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Much Abrew: 2013 Modern Jund vs. 2023 MTG Arena

2013 Modern Jund 

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Jund might be the most iconic and recognizable archetype in the history of the Modern format. While the deck has been at or near the top of the Modern format for most of the format's existence, you can argue that the peak of Modern Jund came back in 2013, right after Deathrite Shaman was printed in Return to Ravnica. Modern Jund in 2013 was so dominant that Wizards ended up targeting it with bannings multiple times, with Bloodbraid Elf being banned in 2013 and Deathrite Shaman following in 2014. 

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Now, thanks to Historic Anthology 7 adding both Deathrite Shaman and Bloodbraid Elf to Magic Arena, we can now (almost) build a historically accurate version of 2013 Modern Jund on the client. The core of the deck—Deathrite Shaman, Tarmogoyf, Liliana of the Veil, Bloodbraid Elf, Inquisition of Kozilek, Thoughtseize, Huntmaster of the Fells, Maelstrom Pulse, and more—is all there.

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What are we missing that keeps our deck from being 100% historically accurate? Three things, really. The biggest is Dark Confidant. The two-drop card-advantage engine hasn't made its way to Arena yet, although we do have a solid enough replacement in Phyrexian Arena, which actually did show up in some 2013 Modern Jund lists. Number two is Lightning Bolt, which is technically on Arena but banned. Thankfully, we do have access to Lightning Strike, which is basically the same card, right?

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Last but definitely not least is the mana base, which is missing two things. First, Magic Arena doesn't have real fetch lands, which are super important to powering up Deathrite Shaman, so we're playing some janky ones like Fabled Passage and Riveteers Overlook. Second are the iconic Jund creaturelands Raging Ravine and Treetop Village, which are surprisingly important to the deck's plan. This leads to a bit of a problem in deck building. Should we play more modern creaturelands that technically didn't exist back in 2013 but would make our deck play more like 2013 Modern Jund or just skip creaturelands altogether? Eventually, I decided that since we were already cheating a little bit with the mana base by playing Fabled Passage and Riveteers Overlook, it was probably worth playing one copy each of Den of the Bugbear, Hive of the Eye Tyrant, and Lair of the Hydra to give us something similar to Raging Ravine and Treetop Village

If you've never seen old-school Modern Jund in action, probably the easiest way to think of the deck is as the original money pile. Back in the day, Tarmogoyf cost $200 a copy, Thoughtseize was $60, and both Liliana of the Veil and Dark Confidant were pushing $100, making the entire deck cost nearly $2,000. Even the game plan was similar to a money pile: play all the best and most expensive cards at each point on the curve and trust that they would grind their way to a victory over lesser decks.


So, can 2013 Modern Jund—one of the most iconic decks in Modern's history—keep up on Magic Arena in 2023? The answer is a very Jundian "sort of but not really." We ended up going 3-4 with the deck, a bit worse than the classic Jund 52% win rate, although not a horrible performance considering we're playing a deck that's a decade old.

The good news is that we saw that the classic Jund game plan of Thoughtseize into Tarmogoyf into Liliana of the Veil into Bloodbraid Elf can still pick up some wins. Even Deathrite Shaman was surprisingly solid, even despite the lack of good fetch lands. 

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On the other hand, as weird as it is to say about a deck based on playing the strongest and most expensive cards possible, our deck felt pretty underpowered on a card-by-card basis compared to what's happening on Magic Arena in 2023, to the point where it was almost funny. Just look at Phyrexian Arena or Dark Confidant compared to something like The One Ring or Huntmaster of the Fells vs. Sheoldred, the Apocalypse

Maybe the clearest example of just how much our 2013 all-star has been power-crept out of the game is when we played against a super Zoomer-y Arena build of Jund. For fun, I decided to look up what an optimal Historic build of Jund looked like after the match and found a list by a player going by Nazo777 with a stunning 77% match-win rate over nearly 70 matches. How many of our bannably good 2013 cards show up in the list? Exactly two. The obvious one is Thoughtseize, which is one of the few 2013 staples that hasn't been power crept, while the other—surprisingly—was Scavenging Ooze. But in Arena Jund, there are no Tarmogoyfs, Lilianas, Bloodbraid Elf, or Deathrite Shaman. Instead, the deck is full of broken digital-only cards like Jarsyl, Dark Age Scion and Crucias, Titan of the Waves. And even discounting cards that were never legal in Modern (or paper Magic at all), the rest of the deck is cards like Sheoldred, the Apocalypse, Orcish Bowmasters, and The One Ring.

Somehow, almost none of the cards from 2013's edition of money pile are good enough to even show up in 2023, which I guess is a testament to just how much stronger Magic cards are today than they were just a decade ago. It wasn't that long ago that Magic players assumed Tarmogoyf would be the greatest creature of all time forever and that it would never be topped. Today, on Magic Arena, it isn't even good enough to show up in Jund—the deck it helped create and push to the top of Modern. 

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Can 2013 Modern Jund compete against 2023 Magic Arena? While the answer is technically yes—you can win some games with it—in reality, the answer is not really. Somehow, in the course of a decade—which isn't really that long in the grand scheme of things—the cards in 2013 Modern Jund have gone from bannably broken to laughably bad. Although, as much as things change, they also stay the same. There's a pretty strong argument that Jund is actually the literal best deck in Historic on Magic Arena, even today, in 2023. But instead of $200 Tarmogoyfs, you're playing four mythic wildcards worth of Crucias, Titan of the Waves instead.

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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