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Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

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This week I take the time to look at the match up between our #TEAMGEIST list, and the current King of the Hill; Scapeshift. The RUG version of this deck plays much like a ramping control deck, which seeks to win through resolving the namesake card, and killing the opponent with a Valakut, The Molten Pinnacle or two and 6 Mountains. The deck won the last Modern Grand Prix in Minneapolis, and really has not gone anywhere. Thankfully Modern is a format which is much more open than the current dregs of Standard, so even if it is popular by definition, you still might not play against it more than once or twice in a tournament. That said, being the last winner, it is very important to understand the deck, how it works, and how to attack it in order to find success at GP Boston. Gerry T was going to join us this week, but some personal challenges got in the way. That being said, my very own teammate, Larry Swasey was able to join us with the GP winning main deck, and battle us to figure out the right way to do it.

Here is the deck that Larry played:


We of course, would be battling with the new stand by.

Back to the full 8 fetchlands, but otherwise no changes. Hitting our mana is just so important early, that having the tools to do so really form the foundation of the deck’s capacity. This becomes very evident in a few of our games here. Our goal truly is to be jamming a turn 3 Geist of Saint Traft in every single game. Doing so puts our opponent in a terrible spot should we ever untap with it. We have all the tools to keep the opponent off balance and under pressure should we be able to present the quick and resilient clock, but without it, we likely lose to the inevitable mana advantage that Scapeshift can use to invalidate our Remands, or the simple Scapeshift with counterspell back ups. Post board, we should improve, as we get hard counters for Scapeshift in the form of Counterflux, and a great disruption spell in Aven Mindcensor. Slam Geist, Be Flashy, and Be Tricksy. Words to live by in the matchup.

Here are the games for you:

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The plan we had ended up being basically correct I think, with one card potentially being up for lengthier debate. For reference:

-3 Electrolyze, -2 Path to Exile, -1 Keranos, +2 Counterflux, +3 Aven Mindcensor, +1 Batterskull

The subject for discussion is the addition of the 3rd Path to Exile should the opponent end up on the Titans/Baloths plan, but what else comes out? There are some that feel like Batterskull as a second copy should not come in, and even more in the chat who felt that it shouldn’t be in the deck at all. Larry of course is pretty adamant about it’s inclusion, as the ability to outpace the damage potential of Scapeshift with lifelink potentially in the longer games is invaluable. The counterpoint of course, is will resolving a 5 drop ever result in your immediate death? Personally, I think we want at least one copy, and it could even be correct to run the 2, but I’m not 100% convinced yet. The appeal of ensuring a more regular draw of the card vs the terror of drawing 2 in opener is a real battle for me. I’m going to try a few more games and really figure it out.

I did learn a few things specifically about this match though, and they directly influence the rate of success for us in the pairing.
Snapcaster Mage on turn 2 as an Ambush Viper is ideal. Later turns, you should be looking for value out of the card and flashing back a spell
– Geist on 3 if possible is the number one game plan regardless of anything else. Should it resolve, you are likely closing the game out. Make it priority number 1.
– Don’t over expose into Electrolyze for full value if you can help it. Clique is often a good enough clock. Don’t throw an Ambush Viper into the path of an Electrolyze for max value.
– The magic turns for the Scapeshift deck come at 6, 7, and 8 mana. Be aware of the number of lands the opponent has, and try to keep your life total above 15, 18, and 36 respectively.
– Playing the Flash game is decidedly as important here as it is in other “Blue” Mirrors. See tips from last article vs UR Twin about why this is good.

This is the last article I will be writing before GP Boston, so I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone sincerely for all of the support and feedback that you have shown all for us during this testing process. I can only hope that we all run deep into day 2 with the list, and really celebrate the efforts that we all have put into this. I’m looking forward to some time in the new Standard to test for the WMCQ in my area which I will be attending, and then after that, a likely return to the super sweet format which is Modern. Don’t forget to support the stream and buy a playmat right from the twitch page!

I’ll be off streaming this week, but will be back with a vengeance.

See you soon!

Long live #TEAMGEIST!!!

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