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Drafting Shards of Alara Part 6: Jund/Grixis December 19, 2008

Posted by James in : all, strategy, tips, limited, draft , trackback

Jund’s main theme is “devour” and Grixis’s main theme is “unearth.” Alone these themes are quite unimpressive, but together they can become quite powerful. (You can unearth a creature in order to have something to devour.) Of course there are a few other cards that are “combos” with unearth or devour, but this fact misses the point. The point is that Jund and Grixis are the same “theme” despite the fact that Wizards of the Coast wanted us to believe that each shard has a completely separate theme. More importantly, the card pool available for Jund or Grixis is much larger than usual due to the fact that both shards work perfectly together.This is precisely why Jund and Grixis can be a good shard to play. Consider how the other shards compare:

When drafting Grixis (black-blue-red) or Jund (red-black-green) almost the exact same cards are good. I will treat both shards as the exact same theme for this reason. Here are some common and uncommon cards you will want for this theme:

I have already mentioned other first picks in my article about drafting a drafting a black/red deckblack/red deck. In particular, Caldra Hellion, Predator Dragon, and Tar Fiend are great cards to get. None of the commons or uncommons listed above are worth first picking, but Vithian Stinger, Fleshbag Marauder, and Bone Splinters are almost worth taking as a first pick. All of the cards mentioned here are worth playing, even if you don’t get any combos. (Unearth creatures tend to be good without devour, for example.) One card not mentioned yet that needs to be: Sprouting Thrinax, which is an awesome card if you are playing Jund. If you are playing Grixis, then Fire-Field Ogre is the best uncommon with unearth, but it isn’t generally good enough to be taken early in a draft.

A weakness of Grixis is that there aren’t a lot of big creatures worth taking in these colors. Any big creatures worth taking are all the more important for this reason. Jund on the other hand can also splash big green creatures if necessary. Although Jund would appear to have an advantage over Grixis due to the fact that it has access to large creatures, a grixis deck has access to a couple of great cards: Agony Warp and Tidehollow Strix. Agony Warp in particular is one of the best commons in the entire set of Shards of Alara.

Update 12-21-2008: How Shards are Divided

It might be useful to explain for a moment how shards are divided. Each shard has a three color combination. There are five shards, so the colors will overlap. Naya and Bant, for example, both share green and white.

However, each color is divided into three shard themes. Even though green is mostly “naya,” there are green cards for “jund” and “bant” as well. In other words, some green cards will have a 5 power theme, some will have an exalted theme, and some will have a devour theme.

I noted in this article that devour and unearth work well together. For that reason black-red decks will have a lot more cards to choose from.

While the “exalted” and 5-power theme are not essential, white-green cards tend to be pretty good anyway. For this reason, Naya and Bant can be good decks even if you ignore the theme.

As I mentioned in the Drafting Esper article, Esper seems to be the biggest exception. The artifact theme tends to be necessary, and it isn’t shared by any other shard. Esper is the most exclusive shard because it doesn’t want cards from the other shards and its cards tend not to be as good in the other shards. This means that Esper will have the smallest card pool to choose from. (It also means that any deck with black, white, or blue will have a smaller card pool to choose from. Red and Green have the largest card pools.)

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