My name is Dylan, and this is my first time coming to a meeting, and I have a problem. I don’t know when it started, but I’ve started to slip. Instead of being responsible and sleeving up my islands, I found myself binging on forests. Less and less was I casting counter magic, and instead was casting 4 and 5 mana green spells. My name is Dylan, and I have an addiction to midrange.
When the idea for this article first occurred to me, I was planning on writing on midrange in every format, feature my list for each format, and give my insights. Unfortunately, with my current work schedule I have been unable to play standard or modern, so I don’t have all that much to say, but I might as well make you read it anyway.
Legacy is currently where I am most familiar with midrange at the moment, and I have been happily playing Jund for close to a year now. One of my favorite aspects of this deck is that it is reasonably customizable, and there is a fair amount of flex room to tweak the deck for your specific metagame. My most current list is...
4 Deathrite Shaman
4 Dark Confidant
2 Bloodbraid Elf
2 Scavenging Ooze
3 Hymn to Tourach
3 Liliana of the Veil
4 Abrupt Decay
3 Lightning Bolt
3 Punishing Fire
1 Sylvan Library
An important thing to note, is my decklist is fairly tuned to my local metagame, but a great aspect of Jund in legacy is that there is a lot of flexibility in your deck construction. To break the deck up into specifics and flex spots....
The mana in Jund happens to be quite good, but you need to be aware that this deck really wants to have four mana available per turn in the midgame. This is especially true in games where you do not draw Liliana, where you may have to be able to cast two spells a turn to keep up. I played 24 lands for a long time, and I think you can get away with 23, you just need to be willing occasionally tap Wasteland for mana.
I think the 10 color producing lands are a lock with the Deathrites, you don’t need more but you certainly cannot go any lower. I don’t think the basic Mountain is needed, as there are enough other red sources that if one gets Wastelanded you are likely enough to draw a second. A second swamp might be nice, but again if you have it is likely to cast Liliana, and if you do you can likely afford to have a non-basic in play. The Taiga is often a 4th Grove, but I am pretty attached to the one Taiga. The times you need to fetch it up are pretty slim, but when you need to fetch it and it’s not there you REALLY miss it.
I played three Wastelands for a really long time, but I currently like the fourth. The simple fact is that Wasteland is so punishing to loose keeps, greedy mana bases, and allows for free wins, the fourth just feels right to me. You want to Wasteland them out of the game or off a color, not mildly annoy them on turn seven or turn eight, so I am currently in favor of playing the fourth 4th but three might be reasonable based on you play style.
Grove of the Burnwillows – 0, or 3-4 – I often see 3-4 Groves, and used to occasionally see zero. I cannot fathom not playing Groves as there are SO many matchups where it’s great, and it seems as if the general consensus is to be playing with Groves. The ability to machine gun down small creatures, re-buy and discarded to Liliana, reach to burn out your opponent and grind back into a matchup are all important . As for how many, I think this is largely metagame dependent. I am currently on three as there is often enough control decks and combo decks where it isn’t great, but shifting to a 4th in some metas makes sense, and this is likely the most frequent change I make to my deck.
The Creatures – 14-18 – I think the 4x Deathrites, 4x Dark Confidant, and 4x Tarmogoyf are locked numbers for obvious reasons. They are all exceptionally powerful cards that are by far the most efficient at what they do for their mana cost, but twelve is generally too few creatures to reliably close out the game in midrange mirrors, so we are stuck playing some more.
Bloodbraid Elf is still a card I am not sure how many copies you should play. I’ve seen anywhere from 2-4 in the maindeck, and the card is clearly quite good. It’s a pretty easy 2-1 that occasionally puts a few lands on the bottom of the deck for you. It is also 4 mana, and in some matchups is embarrassingly under powered, mostly combo. Looking at a Bloodbraid Elf in your hand when your opponent is casting a Time Spiral, Past in Flames, Charbelcher or putting a Griselbrand into play 2 is downright embarrassing.
Scavenging Ooze is a number that changes a fair amount across lists in both MD and SB. I feel like legacy is currently at a moment where Ooze is good in enough different matchups that I don’t mind playing it. It provides life gain, can get big enough to be a major threat and is another must kill target in midrange mirrors, and keeps graveyards in check against Snapcaster and Dig Through Time.
Tasigur, the Golden Fang is the hot new card running around at the moment that I honestly have not tested yet, though my gut instinct is a doubtful. You want access to your graveyard for Goyf and Deathrite, and Tasigur a 6 mana card to potentially flip to Dark Confidant. The other thing that concerns me is how often you will not be able to delve it. I expect in post boarded games that my opponents will have cards to interact with my graveyard, be it something like Rest In Peace or a Relic of Progenitus. I am concerned about how often you might have to tap 6 lands to cast him, and that is not acceptable in legacy. I am willing to test but I am skeptical.
The Discard – 7-12 – This is a number that will change incredibly often in your deck, both in the construction of your original 60 card list and when sideboarding, and I generally believe you want to be on the higher range for number of discard spells. I think the three Hymns are correct, due to how good it is in the early game and how mediocre it can be in the late game, though it is possible in the right metagame two is better. Thoughtseize has proven how defining and impactful it is in multiple different formats at this point, and I think more important to max out on than Hymn. Liliana is a great role player, serving as life gain and removal in some matchups while discard in others. I really like the 4-3-3 split in my deck, but again there are some matchups where you certainly don’t want the discard and would rather focus on board control - so some of these numbers can be trimmed.
The Removal – 12-17 – This is the reason I often have 4 Liliana, as she does double duty in both the discard and removal aspects of the deck. Abrupt Decay is a card I played as a 3 copies of a long time, and am not sure why. The card is incredible, basically not dead in any matchup, and so good in so many. I don’t think you can play less than the full set. I think the number of Punishing Fires should matchup with the number of Groves, and generally I like three. Lightning Bolt is in the top 5 cards legal in legacy (another conversation for another day) but really serves its purpose in this deck to keep up with the tempo decks. It is important, especially on the draw, to have spells that cheaply interact with Stoneforge Mystic and Delver. There's often one Maelstrom Pulse lurking around Jund lists, but I prefer religating it to the SB. The main other removal spells that I have played or have seen played are Dismember, Disfigure and Toxic Deluge. Again, these are all meta dependent, but generally I think these three are all worse options then Decay, Bolt or Punishing Fires.
The Role Players – 1-3 – There is one Sylvan Library in my deck, and ot could easily be a Life From the Loam, Sensei’s Divining Top, Phyrexian Arena, Umezawa’s Jitte, Golgari Charm, Pernicious Deed, Toxic Deluge or perhaps the Tasigur just waiting to be tested. These are additional sources of card advantage or card selection that you might want/need in some matchups, but not essential to your game plan, and could almost be seen as the ‘16th’ SB slot. I am currently happy with the one Sylvan Library in my deck, but the next one I would add to the MD is a Life From the Loam. This is the major flex spot for your metagame and personal play style.
The Sideboard – Any legacy deck's sideboard should vary greatly based your expected metagame, and should generally be used to tweak the numbers of your MD. My current sideboard is posted below, and may not be for you. I generally like having some cards to tweak numbers in my maindeck, and also like having a lot of one of answers over a bunch of specific / narrow haymakers. Yes having 4 Leyline of the Void might be insane and correct in some metagames, but generally I would prefer to have 3-5 cards that interact with the graveyard that I can board in against opponents that are not just Dredge. My current side board is...
1 Grafdigger’s Cage
1 Pithing Needle
1 Life From the Loam
1 Liliana of the Veil
1 Golgari Charm
1 Grim Lavamancer
1 Surgical Extraction
1 Slaughter Pact
1 Umezawa’s Jitte
1 Ancient Grudge
1 Bloodbraid Elf
The 2 Duress, 1 Loam, 1 Jitte, 1 BBE, 1 Needle, 1 Golgari Charm and 1 Grudge are 8 spots that are locked in. The other 7 cards are highly flexible and can be whatever suits your metagame the most. My sideboard full of one-ofs might not your typical sideboard and this generally may not suite you, but thankfully there is a fair number of good options that exist in these colors. Engineered Plague, Chains of Mephistopheles[TEDitor's Note: Yeah, if you're rich...], Toxic Deluge, Krosan Grip, Maelstrom Pulse, Phyrexian Revoker, Rakdos Charm, Pyroclasm, Nature’s Claim, Nihil Spellbomb, Slaughter Games, Pernicious Deed, Massacre and Dread of Night are all great options... and the list goes on. Your sideboard should be tuned for your metagame, and I suggest making your own and tweaking it.
I highly recommend giving Jund a try in legacy if you get the opportunity. It seems weird, not playing Brainstorm and playing the fairest of fair decks, but there’s something really satisfying about the deck and beating Emrakuls, Dark Rituals and Jaces. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading - Dylan