On the weekend of November 13th to November 15th the MOCS 2019 finals finally happened and I was one of the 24 participants. The formats were Modern, Pioneer and Vintage Cube. And I finished 7th place with the same points as the 4th place Michael Jacob who ended up taking the trophy home.
This will be the first of two parts covering my deck choices for this event. For the Modern part that I will be covering today, I played Temur Scapeshift, while for Pioneer my deck of choice was Sultai Delirium.
Introduction to the Deck
Temur Scapeshift is a 1 card combo that allows you to give an high amount of damage by “《Scapeshift》ing” for some Mountains and/or 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 once you reach at least seven lands on the battlefield.
Seven is the minimum lands you need to have to get the valakut triggers, since you will need to have at least one Valakut and 6 Mountains in play to get the triggers. Since when you 《Scapeshift》 all the Mountains come into play at the same time, they will all trigger Valakut and you will hit the enemy for 18 damage.
This is usually enough for Modern since the fetch and shock lands will shorten the clock for you. When you opponent has more than 18 life, then you need to have that extra land into play to get either the 2nd Valakut or the 7th 《Mountain》 for 36 or 21 damage, respectively. More on 《Scapeshift》 math later.
Why Temur and Not Just Red Green, You Ask?
Unlike the more traditional Red Green Titanshift, where it focuses on ramping your lands to 7 (or 8) before our opponent tries to do whatever they are supposed to do, this strategy uses a blue based shell in order to delay the enemy’s game plan while you hit your land drops.
A very important card to this archetype turned out to be 《Mystic Sanctuary》. The combination with 《Remand》, 《Growth Spiral》 and 《Cryptic Command》/Uro Lock as well as the ability to protect your 《Scapeshift》s against discard spells makes it worth to dive deep into blue due to its 3 《Island》 ability requirement.
Decklist and Card Choices
I picked up the list from an Online “PTQ” Oskiyaa (Oscar Garcia Muñoz; @oskiyaa) top8ed with. For those who don’t know, Oscar is a Spanish grinder who was able to chain 5 or 6 PT invites either by winning PTQs, doing well on GPs, doing well on PTs, hitting silver etc. He lives and breathes Magic (along with a considerable amount of cigarettes) so, most of his card choices were spot on. Despite that and after playing a considerable amount of games I got myself a list.
This is what I submitted to MOCS and what I will be basing my sideboard guide on. But as always, I think it is important for you to understand why I had some card choices in order for you to adapt the list to your next tournament and local metagame.
4 《Misty Rainforest》
4 《Scalding Tarn》
4 《Ketria Triome》
4 《Steam Vents》
2 《Breeding Pool》
2 《Stomping Ground》
2 《Mystic Sanctuary》
2 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》
-Land (28)- 3 《Uro, Titan of Nature’s Wrath》
4 《Growth Spiral》
1 《Izzet Charm》
3 《Archmage’s Charm》
2 《Force of Negation》
1 《Silundi Vision》
3 《Cryptic Command》
2 《Wrenn and Six》
28/29 Mana Base
Let’s start with the mana base. This one is very straight forward. You need at least…
Just in order to fill the combo requirements. The deck just actually needs red for Bolts and Sideboard, but 11 is the bare minimum amount of Mountains you need to prevent you from drawing enough of them naturally to ruin your 《Scapeshift》 combo. Don’t worry it is still possible to kill your opponent if you naturally draw 6 Mountains of your 11 Mountains. We will get into the 《Scapeshift》 math, I promise.
Then you need your fetches duals and Basics that will provide you a solid UG Mana base.
Then we already talked about the importance of 《Mystic Sanctuary》 in this deck so you need at least 2 of them in order to use that effect at least twice. Remember, the sanctuary is a fetchable Island so you might want to save some extra fetch land effects for when you already have 3 other Islands in play.
This leaves us with 28 lands which might sound like a lot, but it is in fact not that many. Don’t forget that you need 7 of them into play. And sometimes you need it fast! You can’t afford to miss land drops until land number 7 or 8.
In my cases I added the extra 《Silundi Vision》, which serves as an extra land but also prevents you from mana flooding by being very effective at searching for key cards such as 《Scapeshift》 or 《Cryptic Command》. I think it is not unreasonable to raise the effective land count up to 30 with the addition of an extra 《Silundi Vision》/blue fetch land/《Mystic Sanctuary》.
Oscar’s original list had only 3 of these. While I see where that comes from, I think it is important to have access to 4 maindeck, where this is usually your main plan and when you and your enemy don’t have yet access to specific tools against each other.
It is frequent to board out one, either in matchups where Uro plays the main role or when you expect the games to go long and drawing multiple copies becomes a serious liability.
Best spell in your deck. Not much to say about it. The combination with 《Mystic Sanctuary》 is really annoying for the enemy. It happened multiple times that they tried to resolve a 《Blood Moon》 on turn 3 and I chain 《Remand》ed them and 《Scapeshift》ed for the win before they were able to stick the red enchantment.
Another important card in the deck due to its versatility. I can see it being a 4-of before seeing it as a 2-of but right now I think 3 is the right number. The ability to cryptic lock some archetypes with Uro/Cryptic/《Mystic Sanctuary》 makes it irreplaceable in this deck.
2 《Force of Negation》 (FoN)
This is the most important difference between my list and Oscar’s original list. Charm does a lot for the deck. The instant speed divination helps you to hit your all your land drops while the 3 mana counterspell helps to fill the gap between 《Remand》 and 《Cryptic Command》. The last mode is not irrelevant at all. Stealing a big 《Champion of the Parish》 or 《Death’s Shadow》 has won me a fair amount of games too.
Another crucial card for this deck. It being instant speed makes it so you can wait and decide what is more important that turn. Ramp or Interact? This is the only card in the deck that is never boarded out.
The playing a land and drawing a card plays very well with 《Mystic Sanctuary》 as it allows you to crack a fetch for Sanctuary, put a (for example) 《Cryptic Command》 back on top, play 《Growth Spiral》, draw the cryptic and play an extra land to cast it. (If you want to go really crazy with it use a fetch for the second sanctuary to play that cryptic, put a 《Growth Spiral》 back on top, play it next turn and perhaps set up a lethal 《Scapeshift》 with it).
Since you HAVE to play red for the 11 Mountains you might as well use one of the best red spells in Magic. It helps you deal with cheap creatures but it also plays an important role of dealing 3 damage to enemies that don’t use Fetch and/or Shock lands in order to have a lethal 《Scapeshift》 with only 7 lands instead of 8.
Remember when 《Snapcaster Mage》 was this deck’s plan B? LOL Some decks can’t really beat this card and those decks were some bad matchups in the past. Midrange Jund like decks and aggressive red decks now have another thing to worry about other than preventing use to reach 7 lands and 《Scapeshift》.
In combination with the 1 or 2 extra lands, these are the cards I would first consider to tune this deck for a different metagame.
I felt it was important to have an extra way to deal with 《Meddling Mage》 in my main deck while not being dead in other matchups. Its ability to deal with another problematic card in form of 《Teferi, Time Raveler》 made it be my choice.
This is the card I have most mixed feelings with. Most of the time it “just” rebuys you the fetch lands. The part that concerns me the most is that on turn 2 you usually have two super strong plays in form of 《Remand》 or 《Growth Spiral》. In the end it felt wrong to not play it. And “just” rebuying the fetchlands is powerful enough.
If you decide to play more I won’t fault you, but please consider uping the number of fetch lands to 9 or 10. Please don’t fall in the trap of adding 《Wooded Foothills》, they might fetch extra basics and 《Stomping Ground》s but not fetching for the Mystic Sanctuaries is a big problem. You should add 《Flooded Strand》 or 《Polluted Delta》 for that matter.
This is the part that you ideally will tune the most according to your local metagame and on the sideboard guide I will give you some tips on what cards you can add to improve some matchups. Despite that, let me give you a brief explanation on my own choices for MOCS.
This a concession to Humans, which I thought was going to be popular. Anger is clearly the best, since it’s very good against Dredge too, while Suns, not really.
Was an extra layer against Humans while being very good against Rakdos Shadow and OK against Red aggressive decks.
Very Strong against Uro Piles and 《Death’s Shadow》, both to protect or force your combo.
Very good against 《Primeval Titan》s since it dodges 《Cavern of Souls》. Gives you an extra layer of protection against 《Blood Moon》, since you can safely tap out as long as you have a basic 《Island》. Buying yourself an extra drawstep can also be relevant on your race to Uro against Red Aggro Decks.
My best piece of technology against Uro Piles. Usually they bring 《Veil of Summer》 and 《Aether Gust》 to fight you and Old School Teferi really dodges that. Not being countered by 《Force of Negation》 is also big. Not only that, but the ability to do it on the end of your opponent’s turn shuts down their 《Force of Negation》‘s alternate cost and enables yours in case you enter into a counter war.
Most of the games are really brainless. You glance through your battlefield and Graveyard and barely see Mountains in it. You know that 7 lands is 18 and 8 almost infinite.
After a few tighter games with this deck, you will eventually get used to count how many Mountains you have left.
The fastest way to know how many lands you need to sacrifice depending on how much damage you need to give and how many Mountains you have left is to ask Bernardo Santos. When he was helping me testing the deck, I would barely open my mouth to count and he was already saying : “You need X Mountains left, you deal Y damage”. If you don’t yet follow him at @Bernardocssa you can always use this:
General Tips and Tricks
Now this is a random section of tips and tricks that may come in handy sometimes. Some more obvious than the others. If you know a cool trick or tip with the deck, please write it down on the comment section. I will be happy to hear it!
You really want to avoid fetching for non-Islands in the first 3 turns of the game. Having 3 blue in play on turn 3 means that not only you have 《Archmage’s Charm》 mana available, but also the possibility of fetching for 《Mystic Sanctuary》 on turn four. Usually the first fetch gets the Triome to give you access to all the mana on turn two and then unless you really need the second red, you stop searching for it. Remember, you need the Mountains in your deck.
Another thing to have in consideration when fetching is the amount of lands you have in your hand. If you are land light, go for the Triome. You will not need to cycle it and you would probably rather draw untapped lands in the future. On the other hand, if you have a land heavy land, search for your basics and 《Breeding Pool》s. If you draw an extra land you want to increase the odds of it being a Triome that you can cycle.
The Importance of the Basic 《Mountain》
I talked about how important it is to leave Mountains in the deck. But the basic 《Mountain》 is really something special. An experienced player might leave the 《Ghost Quarter》 or 《Field of Ruin》 untapped for when you 《Scapeshift》. If you have exactly 6 《Mountain》s in play, they can destroy one of them preventing the other 5 《Mountain》s to give damage, because Valakut trigger also checks on resolution.
If you have the basic 《Mountain》 inside you just replace the destroyed Mountain and thank them for the extra damage. If you already drew the basic 《Mountain》 or if you think that your opponent can destroy one of your Mountains after 《Scapeshift》 (the most common is 《Beast Within》), you might have to delay your combo an extra turn. Play accordingly!
The Cryptic Lock
Against some decks, you can win by “Crypting lock” your opponents. This means use the Tap all creatures your opponents control and Return target permanent to its owner’s hand on your own 《Mystic Sanctuary》 to prevent them to attack again, while using Uro’s attacking trigger to keep drawing a card and playing extra land drops.
Tap All Your Mana When Cast 《Scapeshift》
《Scapeshift》 is a 4 mana card that requires you to have 7 or 8 lands in play to combo. This means that you will usually have some extra mana laying around when you play it. Unless you are sure that nothing is going to happen or you have nothing else in hand, you should tap all your mana in case your opponent plays something after letting your 《Scapeshift》 resolve.
Lead with 《Veil of Summer》
Unlike many other decks, where they try to take an insane value off the broken green card, this deck doesn’t need to. Ideally there will be no game after you resolve 《Scapeshift》. Let them commit to more expensive spells and test the waters with Veil before committing yourself to a 《Scapeshift》. Sometimes you do it on the upkeep to have a chance to redraw it with 《Mystic Sanctuary》.
Teferi Lets You Cast Uro with Flash
Once you have Teferi in play, you are in really good shape. You don’t even need to commit mana to Escape Uro on your own turn, you can do it at the end of your opponent’s turn!
You Can Play Spells with 《Mystic Sanctuary》 Trigger on the Stack
The most common situation is with 《Silundi Vision》. You want to use the Sactuary blue mana to Vision, but you don’t want to search for the card you just put on top. You can fetch for the Sactuary, target the card from your graveyard, put the trigger on the stack, cast 《Silundi Vision》 and only then decide if you want the targeted card on the top or not.
《Remand》 Your Own Spells
The most common situation is when you 《Remand》 a card that gets countered by your opponent. Rather than 《Remand》 our enemy’s 《Force of Negation》 and hope they don’t have another blue card to pitch for it, we can just 《Remand》 our own 《Scapeshift》 and cast it again netting one card out of the play.
A not so common situation, but something to keep in mind is to 《Remand》 your own 《Lightning Bolt》. Against an enemy with 《Giver of Runes》 and 《Devoted Druid》, you can make the sweet play of giving 3 damage on the Druid, your opponent responds by giving the druid protection from red. You respond by 《Remand》ing your own Bolt and use it to give 3 damage to the druid before the 《Giver of Runes》 ability resolves.
Steal Permanents with 《Archmage’s Charm》
Keep in mind that 《Archmage’s Charm》 last ability is for non land permanents. This means that sometimes it is better to let an 《Aether Vial》 or 《Amulet of Vigor》 resolve to then steal it and collect some of its benefits. These two are the most common, but I came in situations where I was able to gain control of 《Expedition Map》 or 《Relic of Progenitus》.
Silundi Isle Doesn’t Get Played by Uro/《Growth Spiral》
Remember to use your turn land drop to play this one, since you won’t be able to select the land part then resolving 《Growth Spiral》 or Uro ability.
Finally, the part everyone loves!
Cryptic is your least efficient counter. It gets blown by 《Veil of Summer》 and 《Mystical Dispute》 very easily. You usually need some time to set up the combo and this allows you to eventually draw 《Scapeshift》. Having many extra useless copies in hand might hurt you.
How to improve?
Rakdos Death’s Shadow, Jund Death’s Shadow, Jund
Remember that you can steal the 《Death’s Shadow》 but it will then check your life total. It happens often that you take a big hit to try to steal it at the end of turn (or after the first strike of a lethal 《Temur Battle Rage》) and try to win the game with it, since they are usually at a very low life total.
How to improve?
Oops! All Spells
They need to combo you very early in order to beat you. 《Remand》 does a great job of time walking your opponent, because they can’t really cast the creature again that turn or they will mess up the 《Vengevine》 triggers. 《Archmage’s Charm》 does a very good job at killing them, because at some point they have only one card in the library and you can just make them draw 2 before all the triggers resolve.
How to improve?
You already have a nice set of tools to beat them. It is not common for them to combo you on turn 2 on the play. If they do it, you might as well just accept it.
You can have some graveyard hate but in order for it to be effective you will need like 3 or 4 copies to make sure it is on your opening hand. I would mix between 《Soul-Guide Lantern》 and 《Ravenous Trap》. Trap has the surprise effect and you can redraw it with 《Mystic Sanctuary》. It is also better vs 《Natural State》 but worse against 《Veil of Summer》, 《Leyline of Sanctity》 and 《Pact of Negation》. Mixing between both is a very effective strategy since they will have to bring more variety of responses and might just miss.
Be careful with 《Boil》, they somehow think it is a good strategy. If they play into your own game by leaving 4 mana open just play accordingly. 《Aether Gust》 does wonders in this matchup, make sure you don’t “waste” Mystical Sanctuaries triggers before start chaining Gusts. They don’t usually play 《Veil of Summer》s, but be carefull with 《Cavern of Souls》.
How to improve?
I considered this deck to be popular in MOCS, so I’m already running 3 《Aether Gust》 on the side. The 4th Gust an extra way to deal with the amulet such as 《Unravel the Aether》 could improve, but I don’t really think you need more help.
This matchup plays very similarly to Amulet Titan. The only different recommendation is that on the draw you might want to leave the 4 Bolts in, since I feel it is very important to kill the 《Elvish Reclaimer》.
Izzet Prowess, Mono-Red Obosh, Mono-R Burn
I sideboard equally against all 3 matchups, despite the games playing out a bit differently. It is basically a race to Uro before you die. Be carefull with 《Blood Moon》s out of sideboard. Search for the basic 《Island》 in order to have access to 《Aether Gust》 if the enchantment sticks.
How to improve?
You can definitely improve these matchups by adding either more one mana red removal spells and/or by adding a couple of copies of 《Weather the Storm》.
《Cavern of Souls》 and 《Karn, the Great Creator》 are the most annoying cards they can have. But even those are kinda soft. For example, you can Bolt the Karn after they -2 and “counter” the 《Liquimetal Coating》 combo. You can also Tap + draw their creatures to gain some extra turns before you 《Scapeshift》.
A cool play that sometimes happens in this matchup is to target the 《Reality Smasher》 with anything, just to discard the 《Scapeshift》 and protect it against 《Thought-Knot Seer》. You then just rebuy it with 《Mystic Sanctuary》 on the upkeep of your lethal turn.
How to improve?
This matchup could really use some help. I don’t think it is very popular right now to waste some sideboard slots on it but some 《Cleansing Wildfire》 in combination with 《Mystic Sanctuary》 really hurts them. 《Alpine Moon》 also helps since it has the potential to caught them off guard.
Having access to an 《Alpine Moon》 on the side would mean that I would probably bring it in as well against Uro Piles, Eldrazi Tron and Titan decks, since it is pretty effective at shutting down both 《Field of the Dead》 and 《Cavern of Souls》.
How to improve?
The extra 《Force of Negation》 on the 75 would come in handy against this. But in the end I think this deck is pretty bad, so I wouldn’t care too much about it.
They will board in 《Veil of Summer》, which is really annoying, that’s why you leave the 《Force of Negation》 and board in the 《Aether Gust》s. You rather try to control their creatures with spot removal rather than with counterspells.
How to improve?
Extra 1 mana removal would do great here. Preferably instant speed.
Be careful with 《Magus of the Moon》, that they now run.
How to improve?
This deck was in my priority list to beat, so I am already well equipped by diversifying the name of my answers. An extra sweeper such as 《Firespout》 and one or two extra spot removal would also improve.
This plays out similarly to the Devoted Devastation. They will bring their Veils against you, so you better control their creatures. Heliod is really difficult to deal with once into play, since the best you can do is Cryptic bounce it. Their lifegain is also annoying since it will require you 8 lands to combo most of the time. When they “infinite” lifegain you they get you… you can argue that you can Cryptic lock them, but I don’t think you really can, since they will eventually set up the combo in a way that will disrupt your lock.
How to improve?
I think 《Annul》 can be good here, if you think this is popular. This might be too narrow and Veil will still get you. 《Unravel the Aether》 is a really solid answer to Heliod so adding some of these might be the best way to improve.
Thank you so much for reading and for your support through MOCS. If you don’t do it already, please follow me at @u_mad_bro_MTGO and I will let you know when the Pioneer’s Sultai Delirium article will be up!
Until then best of luck in your tournaments!