Jund Beats - Standard

This deck list is brought to you by LandSayGo community brewer Micah Ballard.

Without changing the fabric of this deck list too much during testing, I can confidently say that I am very pleased with its performance and expect that it could deliver some shining records on a Standard night at your local game store. If you're the "anti-social digital type" then #MTGA will do nicely as well.

Move Your Body to the Beats

I expect that Rhythm of the Wild will be the quintessential piece of the creature aggro strategy until its rotation sometime in the year 2020. Its inception certainly brought with it a number of very high quality tier 1 decks that are now being molded and modified to acclimate to the #WAR meta. Making our creatures immune to counter-magic is critical in this meta, and I understand why #WOTC would plan to have Standard unfold in a way that gives players access to a 3-drop enchantment like this one. It's almost necessary, isn't it?

Control is so heavily dominant in Standard right now that aggro players have to have some type of advantage - in so far as the advantage can actually survive in a meta so filled with enchantment hate, that is.

Rhythm is the backbone to the skeletal structure of this deck; we've chosen to give this deck a showcase because "play creatures and beat face" is where the game of Magic started. We are all about keeping with traditions, and so is our buddy Micah.

Early Efficiency and Recursion

Llanowar Elves are the gas to the flame here; it is critical that we the first to affect the life total in our match ups. We are not trying to win on some silly combo, we are not trying to hold priority on our endstep, we are instead actively trying to deal 20 (or more if required) points of damage to our opponent. So we need a mana nerd, and Llanowar Elves are good here. Although, I did test Paradise Druid, and found that it was EXCELLENT in this deck - you may consider trying it yourself:

Growth-Chamber Guardian is another of those "auto-includes" in aggro decks running green. GCG can muddy up combat exchanges, recur itself to the battlefield after adapting, and always ensure that you have an additional creature in your hand to bounce back. When I first started playing GCG I would run them out to the board very quickly. Now, I play them deliberately and slowly. Don't forget: Rhythm of the Wild gives you a +1/+1 counter when you Riot, you do not need to Adapt GCG to search for an additional copy. Gruul Spellbreaker is close to perfection. CMC, abilities, power and toughness - all extremely powerful. The Hexproof clause has saved my bacon more times that I can count.

A Set of Fours

What makes it Jund you ask? Simple - graveyard stuff. I am a big fan of the choice for the 4-drop slot that our author has chosen. Golgari Findbroker can prove to be problematic in a three color deck with requirements for double color specific mana on multiple cards, which is why I elected to make this deck truly mid-range in running the Paradise Druid over Llanowar Elves. Nevertheless, I found Golgari Findbroker to be an excellent include if giving us permanent recovery from our graveyard, and the body is acceptable, 3/4 is great in this meta. Ravenous Choop MaGoops is getting pretty tired by this point, he has been putting in some long hours at the office, and may need a rest. Just look at his droopy choopy little ears.

Ravenous Chupacabra is basically recursive removal and a chump blocker for us. My question is: are two copies of Vraska's Contempt strictly better here? I have tested both ways and having the flexibility to instant speed remove a Planeswalker is helpful. I know why we aren't with the existing removal package, but leaning heavier on control felt better in the games I played. You decide. Rekindling Phoenix has been doing big things for Magic players with four mana to spend since it was printed in Rivals of Ixalan. It's a superb include in this list - it chews up removal resources, swings for a bunch, and pops right back out of the graveyard during our upkeep (provided we keep the token alive). Four Rekindling Phoenix is obviously good here. I only pause for concern regarding the single copy of Findbroker and the two copies of Choops. I feel like both of these cards need a little bit more of a commitment - they are needy and constantly seeking approval. In testing, they have been solid flavor cards, but I wonder if there are not better options to strengthen our control options?

The Meat and Potatoes

We need big bombs to win. Again, we are not a combo deck, we are a wombo deck. Ilharg, the Raze-Boar is one of those cards that fascinates me to no end. I am honestly expecting big things from this card; its very printing suggests that more lie in wait. Our author sees the potential with Ilharg here; my first inclination for a creature to include with Ilharg was Thragtusk. Just think about how awesome that would be, and you know what? A new Core Set is planned for July 12th, 2019. I don't think it's likely that we will see Thragtusk back in Standard, but we can certainly hope. Ilharg is an absolute powerhouse, and three copies feels great in testing here.

I'm still on the fence about God-Eternal Rhonas. The potential is there, but I don't know if he is a multiple copy card. Good thing there is a seat on the fence next to me, because our author is using Rhonas exactly as I would. A single copy makes for some really abrasive combat steps when used in conjunction with Ilharg. Rhonas drops in, doubles our creatures power, gives them vigilance, profit. Good choice here, Micah. Good work. I love the single copy of Pelakka Wurm in this list as well. During testing I have gotten to the point where I was essentially ending the game with my combat steps with Ilharg & Pelakka.

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

The best parts of Jund, from a historical perspective, are generally the suite of removal spells you have access to in your builds. Sure, there are instant speed interactions in all colors - the devs do a fairly good job of making sure the color pie is balanced and equitable. Jund just gets it done though. It's mean stuff really - the best feeling you can have in Magic is having an answer when you need one. I have an issue with the single copy of Cast Down. I actually dropped it completely for another copy of Assassin's Trophy in the first few games, then dropped two copies of Assassin's Trophy for two copies of Lava Coil, settled on 3 copies of Assassin's Trophy and one mainboard Casualties of War, then finally gave up and elected for one additional Woodland Cemetery to smooth out mana draws. Mix it up - doesn't hurt.

Assassin's Trophy can be problematic in a meta filled with control players and Wilderness Reclamation, but it is indiscriminate permanent removal. I just develop concern over giving my opponent a land, helping them thin their deck, giving them a shuffle on my "perfect cut" - you know - the superstitious stuff. It's still a great spell, and should be in this deck at three copies. Bedevil is better in my opinion, no downside instant speed removal of Planeswalkers, creatures and artifacts. Perfect for our deck. All in all 8 removal spells feels about right, and the sideboard I've developed adds additional layers and takes us truly mid-range.

"In Response..."

Our author did not include a sideboard. I didn't ask them directly, but I presumed, as with several other submissions that we receive, that this original list of 60 cards is a best-of-one Arena list. So I took liberties with creating a sideboard that I feel responds well to the upcoming meta (and suits my play-style...wink wink).

I LOVE CASUALTIES OF WAR. I know, it's expensive. I know, it's easily countered. I know, we may never get the chance to play it, but that doesn't mean I won't try to resolve this spell. In the testing I've done with this card it has been incredibly satisfying to resolve. Think of this as a one for one slot in over Find//Finality. Find is the real value here for us - press through targeted removal or sweeps and bring the threat right back. I get it. Still Casualties is a fun card and doesn't have the restrictions of Decimate - one valid target is enough valid targets.

Duress is a must - with as consistent as our turn one black can be with this list - for us to be able to deal with problems before they become problems. Duress can force a counterspell, rip apart a combo, strip a board wipe, or deprive your opponent of Planeswalker support.

I chose Cindervines over Shaper's Sanctuary. Mainly because I want to keep the one drop slot uncluttered for Llanowar Elves and Duress should the need arise. Cindervines does an excellent job of responding to control decks, combo decks, and spells decks. It's a great utility card. Crushing Canopy helps us respond the big ugly flyers in Standard right now - you know who they are...don't act like you don't...and we also get more in the way of enchantment hate. Speaking of enchantment hate - is anyone else tired of Wilderness Reclamation, yet? I sure as H-E-double hockey sticks am.

Finally, Vivien. Sweet sweet girl.

Vivien Reid feels like she has been every green sideboard for months. I get it - she provides pseudo-draw, permanent removal, and a totally game ending emblem. The new Vivien makes our deck far more consistent, helps us dodge hand destruction, and gives us a "surprise - you're doomed!" factor in the ability to flash in all of our creatures. Vivien belongs in any green creature centrist deck.

Micah, thanks again for your submission. We can't wait to see your next brew.

~Jeremy Out