The day has come, she is free.
Bloodbraid Elf has been unbanned in Modern.
It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten the privilege of registering Jund for a Modern tournament, but with this latest addition, it’s time to dust off those Raging Ravines. Quite possibly the most versatile and on-theme finisher ever printed has returned to our B/G/x repertoire and that, in my opinion, makes Jund the best option for those of us who are still trying to curve Thoughtseize into Tarmogoyf.
Yesterday, Daniel Fournier walked you through everything you need to know about the other four-mana finisher that just got unbanned — Jace, the Mind Sculptor. With that in mind I’ll be exclusively covering Bloodbraid.
Now, my original intention with this article was to discuss some of the tricks of the trade when casting Bloodbraid, in order to help you avoid some common mistakes early-on. But Jadine Klomparens beat me to the punch. So I’ll spend a little bit of time explaining a few of the things she’s already covered and then look to build on them. I highly recommend you read her article, it is great, as is everything else she writes.
Here’s some cliff notes to start:
- Don’t play Bloodbraid Elf into an open board. You want to maximize the potential for the spell you cascade into to be relevant and in a deck filled with removal spells, you’re apt to miss if you just jam.
- Unconditional cards just got a lot better. Cards like Lightning Bolt are better to cascade into than say Fatal Push, because you can cast them for some amount of value no matter what the board looks like.
- Your sideboard also improved. Cascading into Fulminator Mage and relevant graveyard hate or cards like Ancient Grudge in the appropriate match-ups is super powerful.
The case for “in a vacuum” power level
Since the announcement yesterday, one thing I’ve heard a lot in reference to this card is that, “it doesn’t improve any match-ups that actually matter” for Jund midrange decks.
For a quite a while now, us midrange players have had to scratch and claw for our victories, eking out wins on the margins. Bloodbraid Elf improves the overall power level of Jund by such a large margin, that it gives you the capacity to win even your worst match-ups. If you’re on the play and by some act of god your Tron opponent doesn’t assemble seven mana on turn-three, and you follow with Bloodbraid into Fulminator Mage, you might actually be able to win that game.
I know that may sound like magical Christmas land, but for the purpose of this point it gives your deck access to absolutely busted sequences that were never possible before. This is always going to be particularly true with your sideboard cards, as Jadine expertly points out.
This will also be true of your regular-old close match-ups. This card snowballs an advantage so hard, that you’ll be able to break board-stalls more effectively and end games quicker.
In short, I think that people are correct in saying that this change doesn’t directly impact Jund’s worst matchups. But, I do think you’ll find yourself stealing a lot more games on power level alone.
It’s time to beat down
This is an element of Jund that I’ve always loved and that I think many new players struggle with. Just because you’ve registered a midrange deck, doesn’t mean you’re looking to play until Turn 15.
Now more than ever Jund is very well-equipped to turn the corner on a dime and start hurdling damage at your life total.
Much earlier in the game you’re going to want to look for opportunities for you to start being the aggressor. Jund hits it’s sweet spot for aggression between turns five and eight, particularly in combination with Raging Ravine. It is not uncommon to be able to send a Bolt up-top, untap and attack your opponent for ten.
Bloodbraid obviously only makes this more common as the 3/2 hasty body is at its best when you play in a way to capitalize on it.
Just try to say to yourself after you Fatal Push their Thalia, Guardian of Thraben on turn-four, “can I end the game now?”
How to build your deck
Jadine did a good job of going over the ways that more versatile cards excel with Bloodbraid Elf. Cards like Maelstrom Pulse, Collective Brutality and Lightning Bolt are obviously going to get a bump in stock going forward.
Liliana, the Last Hope is another versatile card that I could see wanting additional copies of when building our Jund decks going forward. With that said, there is a lot of tension at the three-drop slot with Liliana of the Veil and Kolaghan’s Command.
Versatility should definitely be at the forefront of your mind when building, but I also think something that’s been lost in the shuffle is efficiency. Jund just got the most powerful weapon in its arsenal back. I think our first priority should be putting together a lean, mean supporting cast to go along with it. Daydreams of cascading into planeswalkers are beautiful, but my first prerogative is making sure that I’m able to cast my Bloodbraid Elf in every match-ups. So, I think the goal should be trying to find the sweet spot between flexibility and keeping our curve low.
That three mana number should always be on your mind when working on your list. This is particularly true with your sideboard, where four-mana cards just got way worse. The opportunity cost of putting a card like Damnation, Leyline of the Void or Night of Souls’ Betrayal just got much higher.
Here’s a starting point for all of you looking for a decklist:
Jund – Keith Capstick
The bad guys
With Jace and Bloodbraid entering the format at the same time things are about to change dramatically. There’s enemies out their looming, waiting for you to show-up with your un-tuned Jund deck so they can prey on you.
Obviously some decks will benefit from Modern getting a little more midrangey. We’ve got to anticipate this and adapt accordingly. I think to start out, creature decks like Affinity and 5C Humans will be on a decline because of their tough match-ups against the types of decks Bloodbraid and Jace slot into. Grishoalbrand, Dredge, B/R Hollow-One and Living End are all decks that can prey on a more fair metagame.
For this reason maybe you want to up your graveyard interaction. Blood Moon can also wreck havoc on three-colour fair decks, that might also be something you want to come prepared for.
As is always the case trying to play fair in Modern — know your enemy.
The unfair stuff
To this point we’ve covered the way Bloodbraid Elf will slot into Jund decks, which is obviously where I want to start. To end, I’ll leave you with some cards that Bloodbraid can do a little more unfair stuff with, just for your brewing pleasure.
Want to try out Bloodbraid Elf and play Modern for some sweet prizes? Come on out to our facetofacegames.com Open+ 5k at Seneca College in Toronto on March. 3!