Modern Scapeshift Guide

Lukas Blohon

Lukas Blohon

Hello everyone!

I just returned from the most difficult tournament in Magic a few days ago and I would like to share with you how I prepared for the event and why I chose Scapeshift as my modern deck. Speaking of, the last WMCQ is right around the corner, so if you are interested in 《Bring to Light》, 《Scapeshift》 this article could be helpful to you.

ScapeshiftBring to Light

The World Championship is a very specific tournament, because there are only 24 players, you have decklists of your opponent decks (after round 1 of each constructed part) and there is not much time to prepare – only three weeks after PT Sydney. I tried to divide my time evenly between all formats, but in the end I spent most of my time on practicing constructed, because it was really hard to choose and tune decks for both formats. Good thing about Worlds is, that you can somehow predict what people are going to play, because there is limited time to prepare. So lot of people would go with decks they are comfortable playing and have played in previous events. This is, in my opinion especially true for Modern, because there are not all that many events for it, and it is also very wide-open meta, so knowing how to play your deck against all the different decks you can encounter is very important.

So what did I expect other competitors to play? I thought the most played deck would be BG/x midrange. It is the type of deck that a lot of these players prefer playing, because it has game against pretty much everything, you can’t really go wrong with it and lot of them have played it several times in past tournaments. For example, Marcio Carvalho and Thiago Saporito are for sure sharing ideas with Willy Edel, the Abzan master. Then there is PV, who played Abzan at GP Indy, teaming up with LSV, Sam Pardee and Mike Sigrist, players who I think like this type of deck too (except maybe for Siggy, who is known for playing Affinity). Lastly, there is Reid Duke, Andrea Mengucci and Brad Nelson, all of them known for playing BG/x decks a lot. I wasn’t that certain about Brad, because he and his team played a lot of Suicide Zoo, but still, that is LOT of people playing Abzan/Jund. With those expectations, I wanted to play something that preys on those decks.

I started my testing with Abzan Company, a deck I played a lot and and thought it could be fine against regular Abzan and good against Affinity, Bant Eldrazi and Suicide Zoo. Unfortunately, Dredge started to dominate tournaments, so everyone was packing 《Grafdigger's Cage》, a card you really don’t want to play against. After playing some games, I just dismissed it. This is the most recent version of the deck I have:

Lukas Blohon – Abzan Company

2 《Forest》
2 《Temple Garden》
1 《Overgrown Tomb》
1 《Godless Shrine》
1 《Breeding Pool》
4 《Windswept Heath》
4 《Verdant Catacombs》
2 《Misty Rainforest》
3 《Razorverge Thicket》
3 《Gavony Township》

-Lands (23)-

4 《Viscera Seer》
4 《Noble Hierarch》
4 《Birds of Paradise》
2 《Melira, Sylvok Outcast》
1 《Spellskite》
1 《Scavenging Ooze》
1 《Phantasmal Image》
4 《Reflector Mage》
4 《Kitchen Finks》
2 《Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit》
1 《Murderous Redcap》

-Creature (28)-
1 《Path to Exile》
4 《Chord of Calling》
4 《Collected Company》

-Spell (9)-
4 《Thoughtseize》
2 《Tireless Tracker》
1 《Burrenton Forge-Tender》
1 《Qasali Pridemage》
1 《Kataki, War's Wage》
1 《Orzhov Pontiff》
1 《Eidolon of Rhetoric》
1 《Reclamation Sage》
1 《Eternal Witness》
1 《Glen Elendra Archmage》
1 《Path to Exile》

-Sideboard (15)-

Just a quick note, If I expect lots of 《Grafdigger's Cage》 after SB, sometimes I side out 《$Chords of Calling》for more value creatures like 《$Tireless Trackers》.

When I was sure I am not playing Company, I wanted something that beats BG/x. R/G Tron is the most obvious answer, but after playing few matches with it against Petr and his Jund deck, I quickly dismissed it too. It felt too clunky and that matchup wasn’t even that good. After doing some research and looking at results from various tournaments, I saw R/G Through the Breach doing really well so I tried it. Again it felt pretty clunky and not that great against BG/x. So I went back to old favorite of mine, 《Scapeshift》 with blue. It was bit more consistent, had good game agaisnt BG/x and more interaction with blue cards. I was sold. Now I only had to find the best version. Here is the decklist, allow me to discuss the reasoning for my card choice:

Lukas Blohon – Scapeshift
World Championship 2016(5th)

3 《Island》
2 《Forest》
1 《Swamp》
1 《Mountain》
4 《Misty Rainforest》
4 《Stomping Ground》
4 《Steam Vents》
2 《Breeding Pool》
1 《Flooded Grove》
1 《Watery Grave》
1 《Cinder Glade》
2 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》

-Lands (26)-

4 《Sakura-Tribe Elder》
1 《Snapcaster Mage》

-Creature (5)-
3 《Lightning Bolt》
2 《Repeal》
4 《Remand》
2 《Farseek》
1 《Worldly Counsel》
4 《Search for Tomorrow》
1 《Kodama's Reach》
4 《Cryptic Command》
3 《Scapeshift》
1 《Damnation》
4 《Bring to Light》

-Spell (29)-
3 《Obstinate Baloth》
2 《Dispel》
2 《Engineered Explosives》
1 《Izzet Staticaster》
1 《Glen Elendra Archmage》
1 《Ancient Grudge》
1 《Negate》
1 《Anger of the Gods》
1 《Crumble to Dust》
1 《Creeping Corrosion》
1 《Slaughter Games》

-Sideboard (15)-

The ramp: 4《Sakura-Tribe Elder》、4《Search for Tomorrow》、2《Farseek》、1《Kodama's Reach》

Sakura-Tribe ElderSearch for TomorrowFarseekKodama's Reach

Having ramp spell on turn 2 (or 1 if you have Search) is the best way to get ahead, so I wanted to play as many as I can. I think playing less than 10 (not counting Reach) ramp spells is a bad idea and I am more inclined to play 3 Farseeks than one. I prefer Kodama’s Reach over Explosive Vegetation/Hunting Wilds, because it is usually better when you draw it normally. Also when you Bring to Light it, you already have 5 mana, so Reach gets you to 6 and next turn you have 7, which should be good enough for a lethal Scapeshift.

Blue interaction: 4《Remand》、4《Cryptic Command》、2《Repeal》

RemandCryptic CommandRepeal

Those 8 counterspells are the reason to play the blue version. They give you time to get to 7 mana while disrupting your opponent. Ramping into 《Cryptic Command》 on play is just so hard to beat. 《$Repeals》 might look strange, but I was looking for early interaction that does not suck against Abzan and Suicide Zoo. 《Repeal》 is great against Zoo, because they can’t combo kill you through it, everything they have is so cheap so it costs only 2 mana, and cantrips into more ramp or Scapeshift. The thing against Abzan is, that you can’t just trade one for one with them, because they are better at that game. What happens when you do so is that they take your ramp spells with discard, and you are left with some expensive cards (《Bring to Light》, 《Scapeshift》) that don’t do anything and some 《$Lightning Bolts》, that might trade with a creature, but unless it is not their only creature you did not accomplish much. You need to slow them down while making your land drops and ramping, and then finish them of with Scapeshift. That is why all those cantrips are so good against them and 《Lightning Bolt》 is not. You would rather 《Repeal》 a 《Dark Confidant》 than Bolt it.

Removal: 3《Lightning Bolt》1《Damnation》

Lightning BoltDamnation

《Lightning Bolt》 is a concession to fast creature/combo decks like Affinity and Infect. It is not great, but needed. Sometimes it helps to get you opponent down below 18 (so you need only 7 lands to kill them). Damnation is a perfect BTL target, mostly needed against bant Eldrazi and Suicide Zoo.

Finishers: 4《Bring to Light》、3《Scapeshift》、1《Snapcaster Mage》、1《Worldly Counsel》

Bring to LightScapeshiftSnapcaster MageWorldly Counsel

《Bring to Light》 is better than 《Scapeshift》, because it offers some interaction before the last run when you are killing your opponent. I think having 7 win conditions is just enough and 6 is just a tad to few, because you really need to draw one to win the game. Having 《Bring to Light》 also give you access to some nice sideboard cards, that can invalidate whole strategies. Like I already mentioned here, you really need to draw Scapeshift to win the game, so 《Snapcaster Mage》and 《Worldly Counsel》 are here to help with that without having to play the 4th 《Scapeshift》. 《Snapcaster Mage》 works well against discard for your finishing spells, but also gives you some utility earlier in the game. Unfortunately 《Snapcaster Mage》 is not at its best here, because you don’t have that many cheap spells, and most of your ramp spells don’t interact well with it. 《Worldly Counsel》 is cheap and usually digs pretty deep to find you what you need, but gets worse in multiples.

Cards I did not play:
Izzet Charm

《Izzet Charm》 – Every mode of it is mediocre, 2 dmg to a creature is not enough these days – Zoo and Bant Eldrazi have bigger creatures, Affinity doesn’t really mind if you spend your two mana to kill their Signal Pest and most importantly, it is not good against BG/x. Only good use there is to counter Liliana, but we have better solution after SB so I don’t think it is worth it. Looting part is good on your last turn when you are digging for Scapeshift, but Counsel is better at that. Spell Pierce part is just not great these days, if people play more combo then it might be time to play some of those.

Anger of the Gods

《Anger of the Gods》 instead of 《Damnation》 maindeck – Anger is better to draw naturally because it is way easier to cast, but it doesn’t kill the creatures that you need to kill right now – 《Reality Smasher》, 《Thought-Knot Seer》, 《Tarmogoyf》, 《Death's Shadow》.

Pia and Kiran Nalaar

《Pia and Kiran Nalaar》 – I want my maindeck to be as focused on ramping and killing my opponent as fast as possible and those guys don’t really help with at that. They are good against Affinity, Infect and sometimes BG/x, but you can only afford to have so many of non ramping non cantriping non Scapeshift cards. I did not play 《Maelstrom Pulse》 or any other similar cards for the same reason.

How to sideboard with Scapeshift

vs. Abzan/Jund


Lightning BoltLightning BoltLightning Bolt


Obstinate BalothObstinate BalothObstinate Baloth

I already mentioned, you don’t want to trade one for one with them. The great thing about 《Obstinate Baloth》 is that when you draw it, their 《Liliana of the Veil》 does nothing. It is one of their best cards and suddenly it’s a blank. Sometimes they might not see it with discard (you drew it afterwards) and you can live the dream with them activating Liliana and then 《Obstinate Baloth》 enters the battlefield and killing Liliana.

vs. Affinity


RemandSnapcaster MageKodama's Reach


Engineered ExplosivesEngineered ExplosivesAncient Grudge
Izzet StaticasterAnger of the GodsCreeping Corrosion

Nothing fancy here. 《Snapcaster Mage》 is really slow if you don’t draw Bolt and 《Kodama's Reach》 is not needed, you would rather get 《Creeping Corrosion》 or something similar with 《Bring to Light》. After SB you have plenty of great cards against them, all of them bit different so it is very easy for them to play around something and then get blown out by another hate card. Don’t be afraid to mulligan! You don’t need a lot of cards, but you need to interact with them from the beginning. They usually have 《Spell Pierce》 or 《Stubborn Denial》, so try to avoid playing straight into those.

vs. Bant Eldrazi

On Play: Out

Lightning BoltLightning BoltLightning Bolt

On Play: In

Obstinate BalothObstinate BalothObstinate Baloth

On Draw: Out


On Draw: In

Obstinate BalothObstinate BalothObstinate BalothAnger of the Gods

It really depends how many sideboard cards they have against you. If they don’t have much and have to leave in removal spells, don’t sideboard 《$Obstinate Baloths》. Otherwise I would go with that plan. 《Remand》 is either great or terrible, depending if they draw 《Cavern of Souls》. I would leave them in on draw if they leave in removal spells for 《$Obstinate Baloths》 and just hope they don’t draw 《Cavern of Souls》.

vs. Oliver Tiu’s Titan Shift


Lightning BoltLightning BoltLightning BoltDamnation


Slaughter GamesCrumble to DustGlen Elendra ArchmageNegate

A great deck that I think will see some play, but luckily it is a good matchup for us. Both decks are very similar, but we have two mana 《Time walks》, 《Slaughter Games》 for their Titan/Scapeshift & 《Crumble to Dust》 if they have 《Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle》 in play…

vs. Burn


Cryptic CommandCryptic CommandCryptic CommandCryptic Command


Obstinate BalothObstinate BalothObstinate BalothNegate
DispelDispelEngineered ExplosivesEngineered Explosives
Glen Elendra Archmage

Rough matchup, but if they stumble or don’t have 《Skullcrack》《Atarka's Command》 for your 《Obstinate Baloth》 you can get your win. On the play I would sideboard 《Anger of the Gods》 instead of one 《$Engineerd Explosives. I like 《$Engineerd Explosive》 more on the draw, because you can play it on turn 1 for 1 to prevent more one drops on turn two.

This is it for today, I hope this guide will be helpful in preparing for your upcoming WMCQ‘s. If you have any questions, please let me know on 【Twitter】.

Thanks for reading!

Lukas Blohon

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