Crucible of Words – Valakut the Modern Pinnacle by Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – How do you solve a problem like a Mindsculptor? By Cyrus Bales

Crucible of Words – Valakut the Modern Pinnacle by Cyrus Bales


Hello, for those of you living under a rock, Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle">Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle has recently been unbanned in Modern. Yes, that monster from Standard and Extended that ruined many people’s day, today I’m going to go over various old incarnations of the deck using Grand Prix and Pro Tour top 8 lists.

Back when extended was very similar to how modern is now, a Valakut deck came along and thrust itself towards the top tables, its main deck looked something like this:

Blue Green Scapeshift

4 Coiling Oracle
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Wood Elves
2 Echoing Truth
3 Cryptic Command
4 Peer Through Depths
4 Remand
4 Ponder
4 Scapeshift
4 Search for Tomorrow
4 Stomping Ground
4 Steam Vents
2 Breeding Pool
2 Flooded Grove
2 Misty Rainforest
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
3 Forest
3 Island
1 Mountain

As you can see, the deck is made up of two halves, a blue-green ramp control deck, then a Scapeshift package to end the game with as a combo. Some builds used Gigadrowse and Repeal whilst others also opted for Firespout and Harrow, but the deck was largely the same.

Obviously the powerhouse that is Ponder is no longer an option, so making do with something like Sleight of Hand is the next best option. Other than that, the rest of the deck is intact for Modern, so with that slight change you could sleeve this up and be ready to roll.

PROS: You have a few road blocks for aggro decks whilst you dig through your deck, as well as a decent amount of permission to keep hold of the game.

CONS: You have to find your answer to Blood Moon to win the game, which is important with main deck Moons becoming a thing for RUG Delver. You don’t have that much removal for decks like POD etc.

Now for some other versions of extended decks with Valakut in from over the years:

Wargate Control

3 Wall of Omens
1 Spell Pierce
3 Path to Exile
4 Cryptic Command
4 Mana Leak
1 Ponder
1 Scapeshift
2 Rampant Growth
4 Preordain
4 Wargate
1 Oblivion Ring
4 Prismatic Omen
3 Jace, The Mind Sculptor
1 Murmuring Bosk
1 Scalding Tarn
1 Vivid Grove
2 Flooded Grove
2 Vivid Creek
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Seachrome Coast
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
3 Forest
3 Island

This deck comes from a smaller card pool than the last one, and is very different. Rather than being a combo deck, this aims to be essentially a Uwg control deck that uses Prismatic Omen to make its Valakuts into win conditions. Obviously Jace, Ponder and Preordain are banned, which makes this deck a lot trickier to build. There are many variants of this control version, but to recreate them in Modern may not be ideal, with Abrupt Decay about to give a perfect answer to Prismatic Omen, this list would require a lot of reworking.

PROS: A lot of control and interactivity with the opponent.

CONS: It’s very light on win conditions and the one it has is incredibly vulnerable to disruption.

Wargate Ramp

4 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Cryptic Command
4 Manamorphose
4 Explore
4 Preordain
4 Rampant Growth
4 Scapeshift
4 Wargate
4 Prismatic Omen
1 Fire-lit Thicket
1 Murmuring Bosk
3 Exotic Orchard
4 Misty Rainforest
4 Seaside Citadel
4 Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle
1 Forest
1 Plains
2 Island
7 Mountain

This deck is from the same era as the above Wargate deck, but is a whole other animal. Pretty much a ramp deck, it packs the Cryptic Command and Manamorphose to help cast it in order to disrupt the opponent, but the rest of the game plan is hitting critical land count for Scapeshift. Unlike the last deck, this one can win off a Scapeshift without the Prismatic Omen, so it’s a lot less disruptable.

PROS: The ramp element and the nature of the lands in the deck makes it harder to disrupt since it doesn’t need to “go off” to win the game.

CONS: Very little interactivity to stop the opponent’s plans, especially if they are a combo deck.

Red Green Valakut Ramp

2 Oracle of Mul Daya
4 Primeval Titan
1 Harrow
4 Lightning Bolt
2 Cultivate
4 Explore
4 Rampant Growth
4 Scapeshift
3 Prismatic Omen
4 Khalni Heart Expedition
1 Raging Ravine
2 Verdant Catacombs
3 Evolving Wilds
3 Terramorphic Expanse
4 Valakut, Molten Pinnacle
5 Forest
10 Mountain

This sort of deck will be more familiar to those of you who weren’t around for Old Extended. It’s more of a spin on the Standard juggernaut rather than something new, the plan is very simple; ramp out some land, shoot lots of damage. Primeval Titan is a very powerful card, we all know this, and now we have Valakut in Modern, this will be his time to shine.

Nothing in this list is banned, and once you add in the cards that Modern can draw upon, it gets a lot better. Stomping Ground makes a huge difference here, to the point where Prismatic Omen may not even be necessary for this deck, allowing you to play some more interactive cards to buy you more time like Firespout and Sakura-Tribe Elder. This also gives you the chance to run Zendikar fetchlands rather than the tempo busting basic fetches, I imagine this version will be one of the more popular types of Valakut deck.

PROS: Inevitability from a strong game plan that is hard for control decks to disrupt as well as the ability to combo off an win.

CONS: Struggles to interact with other combo decks so can be out-raced by Storm and its ilk.

Zoo Valakut

2 Qasali Pridemage
3 Knight of the Reliquary
4 Plated Geopede
4 Steppe Lynx
4 Tarmogoyf
4 Wild Nacatl
3 Harrow
4 Lightning Bolt
4 Path to Exile
4 Scapeshift
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Sacred Foundry
1 Verdant Catacombs
2 Forest
2 Mountain
2 Plains
2 Temple Garden
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
3 Flagstones of Trokair
4 Arid Mesa
4 Stomping Ground

This deck uses Valakut very differently. This deck is a pretty typical beatdown deck, however it uses the synergy between Landfall and Scapeshift to close out games, along with the Valakut triggers as extra reach for when your board is being kept clear by the opponent. Obvious Nacatl is banned, but Loam Lion fits in the deck relatively well. There’s some nice synergy going on with Flagstones and Harrow as well as Scapeshift.

PROS: Functions well as a normal beatdown deck, so Valakut is just an extra angle of attack.

CONS: It can’t dig to find its combo element like other builds, and doesn’t have as much ‘Kut damage available as some of the builds.

Final Thoughts

There are a few other builds kicking around, sandwiching it into a RUG shell of Tarmogoyf and Bloodbraid Elf along with some ramp spells and such like, often these lists had Umezawa’s Jitte and Punishing Fire in them, so two key elements of the deck are now banned.

I hope that’s given you some food for thought on how to build with Valakut, and I expect before long we’ll have some new decks running them, perhaps some kind of deck using Wood Elves, Coiling Oracle and Restoration Angel? People will also be getting greedy and trying to squeeze it into everything from Pod to Jund until they find the right fit; suffice to say, Valakut will be making a very real impact on the format.

The core red and green colours for the deck give it access to great sideboard cards like Ancient Grudge, Firespout, Combust, Nature’s Claim and Obstinate Baloth, so at least one Valakut deck should be able to break into the top tier.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for sharing.

Cyrus Bales


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