Welcome, all of you lovely Valakut-triggering people! I have kept coming back to TitanShift throughout the last few years with the most important timestamps being:
- Grand Prix Madrid (Unified Modern), 2nd place
- Pro Tour 25th Anniversary (Unified Modern), 23rd place
- Modern Challenge, split finals
Fast forward to the cruel world of Stoneforge Mystic Modern, and I felt like playing a Modern Challenge for once. I usually don’t sign up for these because of the huge amount of players in the event, but I felt the itch to cast Primeval Titan.
Building the starting 60
First of all, let me list the stock cards of the deck that it would take pretty serious bribery for me to cut.
4 Scapeshift, 4 Primeval Titan, 2 Summoner’s Pact
The win conditions are set in stone, and ten is a great number for both drawing one when you need to and not flooding on them too much.
These are the bread and butter ramp spells that you always want to see in your opening hand.
Now things become interesting because you need to identify what kind of interaction and additional ramp spells you want in your current metagame.
I loved this card in the interaction slot when Dredge, and later on Hogaak were big players.
I ran this card in the Team Modern Super League finals when I expected our opponents to field Tron, but it’s also very strong against the mirror and Control decks.
The Omen bolsters your ability to win the game without resolving one of your big payoff spells, since it lets you trigger Valakut and Field of the Dead early and often.
The two-mana enchantment is very high variance and needs eight fetchlands to be good, but it provides explosive draws where Valakut and Field of the Dead will shine, especially combined with Prismatic Omen. If you play against Abrupt Decay, it can be an outright liability.
It turns out that a bad Primeval Titan is still a good card. Hour will be included in my deck when I have interest in upping the threat density and increasing my “power plays” with only five mana on the battlefield.
This card is playable with 28 lands because you want to optimize the games where it reads “ramp one, draw a card”. If you don’t have the extra land, the card is terrible. Generally I only have room for Explore when I’m not playing much interaction.
This card ranges from great to absolute garbage. Like with Explore, you need 28 lands for it to be even playable, but once you get in a block or two while also advancing your gameplan, you will appreciate the power of the little treeclimber.
I didn’t list cards like Courser of Kruphix, Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Engineered Explosives among others because I never liked them. Feel free to reach out to me and ask specifically if you want an explanation. I simply don’t have room in this article.
Building the Sideboard in the New World
The sideboard has infinite options. Once again, I’m only listing cards that I find playable, so stay strong if your favorite sideboard card is not on the list. I will definitely address it if you reach out!
A great new addition that will work wonders against the same cards that Nature’s Claim is answering. You will easily have either an additional ramp spell to pitch or four mana available to cast it.
You can run this card if you want a Disenchant-effect on top of disruption for Tron.
If your deck contains two Summoner’s Pact, which it should, I find the Sage to be an auto-include that will get you out of various situations.
A usefull grinding tool against Blue-White that gets under Cryptic Command while completely dodging Spell Pierce, Force of Negation, Negate, Disdainful Stroke and Spell Snare. It will sometimes force them to leave in Path to Exile which is perfectly fine for this deck.
Crossover sideboard cards are always great, and the beast will work wonders against both Burn and Liliana of the Veil activations.Thragtusk is my go-to card when I want to have impactful sideboard cards against Burn, Black-Green Midrange, Control, but also a live card for the Death’s Shadow and Eldrazi Tron matchups.
I found this to be the best speed bump against Urza-variants which will also eat away at their lifetotal while you set up for the kill.
Being great against most combo decks while also delaying Tron and Amulet makes Damping Sphere a staple in my TitanShift sideboards.
After getting the construction of the actual 75 out of the way, this is what I played in the Modern Challenge October 5 to a top 4 finish:
Titanshift by ecobaronen
2 Arobreal Grazer
4 Sakura-Tribe Elder
4 Primeval Titan
2 Prismatic Omen
2 Summoner's Pact
4 Search for Tomorrow
2 Sweltering Suns
2 Hour of Promise
2 Castle Garenbrig
2 Cinder Glade
1 Field of the Dead
1 Misty Rainforest
1 Sheltered Thicket
1 Snow-Covered Forest
3 Snow-Covered Mountain
4 Stomping Ground
4 Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle
1 Verdant Catacombs
4 Wooded Foothills
2 Veil of Summer
4 Collector Ouphe
4 Damping Sphere
1 Reclamation Sage
Allow me to share my “scouting report” for Modern going into the event.
Going in I knew that Primeval Titan would be a strong strategy because of the evolution of Modern this past month. Players are sleeving up various Stoneforge Mystic and Liliana of the Veil decks because most games are actually played on the battlefield after Faithless Looting got banned. As a way to fight this state of Modern, Tron seems like a natural choice – a matchup I’m always happy to face with TitanShift. Furthermore, playing Noble Hierarch decks seems like a silly idea when Jund plays Wrenn and Six and can punish you dearly. I figured it was time to run Bolt-less TitanShift and crush a bunch of Midrange decks!
Notable Card Choices
2 Castle Garenbrig
The green castle’s role in the deck is quite clear; it’s lets you cast Primeval Titan from five lands which is a huge gamechanger. The Mountain count will suffer a little, but I think the speed and inclusion of two copies of Prismatic Omen make up for it. Being one mana cheaper can mean the difference between getting caught by Cryptic Command or not and also tip the scales in your favor in racing situations. I had a question on Twitter about increasing the number of Summoner’s Pact in the deck to play turn three Titan more consistently, but I need to do more testing to find the sweet spot between drawing too many non-Mountain lands and too many highend cards to disrupt the critical mass of the deck. I will try out a 3-3 split of Castle and Pact in the future!
2 Sweltering Suns
I decided to hedge against my ommision of Lightning Bolt and run a few sweepers and hope to get lucky to draw it when I needed it. I ended up only playing against one deck where the card would be good, but I didn’t draw it in the matchup unfortunately. I did end up cycling it a few times which is definitely not exciting, but acceptable compared to Anger of the Gods nonetheless.
2 Arboreal Grazer
The Grazer helped me get over the hump twice against Burn where the cancellation of Goblin Guide was huge. It even helps playing a five mana play (Titan with Castle or Hour of Promise) on turn three and covers the gap that not playing Lightning Bolt leaves in the deck. It’s a horrific draw later in the game, so I will definitely keep my eye out on its performance long-term.
2 Hour of Promise, 2 Prismatic Omen, 2 Explore
This trio makes their way into the deck because I decided to not run much interaction. Hour of Promise and Prismatic Omen are great together since Valakut will trigger so easily while Explore keeps the engine running.
I already covered the sideboard cards above, and those combined with my scouting report is the explanation for running the sideboard I did. As the metagame evolves I doubt I can justify running the full playset of Collector Ouphe, and maybe the “lifegain midrange creature” slots need to be modified. That’s the beauty of old Magic formats that nothing is stale for long! Next time I will teach you how to sideboard with TitanShift and have a long list of tips for playing the deck. Thank you for reading.