Patriot Games

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bloodbraid Elf's Last Great Hoorah!

Mike Flores is one of the all  time great Magic writers.  His pro point does not reflect his incredible understanding and insight into Magic deck building and theory.  On August 9th 2012 he wrote a cracking article on the bogey men of standard through the ages which can be found here.

One of the decks he mentioned was the best deck during the Alara/Zendikar era, that deck was Jund.  Jund is one of the 5 shards of Alara and only had the 3 mana colours of Black/Green and Red available.  If standard is currently dominated by Blue/White Delver Jund was the deck of dominance during it's time.  Currently Jund is probably the best deck in extended and even a strong contender in Modern.  The 2012 Magic player championships are taking place as I write this and Jund/Bloodbraid Elf are making their presence felt during the championship - you can check it out here.

With the release of Return to Ravnica we will have a rotation in what sets are legal in Standard and Extended and will bid a not so fond farewell to many of the staple cards in Jund.

This card is so good in Jund its scary!

Back in June of this year my son Robert called me to discuss the tournament he was playing in the next day.  It was extended and he didn't know what to play.  My answer was very simple - play Jund.  When we looked at it we realised that Jund had got a number of new toys in the Innistrad block that really enhanced the deck so he brewed up a new take on Jund and it worked really well.

I called Rob up yesterday to discuss the deck list that I was planning to play next Friday at FNM Relax.  To be fair he really liked the deck (if not the mana base) but said "Hell if I was playing extended I would have to play Bloodbraid Elf, its so good."
Then we realised this was it, the next extended FNM after this one is in October - no more Bloodbraid Elf.

Jund tool of death number 2 - Blightning!

This left me in a quandary.  Jund is not a casual deck, it is really good and has great consistency which is something casual decks quite often lack.  Having said that apart from a brief period of playing Jund-Pod leading up to rotation last year I have not really played a lot of Jund and this is my last chance outside of Modern/Legacy.

And not a governor of California in sight.
So I decided to go with the whole Jund idea but tone it down a little - this was made easy by the fact that I don't own all of the cards that you would normally put into Jund.  With that in mind here is my list:

4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Raging Ravine
1 Kessig Wolf Run
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Copperline Gorge
1 Woodland Cemetery
1 Dragonskull Summit
3 Swamps
2 Forest
2 Mountains

25 Land

2 Lotus Cobra
2 Plated Geopede
1 Fauna Shamen
1 Glissa the Traitor
1 Daybreak Ranger
1 Chandra's Pheonix
4 Bloodbraid Elf
2 Vengevine
3 Huntmaster of the Fells
1 Grave Titan

18 Creatures

3 Terminate
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Blightning
2 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Liliana of the Veil
1 Sarkhan the Mad
3 Bituminous Blast

Jund's biggest weakness is its mana base, but with the lands from scars and Innistrad we are in a much better place than we have been in the past.  The deck is just full of really good cards you are happy to play, which is often the case with a really good deck.  Ditching Vengevine to Liliana then casting a Bloodbraid Elf and cascading into a 2 or 3 drop guy (all of which are good) and getting to bring back Vengevine to swing for 7 with haste is just living the dream.  If the 3 drop in question is Chandra's Pheonix then its swing for 9...

Making people pack graveyard hate way before Snapcaster/undying had been heard of...

We still need a sideboard for this which tends to be very utilitarian against stuff Jund struggles against;


3 Combust
2 Ancient Grudge
1 Terminate
2 Ratchet Bomb
4 Nature's Claim
1 Liliana of the Vale
2 Garruk Wildspeaker

Combust gives us a way to take out blue/white creatures without worrying about mana leak of spell pierce.  Ancient Grudge deals with artifacts while Nature's Claim deals with both for G at Instant speed.  An extra terminate and Liliana gives us a bit more removal/discard if we need it and Garruk Wildspeaker gives us overrun if we need it to punch through against weenie decks.  ratchet bomb comes in as always against tokens and backs up Maelstrom Pulse.

Yet again I get to actually play one of the cards I got from a Grand Prix.

I am going to end this blog there seeing as you have heard quite a lot from me this week.  I will be back on Monday with a new blog looking at all the spoilers we get this weekend from PAX Prime - very excited about this as the great "Will they reprint the shock lands?" debate may finally be over.  Don't forget that tomorrow night at FNM Relax we have the debut of 2 headed giant, see you there...

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