Scapeshift Modern by Jun Young Park1st place at GP Minneapoli
Long has the tyranny of the awesome volcano Valakut reigned as a brutal strategy to incinerate opponents to ashes. This deck originally reared its ugly head in Standard using Primeval Titan to power out your Mountains to a quick and decisive victory. But once the Modern format was born the interaction between Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and Scapeshift was too powerful to not be abused. There have been other variants of this deck as well which have used Prismatic Omen and Wargate to turn all your lands into Mountains but this straightforward style relying upon countermagic to control the game into a surprise combo finish is what has been most successful.
So the game plan of this deck is to burn your opponent to death using multiple triggers from Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle with Mountains entering the battlefield. Valakut will trigger for three points of damage whenever a Mountain enters as long as there are five other Mountains already in play. And in Modern with the fetch/shock manabase that most decks are using this means that six triggers will often be enough to blast the opponent to bits. With Scapeshift you are able to combo out those triggers in one big shot by sacrificing any seven lands to it and searching your deck for a copy of Valakut and six Mountain cards, shocklands count as they are subtype Mountain, for a big finish. Now one of the golden rules of Magic is that you can play but one land per turn which when you are attempting to combo finish with seven or more lands in play can be a devastating restriction. So in order to skirt this restriction we have ways to search out more lands and put them directly into play with the decks main turn one play of Search for Tomorrow which can be suspended for just one mana and also perennial chump blocker Sakura-Tribe Elder which can often act as blocker to soak some damage then after it is declared as a blocker can still sacrifice itself to go and find a land to put into play. To ensure that you are going to hit your land drop each turn the deck has Serum Visions and Telling Time to dig through your deck, and also Electrolyze which does have damage attached to it as well but is used mostly for more draw. In fact, almost every spell in the deck has some sort of drawing effect attached to it and a solo Halimar Depths in the manabase will also help set up you next critical draw steps. The other huge facet of the deck is that it runs a very strong permission package with Remand, Cryptic Command and Izzet Charm to assure that even if it starts to stall that it won’t be falling behind and gets to continue digging with more draws. The removal is small but headed by Repeal which can get rid of any problem permanent such as the variety of hate bears that will thwart your plans, but also Charm, Cryptic and Electrolyze double themselves as additional removal. Finally we get to the last piece in this puzzle with Snapcaster Mage which is able to rebuy any of your spells in the graveyard especially a surprise counter when you need it most, and is also able to beatdown some life points if that’s what is necessary.
While the deck was said to be well positioned in the field due to the high concentration of Birthing Pod decks which it is a good match up for it I’m sure we will not see any major shift in the meta to specifically combat it. It is a very powerful but all in strategy which is rewarding only if you are able to master the Math of the Mountains. The decklist is very tight and the number of Mountains very specific where you need to be always wary of how many remain in your deck and how many you need to kill your opponent. But if you are a fan of Combo decks then this is definitely a deck that you should try. I guarantee that the results will not disappoint you, but remember to practice, practice, practice.