Conflux: Jund Appetite for War Review (Part 2 of 2)
This is it- our final match for our Conflux reviews, and I am looking to go out on top with a with for Jund. Looking to stop me is Jimi, piloting Grixis Shambling Army. Against that much removal, I have my work cut out for me…
I’m on the play to being our playetest feature match, and lead with a Savage Lands– a promising start. Jimi drops a Swamp and perhaps overeagerly plays a Bone Saw. Next turn I use a Terramorphic Expanse to chase down a Mountain and deploy a Toxic Iguanar. Things appear to be going my way as Jimi’s turn is a blank.
Now turn 3, I attack for 1 with the Iguanar and add an Ember Weaver, who gets +1/+0 and first strike thanks to the Iguanar. Jimi, perhaps feeling on the back-foot, plays a Sedraxis Alchemist in the absence of a Blue permanent. Next turn I attack in with both beaters for 4, then follow up with a Tukatongue Thallid. Down to 15 life, Jimi gets her first attack off after she attaches the Saw to the Alchemist and goes into the red zone for 3.
She then blunts my turn-5 attack with an Agony Warp, neutering my Iguanar and killing the Weaver outright. The Thallid still gets in for 1. After counterattacking for another 3, she adds a second Sedraxis Alchemist to her board, now throwing away potential value in exchange for immediate gain. My turn 6 is a blank, and I hang back on defense. Jimi then Shocks my Iguanar, clearing the lands for a profitable 5-point attack with both Alchemists to leave me at 9 life. The tables have turned!
My turn 7 is a blank- I’ve been drawing nothing but land for a couple turns now- and Jimi presses her advantage. Attacking again with both Alchemists, I burn a Branching Bolt to kill the equipped one, taking only 2 damage from the unopposed one. I draw a Swamp on turn 8- no help at all. When Jimi equips the remaining Alchemist with the Bone Saw, I chump with the Thallid- a 3-point hit would leave me at 4 life, vulnerable to an Absorb Vis.
I draw another land on turn 9, but catch a break when Jimi tries to stick an Elder Mastery on her Alchemist and I’m holding a Fiery Fall. It clears her board, and next turn I play a Dragon Fodder to give me some more chump blocks. I needn’t bother- Jimi lands a Blood Tyrant, and it kills me on the first swing.
Jimi and I both lead with our speciality tri-lands, and I then drop a second-turn Dragon Fodder to lead things off. Jimi plays a Zombie Outlander. Next turn I add an Outlander of my own (a Goblin one), while Jimi plays the Bone Saw and equips it to hers, attacking for 3.
Now turn 4, I’ve missed my second land drop and happily basic landcycle a Fiery Fall to make up the difference. Unlike some of the others in the cycle (particularly Sylvan Bounty), this is a hard one to trade for a land but if I don’t I risk falling too far behind. I then attack with all three of my Goblins for 4 and pass. Jimi returns fire for 3, taking me to 14. Next turn I attack in again for 4, and Jimi blunts the assault by Shocking my Outlander. She only takes 2, and goes to 14. I then tap out to deploy a Sprouting Thrinax and Toxic Iguanar. Over to Jimi, her turn is a blank.
I attack with the Thrinax and Iguanar on turn 6, then add a Hellkite Hatchling for some presence in the air. I devour both of my 1/1 Goblin tokens to help keep it out of Agony Warp range, giving it flying and trample in the process. Down to 10 life, Jimi has an easy answer in a Sedraxis Alchemist, bouncing the Hatchling back to my hand. It’s not just a tempo play, but thanks to devour it’s also card advantage for her. It’s also the play that more or less breaks Jund’s back. She follows with a 3-point attack from her Outlander, which leaves me at 11.
Next turn I happily trade blows by sending in the Sprouting Thrinax, but when Jimi plays a turn-7 Grixis Slavedriver I realise my doom is at hand. A 5-point attack puts me at 6, and my next turn is a blank. When Jimi swings with the side on turn 8, I’m able to solve the Slavedriver with a Dark Temper (which is lethal thanks to the Thrinax), but not only does it give her a 2/2 Zombie token, but she simply summons a replacement. With my Iguanar having eaten a pre-combat Shock, it doesn’t take long for me to fall.
Once again I’m fortunate to open with a Savage Lands, while Jimi alas shares the same good fortune with a Crumbling Necropolis. Next turn I play a Dragon Fodder for an early pair of 1/1 Goblins. Jimi drops a Terramorphic Expanse, then cracks it to call forth an Island.
First blood is drawn on turn 3 as my Goblins scurry and scamper across the red zone unopposed, and I add an Ember Weaver behind them. Jimi finally gets her first creature of the game in a Kathari Screecher– a somewhat welcome sight on account of the Branching Bolt I have in hand. Next turn I attack in for 3 with the Weaver, taking Jimi to 15, and follow up with a Toxic Iguanar. For her part, Jimi adds a Bone Saw and equips it to the Screecher, swinging back for 3 of her own. She then deploys a Brackwater Elemental to shore up her defenses.
Still, by turn 5 I’ve hit all my land drops, and that lets me call forth the Voracious Dragon. Smarting from the damage dealt to me last game through the Hellkite Hatchling, I devour both Goblin tokens and send the resultant 4 points of damage at Jimi’s face. That way should I lose the Dragon, I’d still have gotten six-damage-worth of value off of the Dragon Fodder and won’t feel so bad about it. Down to 11 life, Jimi attacks in with the Screecher for 3 and passes.
Now turn 6, I send in the 6/6 Dragon to drop Jimi to 5 before deploying a Viashino Slaughtermaster. Jimi holds her forces back as she prepares to circle the wagons, but when I blast the Screecher out of the sky as a prelude to my attack, she has no way to stop the lethal damage coming through.
Thoughts & Analysis
Although it’s a flavour home-run for the shard, devour nevertheless is not without some substantial risk. In fairness, this risk was exacerbated by having Grixis Shambling Army as my opponent, given its strong complement of removal and bounce (which is brutally effective in its own right here). But without some way to make devour consistently pay off, its a weak strategy on the whole.
Primordial Jund, the deck’s predecessor from Shards of Alara, looked to offset this risk by employing cards that gave you some advantage above and beyond a +1/+1 counter you get for munching on your own critters. Cards like the Thorn-Thrash Viashino and Thunder-Thrash Elder gave you a bigger devour payoff, so while there was still a risk of getting two-for-oned (or worse), if you caught them without the removal you could steal a quick game. The Mycoloth helped replace what it ate (as well as set the table for more devouring) by giving you 1/1 Saproling tokens. This time around, the devour package just seems weaker. The Voracious Dragon definitely qualifies- the blast it can deliver can help offset your self-imposed losses- but beyond that all you have are a few devour 1 creatures- even if the Gluttonous Slime’s flash gives it some welcome versatility.
Offsetting that is a welcome amping up of burn power. Primordial Jund gave you only three direct-damage cards, a pair of Shocks and a Resounding Thunder. This was given a massive upgrade the second time through, with more than double the previous offerings. Although having the removal was certainly nice, it still didn’t seem to make up enough for the lack of power on the ground. Primordial Jund had some rather clever ways of getting in damage even when the red zone wasn’t a profitable place to be, with the Jund Battlemage and Hissing Iguanar. This time around, if you can’t get it done in combat with a few burn spells, it just isn’t going to happen.
Hits: Exceptional burn suite gives you a lot of range on the battlefield; very useful rares in the Voracious Dragon and Charnelhoard Wurm try to make up for some of deck’s shortcomings
Misses: Less value to the devour package when compared to the previous Jund deck makes playing this strategy more risky with less upside/payoff
OVERALL SCORE: 4.00/5.00