Right now my favorite deck is Jund with Baneslayer Angel added in. Of course, if I’m going to alter the mana-base to support a WW card, I might as well go all the way and include Cruel Ultimatum (sounds good to me! – LSV).
So you might be asking: why play this type of deck over 5-CC? It can take advantage of cascade since it doesn’t run counters, which is good when your main plan is tapping out every turn. Playing this deck reminds me a lot of running tap-out control strategies, where all your cards are just better than whatever the opponent is playing. You might not be using the typical control cards, but you really just want to control the board and drain resources from the opponent until your superior card quality takes over. Baneslayer Angel is the big turnaround threat this type of deck needed to compliment Cruel Ultimatum with.
Originally the mana base was even more of an eyesore, but over time and by cutting alot of Blue and Green cards, it became a bit more bearable. All the lands can help cast Cruel Ultimatum, and Baneslayer Angel isn’t even that bad on turn 5 since over half your lands make White. In fact, the largest strain left on the mana comes from post-board Great Sable Stag, where you almost always need to spend Vivid counters to drop it into play. It isn’t optimal, but you generally have plenty of time against most Faeries hands and the card really supports all the other burn and creature threats you have.
Maelstrom Pulse is a card that most people will immediately notice is missing from the maindeck. Rather than spend three mana and being stuck at sorcery speed, I’d rather have the extra options Path to Exile provides. It deals with two of my biggest threats, Chameleon Colossus and Baneslayer Angel while also limiting Makeshift Mannequin in the mirror. It isn’t some killer app that completely replaces other removal like Lightning Bolt, but having some ability to deal with Colossus and Baneslayer is a must at this point.
Creatures like Kitchen Finks and Putrid Leech got the boot for not going along with the flow of this deck. Leech isn’t a very effective two drop when you really want to conserve your life-total and generally don’t need to attack until turn five and beyond. Kitchen Finks ostensibly fits the control role, but lacks any clear role outside of beating up R/B Aggro. It isn’t strong enough to defend for very long against many threats and can’t produce enough of a punch to threaten control decks.
Meanwhile, Puppeteer Clique and Shriekmaw were cards I wanted to find places for, but kept disappointing me as I continued testing various incarnations of the deck. Puppeteer Clique is just hard to use effectively without striking with Blightning first, and will usually just act as a bad burn spell. 3BB is a lot to pay for that type of effect, especially when competing with a removal spell that gives you a free spell or Baneslayer Angel. Shriekmaw, on the other hand, suffered because I wanted to it to fill the same role as Lightning Bolt or Path to Exile, but couldn’t kill Colossus, Leech or Stag, which left me rather cold in the Jund mirror.
So now you know why certain common cards didn’t make the deck; what about the ones that actually did? The key cards in the deck are Baneslayer Angel, Bloodbraid Elf, Cruel Ultimatum and Blightning; the rest of the cards are interchangeable, but those 15 were the core for every iteration of the deck I tested. Baneslayer Angel is just amazing and absolutely crushes most decks if allowed to live. Makeshift Mannequin would only be played here to bring back Baneslayer. Obviously the downside is that it requires WW and people are better prepared to deal with it compared to say, two weeks ago. Regardless, Baneslayer is the best threat this deck can produce in every non-Faeries match.
Blightning is a little more subtle; it was added largely as a supplement to Ajani Vengeant and proved to be superior to the Planeswalker. Rather than just crushing the deck under a steady stream of large creatures and the occasional blast of burn via Lightning Bolt or Anathemancer, this version is seeking resource control over the game. Just about every single deck has issues getting pegged by a Blightning on turns 3-5, and it either slows the offense from aggro or takes away weapons they were going to drag the midgame out with. Combined with Vengeant, Lightning Bolt, Anathemancer, Bloodbraid Elf and Cruel Ultimatum; it can quickly create a situation where this Jund deck takes out over half the life of the opponent without ever creating an army.
Matchups and Sideboarding
Your deck is designed to come out ahead in the Jund mirror by virtue of having Baneslayer Angel* and Cruel Ultimatum in the maindeck, along with the full score of Bituminous Blast. Blast may not seem like the best card for the main, but it reams in the mirror where only Chameleon Colossus doesn’t get blown away. Baneslayer also trumps Colossus, because it allows you to race if you were slightly ahead or shut down every attacker on the opposing side. Even with four or five guys on the table, attacking into a Baneslayer and open mana if you have cards in hand is practically suicide. Of course the longer they wait, the more time you have to draw into additional copies of your bombs.
*Yes, they could have Maelstrom Pulse. Most Jund decks only run 2-3 maindeck and otherwise need to double burn to take down the Angel. It isn’t that the Angel is indestructible, its that she puts the game out of practical reach for the opposing Jund player if they don’t have it. If they do, oh well, your deck is still well positioned; you just don’t auto-win. People read too much into the argument, ‘it can be removed, hence it must be bad.’
Post-board Deathmark and Chandra can put a damper on your Baneslaying fun and keep Chameleon Colossus from reaching its full potential, Regardless, you have a full set or a superior version of Deathmark in addition to your own Colossi. Games two and three aren’t as favorable for you, but in the end they’re stuck playing the type of game you have leverage in.
Although I recommend the former boarding out plan, I’ve been kicking around the second as you often don’t want to tap out to evoke or hardcast Mulldrifter and Ajani Vengeant loses a lot of punch, often only casting a Helix once before dying. Meanwhile tapping out for a turn 3 Blightning, can nicely reduce either the number of critters to be removed or removal for your Baneslayer / Colossus (also, if they have Puppeteer Clique it seems like cutting Drifters is good – LSV).
You’re dead Game One. No sweepers and no real clock to go along with your cheap removal, there’s simply no options for you to eke out wins barring opponent’s mulligans. Games Two & Three are still bad, but at least you can steal games with Volcanic Fallout and Thought Hemorrhage to slow them down while your slow threats come online. Overall this is a lousy match for you.
Let’s face it; you’ll never be tapping out for Mancer to deal that smooth 3 damage, nor to cast Mulldrifter. You’ll be at least bluffing the removal and then casting Thought Hemorrhage at first opportunity, either on Regal Force or Ranger of Eos depending on the board situation. Cruel Ultimatum may be super slow, but if you can buy enough time to cast it, it puts you in a great position to actually win the game.
Game One is pretty well in your favor. Anathemancer is dead, but your removal suite is great against them and Baneslayer Angel is game over if they don’t respond with Path to Exile or Mirrorweave. At some point they run out of threats and the lack of Volcanic Fallout only hurts when they play Spectral Procession into Honor of the Pure. Post-board they’re still cold to Baneslayer and you gain the Fallout option, as well as more Path to Exile if Figure of Destiny is a large concern.
Simply too many self contained threats for [card]Blightning[/card] to do serious damage. Even if you knock them to one card with it, a single [card]Cloudgoat Ranger[/card] or Procession makes the entire point moot.
Bleh, I hate this stupid match. Not because you lose a lot, because you don’t, especially against the UBR builds which are slow as molasses poured into quicksand. No, I hate this match because it drags on forever and is highly dependent on the die roll. If you get to play, Blightning, Bloodbraid Elf, Vengeant and Bit Blast suddenly get jumps in value. If you end up on the draw, Spellstutter Sprite and Mistbind Clique are way better and it becomes much more difficult to sneak a threat down. Lack of maindeck Volcanic Fallout gives Fae a slight edge, as you have issues stopping their faster Scion powered hands, especially if they’ve landed the turn two Blossom.
Games Two and Three are easier thanks to Fallout and Stag, but still is a long drawn out fight. Cruel Ultimatum leaves, but sometimes a miser one is nice to keep around since many times they aren’t expecting it and you win the game if it resolves. Otherwise, slow sorcery speed cards like Mulldrifter and Vengeant hit the bench along with Cruel Ultimatum.
(Additionally you can replace 2 Bolt with the 2 Path for extra Mistbind & Anathemancer protection)
Mistbind Clique, Scion of Oona and Anathemancer are the most important cards to deal with are the Fae side.
Joke match here. There’s no real interaction, as you just kill any Figure of Destiny or Demigod of Revenge on sight and otherwise hope for some blocks to save damage. You always want to make the play that maximizes your life total, with the possible exception of tapping out for turn 5 Baneslayer Angel. You may lack Kitchen Finks, but a resolved Baneslayer or Cruel Ultimatum will nearly always win you the game.
Games Two and Three can actually give the Red player a slight edge depending on how much of a board they have for you. Obviously Deathmark is a pain, but if the deck still has Everlasting Torment that’s a dream crusher since you lack Pulse to take it out. Thankfully the number of R/B players running the card is minimal at this point in time.
No real sideboard changes are needed, but one I’ve been playing with to some success would be -2 Bit Blast +2 Path to increase the amount of early game options and permanent Hellspark / Figure / Demigod removal.
You have no way to interact profitably and no clock, this is even worse than Elves, next.
Does an SB plan even matter? -2 removal spells, +2 Thought Hemorrhage
Congrats, you actually have a favorable match here despite the lack of a true clock! The simple fact is that 5-CC is better suited to deal with Ram-Gang and Putrid Leech than it is to a full maindeck suite of Anathemancer, Blightning and Baneslayer. Cascade can be especially devastating against 5-CC as Bloodbraid Elf into half your potential hits are just devastating. Obviously an opposing Baneslayer Angel is a legitimate concern and one of the ways 5-CC can take Game One, but they have problems protecting it since if they tap down to play it, they risk getting hit by a Cruel Ultimatum.
Games Two and Three are variable, it really depends on the exact configuration of the opponent’s deck. I really can’t give you a solid board plan due to the room for swaps in 5-CC. My general rule of thumb is bringing in Great Sable Stag, Path to Exile and Thought Hemorrhage, while removing some number of Bolts, Bituminous Blast and 1-2 Baneslayer Angel.
Bringing in extra Path to Exile may not be the optimal plan and I openly admit that, but one of the main ways I’ve lost this match is for Baneslayer to stay on the table for multiple turns. Maximizing the number of ways you have to get rid of it seems like a good idea.
So why play this over 5-CC?
The Jund match and ability to cheat when playing against 5-CC instead of having to run a legitimate control mirror. Counters might suck for a tap out plan, but when all those spells either come back later or cascade, it isn’t quite so bad. The downsides are your combo match goes into the toilet and Faeries is tougher than it should be for this type of deck. If I can get the cards together though, I’ll likely be playing this or the UW Baneslayer control deck at my PTQ.
One last thing: Sygg, River Cutthroat has come back up as a potential option for this deck and with this much burn it seems like a legit option. If you’re interested in the deck and have some time to try him out, I’d suggest giving him a shot. Until next week.
Email me at: joshDOTsilvestriATgmailDOTcom