Bant Scapeshift managed to break through in Standard. The deck reached its pinnacle in the hands of Luis Scott-Vargas winning GP Denver. It found success in earlier events but now it seems to be an established deck in the meta. I think it's a great and fun to play deck. The play style and patterns it introduces is something that freshens Standard up. I also think that the deck is the strongest when constructed in Bant colors. The cards of the deck play really well together - especially Teferi, Time Raveler makes Bant Scapeshift a good choice. The ability to cast Scapeshift end of turn provides an inevitability and shuts down instant speed sweepers such as Flame Sweep. Although Bant is the best choice for a Scapeshift deck I deem other color combination to be competitive as well. If you want to play a Scapeshift deck but avoid meta decks I have three alternatives for you. In this article I will pitch Temur, Sultai and Simic (5C) Scapeshift to you. You can find my decks here: https://aetherhub.com/User/fdelvo.
2 Prison Realm (WAR) 26 2 Grow from the Ashes (DAR) 164 4 Circuitous Route (GRN) 125 4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178 4 Scapeshift (M19) 201 4 Teferi, Time Raveler (WAR) 221 4 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183 4 Arboreal Grazer (WAR) 149 4 Elvish Rejuvenator (M19) 180 1 Plains (M20) 261 1 Azorius Guildgate (RNA) 243 1 Blast Zone (WAR) 244 1 Blossoming Sands (M20) 243 1 Field of Ruin (XLN) 254 1 Memorial to Genius (DAR) 243 1 Selesnya Guildgate (GRN) 255 1 Tranquil Cove (M20) 259 1 Thornwood Falls (M20) 258 1 Sunpetal Grove (XLN) 257 1 Hinterland Harbor (DAR) 240 1 Simic Guildgate (RNA) 257 2 Hallowed Fountain (RNA) 251 2 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246 2 Temple Garden (GRN) 258 2 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255 2 Island (M20) 265 2 Forest (M20) 277 4 Field of the Dead (M20) 247 3 Veil of Summer (M20) 198 3 Dovin's Veto (WAR) 193 2 Ixalan's Binding (XLN) 17 2 Ajani's Welcome (M19) 6 2 Ripjaw Raptor (XLN) 203 2 Deputy of Detention (RNA) 165 1 Crucible of Worlds (M19) 229
4 Elvish Reclaimer (M20) 169 4 Scapeshift (M19) 201 3 Cavalier of Thorns (M20) 167 4 Living Twister (WAR) 203 2 Crucible of Worlds (M19) 229 4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178 3 Circuitous Route (GRN) 125 4 Lava Coil (GRN) 108 4 Risen Reef (M20) 217 3 Forest (M20) 280 4 Field of the Dead (M20) 247 2 Stomping Ground (RNA) 259 2 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246 2 Steam Vents (GRN) 257 1 Simic Guildgate (WAR) 274 1 Gruul Guildgate (RNA) 250 1 Izzet Guildgate (GRN) 252 4 Evolving Wilds (M20) 246 1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255 1 Temple of Epiphany (M20) 253 1 Thornwood Falls (M20) 258 1 Rugged Highlands (M20) 250 1 Rootbound Crag (XLN) 256 1 Hinterland Harbor (DAR) 240 1 Sulfur Falls (DAR) 247 1 Blast Zone (WAR) 244 3 Cindervines (RNA) 161 4 Bombard (RIX) 93 2 Flame Sweep (M20) 139 3 Veil of Summer (M20) 198 3 Healer of the Glade (M20) 176
Earlier versions of Bant Scapeshift used to play Risen Reef. This idea was scratched because the deck was lacking other elementals to maximize Risen Reef. Other elementals in Bant colors didn't fit into a Scapeshift shell so Risen Reef was cut. This was a correct decision for Bant Scapeshift. But when building Temur Scapeshift I found that there is another elemental that slots into the deck perfectly. I'm talking about Living Twister. At three mana the card brings the perfect stats to brickwall aggressive decks. This fact diminishes a weakness of the deck. Aggressive creature decks can be too fast sometimes and overwhelm you. Living Twister is able to block cheap and fast creature to buy time to setup the Scapeshift combo. On top of that Living Twister has abilities that work really well with a land heavy deck. Say you have Field of the Dead on the field and unlocked. With Living Twister you can tap a land for green mana, return it to your hand, and play it again to get a trigger from Field of the Dead. Or you can pitch it to your graveyard dealing two damage to any target. You can use this to remove creatures and planeswalkers or you can finish off your opponent sometimes. I included Crucible of Worlds in the deck to get access to really cool plays with the second ability of Living Twister: Return a land to your hand, put it into the graveyard and deal two damage, just to play it from your graveyard triggering Field of the Dead. That's the type of value plays I dig. The reasons to play Living Twister don't stop there. Living Twister bumps up the amount of elementals in the deck making it reasonable again to play Risen Reef. In Temur Scapeshift it actually makes sense to incorporate elemental synergies.
There are a couple of other elementals in the deck. In the mainboard there is one elemental left: Cavalier of Thorns. It's another elemental playing well with Scapeshift and Field of the Dead. Stat-wise it's a powerful creature which can be used as a finisher. Also Cavalier of Thorns' abilities are beneficial to a Scapeshift deck. The ETB trigger searches for Field of the Dead or puts another land onto the battlefield to trigger it. Sometimes it isn't even a downside to put the other cards into the graveyard because you have access to Crucible of Worlds to play lands from the graveyard. When Cavalier of Thorns dies you can retrieve key cards from you graveyard. The other elemental of the deck is in the sideboard. Healer of the Glade comes in against aggro decks. The early life gain and body makes this small elemental a reasonable choice. On top of that you get another elemental to trigger Risen Reef which makes Healer of the Glade better when you draw it later in the game.
You'll find Elvish Reclaimer in all of my Scapeshift decks because I love this card in Scapeshift. It tutors up Field of the Dead, it's an early blocker and it can grow to a significant size. Especially because Scapeshift puts enough lands into the graveyard to grow Elvish Reclaimer. Albeit I wanted more ways to grow Elvish Reclaimer. I found Evolving Wilds to be good in Scapeshift decks. The land helps to grow Elvish Reclaimer and can trigger Field of the Dead twice with a single land drop. First you play Evolving wilds and get a trigger, second you use Evolving Wilds, put a basic land in play and trigger Field of the Dead again. Again there is a synergy with Crucible of Worlds. You can play Evolving Wilds out of your graveyard to continue fetching basic lands and getting two Field of the Dead triggers.
You might wonder why Bombard is in the sideboard. To make it short it's a concession to be able to fight Feather decks.
2 Assassin's Trophy (GRN) 152 4 Scapeshift (M19) 201 4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178 4 Glowspore Shaman (GRN) 173 4 Elvish Reclaimer (M20) 169 4 Elvish Rejuvenator (M19) 180 1 Crucible of Worlds (M19) 229 1 Vraska, Golgari Queen (GRN) 213 4 Circuitous Route (GRN) 125 1 Forest (M20) 280 3 Swamp (M20) 269 1 Island (M20) 265 3 Evolving Wilds (M20) 246 4 Field of the Dead (M20) 247 1 Simic Guildgate (WAR) 274 1 Golgari Guildgate (GRN) 249 1 Dimir Guildgate (GRN) 246 2 Watery Grave (GRN) 259 2 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253 1 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246 1 Hinterland Harbor (DAR) 240 1 Woodland Cemetery (DAR) 248 1 Drowned Catacomb (XLN) 253 1 Field of Ruin (XLN) 254 1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255 2 Temple of Malady (M20) 254 1 Blast Zone (WAR) 244 2 Grow from the Ashes (DAR) 164 2 Dread Presence (M20) 96 3 Duress (M20) 97 3 Veil of Summer (M20) 198 3 Noxious Grasp (M20) 110 2 Ritual of Soot (GRN) 84 1 The Elderspell (WAR) 89 1 Moment of Craving (RIX) 79 1 Finale of Eternity (WAR) 91 1 Crushing Canopy (GRN) 126
For Sultai Scapeshift we ditched mountains for swamps. But what does the color black add to the deck? Black enables us to use way better removal than red offers. Two copies of Assassin's Trophy in the mainboard deal with every permanent an opponent presents. In the sideboard we find a lot more removal. More narrow in their use cases but tailored to be efficient against current meta decks.
The removal upgrade isn't enough to justify the addition of black mana. That's why I added Glowspore Shaman, Dread Presence and Vraska, Golgari Queen. In the following paragraphs I'll try to convince you of my choices.
I like the idea of cheap creatures in Scapeshift decks. Not only is their purpose to be blockers, they also pressure other slow and controlling decks. To justify playing creatures in a Scapeshift deck they have to support the core of the deck. Glowspore Shaman basically digs for Field of the Dead making it worth to play this creature. I added Crucible of Worlds to Sultai Scapeshift as well to get milled lands back.
This planeswalker's abilities work perfectly with the deck. We can sacrifice lands to her +2 ability gaining card advantage and life. In combination with Crucible of Worlds we can replay the sacrificed land diminishing the drawback of the ability. Her -3 ability adds versatile removal to the deck and her ultimate is an alternate win condition.
Dread Presence adds another angle to the deck. While this creature is in play we can fetch any swamps with Scapeshift to trigger the ability of Dread Presence. We can decide to deal two damage and gain two life, or we can draw a card for an additional cost of one life. So we can use Dread Presence for value, to kill creatures and planeswalker, or to reduce our opponent's life total to zero. Remember we can also sacrifice swamps with Scapeshift or Vraska, Golgari Queen and play them out of the graveyard with Crucible of Worlds. Looking at it this way Dread Presence seems to be a perfect fit for the deck. So why are there only two copies? Dread Presence is a very fragile creature. Usually it gets killed way too quickly and can't fight effectively with other creatures. On top of that we would need to play more swamps to maximize Dread Presence's ability which would in turn make it harder to activate Field of the Dead.
3 Golos, Tireless Pilgrim (M20) 226 4 Scapeshift (M19) 201 4 Circuitous Route (GRN) 125 4 Elvish Reclaimer (M20) 169 3 Forest (M20) 280 3 Evolving Wilds (M20) 246 2 Breeding Pool (RNA) 246 1 Stomping Ground (RNA) 259 4 Growth Spiral (RNA) 178 4 Field of the Dead (M20) 247 4 Elvish Rejuvenator (M19) 180 3 Hydroid Krasis (RNA) 183 1 Simic Guildgate (WAR) 274 1 Golgari Guildgate (GRN) 249 1 Gruul Guildgate (RNA) 250 1 Selesnya Guildgate (GRN) 256 1 Overgrown Tomb (GRN) 253 1 Temple Garden (GRN) 258 1 Temple of Mystery (M20) 255 1 Hinterland Harbor (DAR) 240 1 Rootbound Crag (XLN) 256 1 Sunpetal Grove (XLN) 257 1 Woodland Cemetery (DAR) 248 1 Thornwood Falls (M20) 258 1 Field of Ruin (XLN) 254 1 Blast Zone (WAR) 244 1 Crucible of Worlds (M19) 229 1 Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar (DAR) 174 1 Island (M20) 265 2 River's Rebuke (XLN) 71 2 Grow from the Ashes (DAR) 164 1 Pulse of Murasa (M20) 189 3 Veil of Summer (M20) 198 1 Shifting Ceratops (M20) 194 3 Aether Gust (M20) 42 1 Thrashing Brontodon (M20) 197 3 Negate (M20) 69 3 Cerulean Drake (M20) 53
This is clearly a Simic deck. So why did I add "5C" in brackets and used a five color mana base? The answer lies in Golos, Tireless Pilgrim. To maximize this creature we need to be able to activate its ability which requires access to five colors. There is no combo including Golos, Tireless Pilgrim in this deck. All that this ability does is to generate value in the form of card advantage. On top of its ability Golos, Tireless Pilgrim tutors for any land and puts it onto the battlefield. So we get a way to find Field of the Dead which we need to win. The body of Golos, Tireless pilgrim isn't the best but good enough to deal some damage and do some blocking.
What else makes this deck special? I added some spice with a single copy of Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar. It works well with lands and is resilient. Trample also makes it a decent finisher. Notice that we have the ability to return lands to hand which can equal additional Field of the Dead triggers. What makes the deck more risky is the lack of early removal like Prison Realm, Lava Coil or Assassin's Trophy. Instead I included River's Rebuke to deal with an opponent's board state that got out of hand. Although River's Rebuke is very expensive we can pay for it faster because we're ramping. When we cast this sorcery it resets our opponent and buys enough time to assemble our army of zombies. This is the slowest version of the Scapeshift deck and probably the weakest. But I like it because it feels refreshing to play thanks to Golos, Tireless Pilgrim.
If your goal is to win and climb the ladder on Arena I'd recommend Bant Scapeshift. It proved its strength already in several events. Additionally it's the most coherent version of the Scapeshift deck. Everything in this deck just fits in nicely which makes this deck feel strong and resilient. If you like to add a different spin to the Scapeshift core but stay competitive at the same time I'd recommend to play Temur, Sultai Scapeshift. These decks play a little bit different, are weaker than Bant Scapeshift but still can grind out a lot of wins. Last but not least there is Simic (5C) Scapeshift. It's the weakest deck of the bunch but still super fun to play. Often you'll need to get creative to get the win with it but that's part of its appeal.
So pick a deck and try it out. Then let me know on Twitter how you liked it and what you did to improve it.