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Utter Beatings – 10 Tips for Playing Better Against Jund

 

The big bully in Standard may be bigger and stronger than you, but don’t resign yourself to forking over your lunch money every day just yet. Here’s some fatherly advice you can take to the playground to send Jund home crying.

Always know what you are discarding to Blightning

Starting from turn one and on every subsequent turn, before you make any play, figure out what you would discard to a potential Blightning. This is such a simple and alarmingly beneficial habit to get into, and I can’t recommend it enough. It forces you to always be playing with Blightning in mind, making it very difficult to misplay into a Blightning. There are a lot of times where you will want to not play a land or something like a Lotus Cobra when you could, because those cards are more important as Blightning fodder. Sometimes it will mean doing something like playing Borderland Ranger instead of Terminating a Leech, or playing out your best threat first (when you otherwise wouldn’t) rather than risk losing it to Blightning. It doesn’t take much thought to make these plays, but it does require planning ahead, and paying attention to what you plan to discard forces you to do exactly that.

Jund has reach

Jund may be a little slow out of the gates, but its burn gives it the reach and racing ability of a red deck. It’s always surprising how quickly Jund’s incremental damage can add up. A Thrinax hit here, a Bloodbraid hit there, a couple of fetchlands, and suddenly you are two Blightnings and two Bolts away from dead. Every point of damage you take matters. Be careful with fetchlands: when not necessary for fixing or Landfall, play them last and discard them to Blightning over painless lands. Don’t fetch just to thin your deck; the deck thinning is worth far less than the life point, in general and especially against a deck with reach.

Though it’s important to milk as much value out of your spells as you can, you can’t just stabilize at a low life total and expect to turn the game around, even if maxmizing the value of your spells put you ahead in terms of cards. Falling behind on the board and taking hits is such a huge risk. The burn spells make it too easy to translate even small and temporary board advantages into game wins.

Don’t try to play attrition

Jund will beat you in a game of attrition. It’s no secret that almost everything Jund plays is a two-for-one, and that it’s playing all the best card advantage in the format. Against any deck with less card advantage, Jund benefits from trading, so unless you are also playing Jund or something strikingly similar, a barrage of one-for-ones is a losing strategy.

This isn’t to say that you can’t grind through Jund’s resources; you can, if and only if you are focused enough to make only some of Jund’s resources relevant. Green-White, for example, can slog through Jund’s removal and beat Jund going long, but it does this only by marginalizing Jund’s creatures. Green-White’s threats so thoroughly outclass Jund’s that sticking one of them is as good as multiples from Jund. Since Green-White does a good job of making only Jund’s removal (and Blightnings) matter, it plays a game of attrition with just Jund’s removal spells, which is winnable.

Green-White should assign little value to removal against Jund; removal spells should always be discarded to Blightning over threats and necessary mana. If you want to tune your Green-White deck to beat Jund, start by cutting all of the removal. If not from the main, at the very least have a sideboard plan that involves boarding all of it out.

Similarly, it’s actually possible for a control deck to grind through Jund’s creatures, and to get ahead in cards by blanking Jund’s many removal spells. At least until Jund boards out all of those blanks, anyway.

Accept that sometimes Maelstrom Pulse will blow you out

Yeah, in general you aren’t going to want to double up on permanents, but don’t put the blinders on and miss the times you need to. Sometimes a Pulse would set you far enough behind that you are going to lose to it anyway. Sometimes holding something back will just lead to you losing to Blightning instead of Pulse, and Pulse will be the less likely of the two. Often, and especially with a mediocre draw or when you are behind, the risks are simply going to be worth the rewards. These situations are exceptions to the rule, certainly, but just be on the lookout for them.

Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though (Since this is derailing the article a little bit in the comments, I just want to clarify that this is in fact a joke – LSV).

Don’t pump Putrid Leech into open Red mana

Don’t take this as a hard and fast rule, but in general the risks of potentially getting your Leech Bolted, even if it is unlikely they have the Bolt, are much greater than the potential gain of trading two life for two damage. If you are far enough ahead for trading the two damage to be clearly very good for you, then you are far enough ahead that you don’t need to risk the Leech.

Attack Elite Vanguard / Goblin Guide into Putrid Leech

It doesn’t matter if you have the Bolt / Burst, your opponent is just going to play like you have it, so you will almost always get the trade with Leech here.

Are they Leechless?

While the differences in most Jund lists are small and insignificant in terms of your play against them, cutting Putrid Leech was reasonably popular at Worlds and that is a noteworthy difference. Rampant Growth and to a lesser extent Borderland Ranger are telltale signs of a Leechless list. No Leech means your opponent is going to have a little extra removal, and more notably will be significantly more likely to Cascade into removal (due to both having more removal spells and fewer non-removal spells to hit). They also are going to have a little more big stuff (Broodmate Dragon / Bituminous Blast / Siege-Gang Commander), making them a bit stronger in longer games.

If your opponent did cut Leech, you should be very wary of them sideboarding out Sprouting Thrinax. A zero Leech, zero Thrinax deck is an entirely different animal than one running four of each. Removal is going to be especially bad facing no Leeches and no Thrinaxes, as that’s going to leave very few creatures worth spending a card on. You certainly don’t want to be the one caught with Celestial Purges and/or Devout Lightcasters against an opponent presenting no profitable targets in his deck. Profitable being the key word there – you may be able to Purge Bloodbraid and Broodmate, but you don’t want to.

Jund Charm has three modes

I know this sounds stupid, but when Jund Charm has a clear purpose against you it can be easy to forget about its other uses, so just keep them in mind. Playing Boros, clearly you are concerned about instant speed Pyroclasm. It wouldn’t be hard to commit threats conservatively into the Pyroclasm, only to play right into a guy getting Reinforced. Or maybe you do something like cast a Hellspark from your hand with a Hellspark in the yard, playing around the Blightnings that they most likely boarded out, only to lose to having your graveyard (and two Hellsparks) removed. Running the Unearth deck, you may be carefully playing around having your graveyard removed, only to find yourself blown out by a Jund Charm killing a Hedron Crab and two Sedraxis Specters. If your opponent is about to use Jund Charm as Pyroclasm, as indicated by a Leech pump, don’t Bolt the Leech in response. That gives your opponent the opportunity to Reinforce the Leech. Instead let them cast the Charm as Pyroclasm and then Bolt the Leech dead.

Time your threats to be as awkward on your opponent’s curve as possible

This one’s a bit abstract, so let me just start off with an example. Say you have the choice between Master of the Wild Hunt or Baneslayer Angel turn four on the play. You should play the Master, as it syncs up with Jund’s spells the worst. If they have Bloodbraid and removal, they will have to spend their turn removing the Master, rather than risk missing on removal with Bloodbraid and letting you get a free wolf. As a result, they end up using their mana inefficiently, and you postpone them pulling ahead on the board with Bloodbraid. If you instead lead with Baneslayer, they are free to Bloodbraid, as the ten point life swing from a Baneslayer is not as important in the matchup as a 2/2. If they have Bituminous Blast, you are again much better off leading with Master, as they either kill the Master with something else, or you get at least one wolf out of the Master before it falls to Blast. Leading with Baneslayer causes the Master to play right into Blast.

You know your opponent wants to play Bloodbraid Elf on turn four, so give them a reason not to that turn. Play Great Sable Stag or Master of the Wild Hunt into it over something like Rhox War Monk. Since your opponent is potentially giving up value by Bloodbraiding versus the Stag or Master (for different reasons, obviously), they will play something else instead, if they can, and you end up making them use their mana much less effectively. You know they want to cast Bituminous Blast turn five, so give them a reason not to. Play Baneslayer Angel that turn, even if you would otherwise want to bait out removal with a worse threat.

If your opponent has Bolt / Terminate mana up, play a threat you don’t care about them killing, or possibly even nothing at all if you will be able to double up on threats in a future turn as a result. If turn three on the play, facing Terminate mana, you have a hand of three-drops and four-drops and a freshly drawn Noble Hierarch, with three lands in play, go ahead and cast the Hierarch into Terminate mana. If it dies, awesome, and if not, you were going to need to disrupt your curve to play the Hierarch at some point anyway, so this was a good time to do it, as whatever else you played was just instantly dead anyway.

Work to make your opponent’s Cascades worse

To some extent this goes hand in hand with timing your threats to be as awkward for your opponent as possible, but whereas the previous tip was mostly about minimizing your opponent’s mana efficiency, this one is about minimizing the value they get out of their Cascades. The simplest example is to not play two creatures into a Bituminous Blast. Force your opponent to Blast when you only have a single creature and they lose a ton of value from their Blast. When applicable, you also want to avoid playing a creature into a Bloodbraid. For example, if you have been playing draw-go in the Jund mirror when you both have cards in hand, and topdeck a Putrid Leech, there’s a good chance you don’t want to play it. No matter what your opponent has, it’s pretty safe to assume that the Leech is dead, and by playing it you give them the opportunity to play Bloodbraid for full value.

I recently threw away a Jund mirror by failing to properly bait out Bituminous Blast. The board was completely clear with me at 6 and my opponent at 16. He had two cards in hand and five lands in play (all untapped), to my now six lands and four cards – Terminate, Master of the Wild Hunt, and double Broodmate Dragon. I hadn’t presented a profitable opportunity for my opponent to play Bituminous Blast in the game, so I should not have been surprised when the Broodmate I played was met with a Blast, hitting Terminate for the other half. The next turn the second Broodmate ate a second Blast, Cascading into Thrinax. Terminate shot down the remaining Dragon token, and Thrinax attacked me down to three. A Blightning finished me off a few turns later. Despite starting far ahead, I ended up in a very rough spot because I played right into my opponent’s Blasts. Assuming he was holding two Blasts when I played the first Broodmate, leading with Master there wins me the game easily. He can’t afford to let me untap with Master, so he would Blast it immediately. I would have the Terminate active if he hits a creature, and if he hits removal that’s clearly a big win for me. By leading with Master, regardless of whether or not he does whiff with a removal spell, I get him to burn through a Blast that otherwise would be connecting for full value on a Broodmate.

Play Jund

Ok, this 11th tip is secretly the conclusion. Jund may not be unbeatable, but it certainly is pretty tough, and playing Jund yourself is a decent plan. No matter which deck you play, just keep in mind how you can make your opponent’s life tough, and play accordingly. Even a pretty brutish deck like Jund has its weak spots, and hopefully I helped expose them at least a little bit today.

75 thoughts on “Utter Beatings – 10 Tips for Playing Better Against Jund”

  1. Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though.
    —–
    is this suppose to be ironic or something? How would you EVER double up on the same walker? Are you saying never to legendary rule their pw… Or did you completely forget they were legendary. Sure hope
    I read it wrong because getting somehing so simple taints the article IMO.

  2. “Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though.” honestly?

  3. “Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though.”

    planeswalker rule much?

  4. “Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though.”

    Uh… seriously?

  5. “Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though.”

    Hahahahahahaha.

    Definitely an interesting article.

  6. "Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though."

    Right play, wrong reasons.

  7. “Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though.”

    I’d recommend that too, since they would die even without your opponent casting pulse. :~)

  8. Josh and I speculated on how many people would take the Planeswalker thing at face value, but I don’t think either of us thought that every comment was going to be about it. I put a note in the article clearing things up just in case.

  9. Perhaps because your nickname is akin to that of a dinosaur, you have not been informed of the changes to the rules of Magic since Ice Age. It is impossible to Maelstrom Pulse a Planeswalker because they are secretly lands.

  10. U DNT NO HOW PLAINSWALKZORZ WERKS! LOLOLOL! ROLFCOPTR!

    Really, guys? I think he’s got it by now.

    Ridiculously good content, Josh. Dems all can stfu.

  11. A single Maelstrom Pulse cannot hit two planeswalkers because they would need to have the same name for that to happen. Two of the same planeswalker should not have been on the battlefield in the first place due to a state based effect (like the legendary creatures rule).

  12. Great article. Very well written and great examples. I’m sad about the truth of the last tip though 🙁

  13. "Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though.”-fact

  14. Yeah, I know. Did I tell you about the time I had five Chandras to my opponent’s two in the Jacerator mirror and he Pulsed all of them?

  15. I am pretty sure wraptor plays more magic than you guys who failed to pick up the the sarchasm. An interesting and useful article.

  16. jesus christ those comments are embarrassing and you should be ashamed of yourselves for Not Gettin Jokes

  17. A good read indeed.

    I did however feel that not all of the points were applicable to playing non-GW decks (especially boros). Am I missing something?

  18. A really good article for all of us jund-haters 🙂

    Also, the mess-up-their-mana thing was very interesting.. I’m mostly playing Boros these days, so I wonder if there’s any way I can turn that suggestion and the following one (minimize their cascading efficiency) into specific plays, given that Boros *needs* to do a ton of damage early..

    Thanks.

  19. This was a great article! I made a “cheat sheet” for a friend of mine to help him play better against Jund, and it pretty much reads like an abbreviated version of this article. Each of the points was spot on, and I’m sure that a lot of players can experience some real gains in their win percentage if they truly digest and apply these tips.

    Thanks for putting it out there.

  20. this is a great articulle for people who want to play jund and for those who want to improve there game against it.i played jund at states in nevada and won it with this list.this deck is amazing against boros/aggro decks.try this list.at first it looks wierd but its really good.
    4 putrid leach
    4 sprouting thrynax
    4 bloodbraid elf
    4 lightning bolts
    4 terminates
    4 blightning
    3 maulstrom pulse
    2 rampet growths
    2 siege gang commanders
    2 garuk wildspeaker
    1 ant queen/you can go with thornling if you want
    1 broodmate dragon
    1 grim discovery
    4 savage lands
    4 rootwater crag
    4 dragonskull summit
    4 verdant catacombs
    3 forests
    2 mountain
    2 swamps
    1 terromorph expanse

    sideboard-
    2 pyroclasm/earthquake whould prob be better
    2 jund charm
    2 mind rot
    2 malikar bloodwitch
    3 runeblaster
    3 duress
    1 maulstrom pulse

  21. Panic! Captain Obvious strikes back!
    Josh! I think you need very good luck to beat all these Captains)
    Don’t stop putting jokes into your articles.

    P.S. Riki’s comment is great)

  22. lol. Looks like you have to mark jokes like the maelstrom 2 walkers in the future, so some people here get it.
    Great article, especially the “Work to make your opponent's Cascades worse” part was very useful.

  23. “Losing two Planeswalkers to a single Pulse is just so devastating that I would recommend never doubling up on the same Walker, though (Since this is derailing the article a little bit in the comments, I just want to clarify that this is in fact a joke – LSV).”

    Since that was a joke, should I assume that you DO recommend doubling up on the same Walker?

  24. Nice work, wrapter! You know a site has gone big when you’re reaching all the general public, i.e. you no longer have an intelligent reader base. The joke was cute already, but the real hilarity is in all the comment replies =P. That said, awesome article. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve just not played Bloodghast in the Vamps vs Jund matchup for significant, significant profit (due to discarding to Blightning). It’s almost always right to keep it in hand, and hope their 3cc is Blightning, because you’re losing to Thrinax anyway. I was really glad that was the tip you led off with, as it’s probably the most important one.

  25. You cannot Pulse two walkers with the same name!

    LOL! The forum reactions are priceless – funny how many people didn’t get the joke and dismissed this awesome article.

  26. Good article! As informative as the strategy content is I think the pw joke actually reveals something even more important. Magic players are so eager to call someone out on a mistake they end up so close minded that they can’t even take joke. These tendencies of close mindedness can cause you to dismiss new strategies and off the wall plays that may be powerfull and completlý valid.

    Sorry for bad editing, I’m on my blackberry commuting to work on the train.

  27. “You know your opponent wants to play Bloodbraid Elf on turn four, so give them a reason not to that turn. Play Great Sable Stag or Master of the Wild Hunt into it over something like Rhox War Monk. Since your opponent is potentially giving up value by Bloodbraiding versus the Stag or Master”

    I really need some clarification on this. If you know your opponent wants to play Bloodbraid Elf, why would you bet against yourself by playing something that dies blocking Bloodbraid Elf?

  28. The idea is they aren’t going to want to cast the elf, so blocking is irrelevant. And if they do want to attack for 3 so bad, they can play the elf, but then they could miss on the cascade and your in a very good position.

    If they have a lightning bolt and BB elf, they should bolt the stag and save the elf cascade for when it has targets for it’s black removal it could cascade into, so they lose a little tempo. Master of the wild Hunt was explained in the article.

    Although really there are about as many dead BBelf cascades against monk as there are against stag, so I wouldn’t expect one to dissuade them more then the other.

  29. Richard, the reason playing master or stag into their potential turn 4 bloodbraid is to encurage them to cast a removal spell on your guy. The jund player is forced to choose between playing a bloodbraid that will possibly not answer the threat, and using a removal spell in hand and waiting another turn to cast the elf. Stag makes any removal they cascade into other than bolt a dead, and the risk of not cascading into removal for the master and leaving it alive to make a wolf token.

  30. Very good article though point #11 is probably the most relevant to a lot of people. I think it is correct to not play Leech and board out lizards vs W/x decks. Makes the matchup very good post board when you just load up on removal and Bloodwitches. If you didn’t get the planeswalker joke you should put the cards down and slowly back away from the table.

  31. It looks like that faeries walkthrough that PV wrote a long time ago. It has all the right answers and definately improves everyone’s game. If I still played t2 I would glady pay for this.

  32. Dear Josh Utter-Leyton,

    what about Vampires Decks? in your article, you forgett comper jund and Vampires. please, write something about it.

  33. Man I really hope you didnt stop reading after that comment. This article provides a very smart way of thinking about a tough matchup.

  34. dowjonzechemical

    This was a great article. I am glad LSV didn’t have to write your conclusion this time.

    You rock!!

    (sarcasm is my middle name, I caught it)

  35. good article, useful tips, and btw come on guys. Everyone puts a lot of effort into their articles, and then they get edited. If something like the killing 2 planeswalkers thing goes up, its obviously a joke.

  36. “If you instead lead with Baneslayer, they are free to Bloodbraid, as the ten point life swing from a Baneslayer is not as important in the matchup as a 2/2. If they have Bituminous Blast, you are again much better off leading with Master, as they either kill the Master with something else, or you get at least one wolf out of the Master before it falls to Blast. Leading with Baneslayer causes the Master to play right into Blast.”

    I don’t get why if you lead with BAneslayer, they are free to bloodbraid?

  37. One of the most relavant articles printed recently. Even if some of the tips are common sense, there’s enough in there to help any level of player. Thanks for the great article.

  38. @James
    Its explained in the section you quoted, one swing from angel is not as relevant in an attrition based game as letting a master trigger/activate. It denies them the ability to use their mana as efficiently as possible unless they are willing to roll the dice, being forced to cast a 3 2 or 1 mana spell on 4 rather than a 4 mana one. Its likely they have removal for both cards anyway, its just that master surviving to the next turn is more value than baneslayer doing the same.

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  40. “Since that was a joke, should I assume that you DO recommend doubling up on the same Walker?”

    Very nice. I liked that one.

  41. ok guys, it was clearly a JOKE about the planeswalkers. you guys are IDIOTS! did you seriously think he was being serious?

  42. The logic of the b blast seems odd to me. With the dragon they have to hit pulse/terminate or face a 4/4 flyer. With master they either a) have to hit any NOT terminate/pulse including a blightning that could hurt OR just wait until you attack and suddenly you are back at the dragon scenario. They either kill master and wolf(with bolt or burst) or hit anything else and simply face down a vanilla 2/2.

    So what am I missing?

  43. I came to this site to see some good content then I saw the Planeswalker thing and was reminded of the silly kids at FNM. Maybe the “Pros” should learn the rules before they start writing articles about how they can help your game. Help yourself and learn the rules.

  44. “Its explained in the section you quoted, one swing from angel is not as relevant in an attrition based game as letting a master trigger/activate”

    and

    “its just that master surviving to the next turn is more value than baneslayer doing the same.”

    Why is this true?

  45. I have never seen a single, pretty much irrelevant comment so completely derail all the responses. … <_< Awkward! I think Channelfireball should stick to lame puns; those are the best.

    The article is quite good, of course. And I’m really glad my thoughts on the GW matchup are backed up here.

  46. @ james

    It’s because if they get to bloodbraid on 4, they will hit either a removal spell, or a thrinax or leech. the smart jund player will concede that 10 point life swing because next turn, they will probably kill your baneslayer with the terminate in hand and attack with the free thrinax/leech they cascaded into.

    meanwhile if you throw the master out first, they can’t afford to let you untap because you getting a free 2/2 means that the 3 points of power from bloodbraid will be trading with your token, making the bloodbraid a *gasp* fair card. also, if they dont kill your master asap, chances are they can;t, hence the cascade lottery. which means if they whiff on removal, your wolves get deadly, and subsequent dudes you cast might actually survive.

    at least that’s my understanding of it. could be wrong.

  47. Wow, people on this site are dense….

    I always fetch out the other 3 copies of planeswalkers and put them into play after I cast the first one…isnt that the planeswalker rule?

    (Let’s see how many Captains cuss me for that)

    Good article

  48. I expected it to read “Losing two planeswalkers to a pulse is just an utter beating”…

    also… all the people that are posting after the initial lsv clarification saying they knew it was a joke… you’re all lying

  49. As a big fan of saying asinine things in order to make sure people are listening, I love this article. It would have been good without it, of course.

    If this site begins to feature bad puns as prominently as SCG does ads for those tournaments they flog on every page I’ll take two subscriptions (not really)

  50. Excellent article that walker bit was interesting, it was written so seriously, and of course LSV for the day saver 😛

    Such a helpful article that I recommend to EVERY standard player.

  51. You guys ever get depressed that you put all this effort into writing and your audience is the kind of people who can’t even recognize a joke? I found it funny, and then the explanation itself was hilarious.

  52. @ those asking for specific write-ups for thier own decks…

    Figure it out for yourselves.

    Seriously, the man writes an article and uses examples. It wasn’t meant as a step-by-step walkthrough of how to play a specific deck, and he certainly doesn’t have the time or inclination to teach everyone who reads is articles every little nuance of every random card they decide to use.

    Take his examples for what they’re worth and adapt them to cards you could potentially play. If you not only need someone else to design your decks for you, as a sad majority of the community seems to, but also need to be told what to do in every given, possible situation, then no amount of advice will ever make you competetive.

  53. As a mediocre FNM level player I found this article enormously interesting and informative. As there are much more players of my level in the world than those of PTQ or pro level, I’d say it was extremely good job, congrats!

  54. Dear Josh Utter-Leyton,
    what about Vampires Decks? in your article, you forgett comper jund and Vampires. please, write something about it.
    Comment by marjan – December 9, 2009 @ 9:13 am

    @this guy and the other guy who wanted some advice for vampire.
    he did mention holding onto bloodghast. and also if your playing vampires u cant really expect to beat jund even if u play awesomely. vampires is a really bad budget deck. its fairly good for a budget deck but its still fairly bad. it doesn’t beat U/W, boss naya or jund. So if you would like my advice, which is fine if you don’t I’m not that amazingly good. you should just play jund. the deck is like $300. i burrowed a copy last night for a 40 person tournament and went 5-0.

    PS: yes a 40 person tournament is meant to be 6 rounds, the TO was expecting 4 rounds and so when a clear winner was decided he stopped playing rounds.

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