Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rampant Growth vs Putrid Leech

Rampant GrowthPutrid Leech

This is a debate that has been raging on since Worlds ended. Which is the correct turn two play for Jund? Josh Silvestri stated there wasn't enough statistical data from Worlds to prove one way or the other. I have been testing both, and I think in the end I prefer...

Leech. But it's hard to say for sure.

The problem is: Rampant Growth is only good on turn two. It's the worst Cascade possible. To reduce the chance of hitting Rampant Growth, it is typical to run 3 and not 4. But undoubtedly, it will happen where you hit Growth instead of a removal spell or a creature and just roll over and die to a Jund build where this never happens. Even if you don't simply die, you lose tempo you should be gaining. It's a bad topdeck. It's never relevant after the game has progressed to the midgame. By that time, you have a lot of other spells you'd rather be casting and can simply wait to draw enough lands to run out Siege-Gang or Broodmate.

It is very good in the opening hand, however, making two-land hands keepable as long as they can produce green and don't all enter tapped. Jund is almost guaranteed to lose when it gets stuck on two lands, and playing Rampant Growth prevents that from happening. It buffers against opposing Goblin Ruinblasters.

On that note, a lot of people like Borderland Ranger for a similar purpose. I haven't tested it quite extensively, yet, but there are reasons I prefer Rampant Growth over it. When Jund has three lands, it is turned on anyway, so grabbing extra land at that point is not something I prioritize. Unless I have a hand full of Bloodbraid Elves, but that doesn't happen too often. The hump between 2nd and 3rd land is definitely the one you have to leap over; the one between 3rd and 4th is important but not game-breaking. The Ranger buffers against Blightning, which I like, but is it really helpful to take a defensive stance in the mirror? Would I rather be casting Great Sable Stag or something? I have yet to answer these questions for myself. PV (Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, author of PV's Playhouse on StarCityGames and Brazilian powerhouse) seems to prefer going the aggressive route in the Jund mirror. Apparently the list reminds him of Faeries in some weird way. (And in that mirror, you certainly wanted to be more aggressive.)

The main reason I like Putrid Leech, though, is that it can easily punish by itself some slower decks: Elves, Fog, Control, and possibly Naya. For States, I think Leech is basically correct since there will be a lot more variety than at Worlds. But it'll be hard to say until I show up. Maybe Jund will make up an astounding 40-50% of the decks there. More and more people are becoming convinced that there is no deck that straight-up beats Jund. Can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Leech isn't really "bad" versus Jund or Boros, either, like people have been saying. Between the two in the Boros matchup, I would take Leech any day. Siege-Gang is certainly bomb against Boros, but I don't think I'm looking for serious help in that matchup. It's winnable without SGC. For the Jund mirror, Leech is great. Certainly, I don't pump if they have red mana open, but they tap out quite often. On top of that, maybe I want to lure out the Bolt before it hits Stag or Master of the Wild Hunt or Garruk. If you play Leech badly, it will be bad for you. But playing it well will reward you.

Also a bunch of green creatures synergizes much better with Oran-Rief, the Vastwood, and I need to give that land another run.

My deck for States will probably run 4 Leech, no Masters, 2 Garruk, no Borderland Ranger, and no Rampant Growth. I think I'll stick Stag in the main. I do hate Stag, actually, especially in the main, but I'm discovering it is actually handy in the White matchups as well. Since all their Purges, Lightcasters, and White Knights kind of fall on their face to the pure green creature. And if I get Stag to stick against Jund, hopefully with Oran-Rief's help, I can probably go "and I still had all these."