By Tomohiro Kaji (translated by Alex Lin)
Among the decks that have gone 4-0 so far in the Standard Portion of Japanese Nationals, there’s one that has a card that I think is really interesting. That card would be Enlisted Wurm. Of course, everyone knows that Bloodbraid Elf and Bituminous Blast are incredibly powerful due to the card advantage that Cascade grants, but what about Enlisted Wurm? However, unlike the average Jund deck, you can’t really just build your deck with only a limited number of spells that cost five mana or less in order to maximize your cascades, or your curve will be terrible and the deck will be top-heavy.
So in order to find out where the idea for this deck came from, I decided to interview its creator.
Shou Ishikawa 2010 Japanese Nationals / 4-0
4 Celestial Colonnade
4 Misty Rainforest
3 Seaside Citadel
2 Tectonic Edge
1 Glacial Fortress
1 Sunpetal Grove
3 Wall of Omens
3 Baneslayer Angel
3 Enlisted Wurm
2 Sphinx of Lost Truths
4 Spreading Seas
4 Trace of Abundance
3 Oblivion Ring
3 Day of Judgment
3 Gideon Jura
3 Jace, the Mind Sculptor
3 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
3 Jace Beleren
2 Master of the Wild Hunt
2 Mind Control
3 Celestial Purge
4 Path to Exile
1 Day of Judgment
[Again, this is to remind you guys that this was a Day 1 interview. But Shou did end up making it to the top 8! –KYT]
Kaji: It’s a very interesting deck, but would you mind telling me how you built it?
Ishikawa: It’s based on a deck I played two months ago at the Planeswalker Cup.* I built my deck with the goal of beating Jund, which was at the center of the metagame at the time. Planeswalkers and Wall of Omens are really strong in the environment, so I decided to use them.
Kaji: But this deck is Bant colors, isn’t that right?
Ishikawa: Yes. Actually, at that tournament I wanted to try using some cards that don’t see as much constructed play. For example, in order to beat skilled UW players, I decided to try using Garruk Wildspeaker rather than Ajani Vengeant. He also has synergy with expensive spells like Martial Coup, which I thought would make winning the game much easier.
Kaji: I see. You do hear a lot of UW players say that Garruk is really strong in Jund, don’t you?
Ishikawa: Unfortunately, after sideboarding, Negate is pretty rough, and it becomes very difficult to get value out of your expensive spells. That led me to think about whether or not there were creatures that could give me a similar effect. I went to a card shop to have a look around, and Enlisted Wurm caught my eye. Combining it with Jace, the Mind Sculptor to stack the top of my deck seemed really powerful.
Kaji: I see. So speaking of Negate, that must also be why you chose Sphinx of Lost Truths as your draw spell, huh? As for other card selections, Trace of Abundance seems really interesting. What was the reasoning behind that choice?
Ishikawa: It isn’t just an excellent mana accelerator here, it’s also there to protect your Celestial Colonnades. If you can protect them, Jund is pretty helpless. They also survive your Day of Judgments, while on the other hand you can use your Spreading Seas to turn off your opponent’s manlands. In the control mirror, you also have to worry about Tectonic Edge, so Trace is good there as well.
Kaji: It certainly seems like you have a solid end game, doesn’t it? Moving on to the sideboard, against what decks do you want Master of the Wild Hunt?
Ishikawa: The main deck you want it against is Turboland, since you can use it as removal against Lotus Cobra and Oracle of Mul Daya. Additionally, if you’re playing another deck with Bant colors, their primary removal spell will be Path to Exile. Since it ends up accelerating you further, that’s actually fine. Originally I had Wall of Denial in this place, but the other day I was thinking about opposing Vengevines, and decided to make the swap.
Kaji: Can you explain why there are so many three-of’s in your deck? In particular, you only have three Wall of Omens, which is pretty rare to see. What was the reasoning behind that?
Ishikawa: That was a result of tuning and taking Cascade into consideration. At that mana stage, you have to think about the concentration of power cards in your library. In addition to your regular draw step, when you cast Enlisted Wurm you would much rather see Gideon Jura, for example, than Wall of Omens.
Kaji: That’s certainly true. You hear a lot of debate on whether or not to play Rampant Growth in Jund, after all. Constructing a deck that will maximize your probability of drawing what you need at the right time is pretty important, isn’t it?
Ishikawa: You can see that results are connected to this theory, as I also applied it to the Enchantress deck that I played at the PWC Championships. It was a really good experience to be able to play with a variety of cards and decks.
Kaji: Well, thank you very much for answering my questions! Good luck with your remaining rounds!
*The Planeswalker Cup is the name of a series of relatively large tournaments run across Japan throughout the year.