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Against the Odds: Multani Thud Scapeshift (Standard, Magic Online)


Hello, everyone. Welcome to episode 166 of Against the Odds. We had an extremely tight race last week on our Against the Odds poll, with four options within roughly 100 votes of each other for first place, but in the end, it was Scapeshift for Standard sneaking out the win over Din of the Fireherd by just 22 votes! As such, we're heading to Standard today to see if it's possible to make the infamous Modern combo piece work in the format. Unlike Modern, where Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle gives us an easy two-card combo kill for Scapeshift, we've got to work to make Scapeshift good in Standard. Thankfully, there are a couple of cards that work especially well with the sorcery, and while it takes three cards instead of two, it's still possible to turn Scapeshift into a game-ending combo enabler. What are the odds of winning with Scapeshift in Standard? Let's get to the video and find out; then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Against the Odds: Multani Thud Scapeshift (Standard)

The Deck

I was a bit worried when Scapeshift won the poll, since unlike Modern, there isn't an easy way to break the card in Standard. Thankfully, after digging around a bit, I found a handful of cards that do work really well with the card, even if there's nothing even close to the level of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle in terms of brokenness. At its foundation, Multani Thud Scapeshift is a weird sort of ramp deck that also has a combo finish for closing out the game after we do a bunch of ramping. 

The Combo

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Scapeshift is weird in Standard. Since we don't really have any game-winning lands to tutor out, without support, Scapeshift is mostly strange mana fixing that also thins our deck by allowing us to tutor out a bunch of lands. This being said, it can do a whole lot more with the right support cards. The primary plan of our deck is to use Scapeshift as a way to get a bunch of lands into our graveyard. After we stock our graveyard with lands, we can either get them back as ramp or simply leave them in our graveyard to help grow our second combo piece:

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Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar is the closest thing we have to Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle (as far as two-card combos with Scapeshift) in Standard. Since Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar grows based not only on lands on the battlefield but also lands in our graveyard, Scapeshift essentially doubles its power. Since we have a total of 25 lands in our deck, with a couple of copies of Scapeshift (or enough ramp cards before Scapeshift), we can grow Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar to more than 20 power. At this point, we can win by attacking our opponent or, better yet, win right away by sacrificing Multani to Thud to throw 20+ points of damage at our opponent's face!

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While leaving our land in the graveyard post-Scapeshift is fine for our Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar plan, getting all of those lands back on the battlefield is even better, since it gives us an absurd amount of mana to work with. Here, our primary plan is World Shaper, which reanimates all of our land when it dies. While the dying part can be a bit tricky since our opponent's won't want to kill World Shaper if we have a bunch of lands in our graveyard, Thud gives us a one-mana way to sacrifice our own World Shaper to get back all of our lands. Meanwhile, The Mending of Dominaria does the same thing when it hits the third lore counter, so if we time things right, we can cast our Scapeshift the turn before The Mending of Dominaria ultimates and get back our lands almost immediately. With either of these cards, Scapeshift becomes the best ramp card in Standard, essentially doubling the number of lands we have on the battlefield for just four mana!

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Finally, we have two backup Scapeshift plans. Tatyova, Benthic Druid is insane with Scapeshift, assuming we can untap with it, which is sometimes hard since a 3/3 dies to pretty much anything. Still, in the best-case scenario, we play Tatyova, Benthic Druid on Turn 4 or 5, untap the next turn, and cast a Scapeshift, sacrificing all of our lands to get six new ones and also draw six cards and gain six life along the way! We can also use the first two modes of The Mending of Dominaria to get back Tatyova, Benthic Druid if it dies. Meanwhile, Expansion // Explosion does two things. First, if we can get 24 lands on the battlefield (which isn't that hard with Scapeshift and our land reanimation and ramp), we can simply throw 20 damage at our opponent's face to finish the game. Second, we can use it to power up our Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar / Thud kill by copying the Thud. This allows us to still have lethal damage, even if our Multani isn't quite all the way up to 20 power.

Other Stuff

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The rest of the deck is pretty straightforward: ramp, removal, and card draw. For ramp, we have Grow from the Ashes and Circuitous Route. These cards are helpful in powering up our Scapeshift. Remember, with our land-reanimation spells, we can use Scapeshift to essentially double the number of lands we have on the battlefield, so the more lands we get on the battlefield pre-Scapeshift, the more powerful Scapeshift will be when it resolves. 

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Unfortunately, with all of our combo pieces, we don't have that much room for removal, so we are relying mostly on sweepers that can deal with multiple creatures at once (along with a single main-deck Lava Coil for annoying recursive threats). Deafening Clarion is a great early-game sweeper against aggro, and in the late game, it can gain us huge chunks of life with Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar. Meanwhile, Star of Extinction kills everything (except maybe our Multani), including planeswalkers, and thanks to our ramp, we can often cast it as early as Turn 5.

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For card draw, we have Treasure Map, Azor's Gateway, and The Immortal Sun (which is also another way of dealing with opposing planeswalkers). These cards help us smooth out our draws in the early game, digging for our ramp, Scapeshift, combo pieces, and sweepers, and then both Treasure Map and Azor's Gateway are even more powerful in the late game if we happen to flip them. One of the risks of ramp is that we draw all ramp and no finishers (or all finishers and no ramp), and having some card filtering / draw is a good way to help minimize the impact of this problem.

The Matchups

Based on the matches we played with the deck, the matchups seems pretty simple: Multani Thud Scapeshift struggles against fast aggro decks thanks to the lack of early-game removal but does well against midrange and control, where we have more time to set up and execute our combo plan. In theory, we can win against aggro as well, but we need to hit a sweeper or two early in the game; otherwise, our opponent mostly just beats us down while we are durdling with our random card draw and ramp toward Scapeshift. Against slower decks, our biggest advantage is that we can produce so much mana that we can eventually play multiple things in a turn to overwhelm our opponent's counters and removal, and since we have some powerful late-game plays, it often just takes a couple of spells resolving for us to win the game.

The Odds

All in all, we played five matches and won three, good for a 60% match win percentage, although we fared a bit worse in games, winning six of 13, putting us just a hair under 50% in terms of game win percentage, which makes Multani Thud Scapeshift slightly above average for an Against the Odds deck. While we got absolutely crushed in some matchups, the good games were so insane that they more than made up for the brutal losses, especially the last game against Jeskai Control, where we were able to use Scapeshift to grow Multani, Yavimaya's Avatar big enough to survive a Star of Extinction and steal the win in the face of a Niv-Mizzet, Parun! While the deck is probably a bit too clunky to win a tournament, it's fun to play, and it does some amazing things when everything comes together!

Vote for Next Week's Deck

This week, two of our Modern options carry over from last poll, including Din of the Fireherd—which is really good at doing well enough to stay on the poll but really bad at actually winning the vote—along with some sweet new options for both Standard and Modern. Which one of these cards should we build around next week? Let us know by voting below!

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Conclusion

Anyway, that's all for today. Don't forget to vote for next week's deck! As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter  @SaffronOlive or at SaffronOlive@MTGGoldfish.com.


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