I’ve played a lot of Junk recently, including a slew of MTGO events and the recent GP. Here’s my updated, post-banning list:
The Main Deck
Stirring Wildwood‘s reach is nice vs. Delver of Secrets, but Treetop’s cheap activation cost and trample make it a much better card, especially when combined with Sword of Fire and Ice. I’m only running three because tapped lands make a huge difference with some draws, and drawing multiples in the early game can straight-up lose some matchups.
Noble Hierarch is more powerful in the abstract, but it’s harder to cast a turn-two Liliana and it doesn’t carry a Sword as well.
Dark Confidant builds should leave out mana dorks entirely, instead upping the discard count.
While Tarmogoyf fell a bit out of favor for a while, that’s mostly because people didn’t want to deal with it and delve. It’s a terrific card against UR Delver-style decks, as their only real removal is Lightning Bolt and it comes down fast enough to race.
The new metagame should include more Abrupt Decays, more Path to Exiles, and more Oblivion Stones, and all of that’s bad for Tarmogoyf. That said, it still kills quickly and matches up well against other creatures. Like Siege Rhino, it survives Lightning Bolt and Electrolyze, which will always be two of the most popular cards to Snapcast back.
Speaking of Snapcaster, decks that cut or trimmed it to make room for Treasure Cruise will go back to playing the full four, making Ooze quite a bit better.
Treasure Cruise was about tempo, and to combat it you needed to clock the opponent, which Ooze wasn’t very good at. Snapcaster is about grinding, and Ooze can fight that battle all day long.
If you compare Doran’s combat stats to Anafenza’s, it looks something like this:
Doran: 5/5, give your team +1/+1.
Anafenza: 4/4, maybe give one creature +1/+1 when it attacks.
In the end, Doran is a bit sturdier and more ‘Goyf-like off of a turn-one Birds of Paradise. I preferred it even with Pod in the metagame, and it’s much better now.
I wouldn’t play more than two, though, as the legend rule can come up.
Courser is an innocuous card, but it’s a green card advantage engine that gains life, lives through Bolt, and has some synergy with Doran. I’ve gone up to 3, but you never really want multiples, and I had to trim down for Lingering Souls and Liliana. That said, the first Courser is really good, and I’ve been happy with 1-2 in most lists.
I’ve actually considered going down to 3 since drawing multiples can gum up your hand with some draws, but it’s the best draw in a lot of situations and the main reason to play the deck.
Drawing multiples in the wrong matchup can be painful, which is why I only have two even though I’m not running Dark Confidant.
All of the information and some of the disruption of Thoughtseize with none of the pain.
Eventually, the opponent’s mana will sort itself out anyway, and Path is the best removal spell for your buck. Besides the early game Goblin Guide or later game Siege Rhino, sometimes you need to kill a Titan, Wurmcoil Engine, or an Elesh Norn in this format! Cut these for Dismembers at your own risk.
Doesn’t kill Siege Rhino in the mirror, but does hit Liliana and Tarmogoyf. Universal removal is really strong, and BGx decks in Modern pick up a relevant % by being able to answer random Cranial Platings, Ethereal Armors, and so on.
Unfortunately weak to Snapcaster Mage + Electrolyze, but necessary against Affinity. Souls are great with and against Liliana, and the tokens carry a Sword nicely.
I started running Sword as a way to let Tarmogoyf beat in through a pile of Young Pyromancer tokens, but I was impressed with it across the board. Even in the matchups where the protections are irrelevant, putting it on a flyer or a trampler is often game, and this deck has a lot of flyers and tramplers.
Note that, without Birds of Paradise, it’s harder to curve into Sword, and as such I wouldn’t main it in the discard-into-Dark Confidant builds. I prefer the versions with mana dorks because I like casting Siege Rhino a turn earlier, but a lot comes down to whether or not you think Dark Confidant is well positioned.
Without Cruise, Young Pyromancer should see a dip in popularity, making Liliana good again. Liliana is especially good against creature combo decks like Twin, keeping combo pieces off the board (edict) or in hand (discard).
Good, general removal with a potential upside, it’s especially brutal against tokens. I ran two in the Grand Prix, but it was a little more necessary as an answer to Birthing Pod.
Good against Scapeshift, Twin, and Tron.
I used to sideboard Duress since it’s so good against Burn, but the Amulet of Vigor/Primeval Titan deck got a lot of exposure recently. As such, I’ll want access to the full four Thoughtseize for a while.
Beats UWR Control by itself, but it’s hard to tell how popular Ux control will be.
Trades profitably with Siege Rhino and Path to Exile. Could be maindecked if the metagame gets grindy enough.
A little awkward because green and black are the colors of Abrupt Decay, but when it goes unanswered it breaks the green creature mirror.
Without Deathrite Shaman, mana dorks all have 1 toughness. Darkblast is also great against Affinity and Dark Confidant.
The fourth is here mostly due to space concerns in the main deck. It’s also bad against tokens and sometimes redundant in multiples, but I want access to the fourth because it’s amazing at putting combo players hellbent.
The fastest, most brutal hoser for Affinity in these colors. Also decent against Tron and random rogue strategies like KCI.
A slower hoser, but kills Etched Champion. Sometimes that’s all that matters.
Unplayed New Card: Tasigur, the Golden Fang
It’s possible that I’m underrating Tasigur, as I’ve only tested it for a few matches with proxies, but I don’t think it belongs in Junk. At the very least, it needs more fetchlands and discard than I’m running.
In some draws you can curve out with turn-one fetch + discard, turn-two fetch + Abrupt Decay, turn-three Tasigur. Other draws, you’ll go turn-one Treetop Village, turn-two Swamp + Tarmogoyf, and the Tasigur will rot in hand where Doran would be crushing skulls.
In Junk, there are more consistent cards for early beef and more efficient cards for grinding. I do expect Tasigur to see Modern play, but more so in decks with Thought Scour and Gitaxian Probe that can churn it out on turn two, either Grixis with Young Pyromancer or BUG with Tarmogoyf.