Hi, Mana Deprived, I’m Ben Moir. For the majority of you who don’t know who I am, I’m from Ottawa and have been playing Magic the Gathering competitively for around five years. Recently, I have been on a hot streak, taking down a PTQ for Ireland, winning an MDSS, and top-fouring GP Detroit to qualify for Spain. What follows are my best practices, which led to my recent success:
1. Start with the right ingredients
Jund by Ben Moir
None of this would have been possible without having a ride to a tournament and a deck to play with. Andrew Noworaj, perennial PTQ finalist of Ottawa Magic, gracefully enabled both of these for me. Until 20 minutes before GP Detroit started, this list included 73 cards. I had a Thundermaw Hellkite in my box of cards, and I found the Chandra, Pyromaster, in my friend’s binder. I’d seen these cards played on MODO and realized I wanted something else for the mirror match and for mid-range decks. Thundermaw had been in my sideboard of GP Toronto, and it was such an all-star that I thought it deserved a spot in the maindeck.
2. Continue with Three Byes
Having won the Wizard’s Tower PTQ in Ottawa this Summer, along with playing in some of their FNMs and weekend cash tournaments, I had enough Planeswalker Points to comfortably start the tournament in the early afternoon.
If it hadn’t been that I could skip those first three rounds, I wouldn’t have made top eight. Even if I had won all those rounds, it would have lowered my tie-breakers just enough to introduce me to the “Ninth Place on Breakers – Invitation Club.”
3. Don’t Play Your Worst Matchup
Tron is a really draw-dependent deck, so it’s understandable why it didn’t do too well at the GP. Some decks, like Twin, take advantage of their lack of interaction. However, as bad as the matchup normally is for a Jund deck, I was prepared for it, as was the format. Sowing Salts and Fulminator Mage are now a mainstay in sideboards, making Tron even more miserable to play. Luck played in my favor as well: one round I sat down to Tron mirrors being played to my right and to my left.
4. Eat an Amazing Breakfast
We stayed in Windsor for the weekend, which certainly helped with the whole currency issue. On Saturday I had an awesome breakfast buffet of western omelettes. Sunday, on the other hand, featured the least edible scrambled eggs I’ve ever tried to consume.
5. Play the Best Card in the Format
Deathrite Shaman has proven itself to be, without a doubt, the defining card of current Modern. You have to be able to play him, deal with him, or disregard him. It turns off a lot of the strategies that I might have otherwise played, namely anything involving the graveyard. It also speeds up the format; getting out a turn-two Liliana of the Veil puts you in a dominant position. The little elf that could lets you keep pace with all of the format’s super-fast decks. To be fair, they should probably ban him, but it would be like banning Brainstorm in Legacy.
You either beat ’em or join ’em.
6. Love to Play the Mirror
This is one of my favorite match-ups to play. A lot of it is about timing; you have to know when to play your removal spells, whether to play your removal spells, and what is important. The Jund deck is really powerful, and the cards do a lot of different things. Most of the time you can win any game, you just have to know how to play your cards. However Jund is also very difficult to play properly.
7. Play Planeswalkers
Chandra helps win Tarmogoyf wars, kills Soul tokens, and makes a Batterskull unable to block so you can crash in for the win. Once she’s down and has established herself, you just start drawing cards. Liliana is the best card in the deck after Deathrite Shaman; she was awesome before the new rule change and she’s only become better. She might have been only a three-of previously, but I can’t see playing less than four of her in the deck today.
8. 6-0 Day Two
William Blondon started Sunday with the following edict: “I won’t let you back into the car unless you 6-0.” It was not an easy order to follow either: round 13 saw me facing off against Canadian National Team Captain Jon Stern with Robots. Later, playing against Jamie Naylor in the final round of swiss, he Thoughtseized me game three, going down to nine. My hand was Chandra, Pyromaster, Tarmogoyf, and Lightning Bolt, he took Chandra because he has a hard time dealing with her. I proceeded to reveal Bolt off my Bob, draw a Bolt for my turn and finally drop three Bolts at him. It was still a nail-biter since, if there is one thing I am good at it’s coming in ninth place.
Best Draw: Win Quarterfinals versus Adam Jensen
Game two, Adam revealed Bonfire of the Damned off of his Dark Confidant, which stands out to me as the best moment of the tournament. Bonfire went from the best card in his deck to being just one more point of life-loss in that split second.
Most Notable Mistake: Playing Reid Duke
Reid Duke is a good player. The Jund mirror is about capitalizing on your opponent’s mistakes. If the worse player draws better, the better player can still win; if the better player draws better, they’re probably not going to lose. Game two I was behind from the beginning because he kept his Dark Confidant on the table, followed by my not drawing a land, followed by him getting his Fulminator Mage first. Reid was pretty stoic; he didn’t emote while we played while still being a nice guy.
Plans for Next Time
Jund by Ben Moir
The changes come as a result of a few surprising performances, both positive and negative.
Olivia was almost detrimental to my GP performance. It lost more life from revealing it to Dark Confidant than it dealt damage to my opponents. It was a very strong card, but Chandra fills a similar role, using her plus one to ping down X/1s and clearing the path by making creatures unable to block, but she does not require the additional mana commitment that Olivia does. In addition, she is a much harder-to-deal-with threat, and Chandra’s 0 ability lets you gain an incremental advantage on your opponent.
Thankfully, moving Chandra to the main opened up a slot in the main, because it made room for another over-performer: Scavenging Ooze. Originally, I thought the green commitment of Ooze would be too much for a four-color deck, but by being smart with your fetchlands, enough green isn’t hard to come by. Ooze turns around your matchups against graveyard decks and can gain you a significant amount of life to keep you in the game against hyper-aggressive decks.
If you’re going to play Modern, Jund is the first deck to look at: either play it or beat it. Dan Lanthier said that we’re going to look back at GP Detroit and think we should have all played Thundermaw Hellkite in our decks, and I think he’s right. I’ve been playing this deck since Modern has been a thing and essentially the same deck since Toronto. Success has come from its versatility and through experience; most match-ups are at worst 50/50, and many are 60/40 in our favour.
If you have any questions feel free to message me on Facebook or Twitter (@B_moir), because the list changes often. Thanks for reading, and hopefully you’ll see another winning report from Dublin in a few weeks!