Deck Tech: Jund with Sam Black

Posted in Event Coverage on June 25, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

Part control. Part ramp. Part “combo.” All value.

Sam Black's Jund deck for Grand Prix Pittsburgh.

While he admits that playing a Standard format on the verge of a shakeup with Eldritch Moon isn't exactly a fertile ground for deck-brewing, Black nonetheless showed up to the Steel City with a concoction that may not be brand new but nonetheless stands out amongst the field.

After all, what else could you expect when Black is casting Dragonlord Atarka?

While most players are pairing green with white for access to Gideon, Ally of Zendikar along with Declaration in Stone, other players are pairing that white with black for a plethora of removal to go along with Read the Bones and Languish. Black's deck does almost all of the above, taking the best of both worlds and putting it into a control shell that plays a control game even as it ramps to its top end with Nissa's Pilgrimage, Explosive Vegetation and even Nissa's Removal.

And what a top end it is. Dragonlord Atarka — the deck's only red card — is joined by World Breaker, Woodland Bellower and all the way up to Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

Tenth-ranked Sam Black may not be playing the tournament’s most popular deck, but he did find plenty of success with his innovative Jund build.

“I want to go over the top of my opponents, and dragons that are good against planeswalkers are the best way to do that,” said Black, who had spent some time testing with Dragonlord Silumgar before the tournament. “Silumgar is good, but Atarka is a lot more reliable because even if they kill it you always got an Atarka's worth of value.”

The Atarka may be the headliner, but it's really just one of several cards great in specific situations. The deck works toward the late game with the early start of Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker, accelerates into that endgame with ramp and removal, takes over the game with Dragonlord Atarka, World Breaker or Woodland Bellower, and ties all its bombs together with Dark Petition. Or, as Black put it, “a six-mana Languish.”

With green-white and Bant variants dominating the room in Pittsburgh, Black knew he needed a good reason to play a different deck, and believes the innovative Jund deck is that reason.

“I think this is well-positioned against the green-white decks,” Black explained. “So much of this format is about being ahead on board. I have the same answers the black-white deck has, but we can also get ahead on board with Sylvan Advocate and Tireless Tracker. And this deck doesn't have to kill the planeswalkers immediately because you can hold off tokens with a Sylvan Advocate for a few turns before you deal with it.”

Sam Black's Jund

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