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Alara Reborn Set Review – Jund

Here we go. I guilt-tripped Jonathon Loucks into switching with me when I drew the Bant straw. Why? Because I am a fan of dragons, eating things, and killing things. I hope I’m talking about Magic. Seriously, most of my recent Drafts in the waning SSC format have been in the Grixis-Jund bi-shard.

For our standardized rating system, please consult Luis’s Esper review. For those who like something a little more sporty, here is my rating system based on the Chicago Bulls championship teams.

5- Michael Jordan. The greatest of all time.
4- Scottie Pippen. A great player. You’re not embarrassed if he is the best player on your team. He will take you to the playoffs, but can’t deliver the title by himself.
3- Toni Kukoc. A solid role-player. When the great ones leave and he is left as the best player on your team, you’re going to struggle a lot. Still, every deck”¦ err team needs these guys.
2- Steve Kerr. A bench player who serves a very important role. He isn’t good in every situation, but when you need that 3-point dagger, he is there in the corner waiting for the ball.
1- Joe Kleine. Who? Nicknamed “Taco Joe” for once scoring a three-point field goal that allowed Chicago Bulls fans to receive a free taco at local Taco Bell restaurants. Nice one, Wikipedia.

Bituminous Blast

Constructed: 2
The key to a good cascade card is having a spell that you would want normally. 4 damage for five mana has never been sought after, much less when it can’t even hit players. Cascade is such a powerful mechanic that we will have to reexamine this evaluation for Bituminous Blast. Having a high mana cost makes this one of the most versatile cascade spells, but it’s questionable whether that makes it more powerful. A lot of people are talking about the ability to control and tailor cascade effects, like setting up your deck so that Living End is the only spell you can hit. Right off the bat, I feel like I’m underrating this card, but I tend to think much too linearly for this card to excite me.

Limited: 4
If you’re even in one of the colors, you’ll want to slam this down into your Draft pile. Killing a creature and most likely getting a free creature of your own; are we getting tired of comparing cascade spells to FTK yet? I think cards like this are going to be good skill-builders, in that they will teach players not to play with bad low-drops like Goblin Mountaineer because flipping that off of cascade has got to be a huge letdown. You’re also going to want to get choosy with the cheap cyclers you play like Angelsong. As long as you are tight with your deck construction, this spell will be awesome to you.

Colossal Might

Constructed: 2
Colossal Might and Might of Alara together in a format with some playable double strikers. Is this a deck? With Viashino Slaughtermaster and Marisi’s Twinclaws, it’s a possibility in Block Constructed. Outside of a double strike deck, we should keep this in mind because pump effects with trample are occasionally desirable.

Limited: 3
This spell is a little better than your average pumper because you get the extra trampling power. The problem with it is that the low toughness boost lends itself to situations where you pump a 2/2 to kill a 5/5 and giving their opponent a 2-for-1. That isn’t really an optimal use, but all too often that’s the best you can accomplish with this.

Dragon Appeasement

Constructed: 2
Recycle was an actual card at one time, fueling decks in a comboriffic fashion. This is very reminiscent of that card, but much harder to pull off. You can probably engineer some kind of 3-card combo with this where you use the card to make a creature to sacrifice to draw a card and make a giant Nantuko Husk. But combos that require a 6cc enchantment haven’t been good since the days of Academy Rector. I give it a 2 because it is at least interestingly bad in a unique way rather than just outclassed by other cards.

Limited: 1
Spending a turn to play this enchantment, and another turn to drop your devourer just to draw some cards is a huge loss of tempo. The only way you can make this work is with an on-the-board sacrifice outlet like Scarland Thrinax. But we all know what will happen when you draw this without a sacrifice outlet.

Dragon Broodmother

Constructed: 3
Wow! And you thought that Verdant Force was good. The Broodmother is just nuts in EDH. Tune in for more from Sean (who is currently on vacation) at a later date. For regular formats, I am still a fan of this card because it clocks in at a relatively cheap price for a finisher and the tokens have flying and the ability to grow past problem blockers like Wall of Reverence. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Limited: 5
If you have the extra fodder available, you can grow your first hatchling to 5/5, making this an improved Broodmate Dragon. And after swing in with your pair of dragons, you still get more hatchlings to chump with or grow to 3/3s and 5/5s. Time to check into Arkham Asylum because this card is insane. The only way this is really bad is if you have an empty board and they remove it before you get your first token, but that’s almost every creature ever printed.

Giant Ambush Beetle

Constructed: 1
Just play a real removal spell please. I hear they reprinted Terminate. I would not be surprised if this were literally a Yugioh card name.

Limited: 3
As a slight variation on Bloodpyre Elemental, it gets a similar rating, although the beetle is worse for several reasons. For one, it’s double-colored. It also suffers from the usual “provoke” awkwardness in that it can’t kill utility tappers. And again, the name.

Godtracker of Jund

Constructed: 1
Even if you unleash a steady stream of 5-power creatures, the Godtracker is never going to be anything special. I would much rather have a Lorescale Coatl that grows automatically each turn without the need to (over)commit more resources to the board.

Limited: 2
Scarland Thrinax still has this beat for “Gray Ogre that gets bigger.” It is fine to play this in your deck and hope to get there with a nice curve, but the better Draft decks should have no problem finding more relevant 3-drops to play. Just because you won a game at the Prerelease when you grew this to an 8/8 doesn’t make me wrong. That’s clearly an outlier.

Gorger Wurm

Constructed: 1
A boring monster that doesn’t do anything special. Mycoloth is strictly better except when you don’t devour anything, in which case, what the heck are you playing these guys for?

Limited: 3
This is basically the Reborn replacement for Mosstodon and Beacon Behemoth with a bit of cross-shard synergy. Of course, this guy rates slightly better because he doesn’t die to everything that deals three damage, meaning you should value those elephants and pigs a little lower with the hopes of filling out your curve with these gluttons. This is one of those subtle strategies when drafting with three sets.

Igneous Pouncer

Constructed: 2
We’re back to landcyclers that can get duals and Madblind Mountains, but the criteria for a good landcycler is being a creature that you actually want to play (read: Eternal Dragon). 5/1 haste for six mana is not the second coming of Ball Lightning. Rated a 2 because you might just be desperate enough for this in Block, but hopefully trilands and Borderposts will be enough.

Limited: 2
It’s pretty safe to say that you play any double on-color landcycler in this format, but again the stats on this body are not that impressive. You don’t have to play everything that cycles under the sun. And there are decks where I might consider cutting this just because it is such a clunky late-game drop. The art reminds me of the ultimate weapon creature in “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind” (and it is similarly fragile!)

Jund Hackblade

Constructed: 3
I’m not as high on Jund Hackblade as some who would try to rate it a 4. The Tattermunge Maniac plan is fine and all, but a topdecked Hackblade with an empty board is just a 2/1. The Borderposts form an intriguing combination with the Blades because they stick around after most sweepers and help in that regard. Clearly this will see play. Equally clearly I won’t be playing them.

Limited: 2
If you somehow hit the ground running on turn two, congratulations. That’s amazing and you will probably win that game. There will be plenty of other games where you just play a 2/1 on turn two, or a 3/2 haste on turn six that can’t attack because your opponent has a 4/4 out. Overall, I think people are going to overrate the Blade cycle after the Prerelease because 50% of the product was the all-gold Alara Reborn, as opposed to the 33% for normal Drafts. Numbers matter, folks.

Jund Sojourners

Constructed: 1
Not that this would have made the cut, but it is a shame to see Astral Slide and Lightning Rift rotate out of Extended this year. Without an incentive to cycle, this does a bunch of things in a mediocre fashion, and pretty much fails to impress with any single trait.

Limited: 3
The ability to trade with X/4s is nice out of a three-drop. Contrast that with your opponent’s ability to trade their X/2 for it. Mix in a healthy dose of Zap, and you’ve got a fairly typical and well-designed Limited card. I like it, but there’s no reason to Radio Ga-Ga over it.

Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

Constructed: 2
Now this guy is an answer to Broodmate Dragon. It’s an expensive answer though. I see this getting mostly sideboard play in Block from people looking to be cute. Karrthus is also a metagame-changer in EDH, forcing people off of playing random Invasion Dragons as their generals “just because.”

Limited: 4
Six mana is generally where you want your Limited curve to top out at. Sevens and eights need to do something extraordinary which a 7/7 flying, haste guy qualifies as. Plus, I think you’ll probably end up facing at least one dragon per Draft which can lead to the total blowout. I can’t quite rate this as a 5 because that seventh mana matters too much in Limited.

Lavalanche

Constructed: 2
We’re looking at a decent Block spell that fills a valuable slot between Jund Charm and Martial Coup. It also manages to deal with Planeswalkers. The question that this card raises is “How much sideboard play will Swerve see?” Ouch if it does.

Limited: 5
Is this better than Martial Coup? Taking out Naya’s 5/5s costs one mana more than a minimum Coup. However, you can tailor your Lavalanche to take out some 2/2s much earlier. Plus, it leaves you with your current team instead of five (or more) 1/1s, allowing you to commit creatures to the board with impunity and inviting your opponent to do the same. The triple-color isn’t that much of a problem in this set, although you would hate to have to pass this in pack three of a Draft. Unless I was somehow UW only, I would take it because this is the biggest blowout in the format.

Lord of Extinction

Constructed: 2
Do you really need to put this monstrosity into an Extended Dredge deck and bash with a 40/40? Between haste, flying and protection, Little Miss Akroma is still the superior Dread Return target. Someone will try to make a deck with this and Mayael’s Aria for Regionals. Other fun cards with it are Soul’s Fire and Soul’s Majesty. Enjoy, but don’t expect to win too much.

Limited: 4
Crack a Panorama, trade creatures, use a removal spell to kill the next guy. That’s a fairly typical game progression. So you should be getting your mana’s worth with a 5/5 or larger. There will be games when he is much larger, and on occasion, you will be stuck waiting for it to grow like a Chia Pet. That last part, plus the lack of evasion are why I can’t rate this a 5.

If you face off against this monster, be careful of the “Tarmogoyf rule.” Any burn or -X/-X removal spell pointed at it will resolve and go to the graveyard before state-based effects are checked. Or put in simpler terms, Resounding Thunder will not kill what appears to be a 3/3 Lord of Extinction. You’ve been warned.

Madrush Cyclops

Constructed: 2
To this day, people are still looking for the next Fires of Yavimaya, and here we meet our latest contestant. Even with the rise in mana curves the past few years, this is too slow to fill the old Fires role, especially since your opponent’s Wrath of God will take out your “Fires” and blunt your follow up offensive.

Limited: 4
This curves very nicely into the Mosstodons of the world and will put your opponent under pressure. Yes, I used that phrase because I am listening to the David Bowie song. Sue me.

Maelstrom Pulse

Constructed: 4
This is a very contentious card. Some people have derided it as “not much better than Oblivion Ring.” I disagree. Just start with the Vindicate factor which is extremely valuable in this day and age of Planeswalkers. Not being able to hit a land matters, but perhaps not as much because even the aggro decks run 25 lands. The multiple angle is probably a bit overrated, unless you manage to hit two Elspeths. If you do, we’ll be talking real soon.

Limited: 4
A 3-mana answer to anything is completely insane. You will rarely get to pull off the spectacular play of destroying two or more permanents, unless you use it in Infest mode to counter a token generator like Spore Burst or Sprouting Thrinax. Otherwise, what you have is a safety net for your opponent’s most ridiculous bomb whether it be Obelisk of Alara, Finest Hour, Ajani Vengeant, or just another large creature.

Mage Slayer

Constructed: 1
This is a cross between double strike and super trample (as seen on Thorn Elemental). Fireshrieker has never really come close to seeing play. Neither will this, Lord of Extinction notwithstanding.

Limited: 2
Equipment like this is a tempo trap. Early in the game it is going to take you two turns to play and equip this to your creature. And what do you get for that? It’s essentially double strike without the combat benefits. Your creature is probably going to trade in combat anyway, and that’s if your opponent doesn’t just launch a removal spell at it and thank you for the Time Walks. You can hold off to play it when the tempo won’t hurt you too bad, but wouldn’t you rather just play another creature?

Marrow Chomper

Constructed: 1
The devour mechanic has a tough road to travel against some of the most efficient spot removal spells in the history of the game in Path to Exile and Terminate. Given that, we need to evaluate these creatures based on their other abilities and Marrow Chomper’s 2 life per snack is pretty unspectacular as is its initially small size.

Limited: 2
Compared to Gorger Wurm, this creature needs to eat a third creature to grow larger than its cousin. So again, the life gain needs to be the difference-maker. It isn’t. If you get a bunch of token generators without the stronger devourers like Tar Fiend, Marrow Chomper can be a suitable backup plan, but it should rarely be your plan A.

Monstrous Carabid

Constructed: 1
Unless cycling becomes relevant again in a Lightning Rift kind of way, this one-mana cycler is going to go to waste. If I thought that the cascade-Living End deck were viable, I would rate this a 2.

Limited: 2
At least Jungle Weaver and Yoked Plowbeast have strong board presences that contribute to Power-5 strategies. This is an overcosted 4/4. The one mana to cycle is just as likely to be a trap – “Oh, I’ll keep this one-land hand because I can cycle Monstrous Carabid“ – as much as it will be a help. P.S. I fall for this trap all the time, just like I fall into the “let’s just be friends” trap.

Morbid Bloom

Constructed: 1
If the graveyard is a problem for you, Relic of Progenitus is simply more efficient. Unless you’re removing a Lord of Extinction (my new favorite “example” card for big effects) and getting forty Saprolings. Yes, characteristic-defining abilities do register P/T in other zones. Since when? Since Wild Pair basically, so that Tarmogoyfs could fetch each other. At least you learn something about the rules while we talk about bad cards.

Limited: 1
I’m pretty sure I will never be hurting this badly to play a graveyard hoser. What is the dream scenario here? Remove Corpse Connoisseur and get three Saps for six mana? Oh, right, Lord of Extinction.

Predatory Advantage

Constructed: 1
This card seems awesome: until you play an actual game of Magic. Even against the most ardent of control decks, turn six is a point where they will either easily answer this clunky card (Cryptic Command) or play creatures that outrace your Lizard army (Broodmate Dragon). This might have some applications in EDH where you have more chances to trigger this due to having more opponents and longer games.

Limited: 2
This is a weird sort of card. I could actually see playing this in a control deck like I had this weekend with mass discard to soften them up (Voices from the Void and Tar Fiend). However, your average deck doesn’t want to mess around with this card since it can be potentially dead on the board just long enough for opponent to kill you.

Putrid Leech

Constructed: 3
I have a feeling that some people will see the second coming of Wild Mongrel here. I see a solid card that can serve as a cog in an aggro deck. Turning on subsequent Jund Hackblades could be an important role in Block. That’s not bad, but it’s not Wild Mongrel.

Limited: 3
Rootwalla has been a Core Set staple for some time now, and I have fond memories of Grimclaw Bats in Darksteel. Putrid Leech combines the best of both worlds for a solid package. Unless you draft a two-color deck, tempo is an obvious concern, and I usually end up evaluating C1C2 creatures as “three-drops” because you’re usually doing something like cracking a Panorama or laying Rupture Spire on turn two. This is awfully close to 4.

Sangrite Backlash
Constructed: 1
With the advent of equipment, auras need to do something extra to garner attention. Griffin Guide is a nice example of “something extra.” This card doesn’t have anything close to that extraness even if it doubles as removal.

Limited: 3
Sangrite Backlash is a little bit better and a more worse than the instant Nameless Inversion. While the tempo advantage of being able to hold your mana up can be powerful, sometimes this leads you into a trap where you try to kill something only to have your opponent pump in response and get three extra damage in off of your own spell. Sangrite Backlash not only won’t lead you into that trap, but it also gets around the possibility of pump saving the creature. But the tempo, the tempo.

Singe-Mind Ogre

Constructed: 1
If it were discard, I would have some love for Singe-Mind Ogre. But the fact that you could randomly hit a land and be left with a 3/2 for 4 is disappointing.

Limited: 2
Again, the problem is an overcosted body along with an ability that may or may not get you there. Playing with 40 cards means that this might need to be good enough, but that doesn’t mean you have to enjoy it. Cut this card whenever possible and consider boarding it in if your opponent seems to be slow and expensive bomb-laden.

Terminate

Constructed: 4
I actually don’t recall Terminate seeing as much play during its first run through Standard. But creatures are a lot bigger now and creatureless control and combo decks aren’t as prevalent as they once were. That means that Terminate should have a nice run competing with Path to Exile for “best spot removal spell.” Cast your vote in the forums.

Limited: 4
It kills anything. It costs two mana. It’s a very different sort of bomb than, say, Lavalanche, winning you games via tempo rather that overwhelming card advantage. But it will win you games because it is so cheap and efficient, removing a creature and leaving you with enough mana to lay another threat (or play more removal).

Thought Hemorrhage

Constructed: 2
Strictly sideboard material. There’s been a lot Internet bickering over this card. Look at back at the track record on the original, Cranial Extraction. It was mostly a sideboard card against combo decks, and a marginal utility one-of in decks like Kamigawa Block Gifts and Extended Gifts Rock. Basically, it was good with Gifts Ungiven. I guess that means playing more than one is a mistake.

Limited: 1
I know that there are people who are going to sideboard this in to deal with an otherwise problematic Elspeth or Ajani. Such narrow applications don’t make this a 2. That’s more for “regular” sideboard cards like Naturalize that you can have a reasonable expectation to board in once per tournament.

Veinfire Borderpost

Constructed: 3
The Borderposts are very interesting cards and it would behoove you to take a second look at them. At the very least, they are cheap enablers for your Jund Hackblades. Like the Ravnica bouncelands, it will probably take us a while to fully appreciate the subtleties of this cycle. It will also take the rotation of Vivid + Reflecting Pool for us to need the mana-fixing. When that day comes, you tell “em that Riki said these were “Ok.”

Limited: 3
I like Borderposts a lot more than Obelisks. They are much more tempo-friendly, and the loss of a color isn’t that big of a deal unless you’re pushing the bounds of a 5-color manabase. By the third pack, you should also have a pretty good idea of what you need to splash for, making you decision much easier on whether to take a Borderpost. In terms of game play, I’ve been happy with them, especially in my opening hand since you rarely have anything better to do on turn one anyway.

Vengeful Rebirth

Constructed: 2
It is intentionally very expensive, but Vengeful Rebirth should tickle the fancy of people who love the Erratic Explosion/ Draco combo deck from long ago. A shame that you can’t chain two of them forever.

Limited: 4
This is probably my one intentional overrating in this review (which means the rest are unintentional or just plain mistakes). While this costs six mana, the ability to nuke your opponent’s best creature and get back some huge cycling creature or another removal spell seems very powerful.

Violent Outburst

Constructed: 3
Cascade is certainly an exciting mechanic. The main problem that Violent Outburst has is that its “primary” effect is fairly worthless. The upside is that it is the cheapest cascade spell and an instant. One argument against cascade is that you might “hit something useless like a Mogg Fanatic. Well then don’t play Mogg Fanatic in a deck with cascaders! Honestly. Someone should write an article.

Limited: 2
Lower cascade values are a bit of a drawback here as you might end up hitting something fairly worthless like a 2/2. Free 2/2s are nice and all, but is it really “free” when you paid 3 mana for the +1/+0 effect? If you can tailor you deck so that this essentially tutors for Terminate every time, maybe that’s something. I dunno. So far I’ve seen cascade do some very flashy things, but mostly just fizzle. I would love to hear some of your cascade experiences, both the spectacular plays the number of times when you didn’t get much out of it. I would also appreciate someone telling me what is going on in the picture because it gives me flashbacks from the time the aliens took me.

Conclusion
There are no Constructed 5s, and I’m generally fine with that. The best cards here are the removal spell. Devour isn’t really a winning mechanic in a format with Path and Terminate, although I like the Broodmother a lot. Some of the aggressive drops like Jund Hackblade and Putrid Leech could surprise me. I’m also not quite sure what to make of cascade. Bloodbraid Elf looks excellent, but other than that it looks like slim pickings.

Jund gets a huge boost in Limited. In addition to all the removal presented here, you can get the insane Slave of Bolas. Lavalanche is the second-coming of”¦ maybe it’s just the first-coming. I’m glad I already have an affinity for Jund because it should be fun for the next few months.

Until next week this is Riki Hayashi telling you to call a Jund.

Rikipedia at gmail dot devour
Risky on efnet and most major Magic forums
Japjedi47 on AIM

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