What is Jund?
Baby don’t Bolt me
Don’t Bolt me
Welcome back to The Arcane Sanctum everyone! The 2nd article talking about last week’s banned, and restricted announcement is here!
As many of you know I am an avid Azorius Control player, and have been since Ice Age, however Jund is another deck I love a great deal. This announcement about Bloodbraid Elf also reaches me on a personal level, and to illustrate this point let’s take a look at some other announcements from recent Magic history.
The bannings of Sensei’s Divining Top, Felidar Guardian, and the removal of Bloodbraid Elf from the banned list.
Last year my beloved Sensei’s Divining Top was banned from Legacy. Miracles had suffered a crucial loss, and I had not been this impacted by a ban since Bloodbraid Elf was (unjustly) banned from Modern in 2013. While I played Miracles then I was waiting on my tops to come back from being signed by the artist, and when they did I took a video of them using this song as the backdrop. I felt it was an appropriate send off.
A few days after that another card was banned in Standard. This time it was Felidar Guardian. Wizards of the Coast originally did not ban this card when Amonkhet was released, but allowed players on MTGO to play the new cards before they were released in paper. While ideal it was apparent the card should have been banned based on the results of the deck it was in, and an emergency ban was issued. Rumor has it that pizza was sent to Wizards of the Coast with a message inside asking for the ban.
I felt the need to do something. The Elf should have been free a long time ago, however no action was taken. While many of us were trying to deal with degenerate decks nothing was done to provide a fair, and balanced Magic card for us to use in the game’s most popular format. Thoughts from staging rallies in front of stores as a spoof to get Bloodbraid Elf back came across my mind, but seemed to complicated to construct.
…but then an idea came to me one day visiting my parents.
I knew there would have been no changes to Modern until early in 2018 as most cards released from, or added to the ban list did not happen until the beginning of each calendar year (for the most part). My parents already had their Christmas decorations up, and my desire to “get the elf off the shelf” sprung to life.
…but how would I execute this plan? I decided to make a Christmas card.
I sent this card to the 3 members of Wizards of the Coast I thought would have the most impact on my Christmas wish: Melissa DeTora, Mark Rosewater, Aaron Forsythe. Once I sent them I had a long 60+ day wait, and it was worth every second! MERRY CHRISTMAS (a little late) TO ALL OF US JUND PLAYERS!!!
A lot of players are concerned with the power level this card brings, and if it will limit design space for cards less than four mana going forward. I don’t quite think that will be the case though as Bloodbraid Elf, while strong, was not as dominant as other decks in Magic’s history.
Alara Reborn, and Magic: 2010
Prior to the release of Alara Reborn the metagame was still leaning heavily off of the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor block when creating decks. While the two blocks were starting to merge at this point the metagame at that point looked like this:
- Cruel Control (using Cruel Ultimatum)
- Revillark combo decks
- White Weenie (mostly Kithkin)
While there was some variety games were mostly aggro or midrange, and only the decks that played bigger spells could afford to go beyond 2 or 3 colors. When Alara Reborn was released two key cards were released that helped shape not only the Standard format, but provided us some of the most famous cards from the last decade.
These two cards helped propel Jund to a viable strategy in Standard upon their release, however there were other decks that took advantage of the Elf.
- Naya Midrange
- Cascade Swans (which used Seismic Assault, and Swans of Bryn Argoll)
- 5 Color decks (as you can cascade into any 3 drop with Bloodbraid Elf)
Nothing was dominant, and decks were actually added to the options for those playing in States and Regional tournaments. Things were balanced, and there seemed to be more play among the top tables.
After Magic 2010 was released not much changed honestly. The best performing deck with Bloodbraid Elf was Cascade Swans which won Grand Prix Barcelona, but nothing quite Jund related yet.
Zendikar through Rise of Eldrazi
The Zendikar block was really the time to shine for Jund. Once again 2 cards provided the push this archetype needed throughout the block.
It was a long time since Onslaught, and having the enemy colored fetchlands was long overdue. Although there were no basic land type dual lands in Standard at the time this allowed for decks like Jund to easily find it’s missing colors for the cards it needed to play. In Worldwake we also received a new type of creature land that produced allied colors as well as turned into a creature. Raging Ravine still seems to be the best creature land for Jund even now in Modern. Sometimes when I attack with this I think it has Trample, because it feels that powerful.
Jund started posting Faeries level numbers by winning many States, Pro Tour Qualifier events, and even taking down Grand Prix Brussels as well as Pro Tour San Diego. Jund was a powerful deck, and had a lot of play to it. The format was also slow enough to still play cards beyond the 4 mana cost level, and still do well. Here’s an example of what I played back in this era:
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Sprouting Thrinax
4 Putrid Leech
3 Broodmate Dragon
3 Siege-Gang Commander
2 Garruk Wildspeaker
4 Raging Ravine
4 Savage Lands
4 Verdant Catacombs
2 Dragonskull Summit
2 Lavaclaw Reaches
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Maelstrom Pulse
3 Great Sable Stag
2 Master of the Wild Hunt
2 Jund Charm
1 Pithing Needle
Having clear cut even numbers streamlines the deck, provides a constant stream of threats as well as answers, and makes it difficult for opponents to properly answer everything. Jund was a powerful deck then, and is now, and if it wasn’t for Deathrite Shaman causing Bloodbraid Elf to be banned perhaps she would have always remained in Modern.
So again we have a card that did not warp a format upon it’s arrival in Standard, won a few tournaments at the highest levels of play, and provided fun interactions during it’s time. We even had the chance to play it in Modern for a few years, and now after half a decade of her being going we have the Elf back in our decks as well as our hearts. There are so many strategies from Gruul, to Naya, Temur, and Jund that this card will see play in. I can’t wait to watch it all unfold.
Currently for us Jund players the decision is between which cards should be used between Lightning Bolt, the discard spells, and Fatal Push. Not everything can be in the deck at once, can it? With Jace, the Mind Sculptor entering Modern there may be enough low to the ground creature decks that more removal is needed, but if control, combo, or Big Mana decks become the problem perhaps the excess removal can be in the board in favor of discard. There is no right way to play the deck upon the new (and improved) format from day 1. That’s the best part about the game: the discovery. The games that you play should shape your thought process going forward than any article ever should as ultimately the cards you play are based on your choices, and your experiences alone. That’s part of what made the Standard format back during Bloodbraid Elf’s reign so fun.
Well folks that’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed the article. Please like, share, comment, and follow me both on Twitter as well as Facebook.
Until next time…don’t forget your cascade triggers, and…
TAP MORE MANA!!!