(A discussion with Brian Braun-Duin, creature combo expert, helped me to write this article.)
The core of most Collected Company decks comes from a great, well-designed, Magic card that, despite rewarding skill and deckbuilding, got banned.
I’m not really looking to start a debate here whether it was a good decision to ban it or not, yet, I still think it’s unfortunate to have such complicated and fun cards like that getting axed.
Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
My first ever experience against Melira Pod was, again, at Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011, the first Modern Pro Tour, where I played against Lukas Jaklovsky. He stomped me and was one of the first, alongside his fellow Czechs, to put the deck on the map. Unfortunately, the format was way too fast and combo oriented back then, so though Lukas did well in the tournament, Pod didn’t make much of a splash.
Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
Who would’ve thought?! Craig Wescoe was the creator of Kiki Pod apparently. It is obviously not close to what Kiki Pod became, yet, it is the first list that had Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker in it.
So, these two lists were the ancestors of the later tier 1 decks.
They evolved and became more streamlined, eventually cutting or replacing the unnecessary 1-ofs.
GP Minneapolis 2014 Top 8
Brian played this strategy for a while and has been known as a reference to every Pod player since then. Well, I was always looking for BBD’s latest lists on Magic Online, at least.
GP Richmond 1st place
Now, you see the huge contrast with Craig’s list—mainly due to the printing of Restoration Angel, which completely changed the deck. Brian Liu won a GP with this list and has been known for playing decks like it. I was never a big Kiki Pod fan, so I can’t really tell if this approximates the “stock” list, but I’ll assume so, since Brian knows what he’s doing.
This variant has some crazy Birthing Pod lines. With two creatures and a Pod, you could activate it multiple times to finish with a combo kill, all in the same turn.
The attraction to this version is the blue, which gives you Glen Elendra Archmage, an insanely powerful card when you put her in play with mana open.
History class is done, now let’s get to present and your new teacher will be…
This is the Company deck that my collaborator for this article, Brian Braun-Duin, has been working on since the printing of Collected Company.
On the surface it looks like a port from pre-bannings, but BBD feels like it’s important we understand it is not doing the same thing.
- Melira Pod was a deck designed to try to value grind your opponent out of the game, but that could occasionally win via combo killing them, and this deck is a deck that’s sole purpose is to combo kill them, but sometimes you can value them out instead.
Brian is no longer working on Collected Company strategies these days, but he has a tremendous amount of knowledge on it since he desperately wanted it to be good.
He arrived to the deck list above based on the following mentality:
- I found that dedicating to the combo was more important than trying to play a fair value game. Playing a fair game in Modern isn’t a successful venture without cards like Thoughtseize and Liliana of the Veil. Once I was dedicated to the combo, I slowly stripped away everything that didn’t involve it.
Sideboard Tips from Brian
- Sideboard out the entire combo against highly disruptive decks like Jund and Grixis.
- Sideboard out pieces of the combo against decks that have some disruption, like Tron with Relic of Progenitus.
- In racing matchups like Bogles or Burn I side out none of the combo, basically matchups where infinite life is good.
- It’s important to make sure that Collected Company is still good after sideboard, which is why my sideboard is heavily creature-based.
As for other builds, Collected Company offers::
Naya Company, a beatdown deck that doesn’t usually combo, but has the possibility of running Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki.
4C Company, built like Kiki-Pod from Brian Liu, tries to assemble a combo while taking advantage of Restoration Angel with cards like Eternal Witness and Kitchen Finks.
Abzan Company Aggro, a deck Brian developed, it plays Anafenza, the Foremost and Tarmogoyf. Usually this is a better version than straight Abzan Company when you are looking to beat fair decks like Jund, but worse against the rest of the field.
Elves, this one is kind of in a different category, yet, feels like a Pod deck when you play Chord of Calling with a few silver bullets to turn around otherwise bad matchups. This is personally one of my favorite deck in Modern right now, but I’ll give you that it’s not really like the other Company decks.
This is definitely the archetype that I had the less experience with over the years of Modern, I want to thank Brian Braun-Duin for sharing his knowledge with us today!