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This Week in Legacy: Jund 'Em Out (And Other Midrange Shenanigans)


Hello everyone! Welcome to another edition of This Week in Legacy! This week we’ll be looking at some of the midrange decks of the format, particularly their success at the recent SCG Legacy Classic in Syracuse, as well as Online and in smaller Paper events.

The Red Semi-Unfair Deck

Before that talk, I’d like to look at another semi-unfair deck that I forgot to mention in last week’s article that has been incredibly popular across . . . well, all of Magic’s history. That deck would be Burn. I would describe the deck as semi-unfair due to it acting like a combo deck, assembling a lethal amount of burn spells in a similar way to how a Storm deck assembles a bunch of Dark Rituals. However, the deck still attacks with creatures and these burn spells can also interact with the opponent, giving it the ability to shift gears as well.

Legacy Burn used to languish as a fringe archetype within the format, occasionally popping up here and there. It was never seen as ultra-competitive, as the deck couldn’t race any of the combo decks effectively, despite powerful cards like Price of Progress. That stigma didn’t stop Patrick Sullivan from winning, of course, with his win over Ross Merriam a hurrah for red mages everywhere.



All this changed, however, once Journey Into Nyx came, and one of the Legacy Opens was taken down unexpectedly by Bryan Cambidge.


You can find his delightful finals match here:

Eidolon of the Great Revel gave Burn the largest boost in recent times, as a Pyrostatic Pillar on legs gave the deck a main deck way to fight against combo, while also being an excellent card in a cantrip-laden format like Legacy. Burn can now be seen cropping up continuously in Legacy Top 8s and League 5-0's.

Looking more generally at the deck, the core of the deck consists of the sixteen three damage spells of Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, Lava Spike, and Rift Bolt that are the most mana-efficient burn spells in Magic’s history. Fireblast and Price of Progress are the “broken” burn spells, with Fireblast being essentially zero mana for four damage (though typically used as a “finishing” move) and Price of Progress dealing a medium of four damage for two mana at times, but dealing upwards of eight against the dual-heavy mana bases a lot of Legacy midrange decks have. The creature suite has always featured four Goblin Guides, which can deal a lot of damage for a single red mana if unchecked.

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The flex slots of the deck have generally featured a few more creatures. Grim Lavamancer has been the usual standby that, once the opponent’s removal has been exhausted, can get to work on opposing life totals and not care about the red zone. Monastery Swiftspear was added with Khans of Tarkir as functionally more Goblin Guides and can have potentially greater upside. Searing Blaze has also found its way into the main deck, though the card is essentially a blank against a lot of the format, so it can be risky to include. Sulfuric Vortex has been seen in the main deck as a way to fight against life gain, as well as be an extra threat that is very difficult to deal with. Against control opponents, Vortex on turn three leads to slow, painful deaths.

Another innovation people have been incorporating is Sensei's Divining Top. Although decried as slow and against the grain of killing the opponent fast, at times Burn must play a slower, grindier game to navigate through countermagic and hand disruption. The card selection that Top provides is therefore quite handy, especially since Burn has always run plentiful amounts of fetchlands for Grim Lavamancer. Exquisite Firecraft has also been an excellent addition from Magic Origins that, although designed for Standard, looks almost tailor-made to fight against the CounterTop lock that Burn can often struggle against.

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Close friend of mine and Burn aficionado Matthew Vaughan has been touting this Burn list, geared more towards a Miracles and fair deck metagame.

The Beauty of Non-Blue Midrange

Although we looked at Shardless BUG in our first article as the premier midrange deck of the format, that’s not to say that non-blue midrange decks do not have a place within the format. Jund is what most people consider as the archetypical midrangey color combination. Indeed, before Shardless Agent was printed, traditional Jund was perhaps the most powerful “classical” midrange deck within the format. Like Shardless, it too obtained the benefits that Return to Ravnica added with Deathrite Shaman and Abrupt Decay. However, without Force of Will the deck remained incredibly prone to combo, especially since discard lines up somewhat poorly with Storm’s engine of Past in Flames. Shardless BUG’s suite of Brainstorm, Ancestral Visions, and Jace, the Mind Sculptor meant that it had a more consistent engine of card advantage and selection.

However . . . Jund place two slots at the recent Legacy Classic in Syracuse! Obviously the deck still has some chops!

Almost all traditional Jund lists incorporate the Punshing Grove combo to ensure it can dominate against fair creature-based decks in Legacy, which is certainly a powerful tool over Shardless BUG. Against Death & Taxes, for example, Shardless can be quickly crippled due to its fragile manabase and clunky answers. Jund can simply Punishing Fire away all the white weenies, making that matchup quite easy. It also gets to run Lightning Bolt, giving Jund more of an aggressive leaning than its midrange peers. Kolaghan's Command is also a very nice addition to some lists, with all of modes being quite relevant in Legacy.

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The deck runs the typical core of black-green creatures (Deathrite, Tarmogoyf), but also runs Dark Confidant, which is very nice in a deck that has a much leaner curve (thanks to Force’s absence) and makes up for Jund’s comparative lack of card draw. Bloodbraid Elf is also one of the deck’s premier threats that provides both card advantage and an excellent body that can take down Jace, the Mind Sculptors very easily. Liliana of the Veil supplements the rest of the threats by being one of the most threatening planeswalkers to accelerate out.

The above lists have a few pieces of spice in their sideboards. Chains of Mephistopheles is a very hateful enchantment that essentially makes cantrips awful (this flowchart edition is handy) and has typically been a staple in Jund sideboards to fight against blue decks and critical mass combo decks. Joey Sacino also found room for a Liliana, the Last Hope in his sideboard, which I’m sure is excellent in many of the fair matchups, particularly ones with small creatures that are prone to her plus ability.

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The other midrange deck that found success within the Top 16 of the Syracuse Classic was good ol’ Maverick.



You can find a great outline of what the deck is about in this video from GatheringMagic.com:
 

Although a bit dated, the video outlines what the deck is, an aggro-midrange green-white good stuff deck with mana dorks for acceleration, some disruptive creatures to beat combo, and a powerful tutor engine thanks to Green Sun's Zenith.

I outlined Punishing Maverick by Meritt Elasmri a few weeks ago but more common is something like what Karim Badruin brought to Syracuse, commonly known as Dark Maverick due to the splash of black for Abrupt Decay and Deathrite Shaman activations, as well as some powerful sweepers such as Zealous Persecution in the sideboard and disruption in the form of Thoughtseize.

Probably the coolest addition to this list is Thalia, Heretic Cathar.

Being able to accelerate out the new Thalia on turn two thanks to mana dorks is certainly impressive. Maverick also gets to abuse Wasteland’s strengths to further the power of Heretic Cathar’s mana denial. Not to mention her Imposing Sovereign ability is very threatening once a huge Knight of the Reliquary is staring you down.

Green Sun's Zenith is also the lynchpin of another deck within Legacy. Black-green at its core, Nic Fit is a huge family of decks that spans Jund, Junk, and BUG colour combinations. The deck aims to abuse the fact that many Legacy decks have little, if any, basic lands. With Cabal Therapy, Veteran Explorer can be sacrificed to give the Nic Fit player a burst of mana, allowing for the casting of giant bombey creatures. The deck is also rounded out with Pernicious Deed, which can act as an excellent Plague Wind due to most of the deck’s creature having a very high converted mana cost. Recurring Nightmare is also a common value engine found in the deck.

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Where the heck does the name of the deck come from though? Is it because all the synergy is a “nice fit?" Or is it because this sweet Sonic Youth song? Who knows.

Two weeks ago I had a look at a Jund edition of the deck that abused Burning Wish and Scapeshift, but more traditional midrange shells are also viable, particularly with the Punishing Grove engine.

This list plays similar to the Punishing Jund lists but with a greater ability to go over the top. If you haven’t noticed, Nic Fit is typically where creatures of bygone Standard eras find their resting place. Here we see Broodmate Dragon, Thragtusk, and Huntmaster of the Fells. Liliana, Heretical Healer is also a really cool addition since the deck features of a lot of dying creatures between the Therapies and Pernicious Deeds.

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Speaking of Standard all-stars, all these lands coming into play certainly makes Tireless tracker go up in lot value!

 

Even more than the last, this list is flush with bountiful amounts of removal and card advantage, along with some moderate bombs such as Thragtusk and Garruk Relentless. Interesting is the light splash of white for sideboard hatebears, as well as main deck Gaddock Teeg.

Another direction to take the deck is to add (instead of Green Sun's Zenith) the banned Modern value machine of Birthing Pod.

Typically, these lists gravitate toward the BUG colour combination, as Baleful Strix is an excellent value creature for Birthing Pod, and cards such as Glen Elendra Archmage and Sower of Temptation are excellent in certain combo matchups

Maybe Pod is no longer needed? Eldritch Moon added Eldritch Evolution to Modern Kiki-Chord lists, and it has also found a place in this Legacy Junk Nic Fit list, and certainly looks like an interesting direction take.

Also very cool in this list is Academy Rector, who can find many game-breaking silver bullets once Evolutioned, Therapied, or Podded away. Also, holy Yosei, the Morning Star?!


Reader u/volrathxp has you covered with his Junk Nic Fit list.



Similar to the Punishing Nic Fit lists, this deck aims to not durdle around with cute synergy engines like Pod or Burning Wish, but instead crush fair decks into the ground with the power of Siege Rhino.

There’s also a lot of cool things going on. Path to Exile is superior to Swords to Plowshares since your opponent has probably fetched out all their basics with the Explorer trigger, and Painful Truths looks like a nice card advantage engine for this deck since tapping out for a typically clunky three-mana spell is no problem when you have so many lands already. Sorin, Grim Nemesis is also a sweet addition. Flip a Dragonlord Dromoka to deal six to the face? Yes please!

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our foray into some of the crazy midrange shenanigans that occur within Legacy. Per usual, feel free to contact me below, especially if you have some interesting technology you’d like me to feature!

‘Til next time,

Sean Brown

Email: sean_brown156@hotmail.com
Reddit: ChemicalBurns156
Twitter: @Sean_Brown156

What I’m Playing This Week

Although I’m not exactly sure I’ll be trying this, I’ve definitely been brewing a little bit after seeing the success of a Blue & Taxes list found at one of the AZMagic tournaments.

Spell Queller looks potentially powerful in a shell like this, though the only problem I have with this list is it lack nice beatsticks like Mirran Crusader. I guess it has more of a tempo flavour with all the fliers and Reflector Mage.

The Spice Corner

I thought you would’ve had enough spice for today after going through all those Nic Fit lists. Nonetheless this one is an oldy, but a goody, that placed a few months ago:

This is actually similar to something Reid Duke went with at GP Providence in 2011 (find his report here). In a new world where there are plentiful answers to Progenitus (heck, you can cast your mini-Progenitus for 1UU these days) the deck looks a bit antiquated, but I’m sure Richard still gave his opponent a few “gotcha!” moments.


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