Working with Jund – The Sideboard

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By Byron King
@DoneTheMath

 

I’ve never been a fan of sideboard guides.  Usually, the writer uses the sideboard from their most recent event and gives a list of what should come in and out.  I don’t know what event you will be playing in next, and I don’t know how long from now it will be.  Humans might be a huge deck for the tournament next week, but a strong showing will make it a worse choice for the following few weeks.  You’ll need to decide what to focus on for sideboard cards.
 
Instead of a sideboard guide, I’m going to go over which cards are bad in a stock Jund list against several popular decks.  I’ll leave it to you to decide what you want to prepare for.
 

Jund

2nd Place – GP Phoenix 2018 – Pierson Laughlin
 
4 Dark Confidant
4 Tarmogoyf
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Bloodbraid Elf
4 Inquisition of Kozilek
3 Lightning Bolt
3 Fatal Push
2 Thoughtseize
1 Abrupt Decay
4 Liliana of the Veil
1 Liliana, the Last Hope
1 Kolaghan’s Command
1 Maelstrom Pulse
 
2 Swamp
1 Forest
1 Blood Crypt
2 Overgrown Tomb
1 Stomping Ground
4 Blackcleave Cliffs
3 Raging Ravine
2 Treetop Village
4 Verdant Catacombs
4 Bloodstained Mire
1 Wooded Foothills

Jund

Most games, Jund mirrors are all about grinding out card advantage.  Using Lilianas, Kolaghan’s Commands, and Dark Confidants to trade for more than one card from the opponent is the name of the game.  There are some exceptions, particularly discard into a Tarmogoyf or two.  Those games can just snowball into a quick win, so it’s impossible to just ignore combat.  That means that Jund really doesn’t change the game plan after game one.

Boarding

High priority to remove

 

Medium priority to remove

Lightning Bolt

 

Low priority to remove

Maelstrom Pulse

 

Lightning Bolt doesn’t do a good job killing much in the mirror.  Dark Confidant is a great target, but the options dwindle quickly afterward.  Bloodbraid Elf dies to Bolt, but it always comes with a friend.  Scavenging Ooze and Raging Ravine are vulnerable without counters.  Overall, there tend to be better (more versatile) cards to board in over Lightning Bolt.

Maelstrom Pulse is a little risky, since you can lose your own permanents too.  Realistically, you can play around that downside without much work.

Some people have suggested boarding out a Dark Confidant on the draw.  I don’t think I’m a fan, even if Liliana, the Last Hope increases the number of ways to kill it.  Dark Confidant should just run away with the game if it sticks around, so I’m still keeping in the full set.

 

Excellent sideboard options

Hazoret the Fervent, Liliana, the Last Hope

 

 

Humans

You need to kill lots of things against Humans, so removal spells are a priority.  Having a good mix of removal spells is important, since Meddling Mage can decimate your hand otherwise.  The cheaper removal is better, since both Champion of the Parish and Noble Hierarch are extremely dangerous.  Thalia, Guardian of Thraben can quickly start to tax your mana, making the expensive cards even harder to cast.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

 

Medium priority to remove

Liliana of the Veil, Thoughtseize

 

Low priority to remove

Maelstrom Pulse, Kolaghan’s Command

 

Liliana has a tough time tagging creatures that matter.  Thalia, Guardian of Thraben keeps it locked away for an additional turn, and there is usually a random Noble Hierarch or Reflector Mage to sacrifice before any important creatures are vulnerable.

Thoughtseize is only good on the first few turns, but there are usually better sideboard options available.  Aether Vial and Noble Hierarch accelerate Human’s ability to dump their hand, so Thoughtseize quickly loses targets.  If it is a Collected Company variant, I’m more interested in keeping Thoughtseize over an Inquisition or two.

Maelstrom Pulse and Kolaghan’s Command are both fine but unexciting cards against Humans.  They are expensive and usually only hit one card that matters.  Maelstrom Pulse is significantly better than Kolaghan’s Command, but they can both come out if you have additional removal spells to sideboard in.

 

Excellent sideboard options

Anger of the Gods, Damnation, Human Frailty (don’t do this)

 

 

Affinity

Like Humans, the goal is to kill all the things.  Affinity dumps its hand extremely fast, but only a few of the cards played actually matter.  They can have all the Ornithopters in the world, as long as you can keep them off their payoff cards.  Arcbound Ravager, Cranial Plating, Master of Etherium, Etched Champion, and Steel Overseer are the cards that matter.

Prioritize using sorcery speed removal first.  The creature lands in Affinity can steal games if you don’t keep ways to kill them.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

Thoughtseize

 

Medium priority to remove

Inquisition of Kozilek

 

Low priority to remove

Liliana of the Veil

 

Hand disruption is pretty awful against Affinity.  The best affinity hands result in an empty hand within the first couple turns, making hand disruption awful.  On the play, you can still do some work.  Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas is the only potential sideboard card that Thoughtseize could hit, and the life loss is significant.  Thoughtseize has to go.  Inquisition of Kozilek is less awful, but not much.  If you don’t have sufficient answers to Etched Champion, you might need to keep some hand disruption and hope to get lucky.

Liliana of the Veil is also pretty bad, but it is the only answer to a resolved Etched Champion.  I always board out some number of copies, but it is difficult to have enough sideboard cards to remove everything that needs to come out.

 

Excellent sideboard options

Ancient Grudge, Kozilek’s Return, Night of Soul’s Betrayal

 

 

Death’s Shadow

Most versions of Death’s Shadow play out similarly to the mirror.  Hand disruption stripping both player’s hands is common, and that leads to grindy games.  Jund has better cards for a grindy game, but Death’s Shadow runs less lands meaning they will draw more spells over the course of a game.  Death’s Shadow can also just steal a game with a quick, giant Death’s Shadow.  Be careful about early aggression as the Jund player.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

 

Medium priority to remove

Lightning Bolt

 

Low priority to remove

 

Like Jund, Lightning Bolt has very few targets.  I would always board them out for game two.  If the opponent is reckless with their life total, I might board one or two back in for game three.  That will really just depend on how many cards are waiting in the sideboard to bring in.

Excellent sideboard options

Liliana, the Last Hope, Hazoret the Fervent

 

 

Burn

Burn used to be a horrific matchup for Jund.  Particularly in the era without Bloodbraid Elf, applying enough pressure to kill before Burn assembled lethal damage was nearly impossible.  Collective Brutality has helped a lot.  Burn earning a place as a respected Modern deck has also helped, since players are more likely to bring actual hate cards.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

Thoughtseize, Liliana, the Last Hope, Dark Confidant

 

Medium priority to remove

Maelstrom Pulse, Kolaghan’s Command

 

Low priority to remove

Liliana of the Veil

 

Thoughtseize is pretty close to a free card for Burn, so it absolutely has to go.  Liliana, the Last Hope can’t kill any of Burn’s creatures except for the occasional Grim Lavamancer, so it needs to go.  Dark Confidant is pretty subpar, so it needs to hit the bench too.  I can imagine leaving some in, but it’s probably too risky.

Maelstrom Pulse and Kolaghan’s Command are both pretty slow.  Burn doesn’t play creatures that cost more than two, so these removal spells will always be a loss of tempo.  Liliana of the Veil is similar, but she is a little better.  She can be a proactive removal spell for Eidolon of the Great Revel to avoid taking some damage.  On the play, she can also come down early enough to eat a few burn spells out of the opponent’s hand.  Be conservative if you are using the discard ability on Liliana.  You likely need most of your spells and lands to deploy fast enough.  Be sure to track how many lands the opponent is playing.  If you get a read that they have more in their hand, you might want to avoid using Liliana for a turn.

 

Excellent sideboard options

Collective Brutality, Kitchen Finks, Feed the Clan

 

 

Hollow One

You can’t do a whole lot against this deck’s nut draw, but that’s true for everybody.  Hand disruption on the first turn can often neuter their hand, so you’re banking on that.  Most of your removal doesn’t line up well here, particularly the cheap stuff.  You mostly want to make room for whatever graveyard hate you have.  A small amount of artifact destruction is good too, since nutty Hollow One openings are the biggest danger here.  Ancient Grudge is particularly strong, since it is resilient to Burning Inquiry and Goblin Lore.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

 

Medium priority to remove

Fatal Push, Lightning Bolt, Liliana of the Veil

 

Low priority to remove

Abrupt Decay

 

Fatal Push and Lightning Bolt can kill Flameblade Adept.  After that, they kill a bunch of things that don’t actually stay dead.  I’d remove as many as possible from the deck.  Liliana of the Veil is similar, but she has the chance to tag a Hollow One to discard instead.  Show extreme caution when activating the discard ability on Liliana of the Veil.

Abrupt Decay is strictly worse than Fatal Push and Lightning Bolt if you are just killing creatures.  It has the chance to hit a Blood Moon, so I’d probably leave it in if I wasn’t sure.  If you know they don’t have Blood Moon, I’d take it out.

 

Excellent sideboard options

Nihil Spellbomb, Leyline of the Void, Grafdigger’s Cage, Surgical Extraction, Ancient Grudge

 

Tron

This matchup is pretty awful, and there isn’t much you can do about it.  You have fairly even odds to disrupt whatever their first big spell is, either through Thoughtseizing it or disrupting their development.  Unfortunately, they usually find something else before you can finish the game.  Jund traditionally has a ton of bad cards in the matchup, and it is difficult to fix all the problems in sideboarding.

A realistic plan for Tron is to avoid sideboard cards for it and hope to just dodge the paring.  If you expect a lot of Tron at your tournament, Jund is not the right deck.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

Fatal Push

 

Medium priority to remove

Lightning Bolt

 

Low priority to remove

Liliana, the Last Hope

 

Fatal Push is horrendous, and it needs to come out immediately.  Lightning Bolt is better, but not by much.  Bolt can help finish off a Karn Liberated and can still go to the face.

Liliana, the Last Hope is terrible at face value.  If your sideboard plan involves Fulminator Mage, Liliana, the Last Hope should probably stay in.  Recurring it, even at a fairly high mana cost, is worth it.

 

Excellent sideboard options

Fulminator Mage, Crumble to Dust, Surgical Extraction (if you have enough land destruction), Ancient Grudge

 

 

U/W Control

Prepare for some long games against control.  It is safe to assume you can’t punch a hole with hand disruption long enough to steal a fast win.  With that assumption, you should focus on taking the most impactful cards with hand disruption instead of using it to force through threats.  Planeswalkers, Cryptic Command, and Search for Azcanta need to go if possible.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

Lightning Bolt, Fatal Push

 

Medium priority to remove

 

 

Low priority to remove

 

The one mana removal spells are all pretty bad here.  Snapcaster Mage and Celestial Colonnade are the only normal targets, and they often won’t be available until after you’ve gone to work with a Liliana of the Veil.  Both work on Snapcaster Mage, Fatal Push works on Colonnade, and Lightning Bolt works on Jace, the Mind Sculptor.  If you need to leave some of these in, decide which your sideboarding plan is weaker to.  Make sure to check your sideboard between games two and three.  U/W Control has a wide variety of options for sideboarding, and you want to make sure to have answers for whatever their plans are.

 

Excellent sideboard options

Hazoret the Fervent, Liliana, the Last Hope, Thrun, the Last Troll, Chandra, Torch of Defiance

 

 

U/R Storm

Storm should be a fairly good matchup for Jund.  Hand disruption should slow them down a turn or two, and Jund has a fast enough clock to capitalize on that.  Be sure to kill Goblin Electromancer or Baral, Chief of Compliance if they come down on turn two.  Liliana of the Veil is great, but they can still win with Past in Flames.  Don’t rely solely on her to win the game, you need a creature dealing damage early on.

 

Boarding

High priority to remove

Liliana, the Last Hope, Kolaghan’s Command

 

Medium priority to remove

Fatal Push

 

Low priority to remove

 

Liliana, the Last Hope doesn’t do anything relevant in the matchup, so she needs to go.  Kolaghan’s Command is slow and doesn’t kill Baral, Chief of Compliance.  I would probably shave a copy or two of Fatal Push, since you have a little more removal than you need.  Maelstrom Pulse and Abrupt Decay can kill a potential Blood Moon, and Lightning Bolt can always hit the opponent.

Excellent sideboard options

Grafdigger’s Cage, Surgical Extraction, Collective Brutality, Thorn of Amethyst

 

 

That covers several of the most popular decks in Modern.  If you have questions about a specific matchup, feel free to leave me a comment or find me on Twitter.  If you disagree with any of my assessments, I’d also like to hear about it.  Happy cascading!

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