Flare of Cultivation
29, Jun, 24

Amazing Double Flare Combo Deck Emerges Out of Nowhere!

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Article at a Glance

This weekend, Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 is garnering a lot of attention. Nadu, Winged Wisdom combo was not only the most played deck by an alarming margin but had an incredible day one win rate to boot. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many innovative strategies at the top tables, which isn’t a great sign for the foreseeable future.

Interestingly, though, this didn’t stop players from trying out some unique strategies in a recent Magic Online Modern Challenge. In fact, the winner of said event was playing a very unique Scapeshift build, maximizing a multitude of new MH3 cards. This deck’s sudden success is truly incredible, so we thought it deserved some recognition. Let’s take a closer look at the deck’s main objective and what makes this version of the Scapeshift archetype so intriguing.

Buying Time for Scapeshift

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

As you might expect, Scapeshift remains this deck’s primary win condition. Scapeshift is a powerful card that lets you sacrifice any number of lands you control and search your library for that many lands to put into play. With access to enough lands, the presence of Valakut the Molten Pinnacle can allow you to deal lethal damage to the opponent entirely outside of combat.

In many cases, the magic number of lands you need is seven. Then, when you cast Scapeshift, you can sacrifice all of your lands, grab Valakut alongside six Mountains (dual lands included) and dome the opponent for 18 damage. Sometimes, you may need to wait until you have eight lands so you can grab two copies of Valakut to deal 36 damage in conjunction with your six Mountains. If you control Dryad of the Ilysian Grove, things get even easier. From there, because Dryad makes your Valakuts into Mountains, you can win the game by sacrificing only six lands and grabbing two Valakuts and four Mountains.

Scapeshift is as reliable of a win condition as they come. The key, of course, is buying time to get to the requisite number of lands needed to win the game. Most Scapeshift strategies in the past have relied on ramp elements such as Search for Tomorrow as forms of acceleration. This Temur version deviates from this traditional gameplan, instead relying on interaction to keep the opponent off-balance long enough to cast a lethal Scapeshift.

Cheap pieces of counter magic, such as Remand and Counterspell, work wonders. Wrenn and Six not only helps you hits your land drops turn after turn, but it can also kill small threats like Ragavan, Nimble Pilferer. At three mana, Invert Polarity is a new tool with immense upside. Just imagine gaining control of a Primeval Titan on the stack! While it may seem a bit weird to abandon more typical ramp elements in favor of disruption, in a field filled with Nadu combo and Ruby Storm, there’s certainly merit to constructing your deck in this manner.

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The Flare Package

Flare of Denial

Where this decklist really starts to get interesting is with the inclusion of the blue and green Flares. Both Flare of Denial and Flare of Cultivation are strong tools for this archetype. Flare of Denial allows you to not only fight over opposing combo cards when tapped out, but also ensures that you can push your copies of Scapeshift through your opponent’s Counterspells. Meanwhile, Flare of Cultivation gets you closer to the land threshold for Scapeshift.

The key to making these cards work, of course, is to have a supply of green and blue creatures that you don’t mind sacrificing. That’s where Coiling Oracle and Ice-Fang Coatl come into play. Both of these creatures are cheap. Because they both give you a card back in some form when they enter the battlefield, sacrificing them to your Flares is less concerning on a resource front.

Ice-Fang Coatl has Flash, making it a perfect card to pair with Remand and Counterspell. If the opponent plays something important, counter it. If not, build out your board. Coiling Oracle doesn’t have Flash but makes up for it by letting you put lands you reveal from its triggered ability directly into play.

As Simic creatures, they enable both Flares at once. Between Remand, these two creatures, and Surveil Lands, it’s easy to churn through your library and dig for Scapeshift. Above all, the benefit of having free spells at your disposal that advance your gameplan cannot be overstated.

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A New Era

Ruby Medallion

Given how prevalent fast combo decks are in Modern currently, it makes a lot of sense to build Scapeshift decks this way. Without access to a bunch of interactive elements, it would be quite difficult to race Nadu combo or Ruby Storm.

This version of the deck has a good chance of keeping Nadu players from assembling the combo long enough to resolve a Scapeshift. Flare of Denial is excellent against Ruby Storm and Through the Breach decks. At the same time, Wrenn and Six and the value-oriented two drops line up well against removal-heavy decks like Jeskai control.

Where things get dicey is against decks that can put on a lot of pressure early. This deck doesn’t play much early removal. As such, Prowess shells are fully capable of landing threats under your Counterspells and dealing tons of damage before you get things rolling. Similarly, a turn one Ragavan on the play from Boros Energy or Izzet Murktide can run away with the game.

In this sense, it’s important to be weary of metagame shifts. Adding extra removal or more copies of Stern Scolding may be appropriate if Prowess decks pick up in popularity. Nonetheless, this deck’s elite performance cannot be denied, so keep an eye out to see if the deck catches steam in the coming weeks.

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