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Much Abrew: Dread Dryad Valakut (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. It's almost time for Ikoria to be released and shake up Standard, but this week, we're heading back to Modern to play Dread Dryad Valakut, a deck that wants all of its lands to be Mountains (even though it doesn't play any actual Mountains) and Swamps at the same to enable crazy Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle / Dread Presence shenanigans. How does one go about making all of their lands Mountains and Swamps? Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, of course! Can Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle work without any actual Mountains? How many land drops can we make in a single turn with the help of Dryad, The Gitrog Monster, and Azusa, Lost but Seeking? Can this crazy deck actually work? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Dread Dryad Valakut

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Discussion

  • As far as our record, we ended up going 4-1 with Dread Dryad Valakut, while beating a list of my least favorite decks in Modern (two different Tron builds and Infect) along the way. 
  • While the deck looks strange, it's actually quite powerful. If anything, I underestimated the power of the deck in some of our matches, potentially missing kills because I didn't realize how much damage the deck can actually deal thanks to its weird land synergies (see: our match against Eldrazi Tron). 
  • In some ways, this deck resembles the Mr. Toad's Heartless Summoning deck we played a few weeks ago but was a much more synergistic version. Mr. Toad's Heartless Summoning was basically just a value deck. Dread Dryad Valakut offers a lot of the same value as its predecessor but with a heavy dose of synergy and a stronger combo finish thrown in, thanks to Dryad of the Ilysian Grove and all of our land-damage synergies. 
  • The deck's biggest issue, like most decks playing Heartless Summoning as ramp, is that it can be slow, especially if we don't have Heartless Summoning. While the addition of Explore as an extra two-mana ramp spell does help to speed up the process, there are still some games where we end up with a bunch of three- through six-mana creatures in hand and no way to accelerate them onto the battlefield. These games usually end badly. 
  • Apart from Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, which is the centerpiece of the deck, and Primeval Titan, which is obviously busted, Dread Presence was surprisingly impressive. At first glance, it feels like a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle that dies to creature removal, but it actually managed to stick on the battlefield quite often. Good things happen if we can untap with Dread Presence. At worst, we got to draw extra cards to find more ramp and extra land drops; at best, we just kill our opponent with a bunch of damage to the face. 
  • If you decide to pick up the deck, remember that once we have Heartless Summoning on the battlefield, our extra land drops cards essentially become free (assuming we have extra lands or Ramunap Excavator to play lands from the graveyard) since they are one mana to cast but immediately give us that mana back by allowing us to play another land (which also triggers our synergy pieces, like Dread Presence, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, and Field of the Dead). Most of my punts with the deck came from either not playing an extra land-drop creature when we had the opportunity or from simply underestimating the amount of damage our deck can deal in a single turn once it gets going.
  • I really loved the Golgari Gitrog deck we played a few weeks ago, but Dread Dryad Valakut felt like a mostly improved and very much updated version. If you're trying to pick between the two, I'd probably go with Dread Dryad Valakut. The deck is a blast to play and more consistent than it looks when you first see the mana base of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle with no mana. 
  • Keep in mind that Golgari Rot Farm can keep bouncing itself. While it didn't come up in our matches, if you have a bunch of extra land drops, Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, and some number of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles / Dread Presences on the battlefield, then it's sometimes correct to play Golgari Rot Farm a bunch of times in the same turn. We don't end up ahead on mana, but we do deal a lot of damage!
  • So, should you play Dread Dryad Valakut? I think the answer is yes. The deck felt competitive, and it's really synergistic and fun to play. While the slow hands can be an issue, we managed to beat some very fast decks along the way (Infect, Tron), which suggests that it isn't a deal-breaker. If you like strange synergies, extra land drops, and The Gitrog Monster, give it a shot. It certainly has the power to 5-0 a league on Magic Online or compete at an FNM-level event.

Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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