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Deck Spotlight - Modern Bring to Light Scapeshift

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Hello everybody!

The Aether Revolt pre-release is just days away and with it, (hopefully) big changes in Standard - that's why there's not much point in talking about Standard decks right now. Fortunately, Modern is a huge format with many decks and we can find a lot of inspiration there. Today, I'm going to talk about Scapeshift - a deck that balances between very good and pretty bad, based on what the metagame looks like. Right now, it's not at its best, because there's a lot of Infect in the metagame, but at the same time, it has a many good matchups as well and if you like playing combo-control decks, Scapeshift might be the deck for you. There are two versions of the deck: Titanshift and Bring to Light Scapeshift. I have a lot more experience with the latter and also believe that it's the one that's more universal and flexible, which is why I'm going to analyze it today. Without further ado, here's my current version:

This particular list is very close to the one that Lukas Blohon played at the 2016 Worlds. Basically, there are three kinds of cards in this deck: the ones that ramp you, the ones that buy you time and those that win the game. You might be wondering why does Lightning Bolt belong, for example, as removal typically doesn't do any of the three things - but in this deck, we only play it to get more time. We don't mind the creatures in play on the turn when we cast Scapeshift - we just need to make sure they don't kill us before we get there. That's why a lot of times, Repeal is going to be better than Lightning Bolt and Remand is going to be better than Counterspell - we need time and cards that get us closer to the spells that win the game. That's all this deck is interested in doing.

As for the card choices, I think most of them are fairly standard, but some of them might not be: I've already addressed Repeal, a card that I think is very good in Scapeshift, as it does all that you want to be doing. Izzet Charm is a card that is pretty common in this archetype and I've also been playing it for a long time, but every time I needed to make space for something, Izzet Charm was what I ended up cutting, as it's always the most mediocre card, the one that underperforms. Flexibility is a good thing, but when the card is underwhelming at everything it does, you might opt for power rather than the ability to choose from several poor options.

Another change in this list is Kodama's Reach over Hunting Wilds - while the latter is great if you can cast it on turn three after a Sakura or Search for Tomorrow, Kodama's Reach does almost the same thing even if you don't have an accelerator on turn two. Hunting Wilds can give you a turn 4 kill, but you rarely need to kill that fast anyway and being able to ramp on turn three even without a 2-drop can help you a lot when you don't have your ideal draw.

The games this deck usually has are of two kinds: either you have your kill spell, in which case the game usually boils down to a race between your ramp spells and the opponent's game plan. They can also have some sort of countermagic, but fortunately, this deck is pretty good at fighting through permission spells - Remand is great at sidestepping countermagic (you will often want to Remand your own Scapeshift and try again next turn) and even if they manage to counter (or discard) your kill spell, you have Snapcasters to play it again. Discard is, by the way, probably the biggest reason why I like Snapcasters in this archetype.

The second kind of game is the one where you don't have your win condition in hand when you start ramping. This list only plays six kill spells, so you will often have to keep hands that can't win without a little help from the top of your library. The good news is that your whole deck is full of cantrips and spells that dig deeper into your deck. Still, there will be games where you simply won't be able to find your win condition and will die with plenty of lands in play and nothing else. That's the gamble you're taking when playing this deck. However, in those games without access to a win condition, you should do everything to stay alive for as long as possible and see as many extra cards as possible. Make sure to use your Cryptic Commands, Repeals and Snapcaster Mages in the most efficient way.

Sideboarding is fairly intuitive with this deck, but let me spare a few words about some situations. Against B/G decks, you always want to board out Lightning Bolts and bring in Obstinate Baloths as a defense against Liliana of the Veil. Inferno Titan is not only an alternative (and surprisingly fast) win condition in matchups where they might somehow blank your Scapeshift kill, but also a universal tool against many creature-based matchups like Affinity. Most opponents will board out the bulk of their removal, so Inferno Titan can do a lot of work post-board. In the Infect matchup, you rely heavily on Izzet Staticaster and Dispel. They might board in Twisted Images, so instead of playing the Staticaster on turn three, it will often be correct to wait till you can back it up with a Dispel, as long as you're not under a lot of pressure. If you have any other sideboard-related questions, feel free to post them in the comment section below the article.

Bonus Deck List

Nahiri Scapeshift

This is a very rough draft of an idea that I've been playing around with for some time. There is a certain overlap between Bring to Light Scapeshift and Jeskai Nahiri (although you can't search Nahiri with Bring to Light), but the most important thing is that with all the ramp, you can easily cast Nahiri on turn three, which is a big upgrade to playing her on turn four. Feel free to try this deck out and improve it, as it's far from the final version - I'm sure I'm going to work on it for some time before I'm happy about it.

Thanks for reading and see you next time!

Adam

Adam Koska
Adam Koska

About Adam Koska

Adam is an experienced player from the Czech Republic who has a number of high-profile finishes under his belt:

  • 14th at Pro Tour Portland 2014
  • 9th at Worlds 2009
  • 9th at Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • 64 Lifetime Pro Points
  • Three times Czech Nationals Top 8
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