Though Twin has been a fixture of Modern since the beginning, its success has waxed and waned. The second deck I want to dissect came to Modern a little later, however it is arguably the number one most influential, faithfully serving as the fun police since its inception.
This was the original core of any BGx deck for a long time. I call it BGx because players have tried all manner of splashed third colors over the years, sometimes even forgoing a third color entirely.
Again, I’m forced to mention Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011 even if the format is nowhere close to what it was due to bannings and unbannings—historically speaking this was the first variant:
Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
This deck looks awesome nowadays. Unfortunately the format was so fast back then that this was considered too fair, it didn’t thrive until after a few bannings and Liliana of the Veil was printed. After Mat Mercier, a fellow Canadian, made Top 8 of GP Lincoln 2012, the deck was back in the spotlight and I took it to a PTQ Top 8 just a few days after his performance.
This is the oldest but closest model we have to what Jund is in 2015. Still quite different, however the idea is the same. At that time, Splinter Twin decks were almost nonexistent, with the banning of Ponder and Preordain discouraging potential pilots, which is why this list is so soft to it. Abrupt Decay didn’t exist yet and it played FOUR Maelstrom Pulse, a horrible card against Twin.
Mono-Blue Faeries, Melira Pod, Affinity, and Jeskai Delver were huge decks at that time, which is why Jund Charm saw so much play.
The next event that shook up things was PT Return to Ravnica 2012, the second Modern Pro Tour ever. I was testing with Team ManaDeprived back then, which eventually became Team Face-to-Face Games and I was hooked on Jund already, plus it was considered among the best decks available. The latest set brought us Deathrite Shaman, which obviously made the deck fantastic. I didn’t end up playing the deck—but, it warped the event and was awarded a slot in the top tier of Modern forever after.
I’m not going to spend time explaining why Bloodbraid Elf and Deathrite Shaman were great considering they are now banned, yet, I still think the next iterations of Jund are important to understand how well it could adapt later on.
It had been called Jund for ages, until young Jacob Wilson won GP Chicago with a version splashing Lingering Souls, a beating in the mirror and awesome against Affinity as well. Rule of Law was also in the sideboard to fight the latest winning deck, Eggs.
The Banning of Bloodbraid Elf
Many thought that it was the end of Jund—but not Eric Froehlich and the rest of the ChannelFireball crew.
They simply replaced BBE with Ajani Vengeant, giving it the new name Ajundi. Thundermaw Hellkite was there to next-level Lingering Souls in the mirror, while Stony Silence is basically Rule of Law against Eggs and is useful against other decks as well.
Second Sunrise was banned, and people decided to move away from white.
Josh Utter-Leyton played The Rock at the Players Championship. He wanted to run 4 Tectonic Edge, a luxury you can’t afford when your deck has three colors in it. Garruk Relentless plays a role against smaller creatures, but it’s not great against any deck that can burn it out.
At that point, Wizards of the Coast realized that whatever happened, BGx decks would always adapt.
Deathrite Shaman Is Banned
Which brings us to the era we are now in, where BGx decks are still very good, yet, there are so many more decks in the metagame that are viable that it makes it harder to have a proper sideboard that can fight everything.
For a long period, Junk, now known as Abzan, was the version of choice for many and it looked a lot like the deck Robin Dolar used to win GP Boston 2014:
As I’m writing this, Jund is the most common version of GBx. Blood Moon is everywhere and it’s the version that has the fewest problems playing through it, some even have it in their own sideboard against Amulet! It has Kolaghan’s Command because it’s a great card, and Olivia Voldaren to dismantle all the Collected Company decks.
Reid piloted it recently to a Top 8 finish in Singapore.
- I wouldn’t recommend going back to Ajundi and/or Spirit Jund without Deathrite Shaman, or if Blood Moon stops seeing play.
- Currently, the main attraction to red versus white is Kolaghan’s Command. If that card ever becomes worse, I’d go back to white. Oh yeah—Lightning Bolt too. You need your white cards to be really good to pass on that one.
- In a world where there are 16+ viables decks and none of them represents more than 10% of the field, it’s exhausting to find a sideboard that covers all of them—which is why I recommend having the most versatile answers. Shatterstorm might be the best thing you can draw against Affinity, but Ancient Grudge can come in against Amulet, Ad Nauseam, and Infect too.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the remaining 6 decks!