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Jund Demons in Standard


I mentioned it briefly last week, but one of the main things I love about being a full time streamer on Twitch is that you have nearly constant access to a ton of information and ideas from other Magic players; lots of things you might not have thought of or may never have considered.

A few weeks back, a regular subscriber, JoshVS, sent me over a decklist to critique by the name of "Jund Demons," and my interest was immediately piqued. I love playing with the more obscure over-costed threats in Standard, so I was hoping the deck in question would be rife with them!

When decks are sent to me, I often have no idea how they'll look. Sometimes they're the result of people simply wanting improvements made to their pet decks. Sometimes they're legitimate decks that only seem to need a few changes to really shine. After taking a look at the deck, it actually seemed pretty powerful. The following was the first draft that Josh sent over.

Now, it's worth noting that the first deck Josh provided had 61 cards and didn't include its own mana base; only a line that read "24 lands, heavy on Black and Green," which I agreed with.

I really liked - and like in general - the "explore" package here, with Wildgrowth Walker, and the two token Green explore creatures, Merfolk Branchwalker and Jadelight Ranger. They kind of do it all: smooth out draws, beat down, and provide some needed life gain.

One thing that disappointed me, however, was the lack of good demons in Standard. That isn't to say there are a ton of bad demons, just that there aren't many demons in general, leaving us solely with Spawn of Mayhem, Rakdos, the Showstopper, and Doom Whisperer that really make the cut. When you see an amazing card like Liliana's Contract, that not only draws you four cards, but has an alternate win condition, and you wonder why you can't play it, I ask you to look no further than the demons available to us. When the idea of a demon deck in Standard was first proposed to me, this was the card I immediately wanted to see included, but alas, it wasn't meant to be.

Liliana's Contract

To be fair, there are a few demons we're not playing, but I think that's somewhat defensible. Aside from the ones in the deck, these are the remaining demons in Standard:

Demonlord Belzenlok - with Rakdos, the Showstopper as our 6-drop (along with the non-demonic Ravager Wurm), there isn't a ton of room for this guy as well. One thing we could do is have a 50/50 split, considering they're both legendary.

Demon of Catastrophes - With the amount of removal in Standard, coupled with the fact that we don't have a ton of creatures that we want to sacrifice, this guy seems like a no-go. If the sacrifice wasn't a cost, or if it had flash, I think we'd be talking, and then it might even be on par with previous iterations of the "6/6 flying demon with trample for four mana" trope (I'm looking at you, Desecration Demon! Also you, Abyssal Persecutor! And, uh, you...Grinning...Dem...nevermind).

Rafter Demon - I don't have to go over why we aren't constructing with this guy, do I? It's nothing personal, Rafter Demon, your skills are just better utilized...you know...elsewhere. (Probably don't draft this guy, either, but also don't tell him I said not to draft him.)

...and that's it. So while there are technically five, "constructed-worthy" demons in Standard, it's really just barely.

Here are some non-demon cards I loved in the deck:

Domri, Chaos Bringer - This is a planeswalker that I wasn't very sold on at first, but has grown on me every single time I have played it. Being able to ramp us from four to six mana is great, but giving the creature we play off of it riot is huge. Not only that, but in the late game Domri can be a powerful way to refill your hand. One thing we're looking to do in this deck is get our more expensive cards out as quickly as possible, and Domri is very helpful about that. Keep in mind that you don't have to use the mana he provides on creatures; you're simply rewarded for doing so.

Ravager Wurm - This is basically just a six mana Ravenous Chupacabra that happens to be much larger, can attack the turn it comes into play, or can also destroy a land like Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin. There was never really a time I was unhappy to draw this guy, providing I had the mana to cast it.

Spawn of Mayhem - Even when this costs 4 mana later in the game, it's still a threat that commands an answer. When you're able to throw it down on turn three, however, yeesh. This thing is bonkers! Two-drop, into Spawn, into something like Domri is a big deal.

I'm just going to mention the newer cards, because I don't have to tell you that I loved things like Vraska's Contempt or Doom Whisperer. I will, however, let you know the cards I was not a fan of:

Vraska, Golgari Queen - I like this card a lot, just not here. The things she can kill are limited, and the cards we have that we want to sacrifice are similarly so. You never want to sacrifice a land or any of the creatures you may have played prior to Vraska when she comes down on four, so it's kind of awkward here.

Judith, the Scourge Diva - This card is bad for basically the same reasons Vraska is. Both of these cards want a "go wide" strategy where things are heading to the graveyard regularly, and we simply don't have that here, so giving our huge five- and six-drops +1/+0 just doesn't seem like the best use of a slot.

Rakdos, the Showstopper - Just like Rakdos himself, I'm very 50/50 here. I love the swingy effect of this card, I love how huge the creature is, but I also don't appreciate the randomness of it in a competitive environment. That being said, on a board where you have no creatures, this is going to be solely upside, so I think keeping one is actually just fine.

This was the deck I ended up with after some tweaks.

We went up to four Wildgrowth Walkers because, come on, that card is nuts. It also helps us to have an attacker on turn two for a turn-three Spawn of Mayhem. We also added two Vivien Reid as a replacement form of card advantage and removal to Vraska. We also added two Ravenous Chupacabra, because they're also just very, very good. These are all pretty basic reasons for why we added things, but again, I don't need to tell you why we added things like Chupacabra! Unfortunately we were only able to sub in five cards because Josh's original list was at 61. While I'll often play 41 in Limited, I will hardly ever play 61 in Constructed. (And I actually do have a reason for this!)

After our changes, we managed a pretty impressive 4-1 on Magic Online, and we also had a viewer just recently tell us that they managed to go 5-0 in a League with it, so maybe there's something to it!

I think this is a great shell for something competitive, as it is utilizing some of the most powerful Jund cards, and is only marginally a demon-based deck. In my heart of hearts I want to make Liliana's Contract work, but in my head (of heads?), I know it isn't meant to be. That being said, adding things like Vraska, Relic Seeker, or Demonlord Belzenlok, or Biogenic Ooze, or Angrath, the Flame-Chained seems totally fine. That's kind of the beauty of Standard right now, when you have both shock lands and the, uh, check lands I think they're called? Is that you get to pretty much play any cards you want to within your color combination with minimal mana punishment.

Ladies and gentlemen, I really hope you enjoy this deck and give it a try. Despite me putting a very low amount of reps in with it, there is clearly something here, and it's likely going to break the format at the next Pro T...er, Mythic Championship. I'm just saying, you should really get ahead of the curve here and get your Ravager Wurms before they spike (use promo code FRANK5).

All jokes aside, this deck was a blast to play, and was a welcome change from the ever-present Sultai and bg decks in the format. If that sounds like something you're looking for, I hope you give it a try. As usual, thank you so very much for reading, and I look forward to your thoughts in the comments!

Frank Lepore

Twitch: www.twitch.tv/FrankLepore

YouTube: www.youtube.com/FrankLepore

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