Scapewish is a variant of Nic Fit that utilizes a midrange beatdown game plan combined with a Burning Wish package along with a Scapeshift mana base in order to close games out on the basis of a Valakut kill.
History of the Deck
Scapewish was pioneered originally by Arianna KcKee “Arianrhod” of the Source. It fell largely out of favor over the course of the Traditional Miracles reign due to not having strong enough midrange threats, but with the release of Ixalan the deck has gained new threats in the form of Carnage Tyrant and Regisaur Alpha.
Arianna McKee – Eternal Weekend 2017 10th Place
1 Carnage Tyrant
1 Nissa, Vastwood Seer
1 Primeval Titan
1 Regisaur Alpha
2 Sakura-Tribe Elder
2 Tireless Tracker
4 Veteran Explorer
2 Nissa, Vital Force
2 Abrupt Decay
4 Burning Wish
3 Cabal Therapy
4 Green Sun’s Zenith
3 Pernicious Deed
2 Sylvan Library
2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
3 Verdant Catacombs
2 Wooded Foothills
1 Cabal Therapy
1 Innocent Blood
2 Lightning Bolt
1 Lost Legacy
1 Maelstrom Pulse
1 Pulse of Murasa
2 Slaughter Games
2 Surgical Extraction
1 Toxic Deluge
Joseph Dyer – Scapewish List 8/28/2018
Joseph Dyer – Scapewish 1/6/2019 – SCG Legacy Classic
Core Deck Construction / Play Style
Scapewish’s primary game plan is to utilize the ramp provided by Veteran Explorer to get to 7-8 lands quickly and produce a kill condition with Scapeshift. However, thanks to the midrange threat options available, the deck can also pivot very quickly into beating down with creatures and then deploy a kill if it needs to. Cards like Sakura-Tribe Elder also help increase our ramp/land count while also having good utility in being able to negate combat in certain situations.
One of the primary parts of playing Scapewish is the use of the wish board and Burning Wish. Burning Wish allows for great flexibility during the game, allowing us to fetch a potential answer to a specific board state, or to also fetch a kill condition in the form of Scapeshift.
The biggest thing about Scapewish is that patience is key. This deck maximizes resource management from managing how many lands you have in play (as well as how many mountains are floating around in each zone), but also has you using your life total as an extreme resource as well.
This version of the deck is easily one of the most difficult to play well, but it’s power level and threats vs fair decks are very high and it can grind very easily with fair grindy deck matchups.
Sakura-Tribe Elder a.k.a “Steve” is a powerful card in this variation. As following Modern Scapeshift builds that play this card, Steve provides ramp, possible damage, and a way to negate combat by blocking and then sacrificing to his own ability. 2 copies are heavily recommended as they help provide the leverage needed to get to 7-8 lands quickly.
Nissa, Vastwood Seer
Nissa furthers the game plan of this deck by helping it pull more lands out of the deck to get to that magical 7-8 land count number, however that’s not all she does. Once she flips into Nissa, Sage Animist, the dig ability can also help further land count but can also dig into an answer quickly. In a pinch, making a 4/4 token even if it is Legendary is also really strong.
Joe’s Notes: I have recently come away from Nissa. She is a good card, but I have felt having Eternal Witness in her slot has been infinitely better. Your mileage may vary.
One of the big midrange threats introduced in Ixalan, Regisaur Alpha is a powerful card because it is a Green Sun’s Zenith target that can quickly kill a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. When working alongside Carnage Tyrant, Regisaur gets out of hand easily. 7 power across 2 bodies for 5 mana is nothing to sneeze at, especially when one of those bodies has haste. In some cases, current testing is trying 2 copies of these over the single Carnage Tyrant.
Carnage Tyrant is a very powerful threat, providing a massive creature that can’t be countered and also has hexproof and trample, while also being a relevant creature type for Regisaur Alpha. Often times this card is very difficult to deal with, however as of late, the large presence of edict-like effects has made this a little worse. That being said, this is still a powerful option for this deck.
Sometimes it is necessary to pull out a Valakut kill with Primeval Titan as the finisher, or also potentially pulling out fetchlands to act as sacrificial lands for a Scapeshift. Regardless, Primeval Titan is efficient and strong.
Huntmaster of the Fells
With Deathrite Shaman gone and cards like Baleful Strix still being somewhat popular, Huntmaster is a very attractive card that can deal damage to planeswalkers and mop up those kinds of creatures, while creating a body to use for blocking or even Cabal Therapy. The life gain is also very solid.
One half of the deck’s namesake, Scapeshift is a one card combo kill, but the conditions that have to be met in order to make it so is part of the challenge in playing the deck. In a vacuum outside of an actual kill, Scapeshift can also be used as a draw spell (in conjunction with Nissa, Vital Force’s emblem or with Tireless Tracker), or as a creature generation spell (with Titania, Protector of Argoth).
Burning Wish is what allows this deck to utilize the wish board to locate a kill condition or an answer to the current state of the game. It is important to note that Burning Wish does exile itself upon resolution.
A relatively new option to the deck, Trophy is a very powerful removal spell that does get rid of just about anything. This deck however is not looking for this as a 4-of however, as Thoughtseize in the main is still heavily important.
Joe’s Notes: I mainly swapped Decays to the SB and played 2 main, but your mileage may vary. The card felt very powerful indeed when I cast it, so maybe at some point the Decays can leave for other sideboard interaction like Lightning Bolt.
Despite the fact that Scapewish is a Jund based variation, normal sideboard cards that are used in most Jund Fair builds (such as Blood Moon or Kolaghan’s Command) aren’t very good in it due to the fact that the deck’s Wish Board takes up a decent portion of the sideboard and Blood Moon actively shuts off the Scapeshift plan of attack.
Wish Board Targets
The “Wish” Board for Scapewish is generally constructed of roughly 7-10 sorceries, and 5-7 other spells. Wish targets are not always just left in the sideboard, however, so often times multiple copies of specific targets will show up in the sideboard for the purposes of being sideboarded in during specific matchups that Burning Wish ends up being too slow to deal with. It is often noted however that it can be good to leave a particularly strong wish target in the sideboard to gain minimal advantage in being able to tutor for it.
Extra Discard – 4th copy of Cabal Therapy, Collective Brutality, more Thoughtseize, Collective Brutality
Sweepers – Pyroclasm, Toxic Deluge, Damnation, Tsunami (for when you really hate blue)
Permanent/Creature Destruction – Maelstrom Pulse, Innocent Blood
Kill Condition – Scapeshift
Combo Hate – Lost Legacy, Slaughter Games
Other Sideboard Options
Beyond the Wish Board, there are a slight few options available for sideboard options. Primarily, these slots end up being taken up by cards like Surgical Extraction, but there are a plethora of other options available. These slots really just depend on what you’re looking to manage meta-wise.
Red Countermagic – Pyroblast, Red Elemental Blast
Board Control – Ensnaring Bridge
Ramp – Carpet of Flowers
Interaction – Lightning Bolt, Pulse of Murasa, Abrupt Decay
Scapeshift often requires a bit of mathematical understanding to play properly. To understand how to play this card, we must first explain how the card functions.
Scapeshift sacrifices any number of lands and lets you go fetch that many up from your library into play tapped. How this interacts with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle is the important thing. Vakalut specifically only triggers if it sees a Mountain enter the battlefield and there are at least five other Mountains already on the battlefield. So, when Scapeshift puts in a bunch of Mountains and a Valakut into play, they see each other all enter the battlefield at the same time, which means each Mountain will trigger if there are at least five other Mountains in play.
This makes the math relatively simple. To ‘shift an opponent, by default you need seven lands in play (any seven lands; doesn’t matter if those lands are even extra fetches you haven’t cracked yet). The default option here is to get six Mountains and one Valakut. This adds up to 18 damage (3 x 6 Mountains). The danger in this play is against decks that either don’t impact their own life total much (Death and Taxes comes to mind) or decks that play Wasteland. If you can reduce the Valakut player’s total # of Mountains to just five or fewer in play, the only triggers that resolve and cause damage are the ones that were destroyed. This is because Valakut checks this condition both to put the trigger on the stack and also to resolve.
You may have to play around these conditions, and possibly ‘shift them at eight lands instead (seven Mountain + one Valakut for 21 damage). However, I’ve often found that unless it’s a player who also plays Modern this interaction is not well known amongst most Legacy players.
Another option for Shifting is to double up on Valakuts. This requires an eight or nine land shift (if you’re playing around Wasteland), with six Mountain + two Valakut. Because there are two Valakuts, each trigger is essentially doubled so an eight land shift of this nature would deal 36 damage to your opponent.
Of course, the math on this can be heavily adjusted to the situation at hand. With only 10 “Mountain” type sources in the deck, it is grossly important to be aware at all times of where all your Mountains are. Should you find that you’ve overextended, you can sacrifice less numbers of lands in order to hit your opponent if they’re at an optimally lower life total than the maximum amount. Example: Your opponent is at 12 life, so 4 mountains would kill them. If you already have a Valakut and 2 other Mountains in play, you can sacrifice 4 lands and get 4 Mountains to deal 12. Conversely, if you don’t have a Valakut in play but have enough Mountains, you can sacrifice 5 lands and get 1 Valakut, 4 Mountain to do the same.
Strictly Eternal 101 – To Wish Upon a Shift – by Joseph Dyer