Through the Spyglass: Jund Delirium

26 April 2018, Thursday

Just a few months ago, Jund Delirium was the top dog of Frontier. It found huge success in the Untap Open League, and then it kind of faded into the background. I’m still not quite sure what caused its downfall, because I think the deck is still very powerful. The midrange control plan of playing removal spells that stall and build into Emrakul, the Promised End still works quite nicely against most decks, and there is nothing wrong with the value creatures plan facilitated by cards such as Goblin Dark-Dwellers and Ishkanah, Grafwidow, either. To prove that Jund Delirium is still a real deck, we will play some matches with the deck and discuss what we learned from them. I will not need to go to in-depth on the deck itself, because Thomas has you covered on that quite nicely here ( So, without further ado, here’s the list I played:

Lands (22)
Wooded Foothills
Bloodstained Mire
Woodland Cemetery
Dragonskull Summit
Cinder Glade
Smoldering Marsh

Creatures (13)
Satyr Wayfinder
Walking Ballista
Goblin Dark-Dwellers
Ishkanah, Grafwidow
Emrakul, the Promised End
Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet

Spells (25)
Fatal Push
Kolaghan’s Command
Vessel of Nascency
Grapple with the Past
Vraska’s Contempt
Liliana, the Last Hope
Traverse the Ulvenwald
Sideboard (15)
Tormod’s Crypt
Sorcerous Spyglass
Radiant Flames
Crux of Fate
Tireless Tracker
Infinite Obliteration
Transgress the Mind


So the first thing that should be pretty clear is that this is not the kind of deck you can just just pick up and play. I made a significant number of misplays, and especially the Emrakul turns can be really hard. Overall, I think the deck performed quite well, and I could’ve won a lot more games if I had played better. For example, in the first game versus Jeskai Saheeli, I would’ve had at least one more chance to draw into an answer if I had not flickered his Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. I also made a bunch of mistakes in the games that I failed to record, but suffice it to say that some plays aren’t that intuitive when you are playing their deck against them. I also did not quite feel comfortable in my sideboarding strategies with the deck, and I think that showed in post-sideboard games: for a lot of matchups, I just didn’t quite know what to board in or out.

The deck has the ability to grind out games pretty well, and is also able to quickly close out games with Emrakul. I think most of the matches I lost were due to misplays on my side, and not the deck’s failure to function as intended. I lost to different Saheeli decks (I only managed to record one match, though) pretty badly, and while I don’t think that Saheeli is a great matchup for you, I also think that the matchup should be less lopsided than these games show.

I now want to take an in-depth look into Game 1 versus Jeskai Black, our opening seven consisted of Abrade, Smoldering Marsh, Vessel of Nascency, Vraska’s Contempt, Bloodstained Mire, Forest and Liliana, the Last Hope. All in all, I think this is a pretty good hand and there is no reason to mulligan, it will match up quite nicely versus the aggressive decks, while Liliana also puts in work versus both aggro and the slower decks, and Vessel should be able to find us some more cards to compete in the later stages of the game.

Our opponent leads with a Prairie Stream, which would most often indicate Saheeli or some form of control deck, although it could also be a slower opener out of either Esper Vehicles, UW humans or Bant Humans. Jeskai Black certainly wasn’t a deck that I had in mind at all, though.

Our draw for the turn is a Satyr Wayfinder, and our turn one is relatively straightforward, we play a Forest and our Vessel of Nascency. My opponent’s Turn Two is nothing special either, he plays a Plains and a Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy. This makes me hedge my predictions towards Control, as 4c Saheeli would’ve most likely shown another colour by now.

On our Turn Two, we have the decision to either play Satyr Wayfinder, or crack our Vessel of Nascency. Considering we’re not quite sure what we are looking for with Vessel, I think that Wayfinder is the safer choice.

On our opponent’s Turn Three, he misses his land drop and plays a Soulfire Grandmaster. This screams ‘Jeskai Black’ to me, since there are very little other decks where this card is played.

I drew into Languish for the turn, which makes playing Liliana, the Last Hope a pretty obvious choice, as I’m almost guaranteed a two-for-one with my boardwipe next turn. I make a small misplay here by not attacking with the Wayfinder, which loses me a free point of damage. I have a lot of respect for Mussie’s skill, and I think there is no way he would’ve blocked there, considering he knew I was at three mana, and that I most likely played three Lilianas.

Next turn, he hits his third land drop and plays a Mantis Rider, hitting my Liliana down to 1. Attacking with my Wayfinder on my turn was yet another mistake I made, since the Soulfire Grandmaster has lifelink and there is nothing I could have that would make him not want to block with his Grandmaster. I then continue to wipe the board with Languish and tick up my Liliana.

On his next turn, he plays a Nahiri, the Harbinger and downticks her to get rid of my Vessel. On my turn, I make a huge, mistake, that ends up losing me the game a couple of turns later, Vraska’s Contempt is about ten times as valuable as Walking Ballista is in this matchup, and in hindsight, there is absolutely no reason not to kill Nahiri with Ballista instead, especially because that will enable Delirium for Traverse the Ulvenwald or  Ishkanah, Grafwidow.

My Liliana gets hit by his Utter End, and I now have no play the turn after. He proceeds to get back his Jace, and kill my Ballista with Kolaghan’s Command. I kill the Jace with a Fatal Push off of my Goblin Dark-Dwellers. Next turn, he plays The Scarab God, and left without an answer, I die because I threw away my Contempt.

There are a few things to be learned from this game. First up, it is incredibly important to be aware of what your opponent can throw at you when playing this deck, and how you want to sequence your removal to answer those threats. You often have multiple ways of dealing with a problem, and finding the best one is what makes or breaks this deck. Furthermore, this deck has the potential to go long and grind out games quite easily; Imagine for a moment if I still had the Vraska’s Contempt for The Scarab God. I had a ton of live draws there, Traverse the Ulvenwald and Emrakul, the Promised End both probably would have won the game on the spot, Ishkanah, Grafwidow would have been a great draw, just as much as a Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet would’ve been. The fact that even after I threw away my Vraska’s Contempt, I still could’ve won that game, goes to show how powerful the lategame of this deck can be.
Game two of this match was much less eventful, we both got stuck on mana and he drew out of it first, but things like that happen in Magic and there isn’t much you can do about it but accept the variance.

Let’s now have a quick look at the other matches I played. The Jeskai Saheeli deck completely caught me off guard; I did not for a minute expect Spell Queller and Monastery Mentor, and I got punished accordingly. I still think I could’ve won these games with tighter play, though.

I feel bad for my Hardened Scales opponent; he never drew a single Scales effect and Kalitas completely destroyed him in Game Two. From my experience with the deck, matchups like these are generally good for you they don’t have the ‘I win’ combo that the Saheeli decks have, nor the extremely fast starts of Atarka Red. Their best draws will still give you a bunch of trouble, but the matchup is extremely lopsided if they don’t have it.  

The matchup against UW Humans, I think, is closer than Games One and Three showed you. Liliana, the Last Hope is obviously very good versus Humans, as are Ishkanah, Grafwidow and Fatal Push, but I think that Game Two clearly showed why this matchup can still give you problems. I got completely destroyed by Always Watching, and although I might’ve had a shot if I hadn’t mulliganed to 5, my hand still wasn’t bad enough to be considered an auto-loss.

Let’s discuss the list for a bit. I was testing Cast Down in the first match against Jeskai Saheeli, but in all the other matches, I ran Vraska’s Contempt. Between those two matches, I did some more testing, and found that the ability to kill planeswalkers combined with the lifegain definitely makes Contempt the better choice, even more so if you factor in the enormous amount of Saheeli decks I’ve been playing against. After the match versus Jeskai Black I also switched from Blooming Marsh to Woodland Cemetery, which, as my opponent said, is a lot better. I think that the last 2 matches quite clearly showed why this is the case.

As far as changes to the list from Thomas’ article are concerned, the deck’s core is still very much the same. I updated some card choices, as Vraska’s Contempt is a much better removal spell than Unlicensed Disintegration, To the Slaughter, and Grasp of Darkness are, and the extra -1/-1 on Languish is enough to play it over Yahenni’s Expertise despite the possible upsides of casting a spell for free. I also switched the creature package around a bit, opting for an extra Emrakul and more removal over the second copies of both Ishkanah and Kalitas.

Overall, I was quite happy with how the deck performed, and while losing two out of four matches and 5 out of 9 games certainly isn’t great, most of the games I lost were fairly close. I’m by no means an expert on this deck, but it played smoothly, and there were no cards that seemed out of place to me. I hope you all enjoyed this in-depth look at one game, you can expect more content like this from me in the coming months. Join us next Wednesday as Somnus will give you a look at what he thinks will break into Frontier’s top tiers with Dominaria’s release, only here at Matchup Guru. .

Comments on this article

On 02 May 2018, Wednesday, at 23:05,
Thomas Snodgrass said,

I don’t hate some number of Contempt because of The Scarab God, but it’s very close between the two.

On 26 April 2018, Thursday, at 21:04,
Sylvan Schrank said,

Hey, great article! FWIW, I prefer Ruinous Path to Contempt here; GDD Flashback can be very important. I do think in general Contempt is much better, as is Never//Return.

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