Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Price of Progress: Budget Jund

Modern is expensive to begin with. There is no doubt whatsoever about that. It is expensive to play, and worse yet, it is even more expensive to compete. A lot of sites on the internet will teach you how to play Jund, and do a much better job than I ever could. But this isn’t a guide for playing Jund, this is a guide for building Jund. I am going to try to walk you through the process of starting with a small investment and watching it grow.

Jund is no small part of the “pay to play” mentality that dominates the mindset of Modern players. Weighing in at a hefty $2100+ on TCGPlayer, Jund is the premium deck in the format. And for good reason. When you sit down at the table with Jund, no matter what comes out of your opponent’s deck box, you have about a 50/50 shot at winning. There are very few decks that Jund folds to (Shhh! Go into the light, Tron. Rest now). And as a result a lot of players sleeve it up for larger tournaments to try and make the top tables. Hardly a weekend goes by that the deck isn’t making Top 8 somewhere around the country.

And you want to feel a little of that power. If you are like me, you have a hard time justifying spending $2100 all at once to buy a deck just to compete in the format. That money puts a roof over my head, food in my belly, and makes a hell of a dent in those ever-amassing student loans. But you still want to Jund ‘Em Out. I get that. Which got me thinking, is it possible to put together a competitive Jund deck for less than $500?

I decided to set the bar at $500. That is a reasonable investment without going overboard. You can buy a new gaming console and a new-release game for that. But do with that information what you will. At the end of the article I have outlined and prioritized the cards that you need to complete Tier 1 Jund, so adjust to your own budget. Without further ado, here is the list:

Budget Jund
By Alex West

First and foremost, let me assure you there are probably better cards that can be used in a lot of these spots. However, I chose to walk a thin line. There are no cards over $5 that do not see at least some play in competitive Jund lists. The only things that you will buy over $5 that will not go into the final Jund list are the Khans fetches. More than likely your final Jund list will include three Bloodstained Mires and two Wooded Foothills. Purchasing these extra fetches are not necessary, but it is difficult to play a deck that makes use of the graveyard the way that this one does without eight fetchlands. Cards like Kitchen Finks are not essential to building Jund, but I highly recommend them. The price tag attached to Finks right now ($15 dollars?!) put it a little out of the “budget” range.

Card Choices


The instants and sorceries of Jund are key to the function of the deck. In prioritizing the budget, I tried to stay as close to the original spell package as possible. Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek are the best hand disruption available and recent reprints in Theros and Conspiracy 2 have brought the price tags of both down to manageable levels. Lightning Bolt is the creme de la creme of Modern removal and Terminate and Abrupt Decay are not far behind. All three of these are essential in handling any threat that the format can throw at you. Maelstrom Pulse, while expensive, earned a singleton spot in this budget build because of hard to remove permanents such as Blood Moon and Nahiri, the Harbinger. Kolaghan’s Command is one of the best utility spells available, serving as removal, disruption, and artifact hate, as well as bringing back a threat from the graveyard. These spells already have a home in Jund, so purchasing them will put you well on your way to Tier 1.

There is no budget replacement for Liliana. There is no budget replacement for Liliana. There is no budget replacement for Liliana. Say it with me. Without Liliana in Jund, you will never truly feel like you are locking opponents out. Blightning serves as a great way to attempt the kind of hand hate that Liliana brings to the table. It will not make an opponent sacrifice a creature, but it will create a two for one opportunity. And most importantly, it can be recast off of Goblin Dark-Dwellers to further bury opponents. I like this card a lot in Modern. You never feel bad casting it.


With the rise of smaller decks like Zoo and Elves, the Lava Man is seeing a lot more main deck play than he was a year ago. Go ahead and buy in. It might get reprinted in a supplemental set in the near future, but there are a lot of cards that fall into that category. When you hose an Eidolon of the Great Revel with his activated ability, don’t forget to thank me.

With the ascendance of Dredge to Tier 1, graveyard hate has moved into the essential category. Scooze provides some of the best graveyard hate in the business. On top of that, the two mana body does a decent Tarmogoyf impression. The combination of Tasigur and Scavenging Ooze doesn’t replace Goyf, but for a combined $27 dollars, the price is right.

This card makes Budget Jund a possibility. It is Dark Confidant early in the match, helping you filter your draws, and then then when Delirium kicks in, it is a 4/4 beater. It isn’t as good as Dark Confidant or Tarmogoyf, but for the price this card packs a wallop. It is starting to see major play in both Jund and Junk lists and will probably stick around for a while. I think that anything under $15 dollars is reasonable to pay for this card, even though it is not a four of in your final list.

The land base of Jund can be punishing, but Courser helps to smooth out some of the rough spots. Without Blackcleave Cliffs (one of the earlier things to purchase as you invest further into Jund) the early turns can be incredibly taxing on your life total (fetch, shock, Thoughtseize, anyone?). Courser is a good way to not only help out your life total problems, but smooth out your draws and thin your deck of those pesky lands.

Huntmaster has fallen in and out of favorability over the years in Modern. Sometimes he is one of the best cards in the deck, and sometimes he is a worse Kitchen Finks. I think that he is a great addition to this budget list as a one of. Make sure to play to his strengths, emptying your opponent's hand before slamming down the big guy.

Another card that has varied in playability over its life cycle. This is a great card that can utilize a full graveyard as another advantage. Delving away cards like Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize and leaving Lightning Bolt and Abrupt Decay can be a game changer when it comes to longer matchups.

This is a card that I have personally toyed around with quite a bit. I don’t think that it QUITE has enough power to make a final Jund list, however flashing back a Kolaghan’s Command to make an opponent discard and getting back Scavenging Ooze or Grim Flayer is a veritable four to one advantage. This is one of the budget cards that you will miss once he is gone.


Chandra provides something that is difficult to get in Jund, extra cards. Using Chandra’s zero at the beginning of turns will net you an extra card, which is often the deciding factor in very exacting matches. The other great part about Chandra is the difficulty of removing a planeswalker in Modern. If you watched any of the World Championships you know that planeswalkers are mirror breakers (with Gideon coming down several times to help decide Abzan vs. Abzan matches). Chandra will net you cards, but she can also shoot down opposing Bobs or Souls tokens, something that is invaluable in the mirror.


These guys all make the final cut in Jund. Eventually you will want to upgrade to four Verdant Catacombs and cut back to three Bloodstained Mires and two Wooded Foothills. But you can play for a long time with eight Khans fetches before you upgrade. This will allow you to focus your money on upgrading things that have irreplaceable effects, like Liliana.

Manlands are very important in Jund. Often times, both you and your opponent are going to be in topdeck mode. Having a creature that is sorcery-proof and counter-proof will absolutely be a huge asset. Raging Ravine may be the alpha dog, but these little guys definitely serve in its stead until you can upgrade.

Luckily the prevalence of Tron is fading, however I would still recommend packing a few of these guys to help with a TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE Tron matchup.

Any of the checklands would be fine. This slot will probably get taken up with a ninth fetch in the final version, but until then, this $1.85 dual land will serve you just fine.


This is where the flexibility comes out in any list. The sideboard I have provided you is one that helps you fend off a variety of decks. You have to decide what cards are critical to making the difference at your LGS.

Duress helps with control matchups, as well as a replacement for Thoughtseize in the Burn matchup. Nihil Spellbomb will give you one shot on getting rid of a graveyard against decks like Dredge or Abzan CoCo (Use it wisely). Ancient Grudge gives you more removal against Affinity and helps get rid of Bridges if some poor soul is still playing Lantern Control. Dreadbore helps protect you from Nahiri and can serve as removal in a pinch. Golgari Charm helps against any deck that packs a lot of 1/1s. Rakdos Charm is more artifact removal as well as an additional graveyard hate spell. Anger of the Gods is a great board wipe in the world of Burn and Zoo. Jund Charm is another graveyard hate spell as well as an instant speed Pyroclasm. Pulse of Murasa is a great Burn killer. Crumble to Dust can help you in a lot of matchups against three color decks, but mainly is about hitting a Tron piece. And last but not least, Tribute to Hunger can be a great edict effect against those hard to deal with creatures.

Upgrading to Jund

Now we get to the important stuff. I am not going to lie to you, there is an uphill battle (and a sizable investment) in front of you to get from the above list to final Jund. However, what you have here is a deck that is absolutely playable at your LGS and is a great start on a final list. As you add to the deck you have to ask yourself several questions 1) Can I afford this? (Don’t let Magic take over your life, people) and 2) What is the most important thing to add to the deck? The following list is in, what I believe to be, the order that you need to purchase to maximize your money as well as your deck’s efficiency:

Adding Liliana will nearly double the price tag attached to this deck, but it is the most important addition. And hey, you were the one who wanted to play GBx, that’s the price of progress. Liliana is the pi├Ęce de r├ęsistance of GBx. She is hand disruption first, but also removal if needed. There aren’t any budget replacements for Liliana, and adding her gives you a much needed dimension of locking people out of games. Get four, even if you need to add them one at a time. When you get Liliana, take out Blightning and a Thoughtseize to make room for her.

You could definitely argue that Blackcleave Cliffs should be your first addition to the deck. A painless Inquisition of Kozilek on turn one is one of the more potent starts to a game in Modern. These fast lands will help you get straight into your game plan without taking too much damage. This is an automatic four of in Jund (for now). Blooming Marsh (the GB fastland from Kaladesh) can serve as a replacement, if you already own them, but it is important to have Red on turn one to Bolt the Bird.

One of the cards that makes this deck so potent. The card advantage that Dark Confidant gives you is difficult for other midrange decks to overcome. Go ahead and pick up four and be happy you did it. At the point that you do acquire Dark Confidant, there may be a need to reassess your curve. Tasigur and Goblin Dark-Dwellers may be a little high on the curve to take 5 or 6 damage on a turn. I will leave it to your discretion, though. (Editor's Note: Alex likes the bad art bob and I used the good art bob because I wanted to annoy him.)

This card has been an on again off again mainboard card in Jund for a long time now, depending on the power of aggro. I would recommend picking up at least two of these to add to the list as soon as you can. In the end, they will likely get moved into the sideboard, however in the Budget version of the deck, you will be hard pressed to find a creature that gives you more value. I would recommend getting three, although there will be times where two is definitely sufficient. This card is always a reprint candidate in supplemental sets, so pay attention to the calendar be

This is the Cadillac of manlands. Raging Ravine can take you from top deck mode to signing the match slip in three solid swings. While Hissing Quagmire and Lavaclaw Reaches serve as adequate substitutes, there is no going back from this monster. I would recommend picking up 3 and replacing the other manlands.

A new addition to the deck, Kalitas has found himself at home among the myriad of  four drops that compete for playing time in Jund. With lifelink and the ability to add more bodies to the field while maximizing the effectiveness of removal, Kalitas provides a very solid choice to compliment
Tarmogoyf. Two of these guys should be sufficient to round out the top of your curve. Waiting a little while to pick up Kalitas is probably a good idea as he has been on a steady decline since the middle of summer.

Ah, yes, the poster child. Tarmogoyf is a fantastic card in terms of mana efficiency for a beater, but the actual price to him may look a bit overwhelming. He will likely see another reprint in Modern Master 2017, however, don’t hold out for that expecting his price to tank. He has seen two reprints now and is still going along at $134 for the Modern Masters version. Get them one at a time if you have to, but this is most definitely a four of. Once you cast Goyf, you will know that there are no substitutes.  

The final piece to the mainboard. The reason that I recommend waiting until you have the rest of the deck is that you can have quite a playable deck using Khans fetches. Verdant Catacombs will help in matchups like Burn where you need a turn one Swamp for one damage that Wooded Foothills cannot provide.

Sideboard Stuffs
Cards like Damnation and Maelstrom Pulse fetch a pretty penny on the open market. If you need them, get them when you are financially able.


I think that there is a way of thinking among players who are getting into a new format that they should own a lot of format staples. While it is nice to have a lot different decks available to you, I think that the opposite is true. When you first get into the format, find a deck you want to play. Even before you buy your first Serum Visions, lock in on a deck. And once you do try to build it. Don’t build a collection on a budget, build a deck. Buy all of the cheap pieces first. That is a fundamental part of Modern, prices will rise. A $0.50 card now will be $1 next year. They might get reprinted, but don’t let the fear of reprints paralyze you. You are going to pay money to play Magic, and 99% of the time, it is a sunk cost. Jump in and have fun.

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