Stark Reality – Landscaping Extended


Landscaping Extended

By now everyone pretty much associates me with the [card]Scapeshift[/card] deck. Usually when this happens, it’s because you have done well with the deck. I went a disappointing 2-3 with it in Austin and 4-2 with it in Worlds. Now I win almost all the testing games I play with the deck because I know how to play it. I was definitely learning in Austin and ran a less than optimal version in Worlds. It is not a particularly easy deck to play; you are often faced with choices where the answer is not apparent. It is not like one card is going to deal more damage than the other, so as you navigate through the games, you need to have a plan and need to be able to decide what order to play your cards in. I highly recommend the deck but I also recommend practicing it a lot before you play it in a tournament.

Here is the list I would run if I played the deck in a tournament tomorrow.

The maindeck is pretty much set now in my opinion. The Cryptics have been amazing for me and I have always wanted more. Expedition is better than Coiling Oracle. It is more reliable and more explosive. You don’t need the extra body against zoo, since that matchup is so easy anyways. The 2 [card]Ponder[/card]s help a lot with the Peer Through Depths to make sure you can always find Scapeshift. 3 is pretty much the perfect number for your solutions (Repeal and Firespout) in a deck with Peer and so much thinning. Some of the Japenese players I have seen playing the deck seem to like Magma Jet over Firespout. I think that the deal 2 damage and scrye effect in a combo deck that does 18 damage some of the time is undeniably useful, but even more critical is being able to kill things with your removal. You can’t even kill most of Zoo’s 1-drops with a Jet if you are on the draw. Firespout’s ability to wipe the board has won me a lot of games and as long as it is going to be a Zoo-driven format, I wouldn’t cut them.

The sideboard is not nearly as set in stone. I always said they should do 25 card sideboards for Extended. There are just a ton of different good decks. If Dark Depths isn’t popular in your area than you don’t need the Ghost Quarters, Dredge – Ravenous Traps, Thopter Foundry/Affinity- Fracturing Gusts etc etc. My friend Rob pointed out that Glen Elendra Archmage is a big problem for the deck, so we came up with Shackles in the sideboard. You can resolve one before they can get it out pretty easily, especially with the help of Remand and Negate, and since this deck searches extra lands out you can usually use it to steal just about anything that Firespout leaves behind.

Sideboarding and Matchup Notes


The main advantage to playing Scapeshift right now is that you have a virtual bye against what has become by far the most popular deck in the format. Most games you can just casually block with Tribe-Elder and Remand whatever, then kill them with Scapeshift. They don’t generally play much of anything in the maindeck to disrupt or stop it. If they have Gaddock Teeg, then you will need to Firespout it away, so don’t spend your Firespout on a Nacatl and a Kird Ape when you have the win next turn and you are at 14. Other than that, the matchup is really straightforward.

I sideboard out 3 Remands for the 3 Shackles; the Shackles really annoy and them and give you an alternate way to win if you just can’t find a Scapeshift. They aren’t the nut card against Zoo or anything, but they help slow them down and buy you time, which is all you need to beat them. Plus, sometimes they are enough to win the game on their own.

Dark Depths

This is a really fun matchup. They have Muddle the Mixture and Thoughtseize against you and you have Repeal, Cryptic Command, and [card]Remand[/card] against them. Both decks have a ton of disruption, so the games often go long. Normally you want to figure out how fast you think you can win and how fast you think they can win. That is important specifically because your decisions will generally need to flow in the same direction. You will sometimes have to play more like the control deck and try to stop them and sometimes you will figure out how fast each player can kill. When you can win in 2 turns and they can’t win for 3, then you will need to start figuring out how to protect your Scapeshift instead of just trying to stop them. It is an intricate matchup and you just need to practice it before you play it in a tournament.

You sideboard in 3 Negate, 3 Shackles, and 3 Ghost Quarters, for 4 Expedition, 2 Harrow, 1 Firespout, 1 Valakut, 1 Peer through Depths. You have Shackles and Firespout against Confidant and Clique, and the Ghost Quarters back up your Repeals to stop them from comboing. If you think they left in Chalices, then you could bring in 2 Fracturing Gusts to kill them and Chrome Moxes, but I don’t generally like to board them and Shackles in at the same time, and Shackles is pretty good against them.


Their deck is faster, but if they don’t succesfully kill you when they go off then them going off sometimes backfires. Put into play my Wood Elves, Sakura Tribe-Elder and 2 land you say? Sounds good, at least until they drop a Sundering Titan. They do also have Angel of Despairs, and other significant nuisances, but you play Harrows too; all and all it’s pretty messy. You do want to keep them off Hypergenesis as long as possible; just make sure you Remand or Cryptic Command the actual card, not the cascade spell. It’s a very straitforward matchup so there isn’t much to say. Just delay them as much as possible so you can win with Scapeshift, and if they go off sometimes you get locked out and sometimes you untap and win, so try and prepare for that as much as possible.

Sideboard out 3 Firespout and 3 Repeal for 3 Ghost Quarters and 3 Negates, unless you think they are bringing in Meddling Mage, in which case you want to leave in the Repeals and not board in the Ghost Quarters. Sometimes I have seen them play basics and sometimes they don’t.

Next Level Blue

It can be tough to beat a control deck when your win condition is a four mana sorcery. The key to the match is to always play around Mana Leak, since they don’t have that many real counters. You just want to let them Remand stuff, pay for Mana Leak, and make them have to beat you with Cryptic Commands. It is obvious that if they are running the version with Kitchen Finks instead of Vendillion Cliques that’s much better for you. Either way, when you play the game you don’t want to have the mindset of “if they have it, they have it”. You want to keep thinning out your deck and playing around their counters, unless they put you under enough pressure that you are forced to try and go off into Mana Leak.

The sideboarding really depends on which version they’re playing and what you expect to see. Shackles is going to be much better than Firespout against them, but if they are playing an artifact-heavy version blowing them out with Gusts could be more valuable. If you expect Meddling Mages out of their sideboard it’s also more important to have Firespouts. Otherwise I would board out the 3 Firespouts and 4 Expeditions for 3 Negates, 3 Shackles and 1 Ghost Quarter. I usually just bring in the quarter here to have an extra land to hit land drops with.

Thopter Foundry

It is pretty much the same as against Blue, but even easier because they have fewer counters. Even if they set up their combo you can deal 36 with 8 lands out, so you usually still have several turns to win. Make sure you play around Mana Leak. Also, unlike against Dark Depths, you can still win even after they combo out. You are not normally that worried about them comboing. Look to always protect your combo and generally don’t try and fight theirs.

Usually the sideboarding depends heavily on what you expect to face. Since LSV and CF have been the biggest proponents of the Thopter deck I would assume their general sideboard and plans. This means Meddling Mage and Archmages, especially since if they don’t have cards like this it is nearly impossible for them to beat you. You should probably assume they do and board accordingly unless you specifically gain the information that they don’t.

Therefore I would board out 1 Repeal, 4 Expedition, 2 Harrow, 2 Wood Elves, and add in 3 Negate, 3 Fracturing Gust, 3 Shackles. I know I said you don’t often board in Gusts and Shackles, but in this matchup it’s ok to do so. I played against a Thopter Foundry deck once at Worlds, and while I wasn’t privy to his decklist, I did Gust him into oblivion. Both decks have answers and problems so you really need to practice the games. My main advice would be not to commit anything to the board unnecessarily. If you don’t have a Remand or Cryptic, you will want to put out Shackles in case they cast Glen Elendra, but if you do have those cards and you know they won’t be resolving a Glen Elendra for a while, you don’t want to put out a Shackles only to have to Gust them away.

I still think Scapeshift is the best deck in Extended. It’s very resilient to hate and blue still seems to be underplayed. In our testing with the deck when we play against someone who isn’t overly familiar with the deck, we almost always crush them. Make sure you know the matchups; don’t just copy the decklist from here and run it in a tournament. Even if you don’t like the deck, I recommend getting familiar with it if you want to be able to beat it.

Good luck in the upcoming extended PTQs and GPs,


35 thoughts on “Stark Reality – Landscaping Extended”

  1. Have you tried into the roil v repeal? I find into the roil so much better because obv you are going to be casting it for kicker most of the time and it really doesn’t get shut down by gaddock teeg!

    I’m actually kinda suprised that there is no coiling oracle here but instead the expidition, I find that card unimpressive all the time and even deemed bad in most situations whereas the oracle can block and ramp/draw a card.

    Yavimaya Dryad has been the replacement for wood elves because it does the same thing with a relevant land walking ability and an extra power for the mirror which does more attacking then really noticed. It doesnt hurt the deck at all, infact it is a boost to stop paying three mana for a 1/1..

    Harrow is kinda with the expidition i guess but if you cut the expidition then this card is meh more than not, the 3-4th ponder seem good to make more turn 1 plays and help search for that scapeshift that is needed and makes your draws better than it needs to be.

    These are only suggestions in my part, I have been testing this deck too and so I have made those changes myself. This deck harks on other controldecks like you said so I love that and that its an auto bye against Zoo.

    Great article, keep them up!

  2. Farhaven Elf can’t get Stomping Ground, plus the whole untapped thing can be relevant. I quite like the Yavimaya Druid idea though, although that’s a lot harder on your mana.

  3. Sower of Temptation probably works about as well as shackles against decks with archmage. They are most likely taking out all their path to exiles so sower will usually stick and it cant be negated, muddled, or countered with archmages ability. Shackles can also fall victim to pithing needle or Engineered Explosives (much more difficult to set an EE on 4).

  4. Have you tried out Vendillion Clique in the board as an answer to control decks and/or the mirror match?

    Also a guide for the dredge matchup would be nice. Is it a huge problem if they start milling you with crabs and glimpses?

  5. prefer breeding pools over the groves. at least one breeding pool is technically correct, as with wood elves, getting one turn three and being able to ponder is huge.

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  7. I would like to know why you don’t play 4 fetchlands, as they would complete the expeditions faster?

  8. Nice Article! I would also be interested on a SB plan verses Dredge. I’ve seen some Dredge builds (in fact, I play one) where their SB is just dedicated mill. They switch from Dredging to milling Game 2 and that throws off a lot of decks.Plus, even without a dedicated mill package, dredge can just crab and glimpse you until there aren’t enough Mountains left in the deck to win. Or, if they happen to hit both Valakuts, its GG since I don’t really see an alternate win condition. But anyways, great article, and I’ll definitely be considering sleeving this deck up at the next PTQ. It’s a nice combination of Combo and Control.

  9. Am i missing something? I don’t see Coiling Oracle or Expedition in the decklist. What up with that?

  10. Haha i found it your talking about Khalni Heart Expedition not the actual Expedition. Ok wow I obviously had an awesome new years eve and am still hungover.

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  12. Nice article. I have been waiting a for this piece since picking up all the RAV block lands that I needed for the deck. The walkthrough is nice, too. I am definitely going to start testing this with a few variations in the next week.

  13. Dryad is insteresting, but the fact that the land is tapped is a pretty big drawback. I find that often you cast Wood Elves and a second spell in the same turn, and wouldn’t be able to do that with the Dryad.

  14. One additional thing: when do you ship a hand with 3x Mountain (or any way shape or form)? I found that it happened fairly often and more or less totally wrecked the combo for me.

  15. I’ve been testing scapeshift a bit, and the one thing I keep coming back to is that I want a way to win if I draw into too many mountains, that doesn’t rely on beating with 1/1s. Tarmogoyf works well here, and can serve as a blocker against decks like zoo.

    The matchup I’ve been having the most trouble with is All-In Red. A fast deus can be annoying, and deus+moon effect will almost always end the game. Any suggestions?

  16. How do you sideboard against matryr???

    All in red is annoying turn one

    but turn 2 becomes a lot easier

    spell pierce over negate in the sideboard seems like a good thing

    Cause you get to mess up hypergenesis, thopther sometimes, ETC cheap protection against NLU

  17. I believe that deck can’t win against Martyr, has a very bad match up against Dredge (if the dredge player plays correctly) and All in Red and is 50/50 against control.
    Good article but you should have talked about these bad match ups.
    Seriously, what do you do against Martyr ?

  18. I find the comes into play untapped part of wood elves to be more important than the extra power as it lets u do two things often, and you are a combo deck.
    There should be 1 breeding pool, I must have been playing with the mana on mtgo right before I wrote this or something, the groves are good for casting cryptic which has been great for me but -1 grove + Breeding Pool is my current manabase. Also into the roil is much worse than repeal at bouncing early chome moxs and wild nacatls- its nice to get around teeg but you can usually deal with it with a firespout and this is extended. You want to bounce before you have 4 lands available a lot of the time.

    As far as against dredge I am sorry thats a major deck and I just missed it, I would board out the 3 firespout and 3 repeal for 3 negate and 3 ravenous trap. The wierd thing about that matchup is it normally crushs blue because it beats them eventually, but a counter usually buys you a turn. Since we just kill them out of nowhere buying ourselves a couple turns will win the game. I honestly have no idea how the mill us plan would work for them, I haven’t had anyone I have played against try it. We will have counters for glimpse so if it seems unlikely to succeed.


  19. Thanks for the response Ben, and I agree about playing Repeal over into the Roil.
    Also agree about the fact that it’s a great deck.
    I find it hard to believe that Dredge players didn’t try the milling option.
    Crab turn 1 against you looks GG to me.
    No comment about the Martyr Deck ?

  20. i have been testing gigadrowse in SB against Blue including the mirror. It works well to avoid the counterspell war and just win.

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  22. Nice article, but can anyone explain me the combo, the valakut says that when you have 5 or more mountains and the scapeshift brings out all the lands at the same time, i just dont get the combo, thanks

  23. this deck is an autoloss to martyr. if a deck can get to 37 life, there is really no way for you to win. and martyr hits that on turns 2 or 3 very consistantly. i love the scapeshift deck, and i think that the plan would be to hope the decks lack of popularity would help you not face it. you will get lucky that zoo is a huge part of the field, and this deck eats it.

  24. I recently made a top8 at a ptq with the version of scape shift you played at world and I like this new list besides the expedition due to later when your trying to dig for a scape shift and the coiling oracle seems good for that. So does the addition of the ponders smooth that out? Another note seemed that the harrows role could have been better suited to Search for tomorrows in that its not as vulnerable to a counter as the harrow seemed for me.

  25. there are ups and downs to all the card choices, several friends of mine have told me they like the oracles more than expeditions. Like you said they dig for scapeshifts in the late game much better, but turn 2 expedition + anything = turn 4 win doesnt suck either. You can usually play the harrows when your opponent taps out to play thirst or clique or something, they really shouldnt get countered. If your gonna go with the oracles though, I could definitely see search for tommorows over the harrows.
    O and martyr is a bad matchup but they have to start reccurring it as you can do more then 36. With 8 lands out you can do 36, with 9 you can do 42, 10 48 ect. More than that is kinda unreasonable because you are usually gonna draw a mountain or 2 but Martyr doesnt exactly kill you quick so if they sac one martyr and go to 38 you definitely can still win the game

  26. Ben, with scapeshift getting more and more popular in the online community, I have a feeling that will translate to the IRL community for upcoming PTQ’s. How do you personally see/play the mirror? Is it a race? or is it more like a control mirror where you build up a hand of counters and scapeshift and then see who blinks first, counter their scapeshift, untap and win? That’s one reason I really love Cryptic command in the deck because if you catch someone who’s too eager in the mirror scapeshifting for 7 you can cryptic a mountain and just wreck them.

  27. There have also been some sideboard ideas like Rude awakening or Meloku the clouded mirror against martyr of sands.Rude awakening for an extra kill and meloku to make 1/1 flyers deal 6 damage with the valakut(when you have more than 6 mountains of course in case you don’t finish them off…) It seems the sideboard could be changed a little.Also was wondering how you stop the mirror.Seems boseijuu is really good in the mirror.

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