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Much Abrew: Selesnya Valakut (Modern)


Hello, everyone! Welcome to another episode of Much Abrew About Nothing. Tomorrow, we'll kick off Zendikar Rising season with Budget Magic, but today, we're heading to Modern to play one of the most unique Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle decks in the format. Since Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle needs a bunch of Mountains on the battlefield to work, Valakut decks normally are Gruul, but our deck is Selesnya. That's right, we're playing Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle without any actual Mountains in our deck, instead trusting that Dryad of the Ilysian Grove will turn all of our lands into Mountains to support the Valakut kill. The rest of the deck is a weird sort of lands deck, with odd ramp spells like Elvish Reclaimer, Sakura-Tribe Elder, and Knight of the Reliquary along with land-base payoffs like Tireless Tracker and Courser of Kruphix. Can a Value Town–esque version of Valakut work in Modern without any actual Mountains? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Much Abrew: Selesnya Valakut

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Discussion

  • Record-wise, we ended up 2-3 in our league, which isn't ideal. On one hand, we probably could have won at least one additional match if we had drawn a tiny bit better (the Jund match, where we had several turns where a land would have won us the game and our deck was more than 50% lands, but we kept missing). On the other hand, we played against a truly incredible amount of hate, with the usual suspects like Blood Moon and Ashiok, Dream Render but also less likely hate like Jund having a sideboard full of Pillages and Fulminator Mages. It seems like many Modern players are extremely prepared for land-based strategies at the moment, which is probably the biggest reason why our record wasn't better.
  • One thing I didn't really like about the deck is that it felt oddly fizzle-prone and inconsistent. We have a massive 30 lands in our deck and a bunch of ways to tutor them up but only a single Field of the Dead in the main (with another randomly in the sideboard) and two copies of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. We had some games where our Field of the Dead got killed by things like Ghost Quarter or Pillage, and we couldn't recover since we didn't have a backup copy. We had another match where we played against a Simic Valakut strategy that played a bunch of Field of the Deads, and they out-Zombied us. We also had a few games where we had everything set up for Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle but couldn't find a Dryad of the Ilysian Grove to turn all of our lands into Mountains. Basically, the deck looks like it should be consistent, but—at least, in the small sample size of our one league—it wasn't consistent at all. 
  • If we're going to play 30 lands, it's hard for me to believe we can't find room for more copies of Field of the Dead
  • In theory, Eladamri's Call is the card that holds the deck together and allows us to find our important pieces when we need them. But for some reason, we only have three copies, which means in practice, this doesn't happen as often as it should. 
  • Before I make it sound like the deck was all bad, it does have some really sweet synergies, with my favorite being Elvish Reclaimer with Flagstones of Trokair. Elvish Reclaimer is way stronger than I realized and doubly so with Flagstones, where we can use Elvish Reclaimer to sacrifice Flagstones of Trokair, tutor up a Plains with Flagstones' ability, and then tutor up another land thanks to Elvish Reclaimer (if we have nothing better to do, we can grab another Flagstones of Trokair to do it again the next turn). This essentially turns Elvish Reclaimer from a Crop Rotation (where we end up with the same number of lands on the battlefield when all is said and done) into a true ramp spell, which is quite powerful. 
  • The other sweet thing about the deck is that we do have a lot of powerful utility lands, and thanks to Elvish Reclaimer, Primeval Titan, and Knight of the Reliquary, we can usually find them when they are good and even snag them at instant speed, which can lead to some big blowouts with lands like Bojuka Bog exiling our opponent's graveyard, Sejiri Steppe fizzling a removal spell, or Ghost Quarter disrupting Tron. 
  • All in all, Selesnya Valakut is a really cool idea. Unlike most Valakut decks, we aren't an all-in turbo ramp strategy. Instead, we can actually play like a weird Value Town or even GW Taxes deck after sideboarding. But at least in our experience, consistency is a big issue for the deck. Cutting some of the weaker one-ofs for more copies of our best cards (or more creature tutors like Eladamri's Call) could help to solve the issue. While the deck can do really sweet things and has a ton of neat synergies, putting everything together proved to be a challenge.
  • So, should you play Selesnya Valakut? At the risk of having my view tainted by a small sample, I'm leaning toward no. At the same time, some other players have had success with it on Magic Online, so perhaps I wasn't playing the deck in the right way (although I'm having a hard time seeing any major thing I was doing wrong). More testing and practice are probably required, but for now, I'm leaning toward no.

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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