Updating Modern Jund
- Andreas Reling
Theros Beyond Death impacted a lot of nonrotating formats with broken combo cards like Thassa's Oracle and Underworld Breach. But not only did the unfair strategies get new power-creep toys — the Titan duo of Uro and Kroxa changed the faces of many midrange decks as well. Let's see what Jund gets out of that!
Jund generally isn't set up well to disrupt Big Mana decks that use the early stages of the game to ramp and win with a single topdeck later on. Still, Jund was able to fight back a premier spot in the metagame as many fragile and fast decks emerged, trying to prey on the more clunky Titan decks. Jund is pretty good at slowing down linear decks with cheap disruption and following up with a lot of pressure on the battlefield. So it's perfectly suited to take advantage of decks that try to be fast or rely on creatures to defeat Big Mana archetypes. If a metagame becomes very defined, Jund can commit a big portion of its sideboard to have a fighting chance against those very bad matchups, while tuning the rest of the deck to beat everything else. Thus, it can still come out ahead, even if it may seem like a bad choice on first glance.
It's Still a Titan's World
When Theros Beyond Death was released, another very powerful Titan entered the Modern card pool. Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath is everywhere! Not only does it splash nicely in Primeval Titan shells, but it also seems to be the big talk in every Constructed format at the moment and was incorporated into many different Modern decks right from the start.
In its shadow, the other mythic rare Titan, Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger, was overlooked at first. A few days after Theros was released, I watched Reid Duke's stream, where he was playing 8 Rack deck featuring four Kroxa. It looked like a Jund deck to me, but instead of the powerful green creatures, the shell was playing more discard spells alongside the threats of The Rack and Shrieking Affliction. Kroxa may not be as eye-catching as Uro is, but thinking more about it, I concluded it is the perfect fit for the disruptive Jund shell as well.
A Nice Fit
While it doesn't sound impressive to spend your second turn making the opponent discard a card of their choice it's not that easy. Firstly, Jund is making opponents discard a lot of cards between Thoughtseize, Inquisition of Kozilek, and Liliana. This puts pressure on their handsize, so they won't have the luxury of keeping what they need in a lot of cases. Also, if they simply get rid of an excess land — a popular decision when needing to discard a card of your own choice and an often used argument against discard effects where the opponent chooses — they lose 3 life. This adds up fast in a deck with efficient beaters such as Tarmogoyf, creature lands, and other sources of chip damage like Bloodbraid Elf, Kolaghan's Command, and Bolt.
Kroxa makes Jund more aggressive, but also helps to make the opponent stumble and buys precious time; all while setting up the perfect late-game finisher, as Kroxa is a beast when escaped from the graveyard. It's the ultimate trump in mirror matches or other midrange grind fests where card advantage matters and where it can be cast again later on when the game drags out. What more can Jund ask for?
Improvement, at Any Cost
Looking through decklists and for inspiration, I stumbled upon Jund aficionado David Calf's write-up of his current Kroxa Jund version. I immediately brought it to the weekly Modern tournament in my city where I won the whole thing without dropping a match. The deck felt smooth and powerful, but it was a bittersweet realizationthat Bob didn't fit in anymore. Between Kroxa and Wrenn and Six, the deck has enough engines to get ahead on cards and with Red Prowess and Burn being popular strategies, minimizing life loss is important, as Kroxa makes you fetch shock lands a lot in the early game.
|David Calf's Kroxa Jund|
In the meantime, the world's arguably best Jund player, Willy Edel, added even a third copy of Kroxa to his version and won the Magic Online Modern Challenge on March 15 with "the best Giant deck" in Modern. Also, Goldfish lists Jund as the third most successful and prominent deck in the format, according to their latest data. Right now may be the best opportunity for Jund players that we've seen in a very long time.
But with power comes responsibility and when we can learn one thing from Kroxa, it's that Jund has to evolve and adapt constantly and try out new cards to stay competitive. There is no other deck that benefits as much from tuning, exploration, from fancy one-ofs and rogue sideboard strategies as Jund. What I'm trying to say is that Jund is no deck for lazy people. You need to work for your wins not only in grindy and drawn out games but also at the drawing board at home! Creating a deck that disrupts a lot of strategies at once to buy enough time to win with the correct choice of threats has always been the hardest task for deck builders throughout the history of Magic.
To get concrete, I will try out more new cards in my upcoming Jund lists based on my analysis of the expected metagame. For example, blue Urza/Uro decks seem to be on the rise. That's one factor why I want to try Boil in the sideboard. Another are those pesky white-blue-x decks like Stoneblade and Draw-Go Control that seem to become more popular as well. Then of course, Boil also is excellent against anyone who dares to cast Dryad of the Ilysian Grove; you may as well consider this the main reason.
Another card that's a potential addition from Theros Beyond Death is Klothys, God of Destiny. While Jund won't be able to make Klothys a creature often, it serves as kind of a planeswalker that's very hard to deal with. It could replace Scavenging Ooze as it fights graveyard strategies, gains life, and provides a clock that will eventually finish the game. It serves the same purposes while costing no further mana investment and being harder to remove. I'll certainly try the card out the next opportunity to play Modern and will include it in my next Jund decklist blueprints. You too should think about new ways to combat the ever-changing modern metagame!
Tell me in the comments what you think about the power creep Modern experienced from recent sets and what cards you want to try out in your Jund decks.
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