Jito Queen is the hyper-aggressive Stonescar deck that runs 3-4 copies of Frontier Jito, 1-drops including bad 1-drops like Knifejack, and 3-4 copies of Bandit Queen. I don’t think that this deck gets the love that it deserves.
- I think that it is underrated in the current diverse metagame. It has slightly unfavored matchups against midrange Combrei as well as decks that run 8 sweepers (e.g. Lightning storm, Harsh Rule). Those decks represent a small portion of the current meta. Jito has balanced or favorable matchups against everything else.
- I think it’s better than Rakano pants/Warcry against the current meta. Traditional Rakano has bad matchups that Jito doesn’t.
- Lightning storm is not that backbreaking against Jito Queen. Jito Queen can win even after 2 lightning storms.
Here is my list that is heavily tuned to deal with Combrei (and to a lesser extent, decks that play Lightning Storm):
3 Blood Beetle (Set1 #260)
3 Frontier Jito (Set1 #9)
4 Grenadin Drone (Set1 #5)
3 Knifejack (Set1 #257)
4 Oni Ronin (Set1 #13)
4 Pyroknight (Set1 #16)
4 Rapid Shot (Set1 #259)
3 Suffocate (Set1 #251)
4 Torch (Set1 #8)
4 Argenport Instigator (Set1 #268)
2 Assembly Line (Set1 #29)
4 Champion of Chaos (Set1 #402)
2 Rally (Set1 #33)
1 Shadowlands Guide (Set1 #280)
3 Bandit Queen (Set1 #389)
2 Lurking Sanguar (Set1 #293)
8 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)
5 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)
4 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)
4 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)
4 Stonescar Banner (Set1 #419)
Traditionally, Jito Queen was played mostly with a single wave of attackers. You went all-in and barfed out Lurking Sanguars. But there is a more patient version of Jito Queen where you apply constant pressure on opponents, but hold enough units in hand that you can rebuild after sweepers.
Playing around sweepers
Usually, the optimal strategy is to commit just enough to the board to force the opponent to play a sweeper. If you commit too little, you give the opponent time to stabilize and to play their haymakers. If you commit too much, you will get blown out too much by sweepers. The middle ground is where you want to be. Force the opponent to play their sweeper, and then commit to the board again.
Jito Queen decks usually get 2-3 waves of attackers against an opponent. It is completely OK for the first wave to get crushed by a sweeper like Lightning Storm. While Jito is not favored after getting its board wiped with Lightning Storm, it still has a strong chance of winning.
The issue with Lightning Storm is the decks that play them. These decks often fail to find answers for the second and third waves of attackers. Finkel’s 4CC is a fine deck, but it often loses to itself due to influence screw. Jito Queen is really good at punishing influence screw. The key is to play out games against these Lightning Storm decks. Often, they get unlucky and fail to draw further answers past the first Lightning Storm. They will also occasionally fail to draw enough power for Harsh Rule and Black Sky Harbinger.
4X Champion of Chaos, 2X Lurking Sanguar
Champion is a great in the second or third wave of attackers. I would run 4. Shadowlands Guide is not as good as Champion of Chaos, but it might be fine as the “5th” or “6th” Champion of Chaos.
Lurking Sanguar isn’t that great a card in Jito because of its win-more-ness and its vulnerability to Lightning Storm. It also gets eaten by the defensive units that people play against Jito Queen (2/5 blockers for 3 power, 3/5 blocker for 4 power, Sandstorm Titan). I prefer running 2.
Go wide on board stalls
Sometimes the Jito deck cannot make good attacks into the opponent’s defenders. In that case, plan B is to build up an army and wait until a Rally or Quick Shot or Bandit Queen is drawn.
Playing with and against Jito Queen
Sometimes, it is a good idea to wait a turn before playing Lightning Storm against Jito. Jito decks don’t actually have that many units. If you can take out 3 cards worth of units (which will often happen when you wait a turn), the Jito deck is in trouble. Keep in mind that the Jito Queen has to commit at least 2 cards worth of units to the board. A single Frontier Jito for 1 damage/turn is not enough pressure from the Jito deck. The Jito deck has to put about 4-6 power on board to win. Jito has to put itself in a position where it will get 2-for-1ed or 3-for-1ed from a lightning storm.
Playing against the various combat tricks in Jito is difficult. Jito decks typically run 4X Torch and 4X Rapid Shot. They may also run a few copies of Rally. Because Jito decks also run Lurking Sanguar and Shadowlands Guide, it makes sense for Jito decks to do dumb-looking attacks. You want to block these dumb-looking attacks… yet that leaves you vulnerable to combat tricks. Whatever. Blocking is better than not blocking, unless you have fast-speed removal to blow out combat tricks.
Some players will try to play around the combat tricks in Jito. As a Jito player, it helps to understand that the opponent may block weirdly in an attempt to play around combat tricks that you do not have. Suppose that you have an attacker that would trade with the opponent’s defender, and that you have a number of 1/1s that could kill the defender with Rapid Shot. If you attack with your entire army, the defending player might assume that you have Rapid Shot. They will block your biggest attacker (the one that trades with the defender) instead of eating the 1/1s. That way, when you “play your Rapid Shot”, the opponent will take less damage.
When Party Hour and Jito Queen was prevalent, Shadowland Guide and Ticking Grenadin were very common.
Back when these cards were common, Jito players would constantly attack with Ticking Grenadin even when defending units could eat the Grenadin. However, killing the Grenadin would give the Jito player a chance to recur Grenadin for another entomb trigger. Back then, it was worthwhile to attack with Grenadin even if you didn’t have Shadowlands Guide in hand. Many players such as myself would take the 1 damage (once) instead of killing the Grenadin for free. Those days are over so I wouldn’t go for the Shadowlands Guide bluff. But it may be worthwhile to think about bluff situations like that one.
Turn 1 Frontier Jito may be ok sometimes + Frontier Jito isn’t always that good
It is almost always correct to Torch the first thing that the Jito player plays. As the Jito player, it may be a bad idea to play Fronter Jito on turn 1 over Oni Ronin. If the Oni Ronin gets torched instead of Frontier Jito, then Frontier Jito will stick around to give the rest of the army charge. Because Frontier Jito’s ability is fairly strong, the Jito player may be better off having Frontier Jito be alive over Oni Ronin.
But there are situations where it is unlikely that Frontier Jito will die immediately. An opponent known to play Combrei will not have Torch in their deck because they are playing Combrei. Lightning storm from an 8-sweeper deck will kill the turn 1 and turn 2 play anyways… so a Turn 1 Frontier Jito is fine in that case.
And sometimes you draw Frontier Jito without any of Jito’s 1-power buddies. So I’m not sold on the idea of Frontier Jito being this ridiculously scary card that should be protected by the Jito player (and a priority removal target by the Jito opponent).
You need a hand that immediately pressures the opponent. So generally you want at least 2 cheap units with the power to cast them. Mulligan aggressively. 5-power card hands are bad because you usually want a hand with more gas. The deck does not do well with resource flood (unless you happen to have pyroknight).
The future of Jito
It will continue to annoy opponents with god draws that the opponent can’t do anything about. (Sometimes the deck is frustrating to play against because there is simply nothing that you can do to beat the god draws.) The deck will continue to police the metagame and punish people for playing decks that durdle.
New players may start to catch on that Jito Queen is a great way to grind for gold or to grind towards Masters rank.