Running the Gauntlet – Valakut, Day 3 (Rematch vs UW)

In a Gruesome Encore of yesterday, I’m running back the UW matchup. The way I see it, if your deck loses to Cawblade, why play it? The sad truth is that walking in with a bad Cawblade matchup is just asking for trouble. Cawblade is almost 30% of the field, if not more, and once you are 4-0 it’s probably closer to half the field. So, keeping that in mind, I went back to the drawing board.

Here is the list I fought with:


I cut Khalni Heart Expedition, which was always horrible, and instead tried to accelerate with Lotus Cobra. The sideboard was changed as well, and the new plan involves Koth and Tumble Magnet. Let’s see how I did:

Channel LSV: Standard Gauntlet – Valakut vs. UW #2

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

And once again, I got pretty smashed.

Preboard Games

These didn’t seem to change much, though I liked how Cobra played out a lot more than Khalni Heart Expedition. It ramped well enough, and let me threaten to hit six mana much earlier. I still think game one is decent for Valakut, but that was never the problem.






I know the sideboarding looks messy, but there really aren’t many options. I wouldn’t cut anything that wasn’t Cobra or Bolt, and I did experiment with cutting all or none of the Cobras. Either way, things are grim.

Postboard Games

The same ugly problem reared its head: I needed more than Cawblade did to win, and with less fixing. Koth was fine but never insane, especially due to Inkmoth Nexus, and the whole Trap/Titan plan just fell apart when faced with the extra counterspells. Missing on Trap sucks, and past a certain point even resolving a Titan doesn’t help. Inkmoth Nexus was actually absurd, and at one point Matt commented that he would rather have a Nexus than a Tectonic Edge against Valakut. That being the case, it is hard to argue with playing 3-4 Nexus in Cawblade.

Tumble Magnet wasn’t bad, though the 3-cc makes me only want two, and Nature’s Claim was still its mediocre self. Honestly, I don’t know what else to try with “standard” Valakut, since all the cheap threats (Koth, Oracle) just don’t do enough once past turn three or four, and lategame threats are too expensive (once you consider the 11 Titans/Traps already in the deck).

Instead, I’m going to try a new strategy. I’ve seen rumors of an “aggro” Valakut list, and in fact even lost to it in a Daily Event while piloting Cawblade, so I think that’s the next step. This has some implications.

First, I’m going to try playing a beatdown deck with six mana threats and ramp spells. That’s a joke, right?

Second, am I really saying that regular Valakut is unplayable?

Yes, that is indeed what I’m saying. I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but right now I don’t see Valakut being a legitimate choice. Those are strong words, but I stand by them. The Cawblade matchup seems bad, and having a bad Cawblade matchup is just not an option if you have goals like “winning the tournament” or “having a positive record”.

Sad, but true, and the new cards spoiled today don’t give me any reason to believe this is going to change.

Aside on spoilers: I would like to echo the sentiment many have expressed regarding full-scale spoilers like this. They suck. They take fun away from everyone who wants to discover the set piece by piece, and they overall make it much less interesting. I was looking forward to the Magicthegathering.com preview week, and finding out new cards every day, and now that’s lost a lot of its luster. The cat’s out of the bag, and I’m not going to try and pretend the spoiler isn’t out (or that I haven’t read it multiple times), I just wish it wasn’t this way.End Aside

After a one-day break, I’ll be back Thursday with Aggro Valakut (I can’t stop shaking my head at the name of the deck I’m legitimately going to try, but try I will), and we shall see if that can put a dent in Cawblade’s armor.


106 thoughts on “Running the Gauntlet – Valakut, Day 3 (Rematch vs UW)”

  1. There’s some Flash code in the middle of the article, but no video. In any case, I’m glad you got rid of Khalni Heart Expedition since that is definitely my least favorite card in the deck, but you still have my second least favorite in Harrow. Try switching to Cultivate or Growth Spasm?

    Also I still want to see how good Green Sun’s Zenith is.

  2. An important card you haven’t tried out yet is Precursor Golem. A threat they have to care about that can’t be Flashfrozen nor Spell Pierced. To booth it cost less than 6 and can block sworded Stoneforge Mystics.

  3. I don´t get it. If you are designing a Valakut deck, KNOWING that you are going to face a lot of Cawblade decks, then why bother with cobra, KHE, Oracle and harrow in the first place?
    Cobra and Oracle gets oust’ed and can´t block a sworded stoneforge. Harrow makes for awkward plays at the end of opponent´s turn with mana open.
    Those are all Mana-in-the-air kinda cards (if X happens, I might get Y). Valakut needs mana on the board, in the form of LANDS.
    Cultivate gives you a forest to discard to the sword.
    Growth spasm gives you a colorless blocker.

    so, you do not like trap, try GSZ?

    I dont know, seems like a raffle it up kinda article, now that the spoiler is complete…

  4. Okay, I think I got the video working. Let me know in the comments if there are any problems.

  5. Looking forward to seeing “aggro valakut”. Have you considered Acid Web Spider for the board at all? Seems like a pretty strong card against caw blade, and it’s at that all important sub-6 mana spot.

  6. How may one take these gauntlets seriously when the person playing the decks seems reluctant to even give the deck a chance? Not to mention, I still see no acidic slimes…

  7. 3 acid web spiders in the side for this matchup seems like a good trap target gets rid of equipment and blocks swardless critters all day 🙂

  8. In M1 G1 you could have fetched Mountain/terramorphic with the second Primeval Titan, thus killing both Inkmoths.

  9. m1g1
    what about playing summoning trap when he attacks with nexus instead of playing primeval titan. this way you could hit an inferno titan and kill it.

  10. Your deck is going more and more towards RUG manabase with cobra. Whole idea of valakut builds has been to ramp the lands not just mana. If you survive long enough it totally blanks out manaleaks a lot better than this build.

    People playing Inkmoth nexus just validates that valakut lists need to have acidic slimes.

    Didnt really like the games this time but these games valitaded entering Koth for me. With a lot better land ramp him going ultimate is just game. Though your commentary makes them still more enjoyable than anything else on the web about magic. 😀

    Even after that Im not really sure valakut is really a contender anymore. Hasnt been doing any good around here for a long time. (Even my main aggro deck would take valakut any day of the week rather than UW).

  11. I think it’d be funlarious (it’s like fun, AND hilarious) if we were to run both acidic slime and acid web spider with less bimodal mana curves (ramp then win conditions) and played a value game (oh you know you love them there value LSV ;D) with those sweet twofers blown up their lands and swords and what have you.

  12. Thanks for the content 🙂

    @152710: I prefer he plays with a deck actually designed to a whole field, and not a deck tuned to the specific match-up of the series. That would be pretty silly.

    And the spoiler has released a few hours ago, no time to write about it. It’s just that PV super-flashed an article.

  13. Sigh… Here is my problem with you saying valakut is unplayable… You fail to see how caw-blade has a hard time vs valakut without the sword… If you take away the sword, your actually favored.. 1 nature’s claim just isn’t good and trust me, I’ve tried koth ever since ben won the pt with it and nope.. Koth sucks, its not a good strategy because he isn’t fast enough and he just isn’t good in the late game…

    Yes them having extra counterspells are a problem but I don’t see you playing around them at all and sometimes your logic just makes no sense to me, I’m saying this as a person who has been playing with valakut since back when states happened…

    I also don’t know if you will read my comment or not. Since you have no reason to listen to me, so what I’m saying will probably fall on def ears. But my advice to you is.

    Add 3-4 precursor golem to your sideboard… Up the nature’s claim count to 2 or 3… Also, I know your going to look at my comment and say “what the hell are you talking about?”, but stop going so auto pilot… I mean, its clear to most of us that you don’t have any interest in playing valakut in a real tournament so your probably not trying as hard to win with it.

    In my testing with my list I’ve had a somewhat even match with caw-blade. but again you have no reason to believe me. If you want my list. Feel free to get me on mtgo. Mikey k159 is my name.

  14. When I say “when ben won the pt with it”. I’m referring to caw-blade. Sorry for the mislead.

  15. man, i would pay good money for an LSV signed gruesome encore. Can channelfireball arrange that? 😛

  16. Your cat was extra cute during these, maybe it was because i’m wearing headphones, but i heard it meow a ton =)

  17. m1 g1

    couldn’t you play green titan, get mountain and fetch or expense to instant bolt his nexus?

  18. Why are you saying you got smashed in these videos? Didn’t you win about 50%?


  19. I just started to play Valakut, finally got some Primeval Titans. I am probably late to the party and might not be money well spent. I am a little discourage with the results from LSV’s testing and it being unplayable, but am going to stick with it. Hopefully it is just the caw-blade match up that is bad.

    Mike would you be willing to post your version of Valakut? I am trying to fine tune my deck a little bit both main and sideboard. Currently I am running a non Cobra based version. I keep changing it with each article I read about it.

    LSV – Thanks so much for doing this series they are fun to watch and as a new player I find the informative and helpful. Please win with Valakut so I dont feel so bad about dumping money into this deck 🙂

  20. in match 2 g2 when cobra was in play
    you played primeval to get 2 basic lands
    can’t you get 2 fetches triggering cobra for RR then sac and get 2 forests triggering cobra for another 2 so 6 to play also the inferno titan?

    or am I wrong?

  21. @new2valakut: Later today when mtgo is back up. Find me and we will discuss it. I’d be more than happy to discuss strategy and also.

    LSV don’t think I don’t appreciate the videos. Keep it up and Ill be as happy as anyone else.

  22. What about playing some Eldrazi Green – it is definitely making a comeback because of the supposedly good matchup vs Caw-blade and the death of aggro, and of course tumble magnet being a house.

    I’m pretty sure you played the deck in some earlier series, and it actually plays like a weirdo control deck without removal. It also helps to play decks you don’t actively despise (not blaming you, Valakut is absurdly boring)

    Either that or just grab a successful list form a daily, it seemed apparent in sideboarding this one doesn’t have what it takes.

  23. @ Chomps. you can not design a deck for the whole field. that is simply impossible.
    what you can do is design a deck that beats the best decks and still have a somewhat favourable matchup in the beginning of the tourney while wrestling through WW quest and vampire decks.

    I mean, caw blade wins on the sword, yet he only has 1 card that kills it.. a bit strange. I would expect atleast 3 slimes in the board. They kill inkmoths as well..

    so you have both RUG and Cawblade running mana leaks, yet you choose to run harrows. you play 1 and 2 GREEN toughness guys that die to all removal available, killing your ramp, and they can not even block a sworded dude.. Surely there must be alternatives?

    Still loving these articles though LSV, don’t get sloppy!!

  24. If you wanted to be surprised why did you read the whole spoiler multiple times? I think it would have been very possible to dodge the spoiler and wait it seems like you could have chosen to not look at the full spoiler and been happy while allowing those of us who want to see it all look and been fine.

  25. Constructive Criticism

    LSV, any thoughts on whether the deck should be mulliganing a bit more aggressively? It’s just that I seem to recall that back when Valakut was the big deck, the good players wielding it were gaining an edge with their mulligan decisions. Valakut, though it is a “critical mass” type deck, still seems to mulligan pretty well with a lot of 5 or 6 card hands being extremely good, and it just seems that the way the matchup is playing out that you’re having a lot more success when you can just leap though the midgame straight to going big, making their sword/hawks/jace less significant (well, at least the first 2), i.e. when you have a good hand.

    Not saying you should only keep hands that give you t3 titan, but it seems like for example i think one of your hands was koth trap titan 4 land, and I think a lot of 6 card hands seem likely to be as good or better if they let you play a threat earlier.

    I suppose (even slightly more) aggressively mulliganing seems like it runs contrary to everything you stand for, but I would at least be interested to hear your thoughts, since I would think that not every deck can mulligan under the same criteria.

    Anyway, thanks for the videos, best magic content on the net.

  26. @Mike. Unfortunatley I am not on MTGO, I have a mac. Could I give you my email address?

  27. @cubeplayer…the fetchlands come in tapped, so you cant tap sac them they turn they come in

  28. Th turn you ultimate Koth, why not play the second Koth afterwards with Valakut + a Mountain, then untap your Mountain? You keep the same pinging power and now have a threat on board. Instead you just pass.

  29. I was wondering if you were going to a VAMPIRE versus CawBlade matchup. On the surface Feast and Famine looks tough to beat, but VAMPS does have a lot of removal and has a relatively fast clock.

    Vamps seems to have decent matchup with RUG and some other control matchups and obviously it would have to have a decent one against Blade to make it viable.

    Would rather play something at Regionals that wouldn’t have a ton of mirror matchups as it seems the Blade mirror is very draw dependant

  30. Have you considered Autumn’s Veil for extra counterspell protection? I’ve been testing with it in Eldrazi Green and it’s been ok.

  31. @James

    And what, not talk to any of his pro friends for the next few weeks? Of course LSV has no choice but to read the spoiler.

    Let’s not even talk about the value of being able to work for the next PT much earlier he’d be giving up if he didn’t read it.

    “just don’t read the spoiler” is a valid argument for Joe Blows like you and me, but not for a serious MTG pro who makes his living off of it.

  32. Seems like burst lightning is a good answer for Caw-blade. Kills un-sworded guys, and can be kicked to kill the sworded guys and Colonnade. 4 to jace isn’t a bad play either. Not sure if it is better than nature’s claim, but it might be as it interacts with all of their threats. Also, if Nexus is going to be in every deck now, seems like some extra instant burn is good.

  33. Aren’t you testing these decks to see how valid they are.. in reality? Doing tricks like “F6, ha tricked you F4” while funny actually ruins the validity of the testing. It’s something you can only do on modo and any results gained from it just taint the results since it can NEVER happen in RL ever.

  34. In M1G1 why not play the second primeval titan fetching two mountains…you then get to kill jace and gideon and threaten lethal the next turn. You are only going to 9 poison from the inkmoth and he can’t counter it since he was tapped. Worrying about wrath? I don’t get that one but i feel like i’m missing something obvious

  35. I can happily say I was the one who beat LSV with aggro Valakut on a daily event. It is my biggest magic accomplishment yet 🙂

  36. Luis Scott-Vargas

    @ milna

    If you send some gruesome encores (as many as you wish) to our shipping address and include a note asking me to sign them (as well as postage so we can send them back), I can definitely sign them! Alternately, if you wish to just buy Encores from CFB, put a note in asking me to sign them and we will do all the shipping =)

    @ James

    As others have said, I can’t really ignore the spoiler, as much as I would wish to. There are a lot of reasons for that, up to and including the need to test, the need to stay informed when talking in articles, and natural curiousity. Knowing the spoiler is there ruins it regardless, so waiting wouldn’t even help. Sad, but true.

    @ wishthink

    There are many, many, tricks you can use IRL that you can’t on modo, and using modo tricks only balances that. Regardless, there are plenty of differences, but I feel doing stuff like that doesn’t invalidate anything.

    @ the spoiler

    I realize the set is spoiled, but it is a long time until it’s legal, and figuring out the best valakut list now still seems valuable.

  37. Agree completely with your aside. I’ve saved the spoiler to my computer and just hope that it’s fake (but it’s not). The pre-release isn’t for over two weeks and the anticipation for spoilers Obviously as a pro, you can’t ignore it and even casual players won’t be able to avoid looking at it and that really ruins a lot considering all the cool things that are in this set. Going on to facebook and reading about all different cards that people are excited for has really spread out the excitement as opposed to being able to discuss a couple cards each day.

    It sucks and I think Wizard really needs to crack down even more than they did back when playtest cards from Time Spiral were leaked. I really don’t know what they can do at this point though. It’s gotta suck to have almost no control over this.

  38. Luis,

    I think you’re looking at Valakut wrong as a whole. Choosing to play Valakut is choosing to accept your fate as a deck that is weak to Caw-Blade (or, more specifically, weak to Caw-Blade’s sideboard), in exchange for smashing everything else by just being leagues more powerful. Valakut is very good against RUG, all the aggro decks, and the random schtuff people play (on pure power level), and it is a rational choice in a room where either: (1) the Caw-Blade players are weaker; or (2) there is a disproportionately small amount of Caw-Blade. Reveillark when Faeries is the best deck.

    To accomplish this goal, you can’t spend as many slots as you are on “fighting” Caw-Blade, because you dilute your deck’s ability to achieve its goals elsewhere in order to try to be slightly less behind in your post-SB games vs. Caw-Blade, which, as you observed, are gonna be bad anyway. For example, 4 Summoning Trap main is an inefficient use of space because Summoning Trap just isn’t that good, and, as you correctly noticed, the concentration of countermagic is substantially lower in g1. You’re playing this at the expense of more powerful cards (Green Sun’s Zenith!) or added utility (Slime, Tumble Magnet) or ramp (Cultivate) that will allow you to ram and jam on the rest of the field, while helping you achieve your power-level goals game 1 vs. Caw-Blade.

    The same applies to Lotus Cobra over Khalni Heart: Cobra is easily answerable in the games where you really need it, and the end result of having Cobra in situations where they answer it is way worse than the end result of having a Khalni Heart (no lands you wouldn’t otherwise have and an empty board vs. +2 land and progress toward getting Valakut active). Sure, sometimes you nut on them with Cobra, but so what? You were probably winning those games anyway because you had an uncountered Titan, jah?

    In sum, your game 2s against Caw-Blade are going to be bad, but if you have a decent sideboard plan, you can occasionally steal a close one on the play (plus stuff like they sometimes mull to death etc.). You analyzed the matchup very well: they have 2 oppressive permanents and a bunch of counters, you can fight back with anti-countermagic defenses (e.g. Autumn’s Veil, Summoning Trap, Ricochet Trap), and cards that answer those problematic permanents (Nature’s Claim, Tumble Magnet, Phyrexian Revoker, even Bolt). Beyond that, what can you do? It’ll be miserable sometimes, and if you get paired against good Caw-Blade players a bunch of times, you’re not gonna win the tournament, but this fact does not make Valakut unplayable.

    Valakut doesn’t win by spending all its marginal card slots fighting a battle it can’t win anyway. It wins by devoting those slots to consistently delivering the most powerful thing in the format.

  39. The aggro-Valakut variant has some interesting synergy to exploit – Cobra with Mul Daya Channelers and Oracle. You might also consider Genesis Wave, which does good things in a Cobra/Titan/fetchlands base. I just wish there was a legitimate landfall abuser to run – obviously Valakut doesn’t have much room for Emeria Angel, Ob Nixilis, or Big Scrub Baloth.

  40. Why is Genesis Wave a bad card in this deck? Ssorry for a probably obvious answer but it seems like it could be good.

  41. A concerned player

    Valakut is playable if you avoid misplays and mulligan appropriately, and I don’t really blame you for the few mistakes you made. Being a non-valakut player, you want to interact with the opponent more on their turn than is necessary, and because of this you tend focus less on using every opportunity you have to resolve your threats with a tapped out opponent.

    Also, a hand with a Koth, threats and no other ramp is a mulligan in valakut, especially in a match-up where you need speed. Koth is great, but he (as you have seen) doesn’t just plain win games by himself.

    Another little tip, if you have Summoning Trapped and intend to do so again, if you haven’t shuffled since, it is actually MUCH worse to thin your deck before trapping, unless you’re thinning seven, that is.

    You tried to defend your sideboard plan, but siding out five ramp spells(three of which work well with an opponent who taps out on their turn constantly without worrying because of SoFaF, and two of which are lotus cobras, which are in your deck because of the Cawblade matchup) is only going to murder your tempo. I like oracle, but this version of the deck already has more than enough bad topdecks for her to be playable. Try siding those out instead of cobra and bolt, or just taking them out of the 75 altogether and add more actual ramp spells than your current 6(confused how you side out 3 harrow with only 2 in your board).

    I’m not trying to be rude, and in fact I thank you for posting a video that makes Valakut look pathetic to people who don’t play it, because that means that many fewer people will side enough hate to deal with it in the future.

    Oh and enjoy the Aggro version, it’s alright unless the opponent has any sweepers.

  42. m1g1:

    why don’t you cast primeval second main and fetch up mountain/terramorphic?? That way you can bolt inkmoth instant speed next turn and not worry about anything

  43. A concerned player

    @new2Valakut genesis wave will likely be at best an 8cmc hard-cast summoning trap at sorcery speed that nets you a few lands either way. More to the point though triple green can be tricky sometimes and there’s just no room for more non-creature pseudo-bombs.

  44. Not to be a negative Nancy, since I do REALLY love these videos, I agree with the sentiment that this series seemed like you weren’t into it. I saw a LOT of plays that really struck me as very odd, and usually ended up being quite bad for you. I just don’t see how you can say Valakut is unplayable already with 2 bad plans against them and 6 matched where the games were slightly less than 50/50 split and you weren’t playing optimally.

    Again, keep the videos coming, but make sure you are playing tight and want to win if you want to provide us with really useful information.

  45. In game one when you played the first prime titan, you could have got a terimophic to be able to trigger on the caw’s turn to kill the nex.

  46. @new2 – green mana is at a premium for Valakut, just as it was in Jund last season. Wave is problematic if your ramp is all land-based because every green source is neither a mountain nor a volcano.

    I think it may be playable in a list with more creature-based ramp, though. Cobra/Treespeaker/Birds/Channeler/Battlement can all provide the GG.

  47. LSV- M1G1 You passed turn after swinging prime titan at Gideon, under the assumption that your only out was to trap into something sweet (which, naturally you did) – but you could have just cast your second prime titan getting mountain # 5 and evolving wilds, allowing you to sac wilds when he equips.

    Keep the vids comin!

  48. Nvm you figure that one out in the next video, guess i should watch everything befor making comments.

  49. M3G2 really sums up all I have said already in comments this week – you’re stuck with 6 drops in your hand, and then you miss with the trap. Of course it was going to miss! You had 2 Titans left in your 40-something card library. If you choose not to do anything to fix the problems of your list – fine. But don’t say Valakut is bad when the reality is you don’t want to make it good. I’ve loved this series so far (and still love your puns), but it’s pretty obvious you weren’t really into it this week.

  50. Despite managing to lose to it at my Nats qualifiers, I really don’t think Valakut has much game against Cawblade. It needs to get lucky. There basically is no reason to not be playing Cawblade at this point, other than not owning Jaces.

  51. Since my last comment was a bit more offensive than I would like – I’m not saying you’re consciously trying to prove Valakut is bad. But it really shows you’d rather play something else. That’s not a good start when you’re struggling to improve the deck you hate.

  52. The reason your sideboarded games did not go well is that your sideboard plan was terrible. Like RUG, the best plan for Valakut vs. Caw-Blade is to stick a Lotus Cobra, and ride it to the win. Plus, you can’t afford to bring in that many cards against Caw-Blade without signficantly reducing the power of the matchup.

    Cards that are bad in your build vs. Caw-Blade:
    Oracle of Mul Daya — I know it seems awesome since it really can’t be countered, but it doesn’t provide the speed that you need from Khalni Heart Expedition, Harrow, and Primeval Titan. That’s 3 slots that would be better spent doing something/anything more proactive in the early turns.

    Cards that are good vs. Caw-Blade:
    Lotus Cobra
    Summoning Trap (if you hit it, the most frustrating feeling ever when you whiff)
    Tumble Magnet (pretty much the only reason you win vs. a Sworded creature right now)
    Nature’s Claim (limited, but actually solid in the mirror and vs. Boros as well)
    Inferno Titan (cleans up Hawks, but does not take down a Sworded Mystic, the largest drawback for Inferno Titan in Valakut)

    With the meta so tuned for Swords and Titans (and with Tumble Magnet as a primary answer), I actually think a return to Avenger of Zendikar/Precursor Golem as the secondary finisher of choice after Prime Time is the best way to beat Caw-Blade. Force them to Wrath the board, or you win. Race all the way.

    Play Green Sun’s Zenith so that every time the Caw-Blade player taps out, you can land a haymaker. Your haymaker beats their haymaker every time, since Primeval Titan requires a counter or a Wrath vs. Caw-Blade. They really don’t beat an active Titan. Green Sun’s Zenith provides the inevitability that Summoning Trap does not.

    That said, the Valakut list is still a dog to Caw-Blade, and as such, isn’t really viable in Standard. Aggro Valakut is much, much better, and you will have more fun actually interacting with your opponent rather than just sitting back and playing ramp spells.

  53. After playing at Seattle Regionals and doing quite well with Valakut, this deck is very very playable. I beat Caw-Blade multiple rounds with no problem. Valakut is also the deck that won in Seattle and also got 5th. Khlani-heart is one of the best cards in the deck. If you play that turn 2 then titan turn 5 its almost impossible to loss. Look up the list that got first in Seattle.

    LSV- You are a great magic player, but 8 2 drop creatures are not good for this deck, and zenith is way better than trap.

  54. I only think that valakut is not that easy to play… and a non valakut player, even if it is a great player like LSV, need to takes a lot of time to gain the necessary confidant to play a difficult Mu like Caw-blade… another thing your valakut ramp.. doesn’t ramp… you need at least 6/8 spell that can fetch land… cobra is awsome but you realy don’t need bot cobra and overgrown battlement…. and searisly if you play a t2 cobra and he’s going to fetch with is t2 mystic a mortapod so be it …. here is the list that i’m testing take a look at it if you want

    11 mountain
    3 verdant catacomb
    4 valakut the molten pinnacle
    4 evolving wilds
    1 terramorphic expanse
    4 forest

    4 lotus Cobra
    4 Primeval titan
    3 Inferno Titan
    4 summoning trap
    4 Khalni Heart Expedition
    2 harrow
    2 cultivate
    4 explore
    4 ligthing bolt
    2 Obstinate Baloth

    4 Nature’s Claim
    4 pyroclasm
    1 obstiante baloth
    2 Geas Revenge
    2 harrow
    2 GSZ

    This is my list and i think is well tunned for all the meta… and seriusly i want to get rid of that damn sword 4 natur’s claim is the least you can have for it… is not the same treath whiout sword …

  55. Acidic Slime hits Swords.
    Acidic Slime hits Inkmoth Nexus.
    Summoning Trap hits Acidic Slime.

    Show some love for the Slimes!

  56. The reason Valakut was so good before is that it put so much pressure on the opponent that they had to play completely reactively and they had no chance to progress. Sword takes that away because they get to use their resources twice to react and be proactive. Valakut needs a quick and cheap way to remove sword from the game.

    Acidic slime takes up an entire turn, giving them the ability to get back in the game. Nature’s claim work the best at the moment, and running four out of the board is the best chance you have, as well as Traps from the board for flash freeze alone.

    Slagstorm (w/o cobras) is a consideration, except it won’t kill sworded mystics, and now that Inkmoth Nexus is popular, that’s out the window also.

    In fact, crush/shatter might be better than claim because red mana’s easier to get.

  57. Louis, I just wanted to comment on your saying that Valakut is unplayable in this metagame. While I agree that it is not the best choice as its caw-blade matchup needs a lot of attention to keep it good, but I’ve discovered with some tweaking, such as mainboard Koth, it is definitely winnable. The list you played was significantly different from many Valakut lists that have been successful in large caw-blade fields, for example not running 4 harrows to compliment the cobras. Also, the results weren’t horrible as you implied. You did well pre-board, which is the most important thing to do. And even if you only turn out to be 35-65 post-board, that still isn’t “getting smashed” as you said.

    Basically, I’m trying to say that if you’re famous for not liking valakut/aggro and then a video series shows decent/slightly dissapointing results, you say you got smashd and call the deck unplayable, that does show a little bias.

  58. Matt and pk are 100% right. Casting Titan and fetching Mountain, Expanse/Wilds to insta-Bolt his Nexus wins the game in Match 1 Game 1, without having to get lucky on Trap.

  59. You really need to use GSZ. If you’re looking for a good build just look at Toni Ramis’s deck from Barcelona. It got 2nd place (loosing to UB control).

    1 Evolving Wilds
    5 Forest
    1 Khalni Garden
    3 Misty Rainforest
    11 Mountain
    3 Terramorphic Expanse
    4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

    3 Inferno Titan
    4 Lotus Cobra
    4 Overgrown Battlement
    4 Primeval Titan

    4 Explore
    2 Green Sun’s Zenith
    4 Harrow
    3 Khalni Heart Expedition
    4 Summoning Trap


    2 Acidic Slime
    2 Act of Treason
    1 Green Sun’s Zenith
    3 Nature’s Claim
    3 Obstinate Baloth
    4 Pyroclasm

  60. I keep hearing from other pros that the correct play more often than not with Trap is to case the Trap on their turn forcing them to counter the less consistent card, then untap and cast your titan.
    Why haven’t you been trying this?

  61. I don’t blame you for not knowing how to play Valakut. It is apparent you think the deck is so mindless you think a monkey could pilot it. When the main enemy was Eldrazi Green this was the case since that deck doesn’t interact with you at all. Now that its not October 2010 winning the control matchup with Valakut takes time, patience, and the right build. You seem to have none of these when it comes to Valakut. If you are siding out cobras against caw blade you might as well not be playing them at all. You have too many oracles, 2 is pushing it, too many Koths, 2 at most, and have Obstinate Baloths, which aren’t very good right now. You need at least 3 tumble magnets in the board, its great to hit multiples. Summoning Trap is fine, but cutting GSZ completely is not. You need at least 3 in your 75.

    This matchup isn’t nearly in Caw-Blade’s favor as you would like to think. Flashfreeze is not an autowin. The fact that Caw has to have at least 4 dedicated sideboard spots for Valakut means the matchup is not completely in their favor. The fact that their only good answers are counterspells also shows this.

    Is this my favorite matchup? No, but its at worst 60-40 in Caw’s favor, 50-50 at best.

    I believe I am wasting my time however, because you don’t seem to care. You could have written this article before you tested the deck and you would have written the same thing. You of all people should know that you can’t just pick up any deck, not take it seriously, not know how to play it, and run it against the best deck in the format and expect to win. Valakut players that beat Caw players know every card in their deck, and they know the role of each specific card.

    I still respect you as a professional Magic player LSV, but this weeks Running the Gauntlet series is not up to snuff, if you don’t want to run the deck properly, then get someone else to do it who is willing to put their full effort into it.

  62. M1G1 don’t you go double titan and fetch up enough mountains and a terramorphic so you can insta sac the terramorphic to kill a nexus. Punted?

  63. Luis Scott-Vargas


    There hasn’t been a successful Valakut list in like the last 5 reasonable tournaments, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon, and all the knowing your list perfectly stuff isn’t going to help.

    I will admit that I definitely am not as familiar with Valakut as with some of the other decks here, but I think expecting me to know every deck inside and out before I start testing them is unreasonable. Part of this series is me going through the testing process with decks, and if I make misplays (which I definitely have), they should be instructional as well. Plus, who could I get that knows how to play Valakut? Nobody I know is remotely interested in playing the deck, since they all actually want to win tournaments…

  64. Lots and lots of misplays. From the videos it doesn’t seem like this match up is as terrible as you make it sound. It’s the lack of familiarity with the deck that’s costing you many games, not the deck itself.

  65. It seems like there is a lot of love for this deck. I can respect that, I really like this deck a lot. I just stinks it biggest weakness is the best deck in the game.

    I am not going to pretend I know a lot about this game but from what I can tell Valakut is reeling right now and maybe that is what this deck needs. Rather than beat LSV up for not knowing the deck 100% or pointing a miss play (although it is nice to learn to play the deck). Shouldnt we take this as a challenge to make the deck better and figure out how to beat CawBlade.

    Sure it is easy to just sleeve up the best deck in the game and go tournament and be able to hang with everyone (assuming you have the skills). Then when that deck isnt the best anymore sleeve up something else. Isnt this the reason most people picked up Valakut in the first place.

    Lead, follow, or get out of the way. As for me I am just a crappy bottom of the rung FNM player so I get out of the way. Follow and you just sleeve up CawBlade, lead you make Valkaut kick CawBlade’s a$$.

    From reading all of the comments there seems to be a lot of knowledge on this deck and I think pooled together it can be done. There has to be a card out there that can swing the advantage back to Valakuts favor. How ironic would it be if that card was … Gruesome Encore 😉

    LSV you rock, thanks for the series. Also thanks to this thread, I have learned a lot about this deck just reading your comments.

  66. Going 3-4 overall while going 2-1 preboard is not “getting smashed” as far as I know…

  67. What makes Birds of Paradise bad in this deck?

    It helps with mana and it blocks an inkmoth nexus with the sword and a hawk with the sword. Sure it dies from everything but it can by you another turn. I am a crappy FMN player so I am obviously missing something. I know cobra is a much better card but at least birds has a chance of stopping a flier

  68. How about trying to diversify the threats against the Caw? We are playing many creatures already and what we are lacking is ways to make threats before getting to 4 mana. I am kind of bummed that seemingly no one has reached the same conclusion, but – if vengevine is the way to beat jace and we’re playing green, why can’t we just … add the vengevine to our deck? I mean it takes up some slots (since we are also pretty much obligated to also add fauna shaman), but what were we doing with those slots anyway? Just running vengevine raw on turn 3 on the play would present some problems to the Caw deck, but adding to that the opportunity to play a tutor for more copies of vengevine or for creatures that kill sword (or magnet) could actually be a meaningful way to interact. Sword of FFS (that’s the name we gave it, since FFS is a response it seems to elicit quite often) seems like it could potentially be the cloud to rain on the vengevine parade, but with enough ways to destroy that, we can move the fight to a new level – a level they may be less equipped to handle. A Fauna Shaman active also means you can’t run out of titans, if that is what you require to win at that particular juncture. They can’t really counter it for fear of summoning trap and even if they do and you miss to land a titan with said trap, you have a better chance to at least find another copy of the fauna shaman (or a vengevine).

    I won’t get into more detail right now, cause I’m not really a valakut fan. But I’d toy with that idea. Just to see if it is worth it.

    P.S. You are welcome.

  69. I posted a comment, but it doesn’t show up (and yes, I ctrl+F5’d the site multiple times and restarted my browser). I tried to repost it and was informed I have already posted this comment. Is there a new system for posting comments? Like it has to be reviewed in advance or what?

  70. nevermind the last post, it works now

    How about trying to diversify the threats against the Caw? We are playing many creatures already and what we are lacking is ways to make threats before getting to 4 mana. I am kind of bummed that seemingly no one has reached the same conclusion, but – if vengevine is the way to beat jace and we’re playing green, why can’t we just … add the vengevine to our deck? I mean it takes up some slots (since we are also pretty much obligated to also add fauna shaman), but what were we doing with those slots anyway? Just running vengevine raw on turn 3 on the play would present some problems to the Caw deck, but adding to that the opportunity to play a tutor for more copies of vengevine or for creatures that kill sword (or magnet) could actually be a meaningful way to interact. Sword of FFS (that’s the name we gave it, since FFS is a response it seems to elicit quite often) seems like it could potentially be the cloud to rain on the vengevine parade, but with enough ways to destroy that, we can move the fight to a new level – a level they may be less equipped to handle. A Fauna Shaman active also means you can’t run out of titans, if that is what you require to win at that particular juncture. They can’t really counter it for fear of summoning trap and even if they do and you miss to land a titan with said trap, you have a better chance to at least find another copy of the fauna shaman (or a vengevine).

    I won’t get into more detail right now, cause I’m not really a valakut fan. But I’d toy with that idea. Just to see if it is worth it.

    P.S. You are welcome.

  71. ok, so it only lets me post shorter comments. I will make this one short:
    0 – play more creature accelerators in the main (as GerryT suggested)
    1 – add fauna shaman and vengevine to the board
    1a – add tutorable ways to destroy sword (manic vandals? viridian corrupter? slime? multiple tuk-tuk scrappers?)
    2 – to find the space, remove koth and other jank that doesn’t really work
    3 – profit

    P.S. You are welcome

  72. ok, so in summary:
    0. play more creature accelerators in the main
    1. add 4 x fauna shaman, 4 x vengevine and some tutorable creatures to destroy sword of FFS
    2. remove koth&other not-as-efficient cards
    3. profit

  73. Seriously, I was playing just straight Valakut… No mana guys, just ramp, ramp, ramp, and I did very well with it. I think it’s the way to go against Caw.

  74. The matchup is plenty winnable. Probably not with the two lists LSV has played. I don’t know what those lists are geared towards but they are way off from anything that is achieving success right now.

  75. Does seem like the only way caw blade can win is with the swords. Especially this list. (might be different if a white titan and/or bsa was included). So you would seem to want more ways to get rid of the swords. Would think the slimes would work great for that as you can get rid of an artifact or a land. The kill land part would be good to get rid of all the possible attacking lands and pretty good in the mirror match. Plus they really don’t want to bounce a slime with jace because that just makes it better.

    If you ran some slimes then that would make the traps better as more creatures to hit.

    The probably you feel it has is consistency. I would think that the GSZ would really add to that.

    An alternative win could also be RSZ, since you will usually have a lot of lands out. And it could be a creature or PW removal.

    The hard part would be what to take out for those.

    Also wondering of pyroclasm might be good against the non-sun titan, non-bsa build?

  76. The land distribution is the worst part of this decklist. 5 forest and 4 verdant catacombs will draw you way too many forests, as we saw happen in the way games played out.

  77. I’ve been curious about doing a transformational sideboard, with Valakut going aggro? With maybe Guides and Geopedes, and whatnot. Thoughts?

  78. Try koth in the main deck and ditch the whole harrow and heart expedition package for spasm and cultivate. I have tested every angle of the aggro vala ramp and went 7/13 out of 10 preboarded and 10 post boarded games 6/4 pre in caws favor 7/3 post caw blades favor it still wasn’t pretty with the aggro list

  79. Nobody mentioned it here and LSV didn’t try it: when you’re expecting counter pressure and holding both titans and traps, lead with the trap at EOT. It’s weaker since it might miss, but probably not so weak that they can intentionally let it pass. If they counter it, you’re open for Titan. If not, then it’s just half a turn slower than doing it “trap style.” It’s also protects the titan from Oust, though that’s probably not their game plan anyway.

    I particularly wanted to see this strategy in that last game where LSV had drawn 3-4 titans and knew he had low odds to hit, but Nass didn’t know the odds.

  80. Why you don’t upload the video on YouTube??? You tried it again several months ago and the result was bad as is the quality of this video. The only reason I can think why you don’t want to watch with 720p and 1080p is because you want to make CF something like SCG with premium accounts and you don’t want to see everyone those videos…Not good…If I am wrong please keep uploading videos on YOUTUBE!!!

  81. was looking forward to seeing the next part with the aggro build. thought it would be up today?

  82. Aww don’t rush him, making Valakut competitive against caw decks isn’t an easy task, and LSV is a rather busy guy.
    back on the point: I like the new valakut build and Koth sideboard strategy, If I ever play valakut I’ll probably use a list closer to this one than the usual build, but right now it just looks like anything resembling traditional valakut is doomed to failure – I’m interested to see how you make ‘aggro valakut’ but I get the impression that for it to have any chance, it’s going to need to stray quite far from the list you started with back on the 17th(or whenever the 1st valakut gauntlet was posted)

  83. i believe he preferred nexi’ in games 2 and 3 simply because he had the extra counterspells to ensure a quick victory.
    tectonic edge is probably better than nexus in game 1 from my point of view.

  84. why do you wait that you oppent put into the battefield the sword,with mystic?

    i had killed stoneforge just came into battefield…so if he would to play sword hs must tap 3 (probably tapped tou!)

  85. The problem is you need to main deck green sun. It smoothes out a lot of the problems in valakute. Ad main deck acidic slime is key, if you want to beat caw blade it has the tools…

  86. Pingback: Running the Gauntlet – Valakut, Conclusion | Magic: The Gathering - Strategy, Singles, Cards, Decks

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