The other day, I got the green light to go to Indianapolis for the StarCityGames.com Open Weekend. Before this, I was upset, as Legacy is the Cadillac
of competitive Magic right now, and not traveling to play it for money is essentially the equivalent of lightning money on fire.
While Standard isn’t exactly something I thoroughly enjoy playing right now, I’ve found that Valakut is a deck I can really get behind, and with the
addition of Green Sun’s Zenith, it appears to hold its own as a big contender in the upcoming metagame.
I’ve been playing Valakut on Magic Online (MODO) for the past week or so after I came to the realization that I’m not capable of winning with U/B.
While I’m not normally one to just give up on a deck, sometimes you need to be realistic and just hang it up and try something new. I played about 20
Daily Events in the last month on MODO with U/B and went 2-2 in almost every one, as well as going 2-2 drop at the StarCityGames.com Kansas City Open.
I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong. My list seemed very good; Mind Rot was an awesome addition, and I felt like I was playing fine. One big problem
was playing the mirror match, where I’d continually get into bad spots and fall behind in the midgame.
I saw that my buddy had bought Primeval Titans, so I fired up a Daily and 4-0ed. This is what I’ve been playing on Magic Online and what I recommend
playing until Besieged comes out online:
I’m not sure how good Act of Treason is yet, as I have yet to play a mirror where we didn’t just nut draw each other. Summoning Trap is a necessary
evil maindeck, and Lotus Cobra is awesome, providing a ton of nut draws and a card that they might have to counter, so you can get them with a Trap.
The beta came out for Mirrodin Besieged online, so I played a few games with a Valakut list cutting Traps for Zeniths and Oracles for some one-ofs like
Joraga Treespeaker, Acidic Slime, and Thrun, the Last Troll but keeping three Avengers. I quickly realized that this isn’t what you want to be doing in
any game ones. What happens if you draw Acidic Slime against aggro and just die? Even against control, you’d almost always just want to be a combo deck
for your game ones. Turn 3 Oracle against aggro is fine, just acting as a ramp spell and sometimes eating their turn. Of course, if you untap with it,
you’re in great shape.
This was the next draft:
Gerry and I went to the Prerelease to hang out with Jason Ford and jam some games of Standard. We played about ten games of this against BUG and U/B,
and we both realized that I didn’t put any thought into making this list. Three Avengers is way too many when you’re playing Zeniths. While Zenith
doubles as a boom-boom and a ramp spell, you don’t want to get stuck with a ton of them as well as some fatties in your hand. Harrow was miserable game
one against control with so many big guys in the deck, as you’re forced to play it out, but it telegraphs your hand, so they can leave mana up to
counter it, but it’s a necessary evil against aggro decks.
This is the list we settled on for now:
- 4 Lotus Cobra
- 3 Oracle of Mul Daya
- 1 Avenger of Zendikar
- 1 Joraga Treespeaker
- 4 Overgrown Battlement
- 4 Primeval Titan
Cultivate went, as we didn’t want too many things clogging up the three-drop spot, since they’re hard to play in multiples in a single turn. Harrow
gets the nod as something that allows you to combo them out without Primeval Titan if need be as well as playing well with Lotus Cobra from time to
Aside from some cases with Harrow, every card in the maindeck you’re fine drawing against every deck. While Lotus Cobra isn’t super exciting against
aggro, it can still provide some good draws where they’re forced to kill it or risk dying on turn 4.
As I stated previously, I don’t think I want to be doing any cute things with Zenith. I just want to be a combo deck game one and board into whatever
role fits the matchup. The one Treespeaker is great because it’s something you’re fine with having in your opener but also lets you fill your curve on
turn 2 with Zenith sometimes. Every time I think of turn 1 Treespeaker draws involving turn 3 Titan, my stomach gets a little queasy. I’m sure I’ll do
that in about 20% of my games in Indy.
I ran out of Mountains a few times in the long game, so a Raging Ravine was cut for an eleventh; you still have enough green sources and also are less
vulnerable to Edge. I like Raging Ravine a lot, but sometimes you have too many tapped lands among other things.
Right now, this decklist is 61 cards, and you can cut a Cobra or a Battlement depending on what you think you’re going to be playing against more
often, control/mirror or aggro. I could also see making a case for cutting an Oracle, but I think eleven two-drop ramp spells is enough. For the sake
of sideboarding plans, I’ll say that a Battlement is getting the cut.
Here’s the sideboard we’re on right now:
Initially, I had one Thrun in the board, and Gerry said that it wasn’t a card we want to have one of. While it’s a legend and drawing multiples sucks,
you just want to have one on turn 3 against U/B. They’re not killing you fast, and it lets you mess with their Jaces and so forth. The whole sideboard
for U/B seems to be a big mind game for several reasons.
They don’t want to but are sometimes forced to counter a Battlement/Cobra when those are your main ramp spells. This lets you get them with Summoning
Trap as we’ve been doing for the past few months. Most people are expecting Valakut to cut Summoning Trap, and I think it’s correct to do so in the
maindeck; however post-board, I don’t want to be comboing them. I just want to be attacking and playing a bunch of creatures. Their only good answer to
Thrun right now is Grave Titan; then if they tap out for Titan, you’re free to do whatever you want.
Prophetic Prism seems okay, but I’m not completely sold on it yet. A couple of times against Gerry, I got screwed out of green by Spreading Seas and
Tectonic Edge. I really want to be able to cast my spells, but I don’t know if I want to dedicate a slot to that if I can just play something to
improve my aggro matchup, like Obstinate Baloth. I haven’t played any post-board games with the new list against anything, and with a deck like this,
you just need to play and see how everything feels.
U/B (and U/W)
I think the Zenith/Battlement numbers could be interchangeable, and this is definitely not set in stone, especially if I decide to cut Prisms for
In game 1, depending on your draw, you can either jam your threats into their counters if you have a bunch of them or play them with protection from
Mana Leak. If your hand is something like four lands, Explore, Oracle, Titan, you probably want to play for the late-game kill, but if you end up
drawing a bunch of Titans/Zeniths, then you can feel free to cast one every turn until they’re dead. Being very careful with Harrow is important, as is
getting enough green sources as to not get Spreading Seas/Tectonic Edged out.
Post-board, your role changes completely; you want to play a threat every turn, get them with Summoning Trap, etc. The reason Green Sun’s Zenith comes
out, I think, is because while it can get any threat, it also gets Inquisitioned and doesn’t help the Trap plan.
Red or Black Aggro
Game 1 comes down to goldfishing, no real interaction here.
Post-board, Lotus Cobra gets excluded, as it dies very easily and also gets Pyroclasmed, which is always embarrassing. I think a Thrun is better than
Oracle because sometimes you just want to tutor for a wall, and most of the time, they can’t kill it, though that swap is subject to change and is
entirely theoretical right now. Be careful of Mark of Mutiny; I know that I try to play around it as much as possible in the aggro matchups.
Elves (and other non-R/B aggro)
-3 Battlement -1 Oracle
Battlement only blocks one creature, which generally isn’t enough to slow them down for a turn, and even if that is the case, Lotus Cobra gives you a
big enough jump to justify its inclusion at the side of Pyroclasm. When to play Pyroclasm is very key to this matchup. Of course, you’ll cast it onto a
board of Elvish Archdruid and Arbor Elf, but other times, you need to decide whether or not it’s worth the risk to let them untap and play something to
blank Pyroclasm. I’m not sure if this is a real deck or not, but if it ends up being a bigger player than Kuldotha Red, then I could see playing
Slagstorm instead of Pyroclasm.
+ Run Good
Don’t be afraid to go to six and five if your hand does nothing, you win the die roll, etc. I also recommend drawing the one-of Joraga Treespeaker
here; that would probably help you tremendously.
The biggest reason I like Valakut right now is that it does the same thing every game one, and then you take a different role post-board against
control and aggro. You never have to think about these hands full of Mana Leaks and Jaces, only to have your opponent play a Goblin Guide and reveal a
Grave Titan as your first draw. I also don’t want to play a Jace deck for 10 rounds. Real-life Magic is grueling, and if I’m going to be playing a blue
deck on day 2, I want an easier day 1.
Here’s the Legacy list I’m planning on playing:
Hope to see everyone in Indianapolis this weekend; I’ll probably be at the dealer booth on Saturday morning spending millions of dollars to assemble my