Deck Primer: Modern Titanshift

While we have been enjoying sharing sideboard guides with our readers, today we are switching gears. Sideboarding is of course very difficult but it can be even more daunting to pick up a deck in the first place. This article will be an introduction to Titanshift in Modern. It is one of the decks that we predicted to break through in the wake of the KCI ban and now we want to show you how it works.

Introduction

Dear Timmy, if you are reading this primer you might already be in love with the Molten Pinnacle or may be trying to understand why people find it so hot. The beating heart of our beloved deck is Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and it’s whole architecture revolves around exploiting it. Valakut is what we call a big mana deck, and as Timmys, we are not the kind of people interested in playing small spells that won’t have much of an impact. Anything with a converted mana cost of three and less is a tool for us. We like big stuff; there is nothing more satisfying than casting a Primeval Titan  on Turn 4 while looking at the desperate face of your opponent. If you don’t know it already, the idea behind Valakut decks is to ramp early so you can cast your finishers sooner. By using Search for Tomorrow or Farseek you can reach six or seven lands by Turn 4. Then when you cast Primeval Titan you fetch more lands and deal lots of damage if you control an active Valakut. Casting Prime Time can threaten lethal the following turn with a titanic attack. If you have seven or more lands, you can cast Scapeshift and deal 18+ damage. An example of a typical list would be this one from a recent Modern Challenge:

Decklist
screen-shot-2019-02-05-at-10.26.50-pm.png

How to Mulligan
You should have some acceleration to reach you end game faster. However, you may already know that in some matchups it’s more important to be able to first stabilize. Trying to do so might force you to keep some hands without acceleration but interactions/sideboard cards. Make sure to know what role you should have in different matchups. As a rule of thumb you can always assume you will need to take the control seat vs decks faster than you and adopt an aggressive game plan when facing slower decks. I would never keep a one lander unless I have an untapped green source with multiple Search for Tommrows, on the draw with a Scry; if you are at seven with one land there are plenty of stronger six cards hands. We need to reach a critical mass of lands and while our first mulligan is usually not harmful we need still need at least 8 cards to combo; Scapeshift and seven lands. Consider mulliganing aggressively when you are facing a deck that can kill you before Turn 3 or 4, such as Storm, against which you must have interaction. You must also know that you are playing a dangerous game. You may not find interaction in the next hand. May the odds be ever in your favor.

How to Shift
The basic math for Scapeshift is simple. If you want to maximize the amount of damage, you will take six mountains plus the maximum number of Valakuts. If some are already in play, keep them and add more mountains if possible.

Valakut Math

Total lands

Mountains

Valakuts

Damage

7

6

1

18

8

7

1

21

8

6

2

36

9

8

1

24

9

7

2

42

9

6

3

54

10

9

1

27

10

8

2

48

10

7

3

63

10

6

4

72

Note that sometimes, if games are long, you will have to play with these numbers. Considering the number of mountains and Valakuts in play and in your library. For example, if I have ten Mountains in play, three Mountain and four Valakuts in the deck, the maximum amount of damage I can produce is 3 Mountains x 4 Valakuts x 3 Damage = 36. I will sacrifice seven lands, keeping at least three Mountains in play. So my three Mountains entering the field will see the others and trigger all four Valakuts three times. As everything in our deck will deal a multiple of three it sometimes help to think about the damage in number of triggers and not in actual numbers. I’m just focusing on “I need x trigger to win”.

It is possible for opponents to interact with Valakut triggers, not by removing Valakut itself but the Mountains. If they can reduce your number of Mountains to five or lower, all except one triggers will fizzle on resolution as the trigger from the Mountain they removed will still see the other five Mountains. You need to pay attention to theses cards:

Field of Ruin and Ghost Quarter- These will not significantly hinder the combo when you go off. You will just need to have one basic Mountain in your deck per land to keep the triggers.

Fulminator Mage- This one you are able to see coming so you simply need one more land before going off to keep your triggers.

Cryptic Command- Tricky players might let you resolve Scapeshift on seven lands and just bounce one Mountain to take away your triggers. This may put you in a weird spot if you have fetched or drawn too many Mountains in a long game.

Beast Within- This is not played that much but is similar to the above tricks so you should watch for it against Living End.

Wrap-Up
We hope that this article has given you a greater understanding of Titanshift. Whether playing with or against it, you must be mindful of how much damage a Scapeshift can inflict. However, we are not done with the deck. Tomorrow we will be back with a deck guide on a very interesting Naya build. Until then my friends.

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