Scapewish is a Green-Black-Red combo Nic Fit variant that aims to use Veteran Explorer and other means to ramp to 7-8 lands and finish the game in a single stroke with Scapeshift for some Mountains and a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle or two.

Unlike typical Jund Fit, Scapewish does not run Punishing Fire because Grove of the Burnwillows would interfere with the critical Mountain count for the combo. Scapewish also might not have as many late game threats as other Nic Fit decks as it already has Scapeshift to close out the game. Make no mistake though that cards like Primeval Titan or Huntmaster of the Fells can still win a game pretty quickly if unanswered.

The “Wish” part of the name comes from Burning Wish which provides a wishboard of a redundant Scapeshift that’s safe from Surgical Extraction effects, additional removal like Pyroclasm and Toxic Deluge, and possibly a few silver bullets in cards like Massacre or Slaughter Games.

The variant was pioneered by Sam Castrucci who has been running Scapeshift in Legacy since at least 2012 and by user Arianrhod in this 2014 thread on The Source.

How does Scapeshift work?

If you don’t play Modern, this is a pretty common question. Scapeshift is a “one card combo” where after getting to 7 lands in play, you cast Scapeshift, sacrifice all your lands, and get 6 Mountains (duals count) and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Each Mountain sees 5 other Mountains and so Valakut triggers 6 times dealing 18 damage which is usually enough. If you wait until you have 8 lands, you can get 6 Mountains and 2 Valakuts and deal 36 damage.

One critical difference with Legacy is the presence of Wasteland. Against an opposing Wasteland, you need an additional land. If you get just the minimum 6 Mountains and Valakut and the opponent wastes a red dual land, you’re left with 5 Mountains and fizzled Valakut triggers. For the same reason, it’s a good idea to leave a basic Mountain in the deck when comboing off in case they have Assassin’s Trophy.

It’s worth noting that lands are sacrificed on resolution with Scapeshift so you don’t get blown out if it is countered.

A Scapewish starting point and variations

In mid-2019, Scapewish was one of the better Nic Fit variants and Sam Castrucci piloted the deck to a 3rd/4th place finish in a Legacy 1k tournament. Sam’s decklist makes for a pretty good starting point for any list although the latter half of 2019 and 2020 added a number of interesting cards to Legacy and Scapewish in particular.

Scapewish by Sam Castrucci

3rd/4th Place Philadelphia Legacy Series Final (1k) - May, 2019

Take note of the sheer amount of ramp in the deck. Not content to play only Veteran Explorer, the deck runs a pair of Sakura-Tribe Elders, Nissa Vastwood Seer and of course Prime Time. It’s also worth noting that Nissa, Vital Force can return lost Valakuts from the graveyard.

With the exception of the 4 Badlands and 4 Taigas, the list is pretty budget friendly assuming you already have the Verdant Catacombs. One suggested variation is to cut down to 2 Badlands and 2 Taigas and add Shock lands (eg. Stomping Ground) and the Battle for Zendikar duals (eg. Cinder Glade) in order to also support a Field of the Dead backup plan while still keeping up the Mountain count.

2020 added Dryad of the Ilysian Grove which doubles as both ramp and it turns every land in the deck into a Mountain for Valakut. It also lets the deck go off a turn earlier. You can fetch 4 lands and 2 Valakuts and since all 6 lands are Mountains each one “sees” 5 other Mountains and triggers Valakut. By leaning more heavily on Dryad, you could relax the Mountain count a bit as the recent successes of the Titanic Dryad decks have proved.

How is Scapewish played?

Scapewish’s primary plan is to delay the game while making land drops every turn. Cards like Sakura-Tribe Elder which functions as a blocker and ramp are particularly good in Scapewish. Once the deck has 7-8 lands, every single Burning Wish or Scapeshift requires a counterspell or the opponent loses on the spot.

The deck can also win with Primeval Titan fetching a Valakut or two and just turning every future land drop into a Lightning Bolt from just the natural Mountain count without even resorting to the combo. Veteran Explorers function as two bolts!

A very common play from Scapewish is to use the first Burning Wish to get something like Lost Legacy or Slaughter Games to clear out any pesky countermagic or anything else that would stop the combo. Due to the sheer amount of ramp in Scapewish, this can start happening as early as turn 3.

Unlike the Modern deck, Scapewish is more of a control deck than a fast combo. Even though Veteran Explorer ramps better than just about every ramp card in Modern, the deck aims to stabilize on the board and can grind out a win even when the combo doesn’t go off.

What are Scapewish’s good and bad matchups?

Scapewish feels amazing against any deck that tries to drag the game out beyond turn 5-7. By that time, the deck will have made its land drops and assembled the one card combo. Midrange decks, even blue ones, feel like one of the best matchups.

In contrast to most Nic Fit variants, Scapewish has a favorable matchup against Miracles and Snow Control. Those games typically go long and by then every Scapeshift or Burning Wish is lethal. Swords to Plowshares doesn’t do too much against Scapewish as most cards have gotten their value by the time they’re plowed.

Nic Fit is usually favored against most aggro matchups and while that is still generally true with Scapewish, the deck isn’t quite as strong there. Some matchups like Eldrazi Aggro are actually quite tough and the deck feels a little weaker to Delver than usual Nic Fit given it’s lighter suite of removal.

Like many Nic Fit decks, it still struggles against many combo decks. Compared with just about every combo in Legacy, Scapewish is quite a bit slower. Where Storm might be a turn 3 combo (although it sometimes gets there faster), this deck is more of a turn 5-6 combo on a good day. Even the disruption that Scapewish puts up against combo is a bit on the slow side. While the deck typically runs Collector Ouphe the only other method of slowing down combo aside from Cabal Therapy is to Burning Wish for something like Slaughter Games.


Scapewish has a bit of a different game plan from many Nic Fit archetypes and really rewards pilots who gain a level of familiarity with the deck. The deck requires quite a bit of planning multiple turns ahead in order to setup the combo, and cards like Burning Wish allow for a huge number of possible plays on any given turn. Practice definitely makes perfect with this variant.

While this video is a bit dated, Sam Castrucci piloted Scapewish at 2014 Eternal Weekend.