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By: Lord Erman, Nafiz Erman
Nov 15 2011 9:23am
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ROGUE PLAY
Jund's Back Baby!
by Nafiz Erman

Hello dear readers and welcome back to Rogue Play. Innistrad Block is shaping up and everyday we see different decks in queues. The first wave had lots of  tokens and Burning Vengeance decks, but now after a few weeks of serious testing, people started playing some other very interesting decks as well. Surely those two decks are the biggest contenders of the format, but at least we also have other decks like RDW, four colored Geist of Saint Traft decks (which I like to call as Ghostfire), some  Dredge and many other interesting midrange decks.

Speaking of midrange decks...

I played lots of games with different Ghostfire variants lately and while I had a great match up against Burning Vengeance decks and Dredge, I found out that I was losing very fast to Aggro. And I was playing against Aggro more than I was playing against Dredge or Burning Vengeance. So I decided to do something. And right when I was looking at the available options, someone beat me horribly with a Jund colored deck and that loss actually was all I was needing.

I immediately fall in love with the deck and started looking for a list on the net. And finding the list wasn't hard at all because apparently Jund was becoming popular in the format. I found several lists and after some testing and careful consideration, I ended up with this list:

Neo-Jund, as netdecked by Nafiz Erman

26 Lands

4x Woodland Cemetery
2x Shimmering Grotto
10x Mountain
8x Swamp
2x Forest

11 Creatures

4x Bloodgift Demon
3x Bloodline Keeper
3x Olivia Voldaren
1x Charmbreaker Devils

23 Other Spells

4x Brimstone Volley
4x Devil's Play
4x Sever the Bloodline
3x Geistflame
3x Garruk Relentless
2x Liliana of the Veil
2x Dead Weight
1x Witchbane Orb

15 Cards Sideboard

4x Naturalize
3x Curse of Death's Hold
3x Heretic's Punishment
3x Witchbane Orb
2x Dead Weight

So... why did I choose to play this deck? What is the thing that this deck has which others don't? And besides, if you know me even a bit dear readers, you know that it takes a lot to make me play a deck that doesn't have any Islands in it. And especially a Jund deck. After all, the memory of that blight called  "Bloodbraid Elf into Blightning" is still fresh. But this is a different Jund deck. We're not on Alara anymore. This is Innistrad and we do things with style here. Anyway...

My biggest reason for playing this deck is that it gives me access to Red burn spells. The format has lots of small critters which must die as soon as they enter the battlefield, and none of the other colors do this job as good as Red. Geistflame, a X=1 Devil's Play and even a third turn Brimstone Volley are incredibly important. 

Being able to burn things on Innistrad is quite useful.

My second reason for playing this deck is Black. As I said above,  token decks are very popular and one cannot fight that deck by killing their creatures one by one. And enter Sever the Bloodline right here!

Maelstrom Pulse? Is that you?

The opponent plays Midnight Haunting and makes tokens, then makes more tokens with Geist-Honored Monk and you simply get rid of all those tokens with one simple spell. And please don't forget dear readers that Sever the Bloodline has flashback. I mean what else can you ask from a removal spell!

Black also offers Dead Weight which is also very useful. Shock in Black is another good reason to play Black in the format. And finally the best finisher of the set also happens to be Black:

Normally this deck could have existed as a two colored Rakdos deck. But a third color gives lots of other very powerful options. Adding Blue to this deck will give it cards like Think Twice, Dissipate, Snapcaster Mage and Forbidden Alchemy. Those are all great cards but looking at the format, I see that I need to have a way to deal with artifacts and enchantments. And neither Black nor Blue have them. Red only has Ancient Grudge which is totally useless against annoyancess(!) like Burning Vengeance and Intangible Virtue.

And that's the reason why Green is so important in the format. And this color is not only giving us Naturalize, but it also gives access to one of the best cards of the set; Garruk Relentless.

So these all are the reasons why I chose this deck and decided to take it to a test drive in the 2mans. And there I recorded some games I played. Mere words can only do that much to explain you how powerful this deck is. Real time action, however, will give you a very good idea about the deck and the way it plays out. But before I start with the videos...

 

I NEED HELP! 
To improve sound in videos

 

As you will witness in a moment, my voice is a bit low in the videos and you'll hear me breathing all the time. In some videos I even sound like Darth Vader!

To solve that problem I first tried Audacity but that program doesn't open .avi files. Then I tried Sound Forge 9.0 and even though Sound Forge had all the tools I needed to fix the sound in the videos, I surprisingly couldn't manage to save the files properly. As a matter of fact, I lost two incredibly good videos to Sound Forge while I was trying to figure out how to use the program.

So I need your help. Do you know a program that enhances the voice in the videos while clearing all the hissing sounds I make? If you do know one, please let me know. Thanks in advance.

And now we can move onto the videos.

 

MATCH #1
Against Dogfish

 

My testing began with a bunch of Aggro decks but then I came across this deck. If you remember, I talked about this deck in my Horror Lurks Within Block, Part I article and said that it was the deck I was going to play in the queues. Well, the format turned out to be a bit faster than I initially thought, and therefore I switched to a more controlling deck. I still love this deck a lot and will continue to keep my eye on it. If the opportunity rises, I will definitely switch to it.

And now you'll watch me battle it.

So, what do you think? I had an incredibly slow start in game one but thankfully my opponent did nothing to disrupt me. I waited in calm and then managed to win. And that is actually the reason why I'm not playing Dogfish right now. It's neither fast enough to be considered Aggro nor it is controlling the game well enough as it actually should.

I'm sure the next two sets of the Block will give this deck lots of great cards and I'm sure then this one will be a Tier-1 deck.

Let's move on.

 

MATCH #2
Against Green/White Tokens

The result of this match depends on one single thing: Will I be mana color screwed or not? If not, I usually win (usually = more than I lose). Oh and it depends also on one other thing: How well timed my Sever the Bloodline will be? Other than those, this game usually goes like them playing Doomed Traveler or Avacyn's Pilgrim turn one, one or two Intangible Virtue later followed by a Midnight Haunting and they then either seal the deal with Garruk Relentless or with a huge Geist-Honored Monk.

And now you'll watch me battle this menace.

I know I sound like Darth Vader in this video and I'm so sorry for it. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the game.

Next I have a very good deck in my list of videos.

 

MATCH #3
4 Color St. Traft

This is a deck I'm seeing a lot in dailies and I also have it in my "to try" list. Enjoy the match because I did enjoy it a lot while I was playing it.

As I said, I enjoyed this match a lot.

Now I move onto something fast. 

 

MATCH #4
Against Werewolves

Werewolves isn't a Tier-1 deck in my opinion but a lot of people do play it. I really don't know how they fix their mana because there are no allied colored dual lands in the format. But apparently that problem doesn't stop people from enjoying that deck.

And even when all their fate is basically decided by the hands of the shuffler, sometimes they do have the dreaded "turn one Reckless Waif into turn two Mayor of Avabruck" start indeed and... yeah well, and Jund still prevails (this is the beginning of game three by the way in the below video)!

Okay that was another nice win and another good performance showing and proving the power of this "neo-Jund".

And now I have two matches against Red decks.

 

MATCH #5 & #6
Against RDW

Red decks always win regardless the format, and let's see what this neo-Jund deck can do against the "Red Army".

And here's another game:

Well, I'm of course not saying that RDW is an auto-win for Jund -because there is no such thing as auto-win-, but I can at least say that I prefer playing against it. As a matter of fact, RDW is a thousand times better opponent than the next one, which happens to be this Jund deck's biggest problem.

 

MATCH #7
Against Burning Vengeance

Burning Vengeance is clearly Jund's biggest enemy. Of course in theory I have everything to stop them. I have four Naturalizes and four Witchbane Orbs in my seventy five. I even have one maindeck Witchbane Orb. Those are nice and all, but in practice things are a lot different. Without having access to Blue, I never draw those cards in time. Even if I somehow do, my opponent always plays his card drawing and card filtering cards -and he has tons of them-, and finds his answers.

So yes, Burning Vengeance is a tough match up for Jund. And now you'll watch me battle that deck, do everything I can to beat it and end up with a nice(!) 0-2 loss.

I hope you enjoyed me doing a fight which was obviously not going to end to my favor. But at least I think I put up a good fight.

 

THE NEXT STEP
Adding Blue to the mix
 

Well I can of course go on with the videos (I still have two videos against tokens and couple of others against various other decks), but let's stop here. I think these videos were enough to give you an idea about the deck. And this test drive I did with the deck, which lasted like ten days or so, made one thing clear: This deck is in need of Blue.

These two above else:

But before adding Blue to the deck, I had to answer these questions:

1) What to cut?
2) How to avoid getting color screwed during games?

The second question's answer was right in front of my eyes all the time staring back at me:

That simple artifact was helping me greatly overcoming my color issues. Then I concentrated on the first question which became even harder to answer after adding four Traveler's Amulets to the deck. The Jund deck above already had lots of great cards and cutting cards was going to be hard. So I first removed Olivia Voldaren and Bloodline Keeper. They both were excellent creatures but sadly I was a bit short on empty slots this time.

Then I started playing with the numbers of other cards and finally, after a long testing and tweaking period, I ended up with this:

4 Color Control, an ISD Block deck by Nafiz Erman

25 Lands

3x Woodland Cemetery
2x Sulfur Falls
2x Hinterland Harbor
8x Swamp
5x Mountain
4x Island
1x Forest

3x Creatures

3x Bloodgift Demon

32 Other Spells

4x Traveler's Amulet
4x Think Twice
4x Forbidden Alchemy
3x Dead Weight
3x Garruk Relentless
3x Liliana of the Veil
3x Devil's Play
2x Brimstone Volley
2x Sever the Bloodline
2x Blasphemous Act
1x Witchbane Orb
1x Naturalize

15 Cards Sideboard

3x Naturalize
3x Witchbane Orb
2x Blasphemous Act
2x Sever the Bloodline
2x Victim of Night
2x Geistflame
1x Devil's Play

So what do I have here?

The first thing I must mention is that I'm playing twenty five lands which is low for a Control deck. Normally this kind of decks play twenty six or sometimes even twenty seven. But I have Traveler's Amulet in the deck as well as Think Twice and Forbidden Alchemy, so I don't get mana screwed that often.

The second thing I must mention is that I don't run Snapcaster Mage. Sad and shocking but true.

Actually I don't play him simply because I don't have enough targets for him. I have planeswalkers, artifacts and enchantments in deck which aren't any good for Snappy, and my other spells already have flashback. So what's the point in giving spells flashback that already have flashback?! Snapcaster Mage belongs to decks that play lots of Brimstone Volleys, Blasphemous Acts and Dissipates (basically spells without flashback). But not to this deck of mine. That simple.

And the rest of the deck must be clear. I have tons of removal and I run four Forbidden Alchemys which is actually the superstar of the deck. That card is actually the WHOLE reason why I added Blue to this deck in the first place. I have lots of 2-ofs and 1-ofs in the deck and Forbidden Alchemy is the card that allows me to find those cards in time.

Speaking of 1-ofs, I also have to say that I finally added one Naturalize to my main deck. That card is not only good against Burning Vengeance, but it also comes in handy against decks that main deck Witchbane Orbs as well as that boring(!) Intangible Virtue of those token decks.

The only card I think needs mentioning is that Victim of Night I have in the sideboard. That is a "special" card for "special" cases. Such as opposing Bloodgift Demons. Such as attacking Manor Gargoyles which is a creature I'm seeing more and more these days. Or such as Boneyard Wurms or Splinterfrights. Not all decks have those creatures and most of the time I come across decks with creatures the spell can't target, but in those other games when it can, it's really a superb and easy-to-use removal spell.

Alright, do you want to see this deck in action? Yes? Good, because I recorded a few matches in the Tournament Practice Room while testing the deck. Even though the competition is not the same as in Dailies or in 2mans, these below videos will at least give you an idea about how the deck plays.

 

MATCH #1
Against Werewolves

 

Werewolves, werewolves and werewolves. I don't know why people find this deck so attractive (budget restrictions maybe?) but it's of course not up to me to judge people. I'm here just to play. And let's see how this new Jund deck with Blue will handle those "moonhowlers".

Well, the ending of game one was totally incredible but I think I handled those werewolves well enough in game two and three.

Let's move on.

 

MATCH #2
Against Green/White Humans

This below is a very nice match with lots of difficult and different decisions. It's a bit long but if you have time, I advise you to watch it.

So, Green/White Humans or Green/White Tokens? Which one is better? I'll leave the decision up to you but in my opinion the tokens version is better.

And here's another video:

 

MATCH #3
Against Black/Green Rock

This is a typical Tier-1,5 deck or maybe even Tier-2, but I know that people play it. I mean, things cannot go wrong when you have both Liliana and Garruk, right?

My opponent had some interesting cards in his deck but that's what you face if you play in the Tournament Practice Room. At least it was a nice test game.

 

WRAP UP

And that's all from me for this week. I hope you enjoyed the ride with this new Jund deck which I like to call as Neo-Jund. The first Blue-less version has its ups and downs. Those Olivia Voldarens and Bloodline Keepers are surely nice and being able run a full playset of Sever the Bloodline is also nice, but sadly that version lacks card filtering (as in Forbidden Alchemy) and that's the reason why I built the second version.

The second version on the other hand, is much better at finding its threats and answers but just because it runs four colors, finding the exact color combination at the exactly needed time can be a problem. Even with four Traveler's Amulets and all those card drawing and card filtering cards.

And if you ask me which deck is currently the best deck of the format, I would say Tokens. Green/White is good without doubt but the three colored version with Black added, is also incredibly good. The reason why I think Black fits so well to the deck is this simple card actually:

So you play Sever the Bloodline targeting one of their two dozen(!) of Spirit tokens, and in response the opponent casts Altar's Reap, sacrifice the token you just targeted, draw two cards and prevent the slaughter and end up with "two dozens minus one" Spirit tokens (plus two new cards in hand)! I watched this happening dear readers and no, it wasn't fun at all.

So yes, in my opinion that Tokens deck is the best deck in the format and Black just makes that deck even better.

 

NEXT WEEK ON ROGUE PLAY
From Casual Room to FNM, Part I

Next week I start a new series of articles. And with this new series of articles Rogue Play will also "return to its roots" so to speak, and will start bringing you rogue decks indeed! So what is this From Casual Room to FNM all about?

Well, cutthroat Standard is nice and all, but surely one doesn't need to "rob a bank" to win a few pack at his local store playing in a bunch of FNMs. There should be a few nice decks out there that can win games in the local store against friends. Also, there should be some decks out there that can fight the current Tier-1 decks of Standard with consistency. One might even take one online and win maybe a TNMO tournament or two with it. Are there really such decks? Is it really possible to take a casual deck and make it FNM worthy? And that's the subject of this new series dear readers.

Next week first I will show you a very nice casual deck. You can play the deck in the Casual Room without changing a single card and have tons of fun with it. Or you can tweak the deck the way I will show you and then win the next FNM tournament at your local card store! So the deck I will show you next week will have (at least) two versions; the first version will be aimed for the Casual Room on MTGO and the second version will be for those who like to play something different in their local FNM.

Sounds good? Sounds interesting? Good, then we'll see us next week dear readers!

Thanks for reading.

See you online
Nafiz Erman, aka Lord Erman

4 Comments

Very nice, good content. I by Westane at Tue, 11/15/2011 - 16:15
Westane's picture
5

Very nice, good content. I always considered rocking a Jund list but I just can't convince myself to do it. Great videos.

As for your audio problem. What recording software do you use? FRAPS? I don't think you'll find a solution through better software, but rather better hardware. I know it's an investment but take a look at the Logitech G35 headset. It's a tad pricey, but after making the purchase I don't regret it AT ALL. The mic has built in noise canceling and there's a mute button right on the ear piece. I can't recommend it enough.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826104281&Tpk=logi...

Audio by Elbinac at Tue, 11/15/2011 - 18:12
Elbinac's picture

One thing you can do without changing hardware/software is to enable a "push to talk" button.
This would eliminate the random breathing being recorded while you aren't speaking.
And, with active use, enable you to cut out your own breathing while speaking.

The downside would be when you forget to use the talk button.
Some microphones/headsets have a mute or press to talk feature built in already.

Also you could try moving the mic away from your face a bit.

Thanks for all the by Lord Erman at Wed, 11/16/2011 - 02:19
Lord Erman's picture

Thanks for all the suggestions. Actually if you compare the sound of the last two or three videos to the first ones, you will also realize that the voice quality is a bit better. I recorded all the videos in the article within a 10-12 days time frame, and at the end I finally learned to remove the microphone away while I'm not speaking. That seems to be working for now.

Thanks again for all the suggestions.

LE

It has improved. However by Paul Leicht at Wed, 11/16/2011 - 04:07
Paul Leicht's picture

It has improved. However there are a couple times when you hear the mic being bashed/brushed against. Not that it's a big deal. I am always intrigued by your comments while the game is in motion. The one complaint if any is valid would be that you don't always pace the comments with play (I guess because you are spending that time to think instead). This means there are areas of dead air (near silence.) I am not sure this matters much except as something to note.

While Id rather see you take on standard, block has its own charms and it is cool to see your decks in action there.