July 31, 2022
Magic: The Gathering
Jund, Modern, Team CFBUltimateGuard, Magic: The Gathering
Once upon a time, Modern was the world’s biggest sandbox. Creative deckbuilders could play around with just about anything and, if they did a good job, enjoy a fair chance of success. Modern was a place where all your favorite cards would go after they’d rotated out of Standard; a final resting place where you could always go and visit them whenever the time was right.
That’s not what Modern is like in 2022. The card pool has ballooned out, punctuated by the printing of two excessively powerful Modern Horizons sets. Consequently, the competitive decks have been pushed to the brink concerning both power and efficiency, with no place left for a poor Huntmaster of the Fells or Knight of the Reliquary to see any play.
No, you can’t play just anything anymore if your goal is to be competitive. But what about my long-time favorite deck, Jund? It’s gone through periods where it was undeniably the best deck in the format, and other periods where it’s been virtually (or completely) nonexistent. Today, I’ll seek to answer the burning question that so many of the Modern players among my readers want to know: how good is Jund now?
At the start of the year, I would’ve said that Classic Jund was more or less dead, but that Urza’s Saga Jund (sometimes called “Jund Sagavan”) was a strong deck. Since that time, two big events have caused things to converge, and I now think the two different versions are close to equal.
Lurrus of the Dream-Den
The first is the banning of Lurrus of the Dream-Den, which was a secret (perhaps a not-so-secret secret) behind the success of Jund Sagavan. With the companion out of the picture, it unlocks options like Liliana of the Veil, Seasoned Pyromancer, Bloodbraid Elf and many more, which are key cards in Classic Jund.
The next is the printing of Riveteers Charm, which is exceptionally good as a flexible answer to Murktide Regent and other problematic threats. It’s difficult to cast in Jund Sagavan, but a perfect fit in Classic Jund.
So what exactly does Jund have going for it? It still has much of the best removal in the format, combining burn spells with black removal which gets to ignore toughness. Examples are Fatal Push, Terminate and the aforementioned Riveteers Charm. Teammate Andrea Mengucci recently wrote:
“Cheap black removal spells like Fatal Push and Terminate are much better than Lightning Bolt and Unholy Heat because they’re able to kill a creature equipped by a [Colossus] Hammer. This means you can take a huge hit and still turn the game around, unlike UR Murktide which often can’t deal with a creature equipped by a Hammer…”
I’m a huge fan of Kolaghan’s Command right now. It’s long served as a powerful value card, and as a great way to punish artifacts. However, it’s uniquely strong right now because even non-artifact decks are often packing things like Unlicensed Hearse. Command allows you to answer such artifacts at a profit, without needing to turn to narrow cards like Ancient Grudge or Force of Vigor in matchups where they’d normally be pretty crumby.
But plenty of decks (Rakdos, for example) can play with Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push and Kolaghan’s Command. What does Jund have that these decks don’t?
Wrenn and Six
Wrenn and Six might just be the best card in Modern. It’s uniquely strong in a deck that can clear its path with discard spells and protect it with a healthy suite of creatures and removal spells. Wrenn and Six is a huge appeal of the R/G color combination, and a huge appeal of Jund as an archetype.
So how good is Jund really? In the June Power Rankings, I ranked it as the 12th best deck in the format. This sets it below the “Tier 1” decks, which you should expect to succeed in every big tournament. However, it puts squarely in the conversation of decks that could win a tournament or put up a big finish, when the time is right.
This aspect keeps hope alive that there’s always room to improve upon the archetype, or to handcraft the perfect list for the perfect metagame. It also means that if you can’t access a certain card - perhaps for budget reasons - there’s never a shortage of options to replace it. This makes Jund a solid choice for folks who are gradually building their collection, honing their skills and leveling up as competitive Modern players.
On the other hand, the biggest strike against Jund right now is its unfavorable matchup against the Omnath/Yorion decks. They can beat you at your own game by generating too much value in the midgame, and always having some gas left in the tank after any number of Thoughtseizes and removal spells.
I personally find the best approach is to take my lumps in that matchup, and instead try to be the best I can be against Izzet Murktide, Azorius Control, Urza’s Saga decks and small creature decks. Even after all of that, there may be some space left where you might choose some extra graveyard hate, combo hate or a dedicated sideboard card against Burn, as you see fit.
runs in the family for Reid. When Reid was five, his mom came home one
day with two Magic starter packs for him and his brother Ian. They both
hardly knew the rules but they muddled through as best they could with
the rules inserts. 26 years later, Reid’s now one of Magic’s most
successful and respected players in the world. Learn more about Reid.