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Re-Thinking Valakut



 
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BuckyCat



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 3:28 pm    Post subject: Re-Thinking Valakut Reply with quote

I've been a fan of Valakut in Standard for a while now, but unfortunately, it looks like its strength has dwindled recently. I think the biggest issues with Valakut right now is that A) it lacks early pressure and B) because of the high amount of ramp it packs, it lacks threat density and I've found that they are reliant on Primeval Titan. Aggro Valakut attempted to rectify the speed issue, but after playtesting, I've found the card quality to be lacking.

What I'm trying to do is make Valakut less focused on powering out its namesake land as fast as possible, and more about throwing down strong, efficient threats, with a sprinkling of removal and ramp thrown in. Sort of like the ramp decks of old. (My favorite deck to play was G/R Snow Ramp back in the days when Coldsnap, Time Spiral, and Lorwyn was legal. Skred, Chameleon Colossus, Primal Command, Harmonize. Good times.)

Here's a list I've thrown together a while back and have been playing with for a while:

/ Lands
4 [ZEN] Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
6 [P2] Forest
10 [5E] Mountain
3 [TSP] Terramorphic Expanse
2 [ROE] Evolving Wilds
1 [WWK] Raging Ravine

// Creatures
2 [M11] Inferno Titan
4 [M11] Primeval Titan
4 [ROE] Overgrown Battlement
2 [NPH] Urabrask the Hidden
2 [ZEN] Oracle of Mul Daya
2 [WWK] Avenger of Zendikar

// Spells
4 [M11] Cultivate
4 [WWK] Explore
4 [MBS] Slagstorm
2 [SOM] Koth of the Hammer
4 [NPH] Beast Within

// Sideboard
SB: 3 [M11] Obstinate Baloth
SB: 4 [WWK] Ricochet Trap
SB: 4 [NPH] Spellskite
SB: 2 [M11] Acidic Slime
SB: 1 [MBS] Thrun, the Last Troll
SB: 1 [NPH] Act of Aggression



As for my card choices, I'll try not to bore you by paraphrasing what the card does ("Sword of War and Peace is good in here cuz it gives pro white/red and you deal moar damage when it hits." Uh, yeah, that's what the card says, thanks.) Rather, I will attempt to explain why I chose it, be it synergy or it's strength against other decks, etc.

Overgrown Battlement: I've been cycling between the wall, viridian emissary, and sylvan ranger and have found the battlement to be most suited to my needs, even though it doesn't find lands. Emissary is inconsistent, and ranger doesn't accelerate.

Oracle of Mul-Daya: Aside from Tezzeret's Gambit, G/R ramp doesn't have much in the way of card draw. I like this card because it's a land ramper, but more importantly, it "draws" lands off the top. Synergy with all the shuffle effects. Downside is that it's fragile.

Inferno and Primeval Titan: Use em. Love em.

Avenger of Zendikar: My favorite fattie after the titans. Wrath effects are very rare in standard right now, so if he sticks, you're in good shape most of the time. Hey, and all them tokens are nice chumpers in case someone gets frisky with a threaten effect.

Urabrask, the Hidden: By itself, Urabrask is an ok card, but what makes it good is the synergy it has with the deck. Beast Within tokens come into play tapped and can't block for a turn, or in a pinch, you can make a 3/3 flash haster if need be. Best of all, Urabrask curves into 6 mana fatties. Ever swing with a Primeval or Inferno Titan the turn it hits the battlefield? Sexy times.

Beast Within: One of my top favorites in the new set. An amazing catch-all removal that fits beautifully in Valakut. The deck can deal with a 3/3 more easily than it can deal with Gideon, Jace, Swords, etc. It's wide net allows you more breathing room when deciding sideboard cards.

Slagstorm: Basically in the same slot as pyroclasm. This costs 1 more mana, which is a notable drawback, especially on the draw. Pyroclasm's 2 damage is usually enough to get the job done, but 3 damage is not irrelevant. The upside to Slagstorm is that it has synergy with Beast Within (and Terastodon if you're feeling frisky). Blow up a threat, then sweep the field next turn (hopefully hitting other creatures for value). Plus it's rarely completely dead, like clasm can be, due to the fact that it can hit players and 'walkers. Basically a slow, sweeping lightning bolt.

Koth of the Hammer: I love this card in here. Valakut is a deck that wants to have mountains in play, and so does this card. It's an alternate win condition, mana accelerator, and can toss a body into the red zone if need be. A multi-use package.

Explore: Cycling ramp. RUG loves it. We love it. Infinitely better than Khalni heart expedition (seriously, I hate that card.)

Cultivate: Simple, effective ramp. Chosen over harrow and growth spasm. Harrow is too risky with all the spell pierces and whatnot flying around, and growth spasm...well I just don't like it much :p.

The sideboard was, admittedly, haphazardly thrown together, though some cards were given more thought.

Obstinate Baloth: Padding against the more aggressive decks. Plus once in a while you get to cheat him in when an opponent makes you discard.

Ricochet Trap: I prefer this over Summoning Trap. Why? Yes, you need to keep 1 more mana open but this protects all your spells, not just creatures. Also, I'd rather have my first titan resolve than to let them counter a threat and gamble with the top 7 cards of my library. (Fun story. During one game, I had cast beast within on someone's Jace in response to them casting a spell. They go to spell pierce the beast within and I ricochet trap the pierce into their spell. I freaking LIVE for moments like these.)

Spellskite: Used against removal heavy and aggro decks like vampires. Also it's proactive protection against splintertwin that doesn't I don't need to keep mana up for.

Acidic Slime: When you need more artifact or land destruction such as for the mirror or some cawblade matchups. If it blows something up then trades with a creature, then it did its job admirably.

Thrun, the Last Troll: Thought I'd take him for a spin. He makes a good wall against certain decks. Cawblade has great difficulty dealing with him, and although he can't really block anything there, he can keep swinging at planeswalkers, forcing them to chump. (and if they're holding back a sworded guy just to block him, then that's good for you too). On the flipside, sometimes decks don't need to deal with him and beat your face in anyway.

Act of Aggression: Randomly thrown in as a trick against fatties and perhaps splinter twin.

I've playtested with this thing as best I could, but unfortunately, it's difficult to get quality games sometimes. MWSplay does not make for good training grounds. What I can say is that from the serious games that I've played, this deck won enough games to keep me convinced that this is a good idea, and lost enough to let me know that it still needs polishing. NOTE: I have not done any testing against the new Suture Sisters deck and have only played a few games against splinter twin (which was a crapshoot in terms of win/loss, though I did not have spellskite in deck at the time)

Questions, comments and feedback greatly appreciated.
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Mad03
Level 1 Judge


Joined: 13 Oct 2004
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

// Lands
1 Terramorphic Expanse
11 Mountain
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
5 Forest
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Verdant Catacombs
2 Evolving Wilds

// Creatures
4 Lotus Cobra
2 Urabrask the Hidden
4 Primeval Titan
3 Inferno Titan
4 Overgrown Battlement

// Spells
4 Explore
2 Harrow
3 Growth Spasm
4 Summoning Trap
2 Beast Within

// Sideboard
SB: 2 Pyroclasm
SB: 3 Tumble Magnet
SB: 4 Nature's Claim
SB: 4 Combust
SB: 2 Slagstorm
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BuckyCat



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is that a list from a recent tournament? I'm curious to know how it fared.
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Duodax



Joined: 29 Jan 2006
Posts: 390

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why one always has to wash out the game plan of a combo deck by removing the good cards and adding suboptimal choices? Valakut Pile is crappy enough, you do not have to lower it's power by those changes. Urabrask... I laughed, really. 8 Spells 8 Titans 28 Lands 16 Ramp is really not consistent for you? You live in a dream world if you think you can optimize this, especially when you take the fact that Zenith doubles it's purpose as a accelerator and as a threat into your consideration.
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GreenBear



Joined: 27 Jul 2010
Posts: 899

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hate to agree with duodax but you've both ruined the decks curve and made it way to top heavy and clunky.
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BuckyCat



Joined: 20 Oct 2006
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recently, the pure Valakut plan hasn't been doing as well as it used to. I wanted to try a more traditional g/r ramp approach to try something new, though you are right, it is a bit top heavy right now. Perhaps I'll take a more traditional Valakut build and just tweak a couple cards instead of completely changing the deck. Urabrask is an arguable inclusion, but I still think that Koth is a great fit in here and he has playtested very well. Like I said, this deck performs better than it looks, as hard as that is to believe.




I appreciate the feedback though, harsh as it may be.
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MassO



Joined: 10 Mar 2006
Posts: 260

PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mad03 wrote:
// Lands
1 Terramorphic Expanse
11 Mountain
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
5 Forest
3 Misty Rainforest
2 Verdant Catacombs
2 Evolving Wilds

// Creatures
4 Lotus Cobra
2 Urabrask the Hidden
4 Primeval Titan
3 Inferno Titan
4 Overgrown Battlement

// Spells
4 Explore
2 Harrow
3 Growth Spasm
4 Summoning Trap
2 Beast Within

// Sideboard
SB: 2 Pyroclasm
SB: 3 Tumble Magnet
SB: 4 Nature's Claim
SB: 4 Combust
SB: 2 Slagstorm


As a real life deck your mana base is good, you have several searchers for land and many mountians, but after playtesting in MWS, the mana base sucks, because MWS shuffler is fully random, so with 1 and 2 of's of different land searchers and having 11 mountians, MWS will put 2 to 3 Mountians in your starting hand and you may get lucky to get a searcher or a forest.

50 percent of the time, your starting hand will have only mountains which is a problem because your early game relies solely on forests to materialize.

I would suggest play 4 terramorphic expanse and drop the Evolving wilds and play 4 Misty rain forest and drop the Verdant Catacombs. There is really no reason to mix and match these cards on M-L, however in Real life it would work all the same.

I think your creature base is also good, i experimented also with Oracle's instead of Harrows, Harrows works more graciously. And oracle runs out of steam because the more you get land out of your library the less likely on will be on the top of your library.

I think Cultivate over the Spasms......Main reason is Cultivate works better with lotus putting a land in your hand to get more mana on the next turn.....where as Spasm you really get the same thing but only gain a mana for one turn....its a toss up really, but I like Cultivate.

I also traded Lotus cobra for Joraga, and I think it works a little better because it consistently gives you additional mana every turn and the Cobra only works if you have a land in your hand or you are able to cast a ramp spell, which is not always the case, several times I ran into a wall, because I drew cards that I didn't have the mana to cast usually a titan and i was one mana off and died searching of a ramp or land card. Joraga gives you that mana every turn and is alittle harder to kill.

Usually with joraga its, 1st turn joraga, 2nd turn level up joraga, play explore or overgrown battlement, for 6 mana on turn 3 for any titan you want to play.
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