Valki and Omnath Meet at Valakut … (Five-Color Scapeshift)

Rone

In a new Modern era without Uro, four-color piles are no longer playable, right? Well, that is unless Omnath joins forces with Tibalt to bring the all-time greatest Valakut shell to light. If you enjoy a colorful mana base that supports sheer everything and even kills opponents, then here's the Modern deck for you!


valki - valakut - omnath

The infamous Uro/Omnath deck had been the most successful Modern strategy over the period between the release of Zendikar Rising and Kaldheim . Then the ban hammer hit three of its key cards: Mystic Sanctuary, Field of the Dead, and Uro itself. The deck as it was is impossible to recreate since there is no replacement for such unique cards. But what remains is not just a husk of its former self but a strong shell that luckily can still enjoy a second life. We just have to focus on the other busted namesake card, Omnath, and its new partner in crime from Kaldheim, Valki, God of Lies // Tibalt, Cosmic Impostor.

Early Drafts

Just days after the bannings went into effect, the famous control player and Magic Online grinder Do0mSwitch started posting good results with a new list, again based in four colors but also adding a small touch of black to cast Tibalt. Most of the cards are familiar from the Uro version, but there are remarkable changes to adapt the strategy for the new environment. Let's take a look!


  • Picking up the pieces: many of the spells that helped the Uro/Omnath outfit become the best deck in Modern are still here—one mana removal, the Wrenn and Six and Teferi, Time Raveler duo for the early game, and finally some blue countermagic in Remand, Force of Negation, and Cryptic Command.

  • Mana fixing and ramp: no Uro means less ramping, hence it's an absolute must to run four copies of Growth Spiral. Indeed, later versions added extra copies of Explore to hit as many lands as possible in order for Valakut and Omnath to do their respective tricks.

  • Mana base and color requirements: speaking of lands, the deck runs 28 of them, just like the Field of the Dead version did, in this case swapping the Zombie producer for Modern's old friend Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. For the one and only Scapeshift to kill on the spot, we need to be able to search for six Mountains plus Valakut, ideally one more of either. Fortunately, Ketria Triome and Raugrin Triome provide fetchable green-blue and white-blue duals that are Mountains as well.

  • Bringing out whatever you need: with FIeld gone, Hour of Promise became suddenly useless. Instead, the deck adds three copies of Bring to Light as our top-end tutor effect, often accelerated via a fetch land and Omnath's second landfall trigger, to be cast as early as turn four.

    The list of primary targets begins at Valki, to be cast as Tibalt, the best extant way to cheat the planeswalker into play now that the cascade rule has changed. The other silver bullets the deck includes are Supreme Verdict to sweep the board when necessary, Omnath itself, and finally, once we get up to seven lands, it will be time to search for a deadly Scapeshift. Note that Teferi's plus ability allows you to play the Simic sorcery at instant speed and go get a Cryptic Command or removal spell in certain spots where Tibalt or Scapeshift may be less useful.


bring to light

Tuning My Own List

After testing the above for a while, I decided to make a few changes based upon my experiences and the expected metagame for the tabletop tournaments I attend weekly. Since I ran into mana flood a bunch of times, I took the risk of cutting a couple of lands, down to 26. This is what came out of it:


  • Adapting the mana base: one important aspect to keep in mind when deploying your lands is to search for all possible non-Mountains early in the game, since you will need at least six of them left in the deck to make Scapeshift a viable finisher. Sure, fetching for a Triome on turn one is the smartest move, but after that, try to go for Hallowed Fountain, Breeding Pool, and basic lands. I swapped a Temple Garden for a Sacred Foundry to keep a total of eleven Mountains overall.

    Regarding Scapeshift, it's incredible how easy it is to win with this card. Since most Modern decks rely on shock lands and fetch lands, you will be facing many opponents with less than 18 life in the late game, unless they run some source of life gain. Also, Omnath helps you to round up the damage, adding 4 extra when you trigger its landfall ability for the third time. Remember that when going for lethal.

  • Other inclusions: if you expect an aggro metagame, it's a wise move to trim one Wrenn and Six. Besides that, I made room for two copies of Snapcaster Mage so I can use my graveyard as a resource, rebuying cheap removal early and later on flashbacking a countered or discarded Bring to Light.

    My last inclusion was a singleton Jace, the Mind Sculptor, since I wanted some more card manipulation. Sadly you cannot search for him via Bring to Light, but when you are able to deploy and protect him for a couple of turns, the game usually turns in your favor. Most importantly, his Brainstorm ability allows you to put lands back into the library in case you are flooded or want to preserve Mountains in the deck for Scapeshift.


snapcaster mage jace, the mind sculptor

Matchups and Sideboarding

So far I have found the deck a strong contender against all kinds of control strategies, especially White-Blue. It also deals pretty well with midrange builds like Jund since it is hard for them to interact with the Scapeshift plan. The weakest points are explosive aggro strategies as well as Tron.

If I wanted to improve the Tron matchup, a copy of Stony Silence backed up by two Ceremonious Rejection would be my additions of choice. But for now this is my sideboard plan against the most played decks:


Sideboarding Versus White-Blue Control
bring intake out

Moving Forward

After the initial success, the deck got a bit lost in the vast space that is the Modern metagame. The Scapeshift plan, which is its greatest upside since you only need one copy of the namesake card thanks to Bring to Light, provides a fast kill. But there are of course faster strategies out there dominating the scene now like Heliod Company or Amulet Titan.

Nonetheless it remains a reasonable choice with a ton of time and room to improve, evolve, and adapt to the metagame. As a matter of fact, this recent list caught my eye, a hybrid between Scapeshift and more traditional Niv-Mizzet builds and one that I'll be trying out shortly:


Forget all about blue countermage and embrace the power of the Dragon Avatar! Obviously the deck adds more black and multicolor spells either for Niv to draw or for Bring to Light to tutor up. Three copies of Dryad of the Ilysian Grove à la Amulet Titan improve our mana base while making Valakuts easier to trigger. This shell, even more so than the Niv-less version, allows for a ton of customization, for example adding Unmoored Ego to the main deck against Tron or fast combo decks and Kolaghan's Command to rebuy the Dragon from the graveyard.

Assembling the Tabletop Version

Before we go, some art appreciation, since lately I have found the alternative-art cards a superb choice for players not invested in foils. I decided to put some money into the face cards of the deck, and I must say the extended art looks amazing when you line them all up next to each other. I'd love to read a comment about which version you like the most!


Art appreciation: Valki, Omnath, and Valakut

I hope you've enjoyed my review of Five-Color Scapeshift as much as I enjoy playing the deck. It really is a blast! Cheating Tibalt into play without being oppressive is a nice change, and Omnath remains a powerhouse that's finally reasonably hard to enable without Uro doing all the legwork. My hope is both continue to be viable players in Modern for a long time to come.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.



4 Comments

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MakutoPro(31.03.2021 11:39)

What a fantasy of deck! Thanks for the sideboard guide, it provides high value - keep it up!

Rone
RonePro(31.03.2021 17:31)

MakutoPro

Thanks for your comment, hoping you give the deck a change someday!

sandrag35(22.03.2021 03:31)

The fact that those decks are mostly from cards that aren't even 3 years old tells a lot about the power creep that's going on.
Also, 5 colors good-stuff-combo-instant-kill-that-can-grind-and-survive-any-deck shouldn't be a thing.
Omnath counterbalances on its own the cost of every fetch and shockland.

Rone
RonePro(31.03.2021 17:30)

@sandrag35 thanks for your comment.

Despite all the raw power and the cards the deck portrays, it's not currently one of the best Modern contenders, rather, it gets wrecked by other combo shells that win faster like Heliod Company or even I was defeated by a Dimir Mill deck very easily.

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