Modern has changed a lot in the past few weeks since the banned and restrictions. Two things that have defined these meta tweaks are the following: there’s lots of fair decks, and there’s lots of big mana decks. The top dogs of the format right now are Tron, UW Control / Midrange, Jund, and Burn. But one of the decks that has been on the rise has been TitanShift. I know as soon as I heard that was banned, I thought to myself “you know what’s probably good against Midrange grindy Stoneblade decks? TitanShift”. However, since I started testing with the deck, I’ve found that there’s an even better version of the deck out there, one that hasn’t shown up on too many radars yet. TitanBreach.
A Valakut Above
For those unaware of the decks or maybe unsure of the difference between the two decks is, it’s a pretty simple yet defining one. Both decks trying to ramp out as fast as possible by getting lands into play with , , , etc. Once they’ve gotten six lands, the can cast , or play to fetch one up the cast it. From there, it’s kind of like picking how you want to win. You can get two to turn every land that isn’t named “Forest” into a double-bolt. You can get one Valakut and a Mountain to pick off something annoying if you so desire. From there, you’re likely to win. Up to the point of ramping and cast , these two are the same pretty much. But, then we get to the namesake cards.
If you’ve been playing Standard lately, you already know . The Modern decks actually can (and I’d argue, should) run the combo that people have become all too familiar with, where you can get tons of zombies off of it and lands that have different names. The main combo in TitanShift, though, is to hit seven lands and for six mountains and a Valakut. Each mountain sees each other, and congratulations, you just dealt 18 damage. If you have eight lands, you can deal 36. Remember that number of lands, it’s going to be important later.
Then, we have . Instead of trying to get to seven lands and , we want to get to at least four mountains and five mana, and cast it with in hand. Prime Time enters, allows us to get two Valakut, and then we can attack. Attacking allows us to fetch two mountains, each triggers both Valakuts for a total of four triggers. Each deals 3 damage, plus the 6/6 trampler that’s attacking. 18 damage. We needed a bit of setup to do it, but we did it at least a turn earlier, which means we also needed less ramp to get us there.
Without Further Ado
Few things to cover in this list I’ve been running. First, it isn’t optimized. This has been me playing through matches the last week or so and tweaking based on what feels good or not, but it still feels like there’s room to grow. Second, it’s more appropriate to call this deck BreachShift rather that plain TitanBreach, since we have two copies of . I believe that the combo is better right now, but in game one we want to up the number of hits as much as we can. Which leads to the third thing: we’re an all in combo deck, but not necessarily all in on a single combo. We have classic Prime Time. We have . We can Breach in to blow up two lands. We can make a swarm of Zombies with Field of the Dead. And we can do it slightly quicker than our mainly Shifty peer.
One of the downsides sported about Breach vs. Shift is that ends up being a one card combo, while Breach and Titan is two. However, I think that’s the wrong way to think of it. is actually a four card combo. You need probably three ramp spells then Shift. You need about two ramp spells, Breach and either and . Playing with both a lot the last few weeks, it doesn’t feel inconsistent. Our Sideboard is built to counter the only things I’ve seen that deal with all of the effectively. is basically anti , which protects our ramp pieces as well as helps push us through any counter magic. It also protects lands from , as if we needed more help in the Jund matchup. We have and almost solely to deal with , because it is pretty hard for this deck to push through without dealing with it. and helps us deal with , , and , while helps us hate out all those pesky Whirza decks running amok.
I don’t want to harp too much on exactly what my winrate has been. I’ve been running this list with a few tweaks here and there across MTGO and Paper. I do want others to run this list because while I can’t say what the specific winrate has been, I can say that the deck feels very, very good.
It’s Time to Prime Time
Here's the case I'm trying to make. TitanBreach is the best positioned deck right now. Part of that is because people aren't suspecting it, but it's also because the deck does things in this meta even better than TitanShift. Let's look at how it can handle the top tiers right now. It eats Tron. We're a turn faster than them, have to slow them down, and don't have anything really meaningful for them to interact with. does nothing against us. can at most exile a land. It's definitely skewed in our favor. What about Burn? Well, it feels pretty good. The fact that we can go all in on speed and go off a turn earlier than just often is just what we need. in the sideboard helps stave off the and barrage we'd be facing. And while our ramp spells hit us when is out, a lot of our cards don't. I definitely have had a favorable winrate against Burn, but small sample size. I feel like it's probably close to even, maybe slightly in our favor.
What about Jund? Jund has always struggled with big mana decks. Sure, there's now, but we have so many ways to get Valakut redundantly that it kind of doesn't matter if we get a mountain as part of their removal spell. Their best hope is to try and discard turn one to remove some ramp, drop an early and hope we just don't draw gas. What about UW Control / Midrange? We don't care about Midrange creatures. Big mana beats them every day of the week and twice on Sunday. does stonecold nothing. The main things to worry about are fetching lands properly to utilize basics when targets your (maybe even letting you get some damage off of the land you get), and being aware of . And I'd argue that we actually have less to worry about with , since if they counter our it only means that we get to drop Prime Time the next turn. with is notably annoying though. All that said, it still feels like it's favored.
What about Whirza? If they're faster, they're faster. We can get through the hate pieces like better than a plain deck, since we have , but it feels kind of like a toss up game one. Or a drag race. and (and lots of other artifact hate) certainly helps for the post-board matches. They do get to gain life from the / combo, so I'll give the slight edge to them. However, you're never really out of it once all your deck turns into hits via Valakut. Combo decks are similar. We shed the interaction to be more all in combo, which means we can't bolt their turn two druids. They can't really hate us out game one, and we can't either. We do have the benefit that our combo can help remove their creatures, however their nut draw is definitely faster than us. Post board we have to sweep up some stuff. I'll give a slight favor to them just based on speed. Grixis Death's Shadow is probably the most interesting matchup. On the one hand, they have discard and counter magic to deal with all our payoffs. On the other hand, they get so low on life that it's not unreasonable to just finish them off with some lands and no resolved spells. helps a lot in the matchup post board. I'd also say that it feels even. What about against TitanShift? We're faster than them. Period. It's hard to lose when they need seven lands and you can kill them at five.
Across the board, every matchup that I've run against has felt fine or dominating. The London Mulligan has also made the deck feel a lot better. TitanShift needs more ramp and interaction, since it's a tad slower. However, we can easily mulligan down to five, since we need slightly less ramp spells than them. There have been many games where I felt like I was out of it, slowly plodded along dropping lands while an opponent tried to do some stuff, and then just found one of our eight copies of / .
The Future For The Deck
One of the things that I'm most excited about moving forward is how flexible this list can be. I included two Hour of Promise because, well, I had the space for them. If you need sweepers, you can throw in Anger of the Gods. If feels like a better ramp option, go right ahead. However, I think that with Throne of Eldraine coming out in a few weeks, TitanBreach is going to be getting the most toys in an overall underpowered set. The set itself doesn't seem to have a huge array of cards that are going to make an impact in Modern, however there's two in particular that I think could be great for the deck. First, we have . This allows you to dig for Primeval Titan, and if you miss, you can still grab a much needed land or . It also is a way to find hate pieces, and doesn't really disrupt your opening hand since it replaces itself. Second, the one I'm more excited about, .
This is one of those cards that seems kind of mediocre, but I think slots so well into this deck. The main thing we want to do once we've gotten a good amount of mana is ensure that we have a payoff ready to go. This card comes out at exactly that time. If you hit a , you can grab and put it in hand to drop with . Maybe you can just play the Titan itself. Or maybe drop , since you just got up to seven lands probably (with the clause about getting to play an extra land). It also says that you can play cards exiled this way, which means that your late-game 's aren't totally dead. If you hit a bunch of lands you might be able to turn that into some real fire power. It's just hard to see how this card can miss. In the deck I have above, I feel like it can easily replace , and maybe even trim some other ramp for it.
This ended up being a bit more of a "hot take" rather than a conclusive piece, since I don't have data to back this up. But I urge you to try it out yourself. is really cheap right now. If you already have TitanShift, it's very easy to pivot into it. It's also just a blast to play in my opinion. Being able to have draws that are basically live at any portion of the game makes it feel like no game is unwinnable, which is a great feeling to have. Until next time, I'll be shuffling up my Titans!