Bring to Light Scapeshift (Modern) - A Tournament Report - 22nd Place at GP Brisbane 2017

Written by Devon Smith.

 

After a successful run of 2nd place at the 90 player WMCQ in Auckland 2016, I decided to take my pet deck to the Brisbane GP. I feel that taking a deck you are familiar with and know well allows you to make better plays and take smarter lines, gaining you percentage points in a large tournament. The advantage you get from this will often outweigh the advantage you will get from taking a new but objectively powerful deck, even if it may be the current trending deck in the format.

I ended up going 11-3-1 with a score of 8-1 on day one.

Here’s my top 32 list:

After discovering the power of my personal deck additions at the WMCQ including a singleton Lightning Helix and singleton Eternal Witness, I’ve decided these are now essential. Casting Bring to Light to grab Eternal Witness for value is just great, and allows me to add something to the board while retaining the combo kill in hand. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to softlock anyone out with Cryptic Command, but it would have been fun to do so. The Lightning Helix allows me to counteract the life loss from the punishing manabase, which is full of shocklands.

The Timely Reinforcements has been moved to sideboard now, as I found it underwhelming in certain match ups. Don’t get me wrong, though - it’s a great card in the right ones.

I decided to cut Electrolyze. I found that this deck often hits four lands on turn three, and three mana spells just don’t fit in particularly well. Because I really want to play Eternal Witness, I don’t feel I can run Electrolyze alongside it as the curve would just be too high. Electrolyze also doesn’t kill Eldrazi Displacer.

I will never run less than the full set of Cryptic Commands. I don’t care if it’s greedy; the card is incredibly powerful and versatile. Counter/draw and counter/tap are usually the best modes.

The singleton Farseek was really good. I found I’d often have my one ramp spell stripped from my hand by opposing discard spells, and I feel like having just one more ramp spell has really upped the consistency of the deck, especially when trying to hit mana for Bring to Light. I didn’t run Farseek previously because it was a bad topdeck late game. I’ve now decided that one is the right number.

The main addition to the sideboard is Chalice of the Void, as it solves a lot of my really bad matchups. I really expected to see more Cheerios decks. Surprisingly, I didn’t face any Burn this tournament, but had my Chalices ready to go just in case.

My tournament report from GP Brisbane is below. I started on two Byes after taking out a GPT with the same list.

Round 01 - Bye

Round 02 - Bye

Round 03 - Win
Opponent: Parsons, David – Junk
I’m going to have to be honest here and say that I topdecked Bring to Light to get out of this one.

Round 04 - Loss
Opponent: Goh, Yong Xin – Eldrazi Tron
This matchup was an interesting one.

Game 1 he gets down an early Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger around turn four or five and there is nothing I can do. I can often counter Ulamog and bounce my own land with Cryptic Command to get out of trouble, but it this time, UIamog was just too early in the game for me to deal with. He attacks, milling my top twenty cards, and I block with Sakura-Tribe Elder. I crack a fetchland to see what’s left in my deck. There happens to be three Mountain and two Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle left, which means I can still hit eighteen damage...too bad he’s still on 20 life. He then proceeds to mainphase a Thought-Knot Seer and take the Scapeshift from my hand.

Game 2 he taps out with two Tron lands on board, and I Crumble to Dust him out of the game on turn three on the play. I then proceed to Cryptic bounce his lands for two turns in a row, keeping him on two lands most of the game.

Game 3 I have a pretty sweet hand with three Sakura-Tribe Elder, a Scapeshift, and three lands. I then proceed to topdeck a Search for Tomorrow on the draw. Could this game go any better? Unfortunately, he plays a Thought-Knot Seer and rips the Scapeshift out of my hand. I remember that during one of the three games, he cast a Chalice of the Void on four so I couldn’t cast my Scapeshift, but I'm not sure if it was this one or not. The deck is pretty strong.

Round 05 - Win
Opponent: Malone, Coen – Elves
When I saw elves, I felt pretty good about this matchup.

Game 1 I cast a timely Cryptic Command, followed by a Supreme Verdict, hosing his board. I meant to cast the Cryptic Command in his upkeep to keep him off mana, but he moved phases to draw pretty quickly and I missed my window, so I tapped his dorks in his draw step. This means he could have cast Collected Company while Cryptic Command was on the stack.

Game 2 he gets Aven Mindcensor down. Who would have thought he’s playing white in his elves list? White has some pretty great sideboard cards! The Aven Mindcensor wrecks me and I fail to find lands twice with my Sakura-Tribe Elder.

Game 3 he builds up a solid board state and casts Chord of Calling for Gaddock Teeg to turn off my Supreme Verdict after seeing it in game one. Luckily for me, I have Anger of the Gods in hand and completely blow out his board. He told me after that he wished he’d grabbed Selfless Spirit instead.

 

Round 06 - Win
Opponent: Carter, Nick – Bant Eldrazi
I’m just going to include some highlights from this matchup:

He is sitting there with one mana up and an Eldrazi Spawn Token. I figure he would only have one negate in his list, but I’m not 100% sure. I go for the combo; however, I could have waited till I had nine mana and played around it as he didn’t have much pressure on board. Surely enough, he has a negate and stops me.

He gets the Thought-Knot Seer/Eldrazi Displacer blink lock and keeps hitting my hand, but I draw my way out of it with a main phase Worldly Counsel into Scapeshift.

Round 07 - Win
Opponent: Watts, Edward – BTL Scapeshift
It was pretty terrifying playing this mirror. Both of us have fully foiled Bring to Light Scapeshift decks and people start crowding around to see how beautiful these decks are.

Game 1 we both sit there playing draw-go, waiting till one of us has enough counter magic + the combo in hand to go off. He’s beating me down with a Sakura-Tribe Elder for one damage a turn, and I eventually have to Izzet Charm it to avoid being beaten to death. I let him get his Madcap Experiment/Platinum Emperion combo, and proceed to bounce his Platinum Emperion at the end of his turn with Cryptic Command. I think go for the combo on my turn with sufficient counter backup.

Game 2 he combos me out with Swan Song counter backup.

Game 3 I turn three Crumble to Dust his Breeding Pool, which gives me key information about what is in his hand. He has Counterflux, so I play Bring to Light early and draw it out of his hand. I then proceed to cast Scapeshift and he’s all out of counter spells.

Round 08 - Win
Opponent: Rogers, Matthew – Junk
Sadly I had to beat a fellow New Zealander 2-0.

Round 09 - Win
Opponent: Toumngeun, Chitpasong – Esper
I was pretty scared of playing against Esper as I assumed this was the draw-go variant, which has unlimited counter spells for my Scapeshift. Luckily it was a slightly different version, which played Lingering Souls. I combo both games for a convincing 2-0 win.

Round 10 - Loss
Larsen-Scott, James – Junk

Game 1 James is on the play and gets a turn two Liliana of the Veil, which is almost a certain loss for me.

Game 2 I Worldly Counsel into the combo.

Game 3 I look at my hand and it has one green source, Search for Tomorrow, and Valakut, the Mountain Pinnacle, alongside Remand and some other cards. I feel I can’t keep this because turn one hand disruption taking my Search for Tomorrow is almost a certain loss. I then mulligan to six, which is five lands and a Supreme Verdict. I then mull to five and keep a pretty good hand with a Farseek, a Snapcaster Mage, two lands, and Bring to Light. He doesn’t have any hand disruption. I get to the point where opponent has lethal and I have seven lands in play. I topdeck Worldly Counsel and cast it main phase only to miss the Scapeshift and lose. 

Round 11 - Win
Shipman, Brendan – Bant Eldrazi

Another matchup where I have to beat an NZ player. Some highlights from the match:

He gets down a Thought-Knot Seer (I’ve seen this card in three matches already and I don’t particularly like having my hand peeled apart by a 4/4 body). He then plays a Reality Smasher. I let it resolve, then Cryptic Command tap both guys. I then proceed to Supreme Verdict his board.

The next game he gets an Eldrazi Displacer and Thought-Knot Seer and has the lock. He goes for my hand and chooses to take Timely Reinforcements. I feel the correct choice is Lightning Helix here because not taking it it meant I could kill his Displacer and get out of the lock. Timely Reinforcements would have bought me a lot of time though, so I can see why he wanted to take it. He holds up one blue, bluffing Stubborn Denial, and I look at his facial expressions to try and figure out if he has one or not. I then Bring to Light for a Supreme Verdict to play around his Stubborn Denial, and draw off the Thought-Knot Seer hitting the graveyard. I then cast Worldly Counsel into a Snapcaster Mage, hit another Scapeshift/Bring to Light, and close out the game. He holds up his 1 blue and doesn’t have stubborn denial.

Round 12 - Win
Opponent: Lines, Leo – Tron

I play around Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger in Game 1, and cast a Scapeshift when I only had eighteen damage on board. He then casts a Karn Liberated and exiles my Valakut, the Mountain Pinnacle. I wasn’t happy about not holding up Remand. Luckily I draw into another Scapeshift and sacrifice two lands to get Valakut and a Mountain to do three damage and close out the game. A topdecked Bring to Light or Lightning Helix would also have won me the game.

Game 2 I Crumble to Dust him and keep him off Tron as well as the fourth land he needs to cast his Thought-Knot Seer. I then proceed to cast Snapcaster Mage and flashback Farseek while he doesn’t have mana to use his Relic of Progenitus. He then tries to cast Thought-Knot Seer and I cast Cryptic Command, countering it and bouncing my Snapcaster Mage. I then recast Snapcaster Mage to flashback Bring to Light and grab Scapeshift for the kill.

Round 13 - Win
Shinoda, Akito – Esper

Before the start of the round I’m advised that this guy is a Japanese Pro.

I combo Game 1 and he has no way to stop me due to me ramping so quickly early on. I like the fact that his deck can cast Thought Scour, putting Lingering Souls into his graveyard - nice synergy.

During the match he looks at my hand with Thoughtseize and I ask him if he wants to write it down or if he’d like me to play revealed. He says its fine and I assume he must be some kind of genius to remember what’s in my hand.

He activates his Creeping Tar Pit and I Cryptic bounce it back into his hand. He only has three mana open, so on my turn I take the window to Scapeshift him down to 2 life with Remand backup. He is surprised that I am going for the combo when I only have 18 damage on board, but I have to take the window while he only has three mana up. I have a Steam Vents in hand, so I know the game is going to be closed out from the last Valakut trigger when I play the land. I figured the deck wouldn’t have any way to gain life other than Collective Brutality, which doesn’t get him out of range after he fetched during the end of turn, putting him on 1 life. I was scared Esper Charm would make me discard my last two cards, including the Steam Vents, but I didn’t see the Charm Game 1. Surely enough he doesn’t run them and I win the match.

Round 14 - Draw
Takahashi, Zen – Dredge

We decided to intentional draw this to keep NZ running strong within the tournament. I figured we would both go for the win in the final round. The Dredge matchup is an interesting one, but I decided not to try and take Zen on because I know he’s a master of the deck.

Round 15 - Loss
Wu, Kuang – Jund

This is it. If I win this match, I’m getting a Pro Tour invite. I see that my opponent is on Jund, and I know this matchup is good.

Game 1 he gets a powerful board presence and Huntmaster of the Fells flips, killing me.

Game 2 he gets Liliana of the Veil down early and plays multiple Collective Brutalities. I can’t draw my way out of this one and end up losing the match, just missing out on top 8 and the Pro Tour invite.

Overall I had a sweet run and nearly got a Pro Tour invite. I ended up with two Pro Points and enjoyed swimming at the hotel pool.

Sideboard guide as follows:

Hunting Wilds comes out against decks which often go below 18 life and stays in when we need it as an alternate win condition. It also stays in against decks that have ways to remove our lands. You usually want to keep it in on the play. We also take it out in matchups where there’s a better card to Bring to Light for - Shatterstorm, for example.

Depending on the matchup, we can often shave one Cryptic Command or one Scapeshift. Against fast aggro decks, we can’t afford to be drawing multiple copies of Scapeshift.

Chalice of the Void should usually only come in on the play - depending on matchup, of course. It should always come in vs. Burn and Cheerios. It’s not worth bringing in against affinity. We have better cards.

You can often shave one Remand on the draw against certain matchups. Leave it in against Bant Eldrazi. If they don’t draw Cavern of Souls, you can time walk them to victory - so it's still worth keeping it in. In the worst case scenario, it still draws you a card.

Bant Eldrazi
Out:
-1 Anger of the Gods
-2 Izzet Charm
Most of their threats are creatures. I don’t think Izzet Charm is good here as it doesn’t counter anything and also doesn’t kill anything either.

In:
+2 Obstinate Baloth
+1 Vendilion Clique

Obstinate Baloth trades with Thought-Knot Seer and Vendilion Clique is just good for taking bombs like Eldrazi Displacer out of their hand when they have Cavern of Souls, meaning and we can’t Remand it. I feel like Crumble to Dust is a little slow for Eldrazi, but it might be OK on the play.

Burn
Out:
-1 Supreme Verdict
- 1 Hunting Wilds
-4 Remand
-1 Scapeshift
-1 Cryptic Command

In:
+ 4 Chalice of the Void
+2 Obstinate Baloth
+1 Negate
+1 Anger of the Gods

BGx(abzan or jund)
Out:
–1 Anger of the Gods
-1 Lightning Helix
-1 Cryptic Command
-1 Scapeshift

In:
+2 Obstinate Baloth
+1 Vendilion Clique
+1 Engineered Explosives

Cryptic Command is a little hard to cast after our lands are destroyed by Fulminator Mage, and we can get hit by Slaughter Games in the Jund matchup. Scapeshift is often hard to push through when we have all our search spells taken and a Liliana of the Veil is on the board. We need ways to pressure Liliana, so creatures come in. Engineered Explosives kills all the two drops in both decks and can even kill Liliana if needed.

Affinity
Out:
-4 Remand
-1 Cryptic Command
-1 Hunting Wilds

In:
+1 Shatterstorm
+1 Ancient Grudge
+1 Nature’s Claim
+1 Engineered Explosives
+1 Timely Reinforcements
+1 Anger of the Gods

Tron
Out:
-1 Anger of the Gods
-1 Supreme Verdict
-1 Izzet Charm

In:
+1 Crumble to Dust
+1 Vendilion Clique
+1 Negate

Elves
Out:
-4 Remand
-1 Hunting Wilds
-1 Scapeshift

In:
+1 Engineered Explosives
+4 Chalice of the Void
+1 Anger of the Gods

Esper
Out:
-1 Lightning Helix
-2 Cryptic Command
-1 Supreme Verdict

In:
+2 Obstinate Baloth
+1 Vendilion Clique
+1 Negate

Anger stays in if they are on a Lingering Souls plan; otherwise, take it out and keep in the third Cryptic Command.

Dredge
Out:
-1 Lightning Helix
-1 Scapeshift
-1 Remand

In:
+2 Obstinate Baloth
+1 Anger of the Gods