Jund No More – my prep for GP Kitakyushu

It’s getting down to the wire now. There are 4 days left until I hop on a plane and head down to Fukuoka prefecture to prove to myself that I’m not just a Friday Night Magic player. I really want to show people that my 11th place PTQ finish and GP Trial win weren’t flukes. I went 4-5 in my last standard Grand Prix in December of last year (GP Nagoya). I had one bye going into that tournament, which means I only won 3 times afterwards. 

Grand Prix Kitakyushu is going to be different. I have two byes going into it regardless (GP Trial win plus I got 789 points last season). I’m going to use those byes constructively, walking around the room and checking out the metagame to prepare myself mentally for the matches to come. I’ve been working with a person I know from back in my hometown to build the best GW Token deck I can. We’ve taken into consideration which decks will be big in the next week or so, and sure enough Jund seems to be enemy number one. This is why I made a Jund NO MORE build of my deck. Instead of leaving the cards against Jund in my sideboard, I have decided to put them into the main board (due to my friend’s suggestion). 

GW Tokens
Sunpetal Grove
Plains
Forest
Temple Garden
Grove of the Guardian
Gavony Township 


24 lands

Loxodon Smiter
Avacyn’s Pilgrim
Armada Wurm
Voice of Resurgence
Scavenging Ooze
Restoration Angel
Thragtusk
Arbor Elf
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice


25 creatures

Selesnya Charm
Advent of the Wurm
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Oblivion Ring

2 Rootborn Defense


11 other spells

Sideboard
Pithing Needle
Unflinching Courage
Selesnya Charm
2 Rest in Peace
Garruk Relentless
Witchstalker

1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

1 Sigarda, Host of Herons
Oblivion Ring


15 sideboard cards

The land is unchanged, as is the core of the deck, but I’ve changed out some auxiliary cards to make it more resilient against Jund. The first step we took to make this deck more competitive was to reduce the curve. This meant taking out –

  • -1 Thragtusk
  • -1 Restoration Angel
  • -1 Armada Wurm

In their place I broke down and bought 

  • +2 Voice of Resurgence

This went a great way to reduce my curve while continuing to put pressure on my opponents. Being able to populate Elemental tokens with Trostani or Rootborn Defense can really hurt your opponent. 

Next, I took out

  • -2 Oblivion Ring 

In their place I added in

  • +2 Selesnya Charm

Why the change? Oblivion Ring has been helping me out, taking out planeswalkers and Boros Reckoners, but that’s all it does. One thing my deck has been lacking is pressure. The creatures are always getting chump blocked and my opponents are always finding a way back into the game because I can’t push through the last 4-5 points of damage. Selesnya Charm gives me those extra points of damage + trample, and it can also put in Knights when I need it to. Against Jund this means I can put pressure on them from turn 2, help my creature survive a Bonfire of the Damned, and also remove their Olivia Voldaren, Thragtusk, or any creature that’s been pumped up by Kessig Wolf Run. This is also an especially potent spell against Big “Kibler” Gruul. That deck LOVES to use Ghor-Clan Rampager to boost their attackers at the last moment, but the Charm will give you a 2 for one, removing both cards from battle before damage is dealt. 

And last but not least, I took out

  • -1 Ajani, Caller of the Pride

This card wasn’t really underperforming or anything, he just wasn’t synergistic with the rest of the deck. With this, and the other creature from early gone, I used me last 2 spaces to add

  • +2 Rootborn Defense

This is the crucial component of the deck. I’ve gotten blown out in repeated games thanks to a turn 3 or 4 Bonfire that completely blows up my mana dorks and really slows down my attack. I know you’re not supposed to over extend against control decks, but the same thing is true against Jund. An early Bonfire can cripple your strategy. The Rootborn Defense can prevent that, but that’s not its only use. This deck is meant to be fast. Turn 1 land and mana creature, T2 Loxodon Smiter, T3 5/5 Advent of the Wurm token with trample. Jund would be in trouble against this set up, but they can start sniping at your threats with Putrefy and Doom Blade. It’s important for them to stop something like a Wurm token or Smiter early on. If left unchecked, they are done for. This is why I like Rootborn Defense. You play the Wurm on turn 3, attack on 4, they bring in an Olivia or Huntmaster, and then you can populate the token before their next turn so that you’re attacking with 14 points of damage that MUST be blocked. Against other decks, you can totally surprise your opponent by blocking with everybody then making them indestrucible so their creatures die and your’s live, thus giving you the upper hand. 

Sideboard

This hasn’t changed too much but there are some important additions,

  • +1 Sigarda, Host of Herons – I took out a Witchstalker for her, and I think it’s a better addition. She can’t be targeted by any kill spells, she shuts down Lilliana of the Veil, and she has a 5/5 body. 
  • +2 Oblivion Ring – decided I really didn’t need the Triumph of Ferocity because there aren’t that many people playing control. Oblivion Ring is much more useful. 
  • +1 Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice – 2 ended up being too much in the main, so I stuck with one and one, and would bring her in against aggro decks so I can set up a good defense while gaining life. 
  • +1 Garruk Relentless – I felt like I needed extra removal against some decks, and I also like his search ability. If I want to search for a Sigarda when I’m playing against control, he’s my man. It’s also a good way to put those mana dorks in the graveyard to good use after they die. Give everybody +X/+X and swing in for the win!

Final Thoughts

I haven’t had too much practice with this build, just some testing against Jund players. Lifebane Zombie is going to be a problem, as well as Rakdos’s Return, but I feel confident about my other match ups. Jund is going to be big, but it’s dangerous to put all your focus on beating it. If you do, you’ll leave yourself open to other strategies. I wish I had more practice against Big Gruul, but I haven’t been able to play at all lately. I think I should do well against aggro thanks to Trostani and my sideboard, but I expect that there are going to be a lot of Jund opponents at 2-0 going into round 3 so that’s why I’m main boarding what I am in this build. 

If you can think of any other cards that would be good in this build, let me know! If you test it out and find problems, I’d appreciate the feedback on that as well. Thanks for reading and wish me luck on Saturday! Don’t forget that you can follow my GP Kitakyushu coverage live on Twitter (@yoschwenky). Coverage will start at about 8 pm USA time on Friday (9am Saturday Japan time)

UPDATE (August 19th)

I have been working with somebody I know from back in Indiana, Mitch Burns, and he’s helped me to redesign the deck with a more aggro type of strategy in mind. I dub it “Unbreakable”.

Unbreakable
75 cards, 15 sideboard
Sunpetal Grove
Temple Garden
Encroaching Wastes
Gavony Township
Forest
Plains


24 lands

Dryad Militant
Thragtusk
Scavenging Ooze
Loxodon Smiter
Restoration Angel
Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice
Armada Wurm
Voice of Resurgence


21 creatures

Rootborn Defenses
Garruk, Primal Hunter
Advent of the Wurm
Rancor
Selesnya Charm


15 other spells

Sideboard
Unflinching Courage
Dryad Militant
Rancor
Sigarda, Host of Herons

1 Pithing Needle
Oblivion Ring
Celestial Flare


15 sideboard cards

My friend Mitch decided to drop all of the mana dorks all together in favor of a more aggressive curve. Attack on turn 2 with a Militant, add a Rancor if you want for 4 damage, play Oozes or Voices on turn 2, then keep the curve going with Smiters, Advent of the Wurm, and Thragtusk on the following turn. Mitch’s build is able to put a lot of pressure on your opponent faster than my build, and it is also more resilient against Jund and control decks thanks to 4 Rootborn Defenses in the main board. 

Mitch’s goal was similar to mine. Populate tokens using Defenses or Trostani, and continue to put pressure on your opponent. He’s also added 2 Rancor and 2 more Selesnya Charms to the main board (for a total of 4), which addresses another problem I had with chump blockers. It’s great if you have a 7/7 Elemental token, but bad if you can’t damage your opponent with it. Rancor and the charm solve that problem. 

In the sideboard he went with 2 more Rancors and Dryad Militants for control match ups to put even more pressure on the opponent, and also added Celestial Flares for Bant hexproof match ups. There were a few other cards that he had in this deck, but after discussing it some more and talking with another 3rd party, we made some final changes to the deck. We took out the Grove of the Guardian for an Encroaching Wastes to deal with cards like Kessig Wolf Run and Nephalia Drownyard, and I added 2 Sigarda, Host of Herons to the sideboard for Jund match ups, as well as a Pithing Needle to deal with planeswalkers and Aetherling. 

My Initial thoughts

I’m pretty excited about this collaboration between Mitch and I. The deck looks solid, the strategy looks good, and it still keeps a lot the tech from my deck such as populating with Trostani and using Rootborn Defenses to keep your creatures alive. He had a chance to test it out at a Win a Box event (8 person single elimination) at Gen Con and made it to the final round, beating Esper control and Jund before losing to another Esper control deck because he over committed to the board and it was wiped away by Terminus. I might just play this deck instead at GP Kitakyushu! We’ll see. 

 

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