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Good afternoon gamers! Today I have something a little different to give you gals/guys. You see normally I do not like to tackle the metagame because I prefer fun over the monotonous grind of using cookie cutter net decks. For me the fun in magic comes from unlocking unique mechanics and putting them into the best deck that I can come up with; if you focus on the metagame when deck building then the final product just ends up being a worse version of the top decks.
This deck building philosophy is what I enjoy, but things aren't always perfect in paradise.
There are a few conditions that must be met for me to want to challenge the meta.
1, there must be a deck that I really do not like in the top spot, and that deck is [[Scapeshift]]. It's so yucky...
2, the other top decks are similar in playstyle. [[Scapeshift]], Vamps, Dinos, and Hero decks are all creature based in some way or another.
3, a challenge must be presented, I'm not going to create a meta challenging deck if the answer is too simple. I may not succeed in changing the meta but I will create a deck that beats [[Scapeshift]] most of the time and has a chance against the other top decks.
4, Jeskai is not in the meta, if there is any gaurentee in life it's that Jeskai and taxes will always catch up with you.
Without further ado...
The core concept of this deck is to take control of the earlygame back from the creature heavy decks that flood the board quickly. After we slow them down, we sweep the board, and play our big threats to finish the deal. A unique mechanic in the deck is the use of [[Ilharg, the Raze-Boar]] to get repetitive value out of enter the battlefield effects. Let's get into the card breakdown...
[[Tithe Taker]] is a good card. In our deck it delays a flashed [[Scapeshift]] by a turn and against other decks it blocks a turn 3 7/6 dino for 2 turns. The tax ability is great for a 2 mana guy, and then throwing afterlife into the mix... nice [[Tithe Taker]], nice...
[[Forbidding Spirit]] is a powerful tool in this deck, without bringing in hate just for the spirit the only way to stop its ETB effect is by counter spell, and uhh I don't see much of that in the meta right now. This all matters because playing this card a turn before your opponent could have a big swing literally saves your life. [[Scapeshift]] ramps hard but not enough to pay for 10 zombies to kill you. On top of that [[Forbidding Spirit]] is very effective against Vampires and hero decks for the same reason. I figured if the meta is to create armies of creatures then we might as well tax them to death!
[[Deputy of Detention]] is a must have card, it kills tokens on 3 mana so it's a great response to [[Scapeshift]] and it deals with troublesome permanents, at least temporarily. It's just a powerful card.
The only mainboard card specifically for [[Scapeshift]] is [[Blood Sun]]. [[Blood Sun]] replaces itself when played so the downside to having it in is pretty low and it completely shuts [[Scapeshift]] down, so gaining some free wins off of the top deck is worth. Early versions of the deck had 1 [[Blood Sun]] but since we need to justify having it in the main board I looked for more cards to play with it. While researching [[Scapeshift]] hate I found out about [[Blood Sun]]'s interaction with [[Lotus Field]] and that was enough for me.
[[Lotus Field]] Is a really risky card, while we want 4 in the deck it just doesn't pan out well. So during testing I found 3 to work perfectly. The value of playing a blood sun on 3 or 4 into [[Lotus Field]] into [[Forbidding Spirit]] is just great, and that stops [[Field of the Dead]] from killing if the sun somehow dies. In aggro matchups its best to play [[Lotus Field]] like any other land just remember to tap out first to not waste mana. Overall getting an early Sun-Lotus combo can put you in an almost insurmountable lead.
[[Deafening Clarion]] is a nice card for early game board control, there are only 2 copies because of the bad synergy with [[Deputy of Detention]] but Clarion puts in solid work in most matchups.
[[Time Wipe]] is the best sweeper for this deck because it allows you to pick up one of your ETB creatures before nuking the board. It doesn't target so hexproof has no effect and it works well with [[Deputy of Detention]].
[[Elite Guardmage]] provides speed, life, and a solid body attached. It is a great target for [[Spark Double]] or [[Teferi's Time Twist]] early on.
[[Teferi's Time Twist]] gives protection to removal spells or it can trigger ETB effects. [[Demanding Dragon]] really likes this card.
[[Ixalan's Binding]] Is just a good hate card for decks that run troublesome creatures like [[Ghalta, Primal Hunger]] and [[Rotting Regisaur]]. It hits all non-land permanents so exile dem planeswalkers too!
[[Teferi, Time Raveler]] is [[Teferi, Time Raveler]]. He stops instant speed plays, and can let you flash out sorceries like our sweepers. Another factor that [[Teferi, Time Raveler]] provides us is drawing a card while also bouncing one of our important creatures for another ETB proc.
That was the control part of the deck, now comes the killer part.
This is not a normal control deck, in fact there is a few different ways to burst your opponent down from around 25 health in 1 turn (Providing that you have control of the board). The key to getting a killing blow in this deck is sensing when to switch off of the control aspect of the deck.
The biggest key to killing your opponent is our deck MVP [[Demanding Dragon]]. Simply put [[Demanding Dragon]] is a constant threat, forcing your opponent to keep board presence or take 5 damage every turn is pretty strong. Combine that with the fact that by the time we want to play [[Demanding Dragon]] the board should be in our control so our opponent doesn't always get to choose. I will give an example as to why I decided to call [[Demanding Dragon]] our MVP...
A common turn 6 or 7 is to have just [[Ilharg, the Raze-Boar]] + a Teferi on the board, by now you have swept the board and your opponent has played a creature in their turn. bounce the creature with Teferi and attack with [[Ilharg, the Raze-Boar]], play the [[Demanding Dragon]] from your hand, thats 16 damage 10 from [[Demanding Dragon]] and 6 from [[Ilharg, the Raze-Boar]]. No mana was spent yet... now 2nd main phase play a [[Spark Double]] for 5 damage and then [[Teferi's Time Twist]] for 5 in the end step for 26 burst damage. If you time twist the Dragon from Illharg it will stay on the battlefield when it returns from exile, as a 6/6 and untapped, and it was essentially a 5/5 haste, vigilance, deal 5 damage add +1 counter for 2 mana.
Even if the opponent has more creatures on the battlefield when this happens you still force them to sac 3 creatures and deal with the 3 6/6 creatures and 1 5/5.
Until the day I drop dead I will defend the idea that every creature based midrange blue deck should run at least a single [[Spark Double]]. There is an insane amount of power in having a card as flexible as [[Spark Double]] in this deck. From copying [[Elite Guardmage]] to being a 6/6 copy of [[Ilharg, the Raze-Boar]] out of the hand; [[Spark Double]] acts like 9 different cards and only takes up 1 slot in our deck and those options will win games period.
[[Lumbering Battlement]] is similar to demanding dragon in that it is meant to create very interesting and diverse combos. Spark double it, time twist it, or play it to contest a big creature. [[Lumbering Battlement]] doesn't need to be a card you play until later in the game hence the 1 of.
[[Cavalier of Gales]] Is just a good ETB effect and deserves to be in this deck for that fact alone. Combine that with the fact that it reenters the deck and scry 2 when it dies and that is just a little added value.
One final tip I have is to take this deck into bot games to get the hang of playing it, there is a lot of different options that you have to think about to play it well. I have to release this decklist earlier than I would have liked due to the fact that I will be spending a month in a very hot place. This is relevant because I do not know the true power-level of the deck. I have had a lot of success with the final version that I am releasing and believe it to be a very good deck (and its a riot to play). That being said I guess I will find out in 3 and a half weeks when I re-enter the real world if anyone likes it!
As always gamers...
Good hunting those dirty Scapeshift decks, have fun, and enjoy life!
-The Mad Lad
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