Sacking Out: Drawn and Quartered *Top 9*

Written by LegitMTG Staff on . Posted in Competitive Magic, Modern

Hello again. My name is Peter, and I’m a PODiatrist. When last we spoke, I had Top 8’d a PTQ in Louisville with the Melira Pod deck. Unfortunately, my sideboard wasn’t too great, and I lost to Splinter Twin in the quarterfinals. With two PTQs in Columbus this past weekend, I was determined to improve my finish with the same deck. Unfortunately, I finished slightly worse than the week prior. On Saturday, I finished in the Top 9. I’ll let you narrow it down from there.

Pod Mods

Going into this tournament, I knew that I wanted to stick with my previous decklist as much as I could. I wanted to change up the sideboard just a few cards. I love the deck, and I’m not one to mess with success. That being said, Choke is awful and needed to go. Since I still hate discard spells, I decided to go with some much needed spot removal in Dismember. Some people asked why Dismember over Path to Exile, or some other removal spell. My answer is that Dismember is much more versatile. Against a Twin Deck, having multiple white mana to cast multiple Path to Exiles (Remanded or otherwise) can be difficult. Dismember can be cast off of any land, and even off of Wall of Roots, and if you can’t pay four life, it is easy enough to pay full cost. The Dismembers worked out great. While I didn’t face any Splinter Twin decks on Saturday, the Dismembers proved invaluable against RB Burn, which is a winnable matchup if you can kill their Dark Confidants, which are a huge problem for a deck without removal.

Everything else, including the Thalias, Kamigawa lands, and everyone’s favorite creature with transmute and fear, Dimir House Guard, stayed as it was.

Legends of the Hidden Ten-ple to the Grandfathers

Quad Pod

Strangely, a lot of people that I talked to about my deck told me how hard it is to play. For some reason, I have never thought so, and that’s not because I am good at Magic or anything. Never let anyone talk you into that. Half-jokingly, I told those people that my entire Magic career has been training for this deck, since Melira Pod is basically the same as 75% of my cube drafts. Here’s some random tips for playing this deck.

Know your role. The corollary tip is don’t be afraid to deal them 20. Against many decks, Melira Pod’s goal is not to combo, but to legitimately beat down. The combo should feel like an accident against many matchups. More than once in this tournament, I was on the offensive with random creatures (remember, this deck has THIRTY creatures), and when my opponent was forced to deal with my pressure, I comboed him in response with a Chord of Calling. Against some decks like Affinity, you should probably be trying to combo, at least pre-sideboard, but against other decks, like Jund, UW control, Tron, and even Burn, you want to try to beatdown.

Pod Fraud

This deck has a funny name; it should be called Melira Chord. That’d be a whole new series of puns. Pod is not as good as Chord. It’s fragile, expensive, and snore-cery speed. People want to kill your Pods. When your Pod gets killed, it’s generally very bad. I board out Pods, I don’t board Chords (see?). Your opponent should respect your combo enough that you should board out of it some. Boarding out your Pods leaves your deck more resilient and can make your opponent’s sideboard cards dead. I played a match against Jund where I beat him down, and he dumped two Ancient Grudges on the table. All four Pods were in my sideboard.

In a nutshell, this deck is a rock-type deck with a toolbox of creatures meant to deal with anything Modern can throw at you, that also has an “oops, I win” factor. Use it as such. Deal with your opponent’s stuff, put on some pressure, and if the coast is clear, gain a few million life. I’ve ended a dozen games with a Chord of Calling or two in my hand. That should show you how the deck is best played.

Pod Trod

I headed up to Columbus on Friday night. I met up with notable StarCityGames columnist, stand-up comedian, and Garruk Relentless enthusiast Reuben Bresler, who kindly shared his (parents’) humble abode with me (and about thirty-five other delinquents) for the weekend. Matt Kranstuber (whose fictional email address is kstube@kstube.kstube,) who organized this wonderful event, was also in attendance. We cube drafted with a common/uncommon cube. I drafted a UBrg deck with looters and ninjitsu creatures, and more Karoos than even LegitMTG’s own JR Wade is comfortable drafting. I went 1-1 losing to Reuben’s UB control deck, after battling over Mind Controlled and reanimated Looters. I would exact my revenge in a cube draft the following day with a Gw 15-land aggro deck, featuring Plow Under and Primal Command for Acidic Slime. Sorry about your lands. Not really.

After the festivities, we went back to Reuben’s place, where we met up with avid zoosman and MTG Bridge barnacle Mark Larson. After watching Reuben’s mono-green Tron deck get pulverized by Larson’s Splinter Twin deck about 25 times, we went to bed.

Pod-a-Thon

On to the tournament! The sideboard strategies I give are not card-for-card. This is a one-of deck, so there are tons of tweaks I make depending on what they have. Usually the sideboard outs include pods and whatever one-ofs are bad in the matchup.

Round 1 vs. RUG Delver

This was a long match. Too long, in fact.

I lost game one after having my Birthing Pod Mana Leaked. I guess people play that card. A flipped Delver did some irreparable damage, and a couple of Cryptic Commands sealed up the game as only runner Dismisses can.

I sided in spot removal in Putrefy and Dismember, Orzhov Pontiff, Nekrataal, and Baneslayer Angel.

Game two went in my favor. I was able to beat him down in the end. One cool play was when on my draw step, he Vendilion Cliqued me and buried a Mikaeus the Unhallowed. He had an unflipped Delver and a Grim Lavamancer. I played a Wall of Roots and Poded into Orzhov Pontiff for the full three-for one. That card is too good.

Game three went in my favor. I beat him down early, and eventually he stabilized with a Vedalken Shackles. I Chorded end of his turn for a Shriekmaw to kill a stolen Kitchen Finks, returning it to my side. I swung for lethal, but his last card was a Lightning Bolt to kill my Shriekmaw, leaving him at three life. I was unable to kill him through the Shackles on turn four of extra turns. I felt I had Overwhelming Forces, and asked my opponent “Draw?” He said yes, and I was unfortunately in the draw bracket.

Round 2 vs. UW Control

I was paired down against an 0-1 player with an pretty stock UW Control list.

In game 1, I was behind early after a Mana Leak and Snapcaster Mage countered a Fink and a Pod. He started beating me down with Snapcaster, Squadron Hawks, and a Vendilion Clique. I was able to Shriekmaw the Clique and hold the ground with some creatures. I stuck a Melira and a Finks and Poded up a Tidehollow Sculler to nab a potential removal spell. My opponent Path’d the Sculler with the trigger on the stack, a pretty common mistake for those who don’t know how the card works. I Castigated a Vedalken Shackles, and life comboed him the next turn.

I sided out Pods and Mikaeus for Nekrataal, Pontiff (very good against Squadron Hawks, Snapcaster Mages, and Vendilion Cliques,) and some artifact removal.

In game two, I was much more aggressive, having a start with Birds, Kitchen Finks, Melira, and Thrun. I played around Wrath, holding a Finks and another creature back, but it never came. When he tapped out to Cryptic Command my team, I Chorded for infinite life in response, and he scooped again.

1-0-1

Round 3 vs. Melira Pod

Great, a mirror match. This is one of the more miserable mirror matches. Hits include mirrored Legendary Creatures, having to think about Birthing Pod and Chord of Calling, infinite life not being good enough, and decision trees bigger than a Ghoultree.

In game one, I got the lead with a quick Pod. I used it to search up a Harmonic Sliver to blow up one of my opponents’ copies of the same card. While he had a second Pod, my opponent was behind, and had to tap out. I had a Melira and a Finks on my side when he Poded out a Birds of Paradise. In response, I Chorded for the Viscera Seer and life comboed, scrying a Reveillark to the top of my deck. He found a Melira and the two copies made like Narcissus and reflected to their destruction. My “topdecked” Reveillark was sacrificed to get my Melira back, and a Pod activation found the Redcap to deal a few million damage.

I sided in Dismembers and Orzhov Pontiff, another miserable mirror card.

Fortunately, game two was a breeze when my opponent mulliganed to five. I naturally drew the damage combo, and played it out when my opponent was tapped out on turn five. As they say, bust a Redcap in yo’ ass.

2-0-1

Round 4 vs. Akil Steele with Jund

Akil is a pretty well-known player in the Midwest. He always battles with some sort of Black and Green midrange deck. Today was no different. Akil had some spicy cards like Chameleon Colossus and Quagnoth in his Jund deck.

Game one was a generic midrange mirror. We traded some beats, and eventually I cast a Chord of Calling for six, finding Mikaeus. Intimidating and flying beats from a Reveillark put him on a two-turn clock and I had more than enough creatures to hold the ground.

I boarded out Pods, boarding in Putrefy, Sun Titan, Baneslayer Angel, one Baloth, and Nekrataal.

Game two was very similar. Akil got very flooded and had few removal spells. While he did have a Thrun and a Chameleon Colossus, I had more than enough creatures to keep his guys on defense. A Baneslayer Angel and a hard-casted Sun Titan wrapped up this match.

3-0-1

Round 5: Jund

The next round held another Jund deck, which I was happy to see. In game one, a mulligan and early pressure from two Lavamancers and Dark Confidant put me behind. I tried to set up a combo, but he wisely killed my Melira with a Lavamancer activation. Dark Confidant and a Bloodbraid Elf put me too far beind, and I was dead in short order.

Same sideboard strategy as the previous match. There is a sort of rock-paper-scissors type game against Jund. Usually, the Jund player respects Obstinate Baloth and boards out Liliana of the Veil and Blightnings, if they have them. Therefore, I board in just one Baloth for life-gaining purposes. Since I was down a game, I boarded in more artifact removal than I usually do, since I didn’t know what his hate would be.

In game two, my opponent casted a Liliana, and made me sacrifice a Kitchen Finks. The Finks attacked Liliana and traded with a Dark Confidant. Another Finks and Melira came down. I discarded a Thrun to the Liliana. The next turn, he killed his Liliana to make me sacrifice. I sacrificed the Kitchen Finks with Melira in play, assuming my Melira would be Bolted with persist on the stack. My opponent didn’t realize the interaction, however, so my Kitchen Finks came back unscathed. That put him pretty far behind and an Obstinate Baloth helped deal twenty.

I boarded in the other Baloths since he showed me Lilianas.

In game three, I believe my opponent mulliganned. I killed a Dark Confidant with a Redcap and beat down with Thrun. When I won, he showed two artifact removal spells in his hand.

4-0-1

Round 6: Jon Johnson with GWu aggro, and sneaky Gifts

Jon Johnson, who I had just met the day before at Reuben’s house, was one of the three X-0s; I got paired up this time. He had a spicy GW deck, sort of like a Modern Maverick, featuring Squadron Hawks, Knight of the Reliquary, Noble Hierarch, and everyone’s top three competitor for two mana snakes that accelerate mana, Lotus Cobra.

Game One saw Jon get off to a fast start with multiple Cobras, Heirarch, and Hawks. A Sword of War and Peace hit me once, and I was forced to Chord up a Harmonic Sliver to blow it up. A raw-dogged Linvala kept him off of some mana, but my sick peels of Birds, Birds, land, land in the last four turns of the game were not exactly stellar, and I was pecked to death.

My sideboard plan was to blow him out with Orzhov Pontiff. Also sided in Baneslayer, Nekrataal, and some Dismember for Knights.

Game two went similarly. I had a bit of a better start, with a Pontiff getting a 3-for-1, but a Sun Titan took Jon to Value Town via the Horizon Canopy Express. I managed to get him down to three life when an Elesh Norn came down and made my creatures quite dead. I was almost able to kill him by evoking a Shriekmaw to kill his Sun Titan that had been haunted by my Pontiff to give my Reveillark +1/+1, making it a robust 3/2, but Jon had a Squadron Hawk to block, unfortunately.

4-1-1

Round 7: Sam Stoddard with BR Burn

Round seven was the beginning of the run-bads, as I had to play a win-and-in against my good friend Sam Stoddard. (He’s host of the very awesome In Contention podcast, check them out!) He was on red-black burn. The matchup isn’t awful or anything, but Dark Confidants are good against you in game one, and it’s generally swingy; your deck is forced to play specific cards to win.

In game one, two Grim Lavamancers and some burn headed my way. I played a Kitchen Finks and a Redcap on his first Lavamancer. I played a Pod and found a Dimir House Guard to both add to my clock and provide some lifegain with my two Kitchen Finks. On that same end step, Sam Lavamancer’d me for two. I sacrificed my Redcap to the House Guard to deal his Lavamancer one. With four life on the board, Sam couldn’t burn me out, and died to the beatdown next turn.

I sided in Orzhov Pontiff, Dismembers, Baneslayer Angel, Putrefy, Pridemage, and Obstinate Baloth s, siding out Pods, Mikaeus, and others.

A turn one Birds casted a turn two Dismember for full price on a Dark Confidant. A Kitchen Finks and Linvala came down. Sam landed a Torpor Orb, but the rest of his cards weren’t great, and a second no-life Kitchen Finks joined the brawl.

5-1-1

Pod, Downtrodden

I made it. Or so I had thought. My match had finished early, and so I sorted my deck and told all my friends I had made it. The first two tables had drawn, and there were four other matches, so it would be a clean cut. About twenty minutes later, Sam patted me on the shoulder and said that the third table had been nearing time, and decided to draw game three, which would kick me out on tiebreakers. Sure enough, the judge announced the Top 8, and I was left out. The judge announced my demise very dramatically, which was nice of him.

When he announced my name in ninth place, I got the best cheer of any of the names from my friends. I raised my hands in the air, hung my head, and made my best salty face. Richard “the Beard” Starsky picked up my 130 pound frame of shame and carried me on his shoulder for a defeat lap. That’s the opposite of a victory lap. Luckily, the prizes paid down to Top 8. Wait, that’s not lucky at all. This was a bona fide dick-kicking. Until I went to Chipotle – then the whole day was better.

There’s much more I could say about this weekend, but this is a sad story, dang it, not a happy one. All I will say is that my friends are awesome, and Melira Pod is awesome. I would play the same seventy-five again. Switch a Thalia with an Orzhov Pontiff from the sideboard. That’s it.

Until then, let the doctors cut the Chord.

Peter

@StoneColdNuts31 on Twitter

Johnsop8@mail.uc.edu

Member of the MTG bridge podcast, a comedic look at Magic, its culture and its players. Check us out at www.mtgbridge.com (NSFW)

Oh, and Heather…?

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