Hey guys, it’s Tim. I anticipated a pretty intense week for me, as far as my workload goes, but luckily for you, I was able to plan ahead and procure the services of a special guest! Ladies and gentleman, I leave you with Mr. Robert Pompa, tackling a Modern non-blue deck (so, something that you would probably never be able to get out of me), the Grand Prix powerhouse, Melira-Pod! We’ll return with our regularly scheduled programming, next week. Regularly scheduled Twitching will also resume, as soon as we get Dailies back, which is next Wednesday, if I recall correctly!


By Robert Pompa 

Modern is a very diverse format. Any given day at a Modern event you can face one of dozens of archetypes. One of the more popular decks, since the release of Dragon’s Maze, is Melira Pod. Melira Pod gets its name from a small Scars of Mirrodin block anti-infect hate bear known as Melira, Sylvok Outcast. The interaction with Melira’s text, “creature’s you control can’t have -1/-1 counters placed on them,” and persist creatures like Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap, allow for a very powerful, and surprisingly difficult to interact with combo-kill when paired with a sacrifice outlet.

The great thing about Melira Pod is that while it is considered a “combo” deck it is absolutely not an “all-in” combo deck. Those who know me locally know that I have an affinity for midrange-aggressive strategies—decks that accelerate their mana and cast value creatures sooner than their printed converted mana cost would normally allow or for less mana than their printed converted mana cost excite me.

When I play Melira Pod, I sculpt my game plan around value midrange creatures gumming up the board and using the combo kill as a very powerful Plan B. Creatures like Orzhov Pontiff, Murderous Redcap, and Reveillark allow for this to be a very powerful strategy because of their resilience and format positioning.

Now it wouldn’t be Melira “Pod” without the true engine of the deck, which is Birthing Pod. This extremely powerful Phyrexian mana artifact from New Phyrexia allows you to turn this already strong midrange deck into hulk mode, allowing you to tutor up any number of utility creatures for whatever your situation calls for. It also has great synergy with your persist and dies/leaves the battlefield triggered creatures.

Now as fun as Melira Pod is, it is one of the most difficult decks to master in the format. When every card in your deck is an important cog in a machine, it is a challenge to realize which cog goes where and at what time to install these cogs. Casting a Chord of Calling on their end step can be a very challenging decision because any of number of things can happen based on the decision you make. This primer will go over all of the decisions I personally make when building and playing Melira Pod. I will also go over ways that other players attack with this deck so you can find your niche when playing it.

Firstly, the current list I play, as of the writing of this article:

Pompa's Melira Pod

Creatures (30)
Birds of Paradise
Deathrite Shaman
Viscera Seer
Voice of Resurgence
Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Wall of Roots
Qasali Pridemage
Cartel Aristocrat
Scavenging Ooze
Kitchen Finks
Orzhov Pontif
Varolz, the Scar-Striped
Eternal Witness
Spike Feeder
Murderous Redcap
Phyrexian Metamorph
Linvala, Keeper of Silence
Archangel of Thune

Spells (7)
Birthing Pod
Chord of Calling
Abrupt Decay
Lands (23)
Misty Rainforest
Verdant Catacombs
Razorverge Thicket
Gavony Township
Overgrown Tomb
Temple Garden
Godless Shrine
Woodland Cemetery

Sideboard (15)
Lingering Souls
Maelstrom Pulse
Harmonic Sliver
Kataki, War’s Wage
Obstinate Baloth
Blood Baron of Vizkopa
Voice of Resurgence

Woah boy that is a lot of one-ofs! Well that is precisely why I say this deck is extremely difficult to master.

Resource management is HUGE in this deck, and knowing when to use what takes practice. I will go over the reasoning and purpose of all of these cards, and most of them will reference other decks in the format.

4x Birds of Paradise

Old faithful mana accel. You want to get ahead on mana in this deck, and you have eight turn two three-mana plays you want to get going. These are guaranteed fixing and they sometimes pay blue for Phyrexian mana. They also chump when asked to… just the best multi-color acceleration out there!

3x Deathrite Shaman

We only need three.

Now I know what you might be saying: “But Rob, Deathrite Shaman is waaay better than Birds of Paradise as mana ramp because it does more!” I will not argue that fact with you but when you look at the deck, and realize you tap out a lot in the first few turns, you realize that you must tap out a lot, and pay Phyrexian mana a lot, and fetch and shock yourself a lot. You play a lot of games starting around 13-15 life knowing that Finks and friends will gain it back, so relying on four Shaman means you rely on fetching and shocking to cast your spells needed to advance your game. Also, Shaman doesn’t ALWAYS make mana; a draw of Razorverge Thicket, Overgrown Tomb, and Shamans as your only accel can be a rough one, especially if your opponent goes turn one Urza land or Inkmoth Nexus and is playing a deck without fetches (you only have eight fetches!)

That said, Deathrite Shaman is an absolute BEAST in Modern and pole-vaulted many decks to Tier 1 upon release; its utility is unmatched and it has been called for the ban hammer numerous times.

1x Viscera Seer

Our one-CMC sacrifice outlet.

This unassuming little one-drop common from M11 holds incredible power for many reasons. He enables the combo because he just says, “sac a creature: do something,” but Viscera Seer also gives the deck something it would otherwise be unable to have: control over the top card of the deck. We do a lot of tutoring for whatever we need at any given moment, but the draw step is generally very random, especially if we don’t have Birthing Pod available to use. When Supreme Verdict or, *gulp,* Anger of the Gods is on the stack, it helps a lot to be able to turn those soon-to-be binned Birds of Paradise and Deathrite Shamans into a fresh gas spell off the top of the deck. When comboing with Melira, Finks, and Seer, generally look for Murderous Redcap if the opponent doesn’t concede, so that next turn you can end the game.

2x Voice of Resurgence

The Voice of Resurgence yelled loud enough to take Melira Pod from a Tier 2 deck into a tournament staple Tier 1 deck. This bad boy is the absolute tank this deck needed versus Supreme Verdict and counterspell decks. It is RARELY bad vs any deck and is the card that you lean on for support vs many decks. To be perfectly honest I am of the opinion that various decks just fold to this card—for a short time UR Delver-Faeries popped up on MTGO and I was 13-0 vs that deck. Trying to cast Spellstutter Sprite when this card is out just never works out. Remand? I’ll take a 4/4, thank you very much! If this card is in your hand and you see someone play a turn one tapped Celestial Colonade, SLAM this card on the table and suddenly you are in the driver’s seat. When discussing this card with people, they tend to say these words: “I don’t care about Voice,” or “I’ll just Path it on my turn.” When all of your creatures revive themselves and with how mana hungry this deck is, having them Path to Exile one of your creatures on their turn tapping mana and opening the door for a Redcap or a Pod or some other strong card to come down is backbreaking. Versus sorcery speed midrange decks the fact that he’ll absorb damage, make removal generally trash, and leave behind a HUGE fatty is phenomenal. Voice is truly an all-star in Pod which is why it is one of the few creatures to have more than one copy played.

1x Melira, Sylvok Outcast

The other name-sake of the deck, Melira is generally just a combo piece but I’ll discuss her value vs Inkmoth Nexus. Her other text in Modern tends to be flavor text but using Chord of Calling to grab her when an Affinty player puts a Plating on an Inkmoth can be a great way to steal a win in game one, assuming you can untap and win. I personally only play one Melira because, as mentioned, I don’t really focus on the combo kill; when I play Pod I tend to play it as a value-midrange deck and I have this combo in the deck I can tutor up when I need to, so only one is necessary IMO.

1x Spellskite

This two-mana artifact from New Phyrexia is possibly the best defensive two-drop in Modern. The ability to redirect cards like Lightning Bolt, Lightning Helix, Electrolyze, Path to Exile, Rancor, Splinter Twin, and Ethereal Armor is just incredible. You honestly haven’t lived until you Chord of Calling for Spellskite with Splinter Twin on the stack and suddenly have two Spellskites that they have to get through. Spellskite also has awesome value vs Arcbound Ravager, as modular just looks for an artifact creature. At any given time, to me, this is actually the best card in Modern. Get them while you can!

1x Wall of Roots

This card looks VERY underwhelming at first, until you actually play with it. It is a five-toughness wall that allows you to start getting more green mana right away, letting you flood the board quickly, which is fantastic if Gavony Township is involved. Wall is absolutely phenomenal vs aggro decks for obvious reasons, and is one of the best cards to actually cash in with your Birthing Pod. Also, the interactions this card has with Chord of Calling are powerful, as you can use its ability for mana while also using it to convoke!

1x Cartel Aristocrat

Our two-CMC sac outlet.

This card is so sweet for so many reasons: protection from any color is no joke, gives us great protection from Anger of the Gods, is resilient to removal, and can do an absolutely awesome job walling out against massive scary ‘Goyfs, which gives us time for us to shrink them. Great card vs. the UWR decks, similarly to how it was great vs them in Standard.

1x Qasali Pridemage

Anyone who has ever played Legacy, and more specifically, Maverick, knows that this little two-drop do-everything creature has insane utility. Pridemage is currently very well-positioned in the Modern metagame, as Pod, Affinty, and Twin are all very popular, and Pridemage happens to be very good vs all of those decks. Random Exalted triggers allow you to win a lot of combat steps that otherwise would be board stalls, and he is a great out to random hate after sideboard cards, such as Grafdigger’s Cage and Rest in Peace, come in.

1x Scavenging Ooze

I personally was extremely excited to play with this card in Pod when it was announced in M14. It has amazing utility, and honestly, in my personal opinion, has ended Tarmogoyf’s reign as the best two-mana green creature in the format. If your opponent’s ‘Goyf gets out of hand and you can tutor for a two-drop, get this bad boy, and shrink it into oblivion. Play smart and it probably will never die until their ‘Goyfs and Knights of the Reliquaries are useless. It also wins the mirror match, and is the reason for my logic of my sideboard plan vs Jund and the mirror match.

4x Kitchen Finks

My tone has been generally serious but let me channel my inner Demetry James for this section:

Kitchen Finks puts the team on his back doe, we take damage from Pod, Fetches, Shocks, and Phyrexian Metamorphs but he’s holdin’ it down. We runnin’ with a broken leg and Kitchen Finks just put the team on his back doe. Goblin Guide, one of the hardest hittin’ one-drops in the league, but Finks says nah, we put the team on my back, dude. He’s catchin’ passes from Melira and a sac outlet and he’s goin’ the distance cause he puts the team on his back.”

In all seriousness, this is the MVP of the deck…without this card you would deal WAY too much damage to yourself to be a real contender. It is a three-powered three-drop that battles through everything. It’s a combo piece and is the best thing to just pay life for Pod to get and to Pod away. Incredible card and I personally never plan on playing less than four.

1x Orzhov Pontiff

This slot is what I call the “positioning slot”

What I mean by this is, this slot is usually held down by the card that is the best positioned at that moment, and while people are playing Signal Pest, Lingering Souls, Pestermite, Birds of Paradise, etc, I feel like the Pontiff is where to be, at the moment.

One of the best Chord of Calling tricks you can do in the deck is to field wipe or just ruin a potentially profitable combat step for the opponent. One trick that can be done is play Pontif with a sac outlet; with Pontiff’s trigger on the stack, sac it and haunt an x/1 creature and when it dies, Pontiff triggers again. This is a great trick vs Affinity, because now you can kill off Ornithoptors along with their 1/1 brigade.

1x Varolz, the Scar-Striped

This is my three-CMC sac outlet of choice. At any time, this could be a second copy of Viscera Seer, but now that Anger of the Gods is a Magic card, I have turned back to this bad boy from Dragon’s Maze as one of the combo pieces.

His text of, “Creatures in your graveyard have scavenge,” is awesome when you start scavenging Deathrite Shamans onto persisted Finks/Redcaps. Just an overall great card and am very happy with it as a one-of, for now.

1x Eternal Witness

Generally in the deck as a combo with Metamoprh and Reveillark, to tutor for with Chord of Calling, but is also great at rebuilding a board once you fall behind. An easy card to cut post-board which is important.

1x Spike Feeder

Big Daddy Spike Feeder is a new addition to Melira Pod, now that Archangel of Thune is a Magic card. When combined with Archangel, removing a counter to gain life and get a counter is an infinite-lifegain combo that bypasses all of the played hate for the deck, giving the deck a great angle with this two-card combo shot. It is also just a fantastic card vs the various Aggro decks like Affinty, Zoo, and ESPECIALLY Burn whose maindeck four Skullcrack sometimes make just grabbing a Finks not good enough.

2x Murderous Redcap

The way to actually kill them in the combo.

There is a saying, “The older the format, the lower the toughness”

Golgari Charm kills basically everything relevant in Vintage; Lightning Bolt takes out anything, and anyone who has played UWR knows what Electrolyze can do to an opponent’s board.

Murderous Redcap, on top of being a combo piece, is usually a one-man wrecking crew. Picture this board: your opponent has a Deathrite Shaman, a Bob, and a ‘Goyf vs your field of Cartel Aristocrat and a Pod. You can play Redcap, kill Shaman, sac Redcap, who comes back and kills Bob. Suddenly, you are MILES ahead of them and the next turn you can go grab a Reveillark to seal the deal. Redcap is the reason we play two Tombs not two Temple Gardens. He is a phenomenal card and the reason Deathrite Shaman cannot single handedly bust up the combo.

1x Phyrexian Metamorph

Oddly a combo card

To be honest I have been considering chopping this guy for a Ranger of Eos for a long time, now, particularly due to the new legend rule. But while he is still in the deck, I must mention the combo he has with Reveillark.

Have Reveillark and a sac outlet on the field, copy Reveillark with Metamorph, sac it, use the Reveillark trigger to bring itself and a two or less-powered creature back, and then copy Reveillark. Rinse and repeat until you have your entire graveyard back. It is solid utility to just copy a sacc’ed Finks. But as mentioned, since the M14 rules, I have been considering Ranger over him.

1x Linvala, Keeper of Silence

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the mirror breaker!

The BEST card in the mirror, not even close, is Linvala. I have won games that I shouldn’t have just because Linvala just triple stone rained my opponent, while clocking for three, then four, then five a turn. Cards Linvala shuts down in Modern that matter: Arcbound Ravager, Deathrite Shaman, Scavenging Ooze, Birds of Paradise, Kiki-Jiki, any twinned creature, Glen Elendra Archmage, Fulminator Mage, Qasali Pridemage, Viserca Seer, Cartel Aristocrat, Varolz, and even Llanowar Elves. She is resilient to most removal used in Modern and I would include her in any Modern deck list that I could.

1x Archangel of Thune

At first I thought this would just be a cute little trick, but it turns out, four toughness is a BIG deal in Modern, and this card closes out any midrange mirror super quickly. Combined with Finks and a sac outlet or just a Spike Feeder, this card actually does end the game on the spot, as both result in an infinite life, infinite power combo. She is positioned perfectly in the current meta game and is continuously an unfair card to be on a table in Modern.

1x Reveillark

This card is usually the end of the road in any midrange mirror, as the value you get back from this card is absurd. It is also a combo piece when Phyrexian Metamorph is involved, which leads to auto kills when either Spike Feeder or Murderous Redcap is involved. Sadly, sometimes you can’t Pod this into anything to rebuy guys, as there is no six-drop in the deck. Personally, I would not play one, as the upside of something like Sun Titan isn’t worth the downside of a it being a six-CMC spell that you run the risk of drawing.


As a quick note, you want four Thoughtsieze vs the unfair decks and three Lingering Souls vs the fair decks. The remaining eight cards are all matchup-based. I will go over my sideboard plans for the top five meta decks, according to MTGO-Stats.com

Disclaimer: These are MY strategies and should be looked at from my midrange-biased point of view and not as gospel. Play the deck and read your opponent and see where you should go with your sideboarding choices.


-1 Linvala, Keeper of Secrets
-1 Birthing Pod
-1 Scavenging Ooze
+1 Kataki, War’s Wage
+1 Maelstrom Pulse
+1 Harmonic Sliver

Affinity is a matchup where you want to just get the BEST possible Orzhov Pontif play you can. Deal with the Plating and you should be able to take over. They can nut draw you, but if you can COMFORTABLY land a Birthing Pod without fear of dying you can just grab Harmonic Sliver, then clone it and usually pull WAY out of range of losing. Also, just landing Melira can buy you time if they go for an Inkmoth kill. A quick Kataki usually ends the game, and this should be a solid matchup post-board. Be wary in game one—a hand that asks you to pay a lot of life can be a problem.

GR Tron

This deck is irritating to play against because they maindeck Relic of Progenitus and Pyroclasm by the fours, as well as a few Oblivion Stones, making for a challenging proposition for our weenie deck. If you get nut drawn again, you get nut drawn, but a slower hand in game one can be raced by a fast combo kill. Infinite life is not as effective against them—they can just stick a Karn and ultimate him.

That being said, here is the board plan:

-1 Scavenging Ooze
-1 Eternal Witness
-1 Kitchen Finks
-1 Cartel Aristocrat
-1 Phyrexian Metamorph
-1 Abrupt Decay
+4 Thoughtseize
+1 Kataki
+1 Maelstrom Pulse


Okay, so this is where me and A LOT of other Pod players differ:

-1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
-1 Viscera Seer
-1 Cartel Aristocrat
-1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
+3 Lingering Souls
+1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa

Your first thought may be, “Why are you cutting the combo vs this deck?!” Read on.

So, here is my reasoning and logic behind this and I stand by it: when the opponent’s deck has three Scavenging Oozes, four Lightning Bolts, three Abrupt Decays, and maybe a Terminate, I REALLY do not want to have to battle through all of that to achieve a combo kill that I honestly don’t need to win a match. I prefer to bring in Lingering Souls and Blood Baron of Vizkopa and become a strict midrange value deck, getting two-for-ones and using Gavony Township to just bury my opponent, and if things get bad I still have Feeder-Angel combo to try and sneak out a win. I do not feel any need to have the Melira combo when I would much rather have a high-impact suite of cards.

Speaking of, Blood Baron of Vizkopa is close to unbeatable for any of these Overgrown Tomb-based decks, as he is practically hexproof.  As long as you use an Ooze to keep ‘Goyf from getting too big, Jund usually folds up and dies to this card. His slot usually goes to a great five-drop like Sigarda or Shriekmaw, but, at this point, I believe Blood Baron of Vizkopa is the strongest option.

Melira Pod

I actually play a similar game here like my Jund matchup and I use the same board plan, listed again for reference:

-1 Melira, Sylvok Outcast
-1 Viscera Seer
-1 Cartel Aristocrat
-1 Varolz, the Scar-Striped
+3 Lingering Souls
+1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa

I might add in a few Dismembers, knowing how powerful Linvala is in the matchup. Lingering Souls is insane in the matchup, and Blood Baron of Vizkopa actually IS hexproof and unblockable, here. Tight play will beat most hands. Practice and know the matchup and you’ll be golden.

UR Twin

This is my personal favorite matchup to play because of just how much trickery and guessing both pilots try to make their opponents do. My game plan is usually just keep landing hateful permanents like Voice of Resurgence, Spellskite, or Pridemage. Linvala is CLOSE to a hard lock but Twin can use Cryptic Command to get out of any situation or get a lot of time. I advise making heavy use of your own combo kill.

Board plan:

-1 Scavenging Ooze
-1 Eternal Witness
-1 Phyrexian Metamorph
-1 Reveillark
-1 Kitchen Finks
+3 Thoughtseize
+2 Dismember

To close, here is a list of cards that could very easily be included in the general 75 of any Pod list:

Ranger of Eos
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Hero of Bladehold
Baneslayer Angel
Noble Hierarch
Thalia, Guardian of Thraben
Phyrexian Revoker
Ethersworn Canonist
Sin Collector
Aven Mindcensor

These cards are all sitting in a box of mine at home ready to tag in once the meta game calls for them. Know your own personal meta game and battle, practice, and experience will enhance your lists and make you better.

Well this was fun, and, hopefully, I can record some videos with this deck once I rebuild it on MTGO. Until then thank you to Hipsters of the Coast and Tim Akpinar for letting me fill in on Hope Eternal this week [Tim: no, Thank YOU!].

Sayonara from Robert Pompa!

Darkvulpine on MTGO and Twitter
Darkvulpine1 on Twitch


Rob Pompa is a Brooklyn-based midrange aficionado, across all formats. His love for value creatures knows no bounds, as he has been known to slam Ringleaders in Legacy. Because what screams value like draw two-four cards? He was also one of those horrible people who liked casting Thragtusks for an entire year.

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