I just turned off the latest episode of The Proffessors a few minutes in after Anthony complained about the Jund matchup being “random” and flashed Bituminous Blast and Bloodbraid on the screen. While I appreciate Anthony’s production quality, this is one more in a chain of people complaining about Jund on the basis of it being basically braindead to play.
I think it’s the Bituminous Blast that just did it for me this time. Here’s PT San Diego champion Simon Gortzen’s Jund list:
|4× Bloodbraid Elf|
|3× Broodmate Dragon|
|4× Putrid Leech|
|3× Siege-Gang Commander|
|4× Sprouting Thrinax|
|2× Garruk Wildspeaker|
|4× Lightning Bolt|
|3× Maelstrom Pulse|
|2× Rampant Growth|
|2× Dragonskull Summit|
|2× Lavaclaw Reaches|
|4× Raging Ravine|
|4× Savage Lands|
|4× Verdant Catacombs|
|4× Great Sable Stag|
|3× Master of the Wild Hunt|
Notice the absence of Bituminous Blast anywhere in that list. Indeed, Simon’s main deck is relatively “removal light,” running just Bolts and Pulses, where other Jund lists run Terminates and Bituminous Blasts as well. Gortzen also chose to run twenty-seven lands and two copies of Rampant Growth, putting the emphasis on smooth mana progression.
I’m not really surprised by that choice.
As Mike Flores pointed out, Gortzen also made sound strategic choices with how he played his cards, keeping his Blightnings in hand to use as planeswalker removal rather than just autopiloting them out on turn three. You’ll notice this in playing against Jund players as well. When your opponent just runs on autopilot, it’s easy to beat them.
The idea that Jund plays itself, or is just “random,” fundamentally misunderstands how the deck works. In playing against Jund, you should take a page from Nassim Taleb and assume that their Bloodbraids will hit the “worst case” for you. Likewise, in playing Jund, you should assume that your Bloodbraids are likely to be blanks, and plan accordingly.
The complaints about Jund now sound a lot like the complaints during Pro Tour Honolulu about cascade generally. I actually enjoy playing with and against Jund, and I think Simon Gortzen made a tremendous update to the deck and played quite cleverly.
I understand that players get a little bored when there seem to be “only a few” viable deck types in Standard. This is in one sense a product of the size of the card pools. There are just a handful of reasonable decks in Block, more in Standard, many more in Extended, and tremendously more in Legacy. However, it’s also a confluence of other factors such as the fact that not everyone feels like designing and testing a deck, so reasonably stable designs are going to see a lot of play from people who just want to play.
I’d also suggest that the perception that there are just a few dominant decks relies on a very shallow review of the decks, as I alluded to above. Gortzen’s Jund is a significant update on pre-Worldwake Jund. Indeed, it relies critically on new cards from Worldwake, and does not just “autopilot” on the prior Jund plan. As someone who pretty reliably plays novel or semi-novel deck designs, I have a great deal of appreciation for players who can tweak or significantly update a known archetype to deal with a shifting metagame or to accommodate a new set.
It’s only “Jund wins again” if you’re not paying attention. If you’re so inclined, go back to the Pro Tour San Diego coverage and compare the top Standard lists to all the others. There are differences there, and they’re interesting and fun.