Scapeshift at GP Madrid

Posted in Daily Deck on December 4, 2014

By Shuhei Nakamura

Shuhei Nakamura is a member of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame, former Player of the Year, and is one of just six players with more than 400 lifetime pro points.

The last deck I'd like to take a look at from GP Madrid is Milan Niznansky's Scapeshift deck.

Among the various decks in the Modern format, this one takes a leisurely pace, as it needs to build up to seven lands. When it gets there, it has explosive results, using Scapeshift to fetch up Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and six Mountains to deal 18 points of damage in one hit and then polishing off the opponent with a creature turned sideways or a burn spell.

The essential condition here is to have enough Mountains in both the library and battlefield. Also, the opponent's life has to be within kill range. If your opponent has an "infinite" life combo it's pretty much over, but at 30–40 life you can still eke it out with around ten lands and multiple Valakuts.

If you pull the combo off, you win. Since the deck is concerned solely on that one big moment, it doesn't pack much for the long game, focusing mostly on cards that get lands out and cards that buy you time, as well as cards that let you get those cards (Dig Through Time) or reuse them (Snapcaster Mage, who also absorbs damage as a chump blocker). Milan's deck is a classic example of this pattern: a little burn with some light counter backup, and a total of 8 Rampant Growth-style cards. It's a very pared-down, pure deck, stripped of everything but the essentials.

So far, so good. But then we encounter something unexpected: a single card sitting proudly in the sideboard.

Black Cat!?

Cats are cute, I agree. Black cats, especially so. But what is this doing here? Did Milan mean to write down something else that started with "black?" Or is this a lucky charm? Why is he spending a sideboard slot on this one card?

Since the main deck is so tight in its construction, there are not many cards that can be easily swapped out. Maybe he could only think of fourteen cards he might want to use, and so had an extra sideboard slot…? If it were me, I would have put in Back to Nature or Nature's Claim as an anti-enchantment measure.

Milan Niznansky—Top 16, GP Madrid

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