Top 8 Modern Decks – Scapeshift

The last deck in my Top 8 Modern Decks series is certainly not the least—another big mana deck: Scapeshift. I have to say, the 8th choice was really close between UWx Midrange (Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, Celestial Colonnade decks), Storm, Infect, Amulet, Zoo, Merfolk, and Bogles, but ultimately, the tiebreaker was Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle being the one I’m most familiar with.

All-In Scapeshift

Pascal Maynard
PTQ 1st place

I won my first PTQ and cashed my first GP with that exact 75. Of course this is Extended, but it has similarities to what we call All-In Scapeshift in Modern.

Blue Scapeshift

Masashi Oiso
Worlds 2011 Extended

Now this one is closer to the usual Blue Scapeshift played in Modern. A few counterspells to road-block your opponent until you hit enough lands to Scapeshift for lethal. During this Extended era, we didn’t have access to the Ravnica shock lands and that’s why Masashi ran Prismatic Omen alongside Wargate to fetch them.

66-Card Scapeshift

James Zornes
Extended – GP Atlanta 2011

Here, you can admire the beauty of a 66-card deck. James found a way to play the necessary amount of Mountains while still being able to jam blue cards in his deck. This kind of variant never really came back in Modern, again thanks to the Ravnica duals.

Unfortunately, this card started off on the Modern ban list as soon as it became a format. That left us waiting a year until it was unbanned.

The following deck list was the first to notch a result in a professional event.


Alon Chitiz
GP Toronto Top 8

The sideboard is a little off, however the rest of the list shaped up to be decidedly conventional.


Pascal Maynard
PTQ 1st place

Just a few months later I ended winning a PTQ with that list, which is slightly different from other lists. Cultivate was a great way to fight Liliana of the Veil. Explore and Serum Visions were just an unusual duo of card filtering that I liked at the time. Prismatic Omen was basically a way to do something other than strictly combo’ing—you could win games by just making land drops with one or two Valakut out, and it also made the actual combo a turn faster by needing 6 lands instead of 7 to lethal them.


Lee Shi Tian
PT Return to Ravnica Top 8

LST became not only a Scapeshift specialist, but a Modern specialist, Top 8’ing this Modern Pro Tour and the following two! In this variant, not much changed except that Lee sure liked his card selection with 4 Telling Time, 4 Serum Visions, and even an extra cantrip in Repeal.

It was rarely ever tier 1, managing to get a result here and there and eventually faded away for a while.

All-In Scapeshift

Eric Froehlich
PT Born of the Gods

Team ChannelFireball sleeved up this more unique take on the deck. It’s essentially the same as what I won a PTQ with—straight-up RG, ramp as fast as possible. It has two blue sources for some counterspells against faster combo decks and that’s it.


Scott Lip
GP Omaha Top 8

This is the closest we got to a Scapeshift deck for over a year. Not only does it not play 4 Scapeshift, it’s also not anywhere close in terms of game plan. This deck was designed to beat an extremely specific metagame—the Treasure Cruise era. Needless to say, it lasted 2 months.

Compulsive Scapeshift

Matthew Duggan
GP Oklahoma City Top 8

It has recently started to perform again, more specifically in the hands of Matthew (who, on an unrelated note completely destroyed me in a feature match with his 4 sideboard cards while I played Affinity).

I like the Compulsive Researches he added to the list, it has always been a great card, I’m happy it found a home. What I’m even more excited about though is this gift:

Bring to Light

That card is awesome, it will be a house in Standard and it’s an exciting addition to Scapeshift decks in Modern. One of the issue has always been that if you don’t ever draw the archetype-defining card, you just plain lose. Now you can play up to 8 Scapeshifts!

Most of the time, it will even be better, since it does something else if you already have the needed combo pieces in hand. With Blood Moon around, it sounds scary to add a 4th color, but I’m sure players will find a way around it.

General Tips

  • Unless you play a version with Primeval Titan, fetch as few Mountain-type lands as possible. You need them in your deck to Scapeshift for lethal.
  • Sacrificing Sakura-Tribe Elder as soon as you can is not always the right thing to do. If you can get your opponent to 18 life, it means you only need seven lands for lethal (1 Valakut + 6 Mountains). Sakura can often deal the necessary 1 or 2 points against someone cautious with their lands.

Sideboard Tips

  • I find myself boarding out a basic Mountain frequently when you play against a matchup in which you don’t expect the game to go long. The shorter the game is, the smaller the chances are that you run out of Mountains in your deck.
  • In a version without Lightning Bolt, boarding out Snapcaster Mage against blue decks is something I’ve been doing quite a lot, mainly because the spells you are flashing back are kind of expensive, making their counterspells even better. This is actually true for other matchups in which you don’t expect them to disrupt you through discards in fact. Snapcaster is mostly just an insurance for your Scapeshifts. I totally expect them to go away once we can jam Bring to Light.

Thanks for reading my whole series, it was a blast to write and I hope you enjoyed it as much!


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