Welcome one and all to my first ever Magic: the Gathering content article! As far as introductions go, I'll do what I can to keep you spell slingin' folk entertained. My name is Jeremy and I'll be bringing you the spiciest of home brews and purest of jank. I fancy myself as the unsung hero of underplayed cards. My favorite things include long walks on the beach, a good cup of tea, breaking the meta, and crushing Spikes. Most magic players keep time by sets rather than years so I guess you could say I started playing around Mirrodin (R.I.P.) and got competitive around Innistrad. Now don't get the wrong idea. I don't mean competitive in the sense that I want to play the best decks. It's more that I try to play competitively, regardless of the list. Being Professor PureJank comes with it’s own hurdles. I am constantly trying to compete with the most current meta by using the most underplayed cards. It’s not an easy task and most of the time I’m just trying to find the most fun or inventive way for me to win. This can lead to frustration especially when decks don’t perform at FNM as they do on MTGO or Arena, but that’s enough to talk about for a whole different article.
What the $#@! does that card do!?
RTFC is an acronym that most if not all players are familiar with. For the sake of keeping this article PG rated, it means read the cards. It really tickles my innards when my opponent has to take a second to read the card. It’s especially rewarding on Arena when my opponent highlights the card to read and then tanks for a time. I think to myself, “Yep, that is how it works. Your move opponent.” I gather sighs from some of my colleagues when I discuss decks that I am working on or cards I am interested in playing. I’m also the guy who usually knows the name of some obscure card that someone is talking about, it’s kinda my thing. My general motto is “Just because it’s a bad idea, doesn’t mean it won’t be a good time.” Words to live by, but maybe not words that will get you to a top at an Open or GP. Regardless, I’ll be bringing you decks full of underdogs from Standard sets. However, don’t be surprised to see a few really good cards sprinkled among decks that I build, especially if I’m trying to achieve a specific goal. When I’m working on brews in the lab, I try to start with a card that I particularly like or strange win condition, like a board full of Feasting Troll Kings or draining the life and will to fight from my opponents with Cauldron Familiar.
To Be Fair...
Standard is the format where brewing jank is most beneficial and the meta is a little more narrow. In recent years I have come to limit my jank to Standard. There are several reasons for this. The cards are generally cheaper and more readily available and the meta is forgiving and shifting every three months or so. Formats such as Modern and Pauper have strong, established tiers and the meta can be a brutal gauntlet for new decks. This can sometimes be an advantage since you usually have an idea of what your deck needs to be able to go toe-to-toe with the format titans. As my content grows we will no doubt explore some of these other formats and possibly powerful underplayed cards that reside there.
I must admit my history in formats other than Standard has been more competitive than creative. In Modern, I started by playing Affinity in the age of Splinter Twin. I had become a champion of the deck and was piloting well for the majority of my time with it. Ravager math is no joke. If you’re curious about what that is, feel free to ask. It’s a second year course at PureJank University, taught by yours truly. With new sets and bans falling regularly, Affinity kind of lost some of its shine over the years. Faster decks with better interaction or in some cases no interaction started to roll over the artifact synergies and side boards were always well equipped. Stupid K-Command...
Fear not though, angry robots are making something of a resurgence in the Modern game with the entrance of Throne of Eldraine cards that help increase the power level of individual cards in addition to the overall synergy. Two of the major additions that can help Affinity regain glory are Gingerbrute and All That Glitters. Keep this on your radar.
After the fall of the machines, I started playing Dredge archetypes. Graveyard synergies are by far my favorite to build around so this was a natural move. Then all of the cards were banned, most of them rightfully so. There were any number of busted ways to abuse graveyards and cheat in massive threats. Most recently, you probably heard about the fall of Hogaak, RIP. This card was absolutely nuts and was a mistake from the beginning but did that stop me from playing it?...Absolutely not! I played it to death. Now, Hogaak resides in a special page of my binder reserved for banned cards, a Hall of Fame so to speak alongside other misfits like Golgari Grave-Troll and Krark-Clan Ironworks.
Recently, I have been playing more Pauper and Commander. I plan on bringing some spice to these formats in the future as well. I will likely start with some individual card spotlights across various formats so stay tuned.
Well now that you have a little bit of an idea about who Professor PureJank is, I’m offering up my first deck list for all of my friends to try out. I have been attempting to bring some jank to the best of one format and have been fairly successful. There was an Esper Prison/Stacks style deck floating around and I decided to put my own take on it. I have been playing it in Standard Ranked, best of one. Opponents don’t seem to have much main board hate for enchantments which makes the deck pretty hard to deal with. Here’s the list I’m working with now and there is plenty of room for improvement, even without using all of the best cards in the best colors available.
The idea is simply to drain your opponent of resources via discard, prison, and stacks effects. Doom Foretold is the star player here and you can get it out on turn 3 by way of Starfield Mystic. The power of Doom Foretold is the fact that your opponent must sacrifice a nontoken, nonland permanent so more often than not, your opponent is losing power cards and since most best of one decks don’t run enough enchantment hate to make an impact on what you’re doing, you can go wild. Access to a number of mana fixing cantrips eases the stress of needing specific lands and gives you sacrifice options for Doom Foretold and Vraska, Golgari Queen. What better way to beat a Thief of Crowns than with the Queen herself? I have enjoyed playing this particular deck and it's running at about a 70% win rate over the course of about 20 games so it isn't really seasoned just yet. Give it a run and put your own spin on it.
Difficult match-ups are as follows...
Mono Red-If they hit the God hand, you're in trouble. Use food to your advantage and mitigate loss of life as best you can until turn 4. If you can get past that, your odds improve every turn.
Control-Initially, the opponent may not know what to counter or remove. Narset is a tough beat but Doom Foretold will get you there. Teferi usually helps us more than anything. Save that Dance of the Manse for a hellbent opponent if you can.
Flash-By far the worst match-up for this deck. Try to stick as many threats as possible and don't be too risky with your mana.
Stay tuned for more jank and as always, good luck, I hope you lose.