As promised I’m back this week with some general sideboard advice and strategic approaches for the five most common matchups. I’ll round out the article with some assorted tips that might come in handy if you pick up the deck. Thanks for joining me!
Check out my last article to see the deck list in question. I have made a tweak or two since then, but the overall guidelines are the same.
Burn is mostly a racing matchup where you want your creatures and (potential) Lightning Bolts to buy you time to finish them off. Make sure to take the least damage possible, even not cracking a fetchland can be relevant, and hope to fire off a lethal Scapeshift before they kill you. For sideboarding I like cutting 3 Primeval Titan, leaving a single copy for Summoner’s Pact – which will often find a lifegain creature to buy precious time. I recommend running one copy of Obstinate Baloth in your sideboard because it’s better on turn three against Burn. I’ve seen players pack Weather the Storm to absolutely crush the Burn matchup, so if your nemesis at the local game store is on Burn, you know what to do.
Ramp and kill them before Karn Liberated or Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger – their only relevant threats – take over the game. Karn, the Great Creator with 10 mana also wins the game if they are on that version, but it doesn’t matter too much since we will go for the absolute fastest route to victory anyway. Collector Ouphe is a nice speedbump that shuts down almost a third of their deck, especially on the play where Expedition Map is left useless, and Damping Sphere is backbreaking, while the red cards do nothing, so sideboarding is easy here. If you want to improve the Tron matchup even more, Mwonvuli Acid-Moss in the main deck is playable as a one-of.
Blue-White Control used to be a pile of planeswalkers and Cryptic Commands with Field of Ruin to back them up and absolutely no clock which left TitanShift with plenty of time. Things changed with the recent sets and unbannings which introduced Force of Negation and Stoneforge Mystic to the archetype. This means three things: our Scapeshift doesn’t resolve that often anymore, them being tapped out is not the green lights, and all of a sudden they can put pressure on us early on. These factors unfortunately tip the matchup to unfavored rather than favored, so we have to be efficient with our deckbuilding and sideboarding. Prismatic Omen and Field of the Dead provide cheap ways to overwhelm them and win the game without resolving a big spell, and Castle Garenbrig can sometimes catch them off guard witha a turbo’d out Primeval Titan. After sideboarding I’m currently running three Veil of Summer, two Thragtusk and two Tireless Tracker – the latter is extremely good at getting under Cryptic Command while completely dodging countermagic like Force of Negation, Spell Pierce, Spell Snare and Dovin’s Veto. Let’s hope they don’t bring in Stony Silence to stop your clues. I have a hard time including more relevant cards for the Blue-White matchup because Modern is so big and diverse, but overall I’m happy with this setup.
As a TitanShift player you love to see the Jund matchup no matter what year it is. Both decks have gotten small upgrades during the years, but you are not particularly scared about Wrenn and Six, Plague Engineer and Bloodbraid Elf. They beat you by having discard spell into Tarmogoyf into Liliana of the Veil and hope to finish you off before you topdeck the lethal Scapeshift. On the other hand you are a huge favorite every game you get to fire off a couple of ramp spells and get to topdeck mode without facing too much pressure. They will add some Fulminator Mages after sideboard while you get to go into midrange mode and make their life even harder. I like sideboarding out all answers to Dark Confidant as they are really poor draws without a Bob to target. As a funny sidenote I played against Jund five times in the Team Grand Prix that Thomas Enevoldsen, Michael Bonde and I placed 2nd in which greatly helped our route to the Pro Tour.
Generally you are just as fast or even a little faster than Urza, and they don’t have any meaningful interaction game one, so step on the gas pedal and don’t look back. After sideboard they improve with a mix of counterspells and Thoughtseize while you get to jam Collector Ouphe, which they won’t have many answers for, to stomp their development. Make sure to play around Mana Leak variants unless you lose the game after passing the turn – this includes not being lazy with your Castle at eight lands and Primeval Titan in hand.
Collection of Titanic Tips & Tricks!
- Not only does Field of the Dead allow you to beat cards like Leyline of Sanctity and Alpine Moon, it also lets you build your own Grave Titan with Primeval Titan. Just make sure to find a unique land that you don’t already control.
- Farseek‘ing early for basic Mountain instead of Stomping Ground allows Cinder Glade to enter the battlefield untapped which could be crucial in a situation where you want to top deck a land and jam Primeval Titan.
- Fetch/Farseek for Sheltered Thicket early if you don’t want to draw a tapped land, and leave it in your deck if you actively want to draw a cycleland rather than another one.
- Not sacrificing Sakura-Tribe Elder against decks with creatures can save you valuable lifepoints later on. Just make sure you don’t need the mana right now before making a “clever” non-sac on your opponent’s endstep.
- If lifetotal is not super important, try to build up the Mountain count on the battlefield so that Primeval Titan lets you trigger Valakut once or twice when entering the battlefield. Basic Forest is fine on the battlefield if you want to save life vs. Burn or are planning on winning with Scapeshift, though.
- Keeping uncracked fetches in play has a huge upside after you resolve Primeval Titan. Prismatic Omen lets you keep fetches around more often, so remember that they now tap for any color and crack them to get a zombie or Lightning Bolt for your trouble!
- Summoner’s Pacts are mainly additional Titans in this deck, but searching up Sakura-Tribe Elder is perfectly reasonable to ramp into a Titan or Scapeshift two turns after (the next is used to pay for Pact). This will also come up when you have six lands on the battlefield, Scapeshift in hand and the opponent on 18 or less life.
- I made a sweet play the other day playing against a Tron player on 20 life. I had six lands in play and double Scapeshift in hand with the opponent doing nothing relevant either aside from plussing Ugin. I decided to Scapeshift away my Forest and Castle to get a Valakut and a Mountain which left me with Valakut and five Mountains on the battlefield. I wanted to make sure that topdecked ramp spell or Mountain would deal my opponent three with Scapeshift doing the rest of the work.
Keeping the Enemies Closer
The metagame is great for TitanShift right now, but that could certainly change if spell-based combo or blazing fast proactive decks like Infect and Red Prowess make a comeback. Or God forbid that blue Death’s Shadow decks are somehow crowned Kings of Modern. Thankfully both Blue/White/x and Black/Green/x are favored against Death’s Shadow and are great at keeping degeneracy in check. What a time to be a Titan!