10/15/09 Top Decks: Jund-Red Handed Strike

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This thread is for discussion of this week's Top Decks Article, which goes live Thursday morning on magicthegathering.com.

leave it to flores to cite lists that didn't even do that well just to highlight hisss pet mythic...


leave it to flores to cite lists that didn't even do that well just to highlight hisss pet mythic...




Any deck that makes top 16 in a large tournament, especially early on, when the environment is still shaping up, deserves consideration.  


That said, it was reassuring to see Lotus Cobra make a showing, but not dominate.  Should be soothing to those who were worried about its about its potentially corrosive effect on the environment.


Also:  fun to see Goblin Guide show up in the second and third place decks.  Always happy making to see a card with silly art and concept make a showing on tourney tables :-)


- Patch

Clearly Jund aggro is the deck to beat.  I like the way MF did the quick synopsis on how the Jund aggro decks varied which meant I didn't have to read all the deck lists in full (which saved a good couple of minutes).


It is nice to see that Lotus Cobra is not the all dominating force some thought it would be.  Given the strength of Alara over Zen at the moment it will be interesting to see at the end of Zen how many Zen cards are tournament worthy constructed cards compared to Alara.

I'm a little surprised Lotus Cobra isn't in the Jund Aggro deck.  It helps them hit 3 colors and step up to the 5/6/8 mana that the deck needs at times.  It's not the best Aggro card, but seems aggro enough for the sort of midrange that this deck is.

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DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

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Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Bolt and Helix together for the first time?


 


I think you are forgetting Legacy (1.5) powerhouse Zoo. 3 in the top 16 of the latest 5k at Philly.


 


sales.starcitygames.com//deckdatabase/de...[C1]=leg&start_date=2009-10-11&end_date=2009-10-11&event_type=STAL&city=Philadelphia

So are the Lotus Cobra fanatics going to calm down yet?


 


I guess the real question becomes, When does Flores stop giving us potential perfect case scenario's where this card is a blowout and start talking about how most games it's going to get killed in turn 3-4 by Volcanic Fallout or Day of Judgement without having an impact on the game at all?  Or when is he going to talk about how it has to block Bloodbraid because the person playing the cobra has already taken hits from Leech and goblin guide and can't afford more damage?


 


Face it, Cobra is great...when you have the perfect hand to back him up.  So he's awesome 1 game out of 20 at best.  Lotus Cobra is probably the most overhyped card of Zendikar.

Emeria, the Sky Ruin is one of my favorite new cards from Zendikar. It is basically a Debtors' Knell, but one that can't be easily stopped by blue permission spells. While it can be useful in essentially any long-game situation, consider this one: The game goes forever; the white deck over-draws to eight and discards Iona, Shield of Emeria.


Consider this one: why over-draw to eight and discard Iona when you need to have 89% of her regular casting cost on the board to resurrect her anyway? With only three Armillary Spheres for card drawing, that plan doesn't sound too great.

Emeria, the Sky Ruin is one of my favorite new cards from Zendikar. It is basically a Debtors' Knell, but one that can't be easily stopped by blue permission spells. While it can be useful in essentially any long-game situation, consider this one: The game goes forever; the white deck over-draws to eight and discards Iona, Shield of Emeria.


Consider this one: why over-draw to eight and discard Iona when you need to have 89% of her regular casting cost on the board to resurrect her anyway? With only three Armillary Spheres for card drawing, that plan doesn't sound too great.


Because waiting six turns for an uncounterable Iona seems all right when your only plan is to make it that far anyways.

dark depths was the first thing i thought of when i saw the hexmage. i hope it goes further than this. dark depths has skyrocketed in price when i wasn't paying attention and i wonder if the hexmage has anything to do with it.


Vampire Nighthawk is essentially the same mana cost as a Hurloon Minotaur (Magic's iconic red creature)... but with two very relevant abilities (rather than nothing) tacked on.


ah, counting. last time i checked the nighthawk had 3 abilities. unless he is saying flying, lifelink, or deathtouch isn't relevant and the other two are? somehow i doubt that.

Those are very interesting results and lists. The dominance of Jund Aggro isn't surprising, nor is it something to really worry about : we knew it was the only established top tier archetype from last season that didn't lose anything except for Boggart Ram-Gang (and an arguably very slightly superior mana base), and so that it was bound to be a safe and powerful choice for the start of the season. As the metagame evolves, it will surely take a more reasonable portion of the field, while staying great. As a budget player, I like two facts about the winning list : the recognition of the fact that Lotus Cobra is not for that deck, despite all the overhype, and that Great Sable Stag is not a necessity. I own the whole deck except for playsets of those two cards Laughing.


The vampire list intrigues me a lot too, as it is the deck I first built for the season. It is very similar to mine, with Mind Sludge main deck (a necessity to beat control, if you play Vampires and don't do it, you should start now, guess why this list is the one that top 8'd). The one striking difference with my list, that seems to make a lot of sense when I think about it, is the absence of Vampire Lacerator. That choice seems to come from the very valid theory that Vampires is not a beatdown deck, but an aggro-control one, and that it wants solid creatures with some control elements rather than undercosted beaters with drawbacks. I'm gonna remove the Lacerators from my version too. I'll keep maindecking Duress as a "one-drop" rather than having it in the side, though.


The other deck that I instantly fell in love with in the top 8 is the Boros Landfall one. I can't build it myself until I collect all the required fetches, but boy, is it a beating ! Never a deck has had so many powerful beatdown one-drops in Standard. One element of the deck I really like, that Flores didn't mention, is the synergy of Kor Skyfisher with the rest of the deck. Bounce a land to retrigger landfall, bounce Bushwacker to re-pump the team, bounce Ranger to fetch more one-drops... Just great.


dark depths has skyrocketed in price when i wasn't paying attention and i wonder if the hexmage has anything to do with it.


Really, you wonder ? Tongue out For what other reason would people want Dark Depths that much ? Seriously, watch the combo top 8 PT Austin in multiples. That deck is real. Get your Pithing Needles ready; while they weren't too useful lately, they will be from now on, both in Extended and Legacy.

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I am surprised that none of the jund decks used the vampire nighthawk in place of thrinax, obvously the vampire does not split into tokens, but 2/3 LL and DT?  Just thought I would have seen it played more in jund aggro.


Really, you wonder ?  For what other reason would people want Dark Depths that much ? Seriously, watch the combo top 8 PT Austin in multiples. That deck is real. Get your Pithing Needles ready; while they weren't too useful lately, they will be from now on, both in Extended and Legacy.




yeah pithing needle works. so does path to exile, turn to mist, etc. i love the combo, myself (i was a big fan of casual dark depths + aether snap), but it seemed a bit fragile to me for constructed.

The main thing that makes the dark depth combo good is that it's cheap, resilient, and easy for most decks to run.  All you need is 1 black source to make it work, and it's not easily stopped... a 20/20 with flying thats also indestructible is pretty good when it's so easy to do.  Also, the hexmage is good by itself.  I mean obviously it's not the greatest card ever, but it's not something I'd consider a blank when you don't have dark depths in your hand.  Basically, this combo is so good because it has tons of advantages and doesn't really punish you for playing it.


I'm a little surprised Lotus Cobra isn't in the Jund Aggro deck.  It helps them hit 3 colors and step up to the 5/6/8 mana that the deck needs at times.  It's not the best Aggro card, but seems aggro enough for the sort of midrange that this deck is.




The question is, what do you take out for it?  And are you willing to risk cascading into it rather than into your removal?  


- Patch

The dominance of Jund Aggro isn't surprising, nor is it something to really worry about : we knew it was the only established top tier archetype from last season that didn't lose anything except for Boggart Ram-Gang (and an arguably very slightly superior mana base), and so that it was bound to be a safe and powerful choice for the start of the season. As the metagame evolves, it will surely take a more reasonable portion of the field, while staying great.


Very well said.

It's true, at every rotation a deck that passes through intact is a starting leader.  It has also been said that you want to play aggro in any new environment because decks are slower.  Jund is therefore fast enough to beat anyone who's trying to play control, but still has answers to the all-out aggro decks of new configurations.


This will change though.  I think a good example of early decks not holding out is November 07 after Lorwyn came out.  Wafo-Tapa won a Grand Prix with "Sonic Boom", a mono-blue deck built around Guile, and immediately this was thought to be the defining deck of the environment.  For about a week.



The question is, what do you take out for it?  And are you willing to risk cascading into it rather than into your removal?  


- Patch




Well I haven't tested at all but I'm thinking Leech.

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Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.



The question is, what do you take out for it?  And are you willing to risk cascading into it rather than into your removal?  


- Patch




Well I haven't tested at all but I'm thinking Leech.




That was my first thought, too.  Not having tested at all, either, I'd guess it would go something like this:


What the Jund deck wants to do is setup steady pressure, using cascade, and creatures that negate -- or at least limit the effectiveness of -- removal, to rack up card advantage along the way.  Your opponent runs out of answers before you're finished with your threats, and you win.  The Leech fits this game plan better than the Cobra.  


Provided you have the right cards in hand, Lotus Cobra can make a pressure spike on turn 3.  The Leech has no such "Provided" caveat -- he _always_ generates  a pressure spike when he comes out on turn 2, even if the rest of your hand is mediocre.  Late game, cascading into a 2/1 is much worse than cascading into a 4/4, especially since you probably no longer _need_ extra mana by the time you are playing your cascade stuff.  


The Leech negates Lightning Bolt, Disfigure, and Doom Blade.  About the only way to deal with it is to Path to Exile it (which basically turns it into a Lotus Cobra), or overspend on getting rid of it with an Oblivion Ring or Tendrils of Corruption later on, sacrificing tempo.  I think that the Jund deck is much happier with this outcome, which has either netted them card advantage by "blanking" a removal spell in the opposing hand, or given them the advantage in tempo, than with their Lotus Cobra getting bolted.


If you're trying to rush into a Baneslayer, and have the control elements of white to back you up and smooth out bad draws, Lotus Cobra is a good idea.  The Jund deck lives a bit more on the edge -- every spell in that deck has to either matter, or cascade into something that matters, and Lotus Cobra just doesn't seem to matter enough to make the cut. 


- Patch


 

The Leech negates Lightning Bolt, Disfigure, and Doom Blade.  About the only way to deal with it is to Path to Exile it (which basically turns it into a Lotus Cobra), or overspend on getting rid of it with an Oblivion Ring or Tendrils of Corruption later on, sacrificing tempo.  I think that the Jund deck is much happier with this outcome, which has either netted them card advantage by "blanking" a removal spell in the opposing hand, or given them the advantage in tempo, than with their Lotus Cobra getting bolted.



I'd like to point out that you are missing an important form of removal that does 1 for 1 the Putrid Leech, Terminate.


What the Jund deck wants to do is setup steady pressure, using cascade, and creatures that negate -- or at least limit the effectiveness of -- removal, to rack up card advantage along the way.  Your opponent runs out of answers before you're finished with your threats, and you win.  The Leech fits this game plan better than the Cobra.  


Provided you have the right cards in hand, Lotus Cobra can make a pressure spike on turn 3.  The Leech has no such "Provided" caveat -- he _always_ generates  a pressure spike when he comes out on turn 2, even if the rest of your hand is mediocre.  Late game, cascading into a 2/1 is much worse than cascading into a 4/4, especially since you probably no longer _need_ extra mana by the time you are playing your cascade stuff.  


The Leech negates Lightning Bolt, Disfigure, and Doom Blade.  About the only way to deal with it is to Path to Exile it (which basically turns it into a Lotus Cobra), or overspend on getting rid of it with an Oblivion Ring or Tendrils of Corruption later on, sacrificing tempo.  I think that the Jund deck is much happier with this outcome, which has either netted them card advantage by "blanking" a removal spell in the opposing hand, or given them the advantage in tempo, than with their Lotus Cobra getting bolted.




Leech only negates Bolt and Disfigure as long as you never pump it except in response to those removal cards.  (Or if the opponent is tapped out.)  As soon as you try to get in for 4, you are open to that removal with a life-loss bonus.  And with that in mind, removal is better spent on a 3/2 BBE anyway since Leech will only hit for 2.


A better argument for the Leech is Volcanic Fallout (etc), or simple combat against WW.  But the question is, to what extent do you expect this two-drop to get there?  The deck uses Bituminous Blast, Broodmate Dragon, and Resounding Thunder, so it's not all about the early drops.  Even with other cards, you may want to play more than 1 per turn.  And not to be underestimated, Cobra fixes as well as accelerates.  In a 3-color deck that cares a lot about tempo, that's important.


But the reason I think the Lotus Cobras didn't see play was because Garruk filled that role instead.  He's more resiliant and flexible, and his untap will push the mana up or let you get double use out of a single color source.  Still, I'd be surprised if a Jund build with Cobra in it doesn't win something sooner or later.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

Also I keep forgetting, but regarding the article:  I would really like to see different colors for t8 and t16 dots.  Putting them all in white loses some information that could easily have been represented.

If you're on MTGO check out the Free Events via PDCMagic and Gatherling.

Other games you should try:
DC Universe Online - action-based MMO.  Free to play.  Surprisingly well-designed combat and classes.

Planetside 2 - Free to play MMO-meets-FPS and the first shooter I've liked in ages.
Simunomics - Free-to-play economy simulation game.

I've been playing around with these (and other builds of these) decks for a bit. I still haven't gotten around to the two white control decks, sadly.


Jund aggro is great. I'm not sure what the correct build is, but I really like the 4th place deck. They're all fairly similar though. However, it is far from unbeatable.


Bushwhacker is a viciously fast deck, capable of turn 3 wins at times. It is really strong, and can come back out of nowhere to win, but Baneslayer is an enormous problem for it, and really, any deck which has the ability to bring out big creatures which can stymie the offensive fast enough can win. The deck also suffers somewhat from the "I've got these nice landfall creatures out but no lands" problem, especially if its initial offensive has faltered; it has issues with running out of steam in general though. I preferred the one I saw on the web last week on the blog site; it was even more aggressive and didn't run Plated Geopede, instead opting for what I think is the superior elemental.


Theiringer's Lotus Angel deck completely wrecks Boros Bushwhacker. It seems to have trouble vs BR vampires, strangely (I was expecting it to beat it), plausibly because BR Vampires has more ability to hit its big creatures. Baneslayer is essentially game against Boros Bushwhacker if it becomes active, and most of the deck can sit there and tank until Boros runs out of steam. Vamps can get rid of the big creatures, and oftentimes Vampire Nocturnus can turn a board where it seems like the Naya player seems to have stabilized and instead force them to race, a race which, if there is a nocturnus on the board, is probably going to end badly for the Naya player.


That said, it was reassuring to see Lotus Cobra make a showing, but not dominate.  Should be soothing to those who were worried about its about its potentially corrosive effect on the environment.


People were panicking because they didn't understand the card. The trouble with Lotus Cobra is that it is hand dependent and very disruptable. Yeah, sometimes you play an angel on turn 3, or play two cobras on turn 3, or something else silly. Usually, you accellerate your mana by just one turn, which is great. Sometimes, though, you draw multiple cobras, and once you've dumped them out they look a little silly. Or you draw one in the late game and it is not very impressive. Or it gets burned out and the hand you kept because you were going to play an angel on turn 3 suddenly turns into a turn 4 elf (or worse, you being stuck on three mana with nothing to do). One of its worst drawbacks (and indeed, the worst drawbacks with lotus angel) is that cascading into lotus cobra or noble hierarch is bad.


Its a solid card, but its not something you can build around. Its a card which goes into other decks and makes them better; its not a card which enables an archetype on its own. The Lotus Angel decks are what lotus cobra produces; a deck with a few higher drops which can really benefit from being dumped on the field a turn early, but which are great even if you have to pay full cost, and the deck isn't so slow that it gets run over with plenty of 3-drops and removal.


The people who were panicking were the ones who thought that Lotus Cobra would enable consistant turn 3 shenanigans, which it was never going to do. Its not a bad card; its just not OMG TEH BROKEN. Its not even as strong as Dark Confidant. Heck, may not even be the best two-drop in standard.


Also:  fun to see Goblin Guide show up in the second and third place decks.  Always happy making to see a card with silly art and concept make a showing on tourney tables :-)


Its extremely powerful, one of the strongest one-drops in the set. Its drawback is real, though, and will lose you games sometimes.


Clearly Jund aggro is the deck to beat.  I like the way MF did the quick synopsis on how the Jund aggro decks varied which meant I didn't have to read all the deck lists in full (which saved a good couple of minutes).


Jund is a nasty deck, but there are certainly things which beat it.


It is nice to see that Lotus Cobra is not the all dominating force some thought it would be.  Given the strength of Alara over Zen at the moment it will be interesting to see at the end of Zen how many Zen cards are tournament worthy constructed cards compared to Alara.


Tons. Look at Boros Bushwhacker.


I'm a little surprised Lotus Cobra isn't in the Jund Aggro deck.  It helps them hit 3 colors and step up to the 5/6/8 mana that the deck needs at times.  It's not the best Aggro card, but seems aggro enough for the sort of midrange that this deck is.


Lotus Cobra isn't a 4/4 for 2. You certainly could build a version of the deck which DID use lotus cobra, but I'm not sure whether it'd be better. It'd probably look a lot like the lotus angel deck, except it'd run into different stuff. Same idea, though.


I guess the real question becomes, When does Flores stop giving us potential perfect case scenario's where this card is a blowout and start talking about how most games it's going to get killed in turn 3-4 by Volcanic Fallout or Day of Judgement without having an impact on the game at all?  Or when is he going to talk about how it has to block Bloodbraid because the person playing the cobra has already taken hits from Leech and goblin guide and can't afford more damage?


This is what Flores DOES. He overlooks this stuff, and underestimates stuff like Goblin Guide. See his comments on the Emeria deck, for example. Its great when it gets going, but it has to run cards like Armillary Sphere in standard (and 28 effective landslots) to even get Emeria active at all reliably. And every time you have out 8 lands, 2 emerias and 6 plains, you want to cry.


But yes, seriously, resurrecting the angel by discarding it intentionally is just silly due to the fact that by the time you do so, you can probably hardcast it that turn anyway.


ah, counting. last time i checked the nighthawk had 3 abilities. unless he is saying flying, lifelink, or deathtouch isn't relevant and the other two are? somehow i doubt that.


I don't like Nighthawk much because I can pay 3 for Hypnotic Specter, which is a better creature, and while yes, Hypnotic Specter doesn't benefit from Mr. Nocturnus, eating cards from hands is just so good. Though really, they use it more defensively oftentimes, and Hyppie is not defensive at all (well, unless you count putting their hand at zero "defense").


However, I think the REAL correct call is to just go BR vampires and go all-in on aggression and run the 1-drops. Lightning Bolt, Blightning, and especially everyone's favorite shock with kicker make red much more attractive, while Terminate gets around the problems that black removal suffers from. You can also SB Thought Hemmorhage, which is a very nasty turn 4 play against a deck which was expecting to wrath you.


Incidentally, I think 4x Hexmage is correct due to the volume of aggro in the format, as well as the fact that Hexmage + Lightning Bolt will kill Baneslayer Angel. Plus it kills planeswalkers.


I am surprised that none of the jund decks used the vampire nighthawk in place of thrinax, obvously the vampire does not split into tokens, but 2/3 LL and DT?  Just thought I would have seen it played more in jund aggro.


Thrinax is massively better than Nighthawk is because it takes two removal spells to get rid of it (unless one of them exiles it), it takes wrath on the chin like a champ, and because Nighthawk is... not very good. Seriously, its a defensive card, and its an aggro deck. If they wanted a flier, they'd run Hyppie, who is superior.


This will change though.  I think a good example of early decks not holding out is November 07 after Lorwyn came out.  Wafo-Tapa won a Grand Prix with "Sonic Boom", a mono-blue deck built around Guile, and immediately this was thought to be the defining deck of the environment.  For about a week.


The mulldrifter deck and faeries already had shown up and those who knew what was going on knew that those were the ones that were going to be trouble.


The Leech negates Lightning Bolt, Disfigure, and Doom Blade.


Its not actually very good against Lightning Bolt and Disfigure. If you don't pay the life to pump it, then it is just a 2/2, and if you do, they can simply kill it in response to you pumping it. Hexmage can also force it to pump, which again allows the removal. Its not that it is bad against them, per se, as that to use it to maximum efficacy sometimes you have to open yourself up to being nuked. Leech isn't really very difficult to remove save for mono-black decks, which either have to run mediocre cards like Disfigure, have their removal negated, or Tendrils a 2-drop, which is far from ideal. But I don't think mono-black vampires is the correct direction for that deck, at least in part precisely because of other black aggro decks.