Saturday 23 September 2017

Melira Pod

Melira, Sylvok Outcast
This is a combo chock full of psuedo-redundancy while also being able to house itself within the highly robust Abzan shell. This list actually has 3 separate combos which have some overlap with each other but also have great overlap with the tutor effects on offer. It can pack more! Some of the combo pieces disrupt your other combos which sounds awful but given that there are multiple sacrifice outlets in the list you can easily sculpt what you have in play to go off in some form. One of the great things about this list is that you don't need any of the black tutors that are so sought after. As all your parts are creatures you can use purely green tutor effects to get your stuff. As green tutors are generally limited to dorks they are often far more powerful than the generic tutors.

I was actually planning on doing this deck in my current online rotisserie however I got my Kitchen Finks taken before I got to picking it so than plan took a sharp turn! I had also called in some help in the design from a top class deck builder. He greatly helped me refine my affinity list in the last event and I learned a lot in the process so I was keen to tap that well of knowledge again. We only got to a rough outline as it was early in the draft before I had to switch out of the plan. The list below is roughly what we were aiming at. We discussed many of the alternate options as well which I will get to.

24 Spells
Birthing Pod
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch
Deathrite Shaman
Viscera Seer

Mother of Runes / Spellskite / Sylvan Safekeeper

Melira, Sylvok Outcast
Anafenza , Kin-Tree Spirit
Vizier of Remedies
Walking Ballista

Devoted Druid
Duskwatch Recruiter
Murderous RedcapEladamri's Call
Mesmeric Fiend

Kitchen Finks
Eternal Witness
Spike Feeder
Bone Shredder

Recruiter of the Guard

Murderous Redcap
Birthing Pod
Dimir House Gaurd
Restoration Angel

Archangel of Thune

16 Lands

Archangel of ThuneSo there are three combos in this list, the first is having a sac outlet, a persist dork and one of Merlira, Vizier or Anafenza in play. This gives you infinite EtB triggers which is infinite life and/or damage depending on the persist dude you have. Combo two is simply having Archangel of Thune in play with a Spike Feeder, this is infinite life and infinite +1/+1 counters on all your non-Feeder dorks. This is most useful for Devoted Druid and Walking Ballista which will give infinite mana and infinite damage respectively if for some reason the infinte +1/+1 counters on mere attackers and the infinite life is not enough! Thune also works as another Melira for the Finks combo. The last combo is Specifically the Vizier of Remedies with the Devoted Druid which generates infinite mana. You use this on Walking Ballista for the kill or you use Duskwatch Recruiter to find it with your infinite mana. Most of these combos are three card combos for a certain kill but with so much redundancy and overlap they are a lot more consistent than many of the two card combos possible in cube. A real strength of this deck however is that for the most part it just resembles a midrange Abzan deck. You can just make dorks and then wear and beat them down. Sure, you don't have the same premium dorks as other lists and you have a few awkward cards but given that it is a total backup plan it is substantially better than most other combo decks get. I think this list would give a lot of aggressive red decks a really good fight even if it were never allowed to combo off in any way. Just card for card I think this would do pretty OK.

Devoted DruidQuillspike is also an infinite combo with Devoted Druid which we looked at. It only becomes big and can either be killed or blocked pretty easily so despite seeming like a cheap and easy extra combo to throw in this list I don't much rate it. I would rather just have more support cards for the deck. Another potential bonus combo you can throw in is Kikki-Jikki Mirror Breaker to go with the Restoration Angel. While this is solid in 60 card lists I fear that I would draw the uncastable goblin far too often and frequently have little use for it. The 60 card decks have less chance of drawing it and more things like Birthing Pod to fetch it out without having to cast it. 

Necrotic Ooze can act as a backup for certain cards in the deck. It can cover for both Quillspine and Devoted Druid in one and combo kill! It also mimics Duskwatch Recruiter and Walking Ballista. With a little more in the way of discard outlets in the list I would be more keen on playing the Ooze and the Kikki Jikki. I think you probably have to scrimp too much on disruption to do so in cube but it certainly has some merit. The Ooze may well just be better than House Guard or Resto Angel. If I were playing Ooze I feel like I would ideally want mountains and Anger to go with my discard effects so as to speed things up a bit. All the Devoted Druid combos need it to have past summoning sickness. If doing it with a four drop that is probably too slow. 

Dimir House GuardRestoration Angel is a bit pricey as protection and the deck doesn't really need good cards or value. You might as well just play Seige Rhino. All the modern lists run a pile of Angels so it must be good right? Either way, this list really wants 3 four drop creatures to ensure Pod is working smoothly. House Guard is a throw away four drop in the pod chain, a clunky tutor for a couple of bits and a sac outlet. Although a super low powered card he ticks a load of boxes and feels like one of the better four drops to fill in the gaps. 

Other four drops I looked at were utility dorks like Skinrender and Wickerbough Elder but they just felt like they were going to be way to slow and clunky to serve as good problem solving cards. Master Biomancer was also an option as yet another bit of redundancy for Merlira. Going into yet another colour didn't overly appeal even if it is rather easier than Kikki Jikki! 

I would have like more disruption. Presently the list has a couple of hand disruption cards and a Bone Shredder with some of the combo cards also able to do a little bit of damage to dorks. Ideally I would have found room for a Reclamation Sage, an Abrupt Decay and another discard spell, ideally Collective Brutality but Inquisition or Thoughtsieze would also be great. Sadly with so much redundancy and cards that rely on creatures you really don't have much space in the deck. I even considered Living Wish as a potential card that could provide answers and combo redundancy in places. While quite cute it would cost me a real sideboard and likely be even clunkier than running cards like Wickerbough Elder. 

Chord of CallingThere are a wealth of good tutoring options. With the changes from 60 to 40 card decks and to a singleton format your need of tutoring is reduced. Also, going outside of modern gives you access to way way more options. I am using none of the premium black general tutors nor any of the playable but more suspect ones. I am not running the slow Fauna Shaman nor its more rapid counterpart Survival of the Fittest. The latter may be an error but I favour the speed and card nutrality of Eladamri's Call. I am hoping that I generally won't need to tutor several times with any one card bar the Pod. Worldly Tutor is another fine option but I don't think the card loss is worth the minor speed up over Call. Speaking of calls, there is of course Chord of Calling, the modern replacement for Pod. While Chord is ok at finding the cheaper bits of the combos it is a bit unrealistic to have it get your top end parts rapidly. Those are either a job for Pod or something you setup over two turns. Chord would be my next inclusion I think but I would want to change stuff up a little bit adding in delights such as Wall of Roots.

Sylvan SafekeeperCarrion Feeder is the next best sac outlet to use being the cheapest but for Pod reasons you may want to have a two or three drop option like Nantuko Husk. I am fine with just Seer and the House Guard emergency backup in this list. You only need the sac outlet for one of the three combos and the cards are not generally great stand alone ones. Feeder would be in the SB as a Wish target I suspect if I went down that route. Blood Artist is an alternative kill to the Redcap in the persist combo but as you need the Finks combo for it to be relevant it seems very narrow and rather overkill. 

Eternal Witness is a mild luxury card. It is a bit of value and a bit of protection for your combo, mainly against discard. You can go without as you have so many combos and redundancy but it does make me feel safer! Reveillark is another Witness option but it misses too much and is too high on the curve to be worth it in the cube lists. The only other potential cuts you could make in the non 4 CMC slot are Mesmeric Fiend or the Mother of Runes / Skite / Safekeeper slot. These are both decent help towards going off and nice cheap dorks to help out with Pod and such. I think you want a card that stops removal, especially with so much exile removal in cube. I think for the most part that is about the best "disruption" you can pack in this list. It might even be worth running two of those three cards. While Fiend fits quite nicely it is relatively low power. Collective Brutality, Abrupt Decay or Thoughtsieze may just be more potent tools. Other cards in this vein are Sin Collector and Tidehollow Sculler. Lots and lots of options with very minor differences for fine tuning this list. Thinking about it you could potentially cut Anafenza as you have more redundancy in that area than anywhere else. 

Anafenza, Kin-Tree SpiritThere are also of course lots of lovely little filler cards you can throw in like Wall of Blossoms and Wall of Roots. These cards have always paired very nicely with Pod and much as I would love to have at least the Bloss in the list I just can't find the space. This list being a Pod list wants a relatively smooth curve of dorks so as to reliably have targets to sac and find. This list was rather heavy on the two slot and so that leaves even less space for luxury and filler cards of that cost. It is why Wickerbough seems more appealing than Qasali Pridemage for example. Recurring Nightmare also fits like a dream into Pod decks as they have a lot of overlap in synergies. While Nightmare is somewhat able to protect your combo and get you a bunch of value it is likely just too off theme and slow to really be worth running. 

Collected CompanyCollected Company was the card I was most saddened to cut out. I had originally wanted to play the deck because I quite wanted to play with the CoCo. Being quite a niche card it isn't good in drafting cube and needs a tailored deck to work well in. I wanted to enjoy playing some of the rare and powerful card but even here it looks a little out of place. While it hits a lot of the cards in the deck it is missing a lot of the key things too. Just getting a bit of value or tempo, perhaps even both isn't really what this deck is trying to do as a primary plan. I felt like I would rather the one creature I wanted rather than two random cheap ones. Putting half of two different combos into play is almost more of a liability than a help. You can't necessarily use them as normal dorks if you need to keep them alive for the combo. Indeed, just having them out before time might result in them getting removed and significantly slowing you down. CoCo would be powerful in this deck but much like Recurring Nightmare, powerful isn't what you are looking for in combo decks. Suitability to the task at hand is the primary thing we look for in cards. 

So that is what I was looking to run and why, with all the various considerations and cuts also covered. It looked nice and solid and arguably one of the better combo options in cube. While it is far from the quickest combo deck in cube I think it more than makes up for it with redundancy and through being very robust. Most combo decks just concede to a couple of aggressive dorks in the first two turns if they are a little bit too slow, this list should have plenty of time in such a situation. I will build and play this as soon as I can given how much time I have already put into the build. As yet however I cannot proffer any insight into how it plays as it is entirely untested. I'll try and leave any findings about things I want and things that under performed as and when I do get to play it in the the comments section.


  1. Yes I have although a few cards different from this list. It underperformed but not a massive amount. I went too much combo support and not enough standard quality interactive cards and it punished me more than usual. Lose the things like Dimir House Gaurd, slow and cute things need to go. Certainly a deck with plenty of potential.