Overview

After Kanister took down the Mythic Championship with Jund Food, pretty much everyone can agree that it’s one of the top decks. Highly impressed with his performance in that tournament, I decided to build Jund on Arena. While I was putting up good results with the deck, there were a few cards that I didn’t really like in the list.


While I understand the role they served in the deck, I wasn’t really happy with them overall. Casualties of War is one of the strongest cards possible in the Jeskai Fires matchup, letting you destroy their Fires as well as whatever spell they cast after it (and a land for good measure). However, the only other matchup where I wanted the card was the mirror; it was slow against the aggro decks (even if blowing up a creature and an Embercleave is nice), and it was quite soft to counterspells. It wasn’t bad in the Simic Ramp matchup, but destroying their cards on turn 6 often wasn’t good enough to beat them. On top of that, you are more or less priced into running Beanstalk Giant to support the six drop, another card that I definitely wasn’t in love with. Three mana (with a one mana refund) was just too slow for the effect, and casting Beanstalk Giant was unimpressive unless you were completely out of gas. Still, maybe you needed them that badly in order to beat the Jeskai deck, so I decided against cutting them from the list entirely… for the time being.

In the list I played in my first PTQ attempt, I moved two Casualties to the board to split the difference for a card that was good in some matchups and not great in others. I ended up losing in the Semis to UG flash (some shaky keeps didn’t pan out). While I was happy with how the deck performed overall, I was convinced that Casualties wasn’t the best choice for the deck.

With another PTQ in a week, I decided it was time to adjust the list a little. I swapped out the Casualties for a third Korvold, a third Murderous Rider, a third Brontodon, and a single Vraska, Golgari Queen – this was to alleviate the fact that my deck was a lot worse at blowing up Witch’s Oven and Trail of Crumbs in the mirror. Finding a replacement for Beanstalk Giant was trickier – I tried a lot of cards but eventually settled on Paradise Druid, a card that many other versions of the deck have run. I definitely don’t love it, but it’s better than the alternatives I’ve found so far. I updated the sideboard a bit to match the meta, and this is what I ended up with:


As luck would have it, my second PTQ with this deck would be the one where I took first place. I was pretty happy with how the list performed; though it may not be right for everyone, I prefer no casualties going forward.

Sideboard Guide & Matchup Notes

Vs Fires

-2 Massacre Girl

-3 Paradise Druid

+3 Duress

+2 Assassin’s Trophy

This matchup is definitely a weird one. Sometimes your goal is to be aggressive and go for their life total as hard as you can, while there are other games where your goal is to destroy their threats and bury them in cards. The most common way for you to lose is them overrunning you, usually with Kenrith’s red ability. Post-board they usually have a bunch of Aether Gusts and a Disenchant or two. 

Vs RG Embercleave

-4 Trail of Crumbs

-3 Paradise Druid

-1 Korvold, Fae-Cursed King

+4 Lovestruck Beast

+3 Noxious Grasp

+1 Assassin’s Trophy

(Board in the second Trophy if you see a lot of high-end threats)

Gruul Embercleave can be difficult to play against; their trample creatures can punch through your cats and Embercleave can threaten huge amounts of damage out of nowhere. On the other hand, their removal is limited to four Stomps and one Domri’s Ambush main, which means they’ll have a hard time removing Mayhem Devil. Your goal is to keep the board clear first and your life total high second. Their deck has no card advantage outside of Edgewall Innkeeper, so don’t be afraid to sacrifice cards for tempo.

Vs Jund/Golgari Food

-2 Massacre Girl

-1 Paradise Druid

+2 Assassin’s Trophy

+1 Vraska, Golgari Queen

Trail of Crumbs (and Korvold, to a lesser degree) is the most important card in the matchup. As expected in most midrange-ish mirrors, the games are incredibly long and grindy if neither player really stumbles, and the constant flow of resources that Trail and Korvold give you are more powerful than any other effect in your deck. The games are attrition-based, but life total is ultimately how the game ends; usually, one player dips too low and the other uses Mayhem Devil and Cat/Oven to burn them out. There are tons of factors in every single play you make, which can be overwhelming. When in doubt, I would lead towards moves that keep their board clean and/or make the best use of your mana. Watch out for Casualties of War; many lists still run some copies, so making sure you don’t have too many card types on the board if you can avoid it.

Vs UG Ramp

-2 Massacre Girl

-3 Thrashing Brontodon

+3 Noxious Grasp

+2 Assassin’s Trophy

In this matchup, you actually have more inevitability than they do — it doesn’t matter how much power and toughness they have in play if you burn them out. With that in mind, you want to be a control deck for the first several turns, then switch to the burnout plan as soon as you can. Keep their battlefield clear, and make sure you have a way to beat a Nissa — Krasis with Nissa mana can kill you very quickly. You also don’t have infinite time to kill them — End-Raze Forerunners and Finale of Devastation will eventually one-shot you, so make sure you pressure their life total. Post-board they usually only have Aether Gust and a few Return to Natures, whereas we get five powerful removal spells. Just don’t run your Korvold into their Gust if you don’t have to.

Vs UG Flash

-3 Thrashing Brontodon

-2 Massacre Girl

+3 Noxious Grasp

+2 Shifting Ceratops

UG’s gameplan of countering most of your relevant plays is much weaker in the face of 1 and 2 mana engines (Oven and Trail). It’s always correct to make them have a Quench for your turn 2 Trail of Crumbs. They don’t have any way to gain life game 1, so get in all the chip damage you can. Post-board they get a few Gusts. Some lists play Sorcerous Spyglass, so board in Trophies if you see that. Play sharp and you will often be able to find a line to get around their counterspells.

Vs BR Knights

-4 Trail of Crumbs

-3 Paradise Druid

+4 Lovestruck Beast

+2 Assassin’s Trophy

+1 Vraska, Golgari Queen

The new deck on the block. I haven’t played against this deck at all, but I imagine it plays out like the other Embercleave matchups: keep their board clear as much as possible and try to stay out of range of their burst damage. They run out of cards very quickly unless they’ve had a Stormfist Crusader going, so it’s often a good idea to trade resources aggressively.

Tips and Tricks

-Your bar to keep a hand should be much higher with this deck than it would be with another deck. You have a lot of cards that can dig you out of a bad spot (especially Trail of Crumbs!), and your sacrifice synergies are so much more powerful than the rest of your deck.

-If you play Massacre Girl with a Cauldron Familiar in play, every food you have can be sacrificed to give -1/-1 to the board if you bring back the cat between triggers.

-Don’t forget you can kill your own Cauldron Familiar with Mayhem Devil if you need it in your graveyard.

-You can respond to Korvold’s ETB ability by activating abilities that cause you to sacrifice permanents. This matters for some lines.

-You should constantly be thinking about the potential to burn your opponent out. With enough Witch’s Ovens and Mayhem Devils, you can easily burn opponents out from double digit life totals.

-If you have Cat + Oven, it’s usually better to leave the cat in your graveyard on the opponent’s end step unless you’re planning on attacking for 1. This is better if you cast a Korvold or a Mayhem Devil on your next turn, letting you net an extra trigger.

My List Going Forward

Jund Food is, at the end of the day, a synergy-based deck. Of the 35 non-land cards in the deck, 23 of them are locked in no matter what your deck looks like (16 food cards, 7 red cards). Beyond that, two Massacre Girls and two Murderous Riders are all but locked (I believe it’s a mistake to go lower than this for either of these). This leaves you with just eight flex slots to play with. There are a ton of cards you can play in these slots — keeping this part of the deck tuned relative to the current meta is a good idea. Here’s what I’m currently running:

•1 Murderous Rider

•1 Massacre Girl

•2 Thrashing Brontodon

•1 Vraska, Golgari Queen

•3 Paradise Druid

Closing Thoughts

Jund Food is very difficult to play perfectly, yet incredibly powerful if you made the right moves. The deck can kind of do everything – you can kill small and big creatures, you draw lots of cards, and you have a potent direct damage combo finish. However, the critical turns for this deck can be extremely complicated, both on a technical level and a strategic level. Nonetheless, if you don’t mind a good challenge, I would highly recommend giving this deck a try.

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