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Lands that win the game are often among the most powerful of strategies in Magic, and Valakut has proven itself to be both fun and competitive. Though it has a long history of competitive viability, War of the Spark and Modern Horizons additions to the Valakut/Scapeshift archetype took some time to push to the forefront. With a group of Magic Online grinders, Ice-Fang Coatl driven Bring to Light Shift was born, as Cyrus Corman-Gils, Sung-jin Ahn, and Mathew Stein showcased success on the online platform.

With Modern a big force in the upcoming competitive Magic season, I’ve taken to testing a bunch with this archetype, and am going to cover the card choices, roles, and sideboard of one of the Magic Online 5-0 lists. While not emblematic of the “best” variation of the list, this should give you an overview of a potential contender at the upcoming Mythic Championship in Barcelona.

The Ramp

Sakura-Tribe Elder | An iconic part of every Scapeshift list, Sakura-Tribe Elder has a few different roles. Firstly, it’s a ramp spell that finds basics. This acts as mana fixing for Bring to Light and a snow enabler for Coatl, but ensures enough ramp spells to consistently hit seven lands. Secondly, it’s a creature, meaning it can attack a couple of times — this pressures planeswalkers or lowers an opponent to a critical 18 life (lethal with seven lands and Scapeshift). Being a creature means it can also block (and sacrifice) to effectively gain life in aggressive matchups.

Search for Tomorrow | While not a defensive ramp spell like the Elder, Search for Tomorrow nonetheless plays a key role in the fastest starts, and has some unique properties that contribute to powerful turns. It puts lands into play untapped, opening up double spell turns in the mid game, and functioning as a “two-mana” ramp spell on the Scapeshift turns. Suspending a Search for Tomorrow on Turn 1 generates an additional land for no mana on the third turn, supporting an instant speed style of game play that Bring to Light Scapeshift is known for. Lastly, it’s a spell for Snapcaster Mage, turning the format defining two drop into an expensive piece of ramp.

Mwonvuli Acid-Moss | Far from the most efficient of ramp spells, this devastating spell snowballs in the big mana mirrors, and can be grabbed off of Bring to Light as a toolbox spell. While not ordinarily game winning against aggressive decks, Acid-Moss can restrict a deck’s access to colors and can remove problematic lands like Inkmoth Nexus or Pendelhaven before they get out of control. One copy is satisfactory, though sometimes other Scapeshift decks play two copies. Consider upping the count if Titanshift or Tron are more popular.

The Combo

Scapeshift | This four mana sorcery often paints the land…scape of Modern, and this version utilizes the classic Scapeshift plus Valakut combo to immediately kill the opponent. Seven lands means Valakut plus six mountains for 18 damage, while eight lands doubles that to 36. In a marked departure from the precedent set by Titanshift, this version only plays two copies of Scapeshift, as Bring to Light serves as four additional copies.

Bring to Light | The primary reason to play this version, Bring to Light adds both a toolbox package and redundant copies of Scapeshift — all at the cost of requiring four different colors of mana.

Teferi, Time Raveler | Not explicitly a combo piece, Teferi functions as a way to mitigate countermagic and play an instant speed game — and he even enables end of turn Scapeshifts. Teferi proves necessary in a variety of matchups, and can even answer Blood Moon or Runed Halo at three mana — the perfect compliment to a Scapeshift for 18.

Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle | The combo piece with Scapeshift, Valakut combines with the suite of mountains in the deck to generate a lethal amount of triggers. While this version only plays 10 mountains, others opt for additional copies, enabling the deck to combo off even with mountains already in play.

Support Cards

Engineered Explosives | A catch all answer in an era filled with Blood Moon and Humans, Engineered Explosives can even remove four drops. While not able to be fetched with Bring to Light, Engineered’s upside is still worth consideration. The definition of a flex slot, feel free to cut EE in metagames less filled with Humans, or if there is a silver bullet you want to play in the main deck.

Ice-Fang Coatl | Four copies is a huge burden for two drops, but Ice-Fang Coatl seldom disappoints. While worse than Snapcaster mage in the controlling role, the Coatl’s primary value is in churning through your deck. It’s both a creature to bounce with Teferi, and a removal spell when combined with three basics, though some versions have trimmed back in order to fit more Snapcaster Mage into the lists.

Snapcaster Mage | No stranger to Modern success, Snapcaster Mage is only a one-of in this list. Primarily serving as an extra removal spell, Snapcaster can sometimes cast a used up Bring to Light or Scapeshift depending on the matchup, and can pressure planeswalkers with some hot Lightning Bolt action. Recent lists are playing more copies to compensate for an aggressive field, so keep that in mind when you’re tuning your list.

Lightning Bolt | This list features a split of two iconic removal spells — Lightning Bolt and Path to Exile — as pressure opponents and planeswalkers is huge in a metagame with Jund. Perhaps the primary strength of Bolt, however, is as a one mana removal spell that can ensure most opponent’s drop to 18 or less life — a crucial number for Scapeshift.

Path to Exile | The other half of the iconic removal spells, Path is a two of in this list mostly as a removal spell that nearly guarantees any creature is removed. Seldom without a drawback, Path to Exile permanent removes troublesome threats like Arclight Phoenix or Vengevine, and is backbreaking when paired with Snapcaster Mage. Some decks only play one basic, removing the drawback of casting multiple copies.

Remand | A tempo spell defined by its storied Modern history, Remand acts as both a cantrip in the early game and a huge time sink for most opponents. Though weak against cheap spells, Remand shines against decks with a higher mana curve.

Timely Reinforcements | A silver bullet for aggressive strategies, Timely Reinforcements can singlehandedly beat Burn, and is another spell for Snapcaster Mage to flash back. While not great against the likes of Hogaak, Timely can buy one or more turns — giving you time to win with Scapeshift.

Cryptic Command | Often earning a spot as a two or three of, Cryptic command gets trimmed in this version of Bring to Light, as it is difficult to cast and less necessary than in other versions. Still, it answers nearly any board state, and can combine with Snapcaster Mage to stall for multiple turns in a row. Like Teferi, it’s also one of the few ways to remove noncreature permanents, making it necessary in diverse metagames.

Ojutai’s Command | A flexible pseudo-ramp spell, Ojutai’s Command interacts with many threats in the format, but can gain life at crucial times against aggressive decks. Additionally, you can return a Snapcaster Mage to chain commands, a Coatl to ambush a creature and draw two cards, or a Sakura-Tribe Elder to ramp and dig for Scapeshift. It’s quite the powerful one of, and I would be hesitant to cut it.

Supreme Verdict | A necessary component of White based Scapeshift builds, Supreme Verdict is an uncounterable answer to filled boards, though it fails to hit some of the more resilient threats in the metagame. I would recommend playing either a second copy or a Wrath of God in the sideboard if Humans and Jund pick up, though sweepers have obvious drawbacks against both of these archetypes.

The Sideboard

Celestial Purge | Blood Moon and Hogaak are huge threats against slower Scapeshift strategies, and Celestial Purge is one of the best answers for both of these. One copy is standard, though I would recommend a second copy.

Dovin’s Veto | Like Force of Negation or Negate in other decks, Dovin’s Veto is a guaranteed safeguard against combo — it can’t be countered with Dispel or Pact of Negation. It is difficult to cast, but a necessary component of the sidebord.

Rest in Peace | Scapeshift does not make use of its graveyard much, and Rest in Peace turns this lack of resource conversion into a haymaker sideboard against the new Hogaak deck, as well as Dredge and fringe graveyard archetypes. Consider a third or fourth copy if Hogaak earns the mantle of “deck to beat”.

Anger of the Gods | Bloodghast and Arclight Phoenix are constant players in the metagame, and Anger of the Gods serves as an answer to these without sacrificing game against dorky creature decks like Humans. Consider an additional copy if these decks are commonplace in the metagame.

Force of Negation | Interacting as early as possible is crucial in Neoform and other combo matchups, but Force of Negation is less consistent in this deck than in many others. Still, the upside is huge, and the fail case is only a little worse than Dovin’s Veto.

Timely Reinforcements | Mentioned above in the main deck section, an additional copy of Timely resides in the sideboard for faster matchups, though it can be cut in favor of different cards like Weather the Storm or another sweeper.

Vendilion Clique | As talked about in our Blue Moon Deck Tech, Vendilion Clique gives Blue decks access to both an aggressive midrange threat and critical hand disruption, making it a devastating play against Control and Combo. While not a great Bring to Light target, naturally drawing Vendilion Clique will lead to many game wins against opposing countermagic, and supplements Huntmaster of the Fells in a transformational plan.

Crumble to Dust | Like Mwonvuli Acid-Moss, Crumble to Dust serves as a silver bullet against Tron decks, but can slow down even Azorius Control and Titanshift. One copy is recommended, though a Modern scene devoid of big mana strategies would warrant cutting it.

Force of Vigor | Making waves across multiple formats with its printing in Modern Horizons, Force of Vigor turns redundant cards into disruption against cards like Blood Moon or Leyline of Sanctity. While not the best when flashbacked with Snapcaster Mage (you can’t use the “free” cost), it still gives the deck access to an easy to cast sideboard card. One copy is sufficient in most circumstances, though I would play more depending on which sideboard cards you expect to face.

Huntmaster of the Fells | Finding the right midrange threat across four colors is no easy task, but this addition to the Bring to Light list gives life gain, board control, and an alternate wincon in the face of heavy disruption. It’s also an excellent topdeck against Jund, as it pressures Liliana of the Veil and avoids removal from Wrenn and Six.

Shatterstorm | A haymaker in most Artifact heavy matchups, Shatterstorm wraths the board against Grixis Urza, and bypasses Welding Jar in the fringe Hardened Scales or Whir Prison matchups. One copy is recommended if these decks persist in the metagame, though Force of Vigor makes it less necessary. Consider cutting if space is needed.