The land is changing around me. I find myself at Twenty Sided Store on a Tuesday night playing Modern instead of drafting. Next week I won’t even live in New York anymore. It’s like someone cast Scapeshift targeting my life. My regular Stomping Grounds are turning into, well, some new Stomping Grounds. Things are changing.

Playing constructed may be the biggest change of all. I’ve lived a lot of places. Never have I tried to compete seriously with a sixty card deck. Sure, decks have been sleeved up and an occasional deck list filled out. It happens to everybody. But now I have to get prepared for Pro Tour Fate Reforged. I plan to be ready.

It’s funny how the various threads of life weave together. I won a PTQ so now I need to learn Modern. If I weren’t moving away from New York perhaps I would not have been so motivated to put a capstone on my local Magic career. Because I am moving, I decided to sell a chunk of old Magic cards to dealers last weekend at Grand Prix New Jersey. Partly for space, partly for cash. And as it turns out, partly to buy playsets of Scapeshift and Dig Through Time. If I hadn’t been doing that, I probably would have played in the GP instead. I have Jeskai Delver/Stoneblade sleeved up, after all. For whatever reason, I always have a Legacy deck assembled, even though I rarely play.

layoftheland

I’ve always been a fan of lands. My early days of Magic—when I wasn’t sacrificing all my lands to Zuran Orb with Armageddon on what we now call the stack—were spent lusting after and eventually trading for a Diamond Valley to go in my Preacher/Old Man of the Sea deck. And then there was the Mishra’s Workshop/Colossus of Sardia deck. I mean, it was hard to get that thing untapped, or to untap the Mana Vaults for that matter, but I told you I’m not a competitive constructed player. At least, I haven’t been.

My love of collecting lands has certainly paid off. That’s a big reason I can have a Legacy deck sleeved up at all times. It’s like I traveled back in time and bought a bunch of cheap dual lands, and then snagged a Bazaar and a Tabernacle for value. Except that’s actually what I did on the first run. For the longest time I’ve avoided cashing in any of these cards. Moving is expensive though. When am I ever going to play Vintage shops or dredge anyway? Answer: never. And so it came to pass that I no longer own a Bazaar of Baghdad or Mishra’s Workshop. I had owned those cards for more than half of my life. Like I said: things are changing.

Scapeshift is a strange card. Why would you ever want to get rid of your lands in play and replace them with other lands from your deck? Besides comboing off with Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, I mean. Is there any other use for the card? Is it a weird Mana Severance? I wonder why it got made. Valakut didn’t exist when Scapeshift was printed in Morningtide. Could the card actually do anything? People used to think the same thing about Bazaar of Baghdad too, of course. Why would I want to draw two and then discard three? Because I am a lover of cool things that are actually bad. Until they aren’t.

Documented below is the first deck I have ever constructed, with sixty cards, for the express purpose of winning tournaments. I copied it from LSV, who copied it from Magic Online.

Scapeshift

Creatures (6)
Sakura-Tribe Elder
Snapcaster Mage

Spells (29)
Search for Tomorrow
Scapeshift
Cryptic Command
Dig Through Time
Remand
Lightning Bolt
Izzet Charm
Electrolyze
Lands (25)
Breeding Pool
Stomping Ground
Steam Vents
Flooded Grove
Misty Rainforest
Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
Island
Forest
Mountain

Sideboard (15)
Boseiju, Who Shelters All
Krosan Grip
Ancient Grudge
Negate
Swan Song
Pyroclasm
Anger of the Gods
Batterskull
Obstinate Baloth
Inferno Titan

I don’t know if this is the deck I will play at the Pro Tour, but it’s a good start. It would be fitting, if nothing else. Dig Through Time will probably be banned from Modern before the Pro Tour, but who knows. I can worry about that in a couple months, when I’m an experienced Modern player.

The Tuesday night Modern tournament went fairly well. I won against Jeskai Control and Abzan Value; I lost against Merfolk and Temur Delver. Mostly I felt my way through the games semi-blindly, guessing at difficult mulligan decisions and fumbling with my sideboard. But I had one great game. After racing Abzan to win game one, I sideboarded in the big creatures to play the grindier game and weaken the expected sideboard hate. Sure enough, in game two I found myself facing down two Leyline of Sanctity and a Choke. I had four Islands that wouldn’t untap with Inferno Titan and Batterskull in hand. And Scapeshift.

I scanned over my lands in play and looked back at Scapeshift, at Inferno Titan, at Batterskull. My Islands sure were useless. As luck would have it, all four Stomping Grounds remained in my deck. I looked back at Scapeshift, played my fourth untapped land, a Forest, and smiled.

Brendan McNamara (MTGO: eestlinc, Twitter: @brendanistan) used to play Magic in the old days. His favorite combo was Armageddon plus Zuran Orb. After running out of money to buy cards and friends who were willing to put up with that combo, he left the game. But like disco, he was bound to come back eventually. Now he’s a lawyer by day and a Dimir agent by night.

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