Hello again and welcome back.  In the last couple of articles I discussed the Jund archetype and how it operates within the Modern and Standard metas.  This week I would like to focus on Jund’s implications in the Legacy meta, providing you with a few different viable approaches to the archetype.  Many of you who may have read some of my past Legacy articles know that I’m a big fan of aggro-loam, but even though it does fall under the Jund color wheel,  I think I’ve spoken enough about it already.  The first approach I want to talk about is a list I have been working on with some friends and is based off of Sam Black’s Zombardment list.  Then, I’ll discuss a more traditional Legacy Jund list that recently debuted on the Star City Game Open Series.

Jund Zombardment

Many of you are probably familiar with Sam Black’s Zombardment list.  In addition to Sam’s top 8 appearance at GP Atlanta, the deck has also had some top finishes on the Open Series.  Sam’s list is a RBW deck that uses hand disruption to strip the opponents cards away and then grinds them out with Bloodghasts, Gravecrawlers, Lingering Souls and Goblin Bombardment.  The Jund version eschews the white in favor of green, which allows us to be a little more aggressive and explosive.  We lose a little of the hand disruption, but we try and make up for it by being faster.  Here is the most recent list we have been testing.


Creatures (24)

4 Deathrite Shaman

4 Gravecrawler

4 Bloodghast

4 Carrion Feeder

4 Lotleth Troll

4 Vengevine

Spells (18)

4 Faithless Looting

4 Cabal Therapy

2 Thoughtseize

3 Grisly Salvage

2 Abrupt Decay

3 Goblin Bombardment

Land (18)

3 Bayou

3 Badlands

3 Swamp

4 Verdant Catacombs

2 Bloodstained Mire

3 Marsh Flats

 

First, I want to talk about the creature package.  As you can see, the shell of Zombardment is mostly here.  We are running the Gravecrawler/Bloodghast/Carrion Feeder engine, but we are enhancing it with Deathrite Shaman, Lotleth Troll, and Vengevine.  These creatures add a layer of explosiveness to the deck using Deathrite Shaman to ramp initially, allowing you to quickly set up your board and put pressure on the opponent.  Lotleth Troll allows you to combo off early if you have one or more Vengevines in hand.  You can play a Deathrite Shaman on turn 1, then on turn 2 play a Troll, discard any Vengevines + a Gravecrawler, replay the Gravecrawler and return your Vengevines.  You are swinging for 4+ on turn 2 and have an additional 6+ power on board for the next turn.  Lotleth Troll is a fairly dangerous threat on his own.  Having regenerate and trample makes him a lightning rod for swords to plowshares however.  This, actually, turns out to be a pretty okay thing because it stops them from targeting our more resilient Gravecrawlers, Bloodghasts, and our Carrion Feeders.

Deathrite Shaman provides some real late game power once he has finished accelerating your initial plan.  Additionally, he help keep Mongeese, Tarmogoyfs, and Snapcaster Mages in line as well as providing you maindeck answers to Reanimator and other graveyard-focused decks.  His utility really shines in this deck where having the additional reach to sneak in the last couple points of damage is sometimes the difference between a win and a loss.

Our spell suite is designed to fuel the explosiveness of the deck as well as disrupt our opponent’s game. Cabal Therapy is extremely good in our deck.  Gravecrawlers and Bloodghasts provide us with easily recurrable bodies to pay the flashback cost with, allowing us to completely strip our opponent’s hand of relevant cards in just a few turns.  Additionally, we have 2 Thoughtseize that allows us to nab any immediate problem cards before they become a problem.  Faithless Looting and Grisly Salvage provide the fuel to our engine.  A timely end of turn Grisly Salvage flipping over one or more Vengevines can really catch many opponents off-guard if they tap out for a spell on turn 2 or 3.  For removal we have 2 copies of Abrupt Decay.  I chose this specifically as an uncounterable answer to Counterbalance, one of the biggest problem cards for our deck.  I also play 2 more copies in the sideboard to bring in against Counterbalance opponents specifically.
Goblin Bombardment fulfills a similar role in this deck as it does in Sam Black’s original version.  It provides us with a removal engine and a source of late game reach and value.  We can freely attack with all of our Gravecrawlers and Vengevines, sacrificing any that get successfully blocked to get in damage.  Having Gravecrawler + any other zombie in play gives us a machine-gun removal/burn engine to help remove nuissance creatures or finish off an opponent that took some quick damage in the early turns.  If you have Bloodghasts and Gravecrawlers, along with a fetchland, you can easily do 10+ damage in a turn with Bombardment.

As I mentioned, we are rather weak to an early Counter-Top lock, which would lock us out of being able to cast most of our relevant spells.  If you suspect your opponent is playing Counterbalance in game 1, I recommend that you hold an Abrupt Decay back unless using it will win you the game on the spot.  On top of Counterbalance, we are weak to some forms of graveyard hate, most specifically Rest in Peace/Leyline of the Void.  We can largely minimze the damage incurred by mass graveyard removal such as Tormod’s Crypt by limiting how often we sacrifice our threats.  Still, most forms of graveyard hate will be a hindrance.  Luckily Abrupt Decay takes care of Rest in Peace, and no one plays maindeck Leyline of the Void.

Overall the deck is fun to play and has a lot of really interesting lines of play.  It is a deck that you really need to play a lot and analyze all of your lines before making a decision.  There are a lot of potential triggers to manage and you can really find some creative ways to sneak damage in using Feeders, Bombardments and Trolls.

A Little More Traditional

Last weekend on the SCG Open Series in St. Louis Brandon Large finished top 32 with a Legacy port of Modern Jund.  The list is very similar to the Modern version, only adding Scavenging Ooze , Sylvan Library and Hymn to Tourach to the mainboard as Legacy-only cards.  As a big fan of the Modern Jund archetype, I was immediately intrigued when I saw the list.  You can watch a video deck tech with Brandon here.  At first I was skeptical.  In Modern, you don’t have to contend with cards like Force of Will, Daze, and Wasteland.  As I thought more about it though, Force of Will actually doesn’t seem very good against us.  If our opponent is 2 for 1’ing themselves, it almost plays to our advantage.  All of our spells are very high impact, so the more they 2 for 1 themselves, the more devastating our discard becomes, allowing us to eventually out card them.  One good thing is that most Legacy decks do not run Spell Snare, which is actually a much more annoying counterspell for us to deal with.

Here is the deck in reference:


Creatures (18)

4 Bloodbraid Elf

4 Dark Confidant

4 Deathrite Shaman

4 Tarmogoyf

1 Scavenging Ooze

1 Eternal Witness

Spells (20)

1 Sylvan Library

3 Abrupt Decay

4 Lightning Bolt

3 Liliana of the Veil

3 Hymn to Tourach

3 Inquisition of Kozilek

2 Thoughtseize

1 Maelstrom Pulse

Lands (22)

2 Badlands

2 Bayou

2 Taiga

4 Bloodstained Mire

1 Lavaclaw Reaches

2 Verdant Catacombs

2 Wooded Foothills

3 Wasteland

1 Volrath’s Stronghold

 

 

Wasteland is probably our biggest worry honestly.  Only running 22 lands seems a little greedy in an environment where Wasteland is legal.  I would certainly consider playing a copy of Life From the Loam in the mainboard, and probably an additional copy in the sideboard.  Sylvan Library gives the deck a little resilience, allowing you to draw out of a potential Wasteland lock.  Additionally, Sylvan Library also interacts very well with Bloodbraid Elf, allowing you to set up some strong cascades.  Abrupt Decay seems even better in Legacy than it does in Modern, and Deathrite Shaman is just as impressive in this list as it is in the Zombardment deck.

Honestly, I think that is the biggest lesson to take away from all of this.  Deathrite Shaman is a very powerful and efficient card in Legacy.  It’s the best Birds of Paradise ever printed, arguably even a better 1 drop than Noble Hierach.  I have been constantly impressed at how versatile and powerful he is.  Even Brandon commented that he doesn’t mind cascading into one off of a Bloodbraid Elf, it’s just that good.  Brandon also commented that, while he isn’t so sure that Jund has what it takes to be as competitive in Legacy as it is in Modern, he believes whole-heartedly that a deck that aims to abuse Deathrite Shaman seems very viable.

I am going to be working with his traditional Jund list, seeing if I can tune it a little more toward the format.  One area I wouldn’t mind exploring would be combining Kitchen Finks and Cabal Therapy as opposed to Thoughtseizes and Inquisitions.  Therapy seems like it could be better suited for us as a recursive discard spell, especially useful in conjunction with Finks, allowing us to gain life in a pinch.  In a format where burn spells are a little more prevalent, the life gain could be relevant.  I’m not a huge fan of Maelstrom Pulse, honestly.  It is probably worthwhile to have as an answer to a miracled Entreat the Angels, but often it will be dead anyway to a Force of Will or Daze.  We may have to rely on Slaughter Games out of the sideboard to deal with the miracle decks.

Also, I want to continue to explore the Zombardment list.  It has been testing really well so far and it’s just a blast to play.  I will continue to write more about both of these archetypes as I get a better feel for them and get some substantial games under my belt.  I certainly want to continue working on a Deathrite Shaman deck in Legacy, and figuring out how best to abuse the little 1-drop, as I believe he has what it takes to compete in the Legacy format.  Until next time, happy planeswalking!