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Tournament Report – Games Lab GPT Melbourne ~3rd~ with Scapeshift Black

After 0-2 flopping the FNM the night before I decided to get to bed early and get some good nights sleep in before the big day tomorrow. That failed and I think I got ~5 hours before groggily making myself coffee and heading towards the train station. I’d played 3 GPTs previously in the last few months and had top-8’d two of them so I was feeling pretty good otherwise.

Here’s the deck I played, and if you want to see how to play it, I’m writing a primer which will be up soon!

Scapeshift Black

Creatures: (6)
Pia and Kiran Nalaar
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Snapcaster Mage

Instants: (13)
Anticipate
Cryptic Command
Into the Roil
Izzet Charm
Remand

Sorceries: (15)
Anger of the Gods
Bring to Light
Farseek
Maelstrom Pulse
Scapeshift
Search for Tomorrow
Lands: (26)
Breeding Pool
Cinder Glade
Flooded Grove
Forest
Island
Misty Rainforest
Mountain
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Swamp
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Watery Grave

Sideboard: (15)
Glen Elendra Archmage
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Obstinate Baloth
Spellskite
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Counterflux
Kozilek’s Return
Pulse of Murasa
Crumble to Dust
Damnation
Shatterstorm
Slaughter Games
Engineered Explosives

Swiss

Round 1 – BW Eldrazi 2-1 on the Draw

I’ll be honest, I haven’t played against any of the Eldrazi decks yet, so this was a learning experience.
Game 1 he played an early Relic of Progenitus into Lingering Souls, I had a pretty crazy ramp hand which his turn 4 Oblivion Sower wasn’t good enough to stop.
Game 2 he had a much better start, discarding my Sakura-Tribe Elder and processing my T2 suspended Search for Tomorrow with a Blight Herder. This slowed me down to the point where he was able to overwhelm me with a horde of scions before a lucky Oblivion Sower processing my 2 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles.
Game 3 was interesting, he played discard early and Ghost-Quartered a Steam Vents which he then Surgical Extraction‘d, this put me quite behind but ended up being irrelevant after I Crumble to Dust his lone Eldrazi Temple. Unfortunately for him I noticed that he only had 2 in his deck and I inquired where his fourth was, it appears he had misplaced it as the event started without noticing, a judge then ruled him a game loss.

Sideboard

In
3 Obstinate Baloth
1 Slaughter Games
1 Crumble to Dust
Out
2 Anticipate
1 Remand
1 Anger of the Gods

Round 2 – UG Infect 2-0 on the Play

I wasn’t sure how my Infect match-up was going to be going into the event, hence adding Melira who I usually avoid since she’s so specific.
Game 1 This match was relatively quick, I had a very quick ramp hand whereas he had a rather slow one, beginning with a T2 Blighted Agent. I was able to remand his kicked Vines of Vastwood for lethal before Scapeshifting him on 7 the next turn.
Game 2 This was also fairly quick, on his turn 1 he played a Noble Hierarch, turn 2 playing a Blighted Agent and Glistener Elf, all of which bit the fire of an Anger of the Gods, playing too many creatures was likely a misplay unless he had no good pumps in hand. He failed to draw another threat before I went off on 7 again.

Sideboard

In
1 Spellskite
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
1 Engineered Explosives
1 Kozilek’s Return
Out
2 Remand
2 Anticipate
1 Farseek

Round 3 – UR Storm 0-2 on the Play

I hadn’t written up sideboard notes for UR Storm and side-boarded fairly badly, forgetting to board in Slaughter Games to name Grapeshot.
Game 1 After ramping a Search turn 1 and Sakura-Tribe turn 2 was able to turn 3 Izzet Charm his T2 Goblin Electromancer and ramp to 6, he resolved a Pyromancer Ascension on his turn 3, unfortunately I didn’t draw the seventh land for lethal and he combo’d me out with Grapeshot.
Game 2 I drew a hand with Search, Engineered Explosives, Spellskite and a Scapeshift accompanied by some land. I was able to crack my EE on my turn 3 taking out his Electromancer, unfortunately he played another on his Turn 3 which I didn’t draw an answer for and combo’d me on turn 4 (I also discovered that Spellskite does pretty much nothing)

Sideboard

In
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Spellskite
1 Counterflux
1 Engineered Explosives
Out
2 Anticipate
1 Farseek
1 Cryptic Command

I’m unsure whether the cards I took out were correct, I might experiment with bringing in Pulse of Murasa, but I will definitely board in Slaughter Games next time, forcing him to try win via Empty the Warrens which we are able to better deal with.

Round 4 – Melira Combo 2-0 on the Play

Melira Combo and Kiki-Chord feel pretty great match-ups as long as we can keep them off cards like Aven Mindcensor or Eidolon of Rhetoric which shut off Scapeshift and Bring to Light respectively. The key is to hold counters and cryptic until they threaten lethal or the combo.
Game 1 He was able to play some early threats like Voice of Resurgence and Loxodon Smiter but couldn’t protect his Melira when he attempted to combo off, him tapping out for the combo allowed me to safely Scapeshift on 7 lands the next turn.
Game 2 I feel if he’d known the match-up and interactions better he might have won this one. Same as game 1 he played some early beaters, but the pivotal moment came when he played a Burrenton Forge-Tender and attacked with his beaters leaving him at 5 convoke mana. He believed that since Valakut had a red border that it was a red source (Lands are colorless unless they specify otherwise), and his convoke x=2 meant he was unable to fetch a Mindcensor or Eidolon of Rhetoric when i went off.

Round 5 – UB Tezzeret (Tezzerator?) 2-0 on the Play

I’d never played against Tezzeret but I find the deck premise really cool and like Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas as a planeswalker, so I’m glad I got to play against it at the event. It’s also apparently a great match-up for us, so there’s that.
Game 1 Game 1 was relatively uneventful, I thought I was matched against Ad Nauseum which terrified me temporarily as they’re a terrible match-up as far as I’m aware. However when he played his turn 2 Dimir Signet I figured it out, I also Remanded the signet which felt good. He played a turn 4 Tezzeret with no signets in play (remanded, yet again) and ticked up but was unable to find anything useful before I Scapeshifted on 8 lands for 36.
Game 1 Game 2 was more interesting, I was able to turn 3 Slaughter Games away his Tezzerets after he played a Spellskite on turn 2, leaving him with a relative threat-light deck and hand (Thirst for Knowledge, Ghost Quarter, Relic of Progenitus, Mox Opal in hand), he cast his Thirst at the end of turn which apparently drew him an Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. As he began exiling my library I resolved a Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir and Glen Elendra Archmage. The Teferi got walled pretty effectively by his Spellskite but the Archmage was able to keep Ashiok from ultimating away the cards in my hand. The turn before he died he attempted to Death Cloud for 7, which was funny as he expected to lose and so my Archmage dealt with that and I drew Scapeshift for the win (he had only exiled one mountain and a total of 2 Sakura-Tribe Elders, which was lucky).

Sideboard

In
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Spellskite
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Shatterstorm
1 Slaughter Games
Out
1 Anger of the Gods
2 Anticipate
2 Farseek

By the end of the match I’d judge called for the oracle text on Tezzeret Twice.

Round 6 – UG Infect 2-0 on the Play

At this stage I was feeling pretty good about my dice rolls, not knowing that I was again against Infect in which being on the play is immeasurably powerful.
Game 1 In this round he made a misplay which probably lost him the game. He animated an Inkmoth Nexus T4 with a Noble Hierarch in play and swung for 2, I Remanded a kicked Vines of Vastwood and took 2 infect. He then in the second main cast Slip Through Space to cantrip which left him tapped out, I then Izzet Charmed the Nexus, this put him too far behind until I shifted him. My plan going into the turn was to Izzet Charm in response to a pump spell but didn’t, I’m unsure why. I think charming first was the best line of play but what I did ended up the best in the long run.
Game 2 Probably my favorite game of the event, I was able to Bring to Light into a Melira, Sylvok Outcast on turn 3 against 2x Inkmoth Nexus, and 2x Spellskites. He unfortunately didn’t seem to know how Melira and Inkmoth Nexus interacted and proceeded to animate the Nexus, swing and pump it emptying his hand. Due to the way Melira works, the Nexus gains infect but cannot deal me poison, which means that I neither gain poison counters or lose life. I ended up waiting until I could bounce both Spellskites with an Into the Roil and Cryptic Command at the end of his turn to Scapeshift for lethal after he gave a valiant effort to knock me down with a Glistener Elf.

Sideboard

Same as before

Infect feels like a pretty good match-up right now, with access to Melira and Spellskite they have to have a lot of removal or a god hand in order to actually kill us.

At this stage I was able to ID into the top 8 but my opponent wanted to play it out.

Round 7 – UW Control on 2-0 on the Play

I didn’t know that he was UW Control, but we have a pretty great match-up vs them due to their inability to apply much early pressure, he also didn’t know how to play against Scapeshift which helped.
Game 1 This game was a series of awkward plays from him, as he played a Turn 3 Vendilion Clique after I ramped turn 1 and 2, revealing 2 Bring to Light, Scapeshift, and something else. He took the Scapeshift as it was alone and over the next few turns he played a Kitchen Finks to put him on 22, Ghost Quartered my two Breeding Pools and Spreading Seas‘d a Valakut. Him Quartering my Breeding Pools didn’t affect me and I Scapeshifted on 9 for one Valakut and 8 mountains for 24 damage.
Game 2 This was over very quickly as he mulligan-ed to 4 and couldn’t match my card advantage.

Sideboard

In
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Counterflux
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
Out
1 Anger of the Gods
2 Anticipate

This put me into third place in the Swiss at 6-1, and I felt pretty great about my performance at the event, I was worried that I would tire out by the end but it hadn’t hit me yet, I thank drinking lot of of water and breathing exercises after rounds for this. The deck was performing well against a lot of aggro and combo, so I’m definitely pleased with the build.

Top 8

Quarterfinals – Living End 2-1 On the Play

Living End seems to me like a bad match-up unless we are able to land a quick Slaughter Games post-board. Pre-board we rely on remanding Fulminator Mages and Living Ends.
game 1 In this round I was able to remand his early Living Ends, he was clearly quite tired and took time to process what I was saying every now and then. I now realize that I should have waited a turn to go off, I was at 7 lands and he had 3 mana up, which could mean Beast Within which would stifle our triggers. When cast Scapeshift I asked him if it resolved, he said yes and then looked confused when I hadn’t sacrificed any lands beforehand as he thought it was an alternative cost, this apparently tilted him badly as the judge next to us revealed after the round that he had a Beast Within that he could have used, but didn’t, he was also apparently at 19 while I had him written at below 18 for some reason, but he scooped when I said I had six triggers of three damage (18). I shouldn’t have won that round but I’ll take it.
Game 2 In this game he was able to Fulminator Mage one of my Valakuts and exile the Pulse of Murasa that I was going to use to return it to hand with a Faerie Macabre. He played and flash-backed a Gnaw to the Bone which put him above lethal and bashed me to death with fatties.
Game 3 I landed a turn three Slaughter Games taking the Living Ends out of his deck, he was unable to draw enough land to cast his big creatures and died to a Teferi and Scapeshift.

Sideboard

In
1 Glen Elendra Archmage
1 Pulse of Murasa
1 Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir
1 Slaughter Games
Out
1 Anger of the Gods
2 Anticipate
1 Pia and Kiran Nalaar

I realize now that I should board into Damnation as Living End only has so many times it can recur its creatures, and will do so from now on.

Semifinals – Affinity 0-2 On the Play

I had seen a few Affinity decks running around but luckily hadn’t had to play against them, they feel like a 50-50 match-up since we have access to so many board-wipes but it didn’t turn out that well for me this round.
Game 1 He nearly emptied his hand turn 1 and was able to beat me down to 5 before I cast an Anger of the Gods clearing his board except for a Blinkmoth Nexus, Darksteel Citadel and Mox Opal. He revealed that he had a Galvanic Blast and I scooped to the lethal it represented.
Game 2 I was able to Shatterstorm early to wipe most of his board except lands after he emptied most of his hand. I was then able to Cryptic Command an Etched Champion which otherwise may have caused problems. What lost me the game was him resolving a Ensoul Artifact targeting a Darksteel Citadel. This only resolved because he Spell Pierce‘d my cryptic off of a Springleaf Drum + Signal Pest. I realize now what I should have done was wait until he swung with the Citadel to see if he tapped his Pest as well, which would have left me able to bounce the citadel without fear of Pierce. This however was fringe and hindsight is 20/20.

Meta-game

I knew there was a high likelihood of aggressive linear decks showing up to test the waters without Twin, and I believe I prepared my deck well enough to suit them. I also brought some tech to keep any straggling Control players at bay with Glen Elendra Archmage and Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir being particularly amazing against them. I’m not 100% sure what we should be doing to account for the upcoming Eldrazi menace, though I have a feeling we might be playing Voidslime replacing 1-2 Remands to save us from Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger and Oblivion Sower triggers whereas Remand just allows them to do the same thing next turn, threatening our ability to combo.

Sideboarding Choices

Glen Elendra Archmage: This card is a house against Tron, stopping Karn Liberated, Ugin, the Spirit Dragon, Crumble to Dust, etc. It is also good against the many Jeskai and UW control variants I’ve seen in my meta although they may drop off now, it also chumps Infect creatures like a boss.
Melira, Sylvok Outcast: Melira is an insane Bring to Light target against infect and pretty much ensures that I can’t lose to them game 2 as they usually board out removal except Twisted Image.
Obstinate Baloth: Probably the most questionable choice in the current meta which BGx doesn’t look to be strong in, it’s still a great play against Burn as they have a very hard time getting through it so it can buy a turn or so to combo off. I might cull the numbers if I can find a replacement card and BGx remains low-key.
Spellskite: This little horror is great vs Burn, Infect, Bogles and opposing Scapeshifts, I don’t think I’ll be dropping this any time soon.
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir: Teferi is a new addition as I used to run Surrak Dragonclaw as it smashed Twin and friends, I bring this in against Burn as it forces them to play in main phase and they can’t react to life-gain, etc. It’s also good against anyone who wanted to interact with our Scapeshift or hold up tricks.
Counterflux: Primarily exists for Storm and Ad Nauseum, two bad match-ups for the deck as far as I’m aware. I’d like to cull it if I could but don’t feel safe to do so yet.
Kozilek’s Return: Amazing against Etched Champion, Master of Waves, Auriok Champion, and so forth. Being Instant Speed allows us to threaten counter-magic or just cast it when they’re not expecting a wipe.
Pulse of Murasa: A test card at the moment, great against burn as it gains 6 and return a Molten Rain‘d land or Sakura-Tribe Elder to block with. It’s also good against Living End for similar reasons. If GBx returns it’ll also be a good sideboard against their Fulminator Mages.
Crumble to Dust: This card shouldn’t need any introduction. It hits Tron hard, slows Eldrazi down pretty well (and occasionally causes game losses, guffaw guffaw) and hoses opposing Scapeshifts. Run this card.
Damnation Wipes boards clean, if I was running white I might consider Supreme Verdict over this as it’s better against Merfolk.
Shatterstorm: As long as Affinity is a deck, run this in your board. The other target is Lantern Control which gets hit pretty hard by it. I chose this over Creeping Corrosion due to its anti-regeneration clause but if Affinity continues to run minimal Welding Jars this could turn into Corrosion since it’s easier to cast for our mana.
Slaughter Games: This hits Storm (Grapeshot), Living End, other Shifts, Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Karn Liberated, etc. and anything else we can’t really deal with.
Engineered Explosives: Another wipe that handily hits Blood Moon or Choke if we’re expecting it (note that against choke the island you likely tapped for the third color doesn’t need to untap to explode the bomb).

Main board tricks:

Pia and Kiran Nalaar: Great against Infect and Affinity, walls BGx for a couple turns.
Into the Roil: bounces problem permanents, good tempo card which may eventually turn into a Voidslime if Eldrazi gets too big.
Anger of the Gods: Needs no introduction, run this card as long as Aggro match-ups exist.
Maelstrom Pulse: One of the biggest reasons to be playing Black. The ability for a main board card to hit multiple Blood Moons, Master of Waves, etc. cannot be overstated. The fact that it also hits Leyline of Sanctity post-board is just gravy.

My input on the Anticipate/Worldly Counsel discussion is that Anticipate has a higher floor than Counsel. You can’t always ensure that you’ll have 3 basic types out and I’m more than willing to sacrifice a higher ceiling for consistency.

‘Til next time!

tgm-cropped

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