Pro Tour Aether Revolt is in the books and as always after a Standard PT, the attention of the MtG community has turned to Standard again. On the first glance, it migth seem that there's not much to talk about, with the surge of Mardu Vehicles and seemingly no space for anything else, but I don't think that's the case and in this column, I'd like to talk about Standard decks that succeed in standing up to the Mardu challenge. Right now, in the wake of the Pro Tour, there are not many, but I'm sure that over the course of the next couple of weeks, more will emerge and join the tier 1 in Standard.
The deck of today is Jund Energy Aggro, or "Jundicles", as Martin Juza - who piloted the deck to a top 8 result - called it. Martin was the only one from his team who played the deck and there didn't seem to be anyone else piloting a build like this in the entire tournament, which means that the 7-2 result (7-3 if you count the quarterfinals as well) he posted is the only data we have. Ten matches plus an ID are not a big statistical sample, so it could have been a fluke or just the opponents playing badly as they didn't know what they were up against, but after playing the deck myself and even taking part in a local PPTQ with Juzam's list, I can say that I like the way the deck plays out and I certainly think it belongs to the Standard gauntlet. So here it is, in its full glory:
|Converted Mana Cost|
Top 8 at PT Aether Revolt
In terms of gameplay, this deck shares a lot of defining features with Mardu Vehicles: it plays efficient creatures that bash pretty hard, can back up a fast start with Unlicensed Disintegration and runs creatures almost exclusively with power 3+, so that they can all crew Heart of Kiran. However, Jund Energy Aggro doesn't play any 1-drop creatures and is thus a turn slower. To make up for that, we have more beefy creatures (Longtusk Cub and Voltaic Brawler can swing for more damage than Thraben Inspector or Veteran Motorist), better mana and more powerful lategame. Essentially, this deck tries to go over Mardu Vehicles, but under G/B Constrictor and while that space is limited, it can be done (and the sideboard puts even more stress on this game plan).
The reason why this deck can dominate the late game even if it's essentially just an aggro deck is that it runs four planeswalkers in the main deck plus three more post-board and also the creature suite it features. Tireless Trackers make sure you don't run out of gas, Scrapheap Scroungers give you staying power and the "combo" of Longtusk Cub + Greenbelt Rampager grows the Cub by 1 for just two green mana. It might not seem like much, but especially against decks like B/G Constrictor, where board stalls can occur, having a creature that grows larger than anything else on the board and can start forcing them to chump-block is really valuable.
Right now, the deck seems to be pretty well positioned. The matchup against Mardu Vehicles is slightly favorable (Martin went 4-2 against it at the PT, including the loss in the quarterfinals) and against B/G, it's even and depends largely on how many removal spells you draw. The Copycat matchup is not as good as if you played Mardu Vehicles, since Jund Aggro is a bit slower, but is still favorable, because you can apply a lot of pressure and have good removal to disrupt their combo (Harnessed Lightning can easily kill a Felidar Guardian, thanks to the high number of energy-producing cards in the deck). If the Jeskai decks try to play the control game instead of going off with the combo, that's also fine, since we have a lot of staying power in planeswalkers and Tireless Trackers. Torrential Gearhulk as a finisher is powerful, but as long as we're ready with an Unlicensed Disintegration or even Harnessed Lightning, we won't be blown out by the card in combat.
How is the deck going to fare in the post-PT metagame? Chances are that it's going to take some splash damage from the hate cards against Mardu Vehicles. Fatal Push is an excellent card against us and if more decks start to play it, that's certainly not great news. However, Jund Energy Aggro can adapt as well. If I were to play the deck again tomorrow, I would cut the Shocks from the main deck and replace them with Fatal Pushes - the only matchup where Shocks are strictly better than Pushes is Jeskai Copycat and I don't expect to see a lot of these in the coming weeks. In addition, I would add two copies of Release the Gremlins to the sideboard - the card is incredible against Mardu Vehicles, especially if they bring in Skysovereign, Consul Flagship as a trump in this creature-based matchup.
Other than that, I wouldn't change anything about the deck and as long as Mardu Vehicles and various Jeskai builds remain popular, I think it's a very good choice for any Standard tournament. The B/G Constrictor matchup can become problematic if they start running more removal spells (Fatal Push is a card you don't want to see too often). But the relatively removal-light versions that formed the bulk of the B/G decks in the PT metagame are an even matchup, so overall, I think that Jund Energy Aggro doesn't have too many matchups that would be clearly unfavorable - and that's always a good place to be.
Let me know if you have any questions about the deck. As always, thanks for reading and see you next time!
About Adam Koska
Adam is an experienced player from the Czech Republic who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:
- 14th at Pro Tour Portland 2014
- 9th at Worlds 2009
- 9th at Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
- 64 Lifetime Pro Points
- Three times Czech Nationals Top 8