Rogue Report – Shifting Nayashift


First thing’s first, I need to address an issue with my deck from last week. Apparently you can’t Scapeshift into a Vesuva and have Vesuva copy a land you’re Scapeshifting into play, so apologies to every one of my opponents at my last PTQ. As I said in my article, the most common Scapeshift I made was for three Flagstones of Trokair, a Sejiri Steppe, and a Vesuva copying Sejiri Steppe, which doesn’t work. You can Scapeshift into Vesuva, sure, but you have to copy a land that is already in play; you can’t copy a land that you’re also grabbing with Scapeshift. Awkward.

People have asked me if the Vesuva is still worth running. It can still copy a Mountain if you leave one in play when you Scapeshift. It can still copy a Flagstones of Trokair when you naturally draw it. It can also still kill legendary lands like Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth or Dark Depths, which I did multiple times over the weekend. However, I don’t think it’s worth the land slot since it can’t do what I was using it to do most of the time, and the marginal uses I just listed aren’t worth it.

So, how do we remedy this situation? The idea I’ve liked the most (which I got from Bill Stark of thestarkingtonpost.com, among others) is adding a bounce land to the deck in place of the Vesuva, like Selesnya Sanctuary. The most important thing about Vesuva was that it acted as a second Sejiri Steppe, but I think running a Sanctuary is just better than running two Steppes. It needs some testing, but as long as you haven’t played a land the turn you Scapeshift you can replay the Steppe when you bounce it. Otherwise the bounce land also gives you “infinite” landfall fuel when you draw it since you can choose to bounce the Sanctuary whenever it enters the battlefield, something that I think increases the potency of your landfall creatures as the game goes long.

The other problems with losing Vesuva is that it lowers both the deck’s Mountain count (for Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle) and the deck’s Flagstones count. The deck was sitting at 8 virtual Mountains with Vesuva, so without Vesuva the deck is down to 7 Mountains. It’s not often that you need to deal the full 20 with Valakut, but you still need to deal at least 9. Again, this requires more testing, but I felt like 8 Mountains was about the minimum.

Cutting the deck down to three real Flagstones in the first place was hard for me to do, especially since you want to naturally draw two for your landfall guys. The deck just didn’t have room for more. What worries me now is that if you do naturally draw two of your three remaining Flagstones, your Scapeshift can only grab one, and it won’t be able to kill itself. I think the deck needs to go back up to four Flagstones, but the manabase is so tight.

You’ll notice I haven’t actually mentioned messing with a real spell in the deck. The deck’s spells are so straightforward; there is only one slot I want to mess with. The three Tarmogoyfs and the fourth Lightning Bolt are the only cards I’m still questioning, as everything else has worked so well for me. Vinelasher Kudzu was a leap of faith and he worked out perfectly. When it comes to the lands, though, the numbers are so incredibly important. It’s such a weird feeling as it’s the opposite of most of the decks I’ve worked on. Take any Gifts Ungiven deck, for example. The individual spell slots are so important, but I had three lands in the end that I just didn’t care what they were, so I ran a miser’s Horizon Canopy and some filter lands. I’m not sure if this information is at all useful, I just find it interesting.

Anyway, back to the manabase. If I wanted to add another Mountain to the deck and another Flagstones, where would I look? The first slot I question is the Stirring Wildwood. I enjoyed it throughout the tournament, but I went through most of the testing without it. The card is always nice but rarely necessary. It’s useful when you are just using Knight of the Reliquary at the end of the turn for value, but it’s not THAT useful. I think I’ll have to cut the manland for now, but after more testing I’m looking to put it back in.

The Final List

Otherwise I’m really not sure what to add. The deck might have to lose a sacland, which sucks. There are already too few sac lands I feel, but your mountain slots are so valuable. I’m inclined to test the deck with 7 Mountains and four Flagstones, and leave the deck’s saclands alone.

So, what does that leave us with? Here is the deck as I would try it out now, updated to match how the Magic rules actually work:

I don’t know about you, but I enjoy writing these in-depth articles full of card-by-card analysis that only end up changing one card. It just goes to show how important each card is, and how interconnected all the decisions are. At least it’s true for decks I tend to develop.

As for the sideboard, like I said last time you are likely going to want some mix of the following spells. This is the mix I played at my last tournament.



Aven Mindcensor is by far the weakest card in that list, but it overlaps as a card against both Dark Depths (which you have a decent amount of room for when you are sideboarding cards out) and Scapeshift (which you generally don’t have much for).

Unfortunately I’ve already mentally moved past the Extended season. First, I was busy the last week completing finals and starting my new job (making games again, must be nice), which means I haven’t really played Magic over the last week. Then I’ve only got one remaining IRL PTQ coming up along with a few Magic Online PTQs, and I’m pretty sure this is the deck I’m going to play. I think the deck is great, and I enjoy playing an aggro deck with a twist. Being able to win a game with a turn one Steppe Lynx has been a liberating experience, and I hope to do more of it in the future.

Meanwhile I’ve started cube drafting again. It’s the go-to activity in the lull between formats and it’s a good way to polish my draft basics. Cube drafting teaches you to draft a deck and not just a pile of good cards. Unfortunately I cheat all the time by looking at my past picks as I’m drafting, but I should really be working on my memory skills. It’s so easy to get lazy when all of your drafting is casual or on Magic Online that when you sit down for a PTQ top eight or a draft at a Pro Tour you’re not used to having to remember all of your picks.

The deck I’ve been having success with lately in cube drafting is a blue deck with a lot of counterspells but with good proactive things to do in the first few turns of the game. A four drop is pretty terrible when you’re holding a Hinder in your hand, and it’s so easy for the combo decks to play around your counterspells when you don’t put a clock on them. Still, take this advice with a grain of salt because my cube drafting is nowhere near the level of those around me. Brian Wong, Zac Hill, Ricky Boyes – these are the people that are kicking my butt with cards I never thought of drafting.

It’s easy to notice cards you are overvaluing in cube drafting when you draft with the same cube over and over. When you keep ending up with Grand Coliseum it’s easy to see that you value it more than the people around you. In my case that usually means I am over-valuing it. It can go the other way, however, when you get a 10th pick Fireblast, a card I know is ridiculous.

Card value is something I have trouble with in normal draft (like ZZW) when I’m drafting outside of my comfort zone. I know RW pretty well (at least in triple-Zendikar) but when I start drafting mono-black I have a hard time valuing something like Guul Draz Vampire. I know the card is good on some level, but is it good in my deck? Is the guy to my left going to move in on black because I pass this? With decks I haven’t drafted before I’m pretty bad at making these decisions.

It’s all about practice and getting advice from the people around you. I just went through a first pick exercise where we opened a few cube boosters and analyzed the first picks. For power nine cards this was really easy, and we usually replaced them with something else to make the pick at least somewhat interesting. First picking in cube was not as straight forward as I thought. Zac for example was putting a lot of weight on what would table. Since you’re drafting a deck and not just good cards, knowing that you’ll get a second card out of that pack that will also match your strategy is important. It’s also hard to weigh Animate Dead against Brain Freeze, for example, because it’s really about how strong each individual strategy is in that particular cube.

It also provides a good opportunity to just discuss random cards. Take Grand Arbiter Augustin IV, for example. How high do you pick this card in certain strategies? Is it always maindeckable, or does it often make the sideboard? Asking questions about cube drafting has helped me tremendously in regular drafting, but its effects are subtle. Even the act of discussing a card’s power in cube will help you analyze a pack of Zendikar.

Speaking of cube, it’s that time. We just finished reworking and re-sleeving Peter Beckfield’s cube, so it’s fresh for the drafting. This is one of my more bloggy articles, so if it’s not your thing I’ll try to be more constructive next week. Like I said, it’s been a busy few weeks, but my next two are free sailing until my next quarter. Only two more quarters of school left, then I’m done! I’m so excited to finally be done with schooling. I’ve been doing it for the past eighteen or so years of my life, and I’m ready to be done.

Anyway, good luck to anybody playing my deck. I’d love to hear how it performs in somebody else’s hands. Also, my apologies to the people that have e-mailed me in the last few weeks. I’ll try to get back to you soon.

Thanks for reading,

Jonathon Loucks
Loucksj at gmail
JonLoucks on Twitter
Zygonn on Magic Online

24 thoughts on “Rogue Report – Shifting Nayashift”

  1. For the love of flying spaghetti monster Loucks, stop holding onto to the cute idea of ever using Valakut and just run a real mana base. I play 16 fetches in my Standard Landfall deck, you have 7 in one that’s even better positioned to take advantage of them.It’s a ridiculous waste of space and opportunity to wedge in a combo you’ll never use unless you naturally hit 7 land + Scapeshift while running 0 card draw.

  2. Scapeshift is used to trigger landfall 4-5 times on turn five to make a pair of steppe lynxes lethal. I think this is a good way to utilize the spell.

  3. He’s saying use scapeshift, just dont play the card valakut, which I probably would agree with.

  4. Just cut the Valakut, Loucks. Come. On. It’s terrible when you draw it, you rarely Scapeshift for it… Figure it out. Yes, you CAN win with Valakut. But for every time that opportunity comes up, there are 20 other times when you draw it, it’s a fetchland, and it’s just worth 4 extra damage.

  5. I might actually agree with Josh. Jon, how many times in the ptq did you play Scapeshift and kill them with Valakut? How much more could you have benefited from more fetchlands? I rest my case.

  6. I’ll third the removal of Valakut.

    The perfect replacement? Sunhome, Fortress of the Legion. It’ll give you the same explosiveness as Valakut with a less constrictive mana base. Plus, it should make your deck a tad bit faster since you don’t have to wait for all the lands to come out for the Valakut Scapeshift.

  7. I love the concept alot and i think the criticism may be correct, as after the scapeshift for sacs you get further landfall triggers. On the other hand things do go wrong, and its hard to go off a second time with a deck like this = (, especially without the “back-up” plan. Def considering sleeving it up, even just for local play, as it seems to be a blast, and catches a few people off guard to say the least.

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  9. I hear you, but it’s not that straightforward. First of all, I’m guessing none of you have ever tested this deck against Bant. At least with Vesuva I was winning by far most of my games in that matchup with Valakut. Same is true for any matchup against Punishing Fire/Grove. The idea is in no way just cute, it is often your best plan. There is a subset of hands that are great with Valakut, but unkeepable without it, and that’s definitely a valid concern. One of the reasons the deck is so good is that its keepable hand range is tremendous.

    During the PTQ I didn’t actually win any games with Valakut, but there was one game for sure I should have won that way, I just fetched incorrectly earlier in the game. Also, that’s not a good metric for whether or not Valakut should be in the deck because A) I only played against five different opponents, and B) because nobody knew what I was doing I got a lot of easy Scapeshift kills; when people know what you’re up to, games go longer and leaning on Valakut is necessary more often. This is very relevant against Zoo as when they slow down and play control, as they probably should, it’s hard to win with landfall, but then they are using their Path to Exiles. Once you remove Valakut their Path to Exiles become much much better, whereas with the Valakut plan Path to Exile in the opposing zoo deck is actually pretty bad.

    I’m not just some donk holding onto a card I like – I try not to let that be me anymore. What I’m saying is Valakut is the real deal.

    That being said, a more consistent manabase with a manland, full Flagstones, more sac lands, and more ghost quarters is certainly legit. With Vesuva I’m positive the Valakut plan was correct. Without Vesuva it might not be worth it anymore. I’m just not sure which plan is better at this point, and I don’t feel like you can honestly say either way yourself. Cutting Valakut with definitely lose you games you would have won otherwise, but it will also win you games you would have lost otherwise because your manabase as a whole was better. At this point theory can only get you so far, and now it’s time to prove it with numbers.

  10. Jesus that Chatter of the Squirrel cardinfo link was so many levels beyond the norm that I have no idea where at all to start. How are you this savage of a master?

  11. Seems like the valakut is pretty neccesary vs a deck that board in darkblast and deathmark like most depths lists do. Or a deck that gets jitte active ever. the 1 land is costing you 1 basic mountain and 1 valakut for enough random wins at 7 lands that its probaly worth playing. the 1 of stirring wild probably should go at least in the testing that ive done with the deck. In theory isnt a vesuva still better then adding a bounceland because it adds to the virtual mountain count and allows to you copy the steppe the turn you cast scapeshift if you naturally drew it. The random legend rule is actually relevant a fairly large amount of the time vs Depths.

  12. Having played against the deck a fair amount with zoo, I’d say keep the Valakut in. It’s pretty insane. What are you going to do, not path their 13/13 knight?

  13. Michael Eisenhauer

    The list i’ve been running for weeks for fun is

    4 steppe lynx
    4 plated geopede
    4 knight of the reliquary
    4 tarmogoyf
    4 vinelasher kudzu
    4 loam lion

    4 path to exile
    4 lightning helix
    4 scapeshift

    4 flagstones
    4 arid mesa
    4 marshflats
    4 ghost quarter
    2 sacred foundry
    1 stomping ground
    2 temple garden
    1 mountain
    1 plains
    1 forest

    the list is based around getting a white mana turn 1 that is why loam lion is better than nacatl, 4x ghost quarter is just better and more abusive then selesnya thing and valakut which makes the mana base suck.

  14. I like the article about shifting nayashift and he’s going on a tangent about cube and draft skills.

  15. I know “real players” don’t do mill, but I’d love to see this drop the Valakut angle, add in blue with some Hedron Crabs (replacing the Nacatls), max the fetch-land count and have the mill-win as an option. Would give you an alternate if they keep killing the Lynxs and Geopedes… An idiot like me would then even replace the Goyfs with Ruin Ghosts. Would be nice to play a fetch, crack it, grab a forest, sac it to KOR to grab another fetch, crack it to grab a plain, and bounce the plain with Ruin Ghost to get 5 landfall triggers. With a Lynx and Crab out, 10 damage and 15 cards isn’t anything to sneeze at.

  16. @Marc

    I wouldn’t recommend Hedron Crab for this deck. Doing that will divide your efforts into milling and damage. Rather than doing 50% in both of those areas, I think it’s better to go 100% for one area.


    Ok, I see your side for Valakut and how it matters in the long game. I’d say no matter how much anyone argues with you, you’ll stick with Valakut. With and without Valakut deserves testing.

    On another note, in your last article, you said you were hesitant about Goyf. Looking at your list, it looks like Goyf is not optimally used. I’m leaning towards more burn, namely either Magma Jet, Pulse of the Forge, or even Beacon of Destruction.

    And now for me to try out some changes XD.

  17. Sam Gaard made top 8 with this list…

    1 Adventuring Gear

    4 Knight Of The Reliquary
    4 Plated Geopede
    4 Steppe Lynx
    2 Stoneforge Mystic
    3 Tarmogoyf
    4 Wild Nacatl

    4 Lightning Bolt
    4 Path To Exile

    Legendary Artifacts
    1 Umezawa’s Jitte

    4 Scapeshift

    Basic Lands
    1 Forest
    1 Plains

    4 Arid Mesa
    1 Ghost Quarter
    3 Misty Rainforest
    3 Sacred Foundry
    1 Scalding Tarn
    1 Sejiri Steppe
    1 Stirring Wildwood
    3 Stomping Ground
    2 Temple Garden
    1 Vesuva

    Legendary Lands
    3 Flagstones Of Trokair

    1 Damping Matrix
    2 Tormod’s Crypt
    4 Ethersworn Canonist
    2 Ranger Of Eos
    3 Ancient Grudge
    1 Bojuka Bog
    2 Ghost Quarter


    I played something similar to his list this weekend @ PTQ in Yokohama. I was in contention for top 8 till the second to last round. One thing different is that I switched Tarmogoyf for Scryb Ranger, added a Scalding Tarn and another basic forest. Ranger allowed the Knight grow big while attacking and as long as I have a forest in play I can make landfall. Also there was a lot of Faeries so having a pro-blue flyier is powerful. Adventuring Gear allows the non -land creatures to be lynx / geopede. If I were to play again.. I would try to squeeze in Sword of Light and Shadow either main or side. Deathmarks, Smothers and Path are everywhere.

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