By rights this is the deck that should have won in Minneapolis last weekend and would have if that Scapeshift had not been peeled off the top. Jund has long been a bogeyman of the format, but the recent ban on Deathrite Shaman did a lot to suck the wind out of its sails. But it continues to compete as a tier 1 strategy because it has so many powerful pieces of disruption and removal, backed by a team of beatdown creatures.
The main strategy to victory revolves around two key monsters crashing the red zone with longtime all star Tarmogoyf widely accepted as the best two drop beater ever printed as it continues to scale up as the grave fills with different card types, and also manland Raging Ravine which continues to grow with each attack and as a land is able to dodge any sorcery speed removal. There is also Scavenging Ooze which has the ability to grow to epic proportions as well but is most useful as a way to control the opponents graveyard if they are operating with any recursion now that Deathrite is no more. There is also Dark Confidant which is the decks main source of grinding card advantage and newcomer Courser of Kruphix which is largely a brick wall with its four toughness but also acts as a form of ramp and those life points will often be very relevant in the end. The next key element of this deck is the disruption package and that is found with three trios of discard with Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize as amazing turn one pinpoint extraction also enabling you to see the opponents current plans, and also Liliana of the Veil which is a symmetrical discard but you are able to prepare properly in advance and often force early misplays from the enemy. Liliana also double as removal with her sacrifice ability and is able to rid the board of troublesome creatures especially Hexproof or Indestructible ones that you normally would not be able to destroy. The remainder of the deck is basically more removal of varied flavors including Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse able to hit many different problem permanents, Slaughter Pact and Terminate as pinpoint removal for creature threats, and Anger of the Gods which provides the deck a sweeper capable of exiling the many recursive creatures especially from Melira Pod decks. There is also the requisite set of Lightning Bolt, almost a given for any deck in the format running Red, which doubles both as removal but also as additional reach to close out games quickly. The final card is a one of Chandra, Pyromaster which with her ability to negate blockers will be a road to victory in many games that she hits the table and her second ability help provide additional draw to the deck which is one element that is not a strength.
Shaun McLaren has already proven his dominance of the UWR Control deck in Modern so it looks like he felt it needed a tweak to keep performing for him. And while it was not able to propel him to the top spot, it was good enough to push him into the top 4 of a very strong field. His deck still has the classic control elements of draw, permission and removal but adds an interesting creature twist to grind out all the value.
Let’s start from the top with the title card which adds the new spin with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker who is no stranger to Modern but has traditionally been found in either the Twin or Pod decks. Here we find him used to grind out some mega-value or even surprise combo for the kill. So looking first at that combo kill, when we pair Kiki up with Restoration Angel you create a possible infinite loop of tapping Kiki to copy Resto then blinking Kiki with the copies into play trigger to rinse and repeat. You can also flash in Resto as a blocker if Kiki is in play and create enough blockers to shut down an alpha strike from a Twin deck, very sneaky. The other key target for Kiki is Wall of Omens which works to shore up some ground defenses while providing a solid and steady stream of card advantage. There is also Snapcaster Mage which can continue to rebuy spent spells in the grave with Kiki. A singleton Vendilion Clique is extremely useful in the deck as a way to not only gain information about your opponents plan but also to help disrupt it as well. The manabase also affords us the inclusion of a set of Celestial Colonnade which are a key beatdown element and one of the main avenues to victory. As advertised this is a control deck and thus has a well rounded permission suite starting with a set of Mana Leak, a pair of Remand, and singletons of both Spell Snare and Cryptic Command. The removal is also very heafty including Lightning Bolt and Electrolyze to either burn creature or straight to the dome, and Path to Exile to decisively remove any creature threat in the way. The deck is also able to squeeze two Tectonic Edge into the manabase as an additional hedge against manlands or Scapeshift combo. The draw power of the deck lies primarily with the Wall, Electrolyze, Remand and Cryptic, but the are also singletons with a Sphinx’s Revelation and a Desolate Lighthouse to bolster the draw package.
Long has the tyranny of the awesome volcano Valakut reigned as a brutal strategy to incinerate opponents to ashes. This deck originally reared its ugly head in Standard using Primeval Titan to power out your Mountains to a quick and decisive victory. But once the Modern format was born the interaction between Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Scapeshift was too powerful to not be abused. There have been other variants of this deck as well which have used Prismatic Omen and Wargate to turn all your lands into Mountains but this straightforward style relying upon countermagic to control the game into a surprise combo finish is what has been most successful.
So the game plan of this deck is to burn your opponent to death using multiple triggers from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle with Mountains entering the battlefield. Valakut will trigger for three points of damage whenever a Mountain enters as long as there are five other Mountains already in play. And in Modern with the fetch/shock manabase that most decks are using this means that six triggers will often be enough to blast the opponent to bits. With Scapeshift you are able to combo out those triggers in one big shot by sacrificing any seven lands to it and searching your deck for a copy of Valakut and six Mountain cards, shocklands count as they are subtype Mountain, for a big finish. Now one of the golden rules of Magic is that you can play but one land per turn which when you are attempting to combo finish with seven or more lands in play can be a devastating restriction. So in order to skirt this restriction we have ways to search out more lands and put them directly into play with the decks main turn one play of Search for Tomorrow which can be suspended for just one mana and also perennial chump blocker Sakura-Tribe Elder which can often act as blocker to soak some damage then after it is declared as a blocker can still sacrifice itself to go and find a land to put into play. To ensure that you are going to hit your land drop each turn the deck has Serum Visions and Telling Time to dig through your deck, and also Electrolyze which does have damage attached to it as well but is used mostly for more draw. In fact, almost every spell in the deck has some sort of drawing effect attached to it and a solo Halimar Depths in the manabase will also help set up you next critical draw steps. The other huge facet of the deck is that it runs a very strong permission package with Remand, Cryptic Command and Izzet Charm to assure that even if it starts to stall that it won’t be falling behind and gets to continue digging with more draws. The removal is small but headed by Repeal which can get rid of any problem permanent such as the variety of hate bears that will thwart your plans, but also Charm, Cryptic and Electrolyze double themselves as additional removal. Finally we get to the last piece in this puzzle with Snapcaster Mage which is able to rebuy any of your spells in the graveyard especially a surprise counter when you need it most, and is also able to beatdown some life points if that’s what is necessary.
While the deck was said to be well positioned in the field due to the high concentration of Birthing Pod decks which it is a good match up for it I’m sure we will not see any major shift in the meta to specifically combat it. It is a very powerful but all in strategy which is rewarding only if you are able to master the Math of the Mountains. The decklist is very tight and the number of Mountains very specific where you need to be always wary of how many remain in your deck and how many you need to kill your opponent. But if you are a fan of Combo decks then this is definitely a deck that you should try. I guarantee that the results will not disappoint you, but remember to practice, practice, practice.