Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Unbelievably, a deck without Baneslayer Angel.

Slightly less unbelievably, a deck not by YT at all.

Ben Goodman (aka @RidiculousHat) pinch hits with quite a hit of a deck, actually… Starring (you guessed it) Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle!

Ben Tweeted a greeting along the lines of…

Have you played with [V]alakut yet? Killing people with lands is awesome.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

I actually really like the G/R Valakut decks for Extended [albeit packing Sakura-Tribe Elder, probably my favorite creature ever] (what is it with these Extended strategies largely playable in Standard? You know, like yesterday’s?) … So I tried out Ben’s deck for a few matches.

I won them all relatively easily.

They weren’t super duper easy as with Naya Lightsaber, but keep in mind I had never played his deck before. As he has been saying on Twitter, this Valakut attempt is very solid:

Ridiculous Red *

4 Expedition Map

4 Bloodbraid Elf

4 Harrow
4 Khalni Heart Expedition
4 Rampant Growth

4 Goblin Ruinblaster
3 Lavaball Trap
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Siege-Gang Commander

2 Forest
12 Mountain
4 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

3 Sylvan Bounty
4 Demolish
4 Pyroclasm
4 Volcanic Submersion

I only had the chance to play in three matches with the deck so far… Here are my experiences:

You know this deck… It is a combo deck featuring Hedron Crab, Crypt of Agadeem, and Extractor Demon. Their goal is to put a bunch of creatures into the graveyard, either with Hedron Crab or using Cycling + Unearth for eventual value.

The annoying part of the deck comes from their Rotting Rats (with double discard value), the big kill from Extractor Demon. There are a million Unearths in the deck, but Extractor Demon is a big one that can come out with a big swing for a single-turn kill from down low (presuming their graveyard is jazzed enough). Also Extractor Demon can serve as an alternate win condition, decking the opponent thanks to all their guys disappearing from the battlefield at the end of an Unearth turn.

Luckily, my match didn’t really go to those ends.

Game One I just tempo’d him out. Lightning Bolt for Hedron Crab, then some attacking with Bloodbraid Elf and Goblin Ruinblaster. The Goblin was particularly helpful, chomping a Crypt before it got out of hand.

I lost the second game to a series of Corpse Connoisseurs setting one another up (while I was mana shy).

The third game ended in dramatic fashion; I kept being forced to discard, and he attacked me relentlessly with Cycling creatures from the graveyard. However I had three copies of ye olde Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in play, and two Khlani Heart Expeditions on the map. I finally hit a land drop which allowed me to put counters on the Expeditions, play the Harrow I had been sandbagging to get the next two counters on each, and explode for roughly one trillion damage. Hi-yah!

Esper Control
I almost conceded Game One on turn three. I kept a one lander with Expedition Map and some Rampant Growths. I stalled on one but eventually hit the second land to go digging… Which put me in the path of Archive Trap + Twincast. Unbelievably, he hit nine of my Mountains. I didn’t really know how I could win… But I just played my cards, and one of them was Siege-Gang Commander. That Goblin circumvented his Wall of Denial, and I won a long one.

The second was another bunch of Valakuts on the board; he had to Counterspell every Harrow, everything. Which he didn’t.

Nissa Revane “Gruul”
This was an insane game! He had first turn Oran-Rief, the Vastwood. So everyone who came out came out with +1/+1 (no fun). He battered me but somehow I drew just enough lands (having kept I think a two lander) to chump with Siege-Gang Commander and set up Lavaball Trap! RAH!

The first trap took out Mountain, Rootbound Crag, and three 1/1s with +1/+1 counters on top.

The second one got his remaining Forests and a Llanowar Elves.

(He only had four).

I might have been stuck on one life, but I had plenty of time to win; I didn’t need it because he conceded to unopposed Bloodbraid Elf the next turn.

Finally, I got a tempo game with just some Pyroclasm action. It was a combination of tempo from Bloodbraid Elf and assorted beatdown, followed by Valakut control.

All in all, a fine trio of matches, and a nice introduction to this “Ridiculous” Red Deck 🙂

A card breakdown…

Expedition Map
Usually I got Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle with this pap; once I got Forest to set up Bloodbraid Elf. You really need to play this card in this kind of deck to reinforce the number of Valakuts.

Bloodbraid Elf
This is a really odd card in this deck. Half the time you are flipping over Rampant Growth. Sometimes you flip over Lightning Bolt like some kind of a miser; other times you flip Bolt and it didn’t do very much. This is like Blastoderm in Angry No-Hermit from back 2000 days (was Napster era really almost 10 years ago?). Just like Blastoderm in that deck, I wouldn’t consider cutting this strange, seemingly misplaced, four drop.

Khalni Heart Expedition

These cards are somewhat modular in this deck. You can play them early but you will often not explode them until you have Valakut online; they are a Ball Lightning each, remember, beyond being regular old mana acceleration.

Rampant Growth
This one you will not usually want to wait on; sets up turn three Bloodbraid Elf and all that.

Goblin Ruinblaster
This was a surprisingly valuable main deck card, despite the fact that I sideboarded it out against the deck with Oran-Rief (for Pyroclasm). Nice tempo; nice action on Crypt of Agadeem. I’m sure it would be fine against beloved Black Baneslayer and so on 🙂 (Or is it “:(“?)

Lavaball Trap
I was pretty shocked when this saved me. The deck has a queer semi-Ponza vibe with the Ruinblasters and this main, and the somewhat transformational sideboard.

Lightning Bolt
Not really strategic in this deck; I can see siding it out.

Siege-Gang Commander
Another one that was somewhat hard to contextualize before I actually played… But I guess you need a way to win.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
The ace.

I played 12 of the 15 cards in Ben’s sideboard fairly happily (no Sylvan Bounties… at least not yet). Due to its cost I probably would have overlooked Volcanic Submersion, but it was useful against the Dredge deck.

Before I sign off for the night, a couple of notes…

  1. In case you haven’t seen it yet, two Two TWO copies of Black Baneslayer made the Top 8 of the recent Star City Games $5,000 in Nashville; if you know them, give Chase Lamm and Derek Mong a punch in the arm (or the affectionate bum pat or whatever of your choice).
  2. I recently read one of my favorite articles of all time as a multi-part ‘cast over at Top 8 Magic. Give a listen to “How to Win a PTQ” (inspired by Adam Levitt). (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5)
  3. Apparently I had a glitch on the site so that no new people could register to make blog comments. Sorry about that one kids! It should be fixed now. So comment away. Please!


Currently Reading: The Book of Lies

* My name, not Ben’s 🙂

facebook comments:


#1 RidiculousHat on 11.09.09 at 10:24 pm

i am pleased to see that you’ve been enjoying the deck as much as i have– i’ve made some changes to the original list as well, but i think you covered the core of the deck fairly well.

some notes:
-lavaball trap is innnnnsane. wildfire targeting you is pretty powerful, and you get to 8 mana like every game anyway.
-sgc is good for offensive and defensive purposes. when you have the amount of mana that you end up with in this deck, it plays pretty similarly to arc-slogger. i hear that card was “okay”. i have also, on occasion, played sgc just to get 4 blockers to set up for lavaball the following turn.
-khalni heart, harrow, and panoramas are all powerful in that they let you get two lands in play on one turn. i will frequently slowroll popping panoramas just so i can get mountains into play at instant speed once i have critical mass. also sometimes you just draw another valakut with a panorama and 5 mountains in play… and that IS.
-4 ruinblaster 4 demolish is awesome in this format because the three color decks all have terrible mana, including jund. if you ever get the chance to go rampant growth->ld effect against jund on the play, they will have a lot of trouble catching up to you.

the sideboard is still undergoing flux, but due to the influx of varying creature-based decks into the format, here’s where i’m at right now…

maindeck: -4 bloodbraid, +4 earthquake
great everywhere except jund, where bloodbraid is typically a blocker or a liability anyway. you’re constrained on green mana early and a lot of the time you don’t want to gamble with bloodbraid– it doesn’t quite fit, and while i agree that it gives you some awesome tempo draws and/or lets you kick up a ruinblaster or something, i wanted the quakes against creatures. great against white and green, though i still haven’t found a good way to really shore up the nissa monument matchup. also, board these out against jund– the life loss is a factor and they really don’t play that many creatures. i’d rather have gladehart and demolish in that matchup.

sideboard: -4 submersion, -3 bounty, +4 grazing gladehart, +3 ???
against any deck with blue, you can’t lose. you don’t need submersions there. the submersions were great against crypt of agadeem, but i don’t think that deck is real any more– i saw it for about 3 days and then it went away. gladehart has proven to be more reliable than bounty, and even if it eats a removal spell (which i don’t expect them to leave in) then it still “gained you life” planeswalker-style.

#2 argus on 11.10.09 at 2:02 am

How about Oracle of Mul Daya instead of BBE or Ruinblaster in main? It helps you ramp up and needs to be removed or you’ll explode with the deck!

#3 frm on 11.10.09 at 5:00 am

hey mike and hat, i have a question: since this seems la a control-combo style deck, i’d like to know how aggressive should i mulligan. While trying the deck, in fact, i had some difficulties in getting the 1 forest to get going crazy with mana acceleration: despite 4 expanse + 2 forest + 4 maps i could’nt reliabily cast (nor did at all in some goldfish) growth, harrow and expedition… suggestion?

#4 OGB on 11.10.09 at 8:15 am

Hey Mike, love the article. I have played this deck a bunch on MTGO (we actually played a match when you were playing 3-color Baneslayer/Cobra/KotR) and I have a few comments about your list:

1. Your decklist is only 57 cards. From the comments thusfar, I’m assuming you need 3 Naya Panorama in there.

2. Jund is definitely your worst matchup. We tried testing a singleton Plains in the maindeck so we could have access to Celestial Purge and PtE in the board, but it was still only about 50-50. I have yet to try Ruinblasters in the main, but attacking their tempo and manabase on the play sure seems like the sauce.

3. Oracle of Mul Daya has been an absolute all-star for us. It’s not uncommon to have 6 mana in play on turn 3, either going Rampant Growth into Oracle, or KHE and Harrow, and if she lives for a turn, it’s pretty much game over. She also has amazing synergy with all the shuffle effects in your deck (Expanses, Panoramas, KHE, Harrow, Rampant Growth, Map). Sometimes she is also just a random “I win” card, too. There have been games where I’ve had an active KHE and there are 2 Valakuts on the top of my deck. 18 damage out of nowhere is nice.

4. I’m surprised you’re not running Fiery Fall. It’s very good at 2 things – getting your forest for turn 3, and killing Baneslayer Angel.

#5 admin on 11.10.09 at 10:53 am

Righty-O, OGB…

We are missing 3 Naya Panorama. Good catch 🙂

#6 RidiculousHat on 11.10.09 at 3:01 pm

i haven’t had as much trouble with jund– ruinblasters in the main really help, and demolishes in the side are icing on the cake. the main way you lose to that deck is leech->blightning, and i’m not sure if there’s a good way to counter that other than attacking their terrible mana, especially on the play with rampant growth.

oracle of mul daya is an intriguing development and i may try it in my list– there have been some lists online that have done well with it.

as for mulliganing, you absolutely need access to green mana. the only hand i would keep without green mana is if i was matched up against rw and i had, like, a bolt and two pyroclasms. even then it would be close.

#7 removablefriend on 11.10.09 at 4:26 pm

I playtested this deck for a few hours when I first read this article since the idea of playing Valakut, land destruction, and Lavaball Trap in standard got me very excited. But I kept having speed problems and dying one turn before I could stabilize against faster decks. Then today I saw my friend playing Realm Razer in his landfall deck with Emeria Angel and Rampaging Baloth. Then suddenly it hit me.
Just by splashing for one Plains we can play Realm Razer in our deck. Killing Realm Razer when we have Valakut online is minimum 18 damage (3×6 mountains that all come into play at the same time), speeding up the kill significantly.
I hope that you guys consider this option seriously as I didn’t see Realm Razer as necessary to the combo initially but playing 2 Realm Razers has really improved the overall clock of the deck.

#8 Alfrebaut on 11.10.09 at 6:15 pm

I like Valakut, and even made a deck with it(and 4 Expedition Map AND 4 Armillary Sphere), and I feel like playing it in this deck would be the stones. I don’t like BB much in this deck, either, though. Also, I really feel like you’re missing the versatile Acidic Slime. I love the Lavaball Traps… I think that card is sick, just as an 8. I’ve played like 3-4 Lavaball Trap decks so far, and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to cheat it. Also, though I’ve played it in many a deck, I really hate Demolish. Demolish always just reminds me that Wizards R&D HATES land destruction these days. Sure, they give us a morsel once in a while, but would it hurt them to print a sick 3-mana land destruction spell? Even if it were just a reprint of Molten Rain or something like that.

Anyhow, it looks pretty sharp. How does it do against extremely aggressive decks like Boros or Vampires? Or, do you just expect to dodge them in the early rounds and hope that the mid-range-y decks pick them off?

#9 TattooedOni on 11.10.09 at 7:29 pm

I am pleased to see that we have our old MichaelJ back, no more of this 3 weeks between posts about the SAME deck. Now we get near daily posts about all of the tons of different decks being played, and how they should work and why that is awesome. I am really happy to see it.

#10 MTGBattlefield on 11.11.09 at 5:32 am

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#11 Five With Flores » Five With Goblin Guide on 11.14.09 at 8:45 am

[…] wanted to play the one deck all the time. This week I have played a variety of decks, obviously the Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks (primarily the R/W version), and now Red Deck […]

#12 icarus_descending on 11.15.09 at 8:53 am

@ Alfrebaut, re: Aggro Matchups

I was excited to sleeve up something different for standard testing and local tourneys this weekend…this deck is DOA game 1 against aggro decks such as Vampires, Boros, and soldiers. I haven’t played it yet against Eldrazi Green, but I assume the matchup game 1 is equally terrible. They typically killed me 1-2 turns faster than I could really get Valakut online.

As for changes to improve aggro matchup, the Hat-suggested + 4x Earthquake -4 BBE makes such a huge difference. I had them in my board this weekend and was pretty quickly convinced that it’s essential maindeck material in my local metagame.

As for the SB, I’ve been considering going transformational into either (a) creatureless (+/- Ruinblaster depending on matchup) to blank removal or (b) transformational…ramping into Warp World combo w/ hasty mega-dragons and such.

Anyone else have a little experience with the deck want to discuss tweaks/changes to the MD and SB?

#13 Diario de WKR » Valakut Combo on 12.07.09 at 5:07 am

[…] así que os voy a hablar de mi último experimento. Se trata de Valakut Combo, un mazo que comentó hace unas semanas Mike Flores (uno de mis gurus favoritos de magic) en su blog “Five with […]

#14 Five With Flores » Another Good Use for Umezawa’s Jitte on 01.27.10 at 8:43 pm

[…] 4 Grove of the Burnwillows 6 Snow-Covered Forest 6 Snow-Covered Mountain 1 Snow-Covered Swamp 4 Stomping Ground 2 Treetop Village 2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle […]

#15 Five With Flores » Primeval Titan Changes Everything on 09.02.10 at 10:37 pm

[…] is acceleration, why not add a kind of acceleration that not only can they not interact with (the Valakut decks are going to take out their Lightning Bolts, which don’t do anything), but that can […]

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