"Jund" is the red-black-green shard from Shards of Alara.

More importantly, however, it's a term for a midrange archetype in those colors, using a mixture of quick disruption, multi-faceted removal, and powerful creatures, with lots and lots of 2-for-1s, via cards like Bloodbraid Elf, Hymn to Tourach, or Thragtusk. This is clearly a powerful strategy since we've seen periods where Jund decks were ascendant in Standard, Extended, Modern, and Legacy — often multiple formats at the same time!

Magic pros have said things like, "Jund is at best 55% and at worst 45% against everything." Still, having a "55%" matchup against Jund is much better than a "45%" matchup; and when Jund decks are powerful, it's useful to at least have a good sideboard plan against the deck.

For example, the Jund Standard decks at Pro Tour Gatecrash featured these elements:

What kinds of cards and strategies are particularly strong against Jund?

("Jund" is a broad category of decks, but it is a very clear archetype. Feel free to focus your analysis on one format, e.g. Standard.)

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    I'm not sure about this, so I'll just write a comment. The weak point of Jund seems to be the mana base. So attacking it could be a good strategy.
    – Pablo
    Feb 25, 2013 at 23:17
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    @Pablo The problem with 'attacking the mana base' at least vs. Standard Jund is that aside from Ghost Quarter (which seems like it's being underplayed in general right now, admittedly, but does have some issues - especially since most Jund decks still run a couple of basics to blunt its impact), there's no really meaningful land destruction in the format right now. By the time you're casting Demolish on the draw they've already played Arbor Elf/Farseek into Huntmaster/Olivia into Thragtusk. Feb 26, 2013 at 17:48

2 Answers 2


Jund is the prototypical midrange deck - serving as a control deck in the matchups vs. aggressive decks while playing a more aggressive role itself vs. 'true' control decks. Unfortunately for the Jund deck, it's difficult to do both of these things at once - generally decks of this kind want to be tuned for a particular environment, and guessing wrong can be a problem for the deck. What's more, while resilience is its strong suit, there isn't any one thing it does better than any other deck can do it, and so it's vulnerable to both ends of its range.

This points to the core ways of dealing with it (note that I'm primarily focusing on Standard here as it's what I'm most familiar with, but most of the core concepts here should apply to other formats) :

  1. Go under it. A deck like the Saito or Christiansen G/R decks or the 'aggro Jund' decks (which are more 3-color decks that happen to be in the appropriate colors than the sort of resilient Jund deck this post talks about) can easily kill before Jund has a good chance to establish itself, and often build enough board presence early that by the time the Jund player hits 5 mana and starts running out Thragtusk the aggro deck is able to kill them around it. This seems to be the preferred approach at the moment, judging by the results of the Quebec City Standard Grand Prix where the top 8 was flooded with more aggressive decks; but much of this may be a result of the Jund decks tuning themselves more against the control and midrange (including mirror) matchups than against the aggro decks (for instance, the rising numbers of Olivia Voldaren in Jund lists); I would expect this plan of attack to have more problems as the Jund decks start adapting with e.g. more Vampire Nighthawks.
  2. Go over it: this is the typical control approach, of course. Right now it might be more accurate to call this plan the 'go around it' plan — the goal is to be a slower, more powerful deck than Jund by playing on axes where Jund has a harder time interacting. The Nephalia Drownyard/Jace, Memory Adept mill plan is the perfect example of this — rather than trying to beat Thragtusks or Olivias in a fair fight, the Esper control decks just ignore them outright and go for the library. Backed with cards like Witchbane Orb to keep the Jund deck from attacking spots where the control decks are actually vulnerable, this strategy can be a trump; typically most Jund decks have no actual defense against a mill plan.
  3. Another way of "going around it" is via combo — since Jund has no way (in the main deck, and very few in the board) to actually prevent its opponents from resolving spells, a deck that can win the game from any board position with a single resolved spell is a difficult matchup. The prototypical example of this in Standard are the combo reanimator decks like Tzu Ching Kuo's from the Quebec City GP; even having its Unburial Rites discarded by Liliana or Rakdos' Return isn't a major problem, since that deck is just as happy to cast it out of the graveyard and win from there. Birthing Pod decks in Modern work similarly, since just a single resolved Birthing Pod will generally overwhelm the Jund deck with too much card advantage to be effectively dealt with — any creature becomes a serious threat at that point.
  • On #2: Well, you can only ignore them for so long, on account of life totals. "Side-step their lifegain and board position" makes sense, but you still won't live long enough to beat them unless you can reliably deal with big beaters or Garruk pooping out a dozen Wurm tokens.
    – Alex P
    Feb 26, 2013 at 0:07
  • @AlexP True enough - but that's generally what the Azorius Charms and Supreme Verdicts are for. The point is that by taking that angle of attack you blank many of Jund's cards - Thragtusk is 'merely' a 5/3 that leaves a 3/3 behind; Abrupt Decay, Victim of Night, etc are near do-nothings (and Dreadbore is often virtally dead); etc. Feb 26, 2013 at 0:36

Ramp is the bane of Jund decks.* You go up in mana quickly and then blast them off the board with a big, very powerful threat that they can't counter and can't answer effectively. Since they lose if you get to cast the big threat, their only options are 1) kill you first, 2) stop you from ramping and 3) discard your payoff. Unfortunately for them, none of these work well. They are not an aggro deck so they can't kill you quickly. Land destruction typically costs 3 mana or more, and discard cannot stop what's on top of the deck.

Jund is very good at navigating to a state where both players are empty-handed and topdecking, but in this scenario, ramp is favored simply because the threats they can topdeck are better than the threats Jund can topdeck, and every one of their threats is worth several of Jund's cards.

To illustrate the theory we can look at two of Jund's worst matchups in Modern.


Imagine the Tron player goes first, and they play Urza's Mine & Chromatic Star.

On their turn, the Jund player goes Thoughtseize. (If they don't have Thoughtseize they are in even more trouble because they cannot stop the incoming Urzatron - and hence 7 mana - on turn 3.) They see a hand of Ancient Stirrings, Urza's Tower, and Sylvan Scrying.

Note that regardless of what they take, they are backed against a wall. If they take Ancient Stirrings, then the Tron player will play Sylvan Scrying next turn using the Chromatic Star, get an Urza's Power Plant, and Tron will be active on turn 3. In other words, any topdecked payoff (Ancient Stirrings is almost a payoff as well) is lethal. There is no good way for Jund to answer a resolved Wurmcoil Engine or Karn Liberated unless they already have an overwhelming board position. On the other hand, if they take Sylvan Scrying, then Ancient Stirrings still gives the Tron player five looks for Urza's Power Plant (or Expedition Map which will turn into Urza's Power Plant).

Note that a key part of the equation is that Urzatron plays threats that catch them up if they're behind on the board, win the game if unanswered, and are not easily dealt with by Jund's set of answers. Karn Liberated & Ugin, the Spirit Dragon for example just win the game if cast (Jund cannot counter them). If Jund has threats on the board then they will be eaten, and Jund has no way to kill them immediately from an empty board. Wurmcoil Engine is similar: it stabilizes the board and is too large to kill with Fatal Push or Lightning Bolt. Terminate, Kolaghan's Command, Liliana of the Veil's -2, etc. can answer it, but that still leaves two more pieces.

Amulet Titan

Imagine the Amulet player goes first, and they play land into Amulet of Vigor.

Now the Jund player is once again in trouble. Next turn, the Amulet player can easily go bounceland (e.g. Simic Growth Chamber), Azusa, Lost but Seeking or Dryad of the Illysian Grove, replay bounceland, Sakura-Tribe Elder. On turn 3, the Jund player will be up against the likes of 6+ mana, making any Primeval Titan lethal. (For anyone unfamiliar with the Amulet Titan combo kill, the Titan searches up Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion and Slayer's Stronghold. The lands give the Titan haste, it gets to attack and search up even more lands, and the opponent dies immediately or at most one turn after.) The Jund player's only chance is to discard the Titan, but even if they discard any Titans in hand, they can't stop their opponent from topdecking another - and opponent has at least 10 copies of Titan in their deck (counting Summoner's Pact and Tolaria West transmuting for Summoner's Pact).

Even if the Jund player stops the Titans, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle enables a different kill that, because it comes from a land, Jund has trouble interacting with.

These ramp matchups are why Jund decks usually have land hate like Fulminator Mage and Alpine Moon in the sideboard. However, one can only dedicate so much space to fighting ramp, meaning Jund might never draw the sideboard card. Furthermore, these land hate pieces don't win the game if they resolve, they only stall the ramp deck. Finally, the good land hate spells are expensive. Fulminator Mage hurts the ramp deck pretty badly, but it costs 3 mana, too late if the opponent is on the play. Even if they are on the draw, using your turn 3 to cast a land destruction spell means you're not adding pressure to the board. Alpine Moon is even narrower, and even fixes the opponent's mana.

I personally found this article to be a hilarious illustration of why Jund is disfavored against ramp. It took a 2020 Standard Bant ramp deck and pitted it against a Modern Jund deck. Bant ramp won easily, in spite of drawing from a much smaller card pool and playing strictly-inferior (by Modern standards) cards like Shatter the Sky. Heh.

*Note ramp is not the same as control. Ramp decks focus on cheating more mana into play and then resolving a game-winning spell. Control decks take things slower and aim to answer the opponent's threats one-by-one. Jund is far better against control decks than ramp decks.

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