Over the last couple weeks I played Grand Prix Boston-Worcester and Pro Tour Magic 2015. First up was Modern.

Melira Pod

In my opinion, Melira Pod is the best deck in Modern. An unanswered Birthing Pod is always game over, and even when you don’t draw Pod, Gavony Township and resilient creatures often get the job done. Kiki Pod is the better deck when you have Pod in play, but I think it’s better to maximize the effectiveness of plan B, rather than make plan A slightly faster.

This list is only slightly different from the list I made Top 8 at GP Minneapolis with earlier this year, and I conferred with Sam Pardee, Jacob Wilson, and Josh McClain to make a few updates.

The main change in the Modern metagame recently has been an increase in Junk and B/G Rock decks. Chord can often be clunky, and is bad against decks that run lots of removal. We decided that shaving a Chord was acceptable given that they are mediocre against Rock decks. Sin Collector is a solid card that has always been in the 75, but having access to it in game one is valuable enough in some hard matchups like Scapeshift that it’s worth including in the main deck. Additionally, we added a Sigarda to the sideboard to help against Rock.

I’ve grown to dislike Woodland Cemetery. Any land that cannot tap for green on turn one can be extremely awkward with our seven 1-drop mana dorks. I decided to try Marsh Flats instead—it serves as an untapped green on turn one and another fetch that can find Godless Shrine. I found the ability to find Godless Shrine so valuable that I would consider a 3 Misty Rainforest, 2 Marsh Flats split in the future.

It is great to be able to tutor for Phyrexian Metamorph because it goes deep with Reveillark and persist, and being able to copy Pod in the mirror is a big game. However, drawing it against Rock decks can be quite poor, so I decided to go with the more reliable Restoration Angel. Both cards are terrific, but it is difficult to find room for both.

Recently in a Modern 1K, I needed to destroy my opponent’s Pod. I had Reveillark and a 1-drop in hand, with Pod, six lands, and Harmonic Sliver in play (I hadn’t been able to find a Reclamation Sage before the tournament). I considered podding my 1-drop into a Pridemage, but then I couldn’t cast ‘Lark, so it seemed like a waste. Then I remembered I had just added Restoration Angel to my deck, so I played Lark, podded Sliver into Angel to blink my Lark, and returned Sliver and another creature for value. I think Restoration Angel definitely deserves a slot in the deck.

Resto also played out just how I wanted against Pierre Dagen in our round 14 feature match for Top 8.  In game one, on turns five and six Pierre cast and flashed back Lingering Souls. I cast Murderous Redcap to take out Pierre’s 2/2 Scavenging Ooze, and used Viscera Seer to sacrifice it and pick off one of the souls. When Pierre all-out attacked the next turn, I used Resto to blink Redcap, shoot a soul, block a soul, and then sacrifice Redcap to eat another soul. (Soul Eater is a cool anime for those interested.)

Unfortunately I fared less well in the next two games, so I went into the last round with two losses. Normally my breakers would have been excellent because I started off with three byes and went undefeated on Day One, but because of the size of the tournament, tie-breakers reset, so I was actually in worse shape than those with two losses who had lost on Day One. Therefore, after winning my last round I finished 10th on breakers.

It has always made sense to me that players who lose earlier rather than later have worse tie-breakers than those who start out well. I understand there is a software issue to resolve—it is currently impossible to make tournaments above a certain size—but if Wizards resolved this problem I would be very happy. Regardless, by going X-2 I locked up an invite to Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir in Honolulu which is great.

The Pro Tour

For Pro Tour Magic 2015 I tested with team Face to Face Games. This was only my second Pro Tour, so I felt lucky to test with so many well respected players.

Standard was well explored, so all that remained was to see how the new cards could best be utilized. The first deck I tried was Mono-Green Devotion with Chord of Calling and Nissa, Worldwaker. Nissa was surprisingly lackluster, but Chord was quite useful. However, I abandoned the deck after finding the Mono-Black matchup unwinnable. Pack Rat and Lifebane Zombie were huge blowouts, and the combination of Thoughtseize and Hero’s Downfall could easily pick off your few action cards.

Next up was Goblins! Chained to the Rocks was made possible by Battlefield Forge, and Goblin Rabblemaster was worth a shot.

As it turned out, both of these additions were fantastic. The ability to Chain a blocker was invaluable. In order to reliably cast Chained to the Rocks before, Temple of Triumph was necessary, but playing Rakdos Cackler and Temples in the same deck is no bueno.

Goblin Rabblemaster proved his worth many times over. With Firefist Striker, Legion Loyalist, and Chained to the Rocks to clear a path, the opponent quickly succumbed to Goblin hordes. He also worked quite well with Foundry Street Denizen. In testing I began to feel the Rabblemaster’s hypnotic power over the other Goblins myself. I found myself yelling “Goblin! Goblin! Goblin!” in the battle phase and “Gobleeen…” when lamenting the loss of a fallen comrade.

In the end, although the Goblin deck was fantastic against Mono-Black, I was less confident in my matchups against control and Polukranos decks, so I retired my Goblins.

Many players from Team Revolution, including Melissa DeTora, played a similar list at the PT. They played mono-red with Stoke the Flames and Rubblebelt Maaka. Their list also had Ash Zealot over Eidolon in the maindeck. We tried Stoke and found it lacking, but perhaps we eliminated it too quickly. I was very impressed with Chained to the Rocks in testing, but perhaps Rubblebelt Maaka is more powerful than I thought. At any rate, I highly recommend tying out Goblins in the remainder of this Standard format. Goblin Rabblemaster is a strong Magic card, and I expect it to be a format staple post-rotation.

After a few days of intensive testing, Josh McClain became obsessed with Jalira Pod. He kept repeating “Jalira, Melira, Jalira, Melira!” We tried to snap him out of it, but based on his performance at the PT, our efforts were in vain. Alexander Hayne also struggled with sanity, preferring to interact on Facebook as his alter ego Billy Degoete, esteemed McDonald’s chef.

I ended up on Mono-Blue Devotion, the deck I’ve been playing for months. I think it was reasonably well positioned, and while I went 5-5 in Constructed and didn’t cash, Sam Pardee played the same 75 to 6-3-1. If I were to play the Pro Tour over again tomorrow I would play Mono-Blue again.

Now the 2013-2014 season is over, and I’ve achieved Silver status. Hopefully I can capitalize on my Honolulu invite and rolling Silver invite to put up some great finishes this season.

Thanks for reading, see you this weekend at GP Portland!