Staticaster Jund

A few weeks ago, on November 3, this original list popped up in the top 16 of SCG St. Louis.

[deck title=”RUG Soulbond by Josh Hendricks”]
[Creatures]
3 Nightshade Peddler
2 Snapcaster Mage
3 Izzet Staticaster
3 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Zealous Conscripts
2 Deadeye Navigator
1 Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
[/Creatures]
[Planeswalkers]
2 Jace, Architect of Thought
1 Tamiyo, the Moon Sage
[/Planeswalkers]
[Spells]
1 Pillar of Flame
3 Farseek
2 Izzet Charm
2 Mizzium Mortars
2 Dissipate
3 Forbidden Alchemy
2 Gilded Lotus
2 Syncopate
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Steam Vents
1 Overgrown Tomb
1 Blood Crypt
4 Sulfur Falls
4 Hinterland Harbor
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Forest
1 Island
1 Mountain
1 Kessig Wolf Run
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Deathrite Shaman
3 Pillar of Flame
2 Negate
1 Clone
2 Slaughter Games
3 Thragtusk
2 Thundermaw Hellkite
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

There are plenty of “cool” interactions to be found here. [card]Nightshade Peddler[/card] paired with [card]Izzet Staticaster[/card] or [card]Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius[/card], creates a pinger with Deathtouch. [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card] paired with [card]Deadeye Navigator[/card] allows you to untap your [card]Gilded Lotus[/card] and create infinite mana, which can be used to steal all of your opponents permanents, gain infinite life, and make infinite Wolf tokens with [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card] or ping your opponent to death with Niv-Mizzet.

This list is very rough for a combo deck, though, with no four-ofs and a bunch of cards that don’t seem to have much focus. The combos are placed within a RUG Control shell, which is a weak secondary plan that isn’t going to beat anyone. On top of this, the [card]Deadeye Navigator[/card] combo is expensive and requires you to assemble a lot of different pieces.

Max Pritsch and Jan-Moritz Merkel did an excellent job of improving Hendricks’s deck for GP Bochum, with Pritsch going 9-0 on Day 1.

[deck title=”Staticaster Jund by Max Pritsch”]
[Creatures]
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Nightshade Peddler
4 Izzet Staticaster
1 Evil Twin
2 Falkenrath Aristocrat
3 Huntmaster of the Fells
4 Olivia Voldaren
4 Thragtusk
1 Zealous Conscripts
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Farseek
4 Tracker’s Instincts
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Blood Crypt
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Steam Vents
4 Woodland Cemetery
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Hinterland Harbor
2 Cavern of Souls
1 Kessig Wolf Run
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
3 Appetite for Brains
1 Duress
3 Pillar of Flame
1 Mizzium Mortars
2 Snapcaster Mage
1 Huntmaster of the Fells
2 Slaughter Games
1 Zealous Conscripts
1 Rakdos’s Return
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

While Hendricks’s was pretty much a RUG Control deck, this is Jund splashing blue. The splash is made easier thanks to [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card], [card]Farseek[/card], and [card]Cavern of Souls[/card]. The rest of the manabase is similar to what you’d see in a typical Jund list, but with [card]Hinterland Harbor[/card]s and [card]Steam Vents[/card] in place of basic [card]Forest[/card]s.

[card]Tracker’s Instincts[/card] is a major addition, giving you a way to dig for combo pieces or simply generating card advantage by acting as a [card]Think Twice[/card] and milling into additional [card]Tracker’s Instincts[/card]. It also fuels [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] and will occasionally trick unknowing opponents into boarding in graveyard hate, assuming that you’re some type of Reanimator deck.

This deck plays almost identically to a Jund Midrange deck, accelerating into Huntmaster, Olivia, or [card]Thragtusk[/card] and gaining incremental advantage that way. [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] can be awkward sometimes if you’re curving out and don’t get a chance to activate him or don’t have any targets for him, but when he’s good, he’s really good.

Some matchups, you’ll be pressed to assemble the Peddler-Staticaster combo as fast as possible. In other matchups, the combo will have little effect. It’s important to figure out what you’re up against right away, so you know which creatures to take with [card]Tracker’s Instincts[/card] and which to play out first. Things can get weird when you and your opponent both have creatures with the same name-beware of this before you go killing your own!

[card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card] and [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card] form another cute combo, one that I mentioned in my article on Fervor Jund. What’s better than killing every Thragtusk? The sequence of steal-attack-sacrifice-get a Beast token. It’s not always reasonable to pull this off, so sometimes you’ll board these guys in or out.

So, why does the Peddler-Staticaster combo warrant adding a fourth color?

As I talked about in my article last week, Standard is currently dominated by creatures, be they one-drops ([card]Gravecrawler[/card], [card]Stromkirk Noble[/card], [card]Avacyn’s Pilgrim[/card]), five-drops ([card]Thragtusk[/card], [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]), or up in the seven to eight range ([card]Angel of Serenity[/card], [card]Craterhoof Behemoth[/card]). It’s tough to find removal spells to deal with all of these equally-until you have a deathtouch pinger, that is.

Yes, the combo is fragile and susceptible to [card]Searing Spear[/card], but it is generally assembled early enough for you to get value out of it. If [card]Nightshade Peddler[/card] dies but takes a creature down with him, then he was functionally a [card]Doom Blade[/card]. Both [card]Nightshade Peddler[/card] and [card]Izzet Staticaster[/card] are Humans, meaning that [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] is an easy way to protect against countermagic.

The combo is at its best against GW, which has no way to interact while you gun down infinite numbers of [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card]s, [card]Restoration Angel[/card]s, and [card]Silverblade Paladin[/card]s. The next best situation is against decks like Junk Tokens and Reanimator that don’t run a lot of removal. Here the combo will often go unabated for several turns and kill a handful of targets.

Another great aspect: [card]Izzet Staticaster[/card] isn’t the worst on her own. She needs no help in killing X/1s and is especially proficient at shooting down [card]Lingering Souls[/card] tokens. She survives [card]Pillar of Flame[/card] and can block [card]Gravecrawler[/card], [card]Rakdos Cackler[/card], [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], and [card]Ash Zealot[/card]. Once in a while, she’ll allow a Wolf or Beast token to trade up in combat. Staticaster has even been gaining favor as a sideboard card in UWR decks, where she can be an effective pinger on her own.

The goal, though, is to make things difficult for any deck trying to win with any creatures whatsoever. BR has to deal with your combo, which puts their [card]Hellrider[/card]s and [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card]s at risk. The combo can sometimes be dead in control matchups, but even against Bant, it’s great at tearing apart their [card]Thragtusk[/card]s and cleaning up the Beast tokens, clearing the way for your ground threats. Jund is all about gaining incremental advantage and winning a battle of attrition, and the Peddler-Staticaster duo does exactly that, while giving the deck something to do early on.

After playing the deck, I liked the maindeck but wanted another answer to [card]Geist of Saint Traft[/card] and [card]Sigarda, Host of Herons[/card]. I also wanted more [card]Slaughter Games[/card] or [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card]s, depending on the type of control decks that exist. If I were to play Staticaster Jund in a tournament this week-a great choice for an aggro-heavy metagame-this is what I would run:

[deck title=”Staticaster Jund by Alex Bianchi”]
[Creatures]
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Nightshade Peddler
4 Izzet Staticaster
1 Evil Twin
2 Falkenrath Aristocrat
4 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Olivia Voldaren
4 Thragtusk
1 Zealous Conscripts
[/Creatures]
[Spells]
4 Farseek
4 Tracker’s Instincts
[/Spells]
[Lands]
4 Overgrown Tomb
3 Blood Crypt
3 Steam Vents
4 Woodland Cemetery
4 Rootbound Crag
3 Hinterland Harbor
2 Cavern of Souls
2 Kessig Wolf Run
[/Lands]
[Sideboard]
2 Appetite for Brains
1 Duress
3 Pillar of Flame
1 Mizzium Mortars
1 Snapcaster Mage
1 Evil Twin
1 Falkenrath Aristocrat
3 Slaughter Games
1 Zealous Conscripts
1 Rakdos’s Return
[/Sideboard]
[/deck]

Vs. BR Aggro

+3 [card]Pillar of Flame[/card], +1 [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card], +1 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]

-1 [card]Evil Twin[/card], -2 [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card], -1 [card]Olivia Voldaren[/card], -1 [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card]

The goal in this matchup is to survive until they are out of resources. You get to take out some of the worse creatures, add removal spells, and lower the curve after sideboarding. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Huntmaster and [card]Thragtusk[/card] are the most important cards. [card]Hellrider[/card] and [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] are a concern in the later turns, so setting up Peddler-Staticaster is still important in order to keep them off the table.

Vs. Bant Control

+2 [card]Appetite for Brains[/card], +1 [card]Duress[/card], +1 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card], +1 [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card], +3 [card]Slaughter Games[/card], +1 [card]Rakdos’s Return[/card]

-4 [card]Nightshade Peddler[/card], -4 [card]Izzet Staticaster[/card], -1 [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card]

The deck isn’t set up to be great against control, so that’s what most of the sideboard slots are for. Depending on their build, you may still want some number of Peddlers and Staticasters to kill [card]Restoration Angel[/card]s and [card]Thragtusk[/card]s. But against the creature-light lists, you want to ditch the combo in favor of [card]Slaughter Games[/card] and discard to prevent them from casting [card]Supreme Verdict[/card]s and [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card]s. Another [card]Evil Twin[/card] can be brought in if you see or expect Sigarda.

Vs. GW Aggro

+3 [card]Pillar of Flame[/card], +1 [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card], +1 [card]Snapcaster Mage[/card]

-1 [card]Evil Twin[/card], -2 [card]Falkenrath Aristocrat[/card], -1 [card]Olivia Voldaren[/card], -1 [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card]

This is by far the easiest matchup if you can assemble the Peddler-Staticaster combo. Even [card]Izzet Staticaster[/card] on its own has a lot of good targets. Be wary of the exile mode of [card]Selesnya Charm[/card] when using Olivia or [card]Kessig Wolf Run[/card].

Vs. UW Flash

+1 [card]Duress[/card]

-1 [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card]

In this matchup, you’re mostly looking to resolve a Huntmaster or [card]Thragtusk[/card] off of [card]Cavern of Souls[/card]. You also want to get to work on their graveyard with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] right away. If UW Flash becomes a concern, you can easily go up to three or four [card]Cavern of Souls[/card] without much of a mana issue.

Vs. Reanimator & Various Midrange Decks

+2 [card]Appetite for Brains[/card], +1 [card]Evil Twin[/card], +1 [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card]

-4 [card]Huntmaster of the Fells[/card]

Against Reanimator or other Midrange decks (Junk, Jund, Naya, etc.), the Peddler-Staticaster combo won’t always lock up the board, but it can still be crippling, especially if they rely on [card]Lingering Souls[/card]. [card]Olivia Voldaren[/card] and [card]Evil Twin[/card] also tend to be excellent creatures for winning [card]Thragtusk[/card] wars.

The Peddler-Staticaster combo is a powerful strategy in this creature-heavy Standard format. It’ll get even more interesting once the Gruul and Simic guilds introduce new cards. Right now, I think that Jund is the best home for Peddler-Staticaster, but a more combo-oriented list with [card]Chronic Flooding[/card] and [card]Angel of Glory’s Rise[/card] has had some success on Magic Online. Staticaster Jund should be one of your top choices if you’re looking to trump aggressive decks this week.

Alex Bianchi
Gemmanite on Twitter and MTGO