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One of the best parts about Magic is travelling with friends. I know many pros and amateurs have written about this as a key aspect of the game but it still bears repeating. As someone who has traveled many a mile to events by himself, I will tell you, it’s so much more fun to be able to go with a group of your friends. Travelling by yourself can be enjoyable as well so if you can’t find someone to go with, make the trek by yourself. You don’t have to rely on anyone else and if the event doesn’t go your way, you can leave whenever you want.

Recently, my friends and I traveled to SCG Cincinnati for one of the first Standard events of the new season. The beginning of the season is always my favorite time to brew and my friends did their best brewing as well. If you want to read my tales from the event, you can find them here. I may be updating the Zoo deck I played, or trying something else out, but that version is quite powerful and still good in the metagame. For today, I wanted to talk about the two decks my friends played at the event because they are interesting, unique, and still well positioned.

Deck #1: Junk Aggro
By 2grimm4u on Twitter

As you can tell, this is not your typical Junk deck. First of all, there are no tokens, reanimation spells, and certainly no ramping going on. Calling this your typical Junk deck would be like calling the movie Thor a romantic comedy. Sure, there are funny parts and there definitely is a love story going on during the plot, but it is by no means a romantic comedy. Same thing applies here with the deck title. When I was talking about this deck and making suggestions about it, my first thought was to add Thragtusk. This was because I did not understand the goal of the deck, to be as aggressive and disruptive to the opponent as possible.

This idea of deck identity is lost in deck construction sometimes. Make sure you have a reason you are playing every card in your deck. If someone looks at the deck and asks why a given card is in the list, make sure you can defend its inclusion.

There are definitely a lot of things this deck has going for it but some weaknesses as well. Here are the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • The deck is very aggressive, almost as fast as Naya Blitz (Zoo).
  • The removal this deck can play is powerful and unparalleled.
  • Because the removal is so good, the deck matches up well against Boros Reckoner. Most aggressive decks cannot make such a claim.
  • Rogue decks are always unexpected and your opponent will not know what cards you are playing.

Cons:

  • Because there is so much targeted removal, you may have dead cards game one against a control deck.
  • Since this is not the fastest deck, nor the most resilient, midrange decks can go over the top of you more easily. This doesn’t necessarily mean you lose but you have a much harder time doing so.
  • With many of your creatures unable to block, if you fall behind, it is difficult to catch up.

Overall, the pros seem greater than the cons. Abrupt Decay plus Orzhov Charm seems like the dynamic killing duo, ready to deal with almost any situation. If you are looking for a different type of aggro deck, this may be just what you are looking for.

Deck #2: Holy Jund
By joshuamilliken on Twitter

If I say Jund is the best deck right now, you probably know I'm referring to the midrange control Jund deck, but it never hurts to mention it again. The deck has been posting great numbers since the addition of Arbor Elf when Gatecrash entered the format. Anytime a deck becomes the best, if you are playing it you should start thinking about how to combat the mirror. Adding white was the solution in this instance. The white gives you cards like Lingering Souls, a couple different charms, Aurelias Fury, and better sideboard cards.

Pros:

  • The whole purpose of playing this deck is a mirror match in your favor.
  • Great matchups outside of the one it was built to beat.
  • Better late game than other midrange decks. Not better than all, but certainly no slouch.
  • Four colors offers a wide range of strong sideboard cards.
  • Rogue decks are always unexpected and your opponent will not know what cards you are playing.

Cons:

  • A four-color manabase plus two Kessig Wolf Runs seems extremely greedy.
  • Possibility of more mulligans based on the mana base.
  • When you are metagaming against the best deck, often other people are as well. In this case I have found there is a high variance when two alternate versions must play each other. Often this goes poorly for you.
  • With access to so many cards due to playing four colors, choosing which ones make the final cut can be difficult. Any wrong decision could cause losses.

Overall, I like this deck because of how many players are bringing similar Jund decks to events. Gaining a huge edge in the mirror while not diluting your deck in other matchups is a tough thing to pull off. If you want to play this deck, you should put in more than your normal amount of testing because it is more skill-intensive to play. If you have been playing the other Jund control deck, you should be able to adapt fairly quickly though. Jund is powerful all on its own with or without the white mana, but make sure you have a plan for the mirror.

Tournament Tips: Sideboarding

Magic is always changing. As is the way we play, build decks and approach formats. That means the way we sideboard should be changing as well. There are three main ways, in my opinion, to approach the creation of a sideboard. The first two are fairly typical approaches, whereas the third happens less often.

1. Upgrades –- The idea here is that each of your cards could be better served if you played a card with a more narrow application. A great example is Abrupt Decay. In Standard right now, this card does a ton of things, but in certain matchups it has few to no targets. In the case of an upgrade-centric sideboard, you might replace the Smother/Vindicate hybrid with something like Duress.

Another example would be Doom Blade vs. Go for the Throat or replacing Searing Spear with Negate. Red decks playing Reckless Waif in the sideboard. Clearly that is a solid creature, but it is best against control decks that don’t have many one- or two-mana plays. To sum up this concept, your focus is slightly improving the cards that are already in your deck.

2. Hosers –- With this type of sideboard, you are hoping your sideboard cards will win you the game by not allowing your opponent to do so. Cards like Leyline of Sanctity, Leyline of the Void and Rest in Peace are great examples. You see this more frequently in older formats with decks that attack from many different angles. Also, the hosers are more potent in the eternal formats. Rest in Peace or graveyard hate in general does see play in Standard right now, so this type of sideboard is not unlikely to be seen there as well.

3. Transformational –- This type of sideboard plan does not come up often but when it does, you can obtain a powerful advantage. At a variety of Modern events, I have seen players do some crazy things with this type of plan. One Storm player I saw boarded out most of the storm package in game two and boarded into Splinter Twin combo. Another example is bringing in a Gifts Ungiven package like four Gifts Ungiven, Iona, Shield of Emeria and Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite.

In Standard the only thing close to this strategy is a reanimator deck bringing in replacements for Unburial Rites and Mulch to allow them to turn into a midrange control deck.

If you are going to try out this sideboarding idea, do not be afraid to use up all fifteen cards in your sideboard to do so. The risk with this type of sideboard is that then you won’t have access to sideboard cards for specific matchups. If you do it right, you will not need them though.

No matter what you decide about your sideboard, make sure you have a plan you understand. Pros dislike giving sideboard guides because most players will take them as 100% fact rather than suggestions. You need to know what each card in your sideboard will be sided in for, and when. Otherwise don’t play the card.

Until Next Time,

Unleash the Force!

Mike Lanigan
MtgJedi on Twitter
Jedicouncilman23@gmail.com

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