I’ll never underestimate Primeval Titan ever again.

There was a time when playing anything higher than four mana was tantamount to suicide in Modern. Tapping out any time after turn three or four, depending on whether you were on the play or on the draw, could spell the end. And then they banned a couple of cards, non-Jund midrange strategies became a thing, UWR Geist of Saint Traft won back-to-back PTQs and a GP, and suddenly fair decks were the place to be in the format. Combo, for the most part, disappeared. You’d still see the occasional Splinter Twin or Birthing Pod deck, but that was about it.

Then the PTQ season ended, and players that still had interest in the format went back into the lab. It wouldn’t be long before people realized that some of the more popular archetypes in Modern just can’t do anything about an honest-to-goodness combo deck. Naturally, the metagame eventually began to shift back away from durdly creature battles to more creative things. Summer Bloom/Amulet of Vigor and Goryo’s Vengeance/Fury of the Horde both made brief appearances before the more traditional combo decks began posting results. Gifts control decks began playing Kitchen Finks and Sun Titan as an additional package, Melira Pod jammed in Voice of Resurgence to get the upper hand in the Pod debate, all while Finkel said “fuck it, I’m still the best Storm player in the world” and piloted a Seething Song-less Storm deck to the top 16 at GP Portland.

And then there’s Scapeshift, or more precisely, Scapeshift with Primeval Titan. I’ve always preferred the Titan-less, Prismatic Omen-less version over the list that came second at GP Portland, because I thought it was better able to find Scapeshift and go off on time. After all, Peer Through Depths does an amazing job of finding you a copy of Scapeshift, or a piece of permission to protect it. What happens in the Primetime version if you can’t find your Titan? Don’t you just lose?

But then I gave it some thought and actually tried the deck out. Prismatic Omen is just a silly card. Scapeshift on only six lands without caring whether your opponent is at 18? I’ll take that. Oh, you mean my Primetime comes with four Lightning Bolts attached? Deal.

I played the following 75 at Tuesday Night Modern last week:


Creatures (10)
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Obstinate Baloth
Primeval Titan

Spells (24)
Izzet Charm
Prismatic Omen
Search for Tomorrow
Lands (26)
Breeding Pool
Misty Rainforest
Scalding Tarn
Steam Vents
Stomping Ground
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

Sideboard (15)
Relic of Progenitus
Ancient Grudge
Back to Nature
Obstinate Baloth
Inferno Titan
Wurmcoil Engine

Remember that bit about popular decks in the format not being able to interact with combo? That’s what playing this deck felt like. It is honestly the most resilient combo deck I’ve played in Modern, and the best part is, its key pieces can also disrupt other decks and throw off their game plan.

Case in point: in my third round, I played against Melira Pod, the supposed deck to beat after a recent GP win. Four maindeck Pyroclasm effects and the three copies of Izzet Charm were just brutal. My opponent had turn two Pod on the play, but his chain was disrupted when I removed his mana dork. He was able to set up again and threaten a combo kill, but I casually untapped and played a Titan, fetching for two Valakuts. Combined with the Omen I already had out, I sent four Lightning Bolts distributed evenly to his Viscera Seer, Deathrite Shaman, Kitchen Finks, and Ranger of Eos. All my opponent could do was sacrifice everything in response to scry, then concede when it became evident that no amount of library manipulation would allow him to reassemble his combo on time. All I had to do was turn Primetime sideways on the following turn, and that would be the third Valakut and any other land combining for 18 damage off of Valakut triggers alone.


I also squared off against Richard “THE BEST” Tan playing his signature UWR Durdles deck. The increased threat density over the Peer Through Depths version was helpful in fighting through the seemingly endless suite of countermagic. The Titan-less version has access to Cryptic Command, sure, but since you have to pull the trigger first, you often don’t have the mana to win a drawn-out counter war. In this version, it’s more a matter of making him have it. I literally just kept running out Titans and Obstinate Baloths into counters and removal until he ran out, then killed him with a Scapeshift. Moreover, with Colonnade being the only real clock in the UWR deck, Richard could not put on much pressure for fear of tapping out. This let me hit a critical mass of lands such that I could either naturally draw into a Titan or a Scapeshift to immediately win, or do it the “slow” way by playing lands and killing him with Valakut triggers.

I must say that, after playing with both versions, that I much prefer the one with Primetime. It’s a different playstyle, much more brute force when compared with the version without. It may not find the actual copies of Scapeshift as consistently, but its added resilience versus both controlling and aggressive strategies gets my seal of approval. The sideboard needs a little work (a few of the giant monsters can go to make room for more disruption and hate), but for the most part, this version of Scapeshift is quickly becoming a deck I feel comfortable enough to play in the most competitive of environments, right up there with my beloved UW.

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