Detailed Jund Mana Ramp Testing

You probably know that Will Price (aka @sloppystack), Brian David-Marshall (aka BDM aka @Top8Games), and I did some playtesting with Jund Mana Ramp earlier this week. This post is going to be relatively detailed information on that testing, but you can get more information on what we have published so far by…

To make a long story short, I tested out a couple of different decks, including the more Cascade-centric Ramp deck I talked about here last week, Borderpost Tezzerator, and good old Reflecting Pool Control; Will liked the Jund Mana Ramp deck we talked about during the BBQ Podcasts from two weeks ago best and convinced me to spend more time on that deck, particularly as we were having a hard time going Ultimate on Tezzeret due to the cheap damage sources available in Standard.

That deck originally had Bloodbraid Elf… but I cut it the night before live / live Twitter testing after I had flipped one of the two main deck Banefires.

“Never again.”

Banefire was like the best card in the deck!

Ultimately, this was the list I ran in testing:

Jund Mana Ramp

3 Makeshift Mannequin
3 Shriekmaw

4 Broodmate Dragon
4 Kitchen Finks

4 Civic Wayfinder
4 Cloudthresher
4 Gift of the Gargantuan
4 Rampant Growth

4 Banefire
3 Volcanic Fallout

4 Fire-Lit Thicket
8 Forest
2 Mountain
4 Savage Land
1 Swamp
4 Treetop Village

We didn’t test sideboards, but if I were to play Regionals tomorrow, 1) I would definitely play this deck, and 2) this is the sideboard I would play:

4 Anathemancer
1 Shriekmaw
3 Caldera Hellion
1 Volcanic Fallout
1 Terminate
4 Primal Command
1 Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund

I decided to play Primal Command over any Mind Shatters. With eight Cloudthreshers and Volcanic Fallouts, you simply don’t need to max out on Mind Shatter and Gutteral Response to beat Faeries like you had to for the States-era version of Jund Mana Ramp. Anathemancer does the same duty against Reflecting Pool Control. Anathemancer is simply irresistible in a long game, especially in concert with Banefire, another tool we did not have at States. Moreover you kind of need two Swamps to run Mind Shatter (I tested tonight on MTGO with no new cards to confirm this)… and I don’t really want to play another Swamp.

The bigger shift was to remove most of the Terminates in favor of Caldera Hellion. The reasons are twofold. First of all, while it is pretty easy to play Shriekmaw or Banefire, and you usually have the mana for Broodmate Dragon… Terminate under pressure is another matter entirely at BR. I might cut them all and play a Lash Out, Terror, or even Murderous Redcap (RR being pretty easy to play thanks to Fire-Lit Thicket). You can’t play a filter land to get BR because Graven Cairns doesn’t filter Green mana. Caldera Hellion is pretty exciting, and should help give the deck a nice lift against G/W Tokens.

Anyway, back to real-life testing.

The first matchup was me on Jund Mana Ramp, Will on B/W Tokens. I am not 100% sure on the version, but I believe it was either a deck that Luis Scott-Vargas posted or the PTQ winner from the first week of the current Standard season. In either case, the deck was an evolution from “regular old” B/W tokens to incorporate Ajani Goldmane + Persist (Murderous Redcap and Kitchen Finks).

For reference:

3 Glorious Anthem
3 Plains
1 Swamp
3 Zealous Persecution
3 Caves of Koilos
3 Path to Exile
4 Fetid Heath
3 Cloudgoat Ranger
2 Marsh Flitter
3 Ajani Goldmane
4 Windbrisk Heights
4 Bitterblossom
2 Mutavault
4 Knight of the White Orchid
4 Tidehollow Sculler
3 Arcane Sanctum
3 Kitchen Finks
4 Spectral Procession
4 Reflecting Pool

2 Wrath of God
2 Identity Crisis
3 Mark of Asylum
2 Celestial Purge
3 Thoughtseize
3 Wispmare

Will and I traded the first four games, with the player going first winning each one. I felt like I could have won either of the games that I didn’t win in the first four, and Will felt like he definitely should have won the first game I won (it was a lethal Banefire off the top). I eventually broke serve on a game where Will had both lands and spells but where B/W as a non-Blue, non-Green, yet reasonably mana-intensive deck (WWW, BB, etc.) showed one of its vulnerabilities… Will hit his first four land drops but did not do anything to make me care. Meanwhile I kept a one-land six-card hand on the draw, but with a Rampant Growth and two Civic Wayfinders. These cards vastly improved my board position (especially with Will doing nothing) until I was dropping Dragons. I won the other two games on the play in the first seven, and we called the match at 5-2 in favor of Jund Mana Ramp.

Why did we call it at 5-2? This is something I got from playtesting with Zvi for Worlds last year. This was a matchup where both of us were enamored of one of the decks, and where the opposite deck did nothing to shake our interest. Since we didn’t really care about the performance of B/W as it was not dramatic, it was more efficient to move on.

The B/W matchup is a pure “Trish” matchup. Basically from Jund side you want to survive and get lots of two-for-ones. Your cards are so vastly superior to the B/W cards that they can’t possibly win outside of early Stage Two unless they lock you with Ajani. So the goal is just to trade. Eventually you will crush them with Cloudthreshers and Broodmate Dragons and Banefire for nine. So basically it is a default for Jund to win. The two games Will won were:

  1. Thoughtseize-into-Tidehollow Sculler: He correctly ignored my early game acceleration and just took my bombs. So when I got to six lands, I had nothing to do.
  2. Double Tidehollow Sculler: He slowed me down and got super duper Spectral Processions. My Broodmate Dragons were too small!

My favorite kill was probably when Will took my Cloudthresher with Tidehollow Sculler, I drew and passed against his Cloudgoat Ranger and Spectral Procession tokens. He attacked with all and I revealed that I had drawn another Cloudthresher, cleared the board, and followed up with a big Banefire. This was particularly super awesome as I also neutered Ajani

The next matchup was against B/G Elves, which was a Top 8 finisher in the first PTQ; according to Will and his partner in crime @zielend B/G Elves is also one of the top finishers in big MTGO events.

For reference:

1 Swamp
4 Forest
4 Llanowar Elves
4 Maelstrom Pulse
2 Lord of Extinction
4 Llanowar Wastes
3 Noble Hierarch
4 Twilight Mire
4 Gilt-Leaf Palace
3 Profane Command
2 Eyeblight’s Ending
2 Cloudthresher
4 Wren’s Run Vanquisher
2 Mutavault
3 Chameleon Colossus
4 Civic Wayfinder
3 Kitchen Finks
4 Wilt-Leaf Liege
4 Treetop Village

4 Shriekmaw
2 Primal Command
3 Avatar of Might
2 Necrogenesis
1 Kitchen Finks
3 Pithing Needle

The testing was kind of strange.

I won the first three games with B/G Elves.

We switched decks.

I won the next three games with Jund Mana Ramp.

We tried to analyze why this might be (I mean other than my being super awesome); but I actually won one of the B/G games on a mulligan to four, and I shipped to Paris five times in the three games I played from Jund side! This is actually quite telling as I realized what was going on from playing both sides and consistently shipped not just to land and spells, but any Shriekmaw. Basically if you draw a Shriekmaw it is quite easy to beat B/G Elves from Jund side.

From B/G Elves side I elected to play B/G as a singular big threat deck rather than as a swarming deck. That is, I would attack with one Chameleon Colossus or Lord of Extinction rather than exposing myself to getting blown out by Volcanic Fallout.

At this point BDM sat down with us and helped play Jund from Will’s side. The main contribution he made was to torch any and every mana accelerator I played; with Brian’s help Will won the last three games 2-1. This led to a 5-4 lead for Jund Mana Ramp over nine games, with essentially no pattern based on who went first. However from playing both sides I think that Jund should be the heavy favorite.

Just look at the sideboards. Jund gets the fourth Shriekmaw and as much removal as it likes. It would be a complete blowout if Jund actually got ahold of more Terminates, but you can only do what you can.

Tonight I played several matches with Jund (albeit with no new cards in the sideboard) and finished my session at 4-1 or 5-1 with the only loss being to Faeries. I might have won actually. I kept a one-land six-card hand on the draw in Game One and conceded in frustration when my opponent hit Bitterblossom, Jace Beleren and I still hadn’t played my second land. It turns out I had multiple lands and a Volcanic Fallout on top (I obviously kept a hand full of acceleration and two-for-ones)… I actually think I could have gotten out of it. I took Game Two, and lost Game Three on a judgment call. Basically my opponent passed with three mana up and I had six mana on my turn with Cloudthresher and Broodmate Dragon in hand. I was annoyed at his double Vendilion Clique draw, which had robbed me of a ‘Thresher and Makeshift Mannequin and thought I could resolve my ‘Thresher main. He had not shown me Broken Ambitions in the first two games, so I decided if he had Remove Soul there was nothing I could do about it. Of course my original plan was to test-spell the ‘Thresher at the end of his turn and untap into the Broodmate, but like I said, I hadn’t seen Broken Ambitions.

He had Broken Ambitions.

The game took a bit longer, and I was one turn off of winning with Banefire, but he ended up having me to -2 as I failed to draw either a third Cloudthresher or a Volcanic Fallout to stall. All that said, I feel like Faeries has to be a winnable matchup with the package we plan to present.

More before Regionals,


facebook comments:


#1 sheetylogik on 05.10.09 at 6:12 am

Hey mike. I found similiar results. been playing the deck heavily. I threw one game away against faeries where i was greedy and Primal Commanded for a Anathemancer instead of Cloudthresher, then ran into double Mistbind. I think if they do not hit Mistbinds, we are in superb position to win this matchup. Or at least back-to-back.

I was trading back and forth with BW, need to test after board, I do think Caldera Hellion will be a nice addition. How would you side this matchup?

-3 Shriekmaw

+3 Caldera Hellion

I would love to put the Primal Commands in for this and G/W, not sure what to remove. its all so good >_< And obviously I would not take out Shriekmaw against G/W its soo good there.

#2 the_reisch on 05.10.09 at 10:19 am


I was wondering what your opinions on [url=]Spellbreaker Behemoth[/url] and [url=]Flameblast Dragon[/url] were? I think that if you are expecting a healthy amount of counter magic in the meta then Behemoth warrants a spot in your board as it can make Cloudthresher uncounter-able. While, Flameblast Dragon compliments the Behemeoth strategy quite well and seems to be almost another Banefire if left unmolested.

#3 The American Nightmare on 05.10.09 at 6:44 pm

I might have missed it in prior discussions of the Jund deck but did you try Maelstrom Pulse anywhere?

#4 ReeceP on 05.10.09 at 7:48 pm

I got this one, Mike 🙂

“I had Maelstrom Pulse originally but the deck is hungry for creatures for Gift of the Gargantuan; Shriekmaw has a body”

#5 Noodles2375 on 05.10.09 at 7:59 pm

I tested this list online, the Caldera Hellion can be an absolutely savage beating with the Gift synergy and the devour on civic or finks.

I played several matches v. monoW kithkin and savagely mauled them anytime they didn’t see multiple early figures.

#6 Chewy on 05.10.09 at 9:22 pm

Also the deck has infinite ways to deal with masses of tokens. Pulse isnt bad at killing Planeswalkers tho. 4 Primal Command and Banefires also work tho I spose.

#7 madmanquail on 05.11.09 at 4:21 am

I don’t get gift of the gargantuan. Please correct me if i’m wrong, but:

In Stage 1, you’re playing rampant growth, evoked maw, civic wayfinder and kitchen finks. Without one or two of those by turn 3-4, you’re getting quite behind. That doesn’t leave much space on the curve for GoG…
In early Stage 2, you aren’t able to cast any bombs you see off this until the following turn, and if you don’t 2-for-1 with it (or you don’t hit relevant creatures with it), it’s a really awkward cycler
In late Stage 2, this is a fine enough topdeck, but there are so many better – vengeful rebirth, primal command, mannequin, banefire…

It just seems like a worse civic wayfinder (which although very good isn’t exactly above the power curve), and if you hit a broodmate or thresher, you’re gonna need a heck of a lot of mana to cast it on the same turn… Is it really better than something like blightning (aka 2for1 that occasionally kills planeswalkers) or even graveyard interaction like recover / recollect?

Also, have you tried adding borderposts in the deck? they fit in well around rampant growth and provide fine accel while dodging anathemancer.

#8 zsievers on 05.11.09 at 7:06 pm

I feel like you are giving up too much power not running the Elf.

Now what decks do you to kill with Banefire?

I am pretty sure in all of those matchups Anathemancer is just as good Fireball and doesn’t suck coming off the elf.

Maybe I am wrong though, but I would like to here what you think.

#9 sheetylogik on 05.11.09 at 10:43 pm

Having Gifts helps insure you dont miss land drops, which you DO NOT want to do with this deck. Ill draw 2 cards for 3 mana any day of the week, yes please.

#10 hudnall56 on 05.12.09 at 6:18 am

About the removal of Bloodbraid Elf and inclusion of Banefire: the Elf is a fantastic card in the abstract. A 2-for-1 (or likely 3-for-1 in a deck like this) is always welcome. I think that the problem is that it just doesn’t do what the deck needs. Mana Ramp already has a billion and one routes to card advantage and, for that reason, the Elf is superfluous. What the deck does need is something to do after gaining control of the board, pulling ridiculously ahead on cards, and spitting out half of it’s lands. Banefire shores up that hole while also providing utility as a removal spell.

On Banefire over Anathemancer main: the matchups where Banefire is at it’s best, Anathemancer–despite being unable to take out evil lifegaining walls–is perhaps superior, but you probably want both. As with one of my favorite of Mike’s decks, Kuroda-Style Red, the other deck can play all of the Tier 1 cards it wants and it just won’t matter so long as you get to throw fire at them. Dead is dead regardless of what cool stuff the bad-guys can do. The matchups where Anathemancer is pointless/inefficient, Banefire is still excels in the end-game next to Dragons/Cloudthreshers while providing additional spot removal.

If the deck were about cheap dudes and redundant fire as opposed to incremental card advantage Anathemancer main might be a better choice. That is not the case. The deck needs to be able to play the Beatdown against slow decks–where Anathemancer shines–and the Control role against aggressive decks–where Anathemancer is unimpressive. Banefire does both of these things very well. Overall, considering how the deck functions, the Banefire seems much more deserving of a maindeck slot.

#11 shadowrunner11 on 05.12.09 at 12:14 pm

hey mike, this may not be appropriate but hey i hope its ok. my team and i really respect your opinion on well everything and we have also been testing a jund rock deck for regionals. last night we finalized (barring any last minute freak out changes) our list for one team member to run. as i said, i dont know whether it would be appropriate or not but i thought i would post the list that we have been wrecking the format with. last night in about eight hours of testing against mostly the four ptq top 8 decklists, this version didnt lose a match to anything. we didnt test against faeries so keep that in mind but we did test against almost everything else we could think of and had prepared in our gauntlet. do with it what you will but here is the list.

x3 finks
x3 redcap
x3 hellion
x4 bloodbraid
x3 broodmate
x2 broodmother (insanely better than she looks)

x4 terminate
x4 pulse
x4 jund charm
x3 blightning (this is the card that may change from the main to the board if anything)
x3 vengeful rebirth (seriously insane)

x2 g/r filter
x2 g/b filter
x4 savage lands
x3 jund panarama
x3 treetop
x2 forest
x4 swamp
x4 mountain

i know that its a little bit different direction than you are in at the moment but its been seriously hardcore in our testing. the manabase isnt set in stone but its honestly pretty solid maybe a couple cards off. very resistent to anathamancer which is good. i would love to know your thoughts on it if you have the time.

thanks, hope im not out of line

#12 tongonation on 05.12.09 at 2:34 pm

shadowrunner, please tell me, if you acn, in what circumstance vengeful rebirth is better than banefire. It never does more than 6, and will often be capped lower, it is conditional damage, requiring a target in the GY, which means it can be fizzled by removal of the card in the GY, and most importantly, it can be countered or prevented. Banefire can be more or less, can be cast off of an empty gy, at least two turns sooner than VR, and is a much more reliable finisher, since once you plan to kill your opp with it, it cannot be countered OR prevented, so you neednt worry about ninety five percent of the general answers to VR. ‘Splain yourself.


#13 hudnall56 on 05.12.09 at 8:59 pm

Dear Mike,

I finally picked up my copy of Deckade and I have to say it was the best $25 that I’ve spent in a while. I first encountered the Magic Internet somewhat late in the game (graduating from Sideboard Magazine to and, aside from oft hyperlinked classics like “Investment” and “Who’s the Beatdown?”, am reading the Usenet/Dojo articles for the first time. They certainly aren’t all gems, but, whether it’s a bad beat or a mise, they are all entertaining. I’m only halfway through the Psylum era, but even thus far Deckade demonstrates how quickly our understanding of the game developed due to writers such as yourself, Jamie, Hahn, Baxter–the first and only other proper book on Magic I own is Baxter’s Dominating Dominia: A Type II Tournament Player’s Guide for Magic : The Gathering–and others. From the Stone Age of the Magic Internet where you were advising CoP: White to improve the efficiency of Icatian Moneychanger and echewing sideboards as a concession to poor deck construction (Baxter’s T2 book was printed in the same era; the Vise was restricted, yet there is no mention of the Skull) to stressing the metagame as a pimary influence on deckbuilding and deconstruction of the mechanics of Sligh and Necro, the evolution of your writing style and depth of knowledge about the game reflects the sophistication with which the Magic comunity understood the game. Anyone who’s reading this can remember something along the lines of pairing Orcish Artillery with CoP: Red (it was Lure + Wolverine Pack/Thicket Basilisk for me) just as vividly as the first time they copied an established deck card for card (Budde’s R/G Beatdown). As one of the few who have been actively writing about the game since there was a game to write about, the journey of Mike Flores is that of every Magic player.

Many Thanks.

P.S.: I’m glad you enjoyed the Captured Sunlight comment. It strikes me as the type of card I’m drawn to but shouldn’t be. Sunlight + Finks just has to be a trap.

#14 shadowrunner11 on 05.13.09 at 4:41 am

@tongonation: i am not surprised at your question honestly. before i saw it played and had it played against me i agreed with you. what you have to think though is first, you arent winning before then anyway. if you are trying to win before late game, play another deck. now instead of comparing it to banefire, which admittedly it does well and often for 6, you should be thinking of it as a removal spell. it is a removal spell that gets back another removal spell or one of your finishers that has died. the whole graveyard thing, i mean yes i guess once in a while you have to play around the jund charm but other than that you should be fine. the reason, btw, that you shouldnt play banefire is because you fail if you hit it with a bloodbraid. i told him he could play resounding thunder but after playing against it i wouldnt recommend the change. it would be acceptable to replace with resounding thunder though if you were really looking at the list.

#15 hudnall56 on 05.13.09 at 2:30 pm


Becker is right. You need to ask yourself why VR is gas. If it’s the damage, Banefire is more flexible (you can play it with less than 6 manas and can scale it down if you need to play an additional spell on the turn) and more powerful (the only limit to how much damage you can do is the number of lands you control plus it can’t be countered, prevented, or foiled by graveyard hate). If it’s rebuying a card, most of the cards in your list that you’d want to get back on turn 6 can be Mannequined. By the time you have 6 mana you don’t want to pick your reactive cards back up and if you really need to sweep the board or off a dork you’ve got Hellion and Redcap to do it. Are there going to be some times that Banefire or Mannequin aren’t going to be able to do what you’d like them to do? Certainly. But they both give you access to plays far superior than you could ever make in this deck with VR.

One of the things I like about your list is the Broodmother. I dunno how good she is, but in a deck with persist you’ll have guys around that you probably won’t miss too much and the tokens come into play big enough to reduce the effectiveness of sweepers like Violent Eruption. This sort of deck might just be the appropriate place for Verdant Force’s smaller, redder cousin. Especially if you can manage to fit in Finks and Redcap number 4 or some Civic Wayfinders–a saucy hit off Bloodbraid that should help your mana base considerably while keeping the deck just as resistant to Anathemancer.

Good luck at Regionals!

#16 relhok on 05.13.09 at 2:54 pm

what about a couple thought hemorrhages in the board? they stop your Reveilark problems and you get a peek at their deck for some extra info

#17 Alara Reborn Upgrades to the Standard Metagame « Games We Play on 04.18.10 at 7:22 pm

[…] Jund Mana Ramp: suggested by Mike Flores as seen on Five with Flores […]

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