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Budget Magic: $103 (18 tix) GateShift (Standard, Magic Arena)

Χαίρετε, Budget Magic lovers, it's that time once again! Core Set 2020 is here, which means it's time to start exploring our new Standard format. A year ago, Wizards reprinted Scapeshift into Standard. At the time, most people figured it was a reprint aimed at Modern since there wasn't really a good way to take advantage of a mass of lands entering the battlefield in Standard. Well, in Core Set 2020, Wizards gave us the missing piece to the Scapeshift puzzle in Field of the Dead. While not quite as powerful, the new land does a pretty good imitation of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle—the main combo piece for Scapeshift in Modern. If we can get seven lands on the battlefield and Scapeshift into six lands and Field of the Dead, we end up making seven 2/2 Zombies, which is a pretty good deal on its own and even better when you consider that every land that enters the battlefield for the rest of the game comes with a 2/2 Zombie kicker. Things get even crazier if we can get more than seven lands onto the battlefield before we Scapeshift—at eight lands, we can get two copies of Field of the Dead and six lands, which gives us 16 2/2s, and if we get up to 10 or so lands, we can make more Zombies than we can count! Of course, we need a bunch of lands with different names to make this plan work, but thankfully, the Guildgate archetype gives us an easy way to hit the "seven different lands" mark while coming with a bunch of additional lands-matter payoffs. Does the printing of Field of the Dead mean its time for Scapeshift to shine in Standard in a Gate-heavy shell? Let's find out! Then, we'll talk more about the deck!

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Budget Magic: GateShift


The Deck

GateShift is basically a weird mashup of a Standard version of Modern Scapeshift and an updated take on the "Guildgates matter" archetype. At its heart, GateShift is a ramp deck with a bunch of payoffs for having a bunch of lands on the battlefield and having lands enter the battlefield. We also have a sweet Modern-esque combo finish that can essentially win us the game as early as Turn 4!

The Combo

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As we talked about in the intro, the main goal of our deck is to get as many lands on the battlefield with the help of some ramp cards, which we'll talk about in a minute, and then cast Scapeshift to get Field of the Dead and a bunch of other lands to make a massive board full of Zombie tokens for just four mana. While the combo is why Scapeshift and Field of the Dead are in our deck, they both can offer some fair value as well. While not our primary plan, we can Scapeshift into Guildgates to draw cards with Guild Summit or even multiple copies of Plaza of Harmony to gain life against aggro. Meanwhile, thanks to the fact that our deck is overflowing with ramp cards, we can simply play Field of the Dead, cast a bunch of ramp spells, and build a board of Zombies the old-fashioned way.


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When it comes to ramping, we have several options. Growth Spiral starts the fun on Turn 2 while also drawing us a card. Elvish Rejuvenator can whiff on occasion, but with 26 lands in the deck, our odds of hitting at least one are pretty good. Plus, Elvish Rejuvenator isn't limited to basic lands, which makes it a good way to dig for Field of the Dead if we are on the fair Zombie plan. Meanwhile, Circuitous Route grabs us two Guildgates, making it not just good ramp but a card-draw spell if we have Guild Summit on the battlefield. The combination of these cards gives us a legitimate nut draw that is good enough to beat most Standard decks (discounting ramp). On Turn 2, we Growth Spiral, and on Turn 3, we Circuitous Route, which gives us seven lands on Turn 4 as long as we make our land drop, which allows us to Scapeshift into seven 2/2 Zombies. Toss an Elvish Rejuvenator into the mix pre-Scapeshift, and we could end up with as many as 16 2/2s on the end of Turn 4!

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Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is technically another ramp spell, but it does so much more than just ramp that it deserves its own special category. When it comes into play, we get to tutor a land direct to the battlefield, making Golos, Tireless Pilgrim a guaranteed way to find a Field of the Dead. Then, after we have Golos, Tireless Pilgrim on the battlefield, it works as our backup win condition. Since we have all five colors of mana in our deck (and lots of ways to find specific lands), we can activate Golos, Tireless Pilgrim's second ability to play the top three cards of our deck for free, giving us a way to dig for our Scapeshift or card draw to find Scapeshift to close out the game. We also have some games where we just forget about Scapeshift altogether, use Golos, Tireless Pilgrim to grab a Field of the Dead or two, and make a bunch of Zombies with our various ramp spells.

Gate Payoffs

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The other upside of playing a bunch of Guildgates is that we get to take advantage of some really powerful Gate payoffs. While all of these cards are good in a vacuum, the Guildgate plan naturally fits with the Scapeshift plan (and the Golos, Tireless Pilgrim backup plan) since both care about having a bunch of lands on the battlefield. Guild Summit gives us a great source of card advantage to help us hit our land drops and find our payoffs. Gates Ablaze is one of the most powerful sweepers in Standard since it can often be an Anger of the Gods in the early game while being a hard wrath in the late game. Meanwhile, Archway Angel usually gains us 10 or more life when it comes into play, which buys us time to set up our Zombie kill. One of the upsides of GateShift is that our Scapeshift combo can beat just about any deck in the format if we live long enough to pull it off, and Archway Angel is a great way to stay alive while we're getting enough lands on the battlefield for a lethal Scapeshift

Other Stuff

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One of the risks of playing so many ramp spells is that we will end up in a situation where we have a ton of mana but no payoff. Mass Manipulation and Drawn from Dreams help to solve this problem. Mass Manipulation is slow, but it gives us some removal. And thanks to all of our ramp, it's very possible that we can steal two or three things, which is extremely powerful. Meanwhile, Drawn from Dreams gives us a way to dig through our deck to find Scapeshift and our other payoffs. It has the upside of getting around Narset, Parter of Veils, and if we can get up to eight mana, we can potentially Drawn from Dreams to dig for Scapeshift and cast Scapeshift in the same turn to make a massive board of Zombies.


As for our record, we finished 3-2 in our video matches but won a rematch with Sultai Command, making our total record a bit better. We managed to take down Spirits, Orzhov, and Sultai Command (twice!) but stumbled against Standard's new hotness in Temur Elementals and Izzet Phoenix. 

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The deck felt quite powerful—the combination of Scapeshift and Field of the Dead adds an entirely new element to the Gates deck. While the Gates deck has always been good at grinding out value, it's a slow deck that can take forever to close out the game. Being able to play the good Gate payoffs and having a game-ending Turn 4 nut draw speed up the process greatly. Golos, Tireless Pilgrim was also super impressive—we had a lot of wins where we'd play Field of the Dead naturally and make Zombies to stay alive, and Golos, Tireless Pilgrim is perfect for this backup plan since it can tutor up Field of the Dead

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If there's a drawback to the deck, it's that we have a ton of tapped lands, which means we can occasionally get run over by aggro. While the lifegain of Plaza of Harmony helps, if we miss our Gates Ablaze, we can get too far behind on board early and not get a chance for our Zombies to take over. On the other hand, the deck is really effective against control, mostly because of Field of the Dead. Against control decks, the land gives us an uncounterable way to build a board and pressure planeswalkers, and since Standard control decks are mostly three colors with few basic lands, Field of Ruin isn't really a major concern at the moment.


As for the budget, it's worth pointing out that Scapeshift—all by itself—is $60 of the $103 price tag. Apart from Scapeshift, the next most expensive card in the deck is Golos, Tireless Pilgrim at around $2 a copy. The good news is that even though Scapeshift rotates in a few months, most of its price is driven by Modern demand, so it likely won't drop very much at all at rotation and will likely continue to increase in coming years. While $60 on a playset of a card is a lot of money, Scapeshift is a safer investment than most rotating Standard cards.

In the end, GateShift was really fun and felt pretty competitive. It's about as close as you can get to playing Modern TitanShift in Standard. If you like ramp strategies, combo finishes, and oodles of Zombie tokens, it seems like a solid budget option for Standard. And although Scapeshift itself will rotating in this fall, the rest of the deck will survive, so worse case, you can simply morph the deck into a more traditional Guildgate build and have a functional deck for another year!

Since it's not possible to build a traditional ultra-budget list this week thanks to the price of Scapeshift, instead we have an Arena budget list that looks to minimize the number of rares and mythics in an absolute sense. The build we played for the videos has four mythics (Scapeshift) and 19 rares, counting the sideboard. While a good number of these are uncuttable, we can drop the rares from the sideboard and turn Drawn from Dreams into Chemister's Insight and Mass Manipulation into a couple of copies of Gate Colossus, which gives us a total of four mythics and 10 rares. It might be tempting to cut Plaza of Harmony, which would be four fewer rare wildcards needed, but the mana would get so much worse (along with aggro matchups, where the three life is actually very important) that I wouldn't recommend it. But if your only goal is to have a semi-functional build of GateShift for as few wildcards as possible, it could be replaced with more basic lands or copies of Gateway Plaza in a pinch.

The non-budget build of GateShift stays mostly the same but gets a handful of really powerful upgrades. The two biggest are Hydroid Krasis and Chandra, Awakened Inferno. Hydroid Krasis gives us a card-draw spell that also works as a backup finisher since we can always beat down with our huge trampling flier, while Chandra, Awakened Inferno is perfect for the deck, giving us a sweeper against aggro, an answer to annoying threats like Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Rekindling Phoenix in midrange and control, and an uncounterable finisher. We have two in the main deck and two more in the sideboard for when the Scapeshift plan becomes less consistent thanks to sideboard counterspells like Negate. We also get a slight mana base upgrade, with a couple of shock lands to up our untapped land count and hopefully speed up the deck a bit more. While the non-budget build isn't really any more synergistic than the budget build we played in our videos, it does get to add a couple of rawly powerful cards that can win the game by themselves if unchecked, which represents a meaningful boost in power, even if the budget build is just as good at Scapeshifting for Field of the Dead and making a ton of Zombies.


Anyway, that's all for today. As always, leave your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and suggestions in the comments, and you can reach me on Twitter @SaffronOlive or at

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