Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rg Valakut

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
This deck was like finding a diamond in the rough for me, but apparently it's old news. Still, no one is playing it around my area, and there's some definite surprise factor that could help push it to the top around Manhattan. I am tempted to drag it to States instead of my tuned Jund deck, but I probably won't risk it. The deck relies on lucksacking a lot. It makes its own luck, too, but topdecking Harrow is wayyy better than topdecking a Khalni Heart Expedition by a huge factor. Fortunately, it mainly just wants to topdeck Mountains, and the deck has quite a few of those.

Here's the decklist:

// Lands
    3 [ZEN] Forest
    3 [ALA] Jund Panorama
    4 [M10] Terramorphic Expanse
    4 [ZEN] Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
    11 [ZEN] Mountain

// Creatures
    4 [ZEN] Goblin Ruinblaster
    4 [ARB] Bloodbraid Elf
    2 [ZEN] Oracle of Mul Daya
    4 [M10] Siege-Gang Commander

// Spells
    4 [ZEN] Expedition Map
    4 [M10] Lightning Bolt
    1 [ZEN] Burst Lightning
    4 [ZEN] Khalni Heart Expedition
    4 [M10] Rampant Growth
    4 [ZEN] Harrow

// Sideboard
SB: 2 [ALA] Relic of Progenitus
SB: 3 [ALA] Magma Spray
SB: 2 [M10] Earthquake
SB: 3 [M10] Pyroclasm
SB: 4 [ZEN] Grazing Gladehart
SB: 1 [ZEN] Oracle of Mul Daya

You can use either Jund or Naya Panorama. Or a crazy mix of the two to confuse your opponent.

I discovered the deck on MTGO after watching someone go 4-0 with it on a Daily Event. And then someone else, with a similar but tweaked list, went 4-0 with it. The deck won 2-0 against Boros, which I thought was very impressive for something that seemed too slow to handle a fast deck like Boros. Apparently, the deck runs very suicidally and doesn't care too much about its life total as long as it is over a reasonable number. It won against the Boros deck with 4 life left. No doubt it needs help with the matchup, though, because the sideboard is full of goodies like Grazing Gladeheart and Pyroclasm.

I played a few test matches versus Jund. It is not easy to pick up and play. Your decisions will all come back to you down the line, much further along in the game. You have to know what to sow in order to reap it. If I hadn't watched the replays, I wouldn't have known to use your Expedition Maps to find more Valakuts, as opposed to finding the final Mountains. The big surprise factor really comes out of having more than one Valakut on the board. And all your other cards find basic lands, so there's no real rush to find the fifth Mountain. When you go off, you want it to be with a bang.

With two Valakuts, your Harrows typically do 12 damage. Then maybe you can Terramorphic for another Mountain. That's 18 damage total.

Against Jund, the matches were about 50-50. I suspect it's slightly in Jund's favor. But oftentimes they don't have the Pulse to kill your Khalni Hearts or Expedition Maps. All their other removal is irrelevant. They can shoot down your Bloodbraids and Ruinblasters and Siege-Gangs, but that's okay. You don't care. You are buying time, and that is all that is important. Ruinblasters main is HUGE, though. Because you run 4 Rampant Growths and 4 Ruinblasters, turn 2 Growth into turn 3 Ruinblaster is a more common occurrence. This can set back Jund enough to win you the game handily. Follow up with more Ruinblasters for further dominance.

But you aren't always going to be so lucky. In most matches it is just a race to the finish line. They help you out by pumping Leeches and cracking fetches at least. Other decks aren't as nice!

The problem is opposing Goblin Ruinblasters. Some decks also have Acidic Slime in the side, or in the case of Magical Christmas Land, Mold Shambler maindeck. More hilariously, people run Spreading Seas, too, which can just Island-ify your Forests or Valakuts. The deck runs very few Forests, which makes screwing them out of green easy. Making Valakut into an Island eliminates its ability to deal damage at all.

Aside: It might be an interesting experiment to use sideboard Trace of Abundance, which gives lands shroud, to protect your Valakuts.

This deck is unfortunately weak to all the sideboard hate people are pooling for Jund. So that probably eliminates it from being too popular or good. However, it can certainly take a small event by surprise and win the whole she-bang with a good pilot and a good sideboard. I definitely prefer it to Magical Christmas Land and Warp World because... well, it looks more fun to me. And I like that it doesn't use Lotus Cobra. It's cheap as hell to build because it doesn't have fetches at all. So you might as well give it a go if you want to play Standard but are strapped for cash.

Make sure to practice a lot with the deck. It's tricky. :)