(Modern) Deck Spotlight – Esper “Jund”

by Corey Murphy


After a conversation over how well Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy would hold it’s pricetag after rotation, I began to think of it’s modern implications.  We have seen him in droves in standard, but, at this point, Jace’s only appearance in Modern is in the updated Grixis Control deck.  Unlike Snapcaster, Baby Jace doesn’t play well with ALL of the instant/sorcery spells in Modern and has a particular aversion to reactive and counter spells.  Unfortunately, this is often the reason to play blue in the first place.  I wonder what type of long-term impact on Modern Jace might have.  In order to evaluate, let’s start by looking at the modern spells that Jace’s flashback is currently hitting…


Corey Burkhart top 8’ed Grand Prix Pittsburgh (5th place) with a relatively stock Grixis Control list.  Alongside Jace, Corey packed the following:

4x Inquisition of Kozilek
4x Lightning Bolt
4x Serum Visions
4x Thought Scour
4x Terminate
1x Dismember
4x Kolahan’s Command
1x Rise//Fall

And in the sideboard:

1x Vandalblast
1x Anger of the Gods
1x Molten Rain
1x Tribute to Hunger
1x Damnation

This deck, often called Blue Jund, is pushed towards a removal suite similar to one that would be played in an actual Jund list.  In fact, here is a list of Jace “Flashback-able” targets from Kyryll Shevchenko’s winning Jund list at the SCG Premier the same weekend:

2x Kolaghan’s Command
2x Abrupt Decay
4x Lightning Bolt
3x Terminate
4x Inquisition of Kozilek
1x Maelstrom Pulse
2x Thoughtseize

With green, Jund has advantages in non-creature permanent removal spells like Abrupt Decay and Maelstrom Pulse.  Dealing with enchantments (ie-Choke, Blood Moon) is a particular challenge for a blue deck that has cut down on counterspell options.  Also, opposing Tarmogoyfs, Tasigurs, and Siege Rhinos can often outnumber your terminates (flashbacks included) and doubling up on lightning bolts to kill one of these guys is not a good option no matter how many Snapcasters you’ve got stocked up.  For this reason, and others (which I will soon explain), I have developed…Esper “Jund”.

Building a Better Jund

Let’s start with the elephant in the room.  NO MORE LIGHTNING BOLT!?  Yes.  It’s a little sad but we do have options for the second best one-mana removal spell.

4x Path to Exile

Additionally, this “unrestricted” removal piece (at least it doesn’t care how big the opposing creature’s but is or whether or not it can persist) gives you a better match up against the aforementioned big black and green threats.  Casting these more than once, via Snapcaster or Jace, will quickly dig your opponent out of their basics and can potentially cause your opponent to “fail to find”.

Now, if we are really going to play the Jund resource denial strategy, we’ll want some number of Liliana of the Veil.  I’ve gone with 3 to avoid too much redundancy but I’ve considered the full 4.  Discarding cards from your hand allows for you to flashback spells later when they are needed.

3x Liliana of the Veil

Running Lingering Souls is a no-brainer when you’ve got Liliana in a WB deck.  It’s even better when you are looking for something to discard to early Jace looting and, at times, delay Jace’s flip by a turn to loot some more before he sparks.

4x Lingering Souls

In the days of Bloodbraid Jund, Blightning served as an extremely potent resource denial piece when cast for free on Bloodbraid’s cascade.  In UWB, we have the option to run Esper Charm, an instant speed version of Blightning that, while not striking for an additional 3 damage, gives you the option to draw 2 when the opponent is out of discardables, or smash a pesky enchantment.  Not to mention, this card generates some significant advantage when cast for flashback.  With Liliana and Lingering Souls in the deck, we are already a bit heavy on 3-drops.  I’d like to run more, but I only see room for 2 Esper Charm in the main.

2x Esper Charm

Our Jund strategy is not complete without some Macbethian beatdown (you know, Birnam forest).  Obviously, we can’t run Raging Ravine or Treetop Village without a clunky color splash.  This isn’t too upsetting though, because we have access to the best manlands in Modern.  BW gives us Shambling Vent.  I still haven’t ruled this one out entirely but my initial build runs 0.  In a grindy deck, having lifegain seems appealing but the 2/3 body with no evasion is underwhelming.  Instead, I opt for the following:

2x Celestial Colonnade
2x Creeping Tar Pit

tar pit shambling conclave celestial

Since you are running a set of Lingering Souls, chump blockers are abundant.  This means that you don’t have to deal with all of your opponent’s threats before you can go on the offensive.  This way, an unblockable Tar Pit or a flying Colonnade become very effective ways of taking it to the red zone.


Put all that together and you’ve got Esper “Jund” version 1.0.

Creatures (11)
2x Gurmag Angler
4x Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy
3x Snapcaster Mage
2x Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Instant/Sorcery (23)
2x Esper Charm
2x Go for the Throat
2x Mana Leak
4x Path to Exile
1x Remand
4x Inquisition of Kozilek
4x Lingering Souls
4x Serum Visions

Planeswalker (3)
3x Liliana of the Veil

Land (23)
2x Celestial Colonnade
2x Creeping Tar Pit
2x Darkslick Shores
4x Flooded Strand
1x Godless Shrine
2x Hallowed Fountain
1x Island
2x Marsh Flats
1x Plains
4x Polluted Delta
1x Swamp
1x Watery Grave


While the sideboard should vary based on meta, here are some considerations.

Celestial Purge
Esper Charm
Murderous Cut
Supreme Verdict/Wrath of God
Timely Reinforcement
Utter End

Geist of Saint Traft
Kitchen Finks
Vendilion Clique

Non-Creature Permanents
Engineered Explosives
Nihil Spellbomb
Stony Silence

So, as always, leave your comments below.  I’ll do my best to answer any questions and I’m always looking for feedback and new ideas.  I think the deck is solid but will be the first to admit that it’s got some room for growth.  Thanks for reading!