The Power of Three

Posted in Reconstructed on March 18, 2014

By Gavin Verhey

When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he dreamt of a job making Magic cards—and now as a Magic designer, he's living his dream! Gavin has been writing about Magic since 2005.

Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about building mana bases—and then challenged all of you to put this knowledge into action and send me your best decks of three (or more) colors. And what a sight! This colorful smorgasbord made for a nice break from several of the more devotion-heavy decks that have risen in popularity recently.

A lot of the decks were more midrange or control focused, which makes sense: those are the decks where three-color mana bases are a bit easier to make work, since you have more time to develop them. (Be sure to check out the honorable mentions at the end of the article for some of the most interesting ones!)

However, a few intrepid players took this challenge and sent in some rather aggressive decks—and that category is where today's deck comes from!

Let's take a look:

Kai DB's Jund Blitz

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    The Battle Plan

If you want to put on a lot of pressure quickly, this is a deck for you.

Let's say you lead off on with Rakdos Cackler on the play—a solid card, to be sure, but something your opponent has certainly seen before and is mentally prepared for. Next, let's say that your opponent has the audacity to do so much as put a scry land onto the battlefield tapped.

Spike Jester. Take 5.

Attacking for 5 on turn two! There aren't a lot of people ready to defend themselves against that. If your opponent does so much as play another scry land on the next turn, and pass, your opponent is already halfway dead.

Right now, this deck is kind of in the middle between midrange and hyper aggressive, and there are two primary ways I would want to take this decklist: one is to go larger with cards like Kalonian Hydra and Polukranos, World Eater to partner with their buddy Exava, and the second is to go as aggressive as possible. I already did the first one back when Magic 2014 came out, so let's explore the second!

The key is to streamline this deck and keep the damage output high, while also building in enough answers to cards that could stop it in its tracks. With the rising popularity of cards like Courser of Kruphix and Brimaz, King of Oreskos, combined with the already-prevalent Polukranos, answering creatures with 4+ toughness is going to be crucial to victory.

Let's get started, shall we?

    Deck Breakdown

What can stay and what can be struck from the decklist? Let's go through each card and discuss which ones should stick around!

One-drops are absolutely key to any hyper-aggressive deck, and this deck is no exception. So, which ones does this deck want to play?

Well, the bar for a one-drop to enter consideration is whether it has 2 power. You really want to maximize your damage output, and the second point of power does so much in that realm. So Rakdos Cackler: good. Slitherhead: not so much. While being able to add a counter to anything is nice, I would rather just have 1 extra base power almost every time.

So, what else makes it at one mana?

Well, the next creature I'd like to add is Experiment One. While it's true that the Experiment only has 1 base power, provided you have any (non-Experiment One) follow-up creature the next turn it'll grow in size to 2/2. And, very importantly, it has the potential to grow to be a 3/3—which means it can attack through a pesky Sylvan Caryatid.

The other card I'd like to look at is Firedrinker Satyr. This guy can also bust through Caryatids, and while I still want to keep four copies of Cackler because of its flexibility on the mana, Cackler's primary weakness is that Caryatid is a second-turn roadblock.

As far as other one-drops go, the last one I'd want to add is Thoughtseize. Yes, it's a bit trite—but it's good for a reason, and especially in a deck that needs to cut people off of cards that will stop you early, it's going to do good work. (It even fits the metric of causing 2 points of life loss for one mana—hey, I never said it had to be about dealing damage to your opponent.)

[card]Firedrinker Satyr[/card]

My expectation is I'm going to want about nine or ten one-drop creatures or so. Cackler I want because it helps fix some of the draws in my three-color mana base, and I don't want to draw a hand of all Experiment Ones, so the split I like the most is four Cacklers, three Experiments, two Satyrs, and a partridge in a pear tree. (As well as three Thoughtseize to complement them all.)

Yes please! This two-drop is exactly what I want to play on the second turn of most games with this deck. It hits hard and quickly puts your opponent behind—I'm keeping all four.

Burning-Tree Emissary is a very strong beatdown card that can create some explosive draws—exactly what this deck aims to do. It is a bit awkward with Spike Jester, but, even then, it's not like they won't both still end up on the battlefield within a turn of each other: you can either play Spike Jester and attack, then cast Burning-Tree next turn, or play Burning-Tree with something else and follow it up with a Jester. It's still going to be perfectly fine.

Even if you're just casting one-drop creatures with the Emissary, you can still use it to easily present 6 or more power going into turn three. With that said, some additional two-drops that the Emissary could lead into is definitely something that would enhance this deck—and fortunately, I have just the card: Gore-House Chainwalker. Not only does it present 3 power for two mana (and help kick up your Experiment Ones) but it's a great card for the Emissary to chain into. I'd like four each of Emissary and Chainwalker.

[card]Dreg Mangler[/card]

These two fill very similar spots, being three-drops that promise good bodies and, potentially, haste. However, I only really have five spots available for these three-drops—so I'm going to have to make a choice of how many of each I want.

Dreg Mangler is the consistent one. You know what you're getting there: a 3/3 haste with scavenge. This deck isn't really going to scavenge it that much, but it's still an option if you start flooding on mana in the midgame.

The Fanatic is the more mysterious one. This newcomer gives your opponent control over the outcome. On one hand, it's guaranteed to punch through Courser of Kruphix (for at least one turn) with its 4 power. On the other, if your opponent is holding a Supreme Verdict, you're just missing out on 3 damage that the Mangler would have hit for.

It's close enough and matchup dependent enough that I'm going to go with a three/two split. I'd rather have the Fanatic against midrange decks, but the Mangler against control. Considering the prevalence of Mono-Black Control, I'm going to split it in Mangler's favor, but you could definitely adjust it based on your local metagame.

Getting a blocker out of the way is precisely what this deck wants to do. Firefist Striker is fantastic when it turns on—but if it's turning on, you're attacking with three creatures, which means you're already in all right shape. It's hard to justify playing Striker in this deck over something that's consistently powerful, like Gore-House Chainwalker. The Striker has too many strikes against it; it's getting cut.

A four-mana 4/4 hasty first striker who grants abilities to some of your creatures is certainly nothing to overlook. I love playing with Exava in my more aggressive decks. However, this deck is just so low-curve that Exava doesn't fit as well as she could otherwise. Additionally, she matches up very poorly to creatures like Polukranos.

Rather than Exava, a card I'd really like to have is Ghor-Clan Rampager. This card busts right through Courser of Kruphix, Sylvan Caryatid, Polukranos, and more. What's more, merely having it in your deck will help push your creatures through because of your opponent's fear that you might have it. I actually would like the full four Rampagers: it's a key piece to beating the midrange decks and also is a fantastic bit of reach to finish off the game.

I can certainly appreciate a one-of Scavenging Ooze. The premise, of course, is that with just one you're most likely to draw it after a bunch of creatures have died—meaning it can grow rather large.

Normally, I'd be for it, but this deck is packed tight and isn't playing many excess lands in the first place, meaning that Ooze isn't going to grow that quickly late game, anyway. It's definitely a card I would want to sideboard for creature mirrors, but I'm taking it out of the main deck.

This is the deck's removal suite. The key to me for removal in this deck is being able to remove 4- and 5-toughness creatures, killing off Blood Baron of Vizkopa, and being cheap and efficient.

Hero's Downfall, while highly efficient, is a little more expensive to cast than I'd like. On turn three, I'd love to fire off a removal spell and still have a mana left over for a one-drop, or to play a tapped land. While Hero's Downfall can hit Planeswalkers, Ghor-Clan Rampager plays a good role at letting your creatures finish off cards like Elspeth. (Keep in mind: Rampager will fairly often act as a pseudo-removal spell since the opponent needs to block early to not die.)

Abrupt Decay, while hitting Courser, doesn't deal with Polukranos, Stormbreath Dragon, Blood Baron, or many other cards, so I'd ideally like something else. Golgari Charm is a nice sideboard card, but any removal spells this deck plays just wants to push creatures off the board so it can keep attacking, and Golgari Charm's -1/-1 mode isn't quite good for that.

The two removal spells I'd like to play are Ultimate Price and Mizzium Mortars. Monocolored creatures are pretty predominant in Standard right now, and Price kills all the ones this deck really wants to finish off. Mortars catches a lot of the ones Price doesn't, like Blood Baron or Fleecemane Lion. While I'd love to play Lightning Strike, dealing 4 damage is crucial enough to me that I'd rather have Price and Mortars.

[card]Ultimate Price[/card]

Between Price, Mortars, Rampager, and Thoughtseize, this deck should be able to keep opponents out of options without having to spend a lot of mana to do so. Efficient cards like these is what hyper-aggressive decks are always on the hunt for.

With all of those changes made, that brings the final decklist to:

Gavin Verhey's HyperJund

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This three-color deck hits hard. It's the kind of archetype that can end games in just a few turns: if your opponent has a bad draw, this deck will punish him or her for it.

Fair warning that you will be doing a lot of damage to yourself with putting shocklands onto the battlefield untapped and Thoughtseizeing, but in a lot of matchups, if your life total starts mattering you're in a bad spot anyway. (And against decks like burn, where it does matter, you might just want to be careful with your lands and play a little slower if you still have reasonable options.)

If you're looking to build a sideboard, I'd definitely consider Scavenging Ooze, Golgari Charm, the fourth Thoughtseize, and more removal spells to start. Dark Betrayal is a card you could certainly consider to help fight black creature mirrors—although if Blood Baron is popular, you may just want more Mortars. After that, adjust for your local metagame.

Have fun!

    Honorable Mentions

There were a lot of great decks sent in this week. If you're looking for multicolored inspiration, take a look below!

Mark Ian Alloso's Naya Midrange

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Akinori's Bant Planeswalker Control

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Rob H's BorBor Surprise

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Graciaman's RUG Monsters

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Andrew McLaren's RWU Control Superfriends

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Rob O'Brien's Countless Battles

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Cody Foss's Jund Midrange

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Andrew Glenn's Naya Auras

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Sloths's RUG Follower

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Michael Callahan's Junk Jank

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Peter's RWU Hidden Strings Heroes

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Bryan Sanders's Bant Hexproof

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Qoarl's Whipped Æther

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    Breaking from the Blitz

I hope you enjoyed today's take on Jund! If you're been looking for a really quick and brutal deck to play in Standard, this is definitely one I'd take a look at.

There's no challenge for this week; I have plans to write about something else in two weeks. But in the meantime, if you have any thoughts on this article, more general topics you'd like to see covered, or otherwise, feel free to let me know—I always love to read your feedback. You can either post in the forums or send me a tweet and I'll be sure to take a look at it.

I'll be back next week with a look at Modern! This format has had a lot of spotlight shone at it recently, and I'm excited to reveal some of the cool decks that were sent in. If you play Modern, you definitely won't want to miss it.

Talk with you again next week!



Gavin VerheyGavin Verhey
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When Gavin Verhey was eleven, he wanted a job making Magic cards. Ten years later, his dream was realized as his combined success as a professional player, deck builder, and writer brought him into Wizards Ramp;D during 2011. He's been writing Magic articles since 2005 and has no plans to stop.

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