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The GBx Primer – Jund and Junk

From Modern’s inception to the present day, Golgari midrange decks have had a significant presence in the metagame. But while many decks thrive in part due to their capacity for an unbeatable draw (Infect, Affinity), the banning of Deathrite Shaman stripped GB of its nut draws. When you sign up to play Jund or Junk now, you are in for the long road—there will not be many free wins and the games will be lengthy, attrition contests. If you enjoy playing long, interactive games then Jund/Junk may be the deck for you. For the purposes of this article I may refer to Jund and Junk interchangeably when the differences are negligible.

Game Plan

  1. A turn-2 unchecked Tarmogoyf is the smoothest path to victory. If you play against a deck with artifacts, enchantments, or tribal spells, Tarmogoyf is even more likely than average to dominate the game.
  2. Prevent the opponent from winning entirely. This is possible against certain combo decks if you are able to disrupt them early, use Liliana of the Veil every turn, and eventually make them sacrifice half of their lands. The addition of Kolaghan’s Command to Jund contributes to this plan as you are able to cast it in your opponent’s draw step.
  3. Win a long attrition-based mirror match. Some of the best cards here are the manlands: Raging Ravine, Stirring Wildwood, and Treetop Village. Jund has the best manland in long games—nevertheless Junk has the edge in a mirror due to the strength of Lingering Souls.

Jund

Brad Nelson

Abzan

Thiago Saporito

Deck Difficulty: Easier than Average

Jund decks aim to disrupt the opponent, hoping that the pure power level of its own cards overwhelm an opponent whose synergy has been disrupted. You can use a simple rule to play proficiently: cast the spell(s) and use abilities that are most mana efficient each turn.

Weaknesses

Many cards in Jund vary in effectiveness from matchup to matchup. In a format as vast as Modern, Jund players will often find themselves significantly disadvantaged in game 1. For example Griselbrand + Nourishing Shoal combo deck will beat Jund 70%+ game 1. If you happen to know what your opponent is playing, I encourage you to mulligan aggressively for your effective cards. This main weakness of Jund decks balances out during sideboarding as they utilize their sideboards better than any other archetype. A card like Anger of the Gods, Back to Nature, or Stony Silence can often win a game on its own.

What is a Favorable Metagame for Jund(k)?

Aggressive creature-based decks and combo-based creature decks: Zoo, Elves, Merfolk, White Weenie, Splinter Twin are all good matchups for Jund and Junk. Beware of a metagame full of Amulet, Tron, UW Control, Affinity, and Grishoalbrand. The nice thing about playing Jund is that you are able to sideboard to beat whatever four or five decks you focus on. If you can accurately predict the metagame then it is a perfect time to play Jund.

Core Cards

  • Thoughtseize + Inquisition of Kozilek – Take whatever card that you will have difficulty with. The information adds a bonus of making the future turns easier to play.
  • Either Path to Exile or Lightning Bolt – Cheap removal is mandatory in Modern.
  • Abrupt Decay – Being able to kill artifacts and enchantments game 1 is the appeal of Decay over cards like Terminate, Victim of the Night, and Go for the Throat.
  • Tarmogoyf + Scavenging Ooze – The best creatures in green. Scavenging Ooze is amazing because it is an efficient creature that gives you incidental life gain and maindeck graveyard hate.
  • Liliana of the Veil – The queen of Jund is great against control/combo decks while being serviceable against creature decks.

Optional Cards

  • Dark Confidant – In a world of Lightning Bolts, Bob has lost some of its allure. Any time that you untap with Dark Confidant at a healthy life total you should win.
  • Tasigur, the Golden Fang – Most decks play one or two. You might as well max out each untapped resource to the maximum, including the graveyard. Tasigur is effectively a supplementary Tarmogoyf.
  • Maelstrom Pulse – Some people like their catchall removal spell to bail them out in peculiar situations—others prioritize efficiency. I recommend leaving Maelstrom Pulse on the sidelines—Jund thrives when it is casting multiple spells a turn.
  • Olivia Voldaren, Huntmaster of the Fells, or Siege Rhino – Jund and Junk decks have capped out on three mana at times in the past. If you are playing Siege Rhino, I recommend playing Noble Hierarch as well. If you want to play Olivia/Huntmaster please limit yourself to one or two maximum. Manlands (Raging Ravine/Stirring Wildwood) are your expensive spells!

Sideboard Cards

This part is really up to you to decide. I recommend ignoring matchups that you predict will be less than 5% of the metagame.

Artifact HosersShatterstorm/Creeping Corrosion, Ancient Grudge, Stony Silence, Rakdos Charm

Enchantment RemovalBack to Nature, Dromoka’s Command, Golgari Charm

Graveyard HateLeyline of the Void, Jund Charm, Rakdos Charm, Scavenging Ooze

SweepersDamnation, Pyroclasm, Anger of the Gods, Zealous Persecution, Engineered Explosives

Life GainKitchen Finks, Feed the Clan, Scavenging Ooze, Leyline of Sanctity, Phyrexian Unlife

Land DestructionFulminator Mage, Sowing Salt

Expensive ThreatsBatterskull, Thragtusk, Thrun, the Last Troll, Sigarda, Host of Herons, Outpost Siege

The Best Cards Against Jund(k)

One way to attack Jund is to play cards that are good against discard (Loxodon Smiter/Guerrilla Tactics). Difficult-to-remove noncreature permanents or creatures that generate value when they enter the battlefield are great against Jund and Junk:

Tips & Tricks

  • You can target yourself with discard spells, including Kolaghan’s Command, to increase the size of your Tarmogoyf.
  • Consider the option of playing Liliana and not using any ability that turn—it IS optional. Getting the mana investment out of the way is sometimes worth exposing Liliana even if you are not going to use her right away.
  • You can activate Raging Ravine twice when you have nine mana to get an additional +1/+1 counter.
  • When playing against Jund or Junk, keep any borderline hand. It is terrible to mulligan when you are likely to be Thoughtseize’d multiple times.

Matchup Favorability Ratings

Hopefully these ratings will help you decide if Jund/Junk is a good choice in your metagame.

Splinter Twin: Favorable, this matchup is one major attractive quality of Jund(k).

Affinity: Unfavorable, you will absolutely need sideboard hate to win.

Burn: Even, small changes to your main deck will drastically improve this matchup at little cost to other matchups.

Grixis Control: Even, Grixis is close to a mirror match except that their removal spells are much more effective than yours. Discard spells are important because Grixis is full of situational spells like Spell Snare.

Infect: Favorable, discard and 1-mana removal? I’ll fight Blighted Agent anytime, anywhere.

Griselbrand: Unfavorable, this deck is not cold to graveyard hate because of Through the Breach. A fast Tarmogoyf and discard is your best chance.

UW Control: Slightly unfavorable, the majority of your removal will be dead game 1—sideboarded games are easier.

Collected Company: Slightly favorable, Collected Company is no Birthing Pod. If you play Olivia Voldaren, Chandra, Pyromaster, or Linvala, Keeper of Silence your chances of winning go up exponentially.

Tron: Slightly unfavorable, this is a bad matchup if Tron executes its plan—thankfully Tron is wildly inconsistent.

Amulet: Slightly unfavorable, they have a strong sideboard plan of Thragtusk and Hornet Queen.

Scapeshift: Favorable, 4 copies of Liliana of the Veil is nigh unbeatable for Scapeshift.

Living End: Unfavorable, Living End is an extremely powerful combo—not to mention that occasionally their fail plan of casting full-cost monsters is good against you.

White/Black Tokens: Slightly unfavorable, Tokens and Jund are similar midrange decks. 1-for-1 removal is embarrassed by Lingering Souls and Spectral Procession.

Jund VS. Junk: Junk is the favorite—Lingering Souls is quite the mirror breaker.

Discussion

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