If you’ve glanced at DailyMTG.com in the last couple of weeks, you probably know that last weekend saw the inaugural World Magic Cup at Gen-Con. The team-based competition pitted 71 countries against each other in pursuit of the World Magic Cup championship trophies, with Chinese Taipei taking home the prize. The weekend-long event included individual Booster Draft and Standard, plus team play in Sealed Deck, Standard, Modern, and Innistrad/Avacyn Restored Block Constructed. It was a busy weekend for these players, to be sure, and the Top-8 teams may surprise you! As you no doubt know, the Standard landscape will be shifting heavily come October, with Scars block and M12 cycling out, and Return to Ravnica coming in, leaving the format dominated by the Innistrad block. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why it might be prudent to look at Innistrad Block Constructed decks to figure out where trends in post-rotation Standard might lead. Of course, it is important to remember that both [mtg_card=Lingering Souls] and [mtg_card=Intangible Virtue] are banned in Block Constructed but not in Standard, and given the power level of [mtg_card=Lingering Souls], you can be sure there will be strategies built around it.
If you check out the Team Constructed Metagame Breakdown you’ll see that one deck absolutely dominated the Block scene at the event. Twelve of sixteen decks were Jund, which means they ran Black, Red, and Green. If you look at the Top-8 decklists, you’ll notice very little variation between these Jund builds. One difference does jump out, though, and that’s the splash of White in two of the decklists, which allows for the inclusion of [mtg_card=Restoration Angel]. If Block is any indication, we’re in for a resurgence of Jund decks in Standard, which may become even more potent with Return to Ravnica.
Before we get to the White splash, let’s see what makes the core Jund deck tick. Four [mtg_card=Avacyn’s Pilgrim] starts off the curve and, while this version of the deck won’t make use of the colored mana, it does enable turn-two [mtg_card=Borderland Ranger]s, which can ideally grab whatever land you need for a turn-three [mtg_card=Huntmaster of the Fells] or [mtg_card=Falkenrath Aristocrat]. At five mana, you’ve typically got three or four [mtg_card=Wolfir Silverheart]s and one or two [mtg_card=Zealous Conscripts]. The Conscripts are great for unpairing your opponent’s Silverheart, since it becomes unpaired when they lose control of it for the turn. Alternately, it can be used to snag a Planeswalker that’s about to go ultimate or one of the reanimation targets from the sparse Reanimator decks in the field. [mtg_card=Wolfir Silverheart] is just a powerhouse in general, and likely explains the robustness of the removal package you’ll see in these decks. An unchecked Silverheart plus any other creature can easily end games, so we’ve got to keep a variety of answers available.
On the topic of removal, Jund is well prepared for the mirror, and most any creature-based threats from the rest of the field. Running four [mtg_card=Tragic Slip]s seems to be standard fare, and it’s no wonder. A Morbid [mtg_card=Tragic Slip] is plenty to take out a paired Silverheart, while simultaneously circumventing the Indestructible-granting ability of [mtg_card=Falkenrath Aristocrat], thus answering two of the three major threats in the all-too-prevalent mirror. A pair of [mtg_card=Sever the Bloodline]s achieves the same effect at a higher premium, but also comes with built-in card advantage in its Flashback. While Token strategies aren’t really a thing in Block, with [mtg_card=Lingering Souls] in Standard, [mtg_card=Sever the Bloodline] will also take out armies of Spirit tokens all by itself. Some number of [mtg_card=Devil’s Play] also seems to be par for the course here, providing extra reach when the board gets too cluttered to get more creature damage through. It also has the potential to be flashed back, though that seems quite difficult, given the mana base of the deck. Finally, we’ve got what is likely the most unfair card in the deck in [mtg_card=Bonfire of the Damned]. I don’t know what I can say about this card that hasn’t been said before. Clear the opposing board, deal some damage to the opponent’s face, and keep your critters intact. With some help from [mtg_card=Avacyn’s Pilgrim], you can even hard cast it to take out a [mtg_card=Huntmaster of the Fells] and his Wolf token on turn four.
So what happens when you splash White for [mtg_card=Restoration Angel]? Well, to be fair, not much, really. The crux of the deck stays the same, but we pare down a handful of the other mainstays in favor of our Angelic friends. I’m still not entirely convinced that the splash of white is worth it, but it does have some benefits. First and foremost, you can blank targeted removal by flickering the target with your Angel’s ETB ability. Fizzling a [mtg_card=Sever the Bloodline] can be a game-winning move, if played correctly, while also re-triggering ETB abilities and giving you an additional 3 power in the air. She also has Flash, which lets you pass your turn to flip [mtg_card=Huntmaster of the Fells] into [mtg_card=Ravager of the Fells], while still advancing your board position on your opponent’s turn. Mana-fixing is crucial in a three-to-four-color deck, and to that end we see four [mtg_card=Evolving Wilds] and three or four [mtg_card=Abundant Growth]s in these lists. Coupled with our [mtg_card=Borderland Ranger], and we can pretty reliably get the mana we need to make the deck work, without sacrificing too much by way of efficiency.
All that being said, you probably noticed both Reanimator and UW Miracles in the meta breakdown list, so the Block format isn’t entirely comprised of Jund decks. With all of the Top-8 being Jund, however, it is a bit of a challenge to decide which other strategies might see play in the post-rotation Standard format. Again, with [mtg_card=Lingering Souls] available in Standard, there are certainly other options to consider as well, like the once highly anticipated Black/White Tokens deck, which fell a bit flat in its first run in Standard.
So what do you think we’ll be seeing in Standard come October? Will Delver still run rampant, or will Jund break out to take a top-spot in the meta? Will BW Tokens reemerge as a contender, or will Reanimator rise again?