Running the Gauntlet – RUG, Day 3 (Valakut)

So far, I’ve battled against the RUG mirror and UWB Cawblade, but today comes the ever-present Valakut matchup. I don’t want this series to get repetitive, but ANY deck I would consider playing in a tournament has to be tested against Valakut (as well as RUG and Cawblade). I managed to trick wrapter into piloting Valakut, and we had some interesting games.

For reference, the RUG list:


Channel Conley: MSS Draft #3

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To see the rest of this deck’s matchups, as well as the current Running the Gauntlet series, click here!

Preboard Games

Surprisingly, I went 2-1 in preboard games, but one of the games was pretty absurd (game 1, match 3). Wrapter had Oracle out, with Valakut and Avenger in play, so if he hit any land, even a Forest, I was dead. His top card was Summoning Trap, so not only did he miss on the card under Trap, Trap only hit Oracle, AND the top card afterwards was another blank. Yeah, I earned that game…

Before boarding in Flashfreeze, RUG just doesn’t have a good way to stop Primeval Titan, and will generally only win the games where its draw is significantly better/faster than Valakut’s (see game 1 match 1). I’m ok with having a bad g1 against Valakut, but it just means you have to have a good sideboard against them.


Sideboarding against Valakut is actually tricky. Initially, I was boarding out Bolts and Golems for Slimes, Spell Pierce, and Flashfreeze, but that didn’t match up well against his sideboarded Joraga Treespeakers. I ended up leaving in 2-3 Bolts, and not boarding in Spell Pierce, as well as taking out Avenger.

In general, Golem isn’t your best threat, since they often leave in Bolts to kill Jace, Cobra, and Golem, and you can take out Bolts against standard builds.

Postboard Games

In the games where I had hard counters, I still only managed to go 1-3. Spell Pierce was once again disappointing, and my draws in general weren’t the best. Mana Leak got outclassed rather quickly, since unless I had pressure (ie, Jace), he could just wait until he had nine mana before going for anything big. The moral of the story: hard counters good.

Thoughts on the Matchup

This matchup isn’t overly complicated, but there are definitely some holes that need fixing. The first is that RUG has actual no way to beat a resolved Primeval Titan, besides winning the game the turn it comes into play. Secondly, hard counters are the only way to reliably stop them, since even though Mana Leak is good, it isn’t enough, and sometimes it barely does anything. Acidic Slime was also pretty mediocre, much like in the Cawblade matchup.

Cards I Wanted

Flashfreeze/Deprive. Some number of additional hard counters would definitely be the best way to make this matchup better.
Tumble Magnet. This isn’t the best card ever here, but if I had 2 Magnets I would board them in, both to stop Titan from insta-winning and to harass random Walls and Treespeakers in the first few turns.
Frost Titan. As much as I like Inferno Titan, Frosty is by far the better Titan in this matchup.

Possible Cuts

Spell Pierce and Acidic Slime are once again in cutsville, which doesn’t bode well for their continued survival.

I wasn’t too unhappy with how this went, especially since it is easily fixable. Like I said before, Valakut isn’t the most complicated matchup, and adding hard counters is definitely a way to make it better.

Tomorrow I tackle aggro, this time in the form of B/R Vampires!



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