consider the newer sideboard the one would like to keep.

When it comes to the maindeck, we can see that the newer list is foregoing the white splash for some stronger removal and a few singletons. The old list includes Lingering Souls because it is an easy splash, and a fantastic card to hit off of Bloodbraid Elf. Another significant inclusion is that newer lists have Fatal Push, which is fantastic removal in the format added since the Bloodbraid ban. Deathrite Shaman was still legal in the first list, but it has been replaced by Scavenging Ooze in the second list, a card which has great applications in a matchup like Storm or Dredge.

While these changes may seem very small, a deck like Jund needs to have every slot figured out perfectly in order to compete with the other decks in the format, most of which opt for either a faster combo kill or going over the top of you. If Bloodbraid Elf were to be unbanned, this is the list I would want to try out right away:

Spirit Jund by Riccardo Monico

Creatures (12)
3 Dark Confidant
1 Scavenging Ooze
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Bloodbraid Elf

Non-Creature Spells (24)
1 Abrupt Decay
4 Fatal Push
3 Inquisition of Kozilek
1 Kolaghan’s Command
3 Liliana of the Veil
1 Maelstrom Pulse
4 Lightning Bolt
1 Terminate
3 Thoughtseize
3 Lingering Souls

Lands (24)
1 Forest
1 Stomping Ground
2 Swamp
4 Verdant Catacombs
1 Godless Shrine
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
1 Blood Crypt
3 Bloodstained Mire
2 Overgrown Tomb
2 Raging Ravine
1 Temple Garden
2 Blooming Marsh

Sideboard (15)
1 Rule of Law
1 Stony Silence
2 Anger of the Gods
1 Bontu’s Last Reckoning
1 Thrun, the Last Troll
2 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Abrupt Decay
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Olivia Voldaren
2 Crumble to Dust
1 Scavenging Ooze

To start off, I really wanted to try out the Lingering Souls that Dezani had in his deck. I think the card gives this deck a lot more game against U/W/x decks, which have recently been going up in numbers, and gives us a slim chance against Tron, as they provide a fast clock, especially when hit off of Bloodbraid Elf. In general, I wanted the list to be more lean and aggressive with the inclusion of the Elf, as our primary goal game 1 should be a small amount of disruption and then a fast kill facilitated by Bloodbraid Elf and Tarmogoyf.

The grindier cards such as Olivia Voldaren and the other two Scavenging Ooze can come in post-board, when our deck slows down and turns into the grindy machine that most people nowadays know Jund to be. I also went up to four copies of Lightning Bolt in favor of the two Terminate, which I love when it comes to the aggressive game plan, but can also help with our grindy matchups. If we really feel that we need Terminate, they may be a good inclusion in the board, and I could see pushing another into the main, but I currently don’t know what I’d cut it in favor of.

Overall, I think this list is far from perfect, and I’m sure the Jund masters could certainly figure out the numbers much better than I can, but I think this general shell is a good start. The most controversial choice is likely the Lingering Souls, but I do think that the splash is worth it, and it does open up some insane sideboard options that the Jund deck has only had access to worse versions of, such as Stony Silence or Rule of Law.

I hope everyone enjoyed this article, and I really do hope that we see a Bloodbraid Elf unban. I have very little experience with the card itself outside of Cube, but the Cascade mechanic as a whole has always fascinated me. Now all we need is the printing of Shardless Agent in Magic 2019, and we can build the dream Temur Black deck featuring Bituminous Blast into Bloodbraid Elf into Shardless Agent into Abrupt Decay for full value.

My next event is Grand Prix New Jersey, which is much less exciting than the scenarios described here, but will still be a great tournament nonetheless and my preparation is underway. Thanks for reading everyone!

Riccardo Monico

While we’re on the topic of bans and unbans, there has been murmuring amongst the competitive contingent in Magic that some aspect of the Temur/4-Color Energy deck in Standard should be banned to open up the format. Do you agree? Read this article here for an opinion.

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