2014 Modern States – Tournament Report

On August 2nd the TCGPlayer.com Modern State Championships was hosted by Desert Sky Games at the Southeast Valley Baptist Church. I have bounced back and forth between decks that I have played in Modern as I’ve talked about in some previous articles that I’ve done. After playing with Affinity, a Life from the Loam deck and a 4 color Gifts Control deck I decided that I wanted to be a bit more proactive with inevitability and landed on Melira Pod. I chose Melira Pod over the Kiki-Pod variant because I wanted to be able to wind the grindier matchups and have a little bit of a more consistent deck that didn’t rely on Chord of Calling as much.

Speaking of Chord, I am absolutely ecstatic that Chord was reprinted in M15 lowering the price of the card in Modern. For those that do not know, Melira Pod has a few infinite combos in it. Melira + Persist Creature + Viscera Seer = Infinite enters the battlefield triggers if there is no response to the persist triggers. Melira makes it impossible for a persist creature to come back into play with a -1/-1 counter so you can infinitely sacrifice the creature to Seer and allow you to also scry a particular card to the top of your deck.

The deck that I had decided to go with was very similar to the list that Nathan Holiday played in the Boston GP not too long ago:

Creatures (29)
Viscera Seer
Noble Hierarch
Birds of Paradise
Wall of Roots
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Scavenging Ooze
Qasali Pridemage
Voice of Resurgence
Hushwing Gryff
Orzhov Pontiff
Sin Collector
Kitchen Finks
Eternal Witness
Ranger of Eos
Murderous Redcap
Restoration Angel

Spells: (9)
Slaughter Pact
Abrupt Decay
Chord of Calling
Birthing Pod

Lands: (23)
Misty Rainforest
Temple Garden
Godless Shrine
Razorverge Thicket
Marsh Flats
Overgrown Tomb
Gavony Township
Verdant Catacombs
Sideboard: (15)
Burrenton Forge-Tender
Scavenging Ooze
Abrupt Decay
Aven Mindcensor
Reclamation Sage
Entomber Exarch
Thrun, the Last Troll
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Sin Collector

The usual suspects are all here, with some tweaks that I had made due to card availability. The Slaughter Pact was a card that I wanted to have because the metagame from what I’ve noticed was pretty skewed towards twin. Turns out I only played Twin once in the entire tournament but I saw a fair share of it running around. It’s also not terrible against affinity since it kills their man lands (Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus). I also wanted to go away from the Spike Feeder + Archangel of Thune combo as Feeder by itself is pretty great at doing nothing, but can be returned off of Reveillark. Archangel is good against some of the longer matches, but it doesn’t really do all too much against Affinity and I didn’t want it against control. Hushwing Gryff was a necessary evil as I did not have a Linvala in my deck due to deck availability. I would have much rather have had the legendary flyer to be able to Birthing Pod into instead of the Gryff. Phyrexian Metamorph is another card that I had decided I did not want to play with as I personally have never liked the card in Pod decks but I can understand different opinions on the card, just not to my liking.  Mainboard Sin Collector is pretty decent against the meta barring Affinity as you can more than likely strip a card out of your opponent’s hand as well as gain information on their hand and how the game will play out which is huge when playing a deck like this. If the coast is clear to go infinite with Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap, why not end the game on the spot?

Going to the sideboard Reclamation Sage is a card that 9 times out of 10 I wanted in my mainboard as I was playing against Affinity and various hate cards like Stony Silence and Grafdigger’s Cage. Reclamation Sage, unlike Viridian Shaman (and it’s infected brother Viridian Corruptor) is a may ability and can hit enchantments so podding into it with nothing on board isn’t terrible but you would probably rather one of the other 3 drops in the deck. Burrenton Forge-Tender is great against Anger of the Gods out of the Jund Decks as well as Splinter Twin. Entomber Exarch gives the deck another Gravedigger effect, as well as a Duress that can take lands out of your opponent’s hands, something that I did not know at the beginning of the tournament.

In all honesty, I’m surprised and disappointed at the same time with how I did at States; it’s the first time I’ve played in a big Modern event since last year where I played Kiki-Pod in a Modern PTQ. This is also the second time that I have ever played with the Melira Pod deck. Some of the lines were a bit weird at times, but for the most part I felt like I was in control of the game nearly the entire time. I’m disappointed because I feel like if I hadn’t made some pretty poor decisions in Top 8 and had access to Linvala especially I would have made it through to at least Top 4 if not further.

Round 1: Turbo Fog

My opponent stated that this was his first Modern tournament ever, and was new to everything that was going on. In game 1 I curved out with turn 1 Birds, turn 2 Birthing Pod turn 3 Kitchen Finks and Viscera Seer, turn 4 hard cast Melira and podded Finks into Redcap and got both infinite combos online. My opponent cast a Riot Control in response to the Redcap persist trigger so on his upkeep I went infinite again and he scooped up his cards after I explained that this was going to happen every turn for the rest of the game. In game 2 I was able to get two Voices down pretty quickly and got a Sin Collector out, getting a Riot Control out of my opponents hand and eventually just attacked him to death.

Matches 1-0 Games 2-0

Round 2: Merfolk

In this round I was ran over pretty quickly, it’s kind of hard to deal with giant lords with a midrangey deck that doesn’t have much main board removal especially damage based removal. In game 2 I missed a pretty crucial land drop that would have allowed me to pay for a Cursecatcher counter on my Dismember trying to kill a Merrow Reejery. The following turn the Reejery allowed my opponent to play a few lords and just overwhelm me.

Matches 1-1 Games 2-2

Round 3: Affinity

In this match the games were over pretty quickly, in game 1 I believe I was able to 3 or 4 for 1 with an Orzhov Pontiff killing a bunch of x/1s out of the affinity deck and stuck a Spellskite to block an Etched Champion forever. Game 2 I died real fast to a Cranial Plating and in game 3 I was able to Chord up a Reclamation Sage to kill a Plating and slowly take over the game.

Matches 2-1 Games 4-3


Round 4: Affinity

This round is where things started going a little crazy for me. In game 1 I was able to get Melira down while I was getting attacked with an Inkmoth Nexus that was suited up with a Cranial Plating. I took the damage as normal damage and eventually was able to kill my opponent with an infinite combo of some sorts. In game 2 I died pretty quickly to a Ravager and a bunch of dudes, while being able to redirect a Modular trigger to my Spellskite which was pretty sweet, as my opponent didn’t realize I could do that but still died anyways. In game 3 towards the end of the game we got into a tricky board state in which I had Melira and a bunch of guys out and my opponent had his own flying army as well. I was able to wipe the board with a Pontiff but was still facing down lethal Blinkmoth and Inkmoth Nexus (Nexii?).  My opponent goes to attack with a Plating equipped Inkmoth Nexus for 6 dropping me to 8 life as a judge speaks up and explains that I need to recheck my life total…

Turns out that Melira due to timestamping renders Inkmoth Nexus completely invalid as a creature and will not do any damage. Melira removes Infect from all creatures but the activated ability of Inkmoth Nexus adds the Infect ability back on to Inkmoth Nexus. This results in an Infect creature that cannot deal damage due to Melira also stating that it’s controller cannot get poison counters as well as it’s other abilities. My opponent and I deliberate with the judge as this was not the case in the previous games (and since I am a Level 1 judge I’m a little embarrassed to not know this interaction even exists in my deck). With that attack effectively rendered null, I am able to race the creatures on board and win the match before extra turns are finished.

Matches 3-1 Games 6-4


Round 5: UW control

At this point in the tournament, I feel good about my deck choice since it’s been a while since I’ve played Pod. But I have a pretty bad taste in my mouth from the previous match. I’m not happy with the way that round ended. I feel like it ended on a technicality; a proverbial asterisk next to the win so to say. My opponent says something along the lines to me of “it’s just a game.” I don’t really understand why he said this to me as I’m stuck in the abyss that is my thoughts sometimes and just sit at the table quiet and win the die roll. This match had some interesting interactions in it to say the least. On my turn 5 I have 5 land, one of which is a Gavony Township, a Kitchen Finks, a Birds of Paradise and a Viscera Seer. I go to enter my attack step and my opponent responds by casting a Cryptic Command targetting my Kitchen Finks and tapping all creatures I control. I know that if I make the Kitchen Finks an illegal target (sac it to the Seer) the Cryptic will be countered and I will be able to attack for 3 damage after activating my Township. I call a judge over to double check for myself and proceed to sacrifice my Finks to the Seer. My opponent doesn’t believe this will counter the Cryptic Command because it is two separate effects, which he is correct about. However, the first thing that a spell checks when it tries to resolve is if the targets are legal. Since the Cryptic Command being cast only has one target (C. Command only has 2 modes that target, bounce and counter target spell) the entire spell is countered upon resolution. My opponent is not happy about this and reacts according leading to the judge to talk to him away from the table for a few minutes. The rest of the match goes by pretty quickly for me after I get Pact of Negationed 3x in game 1 alone but I am able to grind through the countermagic and win the first and second game without much issue. There is a turn in game 2 where I have a Seer, Ranger of Eos and Pod in play and would be able to kill my opponent by just podding into Reveillark and saccing to the Seer, bringing back a Redcap and a Melira but I attacked with the Ranger for some reason.

Matches 4-1 Games 8-4


Round 6: Junk

This match I know if I win I’m basically locked into top 8, I’m sitting at Table 2 and the only 2 undefeateds are at Table 1 and drawing. In game 1 I slowly grind my opponent out from his Tarmogoyfs and Dark Confidants and assemble the infinite life combo taking the first two loops very slowly to avoid getting blown out by something unexpected and being able to react accordingly without being surprised. Once I state after the 2nd iteration I’m going to go to essentially infinite my opponent scoops. In game 2 my opponent plays turn 1 Grafdigger’s Cage turn 2 Cage + Thoughtseize taking a creature out of my hand then turn 3 Stony Silence. At this point I have 2 Chords, a Birthing Pod and a Finks in my hand. I am able to get the Finks on board and get counters on it via Gavony Township and my opponent scoops.


Matches 5-1 Games 10-4


Round 7: ??? Draw

I drew with my round 7 opponent and promptly left to get the first bite of food I’ve eaten all day… at roughly 5 or 6 pm. Way to go Joe.

Matches 5-1-1

Top 8: Twin

The one matchup I wanted to avoid all day was Twin because I knew my maindeck was suboptimal for the matchup. Game 1 I won pretty quickly after being afraid of the infinite exarch/pestermite combo (see my standard twin article to see how this works if you don’t already know.) Games 2 and 3 however were slugfests taking a very long amount of time and brainpower as I needed to make sure I got everything out of my Birthing Pods that I could while not overextending into Anger of the Gods. I eventually lose the match and I still believe I pretty much misplayed myself out of it and I never take that very well.

I would like to however congratulate Paul Cuillier and thank DSG for running a great Modern States event! I look forward to playing in Flagstaff at the Geekery for SCG States come the fall and perhaps I can get out of top 8 of States with a Junk deck this time around.